How does Creon perceive and characterize Teiresias in Antigone, particularly in strophe 1?

Strophe 1: "See me"—Creon: "Thou art a wise seer."

Quick answer:

In Antigone, Creon initially perceives and characterizes Teiresias as a wise and loyal servant of the state. After Teiresias has delivered his message, however, Creon changes his mind, saying that prophets are generally avaricious, and Teiresias has been bribed to lie.

Expert Answers

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Creon shows a pattern of behavior in his dialogues, which clearly extends to Teiresias in this section of the play. Initially, he is positive and full of praise in his attitude and characterization of the other character. Then he quickly turns against his interlocutor and is harsh in condemning his or her motives and character at the first sign of disagreement. Creon says that he has never been accustomed to ignore Teiresias's good advice, having experienced the benefits it brings. At this point, he perceives the seer as wise and honest, with a strong record of loyal service to the state.

As soon as Teiresias has delivered his message, however, Creon flies into a rage, leading him to blaspheme against Zeus as well as insult the seer. Creon does show a modicum of restraint in only withdrawing his good opinion of Teiresias's honesty, not of his ability. He says that he still sees Teiresias as wise, but thinks that he has been bribed to lie, observing that "the prophet-tribe was ever fond of money"* and then saying:

Thou art a wise seer; but thou lovest evil deeds.

Although the Theban plays are not a true trilogy, it is reasonable to suppose that Sophocles made at least some connection between Antigone and Oedipus Rex. Creon's accusations against Teiresias are a very clear of Oedipus's in that play, and he is now every bit as obdurate as Oedipus in his refusal to listen to reason.

*Quotations are from the Jebb translation.

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