Antigone: Absolute Power Corrupts

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"Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely," said Lord Acton generations ago. In the Greek tragedy Antigone, written by Sophocles, there was a character named Kreon, the antagonist, who was the king of Thebes. Thebes was an autocratic state where Kreon had absolute power. Throughout the course of the play, Kreon abused his privilege of absolute power; and this caused him to suffer greatly, even though he was warned by a few people of his bad deeds. What Sophocles commented on absolute power was that one should not abuse it. If it was abused, he or she had to expect bad consequences. This was indicated by what happened to Kreon when he abused his power.

Kreon settled a decree that prohibited anyone from burying Polyneices' dead body. He was proud of his decree, and he also stated that he would be a good king by listening to what people said regarding his decisions. When the decree was broken by Antigone, Kreon sentenced her to death. This angered the gods because they wanted the dead body of Polyneices buried, and they did not want a live body (that of Antigone) buried in a cave. Kreon was told by Haimon to change his mind, but Kreon rejected his request and went ahead and buried Antigone alive. Teiresias warned Kreon that the gods were angry and his actions were to be blamed. Kreon rejected both Haimon's request and Teiresias' warning, and as a result, he suffered in the end. In the beginning of the play, Antigone and Ismene were found arguing about whether Polyneices' body should be buried. Antigone wanted to bury her brother's body, but Ismene objected because she said that they should not disobey Kreon, who had absolute power and had prohibited Polyneices' burial (26-80). Ismene indicated that the citizens of Thebes did not dare to go against what Kreon decreed. They all knew that if they objected to Kreon, punishment would be the result. In the play, Kreon was first found addressing the senate as to how a ruler should rule his state. He said...
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