Creon and Achilles

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Both Creon of Sophocles' Antigone and Achilles of Homer's The Iliad end up allowing the body of their enemy a proper burial. During the time following the death of Hector, Achilles is in a position very similar to that which Creon deals with in Antigone. Both men show similar flaws, and face similar struggles. The difference between the two men is only subtly discernible until the telling moment when each man is faced with pressure to change his stance on the fate of the fallen warrior. Each man's initial reaction is quite telling of his character, and the motives behind each man's decision (although the motives are debatable) also help to expose his true nature. In the end, there seems to be a quality within each man which lies above the flaws, failures or triumphs. By suggesting such a quality, Sophocles and Homer glorify or debase characters such as Creon and Achilles. Rage, anger and revenge are exhibited by both Achilles and Creon. Achilles shows his rage in Book I of The Iliad when he speaks out against Agamemnon and refuses to fight, as well as in Book XXII when he avenges the death of Patroclus by the slaughter of Hector. Book XXIV, however, is the book in which Achilles situation most closely parallels that of Priam. To most objectively compare their characters, it is important that the situations we see them responding to are as similar as possible. In Antigone, the battle is over and all that remains are the remains of those fallen in battle. We have very little knowledge of how Creon behaved during the battle, and therefore should not overemphasize the detailed account of Achilles actions during battle that is supplied in earlier books of The Iliad. Creon initially exposes his rage and vengeance with the decree that Eteocles will be buried and Polynices will not. Creon says this of Polynices "No, he must be left unburied, his corpse/ carrion for birds and dogs to tear/ an obscenity for the citizens to behold!" (231). A similar rage...
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