Creon's Role Of King and His Responsibilities
The role of the king in the time of Greek tragedies was simultaneously desired and dreaded because of the king's responsibility to the people and because of the effects of the position on the king's character. Creon reveals such ambivalent thoughts towards the kingship in his speech defending himself from Oedipus's conspiracy accusation in Oedipus the King; these ambivalent thoughts reveal much about the nature of the kingship, especially in conjunction with Creon's later actions in Antigone.
In attempting to refute Oedipus's assertion that Creon has taken part in a conspiracy to obtain the kingship, Creon evaluates the nature of the kingship and of his present role. First, he says, "Consider, first, if you think any one/ would choose to rule and fear rather than rule and sleep" (36.584-585). By this, Creon means that the main difference between his position and the king's is that of the accompanying action to ruling. In both positions, one is a ruler who holds great power over the state. However, the king is placed in a greater place of accountability to the people. This accountability is what Creon says inspires "fear" in the king, for if affairs of state or of the people fall into decline, the king is the first person whom the citizenry look to blame. This is analogous to executive leaders throughout history, as one can see in looking at American presidents and the correlation between the present conditions and events of the nation to the public's opinion of the president, regardless of the actual impact that his decisions may have made in these conditions. Creon maintains that he has the same amount of power as the king but without the accountability that inevitably leads a king to distress.
Creon's reasoning concerning the equality between his power and Oedipus's leads him to state:
I was not born with such a frantic yearning
to be a king- but to do what kings...
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