In Antigone, a Greek tragedy written by Sophocles, Creon is a tyrant and arrogant character who sees the world through the veil of his beliefs. When he decrees the punishment of death upon Antigone, he completely disregards every opinion that is against his own. By ignoring the views of others, he jeopardizes his strength as a ruler. Sophocles uses the extended metaphor of the ship of state to show how Creon’s self-righteous way of thinking leads to unwanted outcomes. From Creon’s mistakes we learn that if you let your pride stand in the way of seeing other people’s opinions you can impair yourself more than you had planned.
Creon refuses to see the views of anyone else, and his adamant ways will lead to his eventual demise. When Haemon, his son, comes to him to warn him of the perils of being stubborn, he provides mini-metaphors to persuade him to change his mind. Through the extended metaphor of the ‘ship at state’; Sophocles writes through him. When he speaks to him he provides examples of real life that Creon has most likely observed, but might not have ever drawn parallels to his own self. The metaphors take place in nature, a place the ancient Greeks believed were controlled by the gods.
The use of nature in the metaphor also helps to further extend the universal meaning of the theme. Haemon’s warning creates the image of, “In flood time you can see how trees bend, and because they bend, even their twigs are safe, while stubborn trees are torn up, roots and all. And the same thing happens in sailing; make your sheet fast, never slacken, and over you go and there’s your voyage. “(Sophocles. 1. 3. 571-575) Haemon is forewarning Creon of his detrimental, unyielding ways.
If you refuse to take help from other people, the consequences can be far worse than you planned. Sophocles uses diction and articulation to not only enhance the speech but to emphasize the underlying meaning, and the ‘ship-at-state’ metaphor. Keywords such as “flood-time” hint to Creon that revolution is bubbling, and he is going to be immersed, like water immerses its surrounding in floods, in his own problems. Sophocles continues using words like “bend” twice, to emphasize how significant it is to be flexible.
Through the trees we learn that “[ln flood time] because [the trees] bend, even their twigs are safe. ” Haemon is showing Creon through this metaphor how the trees who compromise their comfort are able to keep their bearings intact. He is giving Creon a cautionary forewarning. Sophocles also paints a pleasant, lively image and contrasts this with an unbearable one. The previous statement, “In flood time you can see how trees bend, and because they bend, even their twigs are safe… is contradicted with the help of a keyword, “while”. By use of this word, the reading of the statement is elongated more, and it intrigues the reader, pulling them in, so that they can wonder what the conflict is. Sophocles continues his counter by articulating that “stubborn trees are torn up, roots and all. ” Creon is the stubborn trees in this metaphor, because he refuses to change or modify himself to any suggestion made to him. The figurative language is revealing Creon’s self-fulfilling prophecy.
If Creon does not compromise he’s going to be uprooted by possible revolution, which is represented by the keyword “flood” in the passage. To convey that the theme is universal Haemon speaks of another example, to exaggerate and emphasize the disadvantages of an intractable person. And although the previously explained phrase can be translated to the ship-atstate metaphor, this example more directly answers it. Haemon speaks to Creon that, “the same thing happens in sailing… ” Haemon is telling him, that his ornery, headstrong manners are ubiquitous, and they do not go unpunished.
Sophocles uses keywords like “your”, in “make your sheet fast… ” shedding light on Creon’s self-centered, arrogant ways. The phrase “… never slacken and over you go, and there’s your voyage… ” is describing a situation in which the captain does not adjust the sails, and consequently causes himself, his ship, his crew, and passengers to go overboard. And that is the legacy the captain leaves behind. Creon is the “captain” of Thebes, and Haemon is foreshadowing to him that if he does not compromise he is going to have atrocious outcomes.
Creon needed to not stand in the way of himself in seeing that he wasn’t always right. It would have been not only in his, but in everyone’s best interest if he considered someone else’s opinions. Creon leaves behind the legacy of being someone who was stuck to their own path, faulted because he refused to show weakness in taking help from other people. By not considering anyone but himself, he weakened his power as a ruler and hurt more than he helped. The effects of Creon refusing to take the help from other people caused greater harm than he had intended.
Antigone’s death, which was caused by Creon, spurs the death of both Haemon and Eurydice. With both his son and wife dead, Creon has no one in the world. Creon’s self-centered ways rippled out to more than just himself. His inability to change his views only led to more death. If Creon had only stopped his prideful ways and taken aide from other people, he could have dodged the outcomes that came. The tragedy within Antigone does not lie solely on the death of characters, but in simple hubris that could have easily been avoided.