Sophocles' Antigone – Comparing the Symbolic Alignment Utilized by Creon and President George Bush

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Sophocles' Antigone – Comparing the Symbolic Alignment Utilized by Creon and President George Bush

... he who has not first laid his foundations may be able with great ability to lay them afterwards, but they will be laid with trouble to the architect and danger to the building. - The Prince by Machiavelli

Sophocles addresses this very problem in his play Antigone by the methods Creon uses to rule Thebes. Creon begins ruling Thebes in a very difficult time and circumstance. The polis has been embroiled in tragedy for over a generation. Creon must rule the city and consolidate the Theban citizens behind him. He resorts to symbolic means to unite the people, but he goes too far-- he is unyielding in his adherence to the symbolic
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The public, at this point, would likely not trust any leader, let alone one of Oedipus' bloodline.

Creon becomes king, basically on the day of the battle, and he begins making policy decisions to cement his rule. First off, he decides that it will be considered a crime if anyone buries the body of Polyneices (222ff). On the surface, it looks as if he is just acting out of common sense. Invaders who betray their city should not be honored in any way. But his motivations run deeper than that.By issuing this decree, Creon symbolically aligns himself with the city. He makes Eteocles out to be the savior of the city, and buries him with fullest honor. In contrast, he makes Polyneices out to be the worst enemy of Thebes, whose goal in attacking the city was to raze it, though this is surely not the case. Why would anyone destroy a city that he wants to control? But this characterization serves Creon's best interest. By making Eteocles the symbol of the best of Thebes, and Polyneices into an aggressor, he is able to align himself with Eteocles through the symbolic action of burial, and thus consolidate his new rule.

The people are the means to rule, and a good ruler rules with the concerns of the people in the forefront of his mind. The people were the key to Eteocles' taking control of the city, contrary to the usual rules of hereditary succession. Creon undoubtedly has this in mind, and his tactics make