Oedipus and Creon appear immediately to be two very different leaders in the plays Oedipus Rex and Antigone. This essay will explore the similarities and differences between both Oedipus and Creon, in terms of how they respond to the problems and issues arising during their tenure as king of Thebes, how these responses affects the public perception of each ruler and how leaders’ approach to dealing with their problems, influences and directs the ultimate outcome.
Oedipus and Creon are very different rulers and therefore their subjects have two very different views of them. First of all Oedipus became king by answering correctly the sphinx’s riddle, freeing Thebes. This would have made Oedipus appear heroic, for had he been wrong he would have died. Oedipus’s supreme intelligence was required to answer a riddle nobody else could, showing Oedipus as the ideal king.
This is very different to what Creon, king at the time does which was to set a reward for defeating the sphinx and wait for someone to do it for him. This may have given the impression of cowardice, however it would also shows him as noble enough to surrender his crown to save Thebes in a time of desperation. This also shows the concern Creon holds for his people.
Oedipus would have seemed to be very open and honest. In the play Creon has a prophecy, he suggests that Oedipus hears it inside away from the public, but Oedipus replies “Speak out, speak to us all. I grieve for these, my people, far more than i fear for my own life.”1 Causing him to appear as though he has nothing to hide, whereas in actual fact this is far from the truth. In contrast to this, Creon is very much the politician, preferring to do things behind the scene as not to give the public any information that may cause them to see the royal family in an anything but perfect light.
Oedipus appears to be very powerful and knowledgeable, almost godlike. In the play Oedipus states “You pray to the gods? Let me grant your prayers. Come listen to me-do what the plague demands: you’ll find relief and lift your head from the depths.”2 This comment seems arrogant and egotistical, however at this point in the play the people of Thebes need someone to solve their problems, so this speech makes Oedipus appear to be everything that Thebes needs. However if this speech was heard later in the play when he isles of a sound figurehead, then they may have perceived this speech differently.
Creon became king as he was the last male in the royal line, and so is perceived to be the man that stepped up to his responsibilities. The man that cleaned up the mess left to him by Etocles and polynices. The Chorus states in the introduction “But when he wakes up, the problems are there to be solved; and like the conscientious workman, he does his job.”3 Showing that he works hard and does what is necessary. To clean this mess Creon even refuses to give one of his nephews a funeral, giving the people of Thebes the impression that he is very serious. This is also the impression that is held of Oedipus, a trait they share.