Sophocles' Anitgone

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Politicians are undoubtedly imperfect and essentially flawed like the rest of us. When we begin to put them high up on pedestals is when they begin to fall and disappoint the public. Luckily, for the country, they aren't tragically flawed, because they aren't tragic heros. Even the president makes mistakes. It is not, however, fair to ask all that we do of these figures cast into the public eye. Sophocles knew that humans were imperfect creatures, and therefore governments and rulers would be flawed by this accordingly. A president must be tough but fair, as should a king be. Creon made the mistake of taking his decrees to far, sacrificing the will of the people for strength in the state. President Bush's administration (McClellan) may have been too quick to judge the scandal over the leak, making a firm statement to fire whomever was responsible for the leak of the identity of an undercover CIA operative in 2003, but since it has been found that two top White House aides, Karl Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, were the source of the leak, the administration as of now has reneged on it's original statement. Creon would not listen to the people because he wanted to keep image of the state strong, essentially acting too tough. Bush went back on a statement made by his administration in order to protect people in his administration, thereby trying to be little too fair to his cabinet. What if these two men were switched? Creon probably would have just fired the party/parties responsible for the leak, and Bush wouldn't sacrifice either of his daughters just to uphold something he said in the past, even if it is essentially the law of the land. Who is to say which decision is right? In any case there are consequences for every decision made in politics, and ruler must know when to be tough, and when to be fair.
Creon at a glance is a perfectly fit ruler. He makes decrees for the state and enforces them accordingly. Is there anything more honorable than a ruler sticking by what he says? Is the desecration of a traitor's body dishonorable? The answers to these questions lead to Creon's eventual downfall in "Antigone", but the lessons of his failings are still just as valuable in today's world of politics. Creon was unable to bend or change his stance on his decree for fear of the state appearing weak.

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"Sophocles' Anitgone." 17 Mar 2018
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He even foreshadows this through a reference to Oedipus, and claims he'll do the opposite, what he knows to be just, when the occasion arises. He says, "I am the kind of man who can't and never could abide the tongue-tied ruler who through fear backs away from sound advice."(198) Creon is much like a second Oedipus, in that the play is nearly screaming his fate at him and what he should do to prevent it, but still he does not learn from his predecessor. Haemon, Creon's son, tries to reason with his father in a respectable and logical manner, but this doesn't get him far with the now stubborn king. Haemon's argument with his father is very reminiscent of the argument between Oedipus and Creon, except that the roles have been switched, because Creon is no longer the level headed one. It could be said that he's been corrupted by power, because he should be taking his own advice from "Oedipus the King" later in the play "Antigone", or at least try and think as reasonablely as he did back then. Creon once told Oedipus, "if you really think a stubborn mind is something to be proud of, then you're not thinking straight".(30) Haemon later gives his father very similar advice for resolving the issue of Polyniece's burial. He says to Creon, "the kind of man who always thinks that he is right, that his opinions, his pronouncements, are the final word, is usually exposed as hollow as they come. But a wise man is flexible, has much to learn without a loss of dignity."(222) Maybe someone read these compelling words to President Bush, which could explain his leniency for his top aides. Many are disappointed in the President for changing his position, seemingly in light of new evidence pointing the finger towards his top White House aides. Democratic National Committee Chairman, Howard Dean expressed his disapproval of the Presidents actions, saying Bush "backed away from his initial pledge, and lowered the ethics bar." Rep. Henry Waxman, detailed the responsibilities of the president regarding an executive order concerning national security secrets in a letter to Bush. His main point was for the president to take immediate and decisive action against anyone involved in the leak. Most people wanted the president to be more decisive and stick to his original pledge statement. Most people would probably rather have Creon in that position of taking action against the security leak because of his decisive and unbending characteristics. Creon would be disgusted with Bush's course of action according to his claim, "I find intolerable the man who puts his country second to his friends."(199)
Strength and honor, tough but fair, they all elude to one thing, balance in the ruler. Strength protects the state, toughness keeps order, fairness means listening to the people because they decide what is fair, and finally it is up to the ruler to be honorable in his own right. Antigone is a perfect example honor and nobility. She sacrificed herself for her brother's proper burial. Much like Antigone, reporter Judith Miller was made a living martyr for journalistic confidentiality, when she refused to reveal her confidential sources and was jailed for contempt of court. Honor is perhaps the most important and rare characteristic necessary for a ruler, because it cannot be taught later, one must grow up with a set principles to live by. Honor is not easily proven, and can be lost and possibly never regained. Creon put it well in the beginning of "Antigone", "naturally, there is no way to tell the character and mettle of a man until you've seen him govern."(198)

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