In his "Funeral Oration" Pericles, Athens's leader in their war with other city-states, rallies the patriotism of his people by reminding them of the things they value. He encourages a sense of duty to Athens even to the point of self-sacrifice. He glorifies the free and democratic Athenian way of life and extravagantly praises those willing to die for it. In Antigone, Creon, Thebes's leader in their recent civil war, also must rally the patriotism of his people. While he, too, praises the loyalty of his people, he does two other things to rally the citizens: he emphasizes his own qualifications for leadership, and he reminds them what happens to traitors.
Creon speaks to his people at the beginning of Antigone because he is now the only ruler of Thebes, and he wants them to be loyal to him. He knows there's a chance they might not have faith in him because in Oedipus the King he claimed to be content to leave the active leadership to others. Also, he's not next in line to be the king after Laius, the late, beloved king. Even more important is the fact that Laius's grandchildren, Oedipus's sons Eteocles and Polynices, ended up on opposite sides of a war over Thebes. Some Thebans were probably loyal to Eteocles, but others may have been sympathetic to Polynices, who tried to take the throne away from his brother. Now Creon, the new leader, will have the best chance for success if he gets the people to forget about Oedipus and the terrible time of his rule, and about Oedipus's sons and the rebellion that divided their country. Although he does praise the Thebans for respecting the royal house of Laius, saying, "your loyalty was unshakable" (line 187), he wants them to reali...
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...ells trouble for the city's future and for his own success. Sometimes he sounds harsher and more threatening than Pericles did, but the problem of unifying people after a war between brothers is more difficult than unifying people to fight outsiders (which is what Pericles had to do). After all, Pericles can praise all the Athenians who died for their city's sake in the Peloponnesian War, but Creon can't praise all the Thebans who died in this battle. His idea for unifying Theban citizens behind him is to focus attention on himself as an example of everything they admire, and to show them the terrible consequences for disloyalty. Given the situation, I see this as an admirable goal, but I can also see why it's inevitable that Antigone, the strong-minded daughter of Oedipus and the sister of Polynices, will see Creon as arrogant and will challenge his rule.
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