The Oedipus Plays

by: Sophocles

Creon

Quotes Creon
These are my principles. Never at my hands will the traitor be honored above the patriot. But whoever proves his loyalty to the state—I’ll prize that man in death as well as life.

Early in Antigone, Creon speaks to the leader of the Chorus about the beliefs that put him in conflict with the protagonist, Antigone. He holds onto these beliefs stubbornly throughout most of the play, and his refusal to consider another viewpoint results in the tragic deaths of Antigone and his own son Haemon. Creon will live to regret these words later in the drama. Excessive pride that leads to tragedy is a common theme in the trilogy.

Go down below and love, if love you must—love the dead! While I’m alive, no woman is going to lord it over me.

Here, Creon addresses Antigone, responding to her claim that she was born to join in love, not in hate. Creon’s words are a stern and harsh retort to her plea for mercy for both herself and her dead brother. These lines also reveal Creon’s complete denial of women’s rights to equality under his law. He dismisses Antigone not only because of she prioritizes natural law over his martial law but also because of her gender.

Now don’t please, be quite so single-minded, self-involved, or assume the world is wrong and you are right. Whoever thinks that he alone possesses intelligence, the gift of eloquence, he and no one else, and character, too . . . such men, I tell you, spread them open—you will find them empty.

In these lines from Antigone, Haemon is trying to talk sense into his arrogant father Creon by using some reverse psychology. Rather than outright accusing Creon of hubris and narcissism, Haemon tries to praise him while still making his point. The leader of the Chorus agrees with Haemon, but Creon dismisses his son and reiterates his law. Creon’s pride is so strong that even an appeal to his better self can’t soften its hold on Creon’s mind.

But once a wrong is done, a man can turn his back on folly, misfortune, too if he tries to make amends, however low he’s fallen, and stops his bullnecked ways. Stubbornness brands you for stupidity—pride is a crime.

At this point in Antigone, the blind prophet Tiresias tries to help Creon out of his predicament by encouraging him to change his mind about the burial of Polynices. He cautions against the stubborn hubris that Creon clings to, despite advice from his son and others. However, as he does with the others, Creon fully dismisses the old man’s advice and clings to his foolish pride.

I shackled her, I’ll set her free myself. I am afraid . . . it’s best to keep the established laws to the very day we die.

Creon speaks to the leader of the Chorus after he has been convinced, finally, to change his mind and set Antigone free. The leader argued that Tiresias has never lied, Creon was foolish to ignore Tiresias’s advice, and the gods will surely send a disaster to punish him. Tragically, Creon’s change of heart comes too late, for the audience will soon learn that Antigone is dead and Haemon, his son, will soon follow.

Creon shows the world that of all the ills afflicting men the worst is lack of judgment.

The messenger speaks to Eurydice, the queen, after recounting the gory details of Antigone’s and Haemon’s deaths. Eurydice does not reply but simply enters the palace and kills herself in grief over the loss of her son Haemon. The messenger’s line is an understatement, considering what Creon has caused. This scenario aligns with Oedipus’s situation: A man refusing to let go of his pride and accept the truth before him risks destroying so much more than his reputation.

And the guilt is all mine—can never be fixed on another man, no escape for me. I killed you, I, god help me, I admit is all.

Creon speaks to the messenger who has brought news of Eurydice’s death at the end of Antigone. In common Greek tragedy fashion, the antagonist Creon finally takes responsibility for all the torment and pain he’s caused throughout the entire drama. While the audience may feel some relief at Creon’s words, his admission is far too late to accomplish any real good.

Look, if you think crude, mindless stubbornness such a gift, you’ve lost your sense of balance.

Creon is speaking to Oedipus in the early part of Oedipus the King. This line becomes both ironic and iconic in the trilogy as it reflects a common theme woven throughout the three plays: Stubbornness brings disaster. Creon’s advice to Oedipus is wise, yet he himself doesn’t live in harmony with his own words. We learn later that Creon’s own “crude, mindless stubbornness” destroys his family and his life.

Not if you see things calmly, rationally, as I do. Look at it this way first: who in his right mind would rather rule and live in anxiety than sleep in peace?

Creon advises Oedipus early in Oedipus the King as the two try to sort through the details of Laius’s deaths many years before. Oedipus accuses Creon, who is his friend and brother-in-law, of betraying their kinship by siding with Tiresias about the murder of Laius. Creon responds by attesting to his own calm rationality, an ironic move considering the destruction his irrationality will soon cause in Antigone.

Never expose a thing of guilt and holy dread so great it appalls the earth the rain from heaven the light of day! Get him into the halls—quickly as you can. Piety demands no less. Kindred alone should see a kinsman’s shame. This is obscene.

Creon speaks to the guards in the presence of his brother-in-law, Oedipus, upon seeing that Oedipus has gouged out his own eyes. After Oedipus is exiled, Creon becomes king, and at this point in the trilogy, Creon is a voice of reason and logic. His judgment of Oedipus articulates the reaction of the entire court and the audience, too.