The Gods required justice and never let someone go unpunished. Sophocles wrote two plays that described these ideas. The characters in these plays, Oedipus, Jocasta, Creon, and Antigone were bound to the Gods, and trapped between various moral obligations. A question that was deeply present in Greek conscience was that everyone needed to know their place in the universe as a human being.
Oedipus was on a continual search throughout King Oedipus for his identity. The use of oracles in the play depict the importance of the Gods role in the Theban society. Greeks depended on them for guidance and answers to problems. Oedipus as the king of Thebes was morally obligated to his subjects to find the killer of Laius who is the source of the vile plague and promises that he will save the city just as he did when he solved the riddle of the Sphinx. After sending Creon to the oracle at Delphi and speaking to Teiresias he believes that they are both planning to dethrone Oedipus.
In the interaction between Teiresias and Creon you can see Oedipus tragic flaw which is his pride. Oedipus taunts Teiresias when he says that he is the killer of the previous king. Oedipus refers to his track record and shows Teiresias if he was any good at prophesizing that he would have solved the riddle himself. He holds himself as this overconfident and superior being because he possesses an intelligence that surpasses everyone in Thebes. He also accuses Creon of wanting to be king and using the prophet as his pawn.
His pride also made him kill the king and all but one of his guards. This makes his pride a tragic flaw because it made him save the city, but allowed him to kill his father and guards with indifference. His pride led to his greatness and his downfall. Oedipus also angers the Gods.
At the oracle of Apollo he wanted to find if Polybus was really his father, but instead gets a horrific prediction that he will kill his father and marry his mother. He tries to use his free will to flee Corinth and his parents, but indeed he makes the prediction come true. Oedipus should have known that by trying to change his fate he irritates the Gods and is punished by finding the truth out in a cruel way and making his fate come true anyway. He also did not listen to Teiresias who he knows is the nearest mortal to Apollo. This would mean that he disregarded a message from Apollo and therefore has a disbelief in Gods.
You can see that his moral predicament was a search of Laius murderer which in fact led him to find his own origins by revealing an undeniable fact that he killed his father and married his mother. No one could escape their fate because it was predestined by the Gods. Jocasta can be seen as a disbeliever of the Gods and their oracles. The moral dilemma that Jocasta faced was to prevent a prophecy from coming true and to test Oedipus faith. Jocasta tried to avoid the prophecy from coming true by sending her son to be exposed on a mountain to be killed.
By doing this and pinning her sons feet together she tried to defeat the Gods which highly angered them. Jocasta planted doubts after hearing that Oedipus and Creons argument was due to an oracle. She says they are nonsense because she was given a prophecy that Laius would be killed by the son and marry his mother. She believed that Laius was killed by robbers and that the baby died on the mountain. Since this did not come true she believed that they were incorrect. Also when the messenger comes to tell of Polybus death, Jocasta again says that his propecy was also a lie.
She is implying that since that oracles were wrong that the Gods were also false. Jocastas punishment can be seen as a test. She was to test the beliefs of the child she had sent to die. By planting doubts of the Gods in Oedipus mind the gods can test his faith and his power. He failed the test and perpetuated a disbelief in the Gods.
This depicts the way the Gods had a hand in everyones life. By disobeying them by avoidance of their dealings the punishment is to be forced to conspire against the people you love. This can be seen in the character of Jocasta in King Oedipus. Antigone seems like a martyr who held her holy principles higher than the states principles. At times she assumes to be an anxious martyr who knows the consequences of her actions.
In the end she dies because she believed what she was doing was indeed correct. Antigone knowingly breaks an edict sent forth by Creon. She holds that she will never have a new brother because she does not have her parents. Her faith in family in unwavering. It did not matter to her that Polynices may have been a traitor to Thebes, but he was her flesh and blood. She also was more loyal to the Gods than to Creon.
Creon was only a ruler and she believed that it was wrong to not perform the proper burial rites. The Gods regarded that every human being deserves the right to a proper burial. She knows that Creon is a mere mortal who is breaking the laws of the Gods. Antigone can be seen as a holy woman who takes the Gods laws seriously. Antigones moral predicament concerned her obligation to her brother and thus the Gods for a proper burial and to the king of Thebes who was also her uncle.
She had to decide between the consequence of death if she disobeyed Creons law or to her holy duty to bury her brother and follow the Gods laws. I believe that she did the right and courageous thing. Creons tragic flaw is his foolish pride. He sends the edict out in the first place because he did not have the state that he ruled in mind, but because of the inner revenge against Polynices. He also is stubborn because he is unrelenting in his stubbornness.
He believes that if he is persuaded by anyone that it means he is womanish. He sticks to his guns until it is too late to change anything which includes the deaths of his wife, son, and niece. He is in a moral predicament because he has an obligation to protect his state of Thebes which includes its democratic laws and its citizens. He also is obligated to the Gods who ultimately rule over all beings and their divine laws. Creon fails to follow both of his obligations.
Creon is shown as a self serving ruler who does not care about anything else except seeking revenge. And even when it is suggested to him that he should change his mind about Antigone and his edict by Haemon and Teiresias he remains obstinate and blind to his own actions. He adheres to the laws of the state rather than having irreverence to the laws of the Gods. In a conversation with Teiresias he displays that he would not yield even if the eagles carry the body to Zeus he would remain unyielding in his principles. Haemon also advises his father to learn from others, but Creon feels that he should rule not for others but for himself.
He forgets the power of the kingdom is to rule over people and is not to be caught in his own vengeful power struggle. And it is because of this his stubbornness that he experiences a turn of events that show that he really was wrong in what he did. His downfall was caused by his irrationality by defying the decree of the Gods that demanded a proper burial for all. It was an violation to have an indecent burial. By Creons edict and will to have Polynices unburied and Antigone sentenced to death he has shown that he surpassed the Gods.
This is very bad judgement because the Gods are punishing beings and ruled overall, but Creon only ruled his kingdom. Creon is ultimately punished for his pride and lack of respect for the Gods. It was after his conversation with Teiresias that he realizes he was blind to himself and that as a mortal he should have never defiled the Gods. But it is too late because the Gods have cursed him by having all his close family members kill themselves.Bibliography: