In all of the Greek dramas, the main characters are usually poised to be alike in some ways and different in others, Medea and Antigone are no exception. Antigone by Sophocles and Medea by Euripides dramas analyze these differences and similarities of their two main characters—Creon and Medea. In comparing and contrasting the character traits of these two characters, an understanding of their ambitions and motives in the society is clearly demonstrated. As such, it provides an insight on the democratic or dictatorship of each character as illustrated in the drama. Although the objectives, personalities, and irrational behaviors of Creone and Medea outline their similarities, their actions, destinies, and motivations differentiates them.
Creon clearly fits the characteristics that define Aristotle’s criteria of ruling. He is neither bad nor good. Concerning his good side of character, he did not want to kill Antigone when opportunity presented itself. His main intent is to uphold justice in the society. This is what defines the character of Medea. Like Creon, Medea’s intent was to uphold justice in the society. However, as she was irrational, justice was unachievable. Medea is hateful and an evil person and her objective is to revenge and retaliation on Jason—her ex-husband. Pride and arrogance, as evidenced in Medea’s characters, is also revealed in Creon character traits. In every decision made, Creon showed arrogance. For instance, in scene 3 (105), his pride is revealed he was the only one to give orders in the city. In addition, Creon insisted that he would punish Antigone, and nobody would change his mind. He argues that maintaining a country in harmony needs sacrifice and not all the individuals in the society will enjoy it. In scene 3 (118), he says, “you will never marry her while she lives.”
Medea is in love with her children more than the way she loves her husband. When she was notified that she would be exiled, with her children, from Corinth, Medea is frustrated and craves for revenge. She cannot withstand the thought that her children will be uneducated and that they will be living in the streets. As her main intent is avenging on her enemies, she is persistent and irrational, thus; impeding her from undertaking the actions in a civilized and cultured way. Same as Creon, Medea does not offer a second thought to other people’s considerations. For instance, when the Nurse was trying to help Medea, she tells her that Lord Aegeus was in town—Corinth—therefore, in case of her speaking to the King, in a fair way, they will ultimately get refuge (I, 247-252). In addition, she shows her stubbornness and unreason ability towards the Nurse when she tells her, “I have things in my hand to do. Be quiet.” (I, 252-253). Her reply shows that she is unable to listen and possess stubborn behavior. Like Creon, she perceives that her perceptions and decisions are always perfect and are better than other individuals’ decision. Her uncivilized manner and evil personality in attaining the revenge are clearly demonstrated towards the end of the drama. She decided to kill her children in an attempt to cause pain to Jason. She retorts that evil for evil, throat for throat, and vengeance for vengeance (II, 345). In this case, the evil and hateful manner of Medea retaliatory character is portrayed.
Consequently, audiences in the modern world view Creon as a symbol of tyrant. The evidence of Creon good intentions, though coupled with pride and stubbornness, seemed to have frustrated the shelving of Antigone as a play that demonstrates the “Power corrupts” as its key lesson. His mistake is not that he relies on the lust that drives him towards achieving his desires; but the weakness is a boost for his morale and confidence in the leadership roles. Often, he praises loyalty, civil obedience, and patriotism, elevating them so high that other forms of justice are forgotten. However, his position provides the audience with comfortability in the past than the current society. Ideally, his perception towards leadership is that there are always rules and guidelines that define a given situation. Vagaries and abuses of one’s conscience will not be allowed to ruin the social order enjoyed by the society. Like many leaders, Creon fears disorder. As the Civil war ended, he wanted to be the leader of his esteemed society.
Different forms of justices characterize the society. Creon symbolizes man-made institutions and laws that govern the society in an attempt to realize justice. On the other hand, there is the justice that is guided by an individual morality and conscience; depicted by Antigone but neither of them possessed these traits. Both Medea and Creon defy the unwritten morality and the ways of societal norms in undertaking their roles. Ideally, Creon suffers divine retribution, as it is believed that the gods are against him. Creon proclaims that, “We cannot give victory to a woman; if we must accept defeat, let it be from a man; we must not let people say that a woman beat us” (731¬734). From his point of view, the worst disobedience comes from a woman. Even when Haemon expresses the voice of the people, “who mourns for this girl; they think she is dying most wrongly and most undeservedly of all women kind, for the most glorious acts, Creon does not relent (747¬749). Towards the end, the chorus condemns him for the actions that he undertook, and it pities him.
Creon is wrong in trying to put down oppositions just to ensure power and order. He makes his decision on the fate of Polyneices’ body without consulting the people. The stubborn Creon represents the typical ruler, and Antigone represents public opinion. Creon’s punishment by the gods acts as a warning to all rulers. Sophocles uses the play to explain the disadvantages of a monarchy and promote the ideas of a democracy. Haemon is right in saying that “There is not city possessed by one man only” (798 ¬799). In a democracy, the rulers listen to the opinions of the people before making his decisions instead of making the laws and then punishing the people for disobeying them. There are numerous ways to obtain a well-disciplined city, but not in a dictatorial way. Without listening to public opinion, the leader is more likely to make a wrong decision. Therefore, a good government is one that considers the views from all sides and then rules.
In conclusion, contrasting and comparing the character traits of Medea and Creon in these two Greek dramas is decisive. However, the audience can clearly understand the repercussion and effects of bad governance in the society. Being an aristocrat is self-fish, and the leaders, in the current society, should demonstrate democratic leadership. This is because authoritarian leadership is archaic and uncivilized; therefore, need not be used by the modern leaders.