Creon and Antigone Origins of Conflict through the Concept of Relative Virtues — страница 3

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king’s laws as legitimate: “Nor did I think your edict had such force that you, a mere mortal, could override the gods, the great unwritten, unshakable traditions… these laws – I was not about to break them” (Sophocles 82). Here Antigone is displays strong commitment to achieve the ideal reputation of honoring the laws of gods and paying proper attention to the dead, refusing to be subjected to laws made by mortal, even if the mortal is a king. Since her virtue dictates her to choose actions which will bring satisfaction in the afterlife in addition to her belief that she should honor the sacred laws before the common laws, and in her understanding if the conflict emerge between these rules, the sacred laws always override man-made. Creon’s prohibition of burial is

not seen by Antigone’s system of values as a legitimate law since it contradicts the holy tradition, but rather a blasphemous practice, and therefore her life-goal becomes to preserve the sacred law. Her system of believes does not differentiate the dead – her interpretation of the sacred law is in accordance to her value system – everybody deserves honor in death, especially if this person is a close relative. Thus her duty to defend this practice only reinforces the virtue to strive to religious ideals, and even allows dismissal of the very value of life, elevating death as not the discontinuation of living, but rather a prospect for reunification with loved ones. However, Creon has a different perspective on the situation. Since his system of believes stem primarily from

responsibilities of his social role as a king and a ruler, rather then from feelings generated from emotions, especially those coming out from the mouth of women. His virtues are based on law and the adherence to the rules, and the traditions of society; he accentuates that “we must defend the men who live by law” (Sophocles 94). On the contrary, his virtue denies actions that follow because of affections: “Never let some woman triumph over us… better to fall from power, if fall we must, at the hands of a man – never be rated inferior to a woman, never” (Sophocles 94). Because of these factors, the virtue of his character are totally contrary to virtues of Antigone, where he has an even greater aspiration to preservation of law, order and traditions of the society

than the sacred laws or feelings of affection. Therefore the central conflict of the play develops not simply between personalities of Creon and Antigone, but rather it emerges on basis of more profound belligerent dissidence between differences of perceptions, differences of moral ideals, and, most importantly, differences in virtues. Antigone’s virtue dictates her to see Creon’s actions as illegitimate and according to her a barrier to exercising her sacred moral duty, or even sacrilege of ancient sacred traditions. On the contrary, Creon sees Antigone’s views as a threat to the social stability and his order of the law, which he sees as a shortcut to change in the status of women, inevitably leading to anarchy. He simply sees her action as acts of insubordination, and

attempts to grasp power out of men’s hands, which will result negatively. His personal justification of this view follows from his the conversation with only son Haemon: “…never loose your sense of judgment over woman… worthless woman in your house, a misery in your bed…whoever steps out of line, violates the laws or presumes to hand out orders to his superiors, he’ll win no praise for me… anarchy – show me a greater crime in all the earth!” (Sophocles 93-94). Thus, his virtues largely based on duties of his social role as a king, polarize his life goals, transforming his perception toward one sided vision of the fulfillment of the law to the letter and enforcement at any cost. This virtue denies any argumentation of Antigone, Haemon and Tiresias identifying

them as faulty and targeted only at undermining his authority, authority of the law and traditions. The dissonance between virtues of both characters and inability to accommodate for individual ideals and life goals ultimately leads to the tragic resolution of the conflict. Therefore, Sophocles’ Antigone provides a situation which may be interpreted utilizing views of virtue theory. In fact, it provides a clear stance on the nature of the concept of virtue, where, similar to the fact that there are no identical personalities Sophocles exemplifies that each individual possesses a unique set of virtues, which are different from set of virtues of other person. Although virtue theory does not specify whether virtues are universal or differentiate, Sophocles, by clever portrayal of