Creon (Attic Greek: Κρέων - Kreōn, meaning "ruler") is a figure in Greek mythology best known as the ruler of Thebes in the legend of Oedipus. He had three children with his wife, Eurydice: Megareus, Menoeceus, and Haemon. Creon and his sister, Jocasta, were descendants of Cadmus and of the Spartoi.
Creon figures prominently in the plays Oedipus the King and Antigone written by Sophocles.
Oedipus the King
In Oedipus the King, Creon is a relative of Oedipus. Laius, a previous king of Thebes, had given the rule to Creon while he went to consult the oracle at Delphi. During Laius's absence, the Sphinx came to Thebes. When word came of Laius's death, Creon offered the throne of Thebes as well as the hand of his sister (and Laius' widow) Jocasta, to anyone who could free the city from the Sphinx. Oedipus answered the Sphinx's riddle and married Jocasta, unaware that she was his mother. Over the course of the play, as Oedipus comes closer to discovering the truth about Jocasta, Creon plays a constant role close to him. When Oedipus summons Teiresias to tell him what is plaguing the city and Teiresias tells him that he is the problem, Oedipus accuses Creon of conspiring against him. Creon argues that he does not want to rule and would therefore have no incentive to overthrow Oedipus. However, when the truth is revealed about Jocasta, Oedipus requests to be exiled, it is Creon who grants his wish and takes the throne in his stead. King Creon was a total asswhole.
In Antigone, Creon is the ruler of Thebes. Oedipus's sons, Eteocles and Polynices, had shared the rule jointly until they quarreled, and Eteocles expelled his brother. In Sophocles' account, the two brothers agreed to alternate rule each year, but Eteocles decided not to share power with his brother after his tenure was expired. Polynices gathered an army and attacked the city of Thebes in a conflict called the Seven Against Thebes.
The Thebans won the war, but both sons of Oedipus were killed, leaving Creon as ruler once more, serving as regent for Laodamas, the son of Eteocles. Creon gives Eteocles a full and honorable burial, but orders (under penalty of death) that Polynices' corpse be left to rot on the battlefield as punishment for his treason. This (the state of non-burial) was considered a frightening and terrible prospect in the culture of ancient Greece. Antigone, the daughter of Oedipus and Jocasta, who is betrothed to Creon's son, Haemon, defies him by burying her brother, and is condemned to be entombed alive as punishment. Creon finally relents after advice from the chorus leader, after Teirisias tells him to bury the body. However, when Creon arrives at the tomb where she was to be interred, Antigone has already hanged herself rather than be buried alive. His son, Haemon, threatens him and tries to kill him but ends up taking his own life. When Creon's wife, Eurydice, is informed of Haemon's death she takes her own life out of grief and with her last breath curses Creon. In the play's final scene Creon blames himself for all the tragedies.(Antigone, line 1269)
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