Heroic Leaders Essay, Research Paper
Heroic leaders come in many odd shapes and forms. As can be seen in the characters of Sophocles’ Oedipus the King and Antigone. Contained within these famous Greek tragedies one can see how leadership is fostered and the challenges encountered by the two characters of Oedipus and Antigone. Although they are tragic heroic leaders, they are able to maintain an integrity that is vital in a leader. In comparing Oedipus and Antigone there is a similarity between them in terms of the main characters’ leadership in response to situations.
Antigone was a hero in the play. Even though she directly disobeyed the orders of the king, she did what she knew was right. The right thing to do was to bury the body of her dead brother. The gods did not save her because they knew what was to come. By the death of Antigone, it would allow Haemon to kill himself, making Creon suffer more. By the rules he has set, he lived to regret making them. Antigone knew that it would not matter what the king or anyone else said. As long as it would please the immortals, it would be correct. By not burying the body of Polynices, it would not allow his soul to pass to the underworld. The Gods would not consider this good. They wanted to seek vengeance on Creon. Not only did he lose his son, but also his wife took her own life within minutes of his son. He received a double blow of sorrow. What makes it even worse is that he would have to live with the agony of knowing that he caused them to commit suicide. Antigone did this deed with the knowledge that she was to be killed if she disobeyed the law. It was better to please the Gods and the souls of the dead, than to have a good life on earth but doing the wrong things. Her sister, Ismene, saw it the other way. The bond between Antigone and Polynices was very tight. In those days, the roles of women were very insignificant. The biggest job was to take care of the family. So when he died, Antigone had to give him the utmost respect, because that was all she had left in the family. This act makes Antigone a hero. Not only did she bury her brother, but also at no time did she deny it. That takes a tremendous amount of courage.
Creon had all the rights to make the law against burying Polynices body because he was the king. Though people may have disagreed with it, they would have to follow it. If they didn t, it was punishable by death. To most people it seemed reasonable, but to Antigone it didn t. This was her flesh and blood. She could not stand by and let the animals devour the corpse of her brother. Polynices gathered up an army and led it against Thebes. Any enemy of the city could and should be put to death. The law that Creon made was not at all unreasonable. It sounds like a pretty common occurrence when dealing with traitors. The only person it was unfair to was Antigone. Even Ismene would have obeyed the law. But Antigone insisted on taking care of her brother. She knew it would please the dead and the afterlife. It was more important to her because she knew the afterlife was eternal. So it was best not to mess up.
In Oedipus the King, the main character that displays leadership in response to a situation is Oedipus. In this epic, Oedipus’s leadership is greatly noted, especially upon our introduction of him and as the story progresses further. His leadership is easily recognized as he took charge when the Chorus and the Priest asked for his help to rescue Thebes from the plague. Oedipus used his intellect and diligence to answer the riddle of the Sphinx. Many of the most intelligent young men of Thebes had been killed attempting to answer the riddle but Oedipus proved his intelligence superior to theirs. Oedipus uses the same intelligence and perseverance to find the killer of Laius. Which is a heroic deed. He does not give up his search even when Jocasta warns him to stop and let the matter rest He calls the Sheppard and interrogates him till he discovers the horrifying truth that he is the killer.
Oedipus intelligence was ultimately his flaw, hence his tragic heroism. Also, if Oedipus had not had been as courageous he would have never ventured to answer the riddle of the Sphinx. Thus even though he had killed his father he would have never become king of Thebes and lay with his mother. In addition, if Oedipus had had the courage but not the intelligence the Sphinx would have killed him for answering the riddle incorrectly. Sophocles used this to characterized Oedipus as a tragic man for he came about his tragic discovery not because of an evil act or an evil trait but because of the person he was. Oedipus traits, which gave him riches and power, ultimately led to his tragic ending. Also, the god Apollo did not predestine that Oedipus would kill his father and marry his mother by the oracle; he only stated what he knew was inevitable because of who Oedipus was.
The sphinx s riddle was used by Sophocles to characterize Oedipus as a tragic man and as a parallel to his life. The riddle describes the 3 stages, which Oedipus went through in his life. Also in answering the riddle Oedipus inevitable brought about his own tragic ending by a horrible discovery.
In conclusion, the two leaders Oedipus and Antigone are similar to the leadership and heroism they displayed and the conviction of their actions. Although their actions ended negatively, they were true to their roles of leadership when the situation demanded it; thus making them heroes. Oedipus and Antigone aren’t commonly what one would refer to as a great heroic leader but I feel a leader who maintained their integrity shows great valor. Sophocles thus created characters of valiant magnitude but his plays also demonstrated that having a heroic persona might ver