World Literature

Issues pertaining to the law and the capacity of individuals to follow
them have been contentious since time immemorial. Indeed, there has been
contention over whether individuals should follow every other law and
fail to question it irrespective of how draconian it seems. Needless to
say, literature has come in handy in underlining the issues that may be
wrong with the society within which its composers live, as well as
outlining the features that an ideal world would take. This is the case
for Antigone by Sophocles. Indeed, philosophers have come up with varied
theories on how human beings should conduct themselves, as is the case
for Confucius.
Why Creone would be guilty according to Confucius.
In “Antigone”, Creone was responsible for the death of Antigone, who
had defied the King’s decree and chosen to give her brother a decent
burial. However, this law was one of the draconian decrees that Creone
had made in an effort to contain any push for a rebellion in the
country. Confucius underlines the duty and responsibility of individuals
to maintain and respect family hierarchy, which is one of the things
that Creone did not do (Rainey et al, 2010). He failed to recognize the
fact that Antigone is tied to her brother Polyneices by the bonds of
familial love, which all individuals are required to respect at all
times, at least according to Confucius.
In addition, Confucius would hold Creone guilty on the basis of the fact
that his pride allowed him to disrespect the laws of the gods (Rainey et
al, 2010). Indeed, Creone was so strong-headed that he could not allow
his decisions, however irrational or draconian, to be changed. When
talking to Teiresias, Creone opines that he is paid off and is unwilling
to believe that he may have been wrong about Antigone. Indeed, he states
“Whatever you say, you will not change my will” and underlines his
superiority by stating that “The state is King”. This, undoubtedly,
amounts to disrespect of the gods as it shows that he thinks he is way
better than the gods.
Why Creone is not guilty.
While Confucius may hold the opinion that Creone is guilty, his teaches
would also insinuate that he acted appropriately. First, it is worth
noting that Antigone was deliberately defying the law set by the King.
Indeed, she was well aware of the law, as well as the consequences that
would befall any person that defied them (Rosenfield & Charles, 2010).
This, undoubtedly, shows lack of respect not only for Creone himself,
but also for the “government hierarchy”, which is underlined by
Confucius.
In addition, Creone should not be held solely responsible for the death
of Antigone, especially considering that he simply put her in the
gallows and even went to check on her when he realized his mistake
(Rosenfield & Charles, 2010). Indeed, Antigone made the decision to
commit suicide and could have come out of the gallows alive if only she
had waited a little longer. This shows that Antigone did not respect or
even recognize the divinity that resided in herself, in which case she,
and not Creone, should solely be held responsible for her death.
Confucius’ verdict
Confucius would still have seen Creone as guilty. This verdict is based
on the fact that while Antigone may have committed suicide and caused
her own death, her actions were simply a symptom of bad decisions
pertaining to governance that Creone had made. Indeed, she may have been
spared if only Creone showed some respect for the gods and familial
authority or bonds.
References
Rosenfield, K, H & Charles B. D (2010). Antigone: Sophocles` Art,
Hölderlin`s Insight. Aurora, CO: The Davies Group, Publishers.
Rainey, L. D., & Wiley InterScience (Online service). (2010). Confucius
& Confucianism: The essentials. Chichester, West Sussex, U.K:
Wiley-Blackwell.
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