Creon and the Alliance of Spears in Antigone

In Sophocles’ Antigone, Creon makes reference to an “alliance of spears” as a metaphor pertaining to the necessary allegiance a society has to its ruler. Initially he feels his authority must be proven as absolute and in an act of hubris he attempts to prohibit the appropriate burial of an enemy. In so doing Creon oversteps his bounds from the world of nomos to the realm of physis and is confronted with the naturally occurring limitations of political authority. Creon’s “alliance of spears” then adopts a new significance from an enlightened position.

In order to gain a full understanding of the issues that exist in Antigone one must first become aware of the circumstances that have placed Creon in his position of power. Creon ascended to the throne by contested birthright and has limited experience as a leader. As a result, Creon is an insecure leader conscious of the image he projects. He makes this known to his chorus: “No man has a mind that can be fully known, in character of judgment, till he rules and makes law; only then can he be tested in the public eye.” His decision to forbid an honorable burial for Polyneices was made hastily but demanded enforcement, as any recanting of his decree would display weakness and...

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