Tragic Hero in Greek Myths

Greek myths and stories are constructed by a multitude of different approaches formed by Greek tragedians and philosophers. Tragedians were known for their influential drama in writings. Sophocles was one of the most acclaimed Greek tragedians. Sophocles is mainly associated with his unique use of tragic irony, extended metaphor, and the internal conflicts placed among the characters. He demonstrates this approach in his story Antigone by telling the journey of the characters Antigone and Creon. As for philosophers, they account for a variety of subjects including ethics, ontology, logic, biology, and more. A well-known philosopher that addressed greek tales through ethics and religion is Aristotle. In Aristotle’s Poetics, he describes his thoughts on what makes up a tragic hero. After analyzing Sophocles’ Antigone with Aristotle’s Poetics, it becomes clear that Creo is the better tragic hero.

In the play Antigone, Creon plays an interesting role. Though Creon is a stubborn, reluctant character that is often seen as an antagonist, he is still always trying to do right. Haemon, Creon’s son even addresses this by saying “My father, I am yours. You keep me straight with your good judgement, which I shall ever follow” (lines 635-636). Sophocles first portrays Creon as a strong leader with good reasons behind certain punishments and laws. As the story goes on, he is depicted as a character whose pride has completely overtaken and consumed him to where he doesn’t even realize how it all impacted the problems around him. Though he has a large amount of pride and pleasure within his rule, Creon is shown as a ruthless king. When speaking about the burial of Antigone’s traitor brother, he mentions “ no one in this town may give him burial or mourn for him. Leave him unburied, leave his corpse disgraced, a dinner for the birds and for the dogs” (lines 203-206). His substantial amount of self-gratification is what is considered to be his tragic flaw, or hamartia, and eventually leads him to his own downfall. Along with being a harsh, prideful ruler, Creon is not listening to the advice from those around him. He is told by his son, Haemon, “ Whoever thinks that he alone is wise, his eloquence, his mind, above the rest, come the unfolding, it shows his emptiness.

A man, though wise, should never be ashamed of learning more, and most not be too rigid” (lines 707-711). Saying this, Haemon is telling his father to ease up on his power and to listen to others along with the Gods to set rules and not just make his own based solely upon his opinion on situations. Although there are elements of fate along his journey in the story, the decisions of Creon, the tragic hero in the play, are the foundation of the ending. Creon’s tragic flaw, excessive pride, sets in a motion of events throughout the story that builds up towards this downfall. After Creon started to reflect on all that happened, he begins to become aware and experiences a moment of clarity. This realization of the flaw among him results in him regretting some of his former decisions. When speaking with Teiresias, he admits to the fall of humans. He states “Yes, old Teiresias, human beings fall; the clever ones the furthest, when they plead a shameless case so well in hope of profit” ( lines 1045-1047). Although he knows he did wrong, he is aware that it is too late to change anything. He proposes this thought by announcing “How hard, abandonment of my desire! But I can fight necessity no more” (lines 1105-1106). After all the build-up and realization of the tragic flaw, the play ends and Creon has lost everything: his wife and his son. This all makes it obvious that Creon is the tragic hero in the story based upon the multitude of sufferings he endured.

Although his excessive pride interfered with his actions and words, the audience could not help but feel pity for him. Just towards the end, many people feel especially sorry that he lost his family. The sorrow that is felt by audience members most certainly is a feeling that is shown due to them possibly undergoing a similar situation as Creon. A story of someone going through hardship and suffering before realizing they are the ones who made the mistake is very relatable to many people. Creon, experiencing many sufferings, loses everything and ultimately falls the farthest, leaving him to finally understand that his excessive pride is the culprit.

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Tragic hero in greek myths. (2021, May 15). Retrieved September 23, 2022 , from

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