Analysis of Creon in Terms of Aristotle’s Qualities of a Tragic Hero

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 649 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Sep 1, 2020

Words: 649|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Sep 1, 2020


Table of contents

  1. King Creon: A Tragic Hero
  2. Reversal of Fortune
  3. Disproportionate Fate
  4. Conclusion

Since ancient times, literature has showcased characters who embody the essence of heroism, standing as exemplars of virtues such as bravery, determination, and inspiration. Conversely, the concept of the tragic hero introduces a complex figure whose downfall is as compelling as their initial rise. In Aristotle's analysis of tragedy, he delineates specific criteria that define the tragic hero, including flawed judgment, hubris, a reversal of fortune, recognition of their errors, and a fate disproportionate to their actions. Through the lens of Sophocles' timeless play "Antigone," King Creon emerges as a quintessential tragic hero, embodying these criteria in his tragic trajectory. This essay delves into Creon's character, exploring his fatal flaws and the profound implications of his tragic downfall.

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King Creon: A Tragic Hero

At the heart of Creon's tragic journey lies his flawed judgment and hubris, which blind him to the consequences of his actions. From the outset, Creon's decision to deny burial rites to Polyneices epitomizes his rigid adherence to state authority at the expense of familial duty and divine law. Despite warnings from his son Haemon and the seer Teiresias, Creon remains obstinate, convinced of his infallibility. His hubris is evident in his assertion, "Whoever is chosen to govern should be obeyed-must be obeyed, in all things, great and small, just and unjust!" This hubristic conviction leads Creon to dismiss dissenting voices and disregard the wisdom of others, ultimately sealing his tragic fate.

Moreover, Creon's refusal to heed counsel precipitates a series of calamitous events, underscoring the catastrophic consequences of his prideful obstinacy. His decision to entomb Antigone alive as punishment for defying his decree illustrates the extent of his hubris-driven tyranny. Despite Haemon's impassioned pleas for reason and compassion, Creon remains steadfast, unwilling to compromise his authority. This tragic flaw not only alienates Creon from his loved ones but also precipitates his eventual downfall.

Reversal of Fortune

As the play unfolds, Creon experiences a dramatic reversal of fortune, culminating in a profound realization of his errors. Initially, Creon's pride manifests as a pillar of strength, symbolized by his familial bonds and unwavering commitment to state authority. However, this pride soon crumbles beneath the weight of tragedy, as Creon's decisions lead to the loss of his loved ones and the dissolution of his power.

The pivotal moment of reversal occurs when Creon receives news of his son Haemon's death and his wife Eurydice's suicide. In a moment of agonizing clarity, Creon acknowledges the catastrophic consequences of his hubris, lamenting, "Fate has brought all my pride to a thought of dust." This recognition marks a profound shift in Creon's character, as he confronts the devastating toll of his actions and grapples with the realization that his pride has led to his own undoing.

Disproportionate Fate

Ultimately, Creon's fate proves to be more appalling than deserved, underscoring the tragic nature of his downfall. While Aristotle suggests that the tragic hero should suffer a fate disproportionate to their actions, Creon's punishment exceeds even the most severe expectations. The loss of his son, wife, and royal authority leaves Creon bereft of everything he once held dear, condemned to live out his days in agonizing remorse.

Moreover, Creon's fate serves as a cautionary tale against the perils of unchecked pride and authoritarian rule. By portraying the devastating consequences of Creon's hubris, Sophocles warns against the dangers of hubristic leadership and the importance of humility and empathy in governance.

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In conclusion, Sophocles' "Antigone" offers a poignant exploration of the tragic heroism embodied by King Creon. Through his flawed judgment, hubris, reversal of fortune, recognition of errors, and disproportionate fate, Creon emerges as a compelling embodiment of Aristotle's criteria for the tragic hero. His tragic downfall serves as a timeless reminder of the perils of pride and the enduring relevance of tragic literature in illuminating the complexities of the human condition. As we reflect on Creon's tragic journey, we are compelled to confront our own vulnerabilities and strive for a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us.


  1. Segal, C. (1986). Tragedy and Civilization: An Interpretation of Sophocles. Harvard University Press.
  2. Knox, B. M. W. (1998). The Heroic Temper: Studies in Sophoclean Tragedy. University of California Press.
  3. Whitman, C. H. (2019). Sophocles: A Study of Heroic Humanism. Cornell University Press.
  4. Winnington-Ingram, R. P. (1980). Sophocles: An Interpretation. Cambridge University Press.
  5. Kitto, H. D. F. (1991). Greek Tragedy: A Literary Study. Routledge.
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Analysis of Creon in Terms of Aristotle’s Qualities of a Tragic Hero. (2020, September 01). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 25, 2024, from
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Analysis of Creon in Terms of Aristotle’s Qualities of a Tragic Hero. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 Feb. 2024].
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