Oedipus and Antigone
Sophocles’ plays Oedipus and Antigone have many parallel themes and conflicts. Certain characters and events are mirrored and go through similar sequences in both plays. One conflict that is prevalent in both plays is the idea of loyalty. In Oedipus, many are loyal to Oedipus, including the city of Thebes itself. In Antigone, there is much strife in the relationships as well, and the idea of loyalty arises.
In the play Antigone, there are many situations in which loyalty is involved, and in some, conflicts arise. The first example of this is the relationship between Haimon and his father Creon. This unusual relationship between them is incredibly superficial in that Creon is only proud of him because he is kissing up and says what his father wants to hear. It is blatantly obvious during their conversation where Haimon states; “I am your son father. You are my guide. You make things clear for me, and I obey you. No marriage means more to me than you continuing wisdom.” This statement is basically what Creon expects to hear out of his son. His reply of, “Good. That is the way to behave: subordinate everything else, my son, to your father’s will.” Creon is used to having people do everything he wants them to do. The second example is the relationship between Antigone and her dead brother Polyneices. She is incredibly loyal to him and is willing to risk her life in order to preserve his honor as a warrior and bury her against Creons order. It is evident in her statement of, “But I will bury him; and if I must die, I say that this crime is holy: I shall die down with him in death, and I shall be as dear to him as he to me.” She will do whatever it takes, even if it is death, to bury her violated brother. The third example is the relationship between Haimon and Antigone. Although Haimon was loyal to his father, he later broke away from his grasp and went to the aid of his fiancee Antigone. He felt that he betrayed her by siding with his father when he was obviously wrong and being stubborn. He signifies his loyalty to Antigone with the statement of, “But her death will cause another.” He will openly defy his father in order to stand by her side. There are numerous examples of loyalty in the play Antigone.
There are also many examples of loyalty in the play Oedipus. The first example is the loyalty of the whole entire city of Thebes to Oedipus. He came and saved them from the great Sphinx and became their generous and just ruler. Once it was discovered that he murdered Creon, he was to live up to his word and wanted to be driven from the town. The town, however, did not shun him, and acknowledged him as a great ruler that had brought upon his own demise. The second example is the loyalty of the shepherd that Oedipus was entrusted to, to king Laios. He was relied upon no to reveal the secret of the attempted extermination of Oedipus. That guard then became one of king Laios’s most trusted officers and was with him during the attack of Oedipus on him in which he was slain. The third example is that of the loyalty of most people to the Oracle, in that they all have faith and believe in the Oracle’s prophecies. They are willing to believe in the prophets, such as Tierces because they are speakers and messengers for what the Oracle says. After Oedipus was born, and his fate was known, Laiou and Iocaste immediately took action. They believed what the Oracle said, but naively tried to change their son’s fate by attempting to eradicate him. Of course, as the story goes, their plan was thwarted by the kind heart of the guard and thus the cycle began. There are many examples of loyalty in the play of Oedipus.
When someone is loyal to a person, a group, or an idea, it is their intent to do whatever is necessary to support them or it. This principle has been evident in the plays of Oedipus and Antigone. They are similar in many respects, having ideas rolled into the plots such as loyalty, by Sophocles. Whether it is the loyalty of the city of Thebes to Oedipus, or the early brown-nosing relationship between Haimon and Creon, the idea of fealty is the same for all of them.