Antigone, Authoritarianism, and Religion in Leadership

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Antigone, Authoritarianism, and Religion in Leadership
I have chosen to compare and discuss the opposing forces of the state and religion in the tragedy of Antigone, how leaders deal with these conflicting forces. Ultimately, I think that the crux of Antigone’s argument is that any attempt to maintain leadship through a rigid structure and suppress the religious ideas of your subordinates will ultimately result in tragedy.

Central to the development of the tragedy of Antigone is the conflicting roles of the state and religion. This conflict, in fact, sets the entire tragedy in motion: “The worthy Creon has proclaimed… whoever breaks the edict [to leave Polyneices unburied], death is prescribed (30-35). Creon attempts to use his stature as the head of state to further his political purposes, at the expense of religion. Through dictating that Polyneices is “a returned exile,/ who sought to burn with fire top to bottom his native city” and shall not receive a proper burial, Creon uses his political power to humiliate the powers that sought to displace him from office (197-198). This is quite obviously a brutal leadership style, and displays no emotional intelligence.

Antigone’s appeal to Creon as a leader invokes a religious argument. Antigone rejects the authority of the state, basing her moral high ground on preeminent divine will: “Yes, it was not Zeus that made the proclamation;/ nor did Justice” (450-451). Antigone receives widespread backing, even from Creon’s own son based upon this argument founded upon love. However, Creon’s leadership style is so inflexible that he ignores this plea, placing too much impetus upon the preeminence of state authority: “So let her cry if she will on the Zeus of kinship… for he who is in his household a good man/ will be found a just man, too, in the city” (658-662).

This suppression of religion and attempt to keep a…...

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