Who Wants to be Next in Line

Who Wants to be Next in Line


In Greek words translated as I obey actually mean I get myself persuaded. For a man there is perhaps always something a little shameful about obeying someone � as if allowing yourself to be persuaded is a thing a warrior or hero would be embarrassed to find himself happening to him. The common goal of the Periclean Age was to establish a nation that was built on freedom and beauty, however the methods by which to achieve such a democratic state were and continue to be as individual as the people residing in Greece.

Pericles (493 BC � 429 BC) was a statesman of Athens, Greece during this time of political exploration and expansion. He led the Athenians to remain extremely proud of their city and like all statesmen his words had an extremely influential impact on the appetite for progress of the democracy. An example of such an oral masterpiece is the address he made after the first battle with opposing Grecian city Sparta. This civil war in Greece had created chaos and sparked worry in the Athenians. Pericles� Funeral Oration was a reminder to them. The great speech was a pep-rally to restate the original reason for which they were fighting; to honor the noble soldiers that died while they were free and to boldly request the people honor such fine men by following in their footsteps.

It was the main purpose of this speech, to remind Athenians what their loved ones had been dying for in the battles with Sparta. Pericles wanted to instill national pride in the city along with a zest to fight for Athens and fight for her boldy. The oration reminds Athenians of their greatness because of the fact that they, as warriors, had more to fight for: they have more to lose because they live in freedom.
Pericles was extremely proud of the nation that he lived in. His speeches were filled with motivation to instill justice in Athens by praising the people. He persuaded the people of Athens to join him by keeping faith in the maturiy and development of the state.
�Choosing to die resisting, [Sparta] rather than to live submitting, they fled only from
dishonor, but met danger face to face; in one brief moment, while at the summit of their fortune, they escaped from fear and embraced their glory.� Pericles� Funeral Oration.

With this attitude, Pericles made it conceivable that this was the way towards a bright future. He was a man full of ambition for the city and the city�s people. City funds were dealt out to aid in preserving Athens beauty and creativity through art. He sought to attain a great army and standard of living for Athens without the harsh everyday training found in the city of Sparta.
�Thus we have the advantage of not suffering in preparation for future pain.� Pericles� Funeral Oration.

The Spartan way may have been more single-minded than the Athenians� however. It may have been their complete dedication to one goal that awarded them their victory in the long run. One might argue, though, that there are more important things for a human mind to expand on than battle and power and money.
�Well I know, we can�t defile the gods �no, reverend old Tiresias, all men fall, it�s only human, but the wisest fall obscenely when they glorify obscene advice with rhetoric � all for their own gain�.You and the hole breed of seers are mad for money!� (Sophocles� Antigone 1156�1171). That is the argument that may have made the Athenians less powerful as strict warriors. Athenians, under the persuasion of Pericles, were able to appreciate art and poetry. They were also not just allowed, but required to make an appearance and have a say in future plans for the city and they also had an allowance for a private life � time to appreciate, love, make friends and have hobbies. Sparta was ruled in a much more communist way. The community was forced together in a simple plan. Their approach to problems was much less indirect. They trained at an early age for battle without an option to be their own private individual. Courage was something that was instilled by this training. And it is probably right to assume that complete dedication to anything would win mastery of what was practiced. Sparta went on to defeat Athens in many battles and though Pericles aroused the spirit of a free and democratic nation, his legacy was short-lived after such powerful words were spoken. He died in a plague, two short years after he gave his famous oration.

A lot like Pericles was Creon, the uncle to ill-fated Antigone in the play by Sophocles, Antigone. The story of these two that represents a vague imitation of the political uprising previously explained between �Periclean Athens� and Sparta. Perhaps it�s ironic, then, that the play Antigone was performed in 442 B.C. and the war began eleven years later! Creon sides with Pericles statesmanship though he�s a literal tyrant of the city of Athens and his trouble curbing his pride almost led to complete self-destruction as well as destruction of the city. He protected and led the city of Thebes to a higher understanding. Whatever he thought best for the city, he was determined to provide for the city just like any leader making the laws. He compares himself to a captain who would stick to his course even if it were wrong.
�My countrymen, the ship of state is safe��Remember this: our country is our safety. Only while she voyages true on course can we establish friendships, truer than blood itself.� (Sophocles� Antigone)
Creon, being absorbed in his pride and desire for power, didn�t listen to his son, Haemon, when he gave advice about good rulers �bending like branches caught in a flood�. No, in Athenian democracy, everyone knew how important persuasion was. Creon rose up at a time that was most vulnerable and seized power. He continued his fight for Thebes and eventually earned a dose of fear from most of the citizens.

Creon came to power when Antigone�s brothers Polynices and Eteocles killed each other in a fight for the throne. The history in Sophocles� tragic drama tells the audience that Creon sees it as unfit to bury and honor Polynices because he was a traitor to the city. He had left when his brother Eteocles wouldn�t share the leadership. He changed his mind and came back to fight for what he believed was his and both of them died in their own battle. Antigone thought it completely horrendous to leave a human, much more her own family, to the vultures and rodents to rot and perish without dignity. However, because of the circumstances and Creon�s stubbornness, it was made law to leave Polynices open to the earth. Anyone that would defy such a law would be defying Thebes. Though it was not the law of Thebes that Antigone pressed upon continuously. She believed in the unwritten laws and codes which were those respected by the gods. Compassion within the family blood line was important to her as she was brought up to trust nothing else. She believed in friends outside the city and her laws. Antigone believes in other laws and is equally stubborn. She knows the laws, but believes that the gods have different views. She is na�ve about what might happen to her if she goes against her uncle�s orders, but she is determined to give her own brother, traitor or not, a proper burial. Upon doing so by herself, she is caught and sentenced to a death far worse than an instant one, such as a blow to the head. She is condemned to being buried alive. Not the sister, Ismene, nor the future husband, son to the power hungry leader, Haemon, could change the stubborn tyrannos etched in noble Creon.

The characters Antigone and Creon represent two completely different views when it comes to discussing what is the right way and what is the wrong way to go about achieving utopia, or atleast justice, within a community. Antigone believes that friendships and family are the most important relationships to preserve, while Creon takes the approach that having friends is actually a privilege made possible by the city itself and any traitor, friend or family to the city is a traitor to everyone including those of their own blood. One might assume that Sophocles is trying to provide a brief synopsis of Grecian history. Creon can be compared to Pericles in that they are both dedicated to the city that they belong to, and Antigone can be compared to the Spartans sharing their die-hard approach to one goal worth fighting for. Oh, for she could have been of Spartan blood if it weren�t written otherwise! The Spartans determination and their dedication were enforced with much boasting. Antigone was quite young and ignorant as those in Sparta were uncultured about the many things that Athens had seen necessary is for contentment. Antigone had one goal, as did Sparta: fight for what was just. She believed in the unwritten laws of mere morality. She believed that the gods were responsible for judging her and that was much more important than following the rules laid down by her uncle.

Similarly, Creon and Pericles� also fought for justice. Creon�s immunity to persuasion was a matter of pride. In fact this detail was the fatal weakness of his. It is in the face of change and daring, indeed, that man must be persuaded before he reaps the benefits of his actions. Creon learned this in the end as did Pericles also try to instill with his oration:
�Great will be your glory in not falling short of your natural character; and greatest will be hers who is least talked of among the men whether good or for bad.�
Could we perhaps all be persuaded to make a difference in improving ourselves as human beings as well as preserving our nation?
Or shall we all just fight for a king?