What makes a hero, a hero? In todays society, a hero is thought of as a tall man who wears a cape and rescues that day, but to the Greeks society, it was very different. In every Greek tragedy, there is the tragic hero, defined by Aristotle as a character who is an extraordinary person, with both good and bad qualities. Although the character reaches a level of insight, a tragic flaw, such as hamartia, leads to their failure in the end. A perfect example of this can be found in Sophocles’ Antigone As the title is Antigone, one would assume that she is the tragic hero, or heroine, but that is not the case.
Creon serves the law without wavering, but he neglects the needs and wants of the Thebans. When Creon is informed the people of Thebes disagree with his decision regarding Antigone, he responds: “The people of Thebes! Since when do I take my orders from the people of Thebes?” (Antigone 146). This shows his inability to accept any way but his own and his apathy regarding others. This is his tragic flaw. The contrast in his traits of determination and indifference makes Creon a combination of good and bad. Creon’s tragic flaw is hamartia, or error in judgement. This error drives him to refuse Polynices his burial rights and to sentence Antigone to death. As king, Creon believes no one can tell him what he should or should not do, but he ignores the fact that not even a king has power against the gods. Creon lives only by the laws of the city, while Antigone, and the rest of Thebes live by the more powerful laws of the gods. Leaving Polynices to be eaten by dogs and vultures is not only disrespectful, it is a crime against the laws of heaven, and Creon pays dearly for his crime. When Creon is visited by the blind seer Teiresias, he realizes he has made a mistake.