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Creon and the Chorus
After Tiresias’ departure, the Chorus warns Creon that “there is terror” in Tiresias’ prophecy. The Chorus knows that Tiresias, in the many years that he has advised kings, has “never spoken falsely to the state.” Creon is well aware of this. While he is full of dread of Tiresias’ words, he finds it difficult to yield to the old prophet.
Creon asks the Chorus of elders to advise him, and he tells them that he will follow their advice. The Chorus advises him to release Antigone from the vault and to allow Polynices’ body to be buried. Creon finds this counsel hard to follow, but finally accepts it as Fate. In spite of his own misgivings as a politician, Creon says that he is forced to accept the Chorus’ advice. The Chorus tells him to go personally to rescue the situation, and Creon hurries out with his entourage for the hill where Antigone is to be entombed. Creon now feels that it is better to conform to tradition.
In this scene, Creon makes a complete about-face. Right up to this point, Creon has been resolute, convinced that Antigone should die. Now suddenly he accepts what Tiresias and the Chorus tell him to do. He has obviously been shaken by Tiresias’ prophecy. However, his repentance comes only after Tiresias’ exit.
As a king, Creon cannot bear to be seen losing face before his subjects. Thus, he does not yield to Tiresias’ words. It is only when the Chorus of elders speaks on the side of Tiresias that Creon relents. He finally sees that he has been stubborn to the point of rigidity. He realizes that the citizens of Thebes, as represented by the Chorus, do not approve of his proclamation. He rushes out to rectify the wrongs he has committed, but it turns out that he is too late.