Would Machiavelli and Hobbes have considered Creon a good king?

Introduction

True leadership has nothing to do with wealth, money, or fame; it has everything to do with service to others. It is about ones sacrifice and choice to represent people. Machiavelli and Hobbes have stood out to provide the characteristics of a good leader. Machiavelli depicts a leader as one with qualities like love, mercy, among others.

On the other hand, Hobbes portrays a leader as one who is rational, non-materialistic, to mention a few. Creon happens to be a leader of Thebes. He is a cruel, unforgiving dictator. From these qualities and those given by Machiavelli and Hobbes, it is clear that, given an opportunity, Machiavelli and Hobbes cannot consider Creon a good leader.

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Machiavellian Leader

Written by Nicolo’ Machiavelli in 1505, The Prince is a book dedicated to leaders. The author illustrates this by devoting it to the famous Florentine ruler Lorenzo de’ Medici. His main agenda is to advice leaders, and all in general. This provides the reason as to why he writes eight chapters, from XV-XXIII, about the caliber of a reputable leader. He addresses the virtues of mercy and love positing that kings ought to be merciful rather than being cruel, and need to be loved and feared, but not hated.

They ought not to be fast in acting or believing but rich of courage. He/she should have people behind to offer him defense. This is a so basic attribute because the absence of people not only in a government, but also in any society, implies a state of dormancy with no activity-taking place. A leader should have them to back up his opinions and foster military endeavors. According to Machiavelli, leaders should behave in a merited manner as exposited next.

Though he puts it in a comical way, he says that leaders should posses or act as if they own merits. Why is it so to him? People are much interested and attracted by leaders with good virtues. Leaders need to be wise and a wise leader will portray virtues whether real or imaginary. As aforementioned, a leader with people is as a house strongly founded. He/she cannot loose in whichever circumstances. Though more of a plan than a quality, a reputable leader will utilize his/her weapons in case of fights. He/she ought not to employ others.

For instance, soldiers from within can fight tirelessly even if it calls for their death, while those hired can escape the battle in fear of the loss. Lastly, he/she should be able to strike a balance of the already mentioned attributes. This calls for intelligence. It crowns the rest! Without these characters, any leader can never prosper as per Machiavelli. Nevertheless, Hobbes has a different but not opposing view on leaders and leadership.

A Leader according to Hobbes

The book The Leviathan, which forms part of Thomas Hobbes works was published in 1660 and stands out as a major booster of today’s philosophy. He has already analyzed how terror forces people into entering societies. Chapters 17-18 address the picture of a good philosopher, what he/she ought to portray to the external world. According to him, they should not be money-orientated.

Hobbes adhered to the notion that, a philosopher should be morally and politically upright possessing increasing good works and corresponding decreasing sufferings subjected to people.

Egocentricity is a character evident in any being, normal, abnormal, leader, philosopher, etc. This needs no argument. The validity of anything said or done by anybody should be based on a concrete reason. This brings the subject of rationalism. According to the leadership principles of these two scholars viz. Machiavelli and Hobbes, Creon’s leadership is void.

Creon’s Leadership

The play Antigone, written by Sophocles, addresses the subject of leadership as portrayed by Creon, the king of Thebes. Creon is too stern and a dictator. He creates the laws of the land by his own without welcoming his people’s views, ignores their traditions, and forces them to obey the laws.

Whether violence results or not, he is not interested. According to him, if the people of the country abide by laws made by the leader, then this must be a good leader. He wants to show his potential as a king to his people. He does this by instilling fear in them. This fear and not love pushes them into obeying his new laws. According to Machiavelli, Creon has the people, they fear him, but they do not love him. Moreover, he is an arrogant and a domineering king proved by the statement he makes next.

The king says, “As I see it, whoever assumes the task, the awesome task of settling the city’s course, and refuses to adopt the soundest policies, but fearing someone, keeps his lips locked tight and he’s utterly worthless” (Sophocles Lines 198-202). This depicts the king’s view on the attributes a good leader should posses.

According to him, the leader should create laws and have powers in order to attract people’s attention. Moreover, any person violating the laws of the land deserves a severe penalty from the king to act as reminder, failure to which people will change their views concerning the strength of the king. In other words, they will term him as frail.

This is contrary to Hobbes’ view of a king as one who should be morally upright. Creon’s undoing is his misconstrued belief, which mistakes obedience for humanity; law should serve its subjects; however, Creon thinks people should serve the law even if it is detrimental proved by his beliefs as espoused in the succeeding paragraph.

According to the laws, it is a crime to do anything different to what the law says. The king does exactly according to it. He thinks that people will view him as good and one who is obedient and hence earn people’s favor. By so doing, he believes that he will be termed as a powerful king.

He thinks that the initiative of being stern and firm in his plans will boost the title of his city, Thebes. His view of a good leader as one who should impose his laws severely is portrayed during their scenario with Antigone who had offended the laws of the land. One time he declares, “See that you never side with those who break my orders” (Sophocles Line 245). He declares a cruel punishment to any who disobeys not only him but also the land and its people.

The penalty for these offences is that the affected will not be buried after dying. Machiavelli disagrees with this when he depicts a leader as one rich in virtues. At times, laws of man should bow to laws of nature but Creon cannot hear or condone such and this comes true when Antigone’s brother dies accidentally.

The god-fearing Antigone believes that no other being on Earth deserves as much respect as god. Those who believe that a god, powerful than man, exists carry out a burial ceremony if one of their people dies. Antigone attempts this only to face the law of the land set by the king. She is killed and her brother disposed like rubbish.

The king does this publicly to show people how much he adheres to his rules. This is an attribute of powerful leaders according to him. His hostility forces people to dance to his tune in his fear. This is illustrated when Antigone’s sister gives her views concerning the burial of their brother. Her words, “I am forced…I have no choice and I must obey those in power” (Sophocles Lines 79-80), shows how she is among those affected by Creon’s leadership.

Conclusion

Thoughthey are dead and forgotten, Machiavelli and Hobbes have left behind a legacy. Their works have touched the hearts of millions and millions of people. They have provided the standards upon which leadership qualities compares. If the today’s Creons would emulate the yesterday’s Machiavelli and Hobbes, the field of leadership would register a great improvement.

Though it is a choice to lead, it requires love, skills, and support of people to make good leader. Creon could not qualify to be one gauged on Machiavelli and Hobbes’ parameters of a good leader.

Works cited

Sophocles. “The Three Theban Plays.” Translated by Robert, Fagles. Penguin: New York, 2000.

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