Consequences of Excessive Pride

Pride is not a bad attribute to have, it is actually very important. One definition for pride is: A sense of one’s own proper dignity or value; self-respect. Self respect is a very good quality to have, however, there’s such thing as too much of a good thing. This is especially the case if you are a hero in a Greek play that has too much pride. Pride is the most central flaw in Greek tragedy, even in heroes.

In the plays “Antigone” and “The Odyssey”, Antigone’s and Odysseus’ pride causes them unnecessary problems that could have been easily avoided if they had just kept their pride in check. In “The Odyssey”, Odysseus is the hero with excessive pride. Excessive pride was such a common theme in tales about heroes it got its own name, hubris. These heroes are very concerned with making sure others will hear of their fantastic deeds and this is exactly what gets Odysseus into trouble. He disregards the safety of his crew because his pride blinds him from thinking of the consequences.

This causes many hardships during his voyage home which could have been easily avoided, but he let his pride get him and his crew into trouble when he shouts at the Cyclopes “Cyclopes, if ever mortal man inquire how you were put to shame and blinded, tell him Odysseus, raider of cities, took your eye: Laertes’ son, whose home’s on Ithaca! “(l. 673, book 9). It seems as if Odysseus must brag after doing anything notable. If Odysseus would have kept his mouth shut he may have escaped Poseidon and all of men wouldn’t have been killed. This action set off a chain of events that could have been avoided.

He would have made it home much earlier cutting of years of travel time, he would have saved the lives of his men sailing with him, and making it home earlier would have stopped the suitors taking too much advantage of his wife’s and son’s hospitality and home. Another definition for pride is: Pleasure or satisfaction taken in an achievement, possession, or association . Placing the most emphasis on possession and achievement, it is very easy to see another example of Odysseus’ pride, when he again disregards his men’s lives and goes to the land of the Circones to gain more glory and treasure.

He gains the things he set out for, but some of his men die along the way. However, in the end, Odysseus has a happy ending. That’s not the case with other tragic heroes. Antigone faces the ultimate penalty for her excessive pride. Her death is a result of her pride and Creon’s pride clashing. She believes firmly and unwaveringly that divine law is more important than the law of the state, law which Creon dictates. She points out that his laws cannot override the will of the gods or the traditions of men and she makes Creon’s law seem shameful and ridiculous.

Creon sees her words as passionate, wild outbursts. He is too proud to listen to a woman’s point of view but he is ultimately swayed, even though it takes a while, by the words of Tiresias, a very respected prophet whose words hold the same meaning as Antigone’s. Although Antigone’s decisions had a holy side to it where Creon’s was selfish, her abundant amount of pride inevitably causes her to be blind to rational thought and in the end, to lose her life. Antigone doesn’t seem torn at all when she decides to break the law. Her pride is too strong even when she knows the penalty is death.

She looks forward to the glory of dying for her brother, but in my opinion it is a foolish death. Even when Ismene, her sister, protests of not defying the king’s orders, Antigone states that there are higher obligations to the dead and the gods. She points out: “I will bury him myself, and even if I die in the act the death will be a glory. I will lie with the one I love and loved by him – an outrage sacred to the gods! I have longer to please the dead than please the living here: in the kingdom down below I will lie forever. Do as you like, dishonor the laws the gods hold in honor. l. 85 – 91).

Antigone feels it is her duty to bury her brother and is in her view fulfilling a higher law. She believes that she is acting according to her religious duty and that she cannot dishonor the laws the gods have established. Here Antigone appears to be a selfless and compassionate individual, willing to risk her life in order to provide her brother his sacred rights. Dying for your brother is a full measure of devotion, but in my opinion, dying to bury a dead brother, which in turn will ultimately lead to your death as well, seems like stupidity.

Her stubbornness and pride blind her to this realization. Antigone and Odysseus both suffered major consequences because of their excessive pride. Odysseus pride caused terrible hardships on his return home and the deaths of all of his crew. It also delayed his homecoming many unnecessary years which kept his wife and his son in an uncomfortable position. Antigone suffered death as a result of her and Creon’s clashing of pride. Thus, and excess of pride causes unnecessary problems which can be easily avoided if it is kept at a normal level.