Humanity and mankind are successful and developed to what they are now due to one factor: the human emotions. The emotions have a significant impact on not only the mental state but also the physical state. Because of these certain emotions, they help man to improve and ameliorate for the better. But there are also specific sentiments that lead man to his inevitable downfall: such as pride. Throughout history, pride is considered to be the only crime of evil in the world, an idea which is evident especially in Greek and Roman works of literature. Yet other crimes do exist, though they are slightly different innately than pride and still have the same effects of bringing disaster and desolation to oneself and those around him or her. And so pride is a crime of evil, as stated by Sophocles in Antigone; however there are other crimes of evil in this world that are also based on human emotions.
Literature and art themselves are outlets, created by man, to allow ambitious and philosophical people, like Sophocles, to express their individual opinions on society and the world. Such as in Sophocles’ Antigone, where he states that the crime of evil in this world is mankind’s pride. Numerous others had similar, if not the same, perspective on pride, and is evident in literature throughout history. During the reign of the Greek Empire, a moral short story was created about the price of hubris, of man’s pride. The main character, Arachna, is so prideful of her skills in weaving that she challenges the Gods – specifically Athena, the goddess of tapestry – to go against Arachna in a duel of weaving. But due to this pride, Arachna was punished by Athena to weave for the rest of her life: as an arachnid, or spider. This is one out of the many stories created during this time to warn man that pride is the only crime due to its ability in bringing more disasters and in affecting others. This idea of pride lasted until the era of Shakespeare, who also expressed the belief that pride is the only crime in his play, Julius Caesar. In a certain part of the play, Julius is assassinated by his closest council, including Brutus and Cassius. Due to Julius’ pride, he was not able to see that specific groups of people suffered: the Senators. And this led Julius to his death. But also due to Brutus’ and Cassius’ pride, they further attempted to rule the empire which led to both immediately dying. And so throughout historical literary works like the story of Arachna and Julius Caesar, humanity continued to believe that the ultimate mistake man could make was with his emotion of pride.
Furthermore throughout history, there were instances in which due to human pride, numerous ‘crimes’ and mishaps occurred. Including the times in which Napoleon Bonaparte after the French Revolution and Adolf Hitler during World War II marched to Moscow, the capitol of Russia. Due to their individual rise in power, their pride increased and swelled as well. And so due to this pride, both Napoleon and Hitler failed in capturing Moscow; But this was not the only mistake. Many of their innocent and nationalistic soldiers were killed via freezing to death, starving to death, and more. This pride created an endless suffering for the men who did the ‘dirty’ work for Napoleon and Hitler and also the soldiers’ loved ones. Thus, though not directly stated, disastrous occurrences like these happened throughout history, from one century to another. And because of the vast amount of crimes that rooted from both Napoleon’s and Hitler’s pride, makes having pride the only crime man has and can make.
However the crime of pride is not the only crime man can make that is innately based on human emotions. There is a variety of other emotions that also bring desolation and devastation to others, though it may not be on the people themselves who have done such crimes. And these other emotionally-based crimes include greed and selfishness. As stated, Arachna was punished due to her pride, her hubris, but one can say that it was not only pride that had caused her to suffer but also greed and selfishness. Due to Arachna’s desire to reach higher in society, this selfish greed along with her pride caused Arachna to challenge and then get punished by Athena. In addition, another literary piece that contains the crimes of selfishness and cupidity is Into the Wild. Because of the sentiments of greed and selfishness, in the transcendentalists’ perspective humanity developed and progressed further and further away from finding the mysteries and true meaning of life. Also because of McCandless’ father’s greed and selfishness in creating a ‘perfect’ and abiding son, McCandless suffered mentally and this crime committed by McCandless’ father would lead McCandless to his death. Furthermore in American history when the Second Industrial Revolution came to the U.S., political machines who originated and flourished in this era were selfish and greedy in gaining more wealth and power, an action which led lower classes of society, immigrants, and minorities to suffer in low-waged jobs and unhygienic environments. Thus albeit pride is one of the only crimes man can make but cannot fix, there are also the crimes of greed and selfishness.
Therefore in Sophocles’ Antigone, where the idea that pride is the only crime of man is stated, is true to a point where it is one of the crimes of man based on his emotions but is not the only one due to other crimes existing such as greed and selfishness.
And finally we have come to an end. Do you think that there are any other crimes committed by man that cannot be solved? Or do you agree with Sophocles’ assertion?
What do you think?