Chorus in Oedipus the King



A plea to the Gods to remove the Plague from Thebes and to help them.

  • Prays to Gods such as Zeus, Apollo, Artemis and Dionysus to help them - deperate; they pray to multiple Gods
  • "What is your price? Some new sacrifice? Some ancient rite from the past come round again each spring.": slightly links with the cost that Oedipus has to pay due to Miasma.
  • Mortifying, morbid imagery throughout: "numberless death on deaths" "Thebes is dying: look her children stripped of pity" - pathos and personificiation, "young wives and grey haired mothers cling to the altars" - lack of support, societal breakdown. 
  • "Burn that god of death that all gods hate!" - Begging to Dionysus, performed at his festival, link to the Athenian Society
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Leader and Oedipus

The Leader acts as a moral compass for Oedipus who advises to listen to Tiresias

  • Scared/reverent to Oedipus: "I swear I'm not the murderer."
  • Recommends Tiresias; importance of religion before making quick decisions: "Lord Tiresias sees with the eyes of Lord Apollo"
  • Links to the motif of knowledge and misunderstanding of information: "Laius was killed, they say, by certain travelers." 
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Second Stazimon

Choral Ode between the Tiresias scene and Creon's exchange with Oedipus

  • Mention the Wrath of Gods and the Hubristic nature of Man - (e.g 'Who is the man the voice of god denounces' and Apollo sending 'lightning-bolts-afire.")
  • Mention of Tiresias: allows the audience to see the Chorus' opinion on him (e.g "The skilled prophet scans the birds and shatters me with terror! I can't accept him, can't deny him, don't know what to say.) - They feel a sense of loyalty towards Oedipus
  • Shows concern for the bloodline of Laius (e.g "What could breed a blood feud between Laius' house and the son of Polybus?")
  • Reinstates support and loyalty for Oedipus as their leader (e.g "Never will I convict my King, never in my heart.")
  • Dramatic Irony of 'racing blind' traitors 
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The Chorus in the 'Oedipus vs. Creon' Scene

  • Comment upon Oedipus' harmartia and perhaps are lenient towards Creon's point of view. They try to find a reason behind the way Oedipus is acting (e.g "A slur might have been forced out of him, by anger perhaps" - the Audience should be realising his anger!
  • Come across as logical because they are quiet and know their place; contrasting Oedipus who makes snap judgments before rationalising the situation first (e.g "I never look to judge the ones in power) - They act almost as a neutral party.
  • Show support for Creon while still trying to reason with Oedipus. Showing the overall judgement of the society towards Creon's reasoning (e.g "Good advice, my lord.")
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The Chorus and Jocasta

  • Support Creon, they realise that their leader is in the wrong evoking a moral dilemma. They almost have a wavering attitude towards him (e.g "Give way, my king, I beg you." and the use of the imperative "Respect him"which is so authoratitive it almost shouldn't be said by someone of that status. Furthermore, the reply of "You know what you're asking?" "I do" - they are confident that they are right and he is wrong.)
  • Acts as an unbiased account that Jocasta goes to before going to her husband or her brother (e.g "Loose, ignorant talk" - they are honest with her!)
  • Question Jocasta's actions, they know what the right thing to do is. They have a strong sense of moral purpose (e.g "Why do you hesistate?") - this also highlights the flaws Jocasta's characters that characters of lower status call her out on conventions of Athenian Society.
  • Highlights their counterpart to the Athenian audience due to the continual sailing theme; which highlights Oedipus' responsibility as King to do the morally right thing (e.g "Now again, good helmsman, steer us through the storm!)
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Third Stazimon

Takes place just after Oedipus and Jocasta have called for the Shepherd and just before Jocasta supplicates the Gods.

  • Highlights the power and the reverance of the Gods (e.g "Zeus, remember, never forget! You and your deathless, everlasting reign" and "Great laws tower above us.")
  • Calls out Oedipus' harmartia (e.g "Pride breeds the Tyrant."
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Fourth Stazimon

Happens just after Oedipus has his anagnorisis and before the Messenger reports that Jocasta has killed herself

The Downfall of Oedipus

  • Highlights the honour and reverance of Oedipus (e.g "You outraged all men" "saved our land" "called you king, we crowned you with honours.")
  • Volta - highlights that the Chorus realises the true, unfortunate nature of Oedipus shown through "But now to hear your story" which highlights "O child of Laius, would to god I'd never sen you, never never!" - An exclamative creates a tragic tone, they can't compehend the information.
  • Irony motif throughout which links nicely to the rest of the play; "The vision no sooner downs then dies blazing into oblivion."
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Oedipus and The Chorus in his Anagnorisis

  • Evokes pity for the audience to create the sense of catharthis (e.g "I pity you but I can't bear to look")
  • Asks the needed questions to Oedipus for exposition: we understand why he has done it (e.g "How could you bear it, gourging out your eyes?")  - They try to understand!
  • They are presented as confused and they try not to judge showing them to be relatively fair bystanders (e.g "How can I say you're changed for the best? Better to die than be alive and blind.")
  • Reinstates Creon as powerful: acts as good Athenian society - reflects the contemporary time "Put your request to Creon." - the imperative makes this seem as though the Chorus have changed loyalties and are subservient to Creon to the extent where they are sightly patronising to their former leader
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  • Highlights Oedipus' fall from grace, his initial 'brilliance' before he had his subsequent tragedy. Essentially, summarises the play
  • Provides a sense of catharsis for the audience (e.g "No man happy till he dies, free of pain at last) - evokes fear and pity in the audience. The correct way to end the play according to Aristotle
  • Provides slightly unsettling naval imagery - linking to Athenian links throughout the play. Responsibility to state - "black sea of terror"
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