Antigone (The Oedipus Plays) | Study Guide

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Antigone (The Oedipus Plays) | Parados | Summary

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Summary

Antigone leaves, while Ismene watches her go. The Chorus of Theban elders enter. They give thanks for the fact that it is sunny again in Thebes, both literally and metaphorically now that the battle is over. They give details of the battle and how Polyneices led the charge of warriors to invade their city after his younger brother Eteocles usurped the rightful throne of the eldest brother and banished Polyneices from Thebes. The Chorus leader mentions how much Zeus hates "an arrogant boasting tongue," alluding to the fact that the gods ultimately punished Polyneices and his warriors with death for their hubris. The Chorus believes that the god Ares also aided Thebes in defeating Polyneices and his army.

Now peace can reign in Thebes again, and the Chorus sings that it is time to celebrate. Suddenly the palace doors are thrown open and guards appear. The Chorus leader announces that Creon, the new king of Thebes as Oedipus's brother, has arrived to hold a special meeting.

Analysis

Here the Chorus serves to emphasize the importance of the gods to the people of Thebes. They don't even mention the Theban army but rather attribute the victory to the interference of the gods. This point of view establishes the importance of the ways in which hubris and divine retribution are linked in the play. The Chorus uses the metaphor of "an eagle flying above our land, covered wings as white as snow" to characterize the hubris of Polyneices in his attack on Thebes. The Chorus notes that "Zeus hates an arrogant boasting tongue" and therefore exacts divine retribution on Polyneices's army. This explanation also establishes the belief that it is the gods who exact punishments—not mortals like Creon.

The Chorus also provides a kind of intermission in the action of the play, a time for the audience to reflect on the plot and the characters. Even though the Chorus expresses relief that the battle is over, there's still worry and uncertainty in their words, foreshadowing the continuing conflict to come.

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