Antigone (The Oedipus Plays) | Study Guide

Sophocles

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Antigone (The Oedipus Plays) | Stasimon 2 | Summary

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Summary

The Chorus sings about divine curses and destiny and warns that when gods intervene disaster can befall entire generations of families. They again use the metaphor of an ocean with its swells churning up the bottoms of the sea and causing discord. They note that this is what has happened to Oedipus's family, with its ever-increasing tragedies and sorrows—they are being punished unceasingly by the gods from generation to generation. The Chorus warns that even though mortals may try to appease the gods, ultimately they are at the gods' mercy.

Analysis

The Chorus again uses nature imagery to compare the disaster that befalls men through divine justice with natural disasters. Men are powerless against the intervention of the gods, "just as a surging ocean swell running before cruel Thracian winds across the dark trench of the sea churns up the deep black sand and crashes headlong on the cliffs, which scream in pain against the wind." Even the language that the Chorus uses here is full of dark and violent imagery, with its depiction of nature as merciless and implacable in response to human hubris. It provides another forewarning of the consequences of Creon's attempt to steer his ship-of-state against the judgments of the gods.

The Chorus brings up the futility of fate as the gods have decreed it. To be born into Oedipus's family is to be doomed, no matter what decisions its members might make. This notion sheds some light on Antigone's almost nonchalant attitude: she seems to know that it doesn't matter either way whether she is punished by Creon or not. The gods are the ultimate deciders of her fate. But the Chorus also seems to be foreshadowing that Creon now risks angering the gods by setting his laws above theirs.

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