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Heracles | Study Guide


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Heracles | Parodos | Summary



The chorus—a group of old Theban men—enters, singing a song about the discomforts of old age. They liken themselves to "some bird grown gray " that is "a voice and nothing more ... palsied with age, yet meaning kindly." The chorus greets the family, noting how much the children resemble their father. The leader of the chorus notices Lycus approaching.


The chorus is a typical feature of Greek tragedy. Its role is to comment on the action and, at times, to converse with the characters. The chorus does not take any action. Since the chorus in Heracles is made up of old men, their sad inaction is appropriate and serves as a foil, or contrast, to Heracles's vigor.

The chorus's songs, which are accompanied by dance, provide poetic responses to notions brought up in the play. In the Parodos the chorus sings a song about age, a topic Amphitryon brought up in the Prologos and to which the chorus will later return. They often use similes—clearly stated comparisons. For example, they say they are "like some bird grown gray."

At the end of the Parodos, the leader of the chorus announces Lycus's arrival. This announcement reflects the chorus's role as a sort of narrator filling in information the audience might not otherwise have. Because of the leader's announcement, the audience knows who the new character is.

In general the leader of the chorus tends to interact more often with other characters than the rest of the chorus. In Heracles the leader of the chorus will be drawn into several conversations but will never do more than encourage or commiserate.

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