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Antigone. The function of the chorus. The “peanut-gallery” In Antigone , the chorus is made up of a group of T heban men. They are probably old men because most of the young ones have died in battle

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the function of the chorus
The function of the chorus
  • The “peanut-gallery”
  • In Antigone, the chorus is made up of a group of Theban men.
  • They are probably old men because most of the young ones have died in battle
  • They represent the deeply embedded patriarchal (male-dominated) society that Antigone defies
the two main functions of the chorus
The two main functions of the Chorus
  • To comment on the action of the play
  • To give back the story (background)
  • To connect the play to other myths
  • The first time we hear the chorus is when they sing their Parados, or entry song.
  • In Antigone, Sophocles uses the Parados to give back the story
  • The Parados comes right after the audience has jut watched the prologue, in which Antigone declares her intentions to defy the state.
ode to man
“Ode to Man”
  • The next time we hear the chorus is in Ode 1.
  • This is the most famous choral ode in all of Greek tragedy.
  • It is referred to as “Ode to Man”
  • In this ode, the chorus sings about the wonderful accomplishments of man.
  • The Greek word for “wonderful” is “deinon”
  • It can also describe that something is terrible…??
  • How could man’s accomplishments be both of those things at once??

Nearly everything in the Ode is about humanity asserting its will over nature.

  • This echoes the basic conflict of the play.
  • Creon represents the state or man-made civilization
  • Antigone represents the primal will of the gods, a.k.a. nature.
other odes
Other Odes
  • Sophocles uses the second choral ode to relate the tragic history of Oedipus’s family
  • In the third choral ode, the Chorus sings of the hazards of love
  • The fourth Ode gives the audience some trivia about other mythic figures who’ve been entombed
  • The tone of the terribles tales in this seem to show that the Chorus is really beginning to pity Antigone

By the end of the play, the Chorus has totally changed their tune.

  • These same old men who were previously celebrating man’s mastery over nature are humbled in the face of the gods
strophe and antistrophe
Strophe and Antistrophe
  • Sophocles divides his choral odes into Strophe and Antistrophe
  • Both sections have the same number of lines and metrical patterns.
  • In Greek, “strophe” means “turn”
  • In Greek, “antistrophe” means “turn back”
  • During the strophe the chorus danced from right to left, and during the antistrophe they did the opposite

Sophocles may have split them into two groups, so that it was as if one part of the Chorus was conversing with the other

  • Perhaps the dualities created by Strophe and Antistrophe represent the endless irresolvable debates for which Greek Tragedy is famous.
what can choragus do that the other chorus members cannot do in antigone
What can Choragus do that the other Chorus members cannot do in Antigone?
  • The Choragus can interact directly with the main characters
  • The Chorus entertains by singing and dancing back and forth across the stage, but they cannot speak directly with any of the play’s characters
  • The Chorus draws its membership from the Theban elders. They number 12 in all. One of them operates as the Choragos, or chorus leader.

The Choragus represents the other members in direct interactions with other characters.