Objective for this Page: To summarize the parados and consider the function and staging of the chorus.
A new day dawns on Thebes on the day after the city was unsuccessfully attacked by Polynices, Creon's nephew, who, having been denied his turn on the throne by his brother, Eteocles, raised an army in Argos. It's almost as if the rising sun throws the enemy back.
The enemy in whitened bronze armor had descended on Thebes like an eagle--but Thebes is an unbeatable dragon! It seems like Zeus blasted the golden-armored enemy with lightning bolts as the army assailed the walls of Thebes. It seems like Ares, god of war, came to the aid of Thebes and went down the ranks of the enemy army dealing death.
Seven captains of the army from Argos attacked the seven gates of Thebes and lost; finally, the brothers attacked each other with spears and both ended up dead. Now the goddess Victory flies to Thebes [instead of the eagle mentioned earlier]. Dionysus, god of dance [and wine, whose festival hosted play competitions where this play would have been performed in Athens] is called upon to lead the celebration.
Creon's approach is noted: "New man for a new day." Why, the elders wonder, have they been summoned here by Creon?
The Function of the Chorus: Think of the chorus as the elders of the Thebes, sort of like a town council, acting only as advisors to the king. Mostly they talk among themselves, since they are usually alone on stage for their choral odes. So they provide commentary and reflection on the condition of the city, the relationships of humans to gods, and the reflections of old men on the action of the play. These elders are generally conservative, motivated by religious piety, conditioned to fear the gods, and always desirous of order in the city--and therefore usually shocked at the forces that upset the normal order of things in this patriarchal society. When the leader of the chorus speaks, it is always as a trusted advisor, a respected elder among respected elders, motivated by his perception of what's good for the city.
Assessment: Choose a study question and respond in a paragraph, citing evidence from the prologue to support your point(s).
This instructional web was made in July, 2002, by Prof. Eric Hibbison, who is solely responsible for its content.