VCCS Litonline

Stasimon 1
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Objective for this Page: To summarize stasimon 1 and  to note underlying and foreshadowing messages.

Summary

Of all wonders, man is the apex.  He can cross the seas and plow the land.  He snares birds, nets beasts and fish, conquering all, taming animals, yoking horses and bulls. He makes laws, builds shelters from the sleet and harsh rain.  Although he can't escape death, he can avoid some diseases. Man moves ever onward, sometimes to destruction, then to greatness.

When his laws match the gods' laws, the city prospers, but whoever is reckless enough to be inhuman, may he never share my hearth or my thoughts.  The chorus sees Antigone brought in bound and surmises that she broke Creon's decree, since the sentry had just reported that "someone" buried Polynices.

Commentary

Right after Creon has accused the guards of taking bribes to allow Polynices to be buried, the chorus launches into this "Ode Praising Man," as this stasimon has informally been titled.  The plowing-stallion imagery has a sexual connotation, which Creon will echo later when he's telling Haemon that no woman is irreplaceable. 

There seem to be some digs against Creon in this passage.  The idea that man can't conquer death reminds us of the futility of Creon's decree, and the desired parallel between human and divine law reminds us that Creon's decree is "inhuman" and "reckless."

Study Questions

bulletConsider the summary of commentary by Dr. Charles Segal that shows how the images of this ode are picked up later in the play.  What is the power of such foreshadowing upon reviewing or rereading the play knowing that such echoes play up certain themes through the imagery?
bulletWhat is the effect of putting an ode about how humans control nature right after Creon's rant about bribery and his harangue of Antigone?  Who is in control--Creon or Antigone?  Who achieves "greatness"--Creon or Antigone?
 

Assessment: Choose a study question and respond in a paragraph, citing evidence from the play to support your point(s).

 

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This instructional web was made in July, 2002, by Prof. Eric Hibbison, who is solely responsible for its content.