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Monday, March 18, 2013

Functionality of the Chorus in Greek Plays

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The Functional Chorus in Oedipus at Colonus

In Greek plays, the Chorus serves as a multi-faceted entity able to reason with characters and intrigue the audience while aiding Greek playwrights and actors with the ease of scene transition and overall flow of their thespian work. However, the Chorus maturates throughout each individual play, which is diacritical of Greek plays as a whole. In Oedipus at Colonus, the Chorus attains a level of functionality as a fixture of stage production and as an approach to understanding difficult ideals the play cultivates.

The Chorus has both a subjective and objective role within Oedipus at Colonus. Its objectivity rests with it role as a presence on the stage. Greek sets were notoriously plain and were dependent on the Chorus to distract the audience during whatever minimal scene changes were needed (“Oedipus the King”). Masks and costumes during Greek plays did not allow for emotion, so actors were dependent on the Chorus’ words to portray any sentiment existing between the characters. Essentially, the Chorus functions as background music, giving a framework of events that occur prior to the action and foreshadowing to future events. The Chorus also forces us, the audience, to respond to the activity on stage, whether we agree or disagree with what the Chorus proclaims. It is with this that the Chorus in Oedipus at Colonus becomes subjective, acting as the voice of reason and making conclusions and throwing upon us the necessity of opinion and taking sides.

The Chorus’ mentality towards main characters within the play changes over the course of action in an almost bell-curve path, using the tragedy as a conduit for its swells and falls. As Oedipus enters the grove of Athens, the Chorus is not involved with Oedipus but ascertains their role as the public opinion consequently question Oedipus and disapprove of his location. The Choral Dialogue, however, shows how the Chorus keeps a fluid change of pace. Their desire for Oedipus to move closer to them signifies their eventual relocation to the scene of the action in Oedipus at Colonus

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Stand aside and come down then!

There is too much space between us!

Say, wanderer, can you hear?

If you have a mind to tell us

Your business, or wish to converse with our council

Come down from that place!

Only speak where it is proper to do so! (-4)

It is significant that they wish for Oedipus to come to them and not vice versa. They reason that Oedipus’ resting spot is holy, but it also serves as a forced invitation to become involved in Oedipus’ story. However, the Chorus does not wish to become too involved, and hence waits for “higher authorities” to “judge this matter” (100). It is this way the Chorus allows for the audience to hear an opinion of a higher power and not only hear the ways of the general public of Athens.

As the play continues , the Chorus begins a liaison with Oedipus. They counsel him in the prayers of Eumenides to appease the spirits whom he offended when he entered the holy grove. The Chorus becomes close with Oedipus, and believes him even in the presence of Theseus.

My lord before you came this man gave promise

Of having power to make his words come true! (11)

The Chorus now sides with Oedipus, and when Creon comes to take Oedipus’ daughters, the Chorus cries out in their disagreement with Creon’s actions. In fact, the Chorus begins to consider Oedipus the proper one, and Creon a “stranger” (1), although Creon and Oedipus are equally new to the land. At the entrance of Theseus, we reach the climax of the relationship between the Chorus and Oedipus where they make vocal their association with Oedipus

My lord, our friend is worthy; he has had

Disastrous fortune, yet he deserves our comfort. (1)

From then on, the Chorus takes its place behind Oedipus until Zeus’ thunder signals Oedipus’ time to depart his world peacefully. While Antigone and Ismene cry, the Chorus (who, up to now, has been defending him mercilessly) states simply he has passed. The bell curve reaches its cadence, with the Chorus now continuing the alliance, formerly with Oedipus, now with Antigone. The Chorus disassociates itself with Oedipus completely, backing away gracefully and stating that there is no need for any further emotion because it is all in “the hands of God.”

Essentially, the Chorus forges alliances as it become convenient, befriending the main character when the audience is supposed to, and disbanding the alliance when the main character passes on and continuing the alliance with Antigone. Here, the Chorus fills in the blanks for the audience; it dictates whose side to be on. While Oedipus is freed by death of his sinning ways, the Chorus aids us in deciding that it is not Oedipus at fault but the gods’ mysterious ways.

The Chorus’ affiliation does nothing to contradict the actions of the main characters. It feeds off only pre-existing situations and arguments, and cause no new disturbances. Oedipus responds in kind to the Chorus, as does Creon (albeit his in a negative fashion.) The Chorus maintains a level of ambiguity, able to change sides and opinion almost immediately as the situation allows. This gives the Chorus a methodology; basically, join the side of the argument that can attain the highest level of sympathy from the audience.

In essence, the Chorus has the function of directing us, the audience, to a side. If we choose to side with the Chorus, we sympathize for the character they do, which in this case is Oedipus and later on, Antigone. If we choose to go against the Chorus, we will remain pursuant to the idea that Oedipus is a sinner and we will sympathize with Creon and Polyneices. Regardless, the Chorus forces a choice upon us. The functionality of the Chorus remains as a buffer to give us justification for our decisions, to meld the play together and to essentially reward us for our decision. If it weren’t for the Chorus, we might never reach a conclusion to the play. It’s with the Chorus that we find ourselves constantly on track with the piece, never astray from the action. In the 1st century, a Chorus would not be well received with our affinity for intermission and commercials.

The Chorus in Ancient Greek plays has an important role. It is an ancient method of scene transition and cohesion while enforcing the audience’s attention toward the action and subsequent conclusions of the performance. For the Chorus has an integral part of any Greek play. any “character” that habitually gets the final word in a play has a high honor, and the Chorus unequivocally fills that “role”.





Works Cited

“Oedipus The King, by Sophocles.” Classics. 18 Jan. 001 (http//classics.uc.edu/johnson/

tragedy/oedipus_king.html)

Fitzgerald, Robert and Dudly Fitts. Sophocles The Oedipus Cycle. Florida Harvest, 177.

Please note that this sample paper on Functionality of the Chorus in Greek Plays is for your review only. In order to eliminate any of the plagiarism issues, it is highly recommended that you do not use it for you own writing purposes. In case you experience difficulties with writing a well structured and accurately composed paper on Functionality of the Chorus in Greek Plays, we are here to assist you. Your cheap custom college paper on Functionality of the Chorus in Greek Plays will be written from scratch, so you do not have to worry about its originality.

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Homer, The Odyssey, Summary of Book 15: The Prince Sets Sail for Home

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Athena goes to hurry Telemachus along on his journey back to Ithaca. He is spending the night at Menelaus’ house with Pisistratus, Nestor’s son. Telemachus cannot fall asleep because he keeps thinking of his father. Athena appears above him and tells him that it was wrong of him to leave his home and mother alone with all the suitors. He should leave Menelaus’ with Pisistratus. People are urging Penelope to marry Eurymachus back at home and Telemachus should go and stop her. Athena warns him that the suitors have picked men to lie in ambush between Same and Ithaca. With her message said, she returned back Olympus.

Telemachus woke Pisistratus and told him of the plan, but Pisistratus said they should wait until morning when Menelaus would load their chariots with priceless gifts. When morning came, the two told Menelaus of their leaving, and he gave them warm salutes and indeed provided them with great gifts, including a silver and gold mixing-bowl and a bridal dress from

Helen. On their way out of the gates as everyone was waving goodbye, a bird flew by on the right of Telemachus with a white goose from Menelaus’ yard in its talons. Helen said the sign meant that Odysseus would descend on his house and take revenge on the suitors; and he if he was already home he was sowing seeds of ruin for them.

The pair traveled all day in the country until they reached Phera, the site of Diocles’ halls, the son of Otrilochus, son of the Alpheus River, where they spent the night. The next day they resumed their voyage and soon came to Pylos. Reaching this city, Telemachus told Pisistratus he should drop him off here so that he could go by ship with his crew the rest of the way and Pisistratus was to go to Pylos, where his father lived, by himself. Just before setting sail, Theoclymenus, a fugitive from Argos, approached Telemachus. He had killed a man and now he was running away from his victim’s brothers and kin, rulers of land in Argos. Telemachus brought Theoclymenus along with him on the ship. As soon as they had set sail, Athena sent them wind, pushing the ship along on its course.

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Meanwhile, back in Ithaca, Odysseus was staying at the swineherd’s, but not in the identity of himself. He decided to test Eumaeus, so he told him he would have to go begging in town in the morning and he might even go see King Odysseus. He also told Eumaeus that he would even try to become one of the suitors at Odysseus’ house. This news startled Eumaeus and he told his guest that he was too good to be one of them. He told his guest that he could stay at his house until Telemachus returned, who would be hospitable to him.

Eumaeus tells his guest of his life story. He used to live with his mother and father, Ormenus’ son Ctesius, on the island of Syrie. There are two cities on Syrie, both of which his father ruled, where it is not too populated, hunger and sickness never strike, and wine and wheat are plentiful. As the people grow old, Apollo and Artemis kill them with gentle arrows.

One day Phoenicians came to island and brought many flashy trinkets. They met a beautiful Phoenician woman who lived and worked for Eumaeus’ father. They would sail her back home and she made them promise they would never harm her. In return she would give them all her gold and her master’s toddler, for whom she was a nurse, so they could sell him off for a good price.

The Phoenicians took a golden choker to Eumaeus’ father’s house. The maids and Emaeus’ mother were fascinated by it and took bids on the fine piece of jewelry. While they were occupied with bauble, the nurse slipped the toddler away to the Phoenician ship and they all sailed off. They were at sea for seven days until Artemis shot the nurse with a death arrow and the crew fed her body to the sea. At last they reached Ithaca, where Laertes bought Eumaeus.

The next day after Emaeus told of his story, Telemachus, his crew, and Theoclymenus landed at Ithaca. As they got on land, a hawk flew on the right of Telemachus between him and the ship. It had a dove in its claws, and the dove’s feathers fell to the ground. The prophet said this omen meant Telemachus’ reign would be eternal. Telemachus left to go to swineherd’s house, the crew took the ship around to the city and he would pay them the next morning, and Theoclymenus went to stay at Piraeus’ house until Telemachus returned.



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