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MonkeyNotes-Oedipus at Colonus by Sophocles
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LINES 117 - 253: THE PARADOS OR OPENING CHORUS

Summary

The chorus enters for the first time in the play from the direction of the city. It consists of elderly citizens from Colonus. They are seeking Oedipus, who they feel has insolently intruded into the "untrodden thicket of the virgins". They themselves fear to trespass on the sacred grove of the Furies and even tremble to utter the names of the Goddesses. When they pass by the grove, they keep their eyes downcast and their lips silent. They fear the intruder lacks reverence for the mighty powers of the Furies.

Oedipus then steps slowly forward. The chorus members are filled with shock at the ghastly sight of the old man with his eyes gouged out. He claims he is not a lawless trespasser, but only a blind vagrant dependent on others for sight. The chorus pities him as they think he was born blind. They advise him to withdraw from the sacred spot lest he incur the wrath of the Furies. If he retreats from the forbidden ground, the chorus promises not to harm him.

When Oedipus comes out of the grove, the chorus asks him to identify himself. He is reluctant to reveal who he really is. He finally tells them he is the hapless Oedipus, son of Laius. The chorus recoil from him in utter disgust. They rudely order him to leave at once as they fear he will bring a curse on their land. They lash out at him harshly and say, "Go forth from our borders; Bring to our gates no more evil fates."


Oedipus' reputation as a man of great misfortune seems to have traveled well ahead of him. The citizens of Colonus fear his ominous presence could have an evil effect on them. Though they promise, at first, not to hurt him if he leaves the sacred ground, they now want to hound him out of Colonus. The chorus feels that no man is visited by such ill fate as Oedipus was unless he has done something to deserve it.

Antigone now makes an eloquent plea to the chorus to forgive her father for his unintentional misdeeds. She falls at their feet and asks them to pity her also in her helpless and lonely condition. Her fervent appeal to the compassion and humanity of the chorus has its desired effect. They relent at last; but dreading the judgment of the Gods, they admit they have no power to say anything more. The Parados ends on this note of temporary reconciliation between the chorus and the two intruders.

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