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MonkeyNotes-Oedipus at Colonus by Sophocles
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LINES 668 - 719: THE FIRST STASIMON

Summary

Episode I is followed by the first stasimon which the chorus intones as a paean to Colonus. It consists of two pairs of strophes and anti-strophes. In each pair, the chorus dances in one pattern for the strophe and in the reverse pattern for the anti-strophe. In the first strophe (Lines 668-690), the chorus welcomes Oedipus, the stranger, to their fair home in Colonus with its whitewashed cottages, goodly steeds, and glistening meadows. Most of all, they praise the leafy bowers and shady orchards of the sacred bower which is the haunt of Dionysus and "the nymphs who fostered him."

The anti-strophe (Lines 681-93) describes how the narcissus and the crocus bloom profusely in the grove fed on heavenly dew. The narcissus and crocus often served as crowns of great goddesses like Demeter. They were often planted on graves and represent the afterlife. The meandering waters of the Cephissus flows down "the bosom of the valley" irrigating and fertilizing the surrounding plains. This place is dear to choirs of Muses and to Queen Aphrodite with her golden reins.

In the second strophe (Lines 694-706), the chorus pays a fine tribute to the gray-leafed olive, a rare plant that grows nowhere else in Asia. It is known for its fine healing properties and as a nurturer of children. Neither the young nor the old can ever destroy it with violent hand as the plant has awesome self-regenerating powers. It is zealously and ceaselessly guarded by Zeus and gray- eyed Athena.


Finally, in the second anti-strophe, (Lines 707-719) the chorus eulogizes the might of the great steeds of Colonus -- a gift of the great God Poseidon "prized the most/of honors by our Mother State". They also thank the gods for granting them knowledge of how to curb the rage of these powerful horses by means of the curb or bit and the reins. They also make homage to the invention of the oar for it helps them travel Poseidon's powerful domain, the sea, almost as swiftly as his maidenly attendants, the Nereids.

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