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MonkeyNotes-Oedipus at Colonus by Sophocles
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LINES 1044 -1095: THE SECOND STASIMON

Summary

Following Episode II, the chorus sings the second Stasimon. Thematically this is a song about impending war, but it also acts as a hymn of praise to the gods calling for protection and benediction in these troubled times. The first strophe runs from line 1044-58. In it, the chorus anticipates the excitement and terror of war. They long to be "where foes are gathering fast." The Thebans and Athenians will soon be cast together with the clamorous sounds of battle echoing all around.

This battle will soon be staged along the torch lit shores of Athens, loved by Apollo and cherished by the great patron goddesses of the dark Eleusinian mysteries. In their temple at Eleusis, dreadful secret rites will be performed for mortals engaged in the battle. The priestly family of Eumolpidare, who ministers these sacred rites, have sworn all devotees to secrecy and silence about the Eleusinian mysteries. The chorus prays that Theseus will succeed in rescuing the two captive daughters of Oedipus in the ensuing battle.


The anti-strophe corresponding to the first strophe covers lines 1059-73. The chorus speculates that the warring parties may now be passing by the Oeatid pastures, close to the snow-clad Western ridges of Mount Oeatid. They are either borne in their flight on fleet-footed horses or on swiftly racing chariots. They expect Creon to be defeated, as the Athenians are famed for their pride in battle and their indomitable spirit. They hurtle into the fray mounted on strong horses, dear to Athena, the queen of chivalry, and to the sea-god, Poseidon, who girdles and guards their land.

In the second strophe, stretching from lines 1074-84, the chorus anticipates their own joy when they will be reunited with the two captive girls. They prophesy victory for their side and wish to be like a strong-winged dove, soaring above the storm clouds of the battle to survey the triumphant scene of Theseus rescuing the maidens. The ensuing anti-strophe is addressed to the great gods of Greece: the all-seeing Zeus, the intelligent Pallas Athena, the hunter Apollo, and his sister Artemis, who follows the "dappled, swift-footed deer." They appeal to all the gods to grant strength and success to their country and its people.

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