The 1st Stasimon in Sophocles’ play ‘Oedipus the King’ is mainly showing the Chorus’ confusion in regards to Tiresias’ accusations made towards Oedipus. The Chorus seem terrified and powerless, and, like Oedipus, do not want to believe the accusations. They feel that the gods know the truth, yet will not reveal it, thus feeling as though the gods are of no real help. There are many issues and techniques to be discussed in regards to the 1st Stasimon, one of these being the significance of the section.
The real significance of the 1st Stasimon is that it shows the reader how much of a respected role model Oedipus is to the community of Thebes; they will not accuse him until true proof has been revealed about the incident. This can be shown from the third quote in the 1st Stasimon handout. It reads: “No, not till I see these charges proved will I side with his accusers. ” This shows that the Chorus considers Oedipus to be a true leader, and hence will follow him regardless.
Another factor of significance in the first stasimon is that it shows the audience how the Chorus believes that Oedipus was brought to Thebes for a reason; this being to bring joy back into the city. The fourth quote in the handout is a good example of this: “We saw him thenâ€¦with our own eyes his skill, his brilliant triumph â€“ there was the test â€“ he was the joy of Thebes! ” Through this quote we can see admiration shown towards Oedipus due to his defeat against the Sphinx, and ridding the city from the curse. This brought joy back into the city, and turned Oedipus into a hero.
Another issue raised in the 1st Stasimon was gender representation. Gender representation played a minor role in the First Stasimon. In this section, all well respected people or gods were men; the only woman mentioned in the text was the Sphinx, whom was rather referred to as the ‘she-hawk’. This can be seen in quote 7 in the 1st Stasimon handout. Hawks are considered to be evil birds, and are often in some texts considered to be possessed by the Devil, which shows that the Sphinx was not respected whatsoever, and was considered evil.
Also, when the Chorus was trying to solve the question of who killed Laius, they basically ruled out the thought that the killer could be a woman. This can be seen in quote 6, which reads: “Who is the man the voice of god denounces? ” This shows that nobody believes that a woman could ever have killed Laius, perhaps because physical strength would have been needed, and women were not expected to carry any physical strength. Had the chorus had thought that a woman may have killed Laius, they probably would have asked “who is the person the voice of god denounces? The issue of Inequality of Power was also raised in the 1st Stasimon.
The great gods were considered to have the highest level of power, Oedipus being next, and the prophets and seers being the lowest of powers along with the Chorus. This can be seen in quote 8 on the 1st Stasimon handout, when the Chorus was trying to prove that Tiresias could not know the real truth. Quote 8 reads: “Zeus and Apollo know, they know, the great masters of all the dark and depth of human life. But whether a mere man can know the truth, whether a seer can fathom more than I… This shows that the Chorus feels as though seers have the same power as the chorus, and therefore would know no better. However, they also see the gods to be of high power, and so would believe anything they say.
The chorus sees Oedipus to be of higher power than them, as they call him their king. This can be seen through quote 9 on the handout, which reads “Never will I convict my king, never in my heart. ” Another issue to be discussed in the 1st Stasimon is Accusation, Distrust and Denial. The whole Stasimon is based around the one main accusation; this being the accusation made towards Oedipus by Tiresias.
The chorus is unsure of whether to believe the accusation, or to follow their king, which brings the issue of distrust into the text. The Chorus are unsure as to whether they can trust what the prophet has said to them, as they cannot see how a murder could be brought between Laius and the son of Polybus as they know Oedipus to be. This can be seen through a number of quotes within the 1st Stasimon, two of these being quotes 10 and 11 on the handout given. Quote 10 reads: “The skilled prophet scans the birds and shatters me with terror! I can’t accept him, can’t deny him, don’t know what to say”.
This explains how the prophet has searched for the murderer of Laius, and has found the person to be Oedipus, which ‘shatters the Chorus with terror’. The Chorus do not want to accept the prophets findings, yet cannot ignore them, and so are unsure of whether Oedipus did in fact murder Laius. Quote 11 reads: “and what could breed a blood feud between Laius’ house and the son of Polybus? ” This shows that the Chorus cannot see what conflict between Laius and Polybus could have ever brought upon a murder such as this, and so are once again unsure as to whether they should believe the prophet’s words.
The issue of Denial is brought into the first stasimon when the Chorus comes to the conclusion that they should follow their king, as they see him as a well-respected role model. Hence they wish to deny the accusations, and try to ignore the bad that has been brought upon their king. This can be shown from quote #13 on the handout, which reads: “Never will I convict my king, never in my heart. ” This basically shows that they will never turn upon Oedipus, and hence will deny all accusations turned to him. The role of beliefs is a very important issue in the 1st Stasimon.
During the whole text of ‘Oedipus the King’, prophecies have always been trusted and acted upon, and never questioned. However, as the 1st Stasimon reads on, the Chorus starts to believe that what Tiresias’ accusation states may not be true. The Chorus hears of the prophecy about Oedipus, yet still says that they will never convict their king, which basically shows that they are turning away from the prophecy, and are instead suggesting that the role of power in Greek society is more important than prophecies.
Because Oedipus is of high power, he is respected, and the prophecies made against him are ignored. Although the prophecies are not trusted, the great gods still remain important and well trusted. The Chorus believes that the gods know the truth as to who killed Laius, yet will not reveal it. Hence the gods are not thought of as helpful to the city as they were previously considered, yet are still considered to know the truth. This can be seen through quote 15 on the handout, which reads: “Zeus and Apollo know, they know, the great masters of all the dark and depth of human life. This shows that the Chorus sees the gods as to know the ‘dark and depth of all human life’, yet still keep the truth hidden.
Another issue discussed in the text is ‘Elements of a Greek Tragedy’. Three elements of a Greek Tragedy discussed in the 1st Stasimon are hamartia, peripeteia, and nemesis. The issue of hamartia was brought into the text, as the accusation made towards the protagonist [this being Oedipus] brought a downfall of character. Oedipus was accused of killing his father, which in turn affected his loyalty and trust according to some characters.
The Chorus can see the downfall of character, as described in quote 17 on the handout, which reads: “The dark wings beating around him shrieking doom, the doom that never dies, the terrorâ€¦” This shows that the Chorus can see evil catching up on Oedipus, and bringing doom to him, which will never end. Peripeteia is mentioned, as the Chorus can see Oedipus’ future changing. Oedipus has not yet been exiled from Thebes, yet the Chorus can see his luck and fame changing. This can be seen in quote 18 on the handout, which reads: “to attack his fame that rings around Thebes”.
This shows that the Chorus can see something [this being the accusation] changing what the community thinks about Oedipus; the accusation will attack his fame that rings around Oedipus. Like the issue of peripeteia in the 1st Stasimon, the issue of nemesis has not yet been brought up, but the Chorus can see the gods falling down on Oedipus, and can see them changing his luck to bad. This can be seen through quote 19 on the handout, which reads:
“Apollo son of the Father lunges on him, lightning-bolts afire! The Chorus can see the anger within the gods, as they hunt down on the killer of Laius, whom is Oedipus. Another point of discussion within the 1st Stasimon is the attitudes portrayed by the Chorus towards Oedipus. The Chorus gives a very loving affect/attitude towards Oedipus. They seem as though to feel sympathetic towards him, and in their hearts hope that the accusations made towards Oedipus are not true. They also show a very loyal attitude to their king, as they say that they will never side with him until real proof has been shown about the incident.
The Chorus also shows admiration towards Oedipus, when describing his defeat against the Sphinx, and saved the city of Thebes from it’s curse. Quotes 20, 21 and 22 on the handout relate to the attitude portrayed by the Chorus, in regards to Oedipus. Quote 20 reads: “Never will I convict my king, never in my heart”. This shows the loyal and loving affect given to Oedipus, as the Chorus do not want to leave his side, even though he is accused of murder. Quote 21 reads: “No, not till I see these charges proved will I side with his accusers. This also shows loyalty and respect to Oedipus, as they are saying that they will not leave him until true proof has been revealed.
Quote 22 reads: “we saw him then, when the she-hawk swept against himâ€¦his skill, his brilliant triumphâ€¦he was the joy of Thebes! ” This shows the admiration shown towards Oedipus, as they admired his skill and triumph, and they basically said that he was the person who brought joy back into Thebes. Symbolism, metaphors and similes play a rather crucial role in the structure of the 1st Stasimon. The words chosen in the text help describe the occurrences, which give a deeper impact on the audience.
The Chorus’ speech within the 1st Stasimon is full of images of caves, darkness, lightning, and wings. By reading these terms used, the audience is given an image of darkness, the unknown, and most significantly, terror of the gods. These terms were used as to show the bad occurrences that were to come of the killer of Laius, the anger of the gods to the murderer, and also gives a more mystified approached as to who actually killed Laius. An image of darkness can be shown in quote number 23, which reads: “the dark wings beating around him shrieking doom, the doom that never dies, the terror”.
By reading the words ‘dark’, ‘shrieking’, ‘doom’, and ‘terror’, we are automatically given a bad feeling towards the quote, and we could sense that bad was going to come. Also, in quote 24, which reads: “Apollo son of the father lunges on him, lightning-bolts afire! And the grim unerring Furies closing for the kill. “, the words ‘lunge’, ‘lightning-bolts’, ‘grim’, and ‘furies’, give yet another deep impact on the audience, and we an automatically sense the anger within the gods, and can see the desperation to catch the killer of Laius.
In quote 25, which reads: “Now under bristling timber up through rocks and caves he stalks like the wild mountain bull”, the words ‘rocks’, ‘caves’, ‘stalks’, ‘wild’ and ‘bull’ are used, which once again gives a negative impact on the audience. From these words the reader senses darkness and mystery, which gives a deep impact and further enhances the text. Metaphors and similes were used effectively when describing a variety of issues brought up in the text. A good example of this is quote 26 on the handout, which reads: “when the she-hawk swept against him”.
By using the word ‘she-hawk’ to describe the Sphinx, a bad image is instantly cast on the Sphinx, and the audience is led to think that she is evil. A good use of similes is also used when describing the killer hiding in mystery, in quote 27, which reads: “Like a wild mountain bull”. By the using the word ‘wild’ we think of the killer being set as an outcast leaving society as to hide from the gods. Another technique to discuss in the 1st Stasimon, is diction. The diction used in the 1st Stasimon is very important. It’s powerful tone and emotion emphasised the Chorus’ speech, enabling the Chorus to give a large impact on the audience.
By using words such as ‘darkness’, ‘doom’ and ‘terror’, the Chorus is able to give a dark and mysterious atmosphere to the play, whereas by using the words ‘skill’, ‘brilliant’, ‘triumph’, and ‘joy’, the Chorus sent a light and positive atmosphere to the audience. An example of powerful tone and emotion is quote 29 on the 1st Stasimon handout, which reads: “beating around him shrieking doom, the doom that never dies, the terror”. By using the words ‘doom’ and ‘terror’ there is a deep and dark impact on the audience, creating a very powerful atmosphere.
The last technique to discuss relating to the first stasimon is structure and syntax. The structure of the 1st Stasimon has very little difference as to the rest of the play. Some minor differences in the first stasimon is the fact that there are no stage directions etc, but this is because there is only one part in the text; no characters move during the text. There are some minor roles of sentence structure within the first stasimon, these being the use of ‘â€¦’, exclamation marks, and the use of short paragraphs. â€¦’s were used as they gave a sense of uncertainty in the text, and also shows that what the speaker is saying is not yet finished, however perhaps he/she does not know anything else to say. An example of this is quote 30 on the handout, which reads:
“I cannot see what’s to come, what’s still to comeâ€¦” By using the ‘â€¦’ at the end of the speech, you can sense uncertainty in the chorus, as they are unsure as to what may happen next to Oedipus, they are uncertain about his future.
Exclamation marks are used to create depth in the text, and to show excitement in the speaker’s voice. An example of this is quote 31 on the handout, which reads: “he was the joy of Thebes! ” Through the use of the exclamation mark, you can see that the chorus is happy with what he had just spoken, as there is excitement in his words. Short paragraphs were used once again create depth. Through the use of short paragraphs, the facts are given and are to the point, which shows exactly what is needed to be said, without elaborating too much.
An example of a short paragraph is quote 32 in the handout, which reads: “Cased in armour, Apollo son of the Father lunges on him, lightning-bolts afire! and the grim unerring Furies closing for the kill. ” As you can see, this is a very short paragraph, however simply states the anger of the gods, and shows that they are searching for the killer of Laius. The main points are spoken and are to the point, without it being too overelaborated.