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The Choral Ode - Analysis Essay

            The people of Thebes are struck with a plague and are told that if they find the man who killed Laius, their former king, the plague will finally end. A blind prophet, Tiresias, has accused their current king, Oedipus, of being the murderer. Upon hearing this, Oedipus is outraged, and the townspeople are concerned. The townspeople are represented by the chorus in Sophocles's plays and during this particular moment in the play, they are simply talking out loud amongst themselves. This choral ode serves to show how the townspeople feel towards the gods, the plague, and the accusations made against Oedipus. Through the chorus, Sophocles employs literary devices such as imagery, repetition, and shifting of tone to convey how the townspeople feel in this current situation. As the choral ode progresses, it is seen that the people still have faith in their honored king, despite what the prophet has said.
             Sophocles begins the ode with a series of rhetorical questions that serve to immediately start a discussion between the townspeople. The use of rhetorical questions also sets the tone for the first half of the ode to be empowered with rage towards the gods. Sophocles develops this tone by utilizing negative diction to portray the thoughts of the chorus. For example, words such as "horror" (line 529), "bloody" (line 530), and the repetition of the word "terror" (line 549) show how distressed the people of Thebes are with the plague. The vivid use of imagery also helps to illustrate the emotional state of the people of Thebes. Sophocles uses a variety of animal and nature references such as "his time has come to fly to outrace the stallions of the storm" (lines 531-532) and "he stalks like the wild mountain bull" (lines 543-544) to describe what the townspeople think of the person who killed Laius. With these nature and animal references, Sophocles is able to portray how devious the chorus thinks the killer of Lauis is, as he has run so long and "left no trace " (line 540), but the townspeople are adamant that they will eventually find him.

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