The Use of the Chorus in Oedipus the King

             Oedipus the King is a dynamic tale, expertly making use of all assets available to forge and shape a truly spellbinding play. As Sophocles weaves the plot throughout the tragedy, he manages to increase the tension and pace of the story through the development of all assets, particularly with regards to the role of the Chorus. In the beginning, the Chorus attempts to position itself in the audience’s mind as the population of Thebes, and functions largely as petitioners, relatively indecisive to the plot. The play moves on, though, and by the middle third, the Chorus begins to act as a moderator, providing a sober perspective on the heated arguments that rage throughout, attempting to infuse the arguing parties with the spirit of reconciliation, or at least keep the tempers from taking control of the characters’ actions. As the end approaches, the Chorus does indeed render judgment upon Oedipus, condemning him, in the eyes of the audience and himself as the cause of the plague of Thebes. The Chorus of Oedipus the King starts the play as mere petitioners, seemingly unimportant in the grand plot swirling about them, but gradually become more involved, taking active roles in the progress of the story, until the climax, where the Chorus, representing the people of Thebes, plays the decisive part in the downfall of the King.
             At the dawn of the play Oedipus, the Chorus shines not as a decisive character, but more as a collection of men voicing the concerns of the Citizens of Thebes. First presented to the audience, in the words of the Priest, in the guise of, “…men of all ages-some not yet strong enough to fly far from the nest, others heavy with age, priests, of Zeus in my case, and these are picked men from the city’s youth” (2). Instantly, the audience is provided with reasoning for the Chorus to be present throughout the play, as, according to Priest, the Chorus is made up of the most respected Thebans, and so are giv...

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The Use of the Chorus in Oedipus the King. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 08:19, January 21, 2017, from