1. In Oedipus Rex, what is the subject of the third ode? 

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shakespeareguru | Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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The Chorus of Theban Elders in Oedipus Rex are very concerned with keeping the traditional services and supplications to the gods.  They spend a lot of the play appealing to the gods to remember that they are "good." They would not defy the oracles nor imagine themselves to be able to decide or determine their own fate.  In this way, they are set in opposition to the actions of Oedipus and Jocasta, who both attempt to outwit Fate and the gods by avoiding the prophecy of the Oracle at Delphi which has predicted that Oedipus will kill his father and marry his mother.

The Third Ode, which begins at line 864, reiterates this obedience to the will of the gods.  It begins:

May destiny ever find me

pious in word and deed

prescribed by the laws that live on high.

It goes on to warn of the tyrant who would see himself as so powerful he might defy the will of the gods, but that he will only "climb to the roof-top and plunge/sheer down to the the ruin that must be."  It then continues to decry those who would set themselves above the will of the gods, setting a curse upon those who would act in so haughty a fashion. "May an evil doom/smite him for his ill-starred pride of heart!"

The Ode ends with a warning that suggests that the validity and sacredness of the oracles, the works of the gods, have been questioned, and , because of this, "God's service perishes."

The Chorus in this play, and in this Ode, are warning the audience to stay true to their beliefs and practices.  It is the disobedience to the will of the gods that will lead  to chaos and ruin.

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