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In Ode 1 of Sophocles' Antigone, why are the first three stanzas similar, but the last...

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cowboycasanova | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 14, 2011 at 9:08 AM via web

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In Ode 1 of Sophocles' Antigone, why are the first three stanzas similar, but the last one different?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 23, 2012 at 6:29 AM (Answer #1)

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The first three stanzas of choral Ode 1 in Antigone describe the battle that has just occurred between Oedipus's two sons. These three stanzas are similar because they serve to describe a similar topic. The fourth stanza, however, serves to portray Thebes' victory over the army from Argos that Polynices brought with him. Since Thebes is still standing as Thebes, the chorus, which represents the elderly, noble citizens of Thebes, is celebrating. Hence, the fourth stanza is different because it speaks of celebration rather than war.

In the first stanza, the chorus speaks of the "white-shielded warrior from Argos" and of the "contentious claims of Polynices" (107, 110). What these lines are referring to are better explained in the second play of the trilogy, Oedipus At Colonus. However, after Oedipus's death, Polynices as eldest son took the throne but Eteocles usurped his brother. Eteocles exiled Polynices who then returned to Thebes with an army from Argos to try and regain the city and the throne. The second stanza describes Polynices' battle with his brother. It describes Polynices as "perched on the roof" of their palace and looking around the seven gates of the city "with bloody spears," or eyes (116-117). It also describes Zeus as thwarting Polynices' victory and says that Zeus "threw down [Polynices] rushing with brandished fire" (128-129). The third stanza describes how both brothers killed each other "standing against each other with doubly slaying spears" (145).

However, the Argos army was driven off and Thebes was victorious; therefore, the fourth stanza is a victory song. The fourth stanza tells the Thebans to forget the past war and to "go to all the temples of the gods to dance through the night" and to allow themselves to be ruled by Bacchus, god of wine and all carnal delights (149, 152-153).

Hence, we see that the fourth stanza is different from the first three because the fourth depicts a victorious celebration while the first three describe the civil war between the two brothers.

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