What function does the Choragos serve in Oedipus The King? 

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thanatassa's profile pic

thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, as in all Greek tragedies, the performers are divided into two categories, actors who play individual roles and the chorus. There are a maximum of three actors, all male, who play all the roles of the play, changing costumes and masks to assume different roles. The actual characters in the play are: Creon, Jocasta, Oedipus, and Teiresias, as well as a few messengers, a priest, and a servant.

The chorus, representing the elders of Thebes, has a major role in the play, singing, dancing, commenting and narrating. Although the chorus often speaks in unison, sometimes they are divided into two half-choruses and sometime the Choragos or chorus leader speaks individually. The Choragos is not an individual character per se, but part of the chorus, and does not have an active role in the plot, but like all members of the chorus represents the general public. Thus when Oedipus is asking the citizens for advice, the Choragos engages in a dialogue with Oedipus in which he sets forth what would be typical suggestions the public might make, such as consulting a famous prophet:

... Our lord Teiresias,

I know, can see into things, like lord Apollo.

From him, my king, a man investigating this

well find out clear details of the crime.

pirateteacher's profile pic

pirateteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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In Greek tragedies the Choragos, or chorus, was a group of male actors who served as the voice of society at the time of the play. The chorus is often used as a device to offer background information that the audience will need to know, or it is used to ask the questions the audience would want to ask of the characters. 

In Oedipus Rex, the chorus is the respected men of Thebes. They represent those in society of respect the gods and their king and serve as the audience's conscience.  It is the job of the chorus to provide a greater awareness of human life through the play.   


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