The Chorus repeatedly gives us moral lessons, often condemning “pride.” Are we to take the proclamations of the Chorus as absolute truth, or is the Chorus just as fallible as the other...
The Chorus repeatedly gives us moral lessons, often condemning “pride.” Are we to take the proclamations of the Chorus as absolute truth, or is the Chorus just as fallible as the other characters?
The chorus, like the characters in the play, is a mixed bag of insights and predictable worries. The chorus follows a pattern. At first they believe that Oedipus is the right man for the job, based on what he has done so far. As the play progresses, they begin to worry that Oedipus will not be able to solve the city's problems. At one point, they do help him by persuading him not to banish Creon in his anger. Finally, they lament his fate and pity him when the truth comes to light.
In view of these points, it is up to the audience or the reader to determine what words are wise and unwise. However, when it comes to words on pride, the chorus gives very sage advice. Infallible, I would say. The most famous words of the chorus are the following:
People of Thebes, my countrymen, look on Oedipus. He solved the famous riddle with his brilliance, he rose to power, a man beyond all power. Who could behold his greatness without envy? Now what a black sea of terror has overwhelmed him. Now as we keep our watch and wait the final day, count no man happy till he dies, free of pain at last.
These words fit perfectly within the world Greek. The Greeks believed that a person's pride leads to his demise. The same words were given by Solon to the king of Lydia, Croesus. The Greeks believed that pride or hubris will in time receive judgment. This is why at the Oracle of Delphi three saying were etched into the temple - all of them were focused on the dangers of pride:
- Know thyself (know that you are not divine and just a man)
- Nothing in excess (again a note on humility)
- Make a pledge and destruction is near (another note on humility)
Thw chorus serves as its own characters, and often gives the reader/audience an insight to the internal struggles faced by the main players of the story. The chorus condemns pride and also explore the challenge of fate versus free will. They are powerless to stop the unfolding of events, but let the reader/audience gains a deeper perspective of the consequences of avoiding such pitfalls as pride. In this way, the chorus is just as fallible as the characters they reflect and also serve as a means for the reader/ audience to relate to the challenges and dilemmas faced by the main players as well.