In Sophocles' Antigone,  what does the Chorus mean in Ode 3, after Creon and Haemon's argument?

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Lynnette Wofford eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The third choral ode of Sophocles' Antigone begins at line 665, just before the fight between Haemon and Creon. It begins:

Blessed are those whose life has known no woe!

The main theme of this choral ode is the curse on the house of Laius. It picks up where Oedipus Rex left off and emphasizes the continuity between the two stories. Oedipus Rex ends with the line "Call no man happy until he is dead." This means that we cannot tell whether a life is good or not until it is over because we cannot foresee the future.

The third choral ode of Antigone expands upon this theme, suggesting that even what might appear to be good fortune can be revealed as bad fortune. It warns us that none can escape their fates or the curses of the gods and that hope in such circumstances is often misleading. It emphasizes the deathless and eternal power of the gods. The chorus emphasizes the misery of the Theban house and suggests that even when things appear to be improving for them, catastrophe may be about to descend upon them.

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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During the fight between Creon and Haemon, Creon accuses Haemon of being persuaded by Antigone and enslaved by his love for her, as we see in Creon's line, "You're the slave of a woman, don't chatter at me" (769). In other words, one reason why Creon is disregarding Haemon's perspective is because he thinks he has allowed himself to be corrupted by a woman, one who is weaker than he is. Therefore, the chorus's ode following this fight is all about how overpowering the emotion of love is.

The first line of the ode describes love as being unconquerable, even in battle, "Love, unconquered in battle" (795). The chorus continues further to argue that no man can escape love and that the lover, like Haemon, is insane, as we see in the lines:

There is no escape from you for immortals
or men who live but for a day;
he who has you is mad. (799-801)

The chorus also argues that love has the power to corrupt people, such as making just men unjust. Finally the chorus ends by confessing that they feel overcome with love for Antigone as well and feel like weeping as they see her being led to her "bridal chamber," meaning tomb (813).

Hence, we see that in this ode the chorus is agreeing with Creon in believing that Haemon has been corrupted by love and also feeling love and loss for Antigone themselves.

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