What is the point of "Ode to Man" (p. 205)? What message is implied? Is man primarily good or bad?

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The role of the "Ode to Man" in Antigoneis primarily didactic; that is to say it is designed to teach an important message. Sung by the Chorus , the Ode reveals to the audience the full complexity of the human condition. On the one hand, man is all-powerful and...

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The role of the "Ode to Man" in Antigone is primarily didactic; that is to say it is designed to teach an important message. Sung by the Chorus, the Ode reveals to the audience the full complexity of the human condition. On the one hand, man is all-powerful and all-conquering. He has taught himself, through the civilizations he has built, to deal with whatever powerful forces the natural world can throw at him.

Yet at the same time, man has one major vulnerability: he cannot conquer death. This is one realm in which man's free will has no purchase. And it is because of his free will that man can choose to do wrong. This is a lesson for us all but especially for Creon, who's so used to being in control. He is so used to imposing his free will on those around him that he's unable or unwilling to recognize his limitations. Creon fails to heed this salutary lesson, with tragic consequences for himself and his family.

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The first `stasimon`or `standing song` (song the chorus sings when in the orchestra rather than entering or exiting) of Sophocles `Àntigone` is called the "Ode to Man." It begins with the claim that mankind is the most wonderful (or terrifying – the Greek word carries both meanings) of all things. It attributes much of the greatness of humanity to the ability of people to work together in poleis, or cities, which exemplify collaboration and civilization.

The ode reminds us that what is most important should not be individual desires or ego but what is good for the polis as a whole. In this, the chorus, being the anonymous voice of the elders rather than an individual actor, speaks for the common good.

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