What is the purpose of one of the Odes in the play in terms of  what the Ode says and its placement in the play?

Expert Answers
readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As you probably know, there are many odes in Oedipus Rex. Sophocles was a very innovative author. We can see this in the choral odes. Traditionally the chorus usually lamented the tragedies and disasters of the work, but in Oedipus Rex, the chorus did far more. The choral odes sought to advise Oedipus, warn him, foreshadow what was to come, and even address the audience with pithy statements of wisdom. From this list, we can see that the choral odes were far more integrated to the works of Sophocles. We certainly see this in Oedipus Rex.

A the end of the play, the chorus sings this ode to teach the people of Thebes and the readers a lesson from the life of Oedipus.

"You residents of Thebes, our native land,
look on this man, this Oedipus, the one
who understood that celebrated riddle.
He was the most powerful of men.
All citizens who witnessed this man’s wealth
were envious. Now what a surging tide
of terrible disaster sweeps around him.
So while we wait to see that final day,
we cannot call a mortal being happy
before he’s passed beyond life free from pain."

The point is clear. No matter how well you start off or no matter how well you do even during your life, the real test of happiness is how a person ends his or her life. From this perspective, the choral ode reminds people to be aware of hubris, which lead Oedipus to his end.


Read the study guide:
Oedipus Rex

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question