The Chorus in Antigone

Reading Antigone, I was surprised at the effect (or lack thereof) the chorus had on the rest of the play.  I have never before read a Greek play, and was taken aback at how the chorus was used. The only other story I’ve read that involved a chorus was the Penelopiad, in which the chorus played a much different role. There, it was used to give another perspective on the events in the novel. In Antigone, the chorus seemed somewhat pointless. They didn’t bring up any points I though needed to be addressed, and were very wishy-washy about who they supported.  The chorus didn’t add anything to the play, didn’t introduce any new perspectives or lead the reader to new understandings. It makes me wonder if the play would maybe even have benefited from having the chorus removed.

One thought on “The Chorus in Antigone

  1. Good question. Sometimes the chorus in greek plays is used to exemplify the correct reaction to the events, but not here, as you note, because they don’t have any strong stance one way or the other. But perhaps, now that I think about it, that is itself how the audience is supposed to react? Maybe we’re supposed to see the value in both sides (or the problems with both sides)? They are supposed to be the elders of the city, the ones who advised its previous kings, so maybe their views could be what we are to think intelligent and thoughtful citizens might think and do? They do bend to Kreon’s will out of fear sometimes, though, which is maybe not what we’re to think is right. So ultimately, I’m not sure exactly what their purpose is, now that I think this through!

    They do occasionally make some larger statements about human life or how we should act/not act, and sometimes they give details about what has happened outside the action of the play (e.g., in the beginning they talk about what has just happened in terms of the civil war), but otherwise they just flop back and forth between Antigone and Kreon.

    [Sorry for the late reply; I really only have Tuesday nights to read blog posts, so if they’re posted after Tuesday 5pm I often won’t get to them until the following week!]

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