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Option 2 The Burial at Thebes

What is the main contribution made by the Chorus in The Burial at Thebes?

Answer with specific references to the text of the play.

A chorus is a common element to Greek tragedy’s and in ancient theatre consisted of a group of people who provide a number of different contributions to a play, providing a historical perspective, acting as counsellors and advisors to the plays characters and at times representing various groups such as villagers or a jury. Within this essay, I will consider the main contributions of the chorus within “The Burial at Thebes”

The first time that we are introduced to the chorus is within the Parados, which is sung on the Audio CD. Sophocles uses the Chorus and the parados here to outline the history in a strong poetic style. The chorus sing about the battle that has just been fought, beginning with a cheery image “glory be to brightness and the gleaming sun” and they give the first insight that the people of Thebes are unhappy that Polynices betrayed and attacked them. They are celebrating the victory in Battle and praising the soldiers that defended their city and thanking the gods for their protection, these already start to link the some of the key themes in the play – Loyalty, Power and the Gods. This function of the chorus helps to strengthen Creons position and helps give further emphasis to one of the key themes in the play of Power. At this point in the play, the Chorus are very much seen as Creons people.

The Chorus are then called upon to act as counsel for Creon, where he declares that the body of Polynices, the so-called traitor, should remain unburied without adhering to any of the customs of that time. The chorus seem to have power within the story here as Creon is seeking their support in his decision regarding Polynices, and the Chorus pledge their support to him “Loud and clear, King Creon, You have laid down the law”.

As the play develops, the role of the chorus...
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