The second stasimon of Sophocles’ «Oedipus Tyrannus»: Some considerations

The author purports to reconsider connection of the II Stasimon of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex with its context. The last stanza shows that the Chorus is disturbed by the fact of ignoring oracles rather than by the fact that some of them may not have come true. Ignoring oracles is considered by Sophocles as a symptom of the «random life» (977–983), the life which ignores existence of the guiding principle in the universe. In turn, τάδε in v. 901 must be understood as referring not to the oracles, but to the previous stanzas in general, that is, to the concept of justice and idea of the punishment of the criminal. The last stanza must be read as: «There is no meaning in human religion and morality, and we can live at random, if the law prescribing punishment of the criminal isn’t considered as the universal one». The idea of the universal law appears already in the first stanza and must be seen in the context of contemporary discussions about «conventional» and «natural» laws; a tyrant is mentioned at the second stanza as one who believes himself an exception from common laws. The second stasimon thus should not be understood as direct or indirect reproach of Oedipus, for he evidently does not put himself above the laws. Moreover, the Stasimon throws light on the figure of Oedipus, who’s actions are represented as opposed to the «random life» and who’s image is the most emphatic proof of the unconventional character of the divine laws that can be imagined.

Barzakh Z.A._The second stasimon of Sophocles’ «Oedipus Tyrannus» Some considerations