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MonkeyNotes-Oedipus at Colonus by Sophocles
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8. Olive trees are regarded sacred in Greece, for their long life span, fruitfulness, and ease of growth. They are also symbolic of peace, and because of their hardiness and resilience, they represent the ability for life to regenerate.

9. Nereids (or Nereides in Greek): These are beautiful and benevolent sea-creatures whose father was Nereus, a wise and kindly deity often referred to as "the old man of the sea" (as in Homer).

10. Cronos: He is one of the Titans fathered by Uranus, who kept him imprisoned from birth in Tartarus, a part of the Greek underworld or Hades. At his mother's instigation, he retaliated by mutilating/castrating his father. He was revered by the Greeks as the god of time.


11. Poseidon: He is a god worshipped at Athens even before Pallas Athena became its presiding deity. He was worshipped as god of horses in Thessaly, a horse-breeding area, and in other parts of Greece. The chorus seems to refer to the contest between Athena and Poseidon for the land of Attica/Athens. The gods promised to award the patronage of the city to whomever gave the more useful gift to its inhabitants. Poseidon struck the ground with his trident and a horse sprang out, while Athena produced the olive tree and was judged the winner.

12. Horses as symbols: Poseidon's horses represent violence, power, or even man's libido. For Oedipus, these dual symbols of the olive tree and the horse suggest the two courses of his life; the horse suggests his parricide and his incestuous relations with his mother, while the olive represents the regeneration of life he is to find in Colonus. His willful and impetuous nature is now seemingly tamed and disciplined by the curb and bit used to control horses. The reference to the oar as an instrument by which man can beat back the waves of the sea also holds similar subtle significance in this complex choric reference.

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