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MonkeyNotes-Oedipus at Colonus by Sophocles
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In the antistrophe, Antigone bewails the fact that life without her father's love has no charms. Even the past cares she endured with him now seem like lost joys. She cannot bear to think he is now shut in the dark vault of the underworld forever. Even though he is in Hades, she vows to send him her love and that of her sister. She vows to honor him with her streaming tears. Ismene fears for what terrible fate the future holds for them now that they are orphans. The chorus consoles them by saying Oedipus is at last free of the cares of earth. They hope Ismene and Antigone will find some solace in this thought.


The second strophe is a series of exchanges between the two sisters. Antigone desires to return to the spot where Oedipus met his end. But Ismene reminds her that the site must not be disturbed. Antigone then begs, "Take me to him and slay me by his side". Ismene fears they will now have "to live, once more, a life of misery/In the old loneliness and poverty". The second anti-strophe between Antigone and the chorus repeats the theme of despair and the search for a home for the two women.

Finally, Theseus enters and asks the sisters to cease their lament. He feels it is wrong to grieve too much when the kindness of the dark powers of Death has released Oedipus from the weighty burden of life. When Antigone begs him to take them to Oedipus' tomb, Theseus refuses, saying it is unlawful as Oedipus expressly forbade it. Before he died, he charged Theseus "that no mortal's foot should trespass/Near those precincts! nor even hail with human voice the sacred tomb where he sleeps." This he has pledged to Oedipus with Zeus as the all-seeing witness to his oath.

The play ends with Antigone's request that the two sisters return to Thebes. Perhaps, they can help ward off the bloodshed of their brother's civil strife that may ruin the city. Theseus offers them his unstinting help to get them home safely. The chorus has the final word, advising the two sisters to cease their lamentations, as all these things were meant to happen.

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