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Antigone, lines 101-161

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Antigone, lines 101-161

Postby Bart » Sun Feb 25, 2018 7:02 pm

First chorus. Not easy, but not as impossibly difficult as I had feared. Nevertheless, some questions.

A very ignorant question first: all those alfa’s instead of eta’s that must be Doric, right? Are there other Doric influences to look out for?

124-125: τοῖος ἀμφὶ νῶτ᾽ ἐτάθη
πάταγος Ἄρεος, ἀντιπάλῳ δυσχείρωμα δράκοντος.
So, the battle is raging behind the back of Polyneices (for presumably he is fighting in front of his army as suits a true hero), and his rival is his brother. Correct?

127-137:
Ζεὺς γὰρ μεγάλης γλώσσης κόμπους
ὑπερεχθαίρει, καὶ σφας ἐσιδὼν
πολλῷ ῥεύματι προσνισσομένους
χρυσοῦ καναχῆς ὑπεροπλίαις,
παλτῷ ῥιπτεῖ πυρὶ βαλβίδων
ἐπ᾽ ἄκρων ἤδη
νίκην ὁρμῶντ᾽ ἀλαλάξαι.
ἀντιτύπᾳ δ᾽ ἐπὶ γᾷ πέσε τανταλωθεὶς
πυρφόρος, ὃς τότε μαινομένᾳ ξὺν ὁρμᾷ
βακχεύων ἐπέπνει
ῥιπαῖς ἐχθίστων ἀνέμων.

Very nice. I’m trying to focus on the rythm and the sound effects here. When reading this multiple times to myself some of the force and beauty of the poetry gets through. If I like this, maybe I should read Pindar.

141-143:
ἑπτὰ λοχαγοὶ γὰρ ἐφ᾽ ἑπτὰ πύλαις
ταχθέντες ἴσοι πρὸς ἴσους ἔλιπον
Ζηνὶ τροπαίῳ πάγχαλκα τέλη,

ἴσοι πρὸς ἴσους? Steadman suggests Sophocles means seven against seven gates, but that can’t be right since gate of course is feminine. I read it as seven captains against seven captains (or hero’s) from Thebes. Does that make sense?
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Re: Antigone, lines 101-161

Postby mwh » Tue Feb 27, 2018 2:47 am

Doric alpha. Yes the “Doric” veneer in tragic choruses hardly extends beyond this, except that the vocabulary will reflect the typical diction of choral lyric, Pindar etc.
The “recited” or “marching” anapests, however, characteristic of a chorus’ initial entry, retain the Attic eta, and have strong metron-by-metron articulation. (So their rhythm is perfectly uniform, “left right left right I-had-a-good-job-but-I-left right …”, quite unlike Pindar.)
This implies a shift in mode of delivery and movement occurring between 101-9 (aeolic-type lyric, with "doric" alpha) and 110-116 (recited anapests, in Attic).
Then the whole pattern is repeated in the antistrophe (117-133).
And then all that is followed by a second strophe-antistrophe pair, concluded by a final set of anapests (155-162) announcing Creon’s arrival. (Arrivals of major characters are often announced in anapests.) Only then can the action resume, in iambic trimeters, the regular dialogue meter.

It’s worth paying attention to these formal features, since they define a play’s structure and character and help control its pacing and dynamics.

124f. This passage is too difficult for me. But yes, the eagle represents Polynices, the invader from Argos come to reclaim the throne, while the snake/dragon represents his brother Eteocles, the successful defender of Thebes. (Kadmos, the founder of Thebes, had sown dragon's teeth, from which warriors grew.) We're probably to imagine these emblems on their respective shields. The “Seven (commanders) against Thebes” attacked one each of the seven gates of the city (defended by seven defenders, ισοι προς ισους), and Pol. and Et. wound up killing each other. That’s the starting point of the play, of course. Sophocles, unlike Euripides, likes a lively interactive start.

So we have 2x2 siblings, Antigone-Ismene and Polynices-Eteocles, underpinning the dynamics of the play.

127-137 Actually there’s a major divide in these lines at 133, after αλαλαξαι. 127-133 are a string of anapestic metra, as I’ve just described, and they conclude the first stanzaic pair. But they run on into the 2nd strophe (134ff.), metrically related but different, and sung and danced.

141f. You’ve got it, see above.
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Re: Antigone, lines 101-161

Postby Bart » Tue Feb 27, 2018 8:01 pm

The anapests come through loud and clear, the rythm of the Aeolic part as you call it, is much more difficult to get an ear for. You say those anapests mark the entrance of the chorus. Why then does the chorus part begin with those few lines in a much more complex metre? Were these lines sung/ recited with the chorus still partially offstage?
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Re: Antigone, lines 101-161

Postby mwh » Tue Feb 27, 2018 10:41 pm

Tragic choruses don’t always enter in anapests but many of them do. It’s evidently their traditional mode of entry (favored by Aeschylus, still popular with Euripides). They exit in the same way at the end of the play. What I called aeolic is not really all that complex. It’s in the tradition of the versification of Sappho and Alcaeus on 7th-century Lesbos, taken over with modifications by doric poets such as Pindar (for some odes) and in turn by Athenian drama, often in fairly standardized form. You can probably work out the meter of the first stanza (strophe and antistrophe in mutual responsion):
‒x‒⏑⏑‒⏑‒
‒x‒⏑⏑‒⏑‒ etc. (x = either long or short), each line having one double short between longs. It’s easy enough once you know the basic principles of this kind of verse.
There’s no reason to think the chorus was ever partially offstage, but on their entrance they have to come down one or both of the two side-entrances into the orchestra, chanting or singing as they do so. Anapests with the Attic eta are thought to have been recited or chanted rather than sung, as their steady rhythm suggests. (There are also sung anapests, but they’re less strict than the recited type.)
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