The elders chant an ode in praise of man, who is powerful over all things except death.
This ode stands as one of the greatest poems written by Sophocles. The breadth of the imagery — celebrating man's power over animals, birds, and even the earth's fertility — gives a feeling of ever-expanding possibility, cut short suddenly by the somber mention of Death.
In the conclusion, the elders propose a pious compromise between man's soaring pride and inevitable mortality. Law and "the justice of the gods" (410) will preserve man and society, the elders intone. The next scene will open the question of how — or even whether — earthly law and heavenly justice can be reconciled with one another.