Summary and Analysis: <i>Oedipus the King</i>
The chorus laments Oedipus' discovery of his birth, wondering at the king's fall from power and greatness.
Just as the previous ode expands on Oedipus' confidence, this ode reflects and magnifies his horror and pain.
The chorus chooses Oedipus as its example of the fragility of human life. Joy, the chorus chants, is an illusion that quickly fades. The glory of Oedipus' victory over the Sphinx is now buried in the infamy of his marriage. The chorus' comment on the uncertainty of life foreshadows its own final lamentation on the power of fate in the last lines of the play.
The chorus also looks to Oedipus as a kind of father — "you gave me life" (1348) — and his disgrace therefore brings shame upon the whole city. The phrase "now you bring down night upon my eyes" (1350) expresses this suffering, while foreshadowing Oedipus' violence against himself at the end of the play.
dirge a funeral hymn.