Published online by Cambridge University Press: 08 May 2015
Ever since A. W. Schlegel the role of the Sophoclean chorus has been the subject of debate. To him the chorus was ‘the ideal spectator’, by which he meant that it moves at a deeper level than the actors and interprets the meaning of the play to us: it is as Schiller put it, ‘not an individual, but a general reflection’. This might be called one of the extreme views of the role of the chorus; even those who do not take it in general, such as Helg and Helmreich, still see some of the choral odes as a kind of parabasis, in which Sophocles lets the plot go and speaks to us in person. The main candidates are the first stasimon of the Antigone and the second stasimon of the Oedipus Rex. It is not clear whether these ‘messages’ were for posterity or Pericles; in my view these odes are entirely explicable in the dramatic context in which they occur; at least, the burden of proof lies with those who would maintain otherwise.