Sophocles (/ˈsɒfəkliːz/; Greek: Σοφοκλῆς, Sophoklēs, Ancient Greek: [sopʰoklɛ̂ːs]; c. 497/6 BC – winter 406/5 BC) is one of three ancient Greek tragedians whose plays have survived. His first plays were written later than those of Aeschylus, and earlier than or contemporary with those of Euripides. According to the Suda, a 10th-century encyclopedia, Sophocles wrote 123 plays during the course of his life, but only seven have survived in a complete form: Ajax, Antigone, The Women of Trachis, Oedipus the King, Electra, Philoctetes and Oedipus at Colonus. For almost 50 years, Sophocles was the most-fêted playwright in the dramatic competitions of the city-state of Athens that took place during the religious festivals of the Lenaea and the Dionysia. He competed in around 30 competitions, won perhaps 24, and was never judged lower than second place. Aeschylus won 14 competitions, and was sometimes defeated by Sophocles, while Euripides won only 4 competitions.
The most famous tragedies of Sophocles feature Oedipus and also Antigone: they are generally known as the Theban plays, although each play was actually a part of a different tetralogy, the other members of which are now lost. Sophocles influenced the development of the drama, most importantly by adding a third actor, thereby reducing the importance of the chorus in the presentation of the plot. He also developed his characters to a greater extent than earlier playwrights such as Aeschylus.
2 Works and legacy
2.1 Theban plays
2.1.2 Composition and inconsistencies
2.2 Other plays
2.3 Fragmentary plays
2.4 Sophocles' view of his own work
4 See also
6 External links
A marble relief of a poet, perhaps Sophocles
Sophocles, the son of Sophilus, was a wealthy member of the rural deme (small community) of Colonus Hippius in Attica, which was to become a setting for one of his plays, and he was probably born there. He was born a few years before the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC: the exact year is unclear, although 497/6 is the most likely. Sophocles was born into a wealthy family (his father was an armour manufacturer) and was highly educated. Sophocles' first artistic triumph was in 468 BC, when he took first prize in the Dionysia theatre competition over the reigning master of Athenian drama, Aeschylus. According to Plutarch, the victory came under unusual circumstances. Instead of following the usual custom of choosing judges by lot, the archon asked Cimon and the other strategoi present to decide the victor of the contest. Plutarch further contends that following this loss Aeschylus soon left for Sicily. Although Plutarch says that this was Sophocles' first production, it is now thought that his first production was probably in 470 BC. Triptolemus was probably one of the plays that Sophocles presented at this festival.
In 480 BC Sophocles was chosen to lead the paean (a choral chant to a god), celebrating the Greek victory over the Persians at the Battle of Salamis. Early in his career, the politician Cimon might have been one of his patrons, although if he was, there was no ill will borne by Pericles, Cimon's rival, when Cimon was ostracized in 461 BC. In 443/2 he served as one of the Hellenotamiai, or treasurers of Athena, helping to manage the finances of the city during the political ascendancy of Pericles. According to the Vita Sophoclis, in 441 BC he was elected one of ten strategoi, high executive officials that commanded the armed forces, as a junior colleague of Pericles, and he served in the Athenian campaign against Samos; he was supposed to have been elected to this position as the result of his production of Antigone.
In 420 BC, he welcomed and set up an altar for the image of Asclepius at his house, when the deity was introduced to Athens. For this, he was given the posthumous epithet Dexion (receiver) by the...
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