Sophocles

Sophocles (/ˈsɒfəkliːz/;[1] Greek: Σοφοκλῆς Sophoklēs, pronounced [so.pʰo.klɛ̂ːs]; c. 497/6 – winter 406/5 BC)[2] is one of three ancient Greek tragedians whose plays have survived. His first plays were written later than or contemporary with those of Aeschylus, and earlier than or contemporary with those of Euripides. Sophocles wrote over 120 plays[3] during the course of his life, but only seven have survived in a complete form: Ajax, Antigone, Women of Trachis, Oedipus Rex, Electra, Philoctetes and Oedipus at Colonus.[4] For almost 50 years, Sophocles was the most celebrated 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 30 competitions, won 24, and was never judged lower than second place. Aeschylus won 13 competitions, and was sometimes defeated by Sophocles, while Euripides won four competitions.[5]

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 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.[6]

Sophocles
Sophocles pushkin
Born497/496 BCE
Colonus, Attica
Died406/405 BCE (aged 90–92)
Athens
OccupationTragedian
GenreTragedy
Notable works

Life

Sophocles CdM Chab3308
A marble relief of a poet, perhaps Sophocles

Sophocles, the son of Sophilus, was a wealthy member of the rural deme (small community) of Hippeios Colonus in Attica, which was to become a setting for one of his plays, and he was probably born there.[2][7] Sophocles 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.[2][8] 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.[2][9] 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.[10] Although Plutarch says that this was Sophocles' first production, it is now thought that his first production was probably in 470 BC.[7] Triptolemus was probably one of the plays that Sophocles presented at this festival.[7]

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.[11] 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.[2] 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.[2] According to the Vita Sophoclis, in 441 BC he was elected one of the ten generals, executive officials at Athens, 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.[12]

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 Athenians.[13] He was also elected, in 413 BC, one of the commissioners (probouloi) who responded to the catastrophic destruction of the Athenian expeditionary force in Sicily during the Peloponnesian War.[14]

Sophocles died at the age of ninety or ninety-one in the winter of 406/5 BC, having seen within his lifetime both the Greek triumph in the Persian Wars and the bloodletting of the Peloponnesian War.[2] As with many famous men in classical antiquity, his death inspired a number of apocryphal stories. The most famous is the suggestion that he died from the strain of trying to recite a long sentence from his Antigone without pausing to take a breath. Another account suggests he choked while eating grapes at the Anthesteria festival in Athens. A third holds that he died of happiness after winning his final victory at the City Dionysia.[15] A few months later, a comic poet, in a play titled The Muses, wrote this eulogy: "Blessed is Sophocles, who had a long life, was a man both happy and talented, and the writer of many good tragedies; and he ended his life well without suffering any misfortune."[16] According to some accounts, however, his own sons tried to have him declared incompetent near the end of his life; he is said to have refuted their charge in court by reading from his as yet unproduced Oedipus at Colonus.[17] One of his sons, Iophon, and a grandson, also called Sophocles, also became playwrights.[18]

Sexuality

An ancient source, Athenaeus’s work Sophists at Dinner, contains references to Sophocles' homosexuality or bisexuality. In that work, a character named Myrtilus, in a lengthy banquet speech claims that Ion of Chios writes in his book Encounters, that Sophocles loved boys as much as Euripides loved women. Myrtilus also repeats an anecdote reportedly told by Ion of Chios that involves Sophocles flirting with a serving boy at a symposium. Myrtilus also claims that in a work by Hieronymus of Rhodes entitled Historical Notes it is said that Sophocles once lured a boy outside to have sex, and afterwards the boy left with Sophocles' cape, while the boy's own cape was left with Sophocles.[19]

Works and legacy

Euaion
Portrait of the Greek actor Euiaon in Sophocles' Andromeda, c. 430 BC.

Among Sophocles' earliest innovations was the addition of a third actor, which further reduced the role of the chorus and created greater opportunity for character development and conflict between characters.[6] Aeschylus, who dominated Athenian playwriting during Sophocles' early career, followed suit and adopted the third character into his own work towards the end of his life.[6] Aristotle credits Sophocles with the introduction of skenographia, or scenery-painting. It was not until after the death of the old master Aeschylus in 456 BC that Sophocles became the pre-eminent playwright in Athens.[2]

Thereafter, Sophocles emerged victorious in dramatic competitions at 18 Dionysia and 6 Lenaia festivals.[2] In addition to innovations in dramatic structure, Sophocles' work is also known for its deeper development of characters than earlier playwrights.[6] His reputation was such that foreign rulers invited him to attend their courts, although unlike Aeschylus who died in Sicily, or Euripides who spent time in Macedon, Sophocles never accepted any of these invitations.[2] Aristotle used Sophocles' Oedipus Rex in his Poetics (c. 335 BC) as an example of the highest achievement in tragedy, which suggests the high esteem in which his work was held by later Greeks.[20]

Only two of the seven surviving plays[21] can be dated securely: Philoctetes (409 BC) and Oedipus at Colonus (401 BC, staged after Sophocles' death by his grandson). Of the others, Electra shows stylistic similarities to these two plays, which suggests that it was probably written in the latter part of his career. Ajax, Antigone and The Trachiniae are generally thought to be among his early works, again based on stylistic elements, with Oedipus Rex coming in Sophocles' middle period. Most of Sophocles' plays show an undercurrent of early fatalism and the beginnings of Socratic logic as a mainstay for the long tradition of Greek tragedy.[22][23]

Theban plays

The Theban plays consist of three plays: Oedipus Rex (also called Oedipus Tyrannus or Oedipus the King), Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone. All three plays concern the fate of Thebes during and after the reign of King Oedipus.[24] They have often been published under a single cover.[25] Sophocles, however, wrote the three plays for separate festival competitions, many years apart. Not only are the Theban plays not a true trilogy (three plays presented as a continuous narrative) but they are not even an intentional series and contain some inconsistencies among them.[24] He also wrote other plays having to do with Thebes, such as the Epigoni, of which only fragments have survived.[26]

Subjects

Each of the plays relates to the tale of the mythological Oedipus, who killed his father and married his mother without knowledge that they were his parents. His family is fated to be doomed for three generations.

In Oedipus Rex, Oedipus is the protagonist. Oedipus' infanticide is planned by his parents, Laius and Jocasta, to avert him from fulfilling a prophecy; in truth, the servant entrusted with the infanticide passes the infant on through a series of intermediaries to a childless couple, who adopt him not knowing his history. Oedipus eventually learns of the Delphic Oracle's prophecy of him, that he would kill his father and marry his mother; Oedipus attempts to flee his fate without harming those he knows as his parents (at this point, he does not know that he is adopted). Oedipus meets a man at a crossroads accompanied by servants; Oedipus and the man fight, and Oedipus kills the man (who was his father, Laius, although neither knew at the time). He becomes the ruler of Thebes after solving the riddle of the sphinx and in the process, marries the widowed queen, his mother Jocasta. Thus the stage is set for horror. When the truth comes out, following from another true but confusing prophecy from Delphi, Jocasta commits suicide, Oedipus blinds himself and leaves Thebes. At the end of the play, order is restored. This restoration is seen when Creon, brother of Jocasta, becomes king, and also when Oedipus, before going off to exile, asks Creon to take care of his children. Oedipus's children will always bear the weight of shame and humiliation because of their father's actions.[27]

In Oedipus at Colonus, the banished Oedipus and his daughter Antigone arrive at the town of Colonus where they encounter Theseus, King of Athens. Oedipus dies and strife begins between his sons Polyneices and Eteocles.

In Antigone, the protagonist is Oedipus' daughter, Antigone. She is faced with the choice of allowing her brother Polyneices' body to remain unburied, outside the city walls, exposed to the ravages of wild animals, or to bury him and face death. The king of the land, Creon, has forbidden the burial of Polyneices for he was a traitor to the city. Antigone decides to bury his body and face the consequences of her actions. Creon sentences her to death. Eventually, Creon is convinced to free Antigone from her punishment, but his decision comes too late and Antigone commits suicide. Her suicide triggers the suicide of two others close to King Creon: his son, Haemon, who was to wed Antigone, and his wife, Eurydice, who commits suicide after losing her only surviving son.

Composition and inconsistencies

The plays were written across thirty-six years of Sophocles' career and were not composed in chronological order, but instead were written in the order Antigone, Oedipus Rex, and Oedipus at Colonus. Nor were they composed as a trilogy – a group of plays to be performed together, but are the remaining parts of three different groups of plays. As a result, there are some inconsistencies: notably, Creon is the undisputed king at the end of Oedipus Rex and, in consultation with Apollo, single-handedly makes the decision to expel Oedipus from Thebes. Creon is also instructed to look after Oedipus' daughters Antigone and Ismene at the end of Oedipus Rex. By contrast, in the other plays there is some struggle with Oedipus' sons Eteocles and Polynices in regard to the succession. In Oedipus at Colonus, Sophocles attempts to work these inconsistencies into a coherent whole: Ismene explains that, in light of their tainted family lineage, her brothers were at first willing to cede the throne to Creon. Nevertheless, they eventually decided to take charge of the monarchy, with each brother disputing the other's right to succeed. In addition to being in a clearly more powerful position in Oedipus at Colonus, Eteocles and Polynices are also culpable: they consent (l. 429, Theodoridis, tr.) to their father's going to exile, which is one of his bitterest charges against them.[24]

Other plays

In addition to the three Theban plays, there are four surviving plays by Sophocles: Ajax, Women of Trachis, Electra, and Philoctetes, the last of which won first prize in 409 BC in which it competed.[28]

Ajax focuses on the proud hero of the Trojan War, Telamonian Ajax, who is driven to treachery and eventually suicide. Ajax becomes gravely upset when Achilles’ armor is presented to Odysseus instead of himself. Despite their enmity toward him, Odysseus persuades the kings Menelaus and Agamemnon to grant Ajax a proper burial.

The Women of Trachis (named for the Trachinian women who make up the chorus) dramatizes Deianeira's accidentally killing Heracles after he had completed his famous twelve labors. Tricked into thinking it is a love charm, Deianeira applies poison to an article of Heracles' clothing; this poisoned robe causes Heracles to die an excruciating death. Upon learning the truth, Deianeira commits suicide.

Electra corresponds roughly to the plot of Aeschylus' Libation Bearers. It details how Electra and Orestes' avenge their father Agamemnon's murder by Clytemnestra and Aegisthus.

Philoctetes retells the story of Philoctetes, an archer who had been abandoned on Lemnos by the rest of the Greek fleet while on the way to Troy. After learning that they cannot win the Trojan War without Philoctetes' bow, the Greeks send Odysseus and Neoptolemus to retrieve him; due to the Greeks' earlier treachery, however, Philoctetes refuses to rejoin the army. It is only Heracles' deus ex machina appearance that persuades Philoctetes to go to Troy.

Fragmentary plays

Although the list of over 120 titles of plays associated with Sophocles are known and presented below,[29] little is known of the precise dating of most of them. Philoctetes is known to have been written in 409 BC, and Oedipus at Colonus is known to have only been performed in 401 BC, posthumously, at the initiation of Sophocles' grandson. The convention on writing plays for the Greek festivals was to submit them in tetralogies of three tragedies along with one satyr play. Along with the unknown dating of the vast majority of over 120 play titles, it is also largely unknown how the plays were grouped. It is, however, known that the three plays referred to in the modern era as the "Theban plays" were never performed together in Sophocles' own lifetime, and are therefore not a trilogy (which they are sometimes erroneously seen as).

Fragments of Ichneutae (Tracking Satyrs) were discovered in Egypt in 1907.[30] These amount to about half of the play, making it the best preserved satyr play after Euripides' Cyclops, which survives in its entirety.[30] Fragments of the Epigoni were discovered in April 2005 by classicists at Oxford University with the help of infrared technology previously used for satellite imaging. The tragedy tells the story of the second siege of Thebes.[26] A number of other Sophoclean works have survived only in fragments, including:

  • Aias Lokros (Ajax the Locrian)
  • Aias Mastigophoros (Ajax the Whip-Bearer)
  • Aigeus (Aegeus)
  • Aigisthos (Aegisthus)
  • Aikhmalôtides (The Captive Women)
  • Aithiopes (The Ethiopians), or Memnon
  • Akhaiôn Syllogos (The Gathering of the Achaeans)
  • Akhilleôs Erastai ([male] Lovers of Achilles)
  • Akrisios
  • Aleadae (The Sons of Aleus)
  • Aletes
  • Alexandros (Alexander)
  • Alcmeôn
  • Amphiaraus
  • Amphitryôn
  • Amycos
  • Andromache
  • Andromeda
  • Antenoridai (Sons of Antenor)
  • Athamas (two versions produced)
  • Atreus, or Mykenaiai
  • Camicoi
  • Cassandra
  • Cedaliôn
  • Cerberus
  • Chryseis
  • Clytemnestra
  • Colchides
  • Côphoi (Mute Ones)
  • Creusa
  • Crisis (Judgement)
  • Daedalus
  • Danae
  • Dionysiacus
  • Dolopes
  • Epigoni (The Progeny)
  • Eriphyle
  • Eris
  • Eumelus
  • Euryalus
  • Eurypylus
  • Eurysaces
  • Helenes Apaitesis (Helen's Demand)
  • Helenes Gamos (Helen's Marriage)
  • Herakles Epi Tainaro (Hercules At Taenarum)
  • Hermione
  • Hipponous
  • Hybris
  • Hydrophoroi (Water-Bearers)
  • Inachos
  • Iobates
  • Iokles
  • Iôn
  • Iphigenia
  • Ixiôn
  • Lacaenae (Lacaenian Women)
  • Laocoôn
  • Larisaioi
  • Lemniai (Lemnian Women)
  • Manteis (The Prophets) or Polyidus
  • Meleagros
  • Minôs
  • Momus
  • Mousai (Muses)
  • Mysoi (Mysians)
  • Nauplios Katapleon (Nauplius' Arrival)
  • Nauplios Pyrkaeus (Nauplius' Fires)
  • Nausicaa, or Plyntriai
  • Niobe
  • Odysseus Acanthoplex (Odysseus Scourged with Thorns)
  • Odysseus Mainomenos (Odysseus Gone Mad)
  • Oeneus
  • Oenomaus
  • Palamedes
  • Pandora, or Sphyrokopoi (Hammer-Strikers)
  • Pelias
  • Peleus
  • Phaiakes
  • Phaedra
  • Philoctetes In Troy
  • Phineus (two versions)
  • Phoenix
  • Phrixus
  • Phryges (Phrygians)
  • Phthiôtides
  • Poimenes (The Shepherds)
  • Polyxene
  • Priam
  • Procris
  • Rhizotomoi (The Root-Cutters)
  • Salmoneus
  • Sinon
  • Sisyphus
  • Skyrioi (Scyrians)
  • Skythai (Scythians)
  • Syndeipnoi (The Diners, or, The Banqueters)
  • Tantalus
  • Telephus
  • Tereus
  • Teukros (Teucer)
  • Thamyras
  • Theseus
  • Thyestes
  • Troilus
  • Triptolemos
  • Tympanistai (Drummers)
  • Tyndareos
  • Tyro Keiromene (Tyro Shorn)
  • Tyro Anagnorizomene (Tyro Rediscovered).
  • Xoanephoroi (Image-Bearers)

Sophocles' view of his own work

There is a passage of Plutarch's tract De Profectibus in Virtute 7 in which Sophocles discusses his own growth as a writer. A likely source of this material for Plutarch was the Epidemiae of Ion of Chios, a book that recorded many conversations of Sophocles. This book is a likely candidate to have contained Sophocles' discourse on his own development because Ion was a friend of Sophocles, and the book is known to have been used by Plutarch.[31] Though some interpretations of Plutarch's words suggest that Sophocles says that he imitated Aeschylus, the translation does not fit grammatically, nor does the interpretation that Sophocles said that he was making fun of Aeschylus' works. C. M. Bowra argues for the following translation of the line: "After practising to the full the bigness of Aeschylus, then the painful ingenuity of my own invention, now in the third stage I am changing to the kind of diction which is most expressive of character and best."[32]

Here Sophocles says that he has completed a stage of Aeschylus' work, meaning that he went through a phase of imitating Aeschylus' style but is finished with that. Sophocles' opinion of Aeschylus was mixed. He certainly respected him enough to imitate his work early on in his career, but he had reservations about Aeschylus' style,[33] and thus did not keep his imitation up. Sophocles' first stage, in which he imitated Aeschylus, is marked by "Aeschylean pomp in the language".[34] Sophocles' second stage was entirely his own. He introduced new ways of evoking feeling out of an audience, as in his Ajax, when Ajax is mocked by Athene, then the stage is emptied so that he may commit suicide alone.[35] Sophocles mentions a third stage, distinct from the other two, in his discussion of his development. The third stage pays more heed to diction. His characters spoke in a way that was more natural to them and more expressive of their individual character feelings.[36]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Jones, Daniel; Roach, Peter, James Hartman and Jane Setter, eds. Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary. 17th edition. Cambridge UP, 2006.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Sommerstein (2002), p. 41.
  3. ^ The exact number is unknown, the Suda says he wrote 123, another ancient source says 130, but no exact number "is possible", see Lloyd-Jones 2003, p. 3.
  4. ^ Suda (ed. Finkel et al.): s.v. Σοφοκλῆς.
  5. ^ Sophocles at the Encyclopædia Britannica
  6. ^ a b c d Freeman, p. 247.
  7. ^ a b c Sommerstein (2007), p. xi.
  8. ^ Lloyd-Jones 1994, p. 7.
  9. ^ Freeman, p. 246.
  10. ^ Life of Cimon 8. Plutarch is mistaken about Aeschylus' death during this trip; he went on to produce dramas in Athens for another decade.
  11. ^ McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of World Drama: An International Reference Work in 5 Volumes, Volume 1, "Sophocles".
  12. ^ Beer 2004, p. 69.
  13. ^ Clinton, Kevin "The Epidauria and the Arrival of Asclepius in Athens", in Ancient Greek Cult Practice from the Epigraphical Evidence, edited by R. Hägg, Stockholm, 1994.
  14. ^ Lloyd-Jones 1994, pp. 12–13.
  15. ^ Schultz 1835, pp. 150–51.
  16. ^ Lucas 1964, p. 128.
  17. ^ Cicero recounts this story in his De Senectute 7.22.
  18. ^ Sommerstein (2002), pp. 41–42.
  19. ^ Fortenbaugh, William Wall. Lyco and Traos and Hieronymus of Rhodes: Text, Translation, and Discussion. Transaction Publishers (2004). ISBN 978-1-4128-2773-7. p. 161
  20. ^ Aristotle. Ars Poetica.
  21. ^ The first printed edition of the seven plays is by Aldus Manutius in Venice 1502: Sophoclis tragaediae [sic] septem cum commentariis. Despite the addition 'cum commentariis' in the title, the Aldine edition did not include the ancient scholia to Sophocles. These had to wait until 1518 when Janus Lascaris brought out the relevant edition in Rome.
  22. ^ Lloyd-Jones 1994, pp. 8–9.
  23. ^ Scullion, pp. 85–86, rejects attempts to date Antigone to shortly before 441/0 based on an anecdote that the play led to Sophocles' election as general. On other grounds, he cautiously suggests c. 450 BC.
  24. ^ a b c Sophocles, ed Grene and Lattimore, pp. 1–2.
  25. ^ See for example: "Sophocles: The Theban Plays", Penguin Books, 1947; Sophocles I: Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone, University of Chicago, 1991; Sophocles: The Theban Plays: Antigone/King Oidipous/Oidipous at Colonus, Focus Publishing/R. Pullins Company, 2002; Sophocles, The Oedipus Cycle: Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone, Harvest Books, 2002; Sophocles, Works, Loeb Classical Library, Vol I. London, W. Heinemann; New York,Macmillan, 1912 (often reprinted) – the 1994 Loeb, however, prints Sophocles in chronological order.
  26. ^ a b Murray, Matthew, "Newly Readable Oxyrhynchus Papyri Reveal Works by Sophocles, Lucian, and Others Archived 11 April 2006 at the Wayback Machine", Theatermania, 18 April 2005. Retrieved 9 July 2007.
  27. ^ Sophocles. Oedipus the King. The Norton Anthology of Western Literature. Gen. ed. Peter Simon. 8th ed. Vol. 1. New York: Norton, 1984. 648–52. Print. ISBN 0-393-92572-2
  28. ^ Freeman, pp. 247–48.
  29. ^ Lloyd-Jones 2003, pp. 3–9.
  30. ^ a b Seaford, p. 1361.
  31. ^ Bowra, p. 386.
  32. ^ Bowra, p. 401.
  33. ^ Bowra, p. 389.
  34. ^ Bowra, p. 392.
  35. ^ Bowra, p. 396.
  36. ^ Bowra, pp. 385–401.

References

  • Beer, Josh (2004). Sophocles and the Tragedy of Athenian Democracy. Greenwood Publishing. ISBN 0-313-28946-8
  • Bowra, C.M. (1940). "Sophocles on His Own Development". American Journal of Philology. 61 (4): 385–401. doi:10.2307/291377. JSTOR 291377.
  • Finkel, Raphael. "Adler number: sigma,815". Suda on Line: Byzantine Lexicography. Retrieved 14 March 2007.
  • Freeman, Charles. (1999). The Greek Achievement: The Foundation of the Western World. New York: Viking Press. ISBN 0-670-88515-0
  • Hubbard, Thomas K. (2003). Homosexuality in Greece and Rome: A Sourcebook of Basic Documents.
  • Johnson, Marguerite & Terry Ryan (2005). Sexuality in Greek and Roman Society and Literature: A Sourcebook. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-17331-0, 978-0-415-17331-5
  • Lloyd-Jones, Hugh & Wilson, Nigel Guy (ed.) (1990). Sophoclis: Fabulae. Oxford Classical Texts.
  • Lloyd-Jones, Hugh (ed.) (1994). Sophocles: Ajax. Electra. Oedipus Tyrannus. Edited and translated by Hugh Lloyd-Jones, Loeb Classical Library No. 20.
  • Lloyd-Jones, Hugh (ed.) (1994). Sophocles: Antigone. The Women of Trachis. Philoctetes. Oedipus at Colonus. Edited and translated by Hugh Lloyd-Jones, Loeb Classical Library No. 21.
  • Lloyd-Jones, Hugh (ed.) (1996). Sophocles: Fragments. Edited and translated by Hugh Lloyd-Jones, Loeb Classical Library No. 483.
  • Lucas, Donald William (1964). The Greek Tragic Poets. W.W. Norton & Co.
  • Plato. Plato in Twelve Volumes, Vols. 5 & 6 translated by Paul Shorey. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1969.
  • Schultz, Ferdinand (1835). De vita Sophoclis poetae commentatio. Phil. Diss., Berlin.
  • Scullion, Scott (2002). Tragic dates, Classical Quarterly, new sequence 52, pp. 81–101.
  • Seaford, Richard A. S. (2003). "Satyric drama". In Simon Hornblower and Antony Spawforth (ed.). The Oxford Classical Dictionary (revised 3rd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 1361. ISBN 978-0-19-860641-3.
  • Smith, Philip (1867). "Sophocles". In William Smith (ed.). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. 3. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company. pp. 865–73. Archived from the original on 2 February 2007. Retrieved 19 February 2007.
  • Sommerstein, Alan Herbert (2002). Greek Drama and Dramatists. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-26027-2
  • Sommerstein, Alan Herbert (2007). "General Introduction" pp. xi–xxix in Sommerstein, A.H., Fitzpatrick, D. and Tallboy, T. Sophocles: Selected Fragmentary Plays: Volume 1. Aris and Phillips. ISBN 0-85668-766-9
  • Sophocles. Sophocles I: Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone. 2nd ed. Grene, David and Lattimore, Richard, eds. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1991.
  • Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. "Macropaedia Knowledge In Depth." The New Encyclopædia Britannica Volume 20. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2005. 344–46.

External links

Ajax (play)

Sophocles' Ajax, or Aias ( or ; Ancient Greek: Αἴας [a͜í.aːs], gen. Αἴαντος), is a Greek tragedy written in the 5th century BCE. Ajax may be the earliest of Sophocles' seven tragedies to have survived, though it is probable that he had been composing plays for a quarter of a century already when it was first staged. It appears to belong to the same period as his Antigone, which was probably performed in 442 or 441 BCE, when he was 55 years old. The play depicts the fate of the warrior Ajax, after the events of the Iliad but before the end of the Trojan War.

Amphitryon

Amphitryon (; Ancient Greek: Ἀμφιτρύων, gen.: Ἀμφιτρύωνος; usually interpreted as "harassing either side", Latin: Amphitruo), in Greek mythology, was a son of Alcaeus, king of Tiryns in Argolis. His mother was named either Astydameia, the daughter of Pelops and Hippodamia, or Laonome, daughter of Guneus, or else Hipponome, daughter of Menoeceus. Amphitryon was the brother of Anaxo, wife of Electryon and Perimede, wife of Licymnius.

Antigona

Antigona (Antigone) is an opera in three acts in Italian by the composer Tommaso Traetta. The libretto, by Marco Coltellini, is based on the tragedy Antigone by Sophocles. But there is also an opera Antigona by Josef Mysliveček.

Antigone

In Greek mythology, Antigone ( ann-TIG-ə-nee; Ancient Greek: Ἀντιγόνη) is the daughter of Oedipus and his mother Jocasta. The meaning of the name is, as in the case of the masculine equivalent Antigonus, "worthy of one's parents" or "in place of one's parents".

Antigone (Anouilh play)

Jean Anouilh's play Antigone is a tragedy inspired by Greek mythology and the play of the same name by Sophocles. In English, it is often distinguished from its antecedent through its pronunciation (French pronunciation: ​[ɑ̃tiɡɔn], approximately an-tee-gon).

Antigone (Sophocles play)

Antigone ( ann-TIG-ə-nee; Ancient Greek: Ἀντιγόνη) is a tragedy by Sophocles written in or before 441 BC.

Of the three Theban plays Antigone is the third in order of the events depicted in the plays, but it is the first that was written. The play expands on the Theban legend that predates it, and it picks up where Aeschylus' Seven Against Thebes ends.

Electra (Sophocles play)

Electra or Elektra (Ancient Greek: Ἠλέκτρα, Ēlektra) is a Greek tragedy by Sophocles. Its date is not known, but various stylistic similarities with the Philoctetes (409 BC) and the Oedipus at Colonus (401 BC) lead scholars to suppose that it was written towards the end of Sophocles' career.

Set in the city of Argos a few years after the Trojan War, it recounts the tale of Electra and the vengeance that she and her brother Orestes take on their mother Clytemnestra and step father Aegisthus for the murder of their father, Agamemnon.

Ercole amante

Ercole amante (Hercules in Love, French: Hercule amoureux) is an opera in a prologue and five acts by Francesco Cavalli. The Italian libretto was by Francesco Buti, based on Sophocles' The Trachiniae and on the ninth book of Ovid's Metamorphoses. It was first performed on 7 February 1662 in Paris at the Salle des Machines in the Tuileries.

Euripides

Euripides (; Greek: Εὐριπίδης Eurīpídēs, pronounced [eu̯.riː.pí.dɛːs]; c. 480 – c. 406 BC) was a tragedian of classical Athens. Along with Aeschylus and Sophocles, he is one of the three ancient Greek tragedians for whom a significant number of plays have survived. Some ancient scholars attributed 95 plays to him but, according to the Suda, it was 92 at most. Of these, 18 or 19 have survived more or less complete (there has been debate about his authorship of Rhesus, largely on stylistic grounds) and there are also fragments, some substantial, of most of the other plays. More of his plays have survived intact than those of Aeschylus and Sophocles together, partly because his popularity grew as theirs declined—he became, in the Hellenistic Age, a cornerstone of ancient literary education, along with Homer, Demosthenes, and Menander.Euripides is identified with theatrical innovations that have profoundly influenced drama down to modern times, especially in the representation of traditional, mythical heroes as ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. This new approach led him to pioneer developments that later writers adapted to comedy, some of which are characteristic of romance. Yet he also became "the most tragic of poets", focusing on the inner lives and motives of his characters in a way previously unknown. He was "the creator of...that cage which is the theatre of Shakespeare's Othello, Racine's Phèdre, of Ibsen and Strindberg," in which "...imprisoned men and women destroy each other by the intensity of their loves and hates", and yet he was also the literary ancestor of comic dramatists as diverse as Menander and George Bernard Shaw.Unique among writers of Ancient Athens, Euripides demonstrated sympathy towards the underrepresented members of society. His male contemporaries were frequently shocked by the 'heresies' he put into the mouths of characters, such as these words of his heroine Medea:

His contemporaries associated him with Socrates as a leader of a decadent intellectualism, both of them being frequently lampooned by comic poets such as Aristophanes. Whereas Socrates was eventually put on trial and executed as a corrupting influence, Euripides chose a voluntary exile in old age, dying in Macedonia. Recent scholarship casts doubt on ancient biographies of Euripides. For example, it is possible that he never visited Macedonia at all, or, if he did, he might have been drawn there by King Archelaus with incentives that were also offered to other artists.

Greek tragedy

Greek tragedy is a form of theatre from Ancient Greece and Asia Minor. It reached its most significant form in Athens in the 5th century BC, the works of which are sometimes called Attic tragedy. Greek tragedy is widely believed to be an extension of the ancient rites carried out in honor of Dionysus, and it heavily influenced the theatre of Ancient Rome and the Renaissance. Tragic plots were most often based upon myths from the oral traditions of archaic epics. In tragic theatre, however, these narratives were presented by actors. The most acclaimed Greek tragedians are Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides.

Oedipus

Oedipus (UK: , US: ; Greek: Οἰδίπους Oidípous meaning 'swollen foot') was a mythical Greek king of Thebes. A tragic hero in Greek mythology, Oedipus accidentally fulfilled a prophecy that he would end up killing his father and marrying his mother, thereby bringing disaster to his city and family.

The story of Oedipus is the subject of Sophocles' tragedy Oedipus Rex, which was followed by Oedipus at Colonus and then Antigone. Together, these plays make up Sophocles' three Theban plays. Oedipus represents two enduring themes of Greek myth and drama: the flawed nature of humanity and an individual's role in the course of destiny in a harsh universe.

In the best known version of the myth, Oedipus was born to King Laius and Queen Jocasta. Laius wished to thwart the prophecy, so he sent a shepherd-servant to leave Oedipus to die on a mountainside. However, the shepherd took pity on the baby and passed him to another shepherd who gave Oedipus to King Polybus and Queen Merope to raise as their own. Oedipus learned from the oracle at Delphi of the prophecy that he would end up killing his father and marrying his mother but, unaware of his true parentage, believed he was fated to murder Polybus and marry Merope, so left for Thebes. On his way he met an older man and killed him in a quarrel. Continuing on to Thebes, he found that the king of the city (Laius) had been recently killed, and that the city was at the mercy of the Sphinx. Oedipus answered the monster's riddle correctly, defeating it and winning the throne of the dead king – and the hand in marriage of the king's widow, who was also (unbeknownst to him) his mother Jocasta.

Years later, to end a plague on Thebes, Oedipus searched to find who had killed Laius, and discovered that he himself was responsible. Jocasta, upon realizing that she had married her own son, hanged herself. Oedipus then seized two pins from her dress and blinded himself with them.

The legend of Oedipus has been retold in many versions, and was used by Sigmund Freud to name and give mythic precedent to the Oedipus complex.

Oedipus Rex

Oedipus Rex, also known by its Greek title, Oedipus Tyrannus (Ancient Greek: Οἰδίπους Τύραννος IPA: [oidípuːs týranːos]), or Oedipus the King, is an Athenian tragedy by Sophocles that was first performed around 429 BC. Originally, to the ancient Greeks, the title was simply Oedipus (Οἰδίπους), as it is referred to by Aristotle in the Poetics. It is thought to have been renamed Oedipus Tyrannus to distinguish it from another of Sophocles' plays, Oedipus at Colonus. In antiquity, the term “tyrant” referred to a ruler with no legitimate claim to rule, but it did not necessarily have a negative connotation.Of Sophocles' three Theban plays that have survived, and that deal with the story of Oedipus, Oedipus Rex was the second to be written. However, in terms of the chronology of events that the plays describe, it comes first, followed by Oedipus at Colonus and then Antigone.

Prior to the start of Oedipus Rex, Oedipus has become the king of Thebes while unwittingly fulfilling a prophecy that he would kill his father, Laius (the previous king), and marry his mother, Jocasta (whom Oedipus took as his queen after solving the riddle of the Sphinx). The action of Sophocles' play concerns Oedipus' search for the murderer of Laius in order to end a plague ravaging Thebes, unaware that the killer he is looking for is none other than himself. At the end of the play, after the truth finally comes to light, Jocasta hangs herself while Oedipus, horrified at his patricide and incest, proceeds to gouge out his own eyes in despair.

Oedipus Rex is regarded by many scholars as the masterpiece of ancient Greek tragedy. In his Poetics, Aristotle refers several times to the play in order to exemplify aspects of the genre.

Oedipus at Colonus

Oedipus at Colonus (also Oedipus Coloneus, Ancient Greek: Οἰδίπους ἐπὶ Κολωνῷ, Oidipous epi Kolōnōi) is one of the three Theban plays of the Athenian tragedian Sophocles. It was written shortly before Sophocles's death in 406 BC and produced by his grandson (also called Sophocles) at the Festival of Dionysus in 401 BC.

In the timeline of the plays, the events of Oedipus at Colonus occur after Oedipus Rex and before Antigone; however, it was the last of Sophocles's three Theban plays to be written. The play describes the end of Oedipus's tragic life. Legends differ as to the site of Oedipus's death; Sophocles set the place at Colonus, a village near Athens and also Sophocles's own birthplace, where the blinded Oedipus has come with his daughters Antigone and Ismene as suppliants of the Erinyes and of Theseus, the king of Athens.

Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 22

Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 22 (P. Oxy. 22) contains fragments of the Oedipus Tyrannus by Sophocles, written in Greek. It was discovered by Grenfell and Hunt in 1897 in Oxyrhynchus. The fragment is dated to the fifth century. It is housed in the British Library (Department of Manuscripts). The text was published by Grenfell and Hunt in 1898.The manuscript was written on papyrus in the form of a codex. The measurements of the fragment are 80 by 93 mm. The text is written in a small round upright formal uncial hand. There are rough breathings and accents.

Philoctetes (Sophocles play)

Philoctetes (Ancient Greek: Φιλοκτήτης, Philoktētēs; English pronunciation: , stressed on the third syllable, -tet-) is a play by Sophocles (Aeschylus and Euripides also each wrote a Philoctetes but theirs have not survived). The play was written during the Peloponnesian War. It is one of the seven extant tragedies by Sophocles. It was first performed at the City Dionysia in 409 BC, where it won first prize. The story takes place during the Trojan War (after the majority of the events of the Iliad, but before the Trojan Horse). It describes the attempt by Neoptolemus and Odysseus to bring the disabled Philoctetes, the master archer, back to Troy from the island of Lemnos.

Sofoklis Schortsanitis

Sofoklis Schortsanitis (Greek: Σοφοκλής Σχορτσιανίτης) (born 22 June 1985) is a Greek professional basketball player. Born in Tiko, Cameroon, to a Greek father, Konstantinos, and a Cameroonian mother, Georgette, he plays the center position.

An All-EuroLeague First Team selection in 2011, Schortsanitis won the EuroLeague title in 2014 with Maccabi Tel Aviv, and reached the EuroLeague Final in 2010 and 2011, while playing for Olympiacos and Maccabi, respectively. He was a member of the Greek national team that captured silver medal honours in the 2006 FIBA World Championship and a bronze medal in the EuroBasket 2009. He is nicknamed "Big Sofo" or "Baby Shaq".

Sofoklis Venizelos

Sofoklis Venizelos (Greek: Σοφοκλής Βενιζέλος, also transliterated as Sophocles Venizelos) (3 November 1894 – 7 February 1964) was a Greek politician, who three times served as Prime Minister of Greece – in 1944 (in exile), 1950 and 1950–1951.

Tragic hero

A tragic hero is the protagonist of a tragedy in dramas. In his Poetics, Aristotle records the descriptions of the tragic hero to the playwright and strictly defines the place that the tragic hero must play and the kind of man he must be. Aristotle based his observations on previous dramas. Many of the most famous instances of tragic heroes appear in Greek literature, most notably the works of Sophocles and Euripides.

Women of Trachis

Women of Trachis (Ancient Greek: Τραχίνιαι, Trachiniai; also translated as The Trachiniae) is an Athenian tragedy by Sophocles.

Women of Trachis is generally considered to be less developed than Sophocles' other works, and its dating has been a subject of disagreement among critics and scholars.

Plays by Sophocles
Extant plays
Fragmentary plays

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