The Greek Classics: Sophocles - Seven Plays
Sophocles (495-406 B.C.E.), the Greek tragic poet, was born at Colonus in the neighborhood of Athens. The time of his death is fixed by the allusions ... Show synopsis Sophocles (495-406 B.C.E.), the Greek tragic poet, was born at Colonus in the neighborhood of Athens. The time of his death is fixed by the allusions to it in the Frogs of Aristophanes and in the Muses, which were both produced in 405 B.C., shortly before the capture of Athens. The event of Sophocles life most fully authenticated is his appointment at the age of fifty-five as one of the generals who served with Pericles. The seven extant tragedies probably owe their preservation to some selection made for educational purposes in Alexandrian times. No example of the poet's earliest manner has come down to us. His minor poems, elegies, paeans, etc., have all perished; and of his hundred and odd dramas only seven remain: Antigone, Ajax, Oedipus Rex, Electra, The Trachinian Women, Philoctetes and Oedipus at Colonus. The final estimate of Sophoclean tragedy must largely depend upon the mode in which his treatment of destiny is conceived. Sophocles is often praised for skilful construction. But the secret of his skill depends in large measure on the profound way in which the central situation in each of his fables has been conceived and felt. Concentration is the distinguishing note of tragedy, and it is by greater concentration that Sophocles is distinguished from other tragic poets.