Sunday, February 20, 2022


SOPHOCLES (Greek, c. 497-406 BCE)

Like Aeschylus just before him and Euripides after (though all living at the same time), Sophocles was one of three great Greek (Athenian) tragedians. Though they were not originally a trilogy, three of his "Theban plays"--Oedipus Rex, Antigone, and Oedipus at Colonus--are performed as such; each was actually part of a different cycle. (Thanks to Freud, we probably mention two characters from these more than any others from Greek drama: Oedipus and Electra.) Only four more of his 120+ plays have survived: Ajax, Women of Trachis, Electra, and Philoctetes.

  • Sophocles won 24 of the 30 competitions in which he competed (Aeschylus won 13, Euripides four).
  • It's believed that before Sophocles, there were only two actors on stage at a time (plus the chorus), limiting conversations to a dialogue; Sophocles is supposed to have added a third, a revolutionary idea.


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