Greek writers


Sophocles was a Greek writer, playwright, politician and priest. He was born in 497 BC (Colonus near Athens) and died in 406 BC (Athens). He is considered one of the most important ancient dramatists.

Among the major works of Sophocles are Antigone, Electra and Oedipus Rex.

His father was the very wealthy Sofillos, who owned a workshop for the manufacture of armour and weapons. Sophocles thus received a quality education of various kinds (music, gymnastics) in his youth.

Sophocles gradually became involved in politics, becoming treasurer of the Athenian naval association in 443 BC. Subsequently, together with Pericles, he led the Greek army in the war against Samos, as a strategist. In his old age, he was elected provost, thus one of the ten commissioners who were to raise Athens again after the defeat by the Syracusans in Sicily.

Sophocles, according to Aristophanes, was supposed to have a friendly disposition and to be constantly relaxed and optimistic. His son was the tragic poet Iophon.

In the field of drama, Sophocles won his first prize in 468 BC, when he defeated Aeschylus at the Dyonis festival. Since then, he has won 24 times out of 30 festivals, with no one even coming close to that number. Sophocles also introduced a third actor (the tritagonist). This increased the drama of the plot and allowed the plots to be more fluid and complex. Furthermore, he was the first to use painted scenery on the theatre stage.

Sophocles wrote 123 tragedies, but only seven and a few other fragments have survived. His work reflects contemporary political and social situations. He mentions the plague epidemic of the time. His characters are often imperfect and flawed. And it is on these qualities that he builds the drama of his works, where the main character makes a major mistake and after the reaction of the surroundings, causes another minor mistake that leads to destruction. However, this destruction actually cleanses the character and finds himself. He did not shy away from irony or metaphor in his works.

Sophocles has also greatly influenced modern authors.