21 Facts About Sophocles


Sophocles's 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, but only seven have survived in a complete form: Ajax, Antigone, Women of Trachis, Oedipus Rex, Electra, Philoctetes and Oedipus at Colonus.


Sophocles competed in thirty competitions, won twenty-four, and was never judged lower than second place.


Aeschylus won thirteen competitions, and was sometimes defeated by Sophocles; Euripides won four.


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.


Sophocles developed his characters to a greater extent than earlier playwrights.


Sophocles was born into a wealthy family, and was highly educated.


Triptolemus was probably one of the plays that Sophocles presented at this festival.


In 480 BC Sophocles was chosen to lead the paean, celebrating the Greek victory over the Persians at the Battle of Salamis.


Sophocles was supposed to have been elected to this position as the result of his production of Antigone, but this is "most improbable".


Sophocles was elected, in 411 BC, one of the commissioners who responded to the catastrophic destruction of the Athenian expeditionary force in Sicily during the Peloponnesian War.


In that work, a character named Myrtilus claims that Sophocles "was partial to boys, in the same way that Euripides was partial to women", and relates an anecdote, attributed to Ion of Chios, of Sophocles flirting with a serving-boy at a symposium:.


Sophocles is known for innovations in dramatic structure; deeper development of characters than earlier playwrights; and, if it was not Aeschylus, the addition of a third actor, which further reduced the role of the chorus, and increased opportunities for development and conflict.


Sophocles's reputation was such that foreign rulers invited him to attend their courts; but, unlike Aeschylus, who died in Sicily, or Euripides, who spent time in Macedon, Sophocles never accepted any of these invitations.


Sophocles wrote other plays pertaining to Thebes, such as the Epigoni, but only fragments have survived.


Sophocles's infanticide is planned by his parents, Laius and Jocasta, to prevent him fulfilling a prophecy; but 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.


Sophocles becomes the ruler of Thebes after solving the riddle of the Sphinx and in the process, marries the widowed queen, his mother Jocasta.


Sophocles 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 former 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.


Sophocles certainly respected him enough to imitate his work early on in his career, but he had reservations about Aeschylus' style, and thus did not keep his imitation up.


Sophocles's characters spoke in a way that was more natural to them and more expressive of their individual character feelings.