Overview About Sophocles Life. Sophocles was born in 496 B.C. in Colonus, a north suburb of Athens, Greece. His father, Sophillus was a weapon manufactory owner. Sophocles was one of the most influential playwrights of Ancient Greece. Aristotle considered Sophocles to be the greatest tragedian. Mathew Arnold, the 19th century poet and critic, praised Sophocles as a man “who saw life steadily and saw it whole.” His work is a timeless reminder of the early developments of tragedy and drama.
Sophocles became well-versed
In his boyhood, Sophocles became well-versed m the competitive arts of Athenian culture, and won many prizes in wrestling and music. He was a handsome and graceful young man, and by the age of sixteen, he was chosen to lead a choir boys at a celebration of the Athenian victory over the Persian navy. It was the age of famous playwrights Euripides an Aeschylus. Sophocles studied under the famous musician Lampras, and learned much of his literary art from AeschyluS/ the ‘father of Greek tragedy,” later becoming his rival. He completed his studies twelve years later, when he was ready to show his fresh dramatic vision. At twenty-eight, he won the prize of the tragedy competition, with his first entry, defeating his mentor Aeschylus himself.
Sophocles developed many innovations to Greek drama, ^irhest plays included only a chorus, but earlier playwrights had added one, and then two actors. Everything was a dialogue between the chorus – collective character, and the two actors. Sophocles is credited with increasing the number of actors with speaking parts in a play from two to three. He raised the number of chorus members from twelve to fifteen and developed the use of painted scenery in the background. Afterwards he reduced the role of the chorus and strengthened the individuality of his characters. He also abandoned the practice of presenting tragedies as trilogies (series of three works) by instead presenting three plays with different subjects. Sophocles’ tragedy is a complete entity in itself; this quality led to faster development of characters. Sophocles’ songs are also considered to be beautifully structured.
Sophocles’ more than 120 plays
Of Sophocles’ more than 120 plays, only seven have survived to the modern time. Because of the little information, it is hard to make an exact chronology of his works, but taking in consideration some style characteristics, critics say that the probable chronological order is – Ajax, Antigone, Oedipus Rex, Trachiniae, Electra, Philoctetes and Oedipus at Colonus. Of these, Oedipus Rex is generally considered his greatest work. Tlie plague that is spoken about in the book is similar to the plague that hit Athens at this time.
An accomplished actor
Sophocles was also an accomplished actor. He performed In many of his own plays. In the Nausica or The Women ^ashing Clothes, he performed a juggling act that so fascinated his audience that it was the talk of Athens for many y^ars. However, soon he gave up his acting career to pursue °ther ventures.
Improve the tragic art
Sophocles’ mission was to improve the tragic art, in a hme, when Greek drama was in decline and in deep need for a ange. According to the Greek biographer Plutarch (46-119), tre were three periods in Sophocles’ development as a writer imitation of the style of Aeschylus; second use of an arhficial style, and third, the interest for describing human.
He existing plays are from the last period. On the other hand, the works of Aeschylus deal with the relationship between man and the gods, but the works of Sophocles deal with how characters react under stress (mental pressure). Sophocles’ heroes are usually subjected to a series of tests that they must overcome.
Sophocles was a well-educated man
Sophocles was a well-educated man. He held a number of significant political positions in addition to being one of the best dramatists of his age. He was elected to serve a term as State Treasurer, and later served a term as the Special State Commissioner. He obtained one of these positions in a time of major crisis, which suggests that he was well known, and well liked in the Greek democracy. He also served on the Board of Generals that administered civil and military affairs in Athens. His religious activities included service as a priest, and he turned over his house for the worship of the Greek god Asclepius until a proper temple could be built. For this he was honoured with the title Dexion as a hero after his death.
Sophocles, great reputation
Sophocles, great reputation determined many foreign rulers to invite him to their courts, but Sophocles never accepted any invitations. His career coincided exactly with the rise, the maturity, and the downfall of the Athenian Empire. He became an emulating symbol for the Athenians, who glorified his memory with great respect. His plays continued to be performed, in his memory. Two of his descendents, lophon, I one ~ Zs sons, and a grandson, also called Sophocles, followed
In Ws fMsteps to become playwrights themselves.
Sophocles died at the age of ninety, in the year 406 B.C. Creeks regarded Sophocles as a kind of tragic Homer, ha，Ied 加弋 as the favourite of the gods, and honoured him with state sacrifices long after his death.