Sophocles biography
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Sophocles biography

Sophocles (495 b.C.-406 b.C.) Greek tragic poet. Born in the Colona region, Greece. Son of a rich gunsmith named Sophilo. During his youth he served as director of the youth choir, he participated in the choir to celebrate the victory of Salamis. In 468 b.C. he was in a theatrical contest held annually in Athens during the Dionysian festivities, in which he defeated Aeschylus and became known as a tragic author annually. This event was significant for his successful career as a poet.

From this moment, he began a literary career without brake: Sophocles came to write up to 123 tragedies to compete in the Dionysian festivals. He obtained approximately 24 victories, although on one occasion he was dethroned by Euripides in one of the dramatic contests held in Athens. Now, compared to Aeschylus who had achieved 13. As a result, he catapulted himself as an important enlightened figure in Athens. In its moment of the boom, the context of the city was in its maximum cultural splendor. He related to Herodotus and Pericles, the first he met in Athens around 441 b.C. while participating as a guest in a great oratory event, he shared his famous texts and received an important prize for it. For his part, Pericles maintained a close friendship with Sophocles, this Athenian politician had great admiration for the magnificent works of that poet.

Sophocles not only developed in the world of prose, he also did as a strategist, twice, he participated in the Athenian expedition against Samos in 440, an event narrated by Plutarch in his biographical collection called Parallel Lives, in said, proposed to present with more relevance the moral character of each character, than the political events of the time; for that reason the exhaustive treatment on the aspects of the character, based on great number of anecdotes. His intention was to reveal the nature of the man in question.

“There is something threatening in a silence too big.” Sophocles

Although it is true, the production of this Athenian is more extensive than is believed, many of his works have suffered the ravages of time and, perhaps, oblivion. However, some fragments of works are still preserved today and only seven tragedies are complete: Antigone, Oedipus Rex, Ajax, Las Traquinias, Philoctetes, Oedipus in Colona and Electra. In these works the contributions of Sophocles in the dramatic technique can be revealed: the introduction of a third personage in the scene, with this the dialogue has more dynamism, another contribution was to endow with psychological complexity the heroic personage of the work. Because of his remarkable expressive balance, Sophocles is considered the father of Greek dramaturgy. He also made numerous contributions, such as, for example, the break with the fashion of the trilogies, assigned by Aeschylus.

The dramatic action is conceived by Sophocles as a conflict of wills. He conceived it as the set of procedures for transmitting a story. He did it by means of a line of action of the fable, propitiating the interaction of the characters with each other. So the author was devising and building the links of the fable chain. In this way, he took for granted in the world of dramaturgy that there are events that do not appear in the work plainly but are taken as antecedents, generating likewise, a hierarchy in the characters of the work.

Next, we will briefly explain his most outstanding works, in Antigone narrates an opposition between the city and the blood; Antigone is a mythical woman who bravely confronted men to achieve their intentions. Basically, the work shows a reflection on tyranny, the postulates of the State and the conflicts of conscience. It was exhibited to the public in 442 b.C. On the other hand, Sophocles used archetypal characters to confront respect for religious norms against civil ones, personified by Creon and the others by Antigone, respectively.

Another of his tragic works is, undoubtedly, Oedipus king. Aristotle considered it the most representative and perfect of Greek tragedies. In short, it is an excellent prototype of the so-called tragic irony, since the expressions of the protagonists turn in a different sense from what they pretend; such is the case with Oedipus, determined to find the culprit of his misfortune, when inside he knew that he was the guilty himself, for having violated the law of nature, by killing his father and lying with his mother. So, a confrontation arises between human law and natural law, we can intuit that it represents the most balanced formulation of the cultural conflicts of the time expressed in the Greek tragedy.

Sophocles died during the war with Sparta, which meant the end of the Athenian rule, versions claim that the attacking army agreed on a truce to give way to the celebration of his funeral, with great solemnity and admiration. He was buried in the family tomb near Deceleia, on his tomb the figure of a mermaid was erected. Sophocles died, around the age of 90, in 406 b.C. in Athens, the causes of his death are not really known.

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