Sophocles . Greek tragic author of the 5th century BC He is the second of the Greek tragic authors whose works have survived, along with Aeschylus and the later Euripides . According to the Suda (a 10th century encyclopedia), Sophocles wrote 123 works during his lifetime, but only 7 have survived to this day.


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  • 1 Biographical synthesis
  • 2 Literary production
  • 3 Opposition to laws
    • 1 Books
  • 4 Death
  • 5 Sources

Biographical synthesis

The son of a wealthy gunsmith named Sofilo, at sixteen he was elected director of the boys’ choir to celebrate the victory of Salamis. In 468 a. n. and. He became known as a tragic author by defeating Aeschylus in the theatrical contest held annually in Athens during the Dionysian festivals, whose dominator in previous years had been Aeschylus.

Thus began an unparalleled literary career: Sophocles wrote up to 123 tragedies for festivals, in which he was awarded an estimated 24 victories, compared to the 13 that Aeschylus had achieved. He became an important figure in Athens , and his long life coincided with the city’s heyday.

A friend of the historian Herodotus and the politician Pericles , he did not show much interest in politics, despite which he was twice elected strategist and participated in the Athenian expedition against Samos (440 BC), an event that Plutarch records in his Parallel Lives . His death coincided with the war with Sparta that was to signify the beginning of the end of Athenian rule, and it is said that the attacking army arranged a truce so that their funerals could be duly celebrated.

Literary production

For almost fifty years Sophocles was the most awarded author of the theatrical competitions of the city-state of Athens that took place during the festivals in honor of Dionysus (Dionysias and Leneas). Sophocles participated in some thirty competitions, winning perhaps twenty-four of them and never falling below second place.

Of his enormous production, however, only seven complete tragedies are preserved today, apart from some fragments: Antigone , Oedipus the King , Ajax , The Traquinias , Philoctetes , Oedipus in Colona , and Electra . Sophocles is responsible for the introduction of a third character in the scene, which gave greater play to the dialogue, and the fact of endowing the hero of the play with psychological complexity.

Oedipus Rex is perhaps the most famous of his tragedies, and thus Aristotle considered it in his Poetics as the most representative and perfect of Greek tragedies, the one in which the final cathartic mechanism reaches its best climax. It is also an unbeatable example of the so-called tragic irony, by which the protagonists’ expressions acquire a different meaning from the one they pretend; This is the case with Oedipus, determined to find the culprit of his misfortune and that of his city, and doomed to discover that this culprit is himself, for having once again transgressed the law of nature and blood by killing his father and lying with his mother, even in spite of himself.

The confrontation between human law and natural law is central to Sophocles’ work, of which it is probably true to say that it represents the most balanced formulation of the underlying cultural conflicts that the Greek tragedy gave way to.

Sophocles used the characters as a means to express the fatalities of life and the intervention of man as the full possessor of his own destiny without the mediation of the Gods, man decides how to live and how to die and above all how to resolve the vicissitudes of life. lifetime.

Opposition to laws

In Antigone he opposes two laws: that of the city and that of blood ; Antigone wants to bury her dead brother, who had risen up against the city, in the face of opposition from the tyrant Creon, who by denying burial intends to set an example for the city.

The tension of the confrontation maintains the complexity and balance at all times, and the tragic destiny bends on both of them, since the “hubris”, excessive pride, also corresponds to both.


In comparison, Aeschylus won fourteen times and was defeated by Sophocles repeatedly while Euripides only won four times. The most significant tragedies of Sophocles that are known refer to Oedipus and Antigone, also known as the “theban” works.

They belonged to tetralogies of works, although unfortunately they were almost entirely lost. Sophocles greatly influenced the theater of his time, reducing the importance of the choir in performances or adding a third actor to plays.

  • King Oedipus.
  • Antigone
  • Ayante
  • Electra
  • Electra; Philoctetes; Oedipus in Colonus
  • Ajax; The Traquinias; Antigone; King Oedipus
  • Fragments


Sophocles died in 406 BC. n. and. at the age of 90, and we owe him the best dramas that are still being performed in theaters around the world even now.


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