Biography of Sophocles
Sophocles (c. 497/6 BC- winter 407/6 BC)was the second of the three ancient Greek tragedians whose work has survived. His first plays were written later than those of Aeschylus and earlier than those of Euripides. According to the Suda, a 10th century encyclopedia, Sophocles wrote 123 plays during the course of his life, but only seven have survived in a complete form: Ajax, Antigone, Trachinian Women, Oedipus the King, Electra, Philoctetes and Oedipus at Colonus. For almost 50 years, Sophocles was the most-awarded playwright in the dramatic competitions of the city-state of Athens that took place during the religious festivals of the Lenaea and the Dionysia. Sophocles competed in around 30 competitions; he won perhaps 24 and never received lower than second place; in comparison, Aeschylus won 14 competitions and was defeated by Sophocles at times, while Euripides won only 4 competitions.
The most famous of Sophocles' tragedies are those concerning Oedipus and Antigone: these are often known as the Theban plays, although each play was actually a part of different tetralogy, the other members of which are now lost. Sophocles influenced the development of the drama, most importantly by adding a third actor and thereby reducing the importance of the chorus in the presentation of the plot. He also developed his characters to a greater extent than earlier playwrights such as Aeschylus
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Ah, race of mortal men, How as a thing of nought I count ye, though ye live; For who is there of men
Not mortal men alone does Love assail, No, nor yet women, but it leaves its stamp Upon the souls of Gods, and passes on To mighty ocean. Zeus omnipotent Is powerless to avert it, and submits And yields full willingly.
A Sailor's Life
A weary life is that the sailors lead, To whom no gift from Heaven or Fortune sent Could offer worthy recompense. Poor souls, Adventuring traffic far on slender chance, They save, or gain, or lose all utterly.
Ares the Destroyer
Ares the destroyer drive away! Who now, though hushed the din Of brazen shield and spear, With fiercest battle-cry
Antigone in Her Tomb
O tomb, my bridal chamber, vaulted home. Guarded right well for ever, where I go To join mine own, of whom the greatest part Among the dead doth Persephassa hold;
Old Age and Youth
What man is he that yearneth For length unmeasured of days? Folly mine eye discerneth Encompassing all his ways.
Chorus from Ajax
Fair Salamis, the billow's roar Wanders around thee yet; And sailors gaze upon thy shore Firm in the Ocean set.
If wisdom fail me not, As seer misled by doubtful auguries, And wanting counsel wise, She comes, true augur with foreshadowing tread,
Power Of Love (From
O LOVE, thou art victor in fight: thou mak'st all things afraid; Thou couchest thee softly at night on the cheeks of a maid;
Long Life Not To Be Desired
WHO, loving life, hath sought To outrun the appointed span, Shall be arraigned before my thought
An Awful Purity
O that 'twere mine to keep An awful purity, In words and deeds whose laws on high are set Through heaven's clear æther spread,
Disease of Love
A pleasant ill is this disease of love, And 'twere not ill to sketch its likeness thus: When sharp cold spreads through all the æther clear, And children seize a crystal icicle, At first they firmly hold their new-found joy;
Blessed are those whose life no woe doth taste! For unto those whose house The Gods have shaken, nothing fails of curse Or woe, that creeps to generations far.
Come, then, I leave this isle, And speak my parting words: Farewell, O roof, long time My one true guard and friend;
Praise Of Colonus (From
STRANGER, thou art standing now
On Colonus' sparry brow;
All the haunts of Attic ground,
Where the matchless coursers bound,
Boast not, through their realms of bliss,
Other spot as fair as this.
Frequent down this greenwood dale,
Mourns the warbling nightingale,
Nestling 'mid the thickest screen