Ink drawing on paper 21 x 29.7 cm
Title: Sophocles | Artist: Pieter Zandvliet | Category:

Sophocles (/ˈsɒfəklz/;[1] GreekΣοφοκλῆςpronounced [so.pʰo.klɛ̂ːs]c. 497/6 – winter 406/5 BC)[2] is one of three ancient Greek tragedians whose plays have survived. His 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,[3] but only seven have survived in a complete form: AjaxAntigoneWomen of TrachisOedipus RexElectraPhiloctetes and Oedipus at Colonus.[4] For almost fifty years, Sophocles was the most celebrated playwright in the dramatic competitions of the city-state of Athens which took place during the religious festivals of the Lenaea and the Dionysia. He 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.[5]

The most famous tragedies of Sophocles feature Oedipus and Antigone: they are generally known as the Theban plays, though each was part of a different tetralogy (the other members of which are now lost). Sophocles influenced the development of drama, most importantly by adding a third actor (attributed to Sophocles by Aristotle; to Aeschylus by Themistius),[6] thereby reducing the importance of the chorus in the presentation of the plot.[citation needed] He also developed his characters to a greater extent than earlier playwrights.

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