Who is Sophocles (Sophocles)?June 26, 2021
Sophocles is a thinker who lived between 495-406 BC and is shown among the most important writers of Greek tragedy.
He has a special place in the field of tragedy with his mastery of handling the subjects and portraying the characters in the play. He developed the theater technique and gave importance to dialogues, decor and costumes. In his tragedies, a tidy internal structure is seen, which was not encountered in the writers of the period. He always prioritizes the issue of destiny in his works. He received more than twenty awards in the competitions he participated in. Of the works of Sophocles, who wrote 123 tragedies, only Aias, Antigone, King Oedipus, Electra, Women of Trachis, Philoctetes, Oedipus Kolonos have survived.
Born in Colonos outside Athens, Sophocles’ father, Sophillos, was a wealthy weapons manufacturer. Sophocles lived in 5th century Athens. He saw both the growth and collapse of the Athenian City-state. He held many official and military positions. In 441 BC he was a member of the Colegium, which oversaw contributions to the union’s city-states. In 441-440 BC, he worked with Pericles to suppress the uprising in Samos. He directed the junior choir to celebrate the naval victory in Salamis. Upon the news of the death of Euripides, who was 16-17 years younger than him, he showed his respect to his colleague by coming to his tragedies in mourning clothes.
Sophocles’ first championship was in 468 BC. He received his first award in the theater play competitions at the Dionysia Festival (Dionysian Yonder). He continued to write works throughout his life. He staged his play Philoctetes himself at the age of 88. He kept the statue of Asklepios in his house until it settled in the temple in 420 BC. With this act, he was honored by the Athenians after his death. He became one of the commanders who responded to the destruction of the Athenian force in Sicily during the Peloponnesian War in 413 BC.
In his tragedies, he wrote what a writer wanted to say to another citizen as a citizen, rather than what he said to his audience. He was a stimulant and counselor that made the audience think. According to Suda, Sophocles wrote 123 plays, but 7 of them have survived in full form. These are Trojan Women, Aias, King Oedipus, Oedipus in Kolonos, Antigone, Electra, and Philoctetes, as we have mentioned before.
The innovation Sophocles brought to the stage increased the number of members in the choir from 12 to 15. The basic parallel of the work of art has been the city-state relations. The best surviving of Sophocles’ works are the Byzantine manuscripts of 950 AD. A bundle of texts, consisting of the Argonautica of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Apollonios of Rhodes, was brought from Istanbul to the Florence Medici library in Italy in 1453 by Giovanni Aurispa. Besides these manuscripts, there are manuscripts that are not certain belonging to Sophocles.
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook