Biography of Sófocles (496-406 a.C)

Greek dramatist, born in Colona (in ancient Greece) in 496 BC, and died in Athens in 406 BC, which was, along with Aeschylus and Euripides, one of the three great growers from the tragedy in the theatre of ancient Greece. In his works there is an amazing perfection that makes the best specialist that has given this genre around the world.


He was born in equestrian Colona (place which today belongs to the city of Athens) in 496 BC He/She was a member of a rich and well situated family socially. His father, who manufactured and sold armor, provided him with a splendid education. He/She studied with the best masters of his time (reserved for the children of the very noble or rich families), and soon stood out for his love of the arts. Before that dedicated to the theatre shone as a musician and poet.


The news of their contemporaries who have survived to this day are that, in addition to rich, Sophocles was friendly, polite and good looking. His wit, his education and his beauty he/she captivated to all who knew him.

It only had 17 years when, in view of their progress as a musician and poet, was tasked to lead the chorus of boys who had to intervene in the celebrations of the victory of Salamis. More than ten years later, when he/she already enjoyed much intellectual prestige among their fellow citizens, it was submitted to a contest of theatre and defeated with his work to Aeschylus, which until then had been the number one in Greece playwright.

Several years later, it would be Euripides, fifteen years younger than Sophocles, who defeated him in those theatrical games that are convened annually in Athens. But not Sophocles became a background as a playwright, since he/she came back to win the first prize in many occasions (throughout his life he/she was Victor on twenty occasions, and won many times second prize).

By his fame, he/she held high positions in the political and religious life of Athens. And friendship he/she shared with the key figures of his time, as the historian Herodotus and the ruler of Pericles. This appointed him on two occasions strategist.

It was already very old when, after the disaster of the Athenian army in Sicily (in 413 B.c.), charged that the great city of Athens, together with other five notable citizens of great prudence and wisdom you govern for awhile.

He died in Athens in the year 406 BC, at a very advanced age. Throughout his extensive life did not receive criticism or attacks against him or his works, when normal among the people of the theatre was to be always getting involved with the other. This shows that, in fact, Sophocles was a wise man, fair, friendly and kindly with all.


Aeschylus was the father or creator of the tragedy, genre which was partially inspired by the great epic poems that already existed in Greek (such as the Iliad and the Odyssey, by Homer) literature. For his part, Euripides gave more realism to this genre, did more akin to the modern theatre, removed that own the epic grandeur. Between both teachers won the great figure of Sophocles. He/She was the one who took over from Aeschylus and his own works gave a rare perfection, to fill them with sensitivity human (Aeschylus had abused more than the cold and serious nature of the gods and the great heroes). The greatness of Sophocles lies primarily in their ability to put on stage a few humans and a few gods who relate among themselves with great naturalness.

Since, around thirty years old, he/she exceeds his master Aeschylus playwright, wrote non-stop numerous tragedies (which, unfortunately, very few have been preserved whole).

In these works, Sophocles knew better than anyone else reflect the relationship between the daily life of the Athenians and their constant relationship with the gods. Put it another way, showed the Greek people between the spirit and the earthly balance, which lives in the reality of every day.

It is believed that he/she came to write more than one hundred and twenty tragedies, but only seven are preserved complete.

Oedipus King, his masterpiece, is considered the most perfect piece of the genre of tragedy, unsurpassed model must have all the playwrights at the time of writing a work of this nature on the head.

It has the myth of Oedipus, who, after killing his father and marrying his mother, becomes a toy of the destination. The work was so successful that, for centuries, the myth of Oedipus is back to return hundreds of times in the theatrical and literary texts of writers in any time and place.

The other six tragedies of Sophocles preserved complete are: Antigone (442-41), Philoctetes (409), AJAX (430), Oedipus King (425), the traquinianas (418), Electra (413) and Oedipus at Colonna (401).

In general, all these tragedies of Sophocles (and, no doubt, that have been lost) the gods play an important role; but they do not reach the role they had in the previous epic poetry or in the tragedies of Aeschylus.

The characters of Sophocles, without being so cold and intellectual as Euripides, are able to understand their human limitations (pain, unhappiness, etc.) and try to overcome them (although ultimately this attempt does not serve much, because just always triumphing destiny, what was already set by the gods).

Sophocles was also the author of twenty-five satirical dramas.