Sophocles -496 - -406 (90)

Fortune cannot aid those who do nothing.



Love, unconquerable
Waster of rich men, keeper
Of warm lights and all-night vigil
In the soft face of a girl:
Sea-wanderer, forest-visitor!
Even the pure Immortals
cannot escape you,
And mortal man,
in his one day’s dusk,
Trembles before your glory.
Surely you swerve upon ruin
The just man’s consenting heart,
As here you have made bright anger
Strike between father and son––
And none has conquered but Love!
A girl’s glance working
the will of heaven:
Pleasure to her alone who mock us,
Merciless Aphrodite.

Sophocles was a Greek dramatist, with Aeschylus and Euripides are the three poets of antiquity whose complete works have survived. Born in Kolonos Athens in 496 BC, he was the son of a wealthy Athenian citizen who had a cutlery factory. Given their good economic situation he probably had a very good education, at the time that arts and letters were flourishing in Athenian democracy. At 16, because of his education and also of his impressive stature, he was chosen among 1000 adolescents to direct the dances Athenians erected to celebrate their victory in the Battle of Salamis. For first time he took part in dramatic races in 468 BC, at the age of 28. He was awarded the top prize, defeating Aeschylus. In the following years he took 24 first victories and wrote about 120 works of which were saved 7: Aias, Antigone, Trachiniae, Oedipus, Electra, Philoctetes, Oedipus at Colonus.

Out of love for Athens, he refused royal invitations to go away from Athens. Outside Athens he only traveled for public affairs as he had held high positions, both because of his bravery and his poetic talent. We know that he had gone as a consultant of the Athenians in Chios and Lesvos, at the Samian War he was a general with Pericles (441/440). Sophocles was married twice, first at a young age and had four children, later with a second wife had another son. In 406, when he learned the death of his competitor Euripides, he presented his actors in mourning dresses. Few months later he died too. There are several versions as the cause of his death, he died eating unripe grapes, or because read lengthy passage from Antigone and caught her breath or that his heart stopped from great joy as he won once again in dramatic contest.