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The theban plays: "king oedipus","oedipus at colonus","antigone" (classics) - The Three Theban Plays: Antigone; Oedipus the King.



Sophocles 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:

For almost 50 years, Sophocles was the most-awarded playwright in the dramatic competitions of the city-state ofAthens that took place during the religious festivals of the Lenaea and the Dionysia. Sophocles’ first artistic triumph was in 468 BC when he took first prize in the Dionysia theatre competition over the reigning master of Athenian drama, Aeschylus. Sophocles competed in around 30 competitions; he won perhaps 24 and never received lower than second place.

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. Among Sophocles’ earliest innovations was the addition of a third actor, which further reduced the role of the chorus and created greater opportunity for character development and conflict between characters. He developed his characters to a greater extent than earlier playwrights such as Aeschylus.

Sophocles 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:

For almost 50 years, Sophocles was the most-awarded playwright in the dramatic competitions of the city-state ofAthens that took place during the religious festivals of the Lenaea and the Dionysia. Sophocles’ first artistic triumph was in 468 BC when he took first prize in the Dionysia theatre competition over the reigning master of Athenian drama, Aeschylus. Sophocles competed in around 30 competitions; he won perhaps 24 and never received lower than second place.

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. Among Sophocles’ earliest innovations was the addition of a third actor, which further reduced the role of the chorus and created greater opportunity for character development and conflict between characters. He developed his characters to a greater extent than earlier playwrights such as Aeschylus.

Author: Sophocles (c 496-406 BC)
Translator: Robert Fagles
Publisher: Penguin Books (1984 Penguin Classics Edition)
Bought from: Book Depository

Sophocles is one of three classical Greek tragedians whose plays have survived. Sophocles wrote 123 plays but only seven survive intact. He is said to have won between 20-25 dramatic competitions in Athens. In comparison, Aeschylus won 14-15 competitions (sometimes placing second to Sophocles) while Euripides won only 4 or 5.

The events in  The Theban Plays  take place before the Trojan War (the dividing line between Greek mythology and Greek history). In Homer’s  Odyssey , Odysseus meets the shade of Jocasta (named Epicasta in that play). Homer briefly tells the story of Oedipus but with some differences from Sophocles’ version.


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