Sophocles is one of three ancient Greek tragedians whose plays have survived. His first plays were written later than those of Aeschylus, and earlier than or contemporary with those of Euripides. Take a look below for 25 more interesting and awesome facts about Sophocles.
1. Sophocles wrote over 120 plays during the course of his life, but only seven have survived in a complete form: Ajax, Antigone, The Women of Trachis, Oedipus Rex, Electra, Philoctetes and Oediups At Colonus.
2. For almost 50 years, Sophocles was the most celebrated playwright in the dramatic competitions of the city-state of Athens that took place during the religious festivals of the Lenaea and the Dionysia.
3. He competed in 30 competitions, won 24, and was never judged lower than second place.
4. Aeschylus won 13 competitions, and was sometimes defeated by Sophocles, while Euripides won 4 competitions.
5. The most famous tragedies of Sophocles feature Oedipus and Antigone.
6. Sophocles influenced the development of drama, most importantly by adding a third actor, thereby reducing the importance of the chorus in the presentation of the plot.
7. He developed his characters to a greater extent than earlier playwrights such as Aeschylus.
8. Sophocles, the son of Sophilus, was a wealthy member of a rural community of Hippeiois Colonus in Attica, which was to become a setting for one of his plays.
9. He was born a few years before the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC, however, the exact year is unclear.
10. His father was an armor manufacturer and Sophocles was highly educated.
11. His first artistic triumph was in 468 BC, when he took first prize in the Dionysia theater competition over the reigning master of Athenian drama, Aeschylus.
12. In 480 BC, Sophocles was chosen to lead the paean, celebrating the Greek victory over the Persians at the Battle of Salamis.
13. In 443, he served as one of the Hellenotamiai, or treasurers of Athena, helping to manage the finances of the city during the political ascendancy of Pericles.
14. In 441 BC, he was elected one of the ten generals, executive officials at Athens, as a junior colleague of Pericles, and he served in the Athenian campaign against Samos.
15. In 420 BC, he welcomed and set up an altar for the image of Asclepius at his house, when the deity was introduced to Athens.
16. In 413 BC, Sophocles was elected as one of the commissioners who responded to the catastrophic destruction of the Athenian expeditionary force in Sicily during the Peloponnesian War.
17. He died at the age of 90 or 91 in the winter of 406 BC, having seen within his lifetime both the Greek triumph in the Persian Wars and the bloodletting of the Peloponnesian War.
18. His death inspired many apocryphal stories. The most famous is the suggestion that he died from the strain of trying to recite a long sentence from his Antigone without pausing to take a breath.
19. Several ancient sources mention Sophocles’ homosexuality or bisexuality.
20. Athenaios reported that Sophocles loved boys like Euripides loved women.
21. The poet Ion of Chios relates an anecdotes involving Sophocles seducing a serving boy at a symposium, and Athenaios one in which Sophocles is trucked by a hustler.
22. Sophocles gave up acting because of his weak voice.
23. He was the most awarded writer in the dramatic competitions of Ancient Athens.
24. He had two sons, from two different marriages. Both of his sons became tragedians, but one of them, Iophon, brought a lawsuit against him, in his 90s, saying that Sophocles was doddered and should hand over his estate to his son.
25. When a gold crown was stolen from the Acropolis, it’s said Heracles appeared to Sophocles in a dream and told him where the object had been taken.