The Complete Plays of Sophocles by Anonymous

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Synopsis

Oedipus the King • Antigone • Electra • Ajax
Trachinian Women • Philoctetes • Oedipus at Colonus

The greatest of the Greek tragedians, Sophocles wrote over 120 plays, surpassing his older contemporary Aeschylus and the younger Euripides in literary output as well as in the number of prizes awarded his works. Only the seven plays in this volume have survived intact. From the complex drama of Antigone, the heroine willing to sacrifice life and love for a principle, to the mythic doom embodied by Oedipus, the uncommonly good man brought down by the gods, Sophocles possessed a tragic vision that, in Matthew Arnold’s phrase, “saw life steadily and saw it whole.”

This one-volume paperback edition of Sophocles’ complete works is a revised and modernized version of the famous Jebb translation, which has been called “the most carefully wrought prose version of Sophocles in English.”*
*Moses Hadas


From the Paperback edition.
 

About Anonymous

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The Greek dramatist Sophocles, born to a wealthy family at Colonus, near Athens, was admired as a boy for his personal beauty and musical skill. He served faithfully as a treasurer and general for Athens when it was expanding its empire and influence. In the dramatic contests, he defeated Aeschylus in 468 b.c. for first prize in tragedy, wrote a poem to Herodotus (see Vol. 3), and led his chorus and actors in mourning for Euripides just a few months before his own death. He wrote approximately 123 plays, of which 7 tragedies are extant, as well as a fragment of his satiric play, Ichneutae (Hunters). His plays were produced in the following order: Ajax (c.450 b.c.), Antigone (441 b.c.), Oedipus Tyrannus (c.430 b.c.), Trachiniae (c.430 b.c.), Electra (between 418 and 410 b.c.), Philoctetes (409 b.c.), and Oedipus at Colonus (posthumously in 401 b.c.). With Sophocles, Greek tragedy reached its most characteristic form. He added a third actor, made each play independent---that is, not dependent on others in a trilogy---increased the numbers of the chorus, introduced the use of scenery, shifted the focus from religious to more philosophical issues, and brought language and characters, though still majestic, nearer to everyday life. His finely delineated characters are responsible for the tragedy that befalls them, and they accept it heroically. Aristotle (see Vols. 3, 4, and 5) states that Sophocles said he portrayed people as they ought to be; Euripides, as they are. His utter command of tragic speech in the simple grandeur of his choral odes, dialogues, and monologues encourages the English reader to compare him to Shakespeare (see Vol. 1).
 
Published March 28, 2006 by Bantam Classics. 304 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History. Non-fiction

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