Sophocles was a great Greek writer of tragedy. His themes
dealt mostly with a specific struggle of a strong
individual against fate. They depict a powerful figure who
chooses a course which the chorus and lesser characters may
not approve. This course costs him suffering or death, but
it makes him more noble and somehow benefits mankind.
Sophocles lived during Athens' greatest period. He won many
prizes for his tragedies, and was universally loved. Onr of
his greatest play, "Oedipus at Colonus", was written when
he was nearly 90. He was born near Athens, and remained
there all his life. He was the son of a wealthy merchant
and was able to study all of the arts. By the age of
sixteen, he was already known for his beauty and grace and
was chosen to lead a choir of boys at a celebration of the
victory of Salamis. Twelve years later, after completing
his studies, he was ready to compete in the City Dionysia -
a festival held every year at the Theater of Dionysus in
which new plays were presented. In his first competition,
Sophocles took first prize.
An accomplished actor, Sophocles performed in many of his
own plays. In addition to his theatrical endeavors,
Sophocles served for many years as an ordained priest in
the service of Alcon and Asclepius, the god of medicine. He
also served on the Board of Generals, a committee that
administered civil and military affairs in Athens and as
director of the Treasury, controlling the funds of the
association of states known as the Delian Confederacy.
He was a great innovator of the theater and was the fist o
add a third character. He also abolished the trilogy form
and chose to make each tragedy a complete entity in itself.