Sophocles or Sofokles

Sophocles or Sofokles



Sophocles or Sofokles

Sophocles or Sofokles was born in circa. 496 BC - 406 BC) was the second of the three ancient Greek tragedians whose work has survived to the present day. His first plays were written later than those of Aeschylus and Euripides.
Sophocles wrote 120 or more plays during the course of his life, but only seven have survived in a complete form, namely Ajax, Antigone, Trachinian Women, Oedipus the King, Electra, Philoctetes and Oedipus at Colonus. For almost 50 years, Sophocles was the most-awarded playwright in the dramatic competitions of ancient Athens that took place during the religious festivals of the god Dyonisios.  Sophocles competed in around thirty drama competitions; he won perhaps twenty four and never received lower than second place. Aeschylus won fourteen competitions and was defeated by Sophocles at times. Euripides won only four competitions.
The most famous of Sophocles's tragedies are those concerning Oedipus Rex and his dauther Antigone (or the Theban Plays) Oedipus Cycle, although each play was actually a part of different trilogy, the other members of which are now lost. Sophocles influenced the development of the drama, most importantly by adding a third actor and thereby reducing the importance of the chorus in the presentation of the plot. He also developed his characters to a greater extent than earlier playwrights such.
Sophocles, the son of Sophillus, was a wealthy member of the rural Attica which would later become a setting for his plays, and was probably born there. His birth took place a few years before the 490 BC.  His artistic career began in earnest in 468 BC when he took first prize in the Dionisian theatre competition over the reigning master of Athenian drama, Aeschylus was then the most important play writer.
Sophocles became a man of importance in the public halls of Athens as well as in the theatres. Sophocles was chosen to lead the paean, a choral chant to a god, at the age of 16 celebrating the decisive Greek sea victory over the Persians at the Battle of Salamis. This rather insufficient information about Sophocles’ civic life implies he was a well-liked man who participated in activities in society and showed remarkable artistic ability. Sophocles died at the venerable age of ninety in 406 or 405 BC, having seen within his lifetime both the Greek triumph in the Persian Wars and the terrible bloodletting of the Peloponnesian

In Sophocles' time, the Greek art of the drama was undergoing rapid and profound change. It had begun with little more than a chorus, but earlier playwrights had added first one and then two actors and thereby shifted the action of the plays away from the chorus. Among Sophocles' earliest innovations was the addition of a third actor, further reducing the role of the chorus and creating greater opportunity for character development and conflict between characters.  In fact, Aeschylus, who dominated Athenian playwrighting during Sophocles' early career, adopted this third character into his own playwriting towards the end of his life. It was not until after the death of the old master Aeschylus in 456 BCE that Sophocles became the preeminent playwright in Athens.

*Situation of Greek Women
Questions on Antigone’s Myth
-Reflect on Antigone’s thoughts on Law
-Reflect on Creon’s thoughts on Law
-Discuss these two characters’ actions that resulted in tragedy.
-Ask yourself if you think the character is a hero or not?
-Discuss Ismene’s turinig point, that is, the moment when she decides to change action. Write a brief statement of explaining this action through her eyes.
-Write an obituary for Antigone and Haisman.
-What is universal/immortal about Antigone’s character?
-Think about modern day instances for civil disobedience.
-Who, in modern days, do you think has defied laws that are considered immoral?
-Can you think of any “Creons” in Modern history?


To understand the figure of “the dictator” (also seen as the benefactor, the protector, the boss, the omnipotent man), it is important to dissect the possible reasons why these men rise to power. A historiographic approach and balance on the dictators and caudillos in Latin American Literature and reality. That is, Literature is no only reality but also it reads and creates readings of reality, it integrates itself to reality and allows us to understand it. History then becomes accessible to us readers in a fictional text. We need only to decode that historical frame to come as close as we can with that historical reality. Why is a historical novel important?
A: Because it gives us a critical perspective of past events. A historical novel blurs the lines between reality and fiction.

Important terms:
Caudillo (political leader, a commander, a political boss).
Caudillismo: A concept that evolved from the wars of independence after the first part of the XIX century in Latin America. It has been a trait that has lasted until modern times and due to this continuity it’s seen as a predicament with historical and political consequences that needs to be studied with careful approach. Its political base is the populace.  
Dictator: An autocratic political figure.
Political Favoritism: Sometimes seen as nepotism or the practice of returning or paying political favors. Within caudillismo, it’s also refer as amiguismo.
The dictator is often times a charismatic figure, very able to get the attention of others, and attract others with his magnetism. This magnetism gives him a sense of authority. We can not presume that a dictator rises out of his charm and ability to seduce, his rise has more to do with the political and social circumstances that surround him than his personal charm. Yet, it is a figure that reflects to others a great sense of personal solitude, which through an emotional lense can be perceived as a sociopathic behavior. Thus, despite the adoration he receives from others, he also can be a solitary figure, since the system he has created around him has placed him of top of a pyramid but with other (men) underneath him that most likely want to take his place. He distrusts everyone, and only few are close to him (See the psycotic behaviors many Latinamerican dictators have displayed both privately and publicly).

Democratic Cesarism:
Latinamerican dictators relate to an archetype that manifest (in literature) in different images:
The Supreme, the wiseman, the patriarch, the benefactor, the boss, the generalísimo, the supreme  commander, and so on.
The dictator commits arbitrary actions towards the citizens and even those close to him. He imparts suffering, punishment, and he is the law. Often times he abuses his power for his own benefit (explotation of national resources). He and his government use the media to transmit their political propaganda and to control the citizens. They use also the public spaces to display symbols of the dictatorship and assure that the citizens are continuously reminded of the power of the dictator.
Caudillismo is based on organic forces (indigenous, peasants, displaced peoples, marginalized peoples).

What is the origin of caudillismo?



Source: http://www1.appstate.edu/~napiorskimp/documents/LAwomenanddictatorships_001.doc

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Sophocles (496?-406? bc)
one of the three great tragic dramatists of ancient Athens,
the other two being Aeschylus and Euripides.
Sophocles was born about 496 BC in Colonus Hippius (now part of Athens), the son of Sophillus, reportedly a wealthy armor-maker.  Sophocles was provided with the best traditional aristocratic education. As a young man, he was chosen to lead the chorus of youths who celebrated the naval victory at Salamís in 480 bc. In 468 BC, at the age of 28, he defeated Aeschylus, whose preeminence as a tragic poet had long been undisputed, in a dramatic competition. The date of the first contest with Euripides is uncertain; in 441 Euripides defeated Sophocles in one of the annual Athenian dramatic competitions. From 468 bc, however, Sophocles won first prize about 20 times and many second prizes. His life, which ended in 406 BC at about the age of 90, coincided with the period of Athenian greatness. He numbered among his friends the historian Herodotus, and he was an associate of the statesman Pericles. He was not politically active or militarily inclined, but the Athenians twice elected him to high military office.


Dramatic Works
Sophocles composed more than 100 plays, of which 7 complete tragedies and fragments of 80 or 90 others are preserved. The seven extant plays are Antigone, Oedipus Tyrannus or Oedipus Rex (Oedipus the King), Electra, Ajax, Trachiniae (Maidens of Trachis), Philoctetes, and Oedipus at Colonus (produced posthumously in 401 bc). Also preserved is a large fragment of the Ichneutae (Investigators), a satiric drama discovered on papyrus in Egypt about the turn of the 20th century. Of the surviving tragedies, the earliest is thought to be Ajax (circa 451-444 BC). Next probably are Antigone and Trachiniae (after 441). Oedipus Tyrannus and Electra date from 430 to 415 bc. Philoctetes is known to date from 409 BC.
All seven extant tragedies are considered outstanding for their powerful, intricate plots and dramatic style, and at least three—Antigone, Oedipus Tyrannus, and Oedipus at Colonus—are generally regarded as masterpieces. Antigone, an outstanding lyrical drama, develops a main Sophoclean theme, dealing with the pain and suffering caused when an individual, obstinately defying the dictates of divine will or temporal authority, or refusing to yield to destiny and circumstance, instead obeys some inner compulsion that leads to agonizing revelation and, ultimately, to a mysterious vindication of that person’s behavior and life. Antigone bestows the rites of burial upon her battle-slain brother Polynices in defiance of the edict of Creon, who was the ruler of Thebes. In so doing she thereby brings about her own death, the death of her lover Haemon, who is Creon’s son, and that of Eurydice, Creon’s wife.
Ajax, Electra, Philoctetes, and Trachiniae in varying forms repeat the themes of Antigone. Oedipus Tyrannus, which is justly famed for its flawless construction, its dramatic power, and its effective dramatic irony, was considered by Aristotle in his well-known treatise the Poetics the most typical and in many respects the most perfect of the Greek tragedies. The plot turns on the gradual revelation to the mythological hero Oedipus of the dreadful truth that he has become ruler of Thebes by first unwittingly slaying his father and then marrying his mother, the queen Jocasta. Oedipus at Colonus is a powerful play depicting the reconciliation of the blind and aged Oedipus with destiny and his sublime and mysterious death at Colonus, after years of wandering as an exile, sustained by the loving care of his daughter Antigone.
Sophocles is considered by many modern scholars the greatest of the Greek tragedians and the perfect mean between the titanic symbolism of Aeschylus and the rhetorical realism of Euripides. The contributions made by Sophocles to dramatic technique were numerous, and two of his innovations were especially important. He increased the number of actors from two to three, thus lessening the influence of the chorus and making possible greater complication of the plot and the more effective portrayal of character by contrast and juxtaposition; and he changed the Aeschylean fashion of composing plays in groups of three, each of them part of a central myth or theme, and made each play an independent psychological and dramatic unity. Sophocles also effected a transformation in the spirit and significance of a tragedy; thereafter, although problems of religion and morality still provided the themes, the nature of man, his problems, and his struggles became the chief interest of Greek tragedy.

Characteristics of Sophoclean Tragedy 
A tragedy of Sophocles has the following characteristics…please find them in Antigone.

  • It is based on events that already took place and with which the audience is familiar. 


  • The protagonist is a person of noble birth and stature. 


  • The protagonist has a weakness and, because of it, becomes isolated and suffers a downfall. 


  • Because the protagonist's fall is not entirely his or her own fault, the audience may end up pitying him or her. 


  • The fallen protagonist gains self-knowledge. He has a deeper insight into himself and understands his weakness. 


  • The audience undergoes catharsis, a purging of emotions, after experiencing pity, fear, shock and other strong feelings. The people go away feeling better.


  • The drama usually unfolds in one place in a short period of time, usually about a day. 

Pride as a Character Flaw  
Pride was considered a grave sin because it placed too much emphasis on individual will, thereby downplaying the will of the state and endangering the community as a whole. Because pride makes people unwilling to accept wise counsel, they act rashly and make bad decisions. Great pride, such as that of Oedipus (Oedipus Rex) or Creon (Antigone), is referred to as hybris or hubris.
Themes of the Plays 
Fate punishes the proud and the insolent with ironic outcomes terrible to behold.



The bigger they are, they harder they fall.




Through love, piety, and hardship, Oedipus achieves redemption.



Intractability and pride cause the downfall of even the noblest humans.


Overriding divine law with the law of the state leads to ruin.


Injustice and tyranny can provoke justified civil disobedience.


Women can be as wise and as strong as men.


Source: http://mrsginfo.pbworks.com/f/Characteristics+of+Sophoclean+Tragedy.doc

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Sophocles or Sofokles


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