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Sophocles

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Sophocles (pronounced /ˈsɒfəkliːz/; ancient Greek Σοφοκλῆς, pronounced [sopʰoklɛ̂ːs]; circa. 496 BCE - 406 BCE) 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 earlier than those of Euripides. According to the Suda, a 10th century encyclopedia, 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 Lenaea and the Dionysia. 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’ tragedies are those concerning Oedipus and Antigone: these are often known as the Theban plays or The 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 as Aeschylus.

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