Oedipus the King: Biography: David Dixon


Biography

Sophocles, an Athenian politician and dramatist, was born in 496 B.C. and died ninety years later.  His lifetime almost perfectly paralleled the "Golden Age" of Athens.  Unlike other dramatists and thinkers of his time, Sophocles did not abstain from politics.  Indeed Sophocles was completely immersed in it, serving as an elected official for several years, most notably as a Strategoi-an elected general.  Fortunately for Sophocles, he died just before Athens surrendered to Sparta in 404 B.C., marking Athens' loss in the Peloponnesian War.
Dramatically speaking, Sophocles is best known for his adoption of the third actor in his Greek tragedies.  This made it possible to include complex dialogues and character interactions in Oedipus the King and other plays.  Before this idea emerged to dominate drama, only two actors were allowed to speak at a time. 
Sophocles wrote Antigone before Oedipus the King, and it is here that he establishes the connection of tragedy between generations of his characters.  Indeed Antigone's fate is shaped not only through her own actions but through Oedipus' fate as well.  Though Antigone is heralded as a great piece of writing, most critics consider Oedipus the King to be Sophocles' greatest work. 

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