Bust of tragedian poet Sophocles from 496-406 b.C.
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Made of casting stone with an antique, ivory-colored finish.
Approx. 150mm (15cm) x 60mm (6cm) x 60mm (6cm)
Sophocles (ancient Greek Σοφοκλῆς , c. 496 BCE-406 BCE) was the second of the three ancient Greek tragedians whose work has survived. 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 123 plays during the course of his life, but only seven have survived in a complete form: 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 the city-state of Athens that took place during the religious festivals of the Lenaea and the Dionysia.
Sophocles, the son of Sophillus, was a wealthy member of the rural deme (small community) of Colonus Hippius in Attica, which would later become a setting for his plays, and was probably born there. His birth took place a few years before the Battle of Marathon in 490 BCE: the exact year is unclear, although 497/6 is perhaps most likely. Sophocles' first artistic triumph was in 468 BCE when he took first prize in the Dionysia theatre competition over the reigning master of Athenian drama, Aeschylus. According to Plutarch the victory came under unusual circumstances. Instead of following the custom of choosing judges by lot, the archon asked Cimon and the other strategoi present to decide the victor of the contest. Plutarch further contends that Aeschylus soon left for Sicily following this loss to Sophocles.