1902 Encyclopedia > Sophocles

Ancient Greek dramatist
(c. 495 - 406 BC)

SOPHOCLES, the most perfect, and next to Aeschylus the greatest, of Greek tragic poets, was born 495 B.C. and died 406 B.C. As in the case of other Athenian celebrities, various particulars of his life are handed down, few of which, however, deserve much attention, even the reports attributed to contemporaries being mostly trivial if not puerile. He is known to have reached old age, and his career as a dramatist is believed to have extended over more than sixty years (468-406). His father's name was Sophillus, of the deme Colonus Hippius, the aristocratic quarter, where the Government of the Four Hundred was afterwards constituted. The family burial-place is said by the anonymous biographer to have been ten stadia from the city, on the Decelean Way. These facts run counter to the tradition, which seems to have been already discredited by Alexandrian critics, that Sophillus was an artisan. The date assigned for the poet's birth is in accordance with the tale that young Sophocles, then a pupil of the musician Lamprus, was chosen to lead the chorus of boys (etheon lektoi, (Oed. Tyr., 18) in the celebration of the victory of Salamis (480 B.C.). The time of his death is fixed by the allusions to it in the Frogs of Aristophanes and in the Muses, a lost play of Phrynichus, the comic poet, which were both produced in 405 B.C., shortly before the capture of the city. And the legend which implies that Lysander allowed him funeral honours is one of those which, like the story of Alexander and Pindar's house at Thebes, we can at least wish to be founded on fact, though we should probably substitute Agis for Lysander. Apart from tragic victories, the event of Sophocles's life most fully authenticated is his appointment at the age of fifty-five as one of the generals who served with Pericles in the Samian War (440-439 B.C.). Conjecture has been rife as to the possibility of his here improving acquaintance with Herodotus, whom he probably met some years earlier at Athens (see HERODOTUS). But the distich quoted by Plutarch—

Oiden Herodotou teuxen Sophokles eteon on
Pent' epi pentekonta--

is a slight ground on which to reject the stronger tradition according to which Herodotus was ere this established at Thurii; and the coincidences in their writings may be accounted for by their having drawn from a common source. The fact of Sophocles's generalship is the less surprising if taken in connexion with the interesting remark of his biographer (whose Life, though absent from the earliest MS. through some mischance, bears marks of an Alexandrian origin) that he took his full share of civic duties, and even served on foreign embassies:— Kalos t' epaideuthe kai etraphe en euporia, kan en politeia kai en presbeiais exetazeto. The large acquaintanceship which this implies, not only in Athens, but in Ionic cities generally, is a point of main importance in considering the opportunities of information at his command. And, if we credit this assertion, we are the more at liberty to doubt the other statement, though it is not incredible, that his appointment as general was due to the political wisdom of the Antigone.

The testimony borne by Aristophanes to the amiability of the poet's temper (ho d' eukolos men enthad' d' ekei) agrees with the record of his biographer that he was universally beloved. And the anecdote recalled by Cephalus in Plato's Republic, that Sophocles welcomed the release from the passions which is brought by age, accords with the spirit of his famous Ode to Love in the Antigone. The Sophocles who, according to Aristotle (Rhet., iii. 18), said of the Government of the Four Hundred that it was the better of two bad alternatives (probably the same who was one of the probuli) may or may not have been the poet. Other gossiping stories are hardly worth repeating,—as that Pericles rebuked his love of pleasure and thought him a bad general, though a good poet; that he humorously boasted of his own "generalship" in affairs of love; or that he said of Aeschylus that he was often right without knowing it, and that Euripides represented men as they are, not as they ought to be. Such trifles rather reflect contemporary or subsequent impressions of a superficial kind than tell us anything about the man or the dramatist. The gibe of Aristophanes (Pax, 695 sq.), that Sophocles in his old age was become a very Simonides in his love for gain, may turn on some perversion of fact, [271-1] without being altogether fair to either poet. It is certainly irreconcilable with the remark (Vit. Anon.) that in spite of pressing invitations he refused to leave Athens for kings' courts. And the story of his indictment by his son Iophon for incompetence to manage his affairs,—to which Cicero has given some weight by quoting it in the De Senectute,—appears to be really traceable to Satyrus (flor. c. 200 B.C.), the same author who gave publicity to the most ridiculous of the various absurd accounts of the poet's death,—that his breath failed him for want of a pause in reading some passage of the Antigone. Satyrus is at least the sole authority for the defence of the aged poet, who, after reciting passages from the (Oed. Col., is supposed to have said to his accusers, "If I am Sophocles I am no dotard, and if I dote I am not Sophocles." On the other hand, we need not the testimony of biographers to assure us that he was devoted to Athens and renowned for piety. He is said to have been priest of the hero Alcon (or Halon) in his old age, and himself to have received divine honours after death.

That the duty of managing the actors as well as of training the chorus belonged to the author is well known. But did Aeschylus act in his own plays? This certainly is implied in the tradition that Sophocles, because of the weakness of his voice, was the first poet who desisted from doing so. In his Thamyras, however, he is said to have performed on the lyre to admiration, and in his Nausicaa (perhaps as coryphaeus) to have played gracefully the game of ball. Various minor improvements in decoration and stage carpentry are attributed to him,—whether truly or not who can tell? It is more interesting, if true, that he wrote his plays having certain actors in his eye; that he formed an association (thiason) for the pro-motion of liberal culture; and that he was the first to introduce three actors on the stage. [271-2] It is asserted on the authority of Aristoxenus that Sophocles was also the first to employ Phrygian melodies. And it is easy to believe that Aj., 693 sq., Trach., 205 sq., were sung to Phrygian music, though there are strains in Aeschylus (e.g., Choeph., 152 sq., 423 sq.), which it is hard to distinguish essentially from these. Ancient critics had also noted his familiarity with Homer, especially with the Odyssey, his power of selection and of extracting an exquisite grace from all he touched (whence he was named the "Attic Bee"), his mingled felicity and boldness, and, above all, his subtle delineation of human nature and feeling. They observed that the balanced proportions and fine articulation of his work are such that in a single half line or phrase he often conveys the impression of an entire character. Nor is this verdict of antiquity likely to be reversed by modern criticism. The object of the present article, however, is not to praise Sophocles, but rather to describe him. And it is time to turn from Alexandrian or Byzantine fancies and judgments to the poet's extant works.

His minor poems, elegies, paeans, &c, have all perished; and of his hundred and odd dramas only seven remain. These all belong to the period of his maturity (he had no decline); and not only the titles (as Lessing said) but some scanty fragments of more than ninety others have been preserved. Several of these were, of course, satyric dramas. And this recalls a point of some importance, which has been urged on the authority of Suidas, who says that "Sophocles began the practice of pitting play against play, instead of the tetralogy." If it were meant that Sophocles did not exhibit tetralogies, this statement would have simply to be rejected. For the word of Suidas (950 A.D.) has no weight against quotations from the lists of tragic victories (didaskaliai) which there is no other reason for discrediting. The remark might be due to the impression made on some critics by the greater complexity and completeness of a play of Sophocles—say the Oedipus Tyrannus or Antigone—as compared, say, with the Persae or the Septem contra Thebas. It is distinctly asserted, for example, on the authority of the didaskaliai, that the Bacchae of Euripides, certainly as late as any play of Sopho-cles, was one of a trilogy or tetralogy. And if the custom was thus maintained for so long it was clearly impossible for any single competitor to break through it. But it seems probable that the trilogy had ceased to be the continuous development of one legend or cycle of legends,—"presenting Thebes or Pelops' line,"—if, indeed, it ever was so exclusively; and if, as Scholl and others have suggested, a Sophoclean tetralogy was still linked together by some subtle bond of tragic thought or feeling, this would not affect the criticism of each play considered as an artistic whole. At the same time it appears that the satyric drama lost its grosser features and became more or less assimilated to the milder form of tragedy. And these changes, or something like them, may have given rise to the statement in Suidas. [272-1]

If the diction of Sophocles sometimes reminds his readers of the Odyssey, the subjects of his plays were more frequently chosen from those later epics which subsequently came to be embodied in the epic cycle,—such as the Aethiopis, the Little Iliad, the Iliupersis, the Cypria, the Nosti, the Telegonia (all revolving round the tale of Troy), the Thebaica, the Oikhalias halosis, and others, including probably, though there is no mention of such a thing, some early version of the Argonautic story. In one or other of these heroic poems the legends of all the great cities of Hellas were by this time embodied; and, though there must also have been a cloud of oral tradition floating over many a sacred spot, the dramatic poet does not seem, unless in the Oedipus Coloneus, to have directly drawn from this. He was content to quarry from the epic rhapsodies the materials for his more concentrated art, much as Shakespeare made use of Hollingshed or Plutarch, or as the subjects of Tennyson's Idylls of the King have been taken from Sir Thomas Malory. As Sophocles has been accused of narrowing the range of tragic sympathy from Hellas to Athens, it deserves mention here that, of some hundred subjects of plays attributed to him, fifteen only are connected with Attica, while exactly the same number belong to the tale of Argos, twelve are Argonautic, and thirty Trojan. Even Corinthian heroes (Bellerophon, Polyidus) are not left out. It seems probable on the whole that, within the limits allowed by convention, Sophocles was guided simply by his instinctive perception of the tragic capabilities of a particular fable. This was evidently Lessing's view, and may be confirmed by quoting his striking remarks upon the subject of one of the lost tragedies, the Thyestes at Sicyon:—

"Nach der abscheulichen Mahlzeit, die ihm sein Bruder bereitete, flog er nach Sicyon. Und hier war es wo er, auf Befragung des Orakels, wie er sich an seinem Bruder rächen sollte, die Antwort bekam, er sollte seine eigne Tochter entehren. Er überfiel dies auch unbekannter Weise; und aus diesem Beischlafe ward Aegisth, der den Atreus hernach umbrachte, erzeugt. Die Verzweiflung einer geschändeten Prinzessin! Von einem Unbekannten! In welchem sie endlich ihren Vater erkennt! Eine von ihrem Vater entehrte Tochter! Und aus Rache entehrt! Geschändet, einen Mörder zu gebären! Welche Situationen! welche Scenen! "

To say that subsidiary or collateral motives were never present to Sophocles in the selection of a subject would, however, be beyond the mark. His first drama, the Triptolemus, must have been full of local colouring; the Ajax appealed powerfully to the national pride; and in the Oedipus Coloneus some faint echoes even of oligarchical partisanship may be possibly discerned. But, even where they existed, such motives were collateral and subsidiary; they were never primary. All else was subordinated to the dramatic, or, in other words, the purely human, interest of the fable. This central interest is even more dominant and pervading in Sophocles than the otherwise supreme influence of religious and ethical ideas. The idea of destiny, for example, was of course inseparable from Greek tragedy. Its prevalence was one of the conditions which presided over the art from its birth, and, unlike Aeschylus, who wrestles with gods, our poet simply accepts it, both as a datum of tradition and a fact of life. But in the free handling of Sophocles even fate and providence are adminicular to tragic art. They are instruments through which sympathetic emotion is awakened, deepened, intensified. And, while the vision of the eternal and unwritten laws was holier yet, for it was not the creation of any former age, but rose and culminated with the Sophoclean drama, still to the poet and his Periclean audience this was no abstract notion, but was inseparable from their impassioned contemplation of the life of man—so great and yet so helpless, aiming so high and falling down so far, a plaything of the gods and yet essentially divine. This lofty vision subdued with the serenity of awe the terror and pity of the scene, but from neither could it take a single tremor or a single tear. Emotion was the element in which Greek tragedy lived and moved, albeit an emotion that was curbed to a serene stillness through its very depth and intensity.

The final estimate of Sophoclean tragedy must largely depend upon the mode in which his treatment of destiny is conceived. That Aeschylus had risen on the wings of faith to a height of prophetic vision, from whence he saw the triumph of equity and the defeat of wrong as an eternal process moving on toward one divine event,—that he realized sin, retribution, responsibility, as no other ancient did,.—may be gladly conceded. But it has been argued [272-2] that because Sophocles is saddened by glancing down again at actual life,—because in the fatalism of the old fables he finds the reflexion of a truth,—he in so far takes a step backward as a tragic artist. Now is this altogether just? His value for what is highest in man is none the less because he strips it of earthly rewards, nor is his reverence for eternal law less deep because he knows that its workings are sometimes pitiless. Nor, once more, does he disbelieve in providence, because experience has shown him that the end towards which the supreme powers lead forth mankind is still unseen. We miss something of the exultant energy of the Marathonian man, but under the grave and gentle guidance of his successor we lose nothing of the conviction that, "because right is right, to follow right were wisdom in the scorn of consequence." Not only the utter devotion of Antigone, but the lacerated innocence of Oedipus and Deianira, the tempted truth of Neoptolemus, the essential nobility of Ajax, leave an impress on the heart which is ineffaceable, and must elevate and purify while it remains. In one respect, however, it must be admitted that Sophocles is not before his age There is an element of unrelieved vindictiveness, not merely inherent in the fables, but inseparable from the poet's handling of some themes, which is only too consistent with the temper of the "tyrant city." Aeschylus represents this with equal dramatic vividness, but he associates it, not with heroism, but with crime.

Sophocles is often praised for skilful construction. But the secret of his skill depends in large measure on the profound way in which the central situation in each of his fables has been conceived and felt. Concentration is the distinguishing note of tragedy, and it is by greater concentration that Sophocles is distinguished from other tragic poets. In the Septem contra Thebas or the Prometheus there is still somewhat of epic enlargement and breadth; in the Hecuba and other dramas of Euripides separate scenes have an idyllic beauty and tenderness which affect us more than the progress of the action as a whole, a defect which the poet sometimes tries to compensate by some novel denouement or catastrophe. But in following a Sophoclean tragedy are are carried steadily and swiftly onward, looking neither to the right nor to the left; the more elaborately any scene or single speech is wrought the more does it contribute to enhance the main emotion, and if there is a deliberate pause it is felt either as a welcome breathing space or as the calm of brooding expectancy.

The result of this method is the union, in the highest degree, of simplicity with complexity, of largeness of design with absolute finish, of grandeur with harmony. Superfluities are thrown off without an effort through the burning of the fire within. Crude elements are fused and made transparent. What look like ornaments are found to be inseparable from the organic whole. Each of the plays is admirable in structure, not because it is cleverly put together, but because it is so completely alive.

The spectator of a Sophoclean tragedy was invited to witness the supreme crisis of an individual destiny, and was possessed at the outset with the circumstances of the decisive moment. Except in the Trachiniae, where the retrospective soliloquy of Deianira is intended to emphasize her lonely position, this exposition is effected through a brief dialogue, in which the protagonist may or may not take part. In the Oedipus Tyrannus the king's entrance and his colloquy with the aged priest introduce the audience at once to the action and to the chief person. In the Ajax and Philoctetes the entrance or discovery of the hero is made more impressive by being delayed. Immediately after the prologos the chorus enter, numbering fifteen, either chanting in procession as in the Antigone and Oed. Tyr., or dispersedly as in the Oed. Col. and Philoctetes, or, thirdly, as in the Electra, where, after entering silently during the monody of the heroine, and taking up their position in the orchestra, they address her one by one. With a remarkable exception, to be noted presently, the chorus having once entered remain to the end. They always stand in some carefully adjusted relation to the principal figure. The elders of Thebes, whose age and coldness throw into relief the fervour and the desolation of Antigone, are the very men to realize the calamity of Oedipus, and, while horror-stricken, to lament his fall. The rude Salaminian mariners are loyal to Ajax, but cannot enter into his grief. The Trachinian maidens would gladly support Deianira, who has won their hearts, but they are too young and inexperienced for the task. The noble Argive women can sympathize with the sorrows of Electra, but no sympathy can soothe her distress.

The parodos of the chorus is followed by the first scene or epeisodion, with which the action may be said to begin. For in the course of this the spectator's interest is strongly roused by some new circumstance involving an unforeseen complication,—the awakening of Ajax (Aj.), the burial of Polynices (Ant.), the dream of Clyteemnestra (El.), the dark utterance of Tiresias (Oed. Tyr.), the arrival of Lichas with Iole (Trach.), the report of Ismene announcing Creon's coming (Oed. Col.), the sudden entreaty of Philoctetes crossed by the entrance of the pretended mariner (Phil.). The action from this point onwards is like a steadily flowing stream into which a swift and turbulent tributary has suddenly fallen, and the interest advances with rapid and continuous climax until the culmination is reached and the catastrophe is certain. The manner in which this is done, through the interweaving of the rheseis and stichomythia of the dialogue with the stasima of the chorus, and the kommoi and kommatika (where there is interchange between the chorus and the persons), is very different in different dramas, one of the principal charms of Sophocles being his power of ingenious variation in the employment of his resources. Not less admirable is the strength with which he sustains the interest after the peripeteia, [273-1] whether, as in the Antigone, by heaping sorrow upon sorrow, or, as in the first Oedipus, by passing from horror to tenderness and unlocking the fountain of tears. The extreme point of boldness in arrangement is reached in the Ajax, where the chorus and Tecmessa, having been warned of the impending danger, depart severally in quest of the vanished hero, and thus leave not only the stage but the orchestra vacant for the soliloquy that precedes his suicide.

No such general description as has been here attempted can give even a remote impression of the march of Sophoclean tragedy,-—by what subtle yet firm and strongly marked gradations the plot is unfolded; how stroke after stroke contributes to the harmonious totality of feeling; what vivid interplay, on the stage, in the orchestra, and between both, builds up the majestic, ever-moving spectacle. Examine, for example, the opening scene or prologos of the Oedipus Tyrannus. Its function is merely to propound the situation; yet it is in itself a miniature drama. First there is the silent spectacle of the eager throng of suppliants at the palace gate,—young children, youths, and aged priests. To them the king appears, with royal condescension and true public zeal. The priest expresses their heartfelt loyalty, describes the distress of Thebes, and, extolling Oedipus's past services, implores him to exercise his consummate wisdom for the relief of his people. The king's reply unveils yet further his incessant watchfulness and anxious care for his subjects. And he discloses a new object to their expectancy and hope. Creon, a royal person, had been sent to Delphi, and should ere then have returned with the response of Apollo. At this all hearts are trembling in suspense, when a figure is seen approaching. He is wreathed with Apollo's laurel; he looks cheerfully. What has Phoebus said? Another moment of suspense is interposed. Then the oracle is repeated,—so thrilling to the spectator who understands the story, so full of doubt and hope and dread to all the persons of the drama: "It is for the blood of Laius—his murderers are harboured in the land of Thebes. The country must be purged." That is the culminating point of the little tragedy. While Oedipus asks for information, while in gaiety of heart he undertakes the search, while he bids the folk of Cadmus to be summoned thither, the spectators have just time to take in the full significance of what has passed, which every word that is uttered sends further home. All this in 150 lines!

Or, once more, consider the employment of narrative by this great poet. The Tyrannus might be again adduced, but let us turn instead to the Antigone and the Trachiniae. The speech of the messenger in the Antigone, the speeches of Hyllus and the Nurse in the Trachiniae, occur at the supreme crises of the two dramas. Yet there is no sense of any retardation in the action by the report of what has been happening elsewhere. Much rather the audience are carried breathlessly along, while each speaker brings before their mental vision the scene of which he had himself been part. It is a drama within the drama, an action rising from its starting point in rapid climax, swift, full, concentrated, until that wave subsides, and is followed by a moment of thrilling expectation. Nor is this all. The narrative of the messenger is overheard by Eurydice, that of Hyllus is heard by Deianira, that of Nurse by the chorus of Maidens. And in each case a poignancy of tragic significance is added by this circumstance, while the rhesis in the Antigone, and that of Hyllus in a yet higher degree, bind together in one the twofold interest of an action which might otherwise seem in danger of distracting the spectator.

So profound is the contrivance, or, to speak more accurately, such is the strength of central feeling and conception, which secures the grace of unity in complexity to the Sophoclean drama.

The proportion of the lyrics to the level dialogue is considerably less on the average in Sophocles than in Aeschylus, as might be expected from the development of the purely dramatic element, and the consequent subordination of the chorus to the protagonist. In the seven extant plays the lyrical portion ranges from one-fifth to nearly one-third, being highest in the Antigone and lowest in the Oedipus Tyrannus. The distribution of the lyrical parts is still more widely diversified. In the Electra, for instance, the chorus has less to do than in the Oedipus Tyrannus, although in the former the lyrics constitute one-fourth, and in the latter only one-fifth of the whole. But then the part of Electra is favourable to lyrical outbursts, whereas it is only after the tragic change that Oedipus can appropriately pass from the stately senarius to the broken language of the dochmiac and the "lamenting" anapsest. The protagonists of the Ajax and the Philoctetes had also large opportunities for vocal display.

The union of strict symmetry with freedom and variety which is throughout characteristic of the work of Sophocles is especially noticeable in his handling of the tragic metres. In the iambics of his dialogue, as compared with those of Aeschylus, there is an advance which may be compared with the transition from "Marlowe's mighty line" to the subtler harmonies of Shakespeare. Felicitous pauses, the linking on of line to line, trisyllabic feet introduced for special effects, alliteration both hard and soft, length of speeches artfully suited to character and situations, adaptation of the caesura to the feeling expressed, are some of the points which occur most readily in thinking of his senarii. A minute speciality may be noted as illustrative of his manner in this respect. Where a line is broken by a pause towards the end, and the latter phrase runs on into the following line, elision sometimes takes place between the lines, e.g. (Oed. Tyr., 332-3):—_

Ego out' emauton oute s' alguno. ti taut
allos elegkheis;

This is called synaphea, and is peculiar to Sophocles.

He differentiates more than Aeschylus does between the metres to be employed in the kommoi (including the kommatika) and in the choral odes. The dochmius, cretic, and free anapaest are employed chiefly in the kommoi. In the stasima he has greatly developed the use of logaoedic and particularly of glyconic rhythms, and far less frequently than his predecessor indulges in long continuous runs of dactyls or trochees. The light trochaic line

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so frequent in Aeschylus, is comparatively rare in Sophocles. If, from the very severity with which the choral element is subordinated to the purely dramatic, his lyrics have neither the magnificent sweep of Aeschylus nor the "linked sweetness" of Euripides, they have a concinnity and point, a directness of aim, and a truth of dramatic keeping, more perfect than is to be found in either. And even in grandeur it would be hard to find many passages to bear comparison with the second stasimon, or central ode, either of the Antigone (eudaimones hoisi kakon) or the first Oedipus (ei moi xuneie pheronti). Nor does anything in Euripides equal in grace and sweetness the famous eulogy on Colonus (the poet's birthplace) in the Oedipus Coloneus.

Sophocles was edited (probably from the Venetian MSS.) by Aldus Manutius, with the help of Musurus, in 1502. The Juntine editions, in which the text of Aldus was slightly modified with the help of Florentine MSS., were published in 1522, 1547, respectively. An edition of the Scholia, very nearly corresponding to those on the margin of the Medicean or chief Laurentian MS. (La or L) had previously appeared at Rome in 1518. The first great modification of the text was due to Turnebus, who had access to the Parisian MSS.; but he was not fortunate in his selection. The earliest editors had been aware that the traditional arrangement of the metres was faulty, but little way had been made towards a readjustment. Now it so happens that the Parisian MS. T, which is a copy of the recension of Triclinius, an early 14th- century scholar, contains also the metrical views of the same editor; and, having found (as he erroneously supposed) a sound authority, Turnebus blindly adopted it, and was followed in this by H. Stephanus (1568), Capperonier, and Vauvillers in France, and Canter in Holland (who was the first to mark the correspondence of strophe and antistrophe). This error was to a large extent corrected by Brunck (1786), who rightly preferred Par. A (2712), a 13th-century MS., belonging, as it happened, to the same family with Ven. 467, which Aldus had mainly followed. Thus after nearly three centuries the text returned (though with many conjectural variations, some of which were due to Scaliger, Auratus, and other earlier scholars) into nearly the same channel as at first. Meanwhile the study of Greek metres had greatly advanced, and, while much licence was given to conjecture (in which Valckenaer and Porson were especially happy), documentary evidence was also better weighed and sifted. The collation of the Laurentian MS. by Peter Elmsley in 1825 (with his transcription of the Scholia) may be said to mark the most important epoch in the textual criticism of Sophocles. But the great work of Gottfried Hermann, whose editions (1823-1830), which are critical in every sense of the word, are adorned with an ample Latin commentary, made perhaps the longest step in advance. Since Hermann the editors of Sophocles have been very numerous. The list, from Schneidewin to Wecklein and Pappageorgius amongst Continental scholars and from Linwood to Jebb (who is last, not least) amongst our own, is too long for insertion here. (L. C.)


271-1 If any of Sophocles's elegies or odes were "pot-boilers," this might be due rather to his easy temper (eukolia) in yielding to a prevalent habit of the time than to any meanness (banausia or gliskhrotes).

271-2 If this was so, it must have been previous to the appearance of the Orestean trilogy.

272-1 The advantages and defects of the trilogy as a dramatic form are admirably stated by G. Günther, Grundzüge der Tragischen Kunst, Berlin, 1885. The small number of victories attributed to Sophocles, in proportion to the number of his plays, is only intelligible on the supposition that these were presented in groups.

272-2 Günther, op. cit.

273-1 A tragic action has five stages, whence the five acts of the modern drama:— the start, the rise, the height, the change, the close.

The above article was written by: Lewis Campbell, LL.D., Professor of Greek, University of St Andrews.

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