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SOPHRON.

ference for this grandson, aud that, when summoned by lophon before the court as weak in mind and unable to manage his affairs, he obtained his own absolute ac­quittal by reading the chorus on his native place in the (Edipus CSloneus [Plutarch, Moralia, p. 775 B], But this appears to be a legend founded on a misunderstood plea­santry of a comic poet. The tales of his death, which happened in 405, are also mythical. According to one account, he was choked by a grape; according to others, he died either when publicly re­citing the AnKgdnl, or from excessive joy at some dramatic victory. The only fact unanimously attested by his contemporaries is, that his death was as dignified as his life. A singular story is connected even with his funeral. We are told that Dio­nysus, by repeated apparitions in dreams, prompted the general of the Spartans, who were then investing Athens, to grant a truce for the burial of the poet in the family grave outside the city. On his tomb stood a Siren as a symbol of the charm of poetry. After his death the Athenians worshipped him as a hero and offered an annual sacrifice in his memory. In later times, on the proposal of the orator Lycur-gus, a bronze statue was erected to him, together with jEschylus and Euripides, in the theatre, and of his dramas, as of theirs, an authorized and standard copy was made, in order to protect them against arbitrary alterations.

Sophocles was a very prolific poet. The number of -his pieces is given as between 123 and 130, of which above 100 are known to us by their titles and by frag­ments. But only seven have been pre­served complete : The Trachinim (so named from the chorus, and treating of the death of Heracles), the Ajax, the Philoctctes, the Elcctra, the (Edlpus Tyrannus, the (Edipus at Colonus, and the Antigone. The last-mentioned play was produced in the spring of 440 ; the Philoctetes in 410; the (Edipus at Colonus was not put on the stage until 401, after his death, by his grandson Sophocles. Besides tragedies, Sophocles composed pseans, elegies, epigrams, and a work in prose on the chorus. With his tragedies he gained the first prize more than twenty times, and still more often the second, but never the third. Even in his lifetime, and indeed through the whole of antiquity, he was held to be the most per­fect of tragedians; one of the ancient writers calls him the " pupil of Homer"

[Vita Anon., ad fin.]. If jEschylus is the creator of Greek tragedy, it was Sophocles who brought it to perfection. He extended the dramatic action (1) by the introduction of a third actor, while in his last pieces he even added a fourth; and (2) by a due subordination of the chorus, to which, how­ever, he gave a more artistic development, while he increased its numbers from twelve to fifteen persons. He also perfected the costumes and decoration. Rejecting the plan of jEschylus, by which one story was carried through three successive plays, he made every tragedy into a complete work of art, with a separate and complete action, the motives for every detail being most skilfully devised. His art was especially shewn in the way in which the action is de­veloped from the character of the dramatis persona;. Sophocles' great mastery of his art appears, above all, in the clearness with which he pourtrays his characters, which are developed with a scrupulous attention to details, and in which he does not content himself, like JEschylus, with mere outlines, nor, as Euripides often did, with copies from common life. His heroes, too, are ideal figures, like those of jEschylns. While they lack the superhuman loftiness of the earlier poet's creations, they have a certain ideal truth of their own. Sophocles suc­ceeding in doing what was impossible for jEschylus and Euripides with their peculiar temperaments, in expressing the nobility of the female character, in its gentleness as well as in its heroic courage. In contrast to Euripides, Sophocles, like jEschylus, is profoundly religious; and the attitude which he adopts towards the popular religion is marked by an instinctive reverence. The grace peculiar to Sophocles' nature makes itself felt even in his language, the charm of which was universally praised by the ancients. With his noble simplicity he takes in this respect also a middle place between the weightiness and boldness of the language of jEschylus, and the smooth­ness and rhetorical embellishment which distinguish that of Euripides.

Sophron. Of Syracuse. A Greek writer of mimes, an elder contemporary of Euri­pides. He composed in the Dorian dialect prose dialogues, partly serious, partly comic, which faithfully represented scenes of actual life, mostlj' in the lower classes, interspersed with numerous proverbs and colloquial forms of speech. In spite of their prose form, Sophron's mimes were regarded as poems by the ancients. In Athens they

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