Who is Sophocles?

Sophocles is commonly believed to be one of three ancient Greek tragedians whose plays have survived to the present day. He is believed to have been born around 497 and to have died around 406. Many plays are attributed to him from ancient manuscripts.

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There are 17 papyrus fragments. There are around 200 mediaeval copies. The overwhelming majority contains three plays; Ajax, Electra, and Oedipus Tyrannus.

Three manuscripts are dated to between 800 and 1204. They are; the Florence ms. codex Laurentianus 32.9, Leiden Bibliotheca Publica Graeca 60 A (written after 950), and Laurentianus 31.10 (w. 1150-1200).

All other manuscripts have been dated after 1204. There are multiple families. The Roman family of manuscripts (r) includes G, Q, and R. The Paris family (a) includes A, D, Xr, Xs, Zr.

Family z contains texts from Antigone, Women of Trachis, Philoctetes, and Oedipus at Colonus.

Demetrius Triclinus, in the 14th century, allegedly created his own recension of the plays. These are preserved in T and Ta.

There is a group of manuscripts known as the old ones. These include C, F, H, N, O, P, Pa, S, V, and Wa.

List of names of the above manuscripts;


A – Ms. Paris. Gr. 2712

D – Naples II F.9

Xr – Vienna, phil. gr. 161

Xs – Vienna suppl. gr. 71

Zr – Venice Marcianus gr. 616


G – Laurentianus CS 152

Q – Paris supp. gr. 109

R – Vaticanus graecus 2291

(old ones)

C – Paris.gr.2735

F – Laurentianus 28.25

H – Laurentianus 32.40

N – Madred gr. 4677

O – Leiden Voss. gr. Q.6

P – Heidelberg Pal. gr. 40

Pa – Vatican gr. 904

S – Vatican Urbin. gr. 141

V – Vatican graecus 468

Wa – Milan Ambriosian E.103.sup

The first text was printed by Aldus Manutius in 1502 in Venice.

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[1] – http://www.tertullian.org/rpearse/manuscripts/greek_classics.htm#Sophocles

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One Comment on “Who is Sophocles?

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