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Nothing is known as to the plays which Sophocles
The Theban plays—not a connected trilogy.
may have produced along with the Antigone. Two forms of trilogy were in concurrent use down at least to the end of the fifth century,—that in which the three tragedies were parts of one story,—and that in which no such link existed. The former was usually (though doubtless not always) employed by Aeschylus; the latter was preferred by his younger rival. Thus it is possible,—nay, probable,—that the two tragedies which accompanied the Antigone were unrelated to it in subject. Even when the Theban plays of Sophocles are read in the order of the fable, they do not form a linked trilogy in the Aeschylean sense. This is not due merely to discrepancy of detail or incompleteness of juncture. The perversely rigorous Creon of the Antigone is, indeed, an essentially distinct character from the ruthless villain of the Coloneus; the Coloneus describes the end of Oedipus in a manner irreconcileable with the allusion in the Antigone (v. 50). But, if such differences existed between the Choephori and the Eumenides, they would not affect the solidarity of the ‘Oresteia.’ On the other hand, it does not suffice to make the triad a compact trilogy that the Tyrannus is, in certain aspects, supplemented by the Coloneus1, and that the latter is connected with the Antigone by finely-wrought links of allusion2. In nothing is the art of Sophocles more characteristically seen than in the fact that each of these three masterpieces—with their common thread of fable, and with all their particular affinities—is still, dramatically and morally, an independent whole.


1 See Introd. to Oed. Col. p. xxi. § 3.

2 See Oed. Col. 1405-1413, and 1770-1772.

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hide References (3 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (1):
    • Sophocles, Antigone, 50
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (2):
    • Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, 1405
    • Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, 1770
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