The general voice of ancient tradition attributed the
The Coloneus ascribed to the poet's last years.
The story of the recitation —not impossible.
Its probable origin.
1 Cic. Cato ma. seu De Sen. 7. 22. The phrase, “"eam fabulam quam in manibus habebat et proxime scripserat,"” admits of a doubt. I understand it to mean that he had lately finished the play, but had not yet brought it out; it was still "in his hands" for revision and last touches. This seems better than to give the words a literal sense, "which he was then carrying in his hands." Schneidewin (Allgemeine Einleitung, p. 13), in quoting the passage, omits the words, et proxime scripserat, whether accidentally, or regarding them as interpolated. — The story occurs also in Plut. Mor. 785 B; Lucian Macrob. 24; Apuleius De Magia 298; Valerius Maximus I. 7. 12; and the anonymous Life of Sophocles.
2 Plut. Mor. 785 B “ὑπὸ παίδων παρανοίας δίκην φεύγων”: Lucian Macrob. 24 “ὑπὸ Ἰοφῶντος τοῦ υἱέος...παρανοίας κρινόμενος”. Cp. Xen. Mem. I. 2. 49 “κατὰ νόμον ἐξεῖναι παρανοίας ἑλόντι καὶ τὸν πατέρα δῆσαι”.
3 The passage which shows this is in the anonymous Βίος; — “φέρεται δὲ καὶ παρὰ πολλοῖς ἡ πρὸς τὸν υἱὸν Ἰοφῶντα γενομένη αὐτῷ δίκη ποτέ. ἔχων γὰρ ἐκ μὲν Νικοστράτης Ἰοφῶντα, ἐκ δὲ Θεώριδος Σικυωνίας Ἀρίστωνα, τὸν ἐκ τούτου γενόμενον παῖδα Σοφοκλέα πλέον ἔστεργεν. καί ποτε ἐν δράματι εἰσήγαγε τὸν Ἰοφῶντα αὐτῷ φθονοῦντα καὶ πρὸς τοὺς φράτορας ἐγκαλοῦντα τῷ πατρὶ ὡς ὑπὸ γήρως παραφρονοῦντι: οἱ δὲ τῷ Ἰοφῶντι ἐπετίμησαν. Σάτυρος δέ φησιν αὐτὸν εἰπεῖν: εἰ μέν εἰμι Σοφοκλῆς, οὐ παραφρονῶ: εἰ δὲ παραφρονῶ, οὐκ εἰμὶ Σοφοκλῆς: καὶ τότε τὸν Οἰδίποδα ἀναγνῶναι”. In the sentence, καί ποτε...εἰσήγαγε, the name of a comic poet, who was the subject to εἰσήγαγε, has evidently been lost. Some would supply Λεύκων, one of whose plays was entitled Φράτορες. Hermann conjectured, καί ποτε Ἀριστοφάνης ἐν Δράμασιν,—Aristophanes having written a play called Δράματα, or rather two, unless the Δράματα ἢ Κένταυρος and Δράματα ἢ Νίοβος were only different editions of the same. Whoever the comic poet was, his purpose towards Sophocles was benevolent, as the phratores censured Iophon. This tone, at least, is quite consistent with the conjecture that the poet was Aristophanes (cp. Ran. 79). Just after the death of Sophocles, Phrynichus wrote of him as one whose happiness had been unclouded to the very end—καλῶς δ᾽ ἐτελεύτης᾿, οὐδὲν ὑπομείνας κακόν. There is some force in Schneidewin's remark that this would be strange if the poet's last days had been troubled by such a scandal as the supposed trial.
4 I need scarcely point out how easily the words could be made into a pair of comic trimeters, e.g.
“εἰ μὲν Σοφοκλέης εἰμί, παραφρονοῖμ᾽ ἂν οὔ:
εἰ δ᾽ αὖ παραφρονῶ, Σοφοκλέης οὐκ εἴμ᾽ ἐγώ
”. This would fit into a burlesque forensic speech, in the style of the new rhetoric, which the comedy may have put into the mouth of Sophocles. As though, in a modern comedy, the pedagogue should say,—‘"If I am Doctor X., I am not fallible; if I am fallible, I am not Doctor X."’
5 The literary vestiges of this Satyrus will be found in Müller, Fragm. Hist. III. 159 ff.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.