Already during Sophocles’ lifetime, his play Antigone enjoyed great popularity. In 442 BC, during the contest of the poets, he defeated Aeschylus, who was considered to be unbeatable.
In addition to Sophocles, who made Antigone the main character in his play, we find Euripides with his work The Phoenician Women (ca. 409BC), which focuses on the conflict between the two brothers Eteocles and Polynices. After they murder each other, Creon banishes Oedipus, who gouges his eyes out because of his disastrous fate. Antigone, just a minor character in Euripides’ work, accompanies her blind father to Colonus. There he intends to die.
The title of Sophocles’ later work Oedipus at Colonus (406BC) indicates that it is based on Euripides. Its content is also similar: Antigone has the task of accompanying her father on the road to Colonus because of his blindness. Previously, she tried to mediate in the conflict between the brothers but failed.
Sophocles’ Antigone gains further influence through Aristotle’s Poetics (ca. 335 BC), a theoretical text dealing with the structure of tragedy as well as epic, comedy, dithyrambic poetry, and flute and zither performance. He characterizes tragedy as a closed whole with a very specific formal structure. We will disc...