Sappho, Alcaeus, and Pindar were significant lyric poets throughout the early development of the Greek poetic tradition. Aeschylus is the first Greek tragic playwright whose whole works have survived. Sophocles is well known for his Oedipus tragedies, notably Oedipus the King and Antigone. His other plays include Ajax, Philoctetes, and The Trachiniae. Euripides was a prominent Athenian dramatist who lived in the fifth century BC. His works include Iphigenia at Aulis, Medea, and Hippolytus.
Greek literature began as oral poetry. First-time readers didn't have the ability to capture what they heard or saw with their hand writing. So, they made notes on papyrus or parchment that could be folded or rolled up and carried around with them. These were then collected into books when they were donated to museums or libraries. Many important texts were written in this way including the New Testament. Classical writers often borrowed from each other's work, so it isn't surprising that many similarities can be found between different authors' treatments of similar themes or characters. However, despite these similarities, each writer brought something new to the table that helped define Greek culture.
Alcaeus is remembered for his songs to Sappho. He was probably born around 700 BC and died in 580 BC.
Sophocles was a playwright and the second greatest Greek tragedy writer after Sophocles (with Aeschylus and Euripides). His plays are known for their complex plots, large casts, and high levels of drama. Like those of his predecessors, many of Sophocles' plays were also performed during Athenian dramatic festivals.
He was born in the city-state of Syracuse, then part of Sicily, now in Italy. Little is known about his life except that he lived and wrote around 500 BC. He died at the age of 70 or 71. Although some scholars believe he created as many as ten dramas, most estimate that he was probably only responsible for six or seven plays.
In addition to writing tragedies, Sophocles also wrote two satires (one of which has survived) and one elegy (or lament). Like other great poets of his time, such as Homer and Aeschylus, he used music to enhance the drama. His own songs have been preserved on several ancient manuscripts and have been translated into English by Dr. Donald Wilson.
Some academics believe that Sophocles was also the teacher of Plato.
Sophocles, together with Aeschylus and Euripides, was one of classical Athens' three great tragic playwrights (born c. 496 bce at Colonus, near Athens [Greece]—died 406, Athens). Their plays were performed at funerals and other public events as well as in their own times. It is not known where or by whom they were edited before publication.
Sophocles was the most famous of the three; he was also the most influential on later poets and playwrights. Aeschylus and Euripides were more popular in their time; both had a considerable influence on later poetry and drama.
All three wrote for an Athenian audience who wanted to be entertained by powerful stories told with spirit-stirring music, vivid costumes, and explosive drama. The dramas of all three men contained many similarities, but each writer had his own style which can be seen in today's classics books. Sophocles used fantasy and mythology to explain human behavior, while Aeschylus and Euripides explored contemporary issues with lessons for future generations.
Sophocles is thought to have been inspired by real life people including Oedipus, Teiresias, and Antigone.