Sophocles (ca. 496-406 B.C.)Sophocles (ca. 496-406 B.C.) - The second of the great tragedians, Sophocles is author of perhaps the most famous play of antiquity, Oédipus Tyrannos or Oedipus the King (Oedipus Rex in Latin); the story of a Theban king who murders his father, marries his mother and then gouges his own eyes out after learning what he had done. Born at the beginning of the fifth century and living until the end, Sophocles saw both the Persian Wars and the Peloponnesian War. The former undoubtedly being a source of great joy for him, and the latter a source of tremendous suffering. At 16, after the Battle of Salamis, he was chosen to lead the paean, which was a choral chant of thanksgiving to the gods for the victory. In 468 B.C., he entered his first Dionysia, the annual festival held in celebration of Dionysus at which the tragic plays were performed. He took first prize, beating out Aeschylus himself. His career was long and incredibly prolific, having written 123 plays. However, of his vast body of work, only seven survive to the present. Sophocles is a good example of how influential Homer was in Greek society. His plays Ajax, Electra and Philoctetes are all based on the Iliad or on characters found within. He and Euripides both died in the same year. Though the older of the two, Euripides predeceased him by several months. We know this because Sophocles publicly mourned him at his last Dionysia in 406 B.C..