Sophocles, one of the greatest dramatists of the Athenian golden age, was born near Athens in about 495 B.C. His father was a wealthy merchant, and he enjoyed an aristocratic education in the arts. As a young man, his skills in music and dancing were such that he was chosen to lead a choir of boys at the celebrations of the victory over the Persians at Salamis.
Sophocles' first performance as a playwright, at the age of twenty-eight, was at the City Dionysia of 486 B.C., in which he took first place in a victory over Aeschylus. He went on write over 120 more plays, which won eighteen first-place awards and in many of which he performed himself.
Unfortunately, only seven of his tragedies survive, among which are the three Theban plays - Oedipus Rex, Antigone, and Oedipus at Colonus - as well as Electra and Ajax. Of these, Oedipus Rex is considered his best work and is often called a "perfectly structured" play.
Sophocles was active until the end of his life, and passed away shortly after the production of Oedipus at Colonus in 405 B.C., aged ninety-one.