The Theban Plays: King Oedipus, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone
The legends surrounding the royal house of Thebes inspired Sophocles to create a powerful trilogy of mankind's struggle against fate. "King Oedipus" tells of a man who brings pestilence to Thebes for crimes he doesn't realise he has committed, and then inflicts a brutal punishment on himself. It is a devastating portrayal of a ruler brought down by his own oath. "Oedipus at Colonus" provides a fitting conclusion to the life of the aged and blinded king, while "Antigone" depicts the fall of the next generation through the conflict between a young woman ruled by her conscience and a king too confident in his own authority.
Sophocles was born in 496 BC. His long life spanned the rise and decline of the Athenian Empire. He wrote over a hundred plays, many of which are published as Penguin Classics, drawing on a wide and varied range of themes. E.F. Watling translated a range of Greek and Roman plays for Penguin, including the seven plays of Sophocles and the tragedies of Seneca.
The Theban legend; "King Oedipus"; the legend continued; "Oedipus at Colonus"; the legend continued; "Antigone"; notes to "King Oedipus"; notes to "Oedipus at Colonus"; notes to "Antigone".