For certainly old age has a great sense of calm and freedom; when the passions relax their hold, then, as Sophocles
says, we are freed from the grasp not of one mad master only, but of many.
So that from one point of view, Sophocles
is an imitator of the same kind as Homer--for both imitate higher types of character; from another point of view, of the same kind as Aristophanes--for both imitate persons acting and doing.
The beauty of the latter inflames Martius, and he seeks to save her husband; but Sophocles will not ask his life, although assured that a word will save him, and the execution of both proceeds:--
Stay, Sophocles,--with this tie up my sight; Let not soft nature so transformed be, And lose her gentler sexed humanity, To make me see my lord bleed.
277 E) that Sophocles
followed the Epic Cycle closely in the plots of his plays, we may suppose that in outline the story corresponded closely to the history of Oedipus as it is found in the "Oedipus Tyrannus".
They do much better who enumerate the different virtues as Georgias did, than those who thus define them; and as Sophocles
speaks of a woman, we think of all persons, that their 'virtues should be applicable to their characters, for says he,
Wasn't it Sophocles
," he asked, "who prayed for the time when he would be delivered from the wild beast of passion that devoured his heart-strings?
Romeo and Juliet, 'Hamlet,' and indeed most of his plays, contain unnecessary scenes, interesting to the Elizabethans, which Sophocles as well as Racine would have pruned away.
In his tragedies, 'Sejanus' and 'Catiline,' he excluded comic material; for the most part he kept scenes of death and violence off the stage; and he very carefully and slowly constructed plays which have nothing, indeed, of the poetic greatness of Sophocles or Euripides (rather a Jonsonese broad solidity) but which move steadily to their climaxes and then on to the catastrophes in the compact classical manner.
despair; he has given immortality to a wagon, and the bee Sophocles
has transmitted to eternity a sore toe, and dignified a tragedy with a chorus of turkeys.
Now, I made for Madame Marguerite of Flanders, that famous epithalamium, as you know, and the city will not pay me, under the pretext that it was not excellent; as though one could give a tragedy of Sophocles
for four crowns
His mental palate, indeed, was rather pagan, and found a savouriness in a quotation from Sophocles
or Theocritus that was quite absent from any text in Isaiah or Amos.