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S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.


  • [A Greek tragic poet; born near Athens, 495 B.C.; gained the first prize, 468; composed more than one hundred tragedies, of which seven are extant; died 405.]
  • If I am Sophocles, I am not beside myself; if I am beside myself, I am not Sophocles.

  • When accused in his old age of incapacity to manage or dispose of his property. The story, which is included by Fournier among historic fictions, is as follows: The family of Sophocles consisted of two sons,—Iophon, the offspring of a free Athenian woman; and Ariston, by Theoris of Sicyon. Ariston had a son named Sophocles, for whom his grandfather showed the greatest affection. Iophon, the rightful heir, jealous of the youthful Sophocles, upon whom he feared the poet would bestow his property, summoned the latter before the officers having jurisdiction over family matters, on the charge that his mind was affected by old age. As his only reply, Sophocles exclaimed, “If I am Sophocles, I am not beside myself; if I am beside myself, I am not Sophocles.” He then read a magnificent passage from his “Œdipus Colonus,” which was lately written, but not yet brought out; and the judges at once dismissed the case, and rebuked Iophon for his undutiful conduct. Sophocles forgave his son; and the reconciliation may be referred to in the lines of the “Œdipus Colonus,” where Antigone pleads with Œdipus’ father to forgive Polynices, as other fathers had been induced to forgive their bad children (v. 1192, etc.).
  • Sophocles used to say of the compositions of Euripides, “I represent men as they ought to be, Euripides as they are.” Goldsmith describes Reynolds:—
  • “A flattering painter, who made it his care
  • To draw men as they ought to be, not as they are.”
  • Retaliation, 63.