(c. 450—399 bc)
Of Athens was the most celebrated tragic poet after the three great masters. (See tragedy, greek.) He won his first victory in 416 bc, and the occasion of Plato's Symposium is a party at his house in celebration of that victory. Plato emphasizes his youth in Symposium and portrays him as a boy in Protagoras, of which the dramatic date is c.430; so he must have been born after 450. In Protagoras he is seen in the company of the Prodicus, and he appears to have been influenced in style by Gorgias. In 411 he heard and approved Antiphon's speech in his own defence—this suggests anti‐democratic sentiments—and in the same year he was caricatured in Aristophanes' Thesmophoriazusae. The play ridicules him for effeminacy and passive homosexual tastes, and Plato, portraying him as the long‐term boyfriend of one Pausanias, partly confirms the charge. Before 405 he left Athens (like Euripides) for the court of Archelaus of Macedon, and he died there.
Aristotle says that he wrote a tragedy in which all the characters were invented, not taken from legend; that he wrote a tragedy which failed because he tried to include too much material, as if writing an epic; and that he was the first to write choral odes that were mere interludes, unconnected with the plot. All these developments can be seen as exaggerations of tendencies found in the later work of Euripides.
Subjects: Classical studies