Community activity

In ancient Athens, a great writer had to be also, almost naturally, a very active member of the community life. This was the case for Sophocles, too, but the specific feature for him, is that he never intruded contemporary politics in the idealism of his tragedy. As well as in theaters, Sophocles became a man of importance in the public halls. He started at the age of 16, when he was chosen to lead the paean, a choral chant to a god, celebrating the decisive Greek sea victory over the Persians at the Battle of Salamis. 

His remarkable artistic talent and communication skills made him an active member of the society. But information about his civic life is unfortunately insufficient. As a junior colleague of Pericles, a prominent and influential statesman, orator, and general of Athens during the city's Golden Age, Sophocles was elected one of ten strategoi, high executive officials that commanded the armed forces. He also worked with the finance of Athena, as one of the Hellenotamiai, or treasurers of Athena, during the political ascendancy of Pericles.

The historical chronicles also tell about Sophocles’ religious life, mentioning that the writer welcomed and set up an altar for the icon of Asclepius at his house, when the deity was introduced in Athens. This brought him the posthumous epithet Dexion (receiver), from the Athenians. Due to his diplomatic skills, he was elected, commissioner for crafting a response to the catastrophic destruction of the Athenian expeditionary force in Sicily, during the Peloponnesian War. 

Sophocles died at age ninety, in 406 or 405 BC. His career coincided almost exactly with the rise, the maturity, and the downfall of the Athenian Empire, as he was witness of the Greek triumph in the Persian Wars and the terrible Peloponnesian War. He remained a symbol for the Athenians, who glorified his memory with great respect. His plays continued to be performed, in his memory. Two of his descendants, Iophon, one of his sons, and a grandson, also called Sophocles, followed in his footsteps to become playwrights themselves.