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Sophocles was the second of the three great Athenian tragedians, all contemporaries, being younger than Aeschylus and older than Euripides. He was born in Colonus Huppius, a suburb of Athens, around 496 BC, into a wealthy family, and was consequently well-educated. He wrote over 100 dramas for the Dionysian dramatic festivals, starting with that which gave him his famous first victory over Aeschylus in the festival of 468. One of Sophocles' greatest achievements was the tragedy Oedipus Tyrannus (or Oedipus Rex). Aristotle judged this to be Sophocles' finest work and a model of the tragic form, and the play is the origin of the term 'Oedipus complex', coined by Sigmund Freud.

Sophocles lived a long and distinguished life, and the festival of 406 saw his final recorded act, leading the public mourning for Euripides. He died the same year.

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