Rezension über:

Marcos Martínez Hernández: Sófocles. Erotismo, Soledad, Tradición, Madrid: Ediciones Clásicas 2011, 239 S., ISBN 978-84-7882-716-9
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Rezension von:
Carlos Sánchez-Moreno Ellart
Departamento de Derecho Romano, Universidad de Valencia
Redaktionelle Betreuung:
Sabine Panzram
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Carlos Sánchez-Moreno Ellart: Rezension von: Marcos Martínez Hernández: Sófocles. Erotismo, Soledad, Tradición, Madrid: Ediciones Clásicas 2011, in: sehepunkte 11 (2011), Nr. 9 [15.09.2011], URL:

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Marcos Martínez Hernández: Sófocles

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To this reviewer, who, due to his speciality, normally comments upon books related to ancient law, it is both a privilege and a challenge to review this book, which has come to my hands because of the language in which it is written. This work gathers some remarkable essays published by the author (a notable Spanish Hellenist, a pupil of Lasso de la Vega and Luis Gil, to whom the book is dedicated) over the last years. Fortunately for the sake of the reader's convenience Marcos Martίnez has taken the trouble to bring together these different contributions in a single volume. In the foreword the author recapitulates the essential features of the essays. Some of the new pages require further reflections and updates such as the addition of a review of a book by Lasso de la Vega. The author aims to outline the last contributions of that scholar to Sophocles, since they have gone unnoticed by most of the European Hellenists, as the significant reference to Joauanna's book demonstrates. [1]

The book is divided into an introduction and three parts (Eroticism-Solitude-Tradition) with the addition of an appendix. The three first essays are devoted to the eroticism in Sophocles' work, and it is significant that the attitude of some critics (Adrados, Benecke...) towards Sophocles dismisses the part played by eroticism in his work. The first paper ("Sophokles erotikos. Aspectos eróticos en la vida de Sófocles" 35-46) tackles the subject of eroticism -in its wider aspect- from the point of view of the reliability of ancient biographies, by taking into account Lasso and Mary Lefkowictz contributions about this complicated methodological issue. Ovid (Trist. II 361-412) and Atheneus (Deipn. XIII 601) are treated in detail as biographical sources. The second essay devoted to eroticism is about the fragments compiled by Radt ("Sophokles erotikos II" 47-70). The author, bearing in mind the Cassanello lexicon, pinpoints the relevant fragments linked to eroticism, especially where satiric drama is concerned. The third chapter dealing with eroticism ("Sophokles erotikos III" 71-116) deals with this topic as present in the seven preserved plays of Sophocles, insisting on subjects such as adultery, love triangle, or the role played by women.

The second part gathers two interesting papers about solitude in the myth of Philoctetes in Sophocles. The first essay is a general treatment of this topic in Greek literature, but also in its tradition ("El mito de Filoctetes en el teatro griego clásico" 119-160). The second is a suggestive comparison between Philoctetes and the literary subject of Robinson Crusoe, The author points out the precursors of Defoe and his followers as well, including the recent Foe by J. M. Coetzee.

The third part includes one article about the impact of Sophocles in Plutarch "Sófocles en Plutarco"163-202) which outlines the importance of Plutarch as a source for knowing Sophocles, bearing in mind the importance of quotations in this author, mainly concerned with a paideia which implies a respect for ancient literary testimonies. The book under review concludes with a selection of different short papers, under the title "Varia", Under this label, the author collects "2500 años de Sófocles" (205-7), about the commemoration in 2003 of this event; "Sófocles en La Laguna" (208-9), makes reference to that event, the anniversary of Sophocles, and to the Congress dedicated to Greek tragedy in the University of La Laguna (Tenerife). "Un libro esencial sobre Sófocles" (210-20) is a review of the above mentioned book by Jacques Jouanna, mainly laudatory since the book deserves such an evaluation, but on the other hand fairly critical in some aspects.

We are reviewing a well-written and interesting book, which signifies an important contribution to the study of Sophocles. The author uses a great deal of recent literature, but the book can be profitably read both by scholars and, with some limits, by the general public. In summing up, this book proves to be an original and creative contribution which succeeds in presenting a coherent panorama of Sophocles and at the same time insisting on certain aspects, which are still troublesome for a large part of the present scholarship.


[1] vid. J. Jouanna: Sophocle, Paris 2007. Apart from this criticism, the author recognizes the importance of this contribution (210-20).

Carlos Sánchez-Moreno Ellart