ζώοι τις ἀνθρώπων τὸ κατ᾿ ἦμαρ ὅπως ἥδιστα πορσύνων· τὸ δ᾿ ἐς αὔριον αἰεὶ τυφλὸν ἕρπει

Stobaeus, Anthology 4, 34, 40 (5, 837, 12 Hense)

3 τυφλὸς Friedländer ΤΡΙΠΤΟΛΕΜΟΣ

The Eleusinian hero Triptolemus, according to some accounts the inventor of the plough, was sent round the earth by Demeter in a chariot drawn by flying dragons to spread the blessings of agriculture. Several of the fragments clearly refer to this mission. We know from fr. 598 that Demeter herself gave Triptolemus instructions about his journey. These fragments have reminded scholars of the speeches full of geographical details in the Io scene of the Prometheus Bound, and fr. 597 closely resembles line 815 of that play. Pliny, Natural History 18, 65 says that the Triptolemus was produced “about 145 years before the death of Alexander,” and since he died in 323 b.c., that means in about 468 B.C. If that is correct, it must have been one of the earliest plays of Sophocles, perhaps part of the earliest tetralogy of all. It has often been supposed that Sophocles was influenced by Aeschylus; but if, as many scholars nowadays believe, the Prometheus Bound was not by Aeschylus, then its author may have been influ-


Fragments of Known Plays


Let any man procure as much pleasure as he can as he lives his daily life; but the morrow comes ever blind.


enced by Sophocles. But in any case geographical catalogues may have been not uncommon in tragedy.

We do not know the plot of the play, but there are several stories about Triptolemus which may have supplied it. In one of these stories Triptolemus is identified with the child of Metaneira whom Demeter was trying to make immortal when its mother interrupted her (see the Homeric Hymn to Demeter), and he was compensated for the loss of immortality by being made the pioneer of agriculture. One of the many different persons stated to have been his father is the Eleusinian hero Celeus. But in one story Celeus was not his father, but plotted to kill him out of jealousy, only the goddess intervened and made Celeus hand over the kingdom to Triptolemus. He was also said to have been in danger from some of the persons encountered on his mission, such as the Scythian king Lyncus and the Thracian king Charnabon, mentioned in fr. 604. See frr. 804, 837.

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.sophocles-fragments_known_plays.1996