‘Imagine Mozart had lived into old age: we'd be referring to The Marriage of Figaro, the Requiem, and the Jupiter Symphony as early Mozart.’ This poignant remark (not quoted verbatim) made to me by the late Derek Parfit evokes not only the frustrated sense of loss which we feel when contemplating the premature passing of an artistic genius, but also the impact which the contingent fact of an artist's death date can have on our overall characterization of their output. In the case of Sophocles, the genius did live on, and continued to produce masterworks right up until the end of his life. The counterfactual here is to imagine that he died rather before the age of approximately ninety in 405. His dying only five years earlier would have denied us Philoctetes, performed first in 409 and likely written not long before then, and Oedipus at Colonus, produced posthumously in 401 by Sophocles’ homonymous grandson, himself a tragedian of some note. But his reputation was by then secure, and we may hope (to pile counterfactual on counterfactual) that some other plays, now lost to us, would have survived in their stead; in which case our picture of Sophocles today would be rather different. A still earlier death, say at the age of fifty, would not only have meant that his Electra and, quite probably, Oedipus the King were never written, but also that plays sometimes often seen today as ‘early’, especially Trachiniae and Ajax, would have been regarded as mature works standing at the summit of a still substantial career.