Trachiniae

Definition

Theater

  • (The Women of Trachis) A tragedy by Sophocles,first performed in about 420 BC in Athens. It shows the influenceof Euripides in its use of a prologue and in the reducedrole given to the chorus; there are also specific similarities tothe plot of Medea. Sophocles was criticized for using a plotin which one of the two main characters (Deianira) commits suicidetwo thirds of the way through the play, and the other (Heracles, herhusband) does not appear on stage until after that event.

    The story begins with Deianira waiting patiently for Heraclesto return from battle. First, however, he ravages a city, killingits men and sending a captured girl back to live with Deianira ashis mistress. Hoping to regain his affection, Deianira sends him ashirt soaked in what she believes to be a love potion; in fact, itis a deadly poison supplied by an enemy of Heracles. When she learnsthe truth Deianira kills herself. Finally Heracles arrives in mortaltorment and dies.

    Sophocles made the wronged wife Deianira a moving and fascinatingcharacter, who has been called "one of the most delicately beautifulcreations in literature". By contrast the great hero Heraclesemerges as a somewhat inglorious character. The Women of Trachis actas the chorus of the play.

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