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Encyclopedia > The Trachiniae
The Trachiniae
Hercules on his funeral pyre by Hans Sebald Beham
Written by Sophocles
Chorus Trachinian Maidens
Characters Deianeira
Nurse
Hyllus
Messenger
Lichas
Heracles
Old man
Mute {{{mute}}}
Setting At Trachis, before the house of Heracles

The Trachiniae (or "The Women of Trachis") is a play by Sophocles, notable mainly for the unsympathetic portrayal of Heracles. As in the play Ajax, Sophocles has cast a well known hero in a negative light. Image File history File links Funeral_of_Hercules. ... A Roman bust. ... Trachis was a landscape in ancient Greece. ... Like many mortal women in Greek mythology, Deianira (also Deianeira) occupied a perilous threshold position between the daylit world of Olympian gods and heroes and the dark chthonic primordial world of primitive earth magic. ... In Greek mythology, Hyllus (also Hyllas or Hylles) was the son of Heracles and Deianira and husband of Iole. ... In Greek mythology, Lichas was Heracles servant. ... Hercules, a Roman bronze (Louvre Museum In Greek mythology, Heracles, or Heraklês (glory of Hera, Ἡρακλης) was a divine hero, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, stepson of Amphitryon and great-grandson of Perseus. ... Trachis was a landscape in ancient Greece. ... A Roman bust. ... Hercules, a Roman bronze (Louvre Museum In Greek mythology, Heracles, or Heraklês (glory of Hera, Ἡρακλης) was a divine hero, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, stepson of Amphitryon and great-grandson of Perseus. ... Ajax is a play by Sophocles. ...


The story begins with Deianeira, the wife of Heracles, distraught over her husband's neglect of his family. Heracles is often involved in some adventure and rarely visits them. She sends their son Hyllus to find him, as she is concerned over prophecies about Heracles and the land he is currently in. After Hyllus sets off a messenger arrives with word that Heracles was victorious in his recent battle and coming home soon. Like many mortal women in Greek mythology, Deianira (also Deianeira) occupied a perilous threshold position between the daylit world of Olympian gods and heroes and the dark chthonic primordial world of primitive earth magic. ... In Greek mythology, Hyllus (also Hyllas or Hylles) was the son of Heracles and Deianira and husband of Iole. ...


Lichas, a herald of Heracles, brings in slave girls captured from a recent siege. He gives Deineira a false story of why Heracles had laid siege to the city. He claimed Eurytus was responsible for Heracles being enslaved, and therefore vowed revenge against him and his people. Among the girls is Iole, daughter of Eurytus. Deineira soon learns that in truth Heracles laid siege to the city just to obtain the girl. In Greek mythology, Lichas was Heracles servant. ... In Greek mythology, King Eurytus, or Eurýtos of Oschalia (Oikhalia), Thessaly, was the father of Dryope and Iole. ... In Greek mythology, Iole (Ίόλη) was the daughter of Eurytus. ...


Unable to cope with the thought of her husband falling for this younger woman, she decides to use a love charm on him. When she was younger, she had been carried across a river by the centaur Nessus. Half way through he made a grab at her, and so Heracles quickly shot him with an arrow. As he died, he told her his blood would keep Heracles from loving any other woman more than her and explained what she should do with it. She creates a robe with the blood and has Lichas send it to him with strict instructions no one else is to wear it, and it is to be kept in the dark until he puts it on. Guido Reni, Abduction of Deianira, 1620-21 In Greek mythology, the centaurs (Greek: Κένταυροι) are a race part human and part horse, with a horses body, including all four legs, and a human head and torso with arms. ... Nessus can have a number of meanings: Nessus, a famous centaur from Greek mythology. ...


After the gift is sent, she begins to have a bad feeling about it. She throws some of the left over material into sunlight and it reacts like boiling acid. Nessus had lied about the love charm. Hyllus soon arrives to inform her that Heracles lies dying due to her gift. Heracles was in such pain and fury that he killed Lichas, the deliverer of the gift: "he made the white brain to ooze from the hair, as the skull was dashed to splinters, and blood scattered therewith" (as translated by Sir Richard C. Jebb). Sir Richard Claverhouse Jebb (August 27, 1841 - December 9, 1905) was a British classical scholar and politician. ...


Deianeira is so hurt over her son laying such a harsh blame on her that she goes inside and kills herself. Hyllus discovers soon after that it wasn't actually her intention to kill her husband. The dying Heracles is carried to his home in horrible pain and furious over what he believes was a murder attempt by his wife. Hyluss explains the truth, and Heracles realizes that the prophesies about his death have come to pass. He was to be killed by someone who was already dead, and it turned out to be Nessus.


In the end he is in so much pain that he is begging for someone to finish him off. In this weakened state, he says he is like a woman. He makes a final wish in which Hyluss promises to obey (under protest), that Hyllus is to marry Iole. The play concludes with Heracles being carried off to be burned alive, as an ending to his suffering.


Translations

Wikisource has original text related to this article:
Trachiniae (Jebb)

Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Wikisource – The Free Library – is a Wikimedia project to build a free, wiki library of primary source texts, along with translations of source-texts into any language and other supporting materials. ... Sir Richard Claverhouse Jebb (August 27, 1841 - December 9, 1905) was a British classical scholar and politician. ... Lewis Campbell (September 3, 1830 - October 25, 1908), British classical scholar, was born at Edinburgh. ... Bold text Ezra Pound in 1913. ...

Additional Resources

  • Study guide from Temple University
Plays by Sophocles

  Results from FactBites:
 
The Trachiniae (Women of Trachis) (828 words)
His desire was to portray, in Deianeira's character, the gentleness and patient devotion of womanhood; and though her submissiveness may perhaps seem in some cases to have been carried to excess, no one can deny the charm and truthfulness of the representation.
The plot of the Trachiniae is clear and simple, like all the plots of Sophocles, and deals with a single subject, the jealous fears of Deianeira and their consequences.
Hence the Trachiniae cannot be classed, in point of structure, among the finest works of Sophocles.
Reception of the texts and images of ancient greece (4535 words)
The figures are varied in terms of their status (servants of the royal house or strangers); where they come from (inside the palace or outside, from the wings); when in the play they appear (as early as the first episode, as late as the last).
Hyllus' narrative in the Trachiniae brings about Deianira's suicide as that of the angelos brings about Eurydice's in the Antigone; both women depart the stage in silence, and in both cases the silence is remarked upon by the chorus.
The superfluity of markers in the Trachiniae (announcement, garland, use of words) might be explained in terms of the need to distinguish between the amateur angelos and the professional herald Lichas who enters shortly after him, and/or in terms of the importance of information and narrative in that play as a whole.
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