Women of Trachis


Women of Trachis is a Greek tragedy, one of Sophocles' (c. 496 BCE - c. 406 BCE) lesser-known works, the only one that does not deal with the aftermath of the Trojan War, rather it is concerned with the death of the Greek hero Heracles (or Hercules). As with many of the tragedies of the time, the audience was quite familiar with the story of Heracles, his wife Deianira, and his eventual demise on a funeral pyre atop Mt. Octa. In this version of the story, Heracles is away from his home in Trachis. Deianira, concerned for her long-absent husband, sends their son Hyllus in search of him. A messenger appears with news of Heracles' defeat of King Eurytus and sack of Oechalia. Shortly afterwards, the herald Lichas arrives with a number of female prisoners, among them the beautiful Iole, daughter of King Eurytus, the concubine of Heracles. Mistakenly believing it would rekindle his love for her, Deianira sends her husband a robe soaked in the blood of the centaur Nessus. Unfortunately, the robe proves to be fatal and Heracles returns home in agony, dying. When she learns the truth of the poisonous robe, Deianira commits suicide. As he lies dying, Heracles begs his son Hyllus to burn his body atop Mt. Octa and marry Iole.

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