Women of Trachis
|Women of Trachis|
Hercules on his funeral pyre by
|Chorus||Women of Trachis|
Women of Trachis is generally considered to be less developed than Sophocles' other works, and its dating has been a subject of disagreement among critics and scholars.
The story begins with
Unable to cope with the thought of her husband falling for this younger woman, she decides to use a love charm on him, a magic potion that will win him back. When she was younger, she had been carried across a river by the
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. He 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
Deianeira feels enormous shame for what she has done, amplified by her son's harsh words, 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. Hyllus explains the truth, and Heracles realizes that the prophecies 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, which Hyllus 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.