32 pages 1 hour read


Women of Trachis

Fiction | Play | Adult | BCE

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Lines 497-820Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Lines 497-662 Summary

The Chorus sings of Aphrodite’s power and asks which “trained fighters” entered the contest to marry Deianeira (112). Achelous came first, then Heracles challenged him; Aphrodite served as referee. They fought violently to win Deianeira.

Deianeira enters carrying a box and confides to the Chorus her sorrow at being asked to share her marriage with a younger woman and her plan for relief. Many years ago, a centaur called Nessus sexually assaulted her, and Heracles shot him with a poisoned arrow. As he lay dying, Nessus told her to collect the blood from his wound to use as a love potion should Heracles ever stray, but she must protect it from the sun and heat.

The box Deianeira holds contains a robe rubbed with Nessus’ blood that she plans to send to Heracles. She asks the Chorus if they agree with her plan, and they reply that they trust her judgment. They agree to keep the plan secret, and Deianeira passes the box to Lichias to deliver to Heracles.

The Chorus instructs all to listen as they sing a song for Heracles, who has been rewarded with trophies for his excellence. Deianeira had wept for him, fearing he was dead, but Ares has freed her from pain.