32 pages 1 hour read


Women of Trachis

Fiction | Play | Adult | BCE

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Character Analysis


Heracles’ wife, Deianeira is portrayed living in Trachis as a guest while he travels around Greece completing his labors. It is implied that she has been waiting patiently and loyally through many returns and departures. When the play opens, she hopes that her husband will return home and stay, having completed his tasks, yet she also fears that something will prevent his return.

Though Heracles won her by competing against another suitor, Achelous, Deianeira is depicted as loving her husband. Sophocles describes Deianeira struggling to accept having to share her husband with Iole. She does not want to blame either Iole or Heracles, as she recognizes the hands of Love and Fate in their meeting. At the same time, she is distraught and voices her dismay that Heracles has not taken her feelings into consideration.

Though she claims that she accepts her circumstances, she attempts to twist events in her favor, using what she thinks is a love potion to rekindle Heracles’ affections. Instead, she brings about the realization of her own fear: She becomes the obstacle to Heracles’ successful return and the instrument through which his fate is sealed: He is released from his labors because he is released from life.