Places: The Women of Trachis

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: Trachinai, c. 435-429 b.c.e. (English translation, 1729; Pound’s translation, 1954)

First produced: Trachinai, 435-429 b.c.e.

Type of work: Drama

Type of plot: Tragedy

Time of work: Antiquity

Asterisk denotes entries on real places.

Places DiscussedHerakles’ house

Herakles’ Women of Trachis, Thehouse (HEHR-uh-kleez). Home of Herakles, for which Sophocles uses a set with dramatic effectiveness: When Deianeira learns that the robe she gave to Heracles as a love charm actually causes irrevocable pain and burning, she rushes into the house without saying a word. A few moments later her nurse emerges to report and lament Deianeira’s suicide.


*Trachis (tray-KEHS). City on a high plain northwest of Thermopylae in the central Greek region of Locris. More remote and less bustling than the earlier homes of Herakles (Thebes and Mycenae), Trachis is where Herakles had hoped to retire in relative solitude.

*River Evenos

*River Evenos. River in central Greece; it is not shown on stage, but in the prologue Deianeira reenacts an incident that occurred at the river years earlier, when Herakles took her home as his bride and came to the river. There, the centaur Nessus offered to ferry Deianeira across then return for Herakles. Instead, Nessus tried to molest Deianeira in midstream, and Herakles shot him from the shore with his bow. Between the description of this incident and that of Herakles’ battle with a river god, images of rivers dominate this tragedy, pervading the mental, if not the physical setting.

BibliographyBowra, C. M. Sophoclean Tragedy. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1967. Includes a chapter on each of the seven plays by Sophocles. Discusses the themes and the motives and conflicts of the characters in The Women of Trachis. Explains the plot and gives several lines in the original Greek; includes many lines in English translation.Kirkwood, Gordon MacDonald. A Study of Sophoclean Drama. Vol. 31 in Cornell Studies in Classical Philology. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1958. Analysis of Sophocles’ structures and methods of dramatic composition. Considers The Women of Trachis in context with the other plays of Sophocles for characterization, irony, illustrative forms, use of diction, and oracles.Scodel, Ruth. Sophocles. Boston: Twayne, 1984. Synopsis of The Women of Trachis. Consideration of other works which may have influenced Sophocles. Discusses the structure and the mythological gods and oracles. Includes information on the seven plays by Sophocles, a chronology of Sophocles, a bibliography, and an index.Seale, David. Vision and Stagecraft in Sophocles. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982. Distinguishes Sophocles from other playwrights of his time and demonstrates his influence on later ones. An excellent starting point. Considers the theatrical technicalities in the Sophoclean plays. Contains an extended section on The Women of Trachis and a long section of notes following it.Segal, Charles. Tragedy and Civilization: An Interpretation of Sophocles. Cambridge, Mass.: Published for Oberlin College by Harvard University Press, 1981. Treats all the plays of Sophocles. Considers the Odyssean themes in The Women of Trachis. Follows and elaborates on the plot and possible meanings.
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