SOPHOCLES' TRACHINIAE: LESSONS IN LOVE Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • In 1936, T. B. L. Webster argued that Sophocles' Trachiniae has strong allusions to Aeschylus' Agamemnon, particularly in the characters of Deianeira and Clytemnestra. Once identified, it is easy see: each kills her husband as he returns from battle, and in each case the death contains an element of entrapment. Heracles' poisoned robe indeed seems deliberately to reflect the famous net used to entrap Agamemnon: Heracles' description of it (οἷον τόδ᾽ ἡ δολῶπις Οἰνέως κόρη / καθῆψεν ὤμοις τοῖς ἐμοῖς Ἐρινύων / ὑϕαντὸν ἀμϕίβληστρον, ‘…this woven garment of the Erinyes which the treacherous daughter of Oineus fastened on my shoulders’; Trachiniae 1050–2) is similar to Aegisthus' words near the end of Agamemnon (ἰδὼν ὑϕαντοῖς ἐν πέπλοις Ἐρινύων / τὸν ἄνδρα τόνδε κείμενον ϕίλως ἐμοί, ‘…seeing this man lying in robes of the Erinyes, to my joy’; 1580–1). Even if the direct verbal allusion fails to resonate with an audience, it seems unlikely, given the high level of audience competence, that audience members would not make the thematic connection. It is almost impossible to deny, therefore, that in Deianeira Sophocles was writing a deliberate response to Clytemnestra and contrasting the accidental murder caused by a loving wife with the carefully planned murder by a bitter wife.

publication date

  • April 2015