It has been the fortune of the Trachiniae to provoke
Divergent views of the Trachiniae. Difficulty of judging it rightly.
a singular diversity of judgments. Dissen and Bergk refer the play to a period when the powers of Sophocles were not yet fully matured1. Bernhardy regards it as a mediocre production of declining age2. Schlegel, in his Lectures on Dramatic Literature, goes further still; he pronounces the piece unworthy of its reputed author, and wishes that the responsibility for it could be transferred from Sophocles to some feebler contemporary,—his son, for instance, the ‘frigid’ Iophon3. Yet there has never been a lack of more favourable estimates. In the very year when Schlegel was lecturing at Vienna (1808), Boeckh pointed out the strong family likeness between this and the other six plays4; Jacob A. made a direct reply to Schlegel's censures5; and Godfrey Hermann said that, whatever faults the work might have, at any rate both the spirit and the diction were unmistakably those of Sophocles6. During the last half century, with the growth of a better aesthetic criticism in relation to all things Hellenic, a sense of the great beauties in the Trachiniae has decidedly prevailed over the tendency to exaggerate its defects; indeed, the praise bestowed upon it, in these latter days, has sometimes perhaps been a little too indiscriminate. The play is in fact an exceptionally difficult one to appreciate justly; and the root of the difficulty is in the character of the fable. A necessary prelude to the study of the Trachiniae is to consider the form in which the Heracles-myth had been developed, and the nature of the materials available for the dramatist.

The Heracles myth.— Argive legends.

The Argive legends are those which best preserve the primitive Dorian conception of Heracles. They are alloyed, indeed, with later elements, of a political origin. Thus, in order that the Dorian conquerors might have some hereditary title to the land, Heracles was made the son of Alcmena, and, through her, a scion of the Perseidae; Tiryns was his heritage, of which he had been despoiled. Again, the struggles between Argos and Sparta for the headship of Peloponnesus have a reflex in those wars which the Argive Heracles wages in Elis or Messenia. But, when such elements have been set aside, there remains the old-Dorian hero, slayer of monsters, purger of the earth, who triumphs over the terrors of Hades, and brings the apples of immortality from the garden of the Hesperides.

We do not know exactly when the ‘twelve labours’ of Heracles became a definite legend. The earliest evidence for it is afforded by the temple of Zeus at Olympia, about 450 B.C. The twelve labours were there portrayed on the metopes,—six on those of the western front, and six on those of the eastern. All the twelve subjects are known from the existing remains7. The list agrees, in much the larger part, with twelve labours enumerated by the Chorus in the Hercules Furens of Euripides8, a play of which the date may be placed about 421—416 B.C. Neither list knows any places, outside of Peloponnesus, except Crete and Thrace; nor does either list recognise any of those later myths in which Heracles symbolises the struggles of Argos with Sparta. In both lists the journey to the Hesperides has lost its original meaning,—the attainment of immortality,—since it precedes the capture of Cerberus. These are some reasons for thinking that a cycle of twelve labours had become fixed in Dorian legend long before the fifth century B.C.9 The Dorians of Argclis were those among whom it first took shape, as the scenes of the labours show. But nothing is known as to the form in which it first became current.

One thing, however, is plain. Although the twelve tasks are more or less independent of each other, the series has the unity of a single idea. Heracles is the destroyer of pests on land and sea, the saviour of Argolis first and then the champion of humanity, the strong man who secures peace to the husbandman and an open path to the sailor: with his club and his bow, he goes forth against armed warriors, or monsters of superhuman malignity, reliant on his inborn might, and conscious of a divine strain in his blood. This is no Achilles, no image of that chivalry which Aeolian legend had delineated and Ionian poetry adorned; no steeds, swift as the wind, bear his chariot into battle; no panoply of bronze, wrought by Hephaestus, flashes on him, ‘like the gleam of blazing fire, or of the sun as it arises’: in the gentle graces of human existence, in the softer human sympathies, he has no portion; no music of the lyre soothes his rest in the camp; he has never known such tears as came into the eyes of the young Achaean warrior, when the aged king of Troy, kneeling at his feet, kissed the hand that had slain Hector; nor has he anything of that peculiar pathos which is given alike to Hector and to Achilles by the dim presage of an early doom, the uncertain shadow which now and again flits across the meridian of their glory; the golden scales, lifted in the hand of Zeus, have never trembled with the fate of Heracles, for his destiny was fixed before his birth, and is inseparable from his origin,—that he must toil while he lives, and must live until his task has been accomplished. He embodies a sterner ideal; one in which there is less of spiritual charm and of flexible intelligence, but which has a moral grandeur of its own; we might say that relatively to the Ionian view of life it is as the Hebraic ideal to the Hellenic. And this ideal may rightly be called ‘Dorian,’ in the sense that it presumably represents a conception of the primitive Dorian folk, bearing a general stamp which can be traced in historical expressions of the Dorian nature.

That conception appears in only two other sets of legends besides the Argive. And these belong to near kinsmen of the Dorian stock, the Boeotians and the Thessalians.

Boeotian legends.
The Boeotian legends concern the birth, childhood, and youth of Heracles. Argive tradition claimed his manhood; and this claim could not be ignored. Nor was it disputed that he sprang from the Argive Perseidae. The Boeotians sought only to reconcile his Argive lineage with a belief that he was born at Thebes. Alcmena, his mother, is the daughter of Electryon, king of Mycenae: she is betrothed to her firstcousin Amphitryon, son of Alcaeus, king of Tiryns. Amphi tryon accidentally kills his uncle, Electryon, and flies, with Alcmena, to Thebes. She requires him, as the condition of their union, to avenge her on the Taphii in western Greece, who have slain her brothers. He sets forth from Thebes to do so. Just before his triumphant return, Zeus visits Alcmena in his likeness, and becomes the father of Heracles. Amphitryon was originally a Theban hero; but the Thebans made him an Argive in order that they might make Heracles a Theban. The name ‘Heracles’ is itself a proof that Argive legend was predominant enough to extort such a compromise. Hera was the goddess of the pre-Dorian Argos. The story of her hatred towards the Dorian Heracles expressed the hostility of her worshippers to the Dorian invaders. But, when the Dorians had conquered, their legendary champion came to be called “Ἡρακλῆς”, ‘the glorified of Hera’; not in the sense that he had won fame by surmounting her persecutions, or through her final reconciliation to him in Olympus; but in the sense that he was the pride of the city which, though it had changed its earthly masters, was still Hera's—the now Dorian Argos. The old story of her spite against him lived on in poetry, but it had lost its first meaning. It is recorded that an earlier name of ‘Heracles’ had been ‘Alcaeus,’ ‘the man of might’; and traces of this lingered in Boeotia10.

There, too, as in Argolis, the myth is blended with facts of local warfare; Heracles fights for Thebes against the Minyae of Orchomenus. But the true Dorian Heracles is seen in other parts of the Theban story,—as when he strangles the snakes in his cradle, and slays the lion of Cithaeron. His last act at Thebes is that which he does in the madness sent on him by Hera,—the slaughter of the children borne to him by Megara, daughter of Creon. This Theban tradition was another compromise with Argive legend, which claimed his best years for the twelve labours. How, then, was he to be severed from Thebes, the home of his youth? He must be forced to fly from it, as blood-guilty—the guilt being excused by Hera's visitation. Further, Thebes had to account for the non-existence of Theban nobles claiming a direct descent from him. Therefore he slew his Theban children.

Thessalian legends.
Lastly, there are the Thessalian legends. These belong especially to Trachis, the chief town of Malis, and to the neighbouring region of Mount Oeta. Here, too, there is an element of disguised history; Heracles is the friend of Dorians; he works for the honour of Apollo, the god of the Thessalo-Delphic amphictyony; he conquers aliens, like Cycnus, or establishes good relations with them, as with the Trachinian king Ceÿx. But the spirit of an older conception animates one part of the Thessalian legend,—the hero's fiery death on the summit of Oeta, when Zeus receives him into heaven. The journey to the Hesperides was probably an older symbol of immortality attained after toil; but if that fable has the charm of the sunset, the legend of Oeta has the grandeur of the hills.

These three cycles of myth,—the Argive, the Boeotian, and the Thessalian,—alone reveal the true old-Dorian Heracles. The traditions found elsewhere are either merely local, expressing the desire of particular Dorian communities to link their own deeds with his name, as at Rhodes and Cos; or they show the influence of non-Dorian poets, who altered the original character of the story by interweaving it with other threads of folk-lore. Thus in the Trachiniae the legend of Oeta is combined with legends of Aetolia. We shall understand this process better if we consider the place of Heracles in that portion of Greek literature which precedes the rise of Attic drama.

The Homeric poems contain only incidental allusions
Heracles in the Homeric poems.
to Heracles, who is associated with the generation before the Trojan war. We hear that he was born at Thebes, being the son of Zeus and Alcmena. His life-long foe, the goddess Hera, defrauded him of his inheritance, the lordship of Argos, by ensnaring Zeus into a promise that this dominion should be held by Eurystheus11. Heracles performed labours (“ἄεθλοι”) for Eurystheus, whose commands were brought by the herald Copreus: but only one of these tasks is specified,—viz., the descent in quest of ‘the dog of Hades12.’ Apart from the ‘labours’ proper, some other exploits of the hero are mentioned. He delivered Laomedon, the father of Priam, from the seamonster (“κῆτος”) sent by the angry gods; and, when the false king withheld the due reward, he sacked Troy. Returning thence, he was driven by storms to Cos13. Further, he made war on Pylos, killing the Neleidae, Nestor's brethren, and wounding the immortals, Hera and Hades, who opposed him14. Under his own roof he slew his guest Iphitus; but no motive is assigned by the Homeric poet. The victim's father, Eurytus, king of Oechalia (in Thessaly), is not attacked or killed by Heracles; he is more quietly despatched by Apollo, who is jealous of his skill in archery15. The Homeric weapon of Heracles is the bow; there is no mention of the club. His Homeric wife is Megara, daughter of Creon. Finally he dies, ‘subdued by fate and by the wrath of Hera16.’ There is no hint of his apotheosis, except in one passage, which clearly bewrays interpolation17.

The parts of the Homeric epics in which these allusions occur are of various ages; and the allusions themselves are derived from various regions,—Argos, the western Peloponnesus, Boeotia, Thessaly, the Dorian colonies in Asia Minor. Several of the passages have a more or less intrusive air; one18, at least, has manifestly been adapted to the Iliad from some epic<*> which Heracles was a principal figure. Speaking generally, we may say that in the Iliad and the Odyssey the Dorian hero is a foreign person.

But this negative result is not the only one which the Homeric notices suggest. They make us feel how difficult it would have been for epic poetry, working in the Homeric spirit, to treat the story of Heracles as a whole. His acts are too incoherent to derive a properly epic unity from his person,— such an unity as the Odyssey, for example, derives from the person of Odysseus. The original Dorian legend of Heracles had, indeed, the unity of a moral idea; but that is not enough for an epic.

The Heracleia of Peisander.

Little is known of the efforts made to solve this poetical problem. The Dorian Peisander, of Cameirus in Rhodes, is named as the author of an epic poem on Heracles, a Heracleia19. He seems to have confined himself to the ‘labours’ which Heracles performed for Eurystheus; and he was the first poet, we are told, who gave Heracles the lion's skin and the club20. Peisander is usually placed about 650 B.C.; but, according to one view, that date is too early21. In the Alexandrian age he enjoyed a high repute.

The Ionian Panyasis22 of Halicarnassus, circ. 480 B.C., also

The Heracleia of Panyasis.
composed a Heracleia, in no less than fourteen books. He took a wider range than Peisander's, and aimed at a comprehensive digest of all the principal legends concerning Heracles. Merits of style and arrangement made him popular; but he did not reach the Homeric level, or work in the Homeric spirit23. Possibly his large composition, with its survey of heroic deeds in many lands, may have borne some analogy to the great proseepic of his younger kinsman, Herodotus. That kinship interests us here, since it increases the probability that the epic of Panyasis may have been known to the author of the Trachiniae.

But to minds in sympathy with Homeric epos it would be evident that there was another way of dealing with the theme of Heracles; a way different from that of Peisander, and still more different from that of Panyasis. Some one episode might be singled out from the mass of legends, and developed by itself, as an epic on a small scale. Hesiod and the Hesiodic school worked thus; they produced, for instance, the Marriage-feast of Ceÿx, relating how Heracles was entertained by that king of Trachis; the Aegimius, turning on the league of Heracles with that Dorian prince; and the extant Shield of Heracles, concerning his fight with Cycnus.

The Capture of Oechalia.
A notable epic of this class was the Capture of Oechalia, “Οἰχαλίας ἅλωσις”, ascribed to the Ionian Creophylus of Samos, whom tradition called the friend, or even the son-in-law, of Homer24. An epigram of Callimachus25 attests the fame of this poem, which was probably as old at least as the eighth century B.C., and must have had the genuine ring of Homeric epos. The subject was the passion of Heracles for Iolè, and the war which, in order to win her, he made on Oechalia, the city of her father Eurytus, which was placed, as by Sophocles, in Euboea. It is not, known whether this epic introduced Deianeira, the envenomed robe, and the hero's death on Mount Oeta26. But in any case it must have been one of the principal sources from which Sophocles derived his material.

Lyric poets on Heracles. Archilochus.

Lyric poetry also, from an early time, had been busied with these legends. The Ionian Archilochus (circ. 670 B.C.) composed a famous hymn to the victorious Heracles. It was known as the “καλλίνικος27, and was a counterpart, at the Olympian games, of ‘See, the conquering hero comes,’—being sung at the evening procession in honour of a victor, if no special ode had been written for the occasion. But it was in the choral form, a distinctively Dorian creation, that lyric poetry rendered its loftiest
tributes to the son of Alcmena. Stesichorus of Himera, a city in which Dorian and Chalcidic elements were blended, gave the spirit of Homeric epos to his choral hymns (circ. 620 B.C.). Into this new mould he cast three exploits of Heracles,—the triumphs over Geryon, Cycnus, and Cerberus28. Pindar's range of allusion
covers almost the whole field of the hero's deeds; but it is in the first Nemean ode that the original significance of the legend is best interpreted. When the infant has strangled the snakes sent by Hera, the Theban seer Teiresias predicts his destiny; how he shall destroy ‘many a monstrous shape of violence’ on land and sea; subdue the men ‘who walk in guile and insolence’; beat down the Earth-born foes of the gods; and then, for recompense of his great toils, win everlasting peace in the blest abodes, and, united to Hebè, ‘dwell gladly in the divine home of Zeus29.’

For readers of the Trachiniae this lyric literature has one

Deianeira associated with Heracles.
point of peculiar interest. It is there that we can first trace the association of Heracles with Deianeira. The Dorian Heracles had no original connection with the old heroic legends of Aetolia. The stamp of those legends, and their relation to others, indicate that they come from a pre-Dorian time, when Calydon and Pleuron, surrounded by fertile lands and blooming vineyards, were the strongholds of a chivalry devoted to war and to the chase; a chivalry from which popular tradition derived the images of Deianeira, of her parents Oeneus and Althaea, and of her brother Meleager. The story that Heracles had married Deianeira expressed the desire of immigrants, who had displaced the old Aetolian order, to claim kinship with the Dorian invaders of Peloponnesus.

Pindar, in a lost poem,—of what class, is unknown,—told the story somewhat as follows30. Heracles, having gone down to Hades for Cerberus, there met the departed Meleager, who recommended his sister Deianeira as a wife for the hero. On returning to the upper world, Heracles went at once to Aetolia, where he found that Deianeira was being wooed by the river-god Acheloüs. He fought with this formidable rival,—who wore the shape of a bull,—and broke off one of his horns. In order to recover it, Acheloüs gave his conqueror the wondrous ‘cornucopia’ which he himself had received from Amaltheia, daughter of Oceanus. Heracles presented this, by way of “ἕδνα” or ‘brideprice,’ to Oeneus31, and duly received the hand of the king's daughter.

Long before Pindar, Archilochus had related how Heracles overcame the tauriform suitor32, and won the fair maiden; how, after their marriage, Heracles and Deianeira dwelt with Oeneus at Calydon, until they were obliged to leave the country, because Heracles had accidentally slain the king's cupbearer; and how, at the river Evenus, the Centaur Nessus offered insult to the young wife, and was slain by her husband33. It may be added that the prose mythographer Pherecydes (circ. 480 B.C.) had told the story of Deianeira34. His birthplace was the island of Leros, near Miletus; but his home was at Athens, and his work, it can hardly be doubted, was known to Sophocles.

Heracles in drama.

Such, then, was the position of the Heracles-myth at the time when Attic Tragedy was advancing to maturity. This legend had become the common property of Hellas; and its primitive meaning had been, to a great extent, overlaid by alien additions or embellishments. Particular episodes had been successfully treated in epic poetry of the Homeric or Hesiodic school, and also in lyrics, both Ionian and Dorian. But the whole legend had not been embodied in any poem which took rank with the foremost creations of the Greek genius.

As a person of drama, Heracles made his first appearance in Comedy. It was the Dorian Epicharmus who, in the first half of the fifth century B.C., thus presented the Dorian hero to Syracusan audiences. One of the pieces concerned Heracles in quest of the Amazon's girdle; another dealt with his visit to the jovial Centaur Pholos35. The Dorians of Sicily, though Dorian to the backbone in most things, had a strain of humour and vivacity which tempered the seriousness of their race; in this instance, it was much as if an Irish dramatist of English descent had applied a similar treatment to St George and the dragon.

That Ionians should feel the grotesque side of Heracles, was natural enough. Aristophanes tells us that this hero had become a stock-character of Attic comedy, and claims credit for having discarded him:—

‘It was he that indignantly swept from the stage the paltry ignoble device ‘Of a Heracles needy and seedy and greedy, a vagabond sturdy and stout, ‘Now baking his bread, now swindling instead, now beaten and battered about36.’

Several comedies on Heracles are known by their titles, or

by fragments. His powers of eating and drinking seem to have furnished a favourite point. He also figured much in satyrdrama,—a kind of entertainment which welcomed types of inebriety. Sophocles himself wrote a Heracles at Taenarum,—a satyr-play on the descent to Hades for Cerberus,—in which the Chorus consisted of Helots37. His contemporaries, Ion of Chios, and Achaeus, wrote each a satyr-play called Omphalè, depicting Heracles in servitude to the Lydian task-mistress. In Ion's piece, he performed prodigies with a ‘triple row of teeth,’ devouring not merely the flesh prepared for a burnt-offering, but the very wood and coals on which it was being roasted38. Even in the Alcestis, we remember, the inevitable moment arrives when this guest, too hospitably entertained, fills the house with ‘discordant howls39.’

Recollecting such traditions of the theatre, we cannot
wonder if Tragedy was somewhat shy of Heracles. At the best, the legend was difficult to manage,—even more difficult for tragic drama than for epic narrative. And the difficulty was greatly increased, now that the essential difference between this hero and the ordinary persons of tragedy had been brought into relief by frequent burlesques.

Aeschylus, indeed, in the Prometheus Unbound, introduced Heracles, who loosed the bonds of Prometheus; and then Prometheus described the route by which his deliverer must journey from the Caucasus to the Hesperides40. It was a harder matter to take the legend of Heracles as the basis of a tragedy. There are only two such experiments of which we have any clear or definite knowledge. One is the Mad Heracles of Euripides. The other is the Trachiniae of Sophocles.

The Mad Heracles of Euripides.
Euripides has taken his subject from the Boeotian legend. Heracles, visited with madness by Hera, slays his children,—in whose fate the Attic poet involves Megara, probably because, with his plot, it was not easy to dispose of her in any other way. Now, as we saw, this Theban story was framed to explain why Heracles, in early manhood, forsook Thebes for Argolis. The murder is discordant with the general tenour of the Heracles myth, and the discord is but thinly concealed by the resort to Hera's agency. For Euripides, however, this very discord was an attraction. It allowed him, by a bold change of detail, to put a new complexion on the whole story. That change consisted in placing the terrible deed of Heracles not before, but after, his labours for Eurystheus.

The plot is briefly as follows. Heracles has long been absent from Thebes, toiling for Eurystheus; and it is known that he is now engaged in the supreme ordeal,—the quest of Cerberus. Meanwhile a certain Lycus from Euboea becomes master of Thebes, and slays Creon. Megara, her three sons, and the aged Amphitryon, are also doomed by him. They are about to die, when Heracles suddenly returns from the nether world, and kills Lycus. He then holds a sacrifice, to purify the house. While engaged in it, he is stricken with madness. He slays Megara and his children. On recovering his senses, he resolves to commit suicide. But Theseus appears,—the king of Athens whom Heracles has just delivered from Hades. Theseus combats his resolve, offering him an honourable refuge in Attica. Heracles at last accepts the offer, and departs with his friend.

This, then, is the goal of the great career; this is the result of the strength given by a divine sire, and spent in benefiting men. The evil goddess of Heracles triumphs utterly; at the very moment when his labours are finished, and when, as the old faith taught, his reward was near, he is plunged into an abyss of misery. He passes from our sight, to hide the remainder of his days in the seclusion of a land not his own. Yet, even in this extremity, he has given a proof of strength; he has had the courage to live. He has taught us that, though the mightiest human efforts may end in outward failure, yet no man, if he be true to himself, need suffer moral defeat. Zeus has been faithless to his human son, and Hera's infra-human malevolence has prevailed; but one consolation for humanity remains.

Such is the new reading of the Heracles myth which Euripides has propounded; with admirable power and subtlety, though scarcely with complete artistic success. His interpretation, though full of a deep suggestiveness, is, in fact, too modern for the fable on which it is embroidered.

There is no external evidence for the date of the Mad
The Trachiniae of Sophocles.
Heracles; but internal evidence tends to show that the play probably belongs to the years 421—416 B.C.41 The date of the Trachiniae is also unattested. But some traits of the work itself appear to warrant us in placing it among the later productions of the poet42; if rough limits are to be assigned, we might name the years 420 and 410 B.C. It has been held that the bold example of Euripides, in making Heracles the subject of a tragedy, induced Sophocles to do likewise43. As to this view, we can only say that it is quite possible, but that there is absolutely no proof of it. On the other hand, one thing is certain: the Trachiniae exhibits a conception and a treatment fundamentally different from those adopted in the Mad Heracles.

Two principal elements enter into the mythic material used

The two mythic elements.
by Sophocles. The first is the Aetolian legend of Deianeira, whom Heracles rescues from Acheloüs, and in whose defence he slays the Centaur Nessus. This part of the subject had been treated by Archilochus and Pindar. The second element is the Thessalian legend which set forth the love of Heracles for Iolè,—his murder of Iphitus, leading to his servitude under Omphalè,—his capture of Oechalia,—and his death upon Mount Oeta. Here the epic Capture of Oechalia was presumably the chief source. Pherecydes and Panyasis were also available. Hesiodic poems, such as the Marriage-feast of Ceÿx, may have supplied some touches. Ionof Chios, too, had written a drama called Eurytidae44, but its scope is unknown. Nor can we say whether Sophocles was the first poet who brought the Aetolian and the Thessalian legend into this connection.

The Argive and Boeotian legends are left in the background of the Trachiniae; they appear only in a few slight allusions. But, if we are to read the play intelligently, the drift of these allusions must be understood. We must endeavour to see how Sophocles imagined those events of his hero's life which precede the moment at which the play begins.

Later digests of the Heracles legends.
Later mythographers, such as Apollodorus and Diodorus, sought to bring a fixed chronology into the chaos of legends concerning Heracles. They framed a history, which falls into six main chapters, thus:—(1) The Theban legends of the hero's birth and growth. (2) The Argive legends of the twelve labours. (3) The legends concerning Eurytus, Iolè, Iphitus, and Omphalè. (4) Campaigns against Troy, Cos, Peloponnesian foes of Argos, and the Giants. (5) The Aetolian legends: Deianeira, Acheloüs, Nessus. (6) The legends of South Thessaly: Ceÿx of Trachis, Aegimius, etc.; the capture of Oechalia; and the pyre on Oeta.

Freedom of the fifth century poets.
But, in the fifth century B.C., poets were as yet untrammelled by any such artificial canon. They could use the largest freedom in combining local legends of Heracles, so long as they were careful to preserve the leading features of the myth. We have seen that Euripides, when in his Mad Heracles he placed the madness after the labours, was making an innovation which deranged the whole perspective of Theban and Argive legend; so much so, that the Alexandrian mythographers, deferential to the Attic dramatists in much, never followed Euripides in that.

Sophocles has made no change of similar importance. Yet

Sequence of events in the Trachiniae.
his way of arranging the fable differs in one material respect from that of the later compilers. They, as we have seen, place the marriage of Heracles with Deianeira very late in his career— after his labours for Eurystheus, and after most of his other deeds also. Sophocles puts the marriage much earlier,—so early, that Deianeira speaks as if it had preceded most, or all, of the hero's labours. Sophocles could do this, because he felt himself free to ignore the Theban legend of the hero's marriage to Megara. And he certainly was not alone in thus differing from the later mythographers. Pausanias mentions a tradition at Phlius, according to which Heracles had already won his Aetolian bride when he went for the golden apples45. And Pherecydes represented Heracles as having at first asked Iolè's hand, not for himself, but for Hyllus—his son by Deianeira46.

The outline of the whole story, as Sophocles conceived
The antecedents of the plot.
it, can now be traced with clearness sufficient, at least, to explain the hints scattered through the play.

1. Heracles is born at Thebes (v. 116), and comes thence (v. 509), in early manhood, to Pleuron, where he wins Deianeira. We are not told whither he was taking his bride, when they met Nessus (v. 562). Since Megara is ignored, there is nothing to exclude the supposition that he was returning to his home at Thebes.

2. Constrained by Hera's wrath, he performs the labours for Eurystheus (v. 1048). The home of his family is now at Tiryns.

3. He visits Eurytus at Oechalia in Euboea (v. 262); who discountenances his passion for Iolè (v. 359)47.

4. He goes on various campaigns, including that against the Giants (1058 ff.).

5. He slays Iphitus (the son of Eurytus), who was then his guest at Tiryns. The lapse of some considerable time since his visit to Eurytus is implied by the word “αὖθις” (v. 270).

Heracles, with Deianeira, his children, and his mother Alcmena, is now forced to leave Tiryns. They are given a new home at Trachis by its king, Ceÿx (v. 38).

6. As a punishment for the treacherous murder of Iphitus, Zeus dooms Heracles to serve Omphalè, in Lydia, for a year (v. 274). Heracles goes forth from Trachis, leaving his family there (v. 155). They do not know his destination. During his absence, some of his children return with Alcmena to Tiryns; others are sent to his old home at Thebes (1151 ff.).

7. The year with Omphalè being over, he sacks Oechalia (v. 259).

We are now prepared to follow the plot of the drama itself.

Analysis of the play. I. Prologue: 1—93.

The scene is laid before the house at Trachis.

Deianeira is alone with a female slave, an old and attached domestic, who has been the nurse of her children. Communing with her own thoughts, rather than directly addressing her attendant, the wife of Heracles recalls the sorrows which have been her portion from youth upwards,—culminating now in a terrible anxiety concerning her absent lord. It is fifteen months since he left home; but no tidings have come from him. And she feels almost sure that something is amiss, when she thinks of a certain tablet which he left with her...

Here the aged Nurse ventures to interpose. Deianeira has several sons; why should not one of them,—Hyllus, for example, the eldest,—go in search of his father?

Just then Hyllus himself is seen approaching, and in haste; for he has news to tell. Heracles is, or soon will be, in Euboea, warring against Oechalia, the city of Eurytus. During the past year he has been in servitude to Omphalè, a Lydian woman.

Deianeira then tells her son the purport of the tablet to which she had previously alluded. It contains an oracle, which shows that this war in Euboea must decide the fate of Heracles; he will die; or he will thenceforth live in peace.

Hyllus at once resolves to join his father in Euboea, and departs for that purpose.

The Chorus now enters: it consists of fifteen Trachinian maidens, full of kindly sympathy for the Aetolian princess

Parodos: 94—140.
whom a strange destiny has brought to dwell among them. Invoking the Sun-god, they implore him to reveal where Heracles now is. Deianeira, they hear, is pining inconsolably. Fate vexes, while it also glorifies, her husband; but he is not suffered to perish. Let her keep a good courage: sorrow comes to all mortals, but joy also, in its turn; and Zeus is not unmindful of his children.

Deianeira sadly replies that the young maidens cannot

II. First episode: 141—496.
measure such trouble as hers; may they ever be strangers to it! But they shall know her latest and worst anxiety. When Heracles left home, he told her that, if he did not return at the end of fifteen months, she must account him dead. He even explained how his property was to be divided in that event. But, if he survived the fifteenth month, then he would have a peaceful life. Such was the teaching of an oracle which he had written down at Dodona. And the fulfilment of that oracle is now due ...

A Messenger is seen coming; the wreath on his head betokens glad tidings. Heracles lives, is victorious, and will soon come home. Lichas, the herald, has already arrived; but the excited Trachinians, thronging around him, have retarded his progress towards the house.

With an utterance of thanksgiving to Zeus, Deianeira calls upon the maidens of the Chorus and the maidens of her own household to raise a song of joy.

The Chorus respond with a short ode, in the nature of a


Before it ceases, Lichas is in sight; a train of captive Euboean women follows him.

In reply to the eager questions of his mistress, Lichas says that Heracles is now at Cape Cenaeum in Euboea, engaged in dedicating a sanctuary to Zeus. These maidens are captives, taken when Oechalia was destroyed: Heracles chose them out ‘for himself and for the gods.’

And then Lichas tells how Heracles has been employed during the past fifteen months; how, for a year, he was the slave of Omphalè; and how, when freed, he avenged that disgrace upon its ultimate author, Eurytus. Heracles himself, the herald adds, will soon arrive.

Deianeira rejoices, though a shadow flits across her joy as she looks at the ill-fated captives: may Zeus never so visit her children!

Among these captives, there is one who strangely interests her; the girl's mien is at once so sorrowful and so noble. She questions her; but the stranger remains silent. ‘Who is she, Lichas?’ But the herald does not know,—indeed, has not cared to ask. Deianeira then directs him to conduct the captives into the house.

She herself is about to follow him, when the Messenger, who had first announced the herald's approach, begs to speak with her alone.

He tells her that Lichas has deceived her. The mysterious maiden is no other than Iolè, the daughter of Eurytus. A passion for Iolè was the true motive of Heracles in destroying Oechalia. Eurytus had refused to give him the maiden. Lichas himself had avowed this to the Trachinians.

Lichas now re-enters, to ask for Deianeira's commands, as he is about to rejoin his master in Euboea. Confronted with the Messenger, and pathetically adjured by Deianeira, he confesses the truth. Heracles has an absorbing passion for Iolè; and, indeed, he gave no command of secrecy. But Lichas had feared to pain his mistress: let her pardon him; and let her bear with Iolè.

Deianeira requests Lichas to accompany her into the house. He is to take a message from her to Heracles, and a gift.

First stasimon: 497—530.
In the ode which follows, the Chorus celebrates the resistless power of Love,—the power which now threatens Deianeira's peace, and which, in long-past days, brought Heracles to contend for her with Acheloüs. The short but vivid picture of that combat has a singular pathos at this moment of the drama.

III. Second episode: 531—632.
Deianeira reappears. She has had time now to feel what it will be to live under the same roof with the young and beautiful girl to whom her husband has transferred his love; but she harbours no angry or cruel thoughts. Her sole wish is to regain the heart of Heracles. And a resource has occurred to her. Long ago, when Heracles was taking her from Aetolia, they came to the river Evenus, where the ferryman, the Centaur Nessus, carried her across. He insulted her, and Heracles shot him with an arrow. As he lay dying, he told her that, if she wished to possess a love-charm by which she could always control the love of Heracles, she had only to collect some of the blood from his wound. She had done so, and had preserved her treasure, according to the Centaur's direction, in a place secluded from the warmth of sun or fire. She had now applied this lovecharm to the inner surface of a festal robe, which she will send as her gift to Heracles. She brings with her a casket, in which she has placed the robe.

Lichas appears, ready to depart, and receives the casket, sealed with Deianeira's signet. She had vowed, she tells him, to send her lord this robe, whenever she should hear of his safety, in order that he might wear it on the day when he made a thank-offering to the gods. Therefore Heracles must not put it on, or produce it, before that day.

The herald promises fidelity, and departs.

In a joyous strain, the Chorus express their bright hope.

Second stasimon: 633—662.
The dwellers on the coasts and hills of Malis will soon welcome the long-absent hero; and he will come home full of rekindled love for his true wife.

But Deianeira now returns to them in an altered mood. A

IV. Third episode: 663—820.
strange thing has happened. In applying the love-charm to the robe, she had used a tuft of wool, which she had then thrown down in the courtyard of the house. After a short exposure to the sun's heat, this tuft of wool had shrivelled away, leaving only a powder. And she remembers that the arrow which slew Nessus was tinged with a venom deadly to all living things. She fears the worst. But she is resolved that, if any harm befalls Heracles, she will not survive him.

The Trachinian maidens are speaking faint words of comfort, when Hyllus arrives from Euboea.

He denounces his mother as a murderess. He describes how Heracles, wearing her gift, stood forth before the altar; how, as the flames rose from the sacrifice, the robe clung to him, as if glued, and spasms began to rend his frame; how, in the frenzy of those awful agonies, he slew Lichas; and how, at last, he was laid in a boat, and conveyed to the shore of Malis. He will soon be at the house,—alive, or dead.

The son ends with terrible imprecations on his mother. She goes into the house without a word.

Third stasimon: 821—862.
‘Behold,’ cry the Chorus, ‘how the word of Zeus has been fulfilled; for the dead do indeed rest from labour.’ The malignant guile of Nessus has found an unconscious instrument in Deianeira. And the goddess Aphroditè has been the silent handmaid of fate.

V. Fourth episode: 863—946.
A sound of wailing is heard within: the aged Nurse enters. Deianeira has slain herself with a sword; bitterly mourned, now, by her son Hyllus, who has learned, too late, that she was innocent.

Fourth stasimon: 947—970.
The Trachinian maidens, afflicted by this new calamity, are also terrified by the thought that they must soon behold the tortured son of Zeus. Footsteps are heard; men, not of Trachis, are seen approaching, the mute bearers of a litter: is Heracles dead, or sleeping?

VI. Exodos: 971— 1278.
As the mournful procession enters, Hyllus, walking beside the litter, is giving vent to his grief, while an old man, one of the Euboeans, is vainly endeavouring to restrain him, lest his voice should break the sick man's slumber.

Heracles awakes. At first he knows not where he is; then his torments revive, and he beseeches the bystanders to kill him; he craves that mercy from his son; he appeals for it to Zeus and to Hades. And then, in a moment of respite, his thoughts go back on his past life,—so full of suffering, yet a stranger to such anguish as this; so full of victories, and yet doomed to end in this defeat at the unarmed hand of a false woman.

A pause permits Hyllus to announce his mother's death, and to assert her innocence. In using the supposed love-charm, she was obeying the dead Nessus.

Those words send a flash of terrible light into the mind of Heracle<*>. The oracle at Dodona had foretold the time of his ‘release.’ A still earlier oracle had foretold the manner of his death; namely, that he was to be slain by the dead. The time and the agency coincide. This, then, was the promised ‘release.’ The oracles are fulfilled. He sets himself to prepare for death, —now seen to be inevitable and imminent.

He commands that he shall be carried to the summit of Mount Oeta, sacred to Zeus, and there burned alive. Hyllus is constrained to promise obedience,—making, however, the condition that he himself shall not put hand to the pyre48. A second behest is then laid upon him. He shall marry Iolè. In this also he is forced to yield,—calling on the gods to witness that he submits to a dying father's inexorable will.

All has now been made ready. Heracles summons the forces of that ‘stubborn soul’ which must upbear him through the last of his ordeals. In the words which close the play, Hyllus gives utterance to the deepest and bitterest of the feelings inspired by his father's cruel fate. Heracles dies forsaken by Zeus. For here, as in the Iliad, there is no presage of his reception among the gods.

The bearers lift their burden, and set forth for Oeta; while the maidens of the Chorus pass from the house of mourning to their own homes in Trachis.

In the first and larger part of the play, Deianeira is the
The characters.— Deianeira.
central figure, as Heracles is in the second part. The heroine of the Trachiniae has been recognised by general consent as one of the most delicately beautiful creations in literature; and many who feel this charm will feel also that it can no more be described than the perfume of a flower. Perhaps in the poetry of the ancient world there is only one other woman who affects a modern mind in the same kind of way,—the maiden Nausicaa. We do not know how Deianeira may have been drawn by Archilochus or Pindar; but at least there are indications that the Deianeira of the old Aetolian legend was a being of a wholly different type from the Sophoclean. After her story had become interwoven with that of Heracles, her name, “Δηϊάνειρα”, was explained to mean, ‘the destroyer of a husband.’ But, in the pre-Dorian days when Aetolian legend first knew her, and when she had as yet nothing to do with Heracles, ‘Deianeira’ meant ‘the slayer of men’; it denoted an Amazonian character,—just as the Amazons themselves are called “ἀντιάνειραι”. A true bred princess of Aetolia, the land of warriors and hunters, this daughter of Oeneus ‘drove chariots, and gave heed to the things of war49’; her pursuits were like those which employed ‘the armed and iron maidenhood’ of Atalanta.

How great a contrast to the Deianeira whom Sophocles has made immortal! She, indeed, is a perfect type of gentle womanhood; her whole life has been in her home; a winning influence is felt by all who approach her; even Lichas, whose undivided zeal is for his master, shrinks from giving her pain. But there is no want of spirit or stamina in her nature. Indeed, a high and noble courage is the very spring of her gentleness; her generosity, her tender sympathy with inexperience and misfortune, are closely allied to that proud and delicate reserve which forbids her—after she has learned the truth about Iolè—to send any messages for her husband save those which assure him that her duties have been faithfully fulfilled, and that all is well with his household. From youth upwards she has endured constant anxieties, relieved only by gleams of happiness,—the rare and brief visits of Heracles to his home. She is devoted to him: but this appears less in any direct expression than in the habitual bent of her thoughts, and in a few words, devoid of conscious emphasis, which fall from her as if by accident. Thus the precepts of Nessus had dwelt in her memory, she says, ‘as if graven on bronze.’ And why? Because they concerned a possible safeguard of her chief treasure. Staying at home, amidst her lonely cares, she has heard of many a rival in those distant places to which Heracles has wandered. But she has not allowed such knowledge to become a root of bitterness. She has fixed her thoughts on what is great and noble in her husband; on his loyalty to a hard task, his fortitude under a cruel destiny: of his inconstancies she has striven to think as of ‘distempers,’ which love, and the discipline of sorrow, have taught her to condone.

But at last the trial comes in a sharper form. After protracted suspense, she is enraptured by tidings of her husband's safety; and almost at the same moment she learns that his new mistress is henceforth to share her home. Even then her sweet magnanimity does not fail. Strong in the lessons of the past, she believes that she can apply them even here. She feels no anger against Iolè, no wish to hurt her; nay, Iolè is rather worthy of compassion, since she has been the innocent cause of ruin to her father's house.

In these first moments of discovery, the very acuteness of the pain produces a certain exaltation in Deianeira's mind. But, when she has had more time to think, she feels the difference between this ordeal and everything which she has hitherto suffered. She is as far as ever from feeling anger or rancour. But will it be possible to live under the same roof, while, with the slow months and years, her rival's youth grows to the perfect flower, and her own life passes into autumn? Thinking of all this, she asks—not, ‘Could I bear it?’—but, ‘What woman could bear it?’

She, whose patient self-control has sustained her so long, has come to a pass where it is a necessity of woman's nature to find some remedy. Neither Iolè nor Heracles shall be harmed; but she must try to reconquer her husband's love. Having decided to use the ‘love-charm,’ she executes the resolve with feverish haste. The philtre is a last hope—nothing more. With visible trepidation, she imparts her plan to the Chorus. The robe has just been sent off, when an accident reveals the nature of the ‘love-charm.’ ‘Might she not have surmised this sooner,’ —it may be asked,—‘seeing from whom the gift came?’ But her simple faith in the Centaur's precepts was thoroughly natural and characteristic. Her thoughts had never dwelt on him or his motive; they were absorbed in Heracles. Now that her hope has been changed into terror, she tells the maidens, that, if Heracles dies, she will die with him. In the scene which follows, she speaks only once after Hyllus has announced the calamity, and then it is to ask where he had found his father.

Her silence at the end of her son's narrative,—when, with his curse sounding in her ears, she turns away to enter the house,— is remarkable in one particular among the master-strokes of tragic effect. A reader feels it so powerfully that the best acting could scarcely make it more impressive to a spectator. The reason of this is worth noticing, as a point of the dramatist's art. When Hyllus ends his speech, we feel an eager wish that he could at once be made aware of his mother's innocence. The Chorus gives expression to our wish:—‘Why dost thou depart in silence?’ they say to Deianeira: ‘Knowest thou not that thy silence pleads for thine accuser?’ And yet that silence is not broken.

There is one famous passage in Deianeira's part which has provoked some difference of opinion; and as it has a bearing on the interpretation of her character, a few words must be said about it here. It is the passage in which she adjures Lichas to disclose the whole truth regarding Iolè. He need not be afraid, she says, of any vindictiveness on her part, towards Iolè or towards Heracles. She knows the inconstancy of the heart, and the irresistible power of Erôs; has she not borne with much like this before50? According to some critics, she is here practising dissimulation, in order to draw a confession from Lichas; her real feeling is shown for the first time when, a little later, she tells the Chorus that the prospect before her is intolerable (v. 545). This theory used to derive some apparent support from an error in the ordinary texts. The lines, or some of them, in which the Messenger upbraids Lichas with his deceit, were wrongly given to Deianeira,—as they are in the Aldine edition. Hence La Harpe could describe the whole scene thus:—

‘Deianeira, irritated, reproaches Lichas with his perfidy; she knows all, and will have him confess it; we hear the cry of jealousy; she becomes enraged; she threatens. Then she pretends to calm herself by degrees; ‘she had resented only the attempt to deceive her; for, in fact, she is accustomed to pardon her husband's infidelities.’ In the end, she manages so well that Lichas no longer feels bound to conceal a fact which after all,—as he says,—his master himself does not conceal51.’

It is now generally recognised that Deianeira says nothing between verse 400 and verse 436: the angry altercation is between Lichas and the Messenger. It would still be possible, however, to hold that, in her speech to Lichas, she is artfully disguising her jealousy. But surely there is a deeper truth to nature in those noble lines if we suppose that she means what she says to Lichas just as thoroughly as she means what she afterwards says to the Chorus. Only, when she is speaking to Lichas, she has not yet had time to realise all that the new trial involves; she overrates, in all sincerity, her own power of suffering. If, on the other hand, her appeal to him was a stratagem, then true dramatic art would have given some hint, though ever so slight, of a moral falsetto: whereas, in fact, she says nothing that is not true; for she does pity Iolè; she has borne much from Heracles; she does not mean to harm either of them. This is not the only instance in which Sophocles has shown us a courageous soul, first at high pressure, and then suffering a reaction; it is so with Antigone also, little as she otherwise resembles Deianeira52.

The Heracles of the Trachiniae may be considered in
two distinct aspects,—relatively to that conception of the hero which he represents, and relatively to the place which he holds in the action of the play.

In the first of these two aspects, the most significant point is the absence of any allusion to the hero's apotheosis. He is the son of Zeus; but the ‘rest from labour’ which Zeus promised him is, in this play, death, and death alone. Here, then, we have the Homeric conception of Heracles. And this is in perfect harmony with the general tone of the Trachiniae. The spirit in which the legend of Heracles is treated in this play is essentially the epic spirit.

But if the very soul of the old Dorian tradition—the idea of immortality crowning mortal toil—is wanting, at least some archaic and distinctive traits of the Dorian hero have been preserved. One of these has perhaps not been noticed; it illustrates the poet's tact. In the legends of south Thessaly, Heracles had come to be much associated with Apollo. Yet in the Trachiniae there is but one mention of Apollo,—where the Chorus briefly invokes him (v. 209). Throughout the play, Zeus is the god of Heracles, the ruler of his destiny, the sole recipient of his offerings. Nor is Delphi ever named; Heracles receives oracles either directly from Zeus, or from the interpreters of Zeus at Dodona. This is thoroughly true to the spirit of the myth; and it is probable that the Dorian conception of Heracles was, in fact, older than the Dorian cult of Apollo53. The archaic conception of the hero's mission is also preserved in its leading features; he is the purger of land and sea, the common benefactor of Hellenes, who goes uncomplainingly whithersoever his fate leads him. Conscious of his origin, he fears no foe, and is stronger than everything except his own passions. He has a Dorian scorn for lengthy or subtle speech (1121). It is bitter to him that sheer pain should force him to cry aloud: and he charges Hyllus that no lament shall be made by those who stand around his pyre. All this is in the strain of the old legend. One small touch recalls, for a moment, the Heracles of the satyr-plays (v. 268, “ἡνίκ᾽ ἦν ᾠνωμένος”). On the other hand, the Omphalè incident, one of their favourite topics, is touched with delicate skill: Sophocles alludes only to the tasks done for her by the hero, as a punishment imposed by Zeus; there is no hint of sensuous debasement; and it is seen that the thrall was stung by his disgrace, even though that feeling was not the mainspring of his war upon Oechalia.

The Heracles of the Trachiniae is thus not merely a hero of tragedy, who might equally well have been called, let us say, Ajax. He has a stamp of his own; he can be recognised as the hero of the Dorians.

When, however, he is considered under the second of the two aspects indicated above,—that is, relatively to his place in the action of the play,—there is more room for criticism. During the first two-thirds of the piece, our interest is centred in Deianeira. The sympathy which she wins is complete; she passes from the scene, broken-hearted, innocent, silent; and presently we hear the news of her death. Meanwhile, we have been rather prepossessed against Heracles; he is a great hero; but his conduct to this brave, devoted, gentle wife has been what, in another than the son of Zeus, might be called brutal; and let no one too hastily assume that such a feeling is peculiar to the modern mind; it would probably have been shared, at least in a very large measure, by the poet's Athenian audience.

So, when, in the last third of the play, this hero at length appears, unstrung and shattered by physical torment,—helpless in the meshes of fate,—when we listen to his pathetic laments, and to that magnificent recital of his past achievements which ends with the prayer that he may live to rend his false wife in pieces;—then we feel, indeed, all that is pitiable and terrible in this spectacle: but are there not many readers who, if they carried the analysis of their own feelings any further, would have to avow that the contemplation of his suffering and the thought of his past greatness leave them comparatively cold? Presently he learns that Deianeira was innocent, and that she is dead; but he utters no word in revocation of his judgment upon her,—no word of affection for her memory: he merely averts all his thoughts from her, and concentrates them on the preparation for death. It is not enough to plead that any softening would be out of keeping with the situation or with the man; we do not require him to be tender, but to be human. From a dramatic point of view, the fault is that he misses his chance of removing a great impediment to sympathy.

The Deianeira of the Trachiniae is dramatically effective in the very highest degree,—in a manner almost unique; the Heracles of the Trachiniae, though grandly conceived, falls short of being perfectly effective; and he does so, because he has to follow Deianeira. In a piece of which the catastrophe was to turn on the poisoned robe, and which was to end with the death of Heracles, that hero himself ought to have been the principal object of interest throughout. The artistic unity of the tragedy demanded this. But the Heracles of Dorian legend, even when treated as mortal, is still no typical human being; he is at once above and below the noblest type of man. If, therefore, Heracles was truly to dominate the scene, it was requisite that the pathos of this unique being should not have to compete with the deepest pathos of humanity. For, in such a competition, the purely human interest, if fully developed by a great master, could not but prove the stronger, as being, in its essence, more tragic. And therefore there was only one way to secure a paramount effectiveness for the Heracles of the Trachiniae. It was to place Deianeira more in the background; to make her also a less noble figure; to qualify her graces of character with some less attractive features; and, on the other hand, to bring out, in the amplest and most powerful manner, everything that is sublime and pathetic in the great hero's destiny.

In pointing out what seems to me the one serious defect of the Trachiniae, a remark should be added. It is easy to believe that, on the stage, the Heracles part would be far more effective than it is for readers. ‘As a representation of the extremity of a hero's suffering, this scene stands preeminent among all tragedies. Let Salvini act the hero, and its power would instantly be recognised.’ That was the opinion of an accomplished judge in such matters, the late Mr Fleeming Jenkin54; and I, for one, certainly should not dispute it. The intrinsic merits of the Heracles part are great; and a Salvini, or even an actor who was not quite a Salvini, could, no doubt, make the spectacle most impressive. But, even if he could make it absorbing—so that we should think only of what was passing before our eyes, and not at all of what had gone before in the play, the episode of Deianeira—that might be merely an instance of theatrical effect prevailing over the dramatic conscience. It would not necessarily prove that the tragedy, viewed as a work of art,—and therefore viewed as a whole,—was not really liable to the criticism suggested above. However effective the Heracles scene might be on the stage, I cannot help suspecting that an attentive spectator, in full sympathy with the spirit of the best Greek work, would be apt to feel, at the end, that he had seen two tragedies; one, which closed with the death of Deianeira, and was of consummate excellence; then a second and shorter one, most pathetic, most powerful in its own way, but produced at a moral disadvantage. Yet, if this be indeed so, there is one consolation. A gain to the effect of the Heracles would have been dearly bought by any detriment to the unsurpassable beauty of the Deianeira.

Among the secondary parts, that of Hyllus has an im-
portance which might easily be undervalued. It is he who most vividly expresses the twofold aspect of Deianeira's action in sending the robe; the aspect which it wears for one who has seen only its dreadful result, without knowing its motive; and that which it assumes in the light of fuller knowledge. The first aspect is brought out when Hyllus describes the agonies of Heracles, and invokes a curse upon his mother; the second when, having learned her innocence and having stood beside her corpse, he has to listen to his father's denunciations of her—so like those which he himself was lately uttering—until a pause permits him to vindicate her memory. This frank, impulsive youth is warmly loyal to both parents; to the gentle and dearly loved mother, whom he mourns too late; and to the father, ‘the noblest man upon the earth,’ whose hard commands he obeys to the end, although those commands challenge a revolt of filial, even of natural, instincts,—seeming to him, indeed, almost like the promptings of Atè. Thus, under that dark shadow, pierced by no ray from above, which rests upon the close of the drama, this thrice-tried son calls the gods to witness that his own will has been overruled. With bitter anguish in his heart, he sees his father abandoned, as men must deem, by heaven; he is no longer the buoyant youth of the opening scene, but a man who must now take up the burden of a great inheritance, that Hyllus whom a grave and warlike race were to honour as the father of their kings, the ancestor of the Dorian Heracleidae.

The minor persons are portrayed with care and ani-
The minor persons.
mation. Lichas is, before all things, the faithful henchman of Heracles; but, like every one else, he feels the charm of Deianeira, and is feebly anxious to spare her feelings. His well-meant attempt is somewhat maladroit, since he has already been so communicative to her neighbours; but we remark the ingenuity of the poet, who has here utilised the varying traditions as to the motive of the war against Oechalia. Lichas exists only for his master; and there is a tragic fitness in his becoming the first victim of his master's fate. It would be a mistake to conceive his death as a poetical retribution for his duplicity; since, even if he had told the truth at first, Deianeira would still have sent the robe. At worst he is only a rather poor creature, who becomes involved in the doom of his betters.

The Messenger, with his interested zeal, afterwards dignified by his sturdy veracity, combines the traits of two similar persons in the Oedipus Tyrannus,—the Corinthian messenger, and the Theban shepherd who confutes him. The old Nurse, who counsels Deianeira in the first scene, and subsequently relates her death, interprets the affection which her mistress inspired in

The Chorus.
the household. As for the Trachinian maidens of the Chorus, their part is essentially relative to Deianeira; to them she confides her fears, or hopes; their odes reflect her anxieties, her transient joy, and her despair. With her death, their function is virtually at an end; after verse 970, they have only two utterances, both very brief (1044 f.; 1112 f.).

The incident of the robe.

Among the difficulties of detail which the subject presented to a dramatist, not the least was that of the supposed ‘love-charm.’ The operation of the hydra's venom, like that of the poison in the wound of Philoctetes, is supernatural. Since, however, an innocent yet deliberate human agent intervenes between Nessus and Heracles, the poet was compelled to treat the incident with circumstance, and to invest it with just enough probability for the purpose of scenic effect. Sophocles has managed this by a simple but skilful device. He merely makes an assumption which no spectator would pause to examine. ‘The hydra's venom was such that exposure to heat must call it into activity.’ All is then easy. Nessus tells Deianeira that his gift, this infallible love-charm, must be kept in a cool and dark place. She tells us how scrupulously she had observed this rule. She impresses it upon Lichas. The spectator knows that the robe is to be worn for the first time on an occasion of burnt sacrifice; and his anxiety is awakened.

It is interesting to compare this episode with the parallel

Comparison with the Medea.
one in the Medea, where Glaucè, Jason's new bride, is burnt to death by the magic agency of the robe and diadem which Medea, the injured wife, had given her. We see at once that Euripides had a far easier task than Sophocles. No third person, no innocent yet deliberate agent, intervenes between Medea and Glaucè. The gifts come to Glaucè directly from the hands of the mighty enchantress; and they had come to the enchantress from her grandsire, the Sun-god himself.

The garment of Heracles, like that of Glaucè, has naturally

Supposed solar imagery.
been claimed for the wardrobe of the solar myth. It is the glow which enwraps the dawn or the sunset. Then Iolè is ‘the violet cloud’ who is to marry the rising sun (Hyllus), when his precursor (Heracles) has sunk to rest upon a flaming couch. The servitude to Omphalè is the apparent descent of the sun (Heracles) from the zenith to the horizon. Deianeira is the darkness which awaits him in the west. Thus to explain a story of varied human pathos, is at least to begin at the wrong end: it is to suppose myth-makers so intent on the sunrise and the sunset that men and women interested them primarily as symbols of those phenomena. Even the more limited theory, that Heracles was evolved from some older solar divinity, ill agrees with the central point of the fable,—promotion, painfully won, from earth to heaven. Later Greeks identified their Heracles, in certain aspects, with Melkarth, the sun-god of Tyre: some moderns have derived him from Izdubar, the solar hero of ancient Babylon55. In both cases the analogy is confined to details: the essence of the Greek myth remains distinct.

The allusions in the Trachiniae to oracles concerning
The oracles.
Heracles have sometimes been censured as obscure. But they are not really so. Only two oracles are mentioned. (1) One was given to Heracles at Dodona, twelve years before the date at which the play begins, and said that, at the end of twelve years, he should have ‘rest.’ The term of twelve years is mentioned in verses 824 f. (where see the note). (2) The other oracle, noticed only in vv. 1159 ff., was given to Heracles by Zeus himself, at some still earlier moment; but when, and where, we are not told. It concerned the manner of his death; saying that he was to be slain by a dead foe. These oracles have sometimes been regarded as if they formed the only bond which holds the plot together; and it has accordingly been objected to the plot that its unity is of a merely mechanical nature56. The objection is ill-founded. The oracles have, indeed, a dramatic value, but it is of a different and a subordinate kind. At the outset of the play, the oracle concerning the twelve-years' term serves as a motive for anxiety; it announces that some crisis is imminent. Towards the close, the two oracles combined show Heracles that his hour has come.

Dramatic structure.

But the unity of the plot is independent of the oracles. It is effected by the love of Heracles for Iolè, which causes him to destroy Oechalia, and also causes Deianeira to send the robe; thus bringing the two episodes into a strict connection. Professor Campbell is, in my opinion, quite right when he says that ‘in point of dramatic structure the Trachiniae will bear comparison with the greatest of Sophoclean tragedies.’ For, even if, as I hold, the inferiority in dramatic interest of Heracles to Deianeira is such as to constitute a serious defect, this is not a defect of structure. It does not concern the manner in which the plot has been put together. It concerns something antecedent to the plot; namely, the conception of Heracles adopted by the poet, as compared with his conception of Deianeira. Given those two conceptions, the most perfect dramatic structure could not save the interest in Heracles from being overpowered by the interest in Deianeira.

Unity of time neglected.
There is, however, one point in which the texture of the plot is fairly open to criticism, though it is not a point of importance. The ‘unity of time’ has been disregarded with exceptional boldness. Hyllus goes to Euboea, witnesses the sacrifice there, and returns to Trachis, in a space of time measured by less than 700 lines (vv. 93—734). Nay, Lichas, who leaves Trachis at verse 632, had reached Euboea before the sacrifice began. Many other examples show the habitual laxity of Greek dramatists, and the tolerance of Greek audiences, in this particular. But in the Trachiniae the license has a special excuse. Amid the excitement, the alternations of hope and fear, which pervade this play, the action hastens forward in a manner which leaves us no leisure to remark the feats of travelling performed by Hyllus and by Lichas. This is the case even with readers; much more would it be so with spectators. And here we may observe the subtlety of the poet, who has introduced two direct allusions to the passage of time. Lichas, about to start for Euboea, remarks that he has already stayed too long (v. 599); and the Chorus prays that the ship which is bringing Heracles ‘may not tarry’ (v. 655). This is like the art of a diplomatist who diverts suspicion by apparent frankness.

After the two dramas of the Attic masters, Heracles
Seneca's Hercules Oetaeus.
appears only once in the extant literature of ancient Tragedy. Seneca founded his Hercules Furens on the play of Euripides, and his Hercules Oetaeus on the play of Sophocles. It would be profitless to institute a detailed comparison between the Trachiniae and a work which Seneca, in the fashion of his day, composed rather as a rhetorical exercise than as a piece for the stage. Those who read it, with the Greek model present to their minds, can only wonder how the Roman's brilliant gifts of expression, —which shine in epigram and, at moments, reach a true elevation of sentiment,—could co-exist with such abject tastelessness, such extravagance of bombast, such insensibility to proportion. Yet, in one respect, a comparison is very interesting. If the Phaedra of the Hippolytus has fared ill at Seneca's hands, far worse is the transformation which he has effected in the Deianeira of the Trachiniae. The following lines describe
The Latin Deianeira
Deianeira's behaviour when Iolè first arrives at Trachis:— “Ut fulsit Iole, qualis innubis dies
Purumve claris noctibus sidus micat,
Stetit furenti similis ac torvum intuens
Herculea coniux

57,— like ‘an Armenian tigress,’ the poet adds, or ‘a Maenad shaking the thyrsus.’ Then Deianeira prays Juno to torment Heracles with all imaginable plagues58; and finally avows her own readiness to kill him59. Certainly Seneca has protected our sympathy with the hero from competition; but the hero himself, bragging and whining by turns, fails to profit by that advantage. The Hercules Oetaeus became the model of Rotrou, in his tragedy entitled Hercule Mourant60; and also influenced, in a greater or less degree, several other French dramas on the same theme61. It was inevitable that the Latin writer, rather than Sophocles, should be imitated by a French dramatist of the seventeenth century. Apart from this, however, the Deianeira of Seneca, considered as a general type, would be more truly congenial to the French stage. It was difficult for the Latin races to imagine a woman, supplanted in her husband's love, who did not wish to kill somebody,—her rival, or her husband, or both. Ovid's Deianeira is by no means so bad as Seneca's; but she, too, has the impulse to destroy Iolè62. The Deianeira of the Trachiniae, with anguish in her soul,—intent on regaining her lord's heart, but not angry, not malevolent towards him or towards Iolè,—this Deianeira is a creation of the Hellenic spirit, refined by the sweetness, the purity, the restrained strength of Athens at her best; if any one would see the spiritual kinswomen of this Deianeira, he must look for them on the grave-reliefs of the Cerameicus.

The fable

The wide range of subjects or motives which the Heracles legends gave to Greek art of every period includes, of course, several episodes mentioned in the Trachiniae;—the combat of Heracles with Acheloüs; the death of Nessus; Heracles with the Eurytidae; the death of Iphitus; the servitude to Om phalè63. But, in relation to the legends of Heracles, Attic Tragedy, represented by the Mad Heracles and the Trachiniae, had no direct influence upon art, such as can be traced, for instance, in regard to Philoctetes. For the story of Heracles, artists drew upon other, generally older, sources of poetry or tradition. When, indeed, in Hellenistic and Roman times a degenerate Heracles became the type of a strong man easily enthralled by pleasure, a companion of the Bacchic thiasos or of the Erôtes64, then the art which desired to portray him often went for material to the theatre; but such material was furnished by the Heracles of Comedy or of satyr-drama. It is not surprising, then, that the illustrations of the Trachiniae which Greek art affords are only of a general kind. For example, each of the three successive forms assumed by the Acheloüs of the Trachiniae, when he was a suitor for Deianeira, can be separately identified in works of art65. But, though the fight of Heracles with Acheloüs was a subject often treated by artists, no extant representation of that combat corresponds precisely with the scene as described by Sophocles66.

We have now considered the nature of the legendary
material used in the Trachiniae; the character of the treatment applied to it by the poet; and the principal features of the tragedy viewed as a work of dramatic art. An introduction to this play must also, however, take account of its style in a more limited sense,—the style of its poetical diction, the complexion of the language. For the details of this subject, reference must necessarily be made to the commentary on the text. But a few general observations may properly be offered here.

Successive phases in the style of Sophocles.
It is a well-attested tradition, and one which can still be partially verified, that the style of Sophocles, like that of many other great poets, was developed through successive phases, belonging to successive periods of his life. He himself, according to Plutarch67, distinguished three such phases. In the earliest, he had imitated the majesty, the pomp,—“ὄγκος”,—of Aeschylus. Next came the style which, in Plutarch's notice, is described by the words, “τὸ πικρὸν καὶ κατάτεχνον τῆς αὑτοῦ κατασκευῆς”. This was a style marked by subtle elaboration, and, as a result of it, by “τὸ πικρόν”, ‘pungency,’ ‘incisiveness’; a style in which terse and polished force of expression drove home the ‘sting’ of word or phrase;—as Eupolis,—to borrow an illustration from a different, yet cognate, province,—said that the incisive and highly wrought oratory of Pericles left its ‘sting’ in the minds of those who heard him: “τὸ κέντρον ἐγκατέλιπε τοῖς ἀκροωμένοις”. Such a style, with its affinities to an elevated and refined rhetoric, can be a source of great brilliancy and power in poetry; but its essential quality is not that which constitutes the highest excellence of drama: its defect, for the purposes of drama, is that it is too suggestive of conscious effort in the artist; its tendency is to image his mind somewhat too strongly in the persons whom he wishes to make live upon the scene. Hence we readily comprehend the words in which Sophocles (according to Plutarch) defined the third, the final, phase of his style;—“τὸ τῆς λέξεως εἶδος ὅπερ ἐστὶν ἠθικώτατον καὶ βέλτιστον”: ‘the kind of diction which is most expressive of character, and best’; that is, fittest to make each person of the drama seem a real human being; and best, therefore, for the purposes of a dramatist.

The first of these three phases, the Aeschylean, is not traceable in the extant work of Sophocles. Nor can it be said that any one of the seven tragedies represents the second style in a form which sharply distinguishes it from the third; that is, in a form from which the characteristic quality of the third style is absent. But, if the Philoctetes, one of the very latest plays (409 B.C.), be taken as a standard of comparison, there, at least, is seen the perfection of the third style, the style which is ‘expressive of character’; while there is less of visible and masterful art in language, less of “τὸ πικρὸν καὶ κατάτεχνον”, than appears, for example, in the Antigone.

Nowhere is the poet's ethical portraiture more delicately
Distinctive traits in the diction of the Trachiniae.
vivid than in the heroine of the Trachiniae; and a sympathetic reader will feel that the language given to her might well be called “ἠθικωτάτη λέξις”. It is exquisitely moulded to the expression of her nature. Take, again, the scene where the Messenger, in Deianeira's presence, taxes Lichas with deceit (vv. 393—435). The shades of language most skilfully characterise the three persons,—the gentle but resolute lady; the herald, nervously deferential to her, but angrily assertive of his dignity against his humble cross-examiner, the Messenger; and lastly the Messenger himself, with his traits of blunt or familiar speech68. In this aspect, then, the Trachiniae shows, like the Philoctetes, the full excellence of the third style,—that which is “ἠθικώτατον”, ‘most expressive of character.’

But the Trachiniae combines this ethical charm of style with a highly elaborate manner in a certain class of passages. Every Greek tragedy contains at least one set speech, “ῥῆσις”, of the type usually spoken by a messenger who relates a catastrophe. In such speeches, which were really short excursions of drama into the region of epos, the dramatist was convention ally free to use any measure of rhetorical elaboration, however unsuitable it might be to the person of the speaker; some of the most elaborate “ῥήσεις” are delivered by servants. Now, it is a peculiarity of the Trachiniae that, beside two speeches which are normal examples of this class,—the speech of Hyllus (vv. 749—812), and that of the Nurse (vv. 899—946),—it contains a remarkable number of other passages which are closely akin to that class. Such are the following short narratives;—Lichas recounts the recent deeds of his master (248—290); Deianeira relates her meeting with Nessus (531—587); and describes the occurrence which rouses her fears concerning the ‘love-charm’ (672—722): such, also, is the great speech of Heracles (1046— 1111). Altogether, about one fourth of the play consists of passages which invited or demanded this high elaboration of style, usually reserved for very exceptional moments. It is no accident that the element of narrative in the Trachiniae is so abnormally large; the cause lies in the nature of the fable itself, and is independent of the circumstance that an epic poem, the Capture of Oechalia, was probably one of the chief sources. In narrative or description Sophocles exhibits, as a rule, two characteristics; he is remarkably terse; and he has a bold but artistic originality of phrase, often in a manner which resembles that of Vergil. If the passages just cited from the Trachiniae are compared with their only proper analogues, the set “ῥήσεις” of the poet's other plays, it will be felt that, with allowance for differences of degree, the essential quality of style is the same; the greater frequency of it is the distinction of the Trachiniae. This play, like the Philoctetes, is mainly an example of that Sophoclean manner which tradition calls the third or ripest,—the manner ‘best fitted to express character.’ But, owing to special causes, it also gives striking prominence to the dominant trait of the poet's ‘second’ manner, elaborate and incisive force of phrase,—“τὸ πικρὸν καὶ κατάτεχνον”. This is a peculiar combination of elements; and it tends to make a reader feel that the style of the Trachiniae is somehow, as a whole, unlike the style found in any one of the other six plays. From that feeling, it has been an easy, but hasty, step to the inference that the manner of this play is unworthy of the master; that it shows the immaturity of youth, or the feebleness of age; or even that it is altogether foreign to him, and must have proceeded from some inferior hand69.

The extent to which the Trachiniae shows the influ-
Supposed influence of Euripides.
ence of Euripides has sometimes been exaggerated. Stress has been laid especially on the form of the prologue; Deianeira opens the play with a speech of some length, in which she incidentally relates certain previous events. But here we must distinguish. The prologue of the Trachiniae is Euripidean only in so far as it is partly historical; it is utterly unlike the typical prologues of Euripides in being dramatic. For, in the first place, Deianeira's speech is no soliloquy,—though it is true that she is rather communing with her own thoughts than directly addressing the Nurse; it gives the cue for the Nurse's suggestion that Hyllus should be sent to seek his father, and thus serves to set the drama in motion. Secondly, it is dramatic as illustrating the mind of Deianeira herself,—that mind which is to govern the subsequent action70. Even with regard to this prologue, the inner contrast between the two poets is more significant than the resemblance. Nor can it be said that the general style of the play shows any pervading influence of the supposed kind. There are a few coincidences of phrase between verses of the Trachiniae and verses of Euripides71; but they are trivial; and, even if it were certain that in all of them Sophocles was the debtor, they would merely illustrate a fact which is unquestioned. He was well acquainted with the works of Euripides, and admired them; in his later years, they influenced him in details of language and of versification. But the style of Sophocles, so far as extant work shows, always preserved a thoroughly distinctive character. Certainly the Trachiniae is no exception to that rule; and not merely the style, but the whole mind which appears there, attests the authorship.

1 Dissen, Kleine Schriften, p. 343; Bergk, De Sophoclis Arte, p. 26.

2 Bernhardy, Gk Lit. II. pt ii. p. 375: “‘ein mit mässiger Kunst angelegtes und matt durchgeführtes Werk aus spätem Lebensalter.’”

3 A. W. Schlegel, Lect. VII. All that he says of the Trachiniae is contained in one short paragraph, and the grounds of the condemnation are indicated only in vague terms. ‘There is much both in the structure and plan, and in the style of the piece, calculated to excite suspicion.’ ‘Many critics have remarked that the introductory soliloquy of Deianeira, which is wholly uncalled-for, is very unlike the general character of Sophocles' prologues.’ ‘Although this poet's usual rules of art are observed on the whole, yet it is very superficially; nowhere can we discern in it the profound mind of Sophocles.’ With regard to the prologue—the only passage which Schlegel specifies—some remarks will be found below, § 22.

4 A. Boeckh, Graecae trag. princip., c. xi. p. 137 (referring to the Electra and the Trachiniae): “tantum cum ceteris similitudinem habent ut nefas esset de auctore dubitare.’

5 A. L. W. Jacob, Sophocleae quaestiones, vol. I. p. 260 (1821).

6 G. Hermann, Preface to the Trachiniae, p. vi:Ego quidem, quomodo qui Sophoclem cognitum habeat, an genuina sit haec fabula dubitare possit, non video. Nam quae duae res in poesi maxime produnt a quo quid scriptum sit, ingenium poesis et dictio, eae ita sunt in hac fabula eaedem atque in ceteris, ut miraturus sim, si quis proferat aliquid, quod alienum ab Sophocle iudicari debeat.’

7 The subjects of the western metopes, in order from left to right, were: (1) Nemean lion: (2) Lernaean hydra: (3) Stymphalian birds: (4) Cretan bull: (5) Ceryneian hind: (6) Hippolytè's girdle. Those of the eastern metopes were: (1) Erymanthian boar: (2) Mares of Diomedes: (3) Geryon: (4) Atlas and the Hesperides: (5) Augean stables: (6) Cerberus.—Treu, Ausgrabungen zu Olympia, iv. c. 4: W. Copland Perry, Greek and Roman Sculpture, ch. xxi. pp. 225 ff.

8 Eur. H. F. 359—429. The exploits there enumerated are:—(1) Nemean lion: (2) Centaurs: (3) Ceryneian hind: (4) Mares of Diomedes: (5) Cycnus: (6) Hesperides: (7) Sea-monsters: (8) Relieving Atlas as supporter of the heavens: (9) Hippolytè's girdle: (10) Lernaean hydra: (11) Geryon: (12) Cerberus. No. 2 in this list,—the fight with the Centaurs at Pholoè,—was merely an episode in the “ἆθλος” of the Erymanthian boar, the first subject of the eastern metopes at Olympia. Hence the list of Euripides has really nine “ἆθλοι” in common with the temple. The three “ἆθλοι” peculiar to the temple are, Stymphalian birds, Cretan bull, and Augean stables; instead of which Euripides has, Cycnus, Sea-monsters, Relief of Atlas. An express mention of the number twelve, as the fixed limit to the series of “ἆθλοι”, occurs first in Theocr. 24. 81, “δώδεκά οἱ τελέσαντι πεπρωμένον ἐν Διὸς οἰκῆν” | “μόχθους”.

9 Preller (Gr. Myth. II. 186) adopts the view that the number of twelve labours had probably been first fixed by Peisander, in his epic “Ἡράκλεια”, circ. 650 B.C. (cp. below, § 4). Wilamowitz, Heracles, vol. I. p. 308, regards the cycle of twelve labours rather as the invention of some Dorian poet of Argolis,—perhaps of Mycenae,—who lived not later than the 8th century B.C., and of whose work no trace remains.

10 Dion Chrysost. or. 31 (p. 615 Reiske) “ἐν γοῦν Θήβαις Ἀλκαῖος ἀνάκειταί τις, ὃν Ἡρακλέα φασὶν εἶναι, πρότερον οὕτω καλούμενον”. Preller (II. p. 180) quotes the inscription shown in a Farnesian relief on the tripod which Amphitryon dedicated, in his youthful son's name, to the Ismenian Apollo at Thebes: “Ἀμφιτρύων ὑπὲρ Ἀλκαίου τρίποδ᾽ Ἀπόλλωνι”. Sextus Empir. Adv. dogm. 3. 36 gives a like inscription, also connecting it with a Theban “ἀνάθημα”. Diodorus (4. 10) ascribes the change of the hero's name to the Argives: “Ἀργεῖοι...Ἡρακλέα προσηγόρευσαν, ὅτι δἰ Ἥραν ἔσχε κλέος, πρότερον Ἀλκαῖον καλούμενον”. According to the popular tradition, this change of name was prescribed by the Delphic oracle, when the hero went thither for purification, after the slaughter of his children at Thebes. (Apollod. 2. 4. 12: Aelian V. H. 2. 31.) “Ἀλκείδης” was probably a gentilician name, rather than a patronymic in the narrower sense, as Wilamowitz remarks ( I. Eur. Her.p. 293), adding that “Ἀλκαῖος”, the father of Amphitryon, ‘was not invented to explain “Ἀλκείδης”,’ since in that case the form would have been “Ἀλκεύς”. But Pindar, at any rate, seems to have been thinking of “Ἀλκαῖος”, father of Amphitryon, when he wrote “Ἡρακλέης, σεμνὸν θάλος Ἀλκαι:δᾶν” (O. 6. 68). And on the other hand Suidas, s. v.Ἀλκείδης” has “Ἀλκέως γὰρ παῖς Ἀμφιτρύων”.—A similar name to “Ἀλκαῖος” was “Ἀλκάθοος”, a Megarian hero analogous to Heracles. Cp. also “Ἀλκμήνη”.

11 Iliad 19. 95—136.

12 Labours for Eurystheus, Il. 8. 363, Od. 11. 622: Copreus, Il. 15. 639: ‘the dog of Hades’ (first called Cerberus in Hes. Th. 311), Il.8. 368.

13 The “κῆτος”, Il.20. 144—148: sack of Troy Il., 5. 638—642: Cos Il., 15. 28.

14 War against Pylos, Il.11. 690—693: wounding of Hera and Hades Il., 5. 392—397.

15 Iphitus, Od.21. 22—30: Eurytus Od., 8. 223—228.

16 The bow, Il.5. 393, Od.8. 225 Od., 11. 607: Megara, Od.11. 269: Death of Heracles, Il. 18. 117—119.


τὸν δὲ μετ̓ εἰσενόησα βίην Ἡρακληείην,
εἴδωλον, αὐτὸς δὲ μετ̓ ἀθανάτοισι θεοῖσι
τέρπεται ἐν θαλίῃς καὶ ἔχει καλλίσφυρον Ἥβην,
[ παῖδα Διὸς μεγάλοιο καὶ Ἥρης χρυσοπεδίλου.]
ἀμφὶ δέ μιν κλαγγὴ νεκύων ἦν οἰωνῶν ὥς

, κ.τ.λ. The second and third of these verses (602, 603) were rejected by Aristarchus (schol. on Od. 11. 385, with Dindorf's note, ed. 1855). The fourth verse (604) seems not to have been read by Aristarchus, nor by the schol. on v. 385. It is identical with Theog. 952. Onomacritus, the diaskeuast in the time of Peisistratus, was credited with the interpolation of vv. 602, 603, acc. to schol. Vindob. 56 (quoted by Merry ad loc.). Such a tradition at least suggests that the interpolation was preAlexandrian and presumably It Attic. is probably by a mere confusion that schol. H on 604 (ap. Dindorf) speaks as if verse 604, and it alone, had been inserted by Onomacritus.

18 I refer to Il.19. 95—136, where see Leaf's note. The episode occurs in a speech of Agamemnon, who, contrary to Homeric usage, quotes the very words spoken by the gods. Elsewhere it is only the inspired poet himself who reports Olympian speech.

19 Bernhardy, Gr. Lit. vol. II. pt 1, p. 338, collects the principal notices of Peisander.

20 See n. on Philoctetes 727. The club was no doubt an original trait of the old Dorian legend.

21 The 20th epigram of Theocritus is an inscription in hendecasyllables for a Rhodian statue of Peisander, who, with respect to the deeds of Heracles, is called “πρᾶτος τῶν ἐπάνωθε μουσοποιῶν”. Wilamowitz ( I. Eur. Her.p. 309), acknowledging the genuineness of the epigram, nevertheless suggests that the name of Peisander may have been a mere invention of the Asiatic Dorians in the 3rd cent. B.C., and holds that the “Ἡράκλεια”. ascribed to him was not older than the 6th cent. B.C. According to Theocritus, Peisander described Heracles “τὸν λεοντομάχαν, τὸν ὀξύχειρα,...χὥσους ἐξεπόνασεν εἶπ᾽ ἀέθλους”.

22 The penultimate syllable of this Carian name is probably long; another, perhaps more correct, form of it was “Πανύασσις”. Little weight can be attached to the fact that Avienus, writing about 370 A.D. , has Panyăsi at the beginning of a hexameter (Arat. Phaen. 175).

23 See the testimonies in Bernhardy, Gr. Lit. II. pt 1, p. 340.

24 Welcker, Der epische Cyclus, pp. 21 2 ff.: Bernhardy, Gk Lit. II. pt 1, p. 252.

25 Epigr. 6:Κρεωφύλου πόνος εἰμί, δόμῳ ποτὲ θεῖον Ὅμηρον δεξαμένου: κλαίω δ᾽ Εὔρυτον, ὅσσ᾽ ἔπαθεν, καὶ ξανθὴν Ἰόλειαν: Ὁμήρειον δὲ καλεῦμαι γράμμα: Κρεωφύλῳ, Ζεῦ φίλε, τοῦτο μέγα”.

26 That the Capture of Oechalia ended with the pyre on Oeta, and the apotheosis, is Welcker's view (Cyclus, p. 233). He remarks that the hero of a Cyclic poem was often raised to immortal bliss at the end,—as Amphiaraus in the Thebais, Achilles in the Aethiopis, Menelaus in the Nostoi, Odysseus in the Telegonia. The apotheosis of Heracles has already a place in the Theogony of Hesiod, vv. 950—955. The war against Oechalia may possibly have been, as Welcker suggests, the subject of the “Ἡράκλεια” ascribed to Cinaethon of Lacedaemon (8th cent. B.C.?) by schol. Apoll. Rhod. I. 1357, where it is cited with reference to Trachis; but this is pure conjecture.

27 In Pindar Ol. 9. 2καλλίνικος τριπλόος”, since the burden was thrice repeated. Bergk, Poet. Lyr. II. p. 418 (4th ed.).

28 Bergk, Poet. Lyr. III. p. 207.

29 Pind. Nem. 1. 60—72.

30 Schol. on Iliad 21. 194. The schol. on Il.8. 368 probably has the same passage in view when he quotes Pindar as saying that Cerberus had a hundred heads.

31 Strabo 10, p. 458..

32 Schol. Il. 21. 237.

33 Schol. Apoll. Rhod. 1. 1212: Dion Chrys. or. 60.

34 This appears from schol. Apoll. 1. 1213 (frag. 38 of Pherecydes in Müller, Frag. Hist. I. p. 82): and might have been inferred from the reference of Pherecydes to Hyllus (schol. Trach. 354, fr. 34 ap. Müller).

35Ἡρακλῆς ἐπὶ τὸν ζωστῆρα”: “Ἡρακλῆς παρὰ Φόλῳ”. Cp. Bernhardy, Gk Lit. II. pt 2, p. 529.

36 Pax 741 ff., translated by Mr B. B. Rogers.

37 Nauck, Trag. Frag. p. 178 (2nd ed., 1889).

38 For the “Ὀμφάλη” of Achaeus, see Nauck op. cit. p. 754: for that of Ion, p. 735, esp. fragments 28, 29, 30.

39 Eur. Alc. 760ἄμουσ᾽ ὑλακτῶν”.

40 Strabo 4, p. 183.

41 Wilamowitz, Eur. Her.vol. I. pp. 340 ff.

42 See below, §§ 21, 22.

43 Wilamowitz, op. cit. p. 383.

44 Nauck, Trag. Frag. p. 734.

45 Paus.2. 13. 8.

46 Schol. Trach.354.

47 The oblique “ῥαίοιτο” in v. 268 leaves an ambiguity. If the word used by Eurytus to Heracles was “ἐρραίου”, the labours for Eurystheus were over. But if it was “ῥαίει”, they were still in progress. The second supposition gives more force to the passage.

48 The office of kindling the pyre was performed by Philoctetes; see on Ph.802 f.

49 As Apollodorus says of her, 1. 8 § 1: “αὐτὴ δὲ ἡνιόχει καὶ τὰ κατὰ πόλεμον γ̓́σκει”.

50 Vv. 436—469.

51 Quoted, with approval, by M. Patin, Études sur les tragiques grecs, vol. 11. p. 72.

52 See Introduction to the Antigone, p. xxx.

53 Apollo is the chief god of the Dorians in the historical age; and O. Müller (Dor., bk 11.) regards him as having been so before they left their earliest seats in northern Greece. On the other hand Wilamowitz (Eur. Her. 1. p. 265) holds, with greater probability, that the adoption of the old Hellenic Apollo by the Dorians dated only from the time when, moving southward, they became masters of Delphi.

54 Papers Literary, Scientific, etc., by the late Fleeming Jenkin, F.R.S., LL. D., p. 23. (Longmans, 1887.)

55 This view is sensibly rejected by MeyerE. , Geschichte des Alterthums (Stuttgart, 1884), p. 185.

56 Wilamowitz, Eur. Her. 1. p. 384: “‘das drama nur kümmerlich durch orakelsprüche zu einer äusserlichen einheit zusammengehalten wird.’”

57 Herc. Oet. 238 ff.

58 Herc. Oet. 255 ff.

59 Ib. 436.

60 Published in 1632. Rotrou gave Heracles a successful rival in the affections of Iolè, a certain Arcas. The dying hero forbade Iolè to marry Arcas; but, after his apotheosis, he showed his magnanimity by descending from Olympus on purpose to revoke the veto.

61 M. Patin, Etudes sur les trag. grecs, vol. II. p. 89.

62 Ovid Met. 9. 151.

63 See Roscher's Lexicon der gr. und röm. Mythologie, where, under ‘Herakles,’ the illustrations of the fable in art are fully treated by FurtwA. ängler. He recognises Iphitus on a vase in the Louvre (no. 972), where Heracles is hurling a man from a “κλίνη”, apparently during a meal (p. 2233). Cp. Hom. Od.21. 28: Heracles, in slaying Iphitus, “οὐδὲ θεῶν ὄπιν ᾐδέσατ̓, οὐδὲ τράπεζαν” | “τὴν δή οἱ παρέθηκεν”. Sophocles follows the version according to which Iphitus was hurled from a high wall or tower ( Soph. Tr.273).—There is no certain example of Omphalè in art before the Hellenistic period (ib. p. 2234: cp. p. 2247).

64 See Furtwängler, ap. Roscher, p. 2248.

65 See commentary on v. 11.

66 The nearest approach to an illustration of the poet's text is given by an archaic gem, now in the British Museum, first published (roughly) in King's Ancient Gems, II. pl. 34, fig. 3. Mr Murray S. has kindly given me an impression of it. Yet even this diverges from Sophocles in three particulars. (1) On the gem, Acheloüs is the man-headed bull,—a frequent type, but not one of those specified by the poet. (2) Deianeira stands lamenting, close to the combatants; whereas the poet describes her as sitting by a hill at some distance from the fray. (3) There is no trace of Aphroditè, whom Sophocles mentions as present with the combatants in the quality of umpire.

67 Mor.p. 79 B. (“Πῶς ἄν τις αἴσθοιτο ἑαυτοῦ προκόπτοντος ἐπ᾽ ἀρετῇ”, c. 7.) “ὥσπερ γὰρ Σοφοκλῆς ἔλεγε τὸν Αἰσχύλου διαπεπαιχὼς ὄγκον, ε<*>τα τὸ πικρὸν καὶ κατάτεχνον τῆς αὑτοῦ κατασκευῆς, τρίτον ἤδη τὸ τῆς λέξεως μεταβάλλειν ε<*>δος ὅπερ ἐστὶν ἠθικώτατον καὶ βέλτιστον, οὕτως οἱ φιλοσοφοῦντες, ὅταν ἐκ τῶν πανηγυρικῶν καὶ κατατέχνων εἰς τὸν ἁπτόμενον ἤθους καὶ πάθους λόγον καταβῶσιν, ἄρχονται τὴν ἀληθῆ προκοπὴν καὶ ἄτυφον προκόπτειν”.

68 One of these traits is notable,—the “ποίαν δόκησιν”; (427). This use of “ποῖος”, a common colloquialism, occurs in only one other passage of Tragedy, and that is in a late play of Euripides (Helen. 566; 412 B.C.).

69 See above, § 1, notes 1, 2, 3.

70 Schlegel's criticism (§ 1, n. 3) was the inspiration of a short ‘programm’ published at Cleve (Prussia) in 1830 by C. M. AxtA. , Commentatio critica qua Trachiniarum Sophocleae prologum subdititium esse demonstratur. Axt uses the term ‘prologue,’ not in the Greek sense (i.e. to denote vv. 1—93), but only with reference to Deianeira's speech, vv. 1—48. He holds that the play ought to begin at v. 49, with the speech of the “τροφός”.

71 (1) Tr.542(Deianeira speaks,) “τοιάδ᾽ Ἡρακλῆς” | “οἰκούρἰ ἀντέπεμψε τοῦ μακροῦ χρόνου”: cp. Eur. H. F.1373(Megara speaks,) “μακρὰς διαντλοῦσ᾽ ἐν δόμοις οἰκουρίας”. (2) Soph. Tr.1096διφυᾶ τ᾽ ἄμικτον ἱπποβάμονα στρατὸν” | “θηρῶν, ὑβριστήν, ἄνομον”: cp. Eur. H. F.181τετρασκελές θ᾽ ὕβρισμα, Κενταύρων γένος”. (3) Soph. Tr.1101ἄλλων τε μόχθων μυρίων ἐγευσάμην”: cp. Eur. H. F.1353καὶ γὰρ πόνων δὴ μυρίων ἐγευσάμην”. [Wilamowitz, vol. II. p. 278, assumes that Soph. has borrowed this use of “γεύομαι” from Eur. : but Soph. had already said in Soph. Ant.1005, “ἐμπύρων ἐγευόμην”.] (4) Soph. Tr.1112 τλῆμον Ἑλλὰς κ.τ.λ.”: cp. Eur. H. F.877μέλεος Ἑλλάς, τὸν εὐεργέταν” | “ἀποβαλεῖς”. In Soph. Tr.764κόσμῳ τε χαίρων καὶ στολῇ” may, I think, be a reminiscence of Eur. Med.1165(in a similar episode), “δώροις ὑπερχαίρουσα”. And Soph. Tr.416, “λέγ̓, εἴ τι χρῄζεις: καὶ γὰρ οὐ σιγηλὸς εἶ”, is an echo of Aesch. Suppl.567(421 B.C.), “λέγ̓, εἴ τι βούλει: καὶ γὰρ οὐ σιγηλὸς εἶ”.

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