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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 action1. 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 Euripides2; 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 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”.

2 (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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hide References (13 total)
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (13):
    • Aeschylus, Suppliant Maidens, 567
    • Euripides, Heracles, 1353
    • Euripides, Heracles, 1373
    • Euripides, Heracles, 181
    • Euripides, Heracles, 877
    • Euripides, Medea, 1165
    • Sophocles, Antigone, 1005
    • Sophocles, Trachiniae, 1096
    • Sophocles, Trachiniae, 1101
    • Sophocles, Trachiniae, 1112
    • Sophocles, Trachiniae, 416
    • Sophocles, Trachiniae, 542
    • Sophocles, Trachiniae, 764
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