Characters Discussed


Daianeira (day-an-EH-rah), also known as The Day’s Air or Daysair, the daughter of Oineus and wife of the great hero Herakles. Powerfully alluring and aware of her beauty (“looks are my trouble”), she is unhappy as the action begins because her husband has been away from his family for some time. She admires him and finds him very attractive, but her love is tested when she learns that Herakles has sent a young female captive to their home. In an attempt to remove any possibility of competition, she sends Herakles a love charm given to her by a centaur. When the potion turns out to be a deadly poison, she is driven mad with grief, and when her son criticizes her, she feels completely deserted and decides to destroy herself.


Herakles (HEHR-uh-kleez), the son of Zeus, one of the greatest of the Greek heroes, who has been condemned by the gods to carry out a series of labors that keep him away from his wife and son. Headstrong, impulsive, and very passionate, he is unbeatable by any man in combat but is susceptible to the lures of Eros. When the potion his wife sends him turns out to be a lethal mixture, he is driven mad with pain and anger. He appears for the first time late in the play, dressed in a “mask of divine agony,” seeking a dignified death but too furious to be able to control himself. Ultimately, he is able to regain his...

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Bowra, C. M. Sophoclean Tragedy. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1967. Includes a chapter on each of the seven plays by Sophocles. Discusses the themes and the motives and conflicts of the characters in The Women of Trachis. Explains the plot and gives several lines in the original Greek; includes many lines in English translation.

Kirkwood, Gordon MacDonald. A Study of Sophoclean Drama. Vol. 31 in Cornell Studies in Classical Philology. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1958. Analysis of Sophocles’ structures and methods of dramatic composition. Considers The Women of Trachis in context with the other plays of Sophocles for characterization, irony, illustrative forms, use of diction, and oracles.

Scodel, Ruth. Sophocles. Boston: Twayne, 1984. Synopsis of The Women of Trachis. Consideration of other works which may have influenced Sophocles. Discusses the structure and the mythological gods and oracles. Includes information on the seven plays by Sophocles, a chronology of Sophocles, a bibliography, and an index.

Seale, David. Vision and Stagecraft in Sophocles. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982. Distinguishes Sophocles from other playwrights of his time and demonstrates his influence on later ones. An excellent starting point. Considers the theatrical technicalities in the Sophoclean plays. Contains an extended section on The Women of Trachis and a long section of notes following it.

Segal, Charles. Tragedy and Civilization: An Interpretation of Sophocles. Cambridge, Mass.: Published for Oberlin College by Harvard University Press, 1981. Treats all the plays of Sophocles. Considers the Odyssean themes in The Women of Trachis. Follows and elaborates on the plot and possible meanings.