The trachines

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Lichas (right) brings the robe of Nessus to Heracles (left with lion skin in hand). Engraving by Hans Sebald Beham , around 1542–1548

The Trachinierinnen ( ancient Greek Τραχίνιαι Trachíniai ) is a Greek tragedy by Sophocles . The core of the plot is the death of Heracles . The piece takes place in the eponymous Greek city of Trachis , from which the choir singers come. The dates of its creation and performance are unknown and have been controversial among researchers since the beginning of classical antiquity . It is generally assumed that it is an early work by the poet. It is also noticeable that there are partly literal and partly thematic correspondences with works by Euripides , especially with his Alcestis .


Hans Sebald Beham: Hercules at the stake

Deïaneira , Heracles' wife, has not received any news from her husband for over a year. An oracle gave her an indication of his death with the words that no living person could take Heracles' life and placed her in a doubtful position. She sends her son Hyllos to look for his father. When he finds him, Heracles' servant Lichas arrives at Deïaneira. He claims that his master besieged the city of Oichalia in order to take revenge on the local king Eurytus . But Deïaneira soon learns the real reason for Heracles 'campaign: This was done to kidnap Eurytus' daughter Iole as concubine home.

Hoping to win back the unfaithful Heracles, the jealous Deïaneira soaks a shirt with the blood of Nessos , who was once killed by Heracles in an attempt to rape her. But she does not know that the centaur's blood is poisoned because it originally came from the hydra . Lichas hands the shirt over to his master. Hyllos accuses his mother and tells her that his father died in terrible pain after the poison burned his skin. Deïaneira stabs himself in despair and shame.

Hyllos returns to Herakles, who is still in agony, has killed Lichas in his frenzy and now orders his son to burn him on Mount Öta . Only death-bringing fire can alleviate the effects of the poison. Finally, Hyllos also has to submit to his father's last wish to marry Iole. In the final scene, Heracles is carried away to be burned alive.

The theme of Deïaneira's jealousy appears, among other things, in the ninth letter of Ovid's Heroides .

Individual evidence

  1. Ernst-Richard Schwinge : The position of the Trachinierinnen in the work of Sophocles. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1962. (partial online view )

Editions and translations


  • Wilhelm Schmid , Otto Stählin : History of Greek literature . CH Beck, 1974.
  • K. Pöschl: The "Trachinierinnen" of Sophocles, their uniform formulation and composition. ( Online )

Web links

Wikisource: Original text  - sources and full texts (Greek)

* Performance in the Bonn Theater