Suffering Alone: Reading the “The Women of Trachis” Online

Sophocles, Trachiniae 1-3

“People have an ancient famous proverb:
That you should not judge any mortal lives
You can’t see them as good or bad before someone dies”

Λόγος μὲν ἔστ᾿ ἀρχαῖος ἀνθρώπων φανεὶς
ὡς οὐκ ἂν αἰῶν᾿ ἐκμάθοις βροτῶν, πρὶν ἂν
θάνῃ τις, οὔτ᾿ εἰ χρηστὸς οὔτ᾿ εἴ τῳ κακός·

Image may contain: possible text that says 'WEDNESDAY, APRIL 29 3PM EDT WOMEN OF TRACHIS Sophocles HOSTED BY Joel Christensen WITH SPECIAL GUESTS Emma Pauly Amy Pistone FEATURED ACTORS Tim Delap Mariah Gale Tony Jayawardena Mar tin K. Lewis Anne Mason Evvy Miller CHS.HARVARD.EDU The Center for Hellenic the Kosmos Society, and Outof Chaos Theatre present READING GREEK TRAGEDY ONLINE'

Over the past few weeks we have presented readings of Euripides’ Helen and Sophocles’ Philoktetes, Euripides’ Herakles, and Bacchae (in partnership with the Center for Hellenic Studies and the Kosmos Society and Out of Chaos Theatre). Our basic approach is to have actors in isolation read parts with each other online, interspersed with commentary and discussion from ‘experts’ and the actors.

File:Death of Hercules, Raoul Lefevre, Histoires de Troyes, 15 century.jpg
Death of Herakles

This week we turn to the less often read Trachiniae by Sophocles (or, “The Women of Trachis“). This play focuses in particular on the last moments of Herakles’ life, when he is unintentionally poisoned by his wife Deineira. Involved in the mix: Herakles’ new ‘wife’, Iole, and his son with Deineira, Hyllus.  The play contemplates what happiness is, how long it can last, and the choices we make based on bad information that change our lives.


“Whoever gets in the ring with Lust
Like a boxer with his hands up is stupid.
That one rules even the gods the way he wants.
And me too. How could he not rule a woman like me?”

Ἔρωτι μέν νυν ὅστις ἀντανίσταται
πύκτης ὅπως ἐς χεῖρας, οὐ καλῶς φρονεῖ.
οὗτος γὰρ ἄρχει καὶ θεῶν ὅπως θέλει,
κἀμοῦ γε· πῶς δ᾿ οὐ χἀτέρας οἵας γ᾿ ἐμοῦ;


1-43 Deianeira

229-496 Deianeira, Lichas, Messenger, Chorus

531-588, Deianeira

1046-1269, Heracles, Hyllus and Chorus


“Whoever counts more than
Two days ahead in his life,
Is foolish. When it comes to living well
There’s no tomorrow before the present day is done.”

…ὥστ᾿ εἴ τις δύο
ἢ κἀπὶ πλείους ἡμέρας λογίζεται,
μάταιός ἐστιν· οὐ γὰρ ἔσθ᾿ ἥ γ᾿ αὔριον
πρὶν εὖ πάθῃ τις τὴν παροῦσαν ἡμέραν.


Deianeira – Mariah Gale
Lichas – Tim Delap
Messenger – Evvy Miller
Chorus – Anne Mason
Herakles – Tony Jayawardena
Hyllus – Martin K Lewis

Dramaturge: Emma Pauly

Director and casting: Paul O’Mahony

Special Expert Guest: Amy Pistone (Gonzaga)



“No one can see what the future will be,
And our present is our pity
But their shame,
And hardest of all people
On the one who endures this ruin.”

τὰ μὲν οὖν μέλλοντ᾿ οὐδεὶς ἐφορᾷ,
τὰ δὲ νῦν ἑστῶτ᾿ οἰκτρὰ μὲν ἡμῖν,
αἰσχρὰ δ᾿ ἐκείνοις,
χαλεπώτατα δ᾿ οὖν ἀνδρῶν πάντων
τῷ τήνδ᾿ ἄτην ὑπέχοντι.

Videos of Earlier Sessions
Euripides’ Helen, March 25th
Sophocles Philoktetes, April 1st
Euripides’ Herakles, April 8th 
Euripides’ Bacchae, April 15th
Euripides’ Iphigenia , April 22nd
Upcoming Readings

Sophocles, Women of Trachis, April 29th

Euripides, Orestes, May 6th

Aeschylus, The Persians May 13th

Euripides, Trojan Women, May 20th

Sophocles, Ajax, May 29th

Euripides, Andromache, June 3rd

Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannos, June 10th





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