Heracles' Intention in His Second Request of Hyllus: Trach. 1216–51

Classical Quarterly 21 (01):33- (1971)


Commentators on the Trachiniae, when dealing with Heracles' second request of Hyllus, normally take it that the dying hero asks his son to marry Iole, Heracles' concubine. Such a request on the part of any Greek in Heracles' situation would be puzzling. It is specially so on the part of Heracles, who has not been notable in the drama up to this point for tenderness to his womenfolk, having given no consideration to Deianeira's sentiments in the matter of his liaison with Iole, and less to Iole's, in that he has sacked her city, slain her kinfolk, and enslaved herself. Albrecht von Blumenthal expresses the bewilderment which all who have read the passage in this light must initially have felt: ‘Warum Herakles den widerstrebenden Sohn zur Erfüllung dieses mit hellenischer Sitte unvereinbaren Vermächtnisses durch die schrecklichsten Drohungen zwingt, ist ein noch nicht enträtseltes Geheimnis des Sophokles.’ Explanations must be sought

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