Heracles as a Paradox in Women of Trachis

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Heracles as a Paradox in Women of Trachis

Using the portrayal of Hercules in Sophocles' tragedy Women of Trachis, a puzzling image of the Greek hero emerges. Most of the myths of Heracles portray him as a fierce warrior, tamer of beasts and a master of everything he attempts. This myth however, shows honorable traits juxtaposed with very negative aspects of the same man. Heracles is a paradox because even though he is a very great man and ideal hero, in some ways he is savage, highly emotional and even vulnerable.

Sophocles' version of Heracles' life, or at least part of it, made Heracles look less like a Greek hero and more like an ordinary Greek warrior. There are a few exceptions though. For one, Zeus was his father. Not many
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His only life had been to serve others. Heracles only came home to be sent out again.

Heracles also got in trouble from his anger. He killed Iphitus in a way even his father would not be proud of because he was bitter about being a slave for Omphale. Heracles caught him off guard as he was searching for some lost horses and killed him. Zeus then had Heracles sent away and sold as a slave because he had not taken vengeance openly in a respectable way. This is also an example of his savagery. When Heracles was insulted, the raw, natural side of him wanted revenge instead of doing the respectful, civil thing. When he was banished, his wife and family were forced to go as well. Deianira and her children were unhappy in Trachis because they were "a stranger's guest" there and no one knew them. When Heracles ran through and did battle against Eurystheus and took some women for slaves as his prize, he could have been acting out of anger as well.

Love was another emotion of Heracles' that caused anguish in those around him. The first time we saw it was when he fought Achelous for Deianira. I do not think he loved her in a romantic way towards the end of the tragedy. The woman I am sure he loved was Iole. The time he spent ravaging her city, he could have been at home with his wife but obviously he felt he should be fighting for a new woman instead. Not only was the realization of another woman hurtful to Deianira but the fact
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