Because of her beauty, Deianeira, the wife of Herakles, had been sought by many suitors. One of these, the centaur Nessos, was killed by Herakles, who then claimed her as his bride. Years later she and her children are exiles in Trachis because of an act of violence by Herakles. Alone now for over a year, she wonders what has become of Herakles and sends her son Hyllos to find out. News arrives that he has conquered the city of king Eurytas in Euboia, and captives arrive from that sack, including Iole, the king’s daughter. Deianeira learns from Lichas the Herakles has sacked the city, not because he had been insulted, but because he wanted the king’s daughter. In jealous despair, she sends Herakles a robe anointed with blood from the centaur’s wound, which turns out not to be the love charm she thought but an incurable poison. Hyllos brings news of what the robe has done to Herakles, and Deianeira kills herself with a sword. Herakles is brought onstage in great pain, cursing his wife and asking Hyllos to marry Iole and then to light the funeral pyre that will put him out of his agony.
—Storey & Allende
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