Firstly, in Crimp's play Amelia consciously sends the General the pillow into which she carefully inserts a glass tube containing the poisonous chemical, while Sophocles's Deianeira
remains "the unwitting executor of the Gods' intentions" (Ginman 2004: 113).
The demonic (supernatural and metamorphic) ironies in the deaths of Herakles and Deianeira
are supreme emblems of the investment of the gods of Hellas in the primal poeisis, the formation of Aphrodite from the passionate violence of the divine marital bed, a radical displacement and subsuming of the father.
This leads us to further reflection; did Bernardin have in mind the famous painting by Guido Reni, The Abduction of Deianeira
by the Centaur Nessus (1620-21), when he first wrote the passage which Girodet was to illustrate?
The treasures housed in the Brussels palace were famously described by Antonio de Beatis, who visited in 1517, on a journey with Cardinal Luigi d'Aragona from Italy: 'In it are very beautiful pictures, among them a Hercules with Deianeira
, with good-sized nude figures, and the tale of Paris with the three goddesses perfectly executed.' He also described a picture with 'bizarre things ...
(It is evidence of the weakening significance of classicism today that the subject is titled Dryad rather than identified as Deianeira
from a Nessus and Deianeira
21.194), but does not feature in extant narrative until the early lines of Sophocles' Trachiniae, when Deianeira
describes her courtship by Acheloos and how she came to be the wife of Herakles:
Here they will discover how faithful-wife Penelope, homicidal Clytemnestra(s), manslaughtering Deianeira
, matricidal Electra, infanticidal Medea, vengeful Hecuba, suicidal Alcestis and lovingly deceptive Helen helped Greek men to explore characteristics they feared in themselves, and to ask such fundamental questions as "whether public and private morality can operate on the same terms."
Bacchylides' Hercules (5.168) asks the shade of Meleager in the Underworld if there is a sister of his whom he could marry [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], `like you in stature' (and there is of course: Deianeira
); Hercules' taste would clearly not favour the Kate Moss type.
But if these men are doing wrong, may they suffer evils no greater than they are doing unjustly to me!' The sarcasm in 'evils no greater' can be compared with Hyllus's sarcasm in dismissing Deianeira
. The plurals in 927-8 allude contemptuously to Creon, as again in 942 '...
exhibits an immediately sympathetic and three -- dimensional character, Heracles scarcely comes into human focus, in many ways resembling the archaic world of monsters whose conquest he reckons among his greatest achievements.
He was also independently connected with the Greek hero Heracles as the father of Heracles' bride Deianeira
, whom he won from the river god Achelous.
Lines 23-25 shift the focus to Deianeira
and her reaction to the news that Heracles has returned with Iole.