Mutability; uncertainty; a universe of precipitous change: these themes are at the heart of Sophocles’ tragic vision. But nowhere are they elaborated with more urgency than in Women of Trachis. There are no subtle shifts of Fortune’s favors in this tragedy, only stunning and total reversals, a relentless spinning of her fickle wheel. Thesis moves to crushing antithesis with an unparalleled violence at the moment of transformation.
Thought to have been written about 440 BC, midway through the poet’s career, Women of Trachis has long suffered from neglect by scholars despite its sophistication and raw energy. This translation at last rescues the immense lyrical power and tragic grandeur of the play from obscurity, restoring the music of a poetry originally meant to be sung and danced collectively.