Anachronism-hunting has been out of fashion with scholars in recent times, for the good reason that it can easily seem like a rather trivial sort of parlour game. But given that Greek tragedy draws so heavily on the past, a close look at some examples may perhaps throw light on a far from trivial subject, the dramatists' perception of the heroic world.
So long as anachronism was treated as an artistic failing the debate was bound to be unproductive; one can symphathise with Jebb's view (on Soph. El. 48 ff.) that Attic tragedy was ‘wholly indifferent’ to it. And one can see why later scholars have objected to the very idea of anachronism as irrelevant and misleading. Ehrenberg, for example, wrote in 1954: ‘It is entirely mistaken to distinguish between mythical and thus quasi-historical features on the one hand and contemporary and thus anachronistic on the other. There is always the unity of the one poem or play, displaying the ancient myth, although shaped in the spirit of the poet's mind and time.’