The Memory of Salt borrows many of its elements from ancient Greek tragedy and medieval Japanese Noh drama. It is set at the fall of Troy, a legendary city from Greek mythology that was often the subject of Greek tragedy. Euripides wrote a play called Hecuba from which this play borrows its setting and two characters, namely Hecuba, the Queen of Troy, and Odysseus, one of the Greek warriors who fought at Troy. Lampros, the other main character in Memory, is loosely modeled on a historical Greek philosopher named Heraclitus, not on a mythical character. Memory also borrows elements from two Noh dramas, Sumida River and Matsukaze.
The Memory of Salt fuses both Greek and Japanese characters and choruses to tell the story of how human desire and sympathy survive in the aftermath of a war. As Hecuba tries to reconcile herself to her losses and Odysseus tries to serve his own interests, Lampros tries to protect himself from their potentially dangerous encounter.