(Powell, Classical Myth pp. 370-377)

EURIPIDES (ca. 480--406 B.C.) son of Mnesarchos, of the Deme of Phlya in Athens, and of Clito (a shopkeeper and greengrocer--according to a hostile and doubtful tradition). Euripides lived on the island of Salamis. He held a local priesthood of Zeus at Phlya, and once served as ambassador to Syracuse in Sicily. He had three sons. Euripides first produced a play in 455 B.C. (third place) and first won First Prize in 441. He won a total of only five victories (20 plays), one victory being posthumous. His total output is said to have been 92 plays. He was the most popular of the Athenian tragedians. In 408 or 407 he left Athens and went to Macedonia, at the invitation of King Archelaus, where he died in 406; he was buried at Arethusa in Macedonia. The Hippolytus was produced in 428 B.C., and won the First Prize.


The goddess APHRODITE, appearing before Theseus' palace at Troezen, complains about HIPPOLYTUS' indifference to her worship, in preference to that of Artemis. She will punish him, using PHAEDRA as her instrument. HIPPOLYTUS and his hunting companions enter, praise ARTEMIS and boast about H's `purity'. An OLD HUNTER warns Hipp. about pride and shunning women.

PARODOS: 121-175

CHORUS of women of Troezen
They have heard that Queen PHAEDRA is ill, and wonder why. Some suggest insanity, or jealousy, or some trouble in Ph's family, or that she is going to have a baby.

EPISODE I: 176-524

Restlessness in her illness; she is possessed of vanity. She raves, consumed with shame at the fact that her thoughts wander to Hippolytus; she hopes for a swift DEATH. The Nurse loves Ph, but praises moderation. She asks bout the illness, but Phaedra is uncommunicative. The nurse warns that (with Ph dead) her children will be displaced by Hipp. With Phaedra's reaction to the name the Nurse realizes that Ph is in love with Hipp. With the secret out, Ph talks rationally about the problems of being `righteous', about unfaithful wives, about HONOR. The Nurse urges Phaedra to give in to her love and live. Phaedra weakens in her resolve to die.

STASIMON I: 525-564

The power of EROS is mighty. Heracles & Zeus were overcome by it and violated the sacred marriage bond.

EPISODE II: 565-731

The NURSE has approached Hippolytus, who is shocked. HIPPOLYTUS threatens to tell THESEUS. In Ph's presence he engages in a furious denunciation of womankind. After he leaves, PHAEDRA vents her anger against the Nurse for talking to Hippolytus. The nurse tries to defend herself on the grounds of love for Phaedra. Phaedra, her vanity and sense of shame injured, turns love into hate and decides to kill herself--dragging Hippolytus down with her.


whishes that running away would solve this mess in which the unhappy Phaedra is trapped.

EPISODE III: 776-1101

PHAEDRA has committed suicide.
THESEUS appears, bewails his misfortune, and discovers a suicide note. The note accuses Hippolytus of rape. Theseus asks Poseidon to grant him one of three promised wishes: to kill Hipp on that same day. When Hipp enters he appears unaware of the cause of Phaedra's death. Th calls him corrupt and double-dealing Hippolytus defends his own character, but is only on the point of revealing what he knows (from Phaedra and the Nurse) when a sense of honor restrains him. His recollection of his own birth from the rape of Hippolyte by Theseus enrages Th, who banishes Hippolytus from his sight.

STASIMON III: 1102-1150

Unexpected suffering is part of life, and life is a chancy thing. Hipp is unfortunate and unhappy.

EXODOS: 1151-1466

A FRIEND of Hipp enters and reports the news of Hipp's accident: tidal wave, sea monster, chariot crash. Th wants to see his dying son. Artemis suddenly appears and reveals the entire story to Theseus and criticizes him for condemning the pure Hipp. Hippolytus is brought in, and he and Artemis converse. She `consoles' him with the thought that someday she will get revenge for him on Aphrodite by killing one of Aphrodite's favorites; but she must not stay and witness Hipp's actual death lest it `pollute' her. Father and son embrace as Hippolytus dies.


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