Hippolytus (son of Theseus) - Wikipedia
As with many tragedies of the era, the central focus of Hippolytus is humanity's relationship with the gods. Hippolytus of rape. When Theseus returns, he banishes Hippolytus without a trial and prays that Poseidon kill him. Category: Hippolytus Essays; Title: Relationship between Greeks and Gods in Also, Theseus praying to his father Poseidon is another example of this, only. Hippolytus study guide contains a biography of Euripides, literature essays, a sexual relationship between stepmother and stepson incestuous, for example, violates her marriage vows with Theseus and betrays his trust.
Rather than following through, he refuses to gratify her. And finally, rather than being accused, the nurse immediately conspires to accuse Hippolytus of the crime. Now Phaedra and the nurse have gotten themselves in deep. And Seneca is well on his way in his illustration of the evils of human passion. It is necessary at this point to bring Theseus back from the underworld, where he has been incarcerated as a result of his own giving in to passion.
Phaedra claims she has been wronged but proceeds to coyly draw out the revelation of the perpetrator until Theseus cuts to the chase by threatening to torture it out of the nurse. There is nothing in this account that adds to the reason vs.
However, from this point on the drama degenerates into a disjointed sequence of regret and recrimination. Wracked with grief and guilt, Phaedra admits her crime, accuses Theseus of doing worse than her, and then kills herself to be with Hippolytus in death. Theseus asks why he has been brought back from the dead to bear such misfortune and begs the gods to take him. Seneca has succeeded at illustrating his philosophical point in the context of an engaging and diverting drama.
Having been raised in the Jansenist sect of the Catholic church, which believed in the natural perversity of the human will that can only be overcome by individuals who are predestined by divine grace,  Racine never left behind the need to offer moral instruction.
He makes this aim clear in his preface to Phedre: To do thus is the proper end which every man who writes for the public should propose to himself. He even has the potential to be the sympathetic character, until we meet his stepmother Phaedra who is sick with an illicit love for him that she is working desperately to resist.
In fact, she would rather kill herself than act on it. We want to see her demonstrated virtue prevail. The point of attack in the story comes with the news that Theseus is dead.
In addition, Hippolytus now has the opportunity to approach Aricia without betraying his father. The second act begins with Aricia confessing to Ismene her love for Hippolytus. This introduces tension since it puts Phaedra at a disadvantage. When Hippolytus professes his love to Aricia and is received favorably by her, the tension builds. When Phaedra then reveals her love to Hippolytus and is violently rebuffed by him, she becomes profoundly vulnerable. This marks the mid-point, a nearly cataclysmic event in the middle of the story that shifts the internal balance of the main character.
Indeed, Phaedra immediately changes from lovesick pursuer to scheming avenger. Oenone conceives of a preemptive strike against Hippolytus even though we learn in the next scene that he has no thoughts of exposing Phaedra. While it is Oenone who does the dirty work of accusing Hippolytus of trying to rape Phaedra, there is no question that Phaedra is the one falling from grace throughout the second half of the second act.
When Phaedra tries to undo what she has done, begging Theseus not to harm him, Theseus lets out that Hippolytus claimed to be in love with Aricia.
This makes Phaedra all the more vicious, resolving not to defend a man who has spurned her, lashing out at Oenone and cruelly sending her away. Her moral bankruptcy is complete, marking the end of the second act. First is his own natural regret at the loss of his son. He prays to the gods for a clearer understanding and observes that Aricia is holding herself back from telling him something. He sends for Oenone to get more information and his doubt is sealed when he learns that she has killed herself and Phaedra is wanting to die, writing letters and tearing them up.
Finally, the Nurse promises to assist Phaidra by concocting a special medicine that is strong enough to change the course of love. What she needs in order to complete this antidote, the Nurse explains, is a piece of hair or clothing from Hippolytus.
As Phaidra contemplates her decision, she also implores the Nurse never to reveal the truth behind her sickness to Hippolytus.LP0057 - Theseus & Oedipus - Endings & beginnings, from Diodorus Siculus' Library of History
As the Nurse leaves the stage to secure the token that she needs, she whispers a prayer to Aphrodite, betraying herself as a supporter of the goddess's plan to punish Hippolytus. As Phaidra listens at the door, she hears a commotion within, telling her that the Nurse has betrayed her secret to her stepson. Hippolytus bursts onto the stage, with loud declarations of his horror and dismay at the revelation.
Venting his anger, Hippolytus goes into an extended tirade against the weaknesses of women, calling them "a huge natural calamity" among many other slights, most of which focus on their sexual appetites and what Hippolytus derides generally as their lewdness. Phaidra raises little defense to these charges, though she does claim that all women "are violated by destiny," creating a hurt that "never leaves. Exhausted and suffering, Phaidra resolves once again to die.
As Phaidra exits the stage, the Chorus recounts in detail how Aphrodite has assisted the queen in fulfilling her wish for death. Phaidra hangs herself off stage.
As the townswomen talk about the hanging, Theseus enters the stage, crowned with flowers and demanding to know what event has brought his palace into such an uproar. Informed that his wife is dead, he mourns openly at the suicide as the Chorus announces that the palace has been doomed by these recent events.
Examining the corpse of his wife, Theseus sees a tablet "gripped tensely" in her hand. Taking the tablet from her hand, he explodes in horror as he reads the words it holds: Theseus calls the god Poseidon, who owes the king "three mortal curses," to murder his son for the crime that has been reported in the tablet.
Despite the pleadings of Koryphaios, the leader of the Chorus, Theseus persists in his wish for the murder of Hippolytus. Hippolytus arrives, drawn by the uproar of his father.
The exchange between the two men is powerful drama as the father at first attacks his son verbally before explaining to him the source of his rage. Theseus sentences Hippolytus to exile without trial: Turning to the statue of Artemis, Hippolytus departs into exile.
The Chorus intervenes briefly before a messenger arrives with the news that Hippolytus has been trampled to death by his horses, which had been panicked by monstrous geysers and a mammoth bull sent by Neptune at the solicitation of Aphrodite. Theseus iterates his hatred of his son, noting that the story of Hippolytus's suffering has filled him with satisfaction but not pleasure in any form. The messenger asks Theseus of his orders for Hippolytus's body.
Theseus orders the body brought to him so he can see the evidence of the death and of his own power in dealing with his transgressive son. The Chorus speaks briefly, chastising Aphrodite for her role in this tragedy.
Artemis appears suddenly, revealing the entire story of Aphrodite's plan to Theseus and criticizes the King for calling the curse of Poseidon upon the head of pure Hippolytus. As Theseus hears the story, he begs with Artemis to let him die in shame. Koryphaios announces that Hippolytus, still alive but tragically bloodied and disfigured, is being carried to his father on the arms of his friends.
He converses with Artemis, who consoles him with the promise that she will avenge his death by killing one of Aphrodite's favorites. The goddess exits the stage, explaining to Hippolytus that she cannot stay to witness his death. Gods and goddesses must "not be touched with the pollution of last agonies and gaspings," she explains. Theseus and Hippolytus embrace as the son dies, and the King closes the play with a rejection of the influence of Aphrodite: I remember forever only your savagery.
She represents sexual love, which is seen often in Greek drama as an uncontrollable, destructive force that tends to overwhelm the decorum of rational, moral conduct.
Contrasted in the opening scene of the play with the influence of Artemis, Aphrodite is proud and vengeful, especially in her dealings with the chaste Hippolytus, who turns away from sexual relationships in order to live his life, he believes, free from such base desires.
Aphrodite is the catalyst for the deaths of both Phaidra and Hippolytus, placing each of them in a situation that is beyond both the moral and legal powers of their mortal culture to deal with justly and fairly. Artemis Artemis is the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and she is primarily understood as the goddess of the hunt and of wild animals.
Artemis is associated with the moon, as her twin brother Apollo is associated with the sun. Artemis stands in direct contrast to Aphrodite, the goddess of sexual love, as Artemis was often called the virgin goddess, and many of her followers took vows of chastity.
She is the primary guide in the life of the young Hippolytus. Although she shows it only in her final promise to Hippolytus to wreck vengeance on Aphrodite, Artemis is known, too, for her willingness to inflict punishment on mortals who offend her. Chorus The Chorus is comprised of women from the town of Troizen, where the play is set. The Chorus offers a variety of background or summary information to help the audience follow the performance, commenting on main themes, and guiding the audience to react in an ideal way to the play as it is being staged.
The Chorus expresses the fears or secrets that the main characters cannot, or will not, speak aloud in the play. Hippolytus Hippolytus is the son of Theseus by the Amazon queen Hippolyte. He opens the play marking his devotion to a statue of Artemis, the virgin goddess of the hunt.
Ignoring a servant's suggestion to show equal respect for Aphrodite his first mistake in the playHippolytus angers the goddess of sexual love to the point that she vows revenge, setting in motion the tragic sequence of events that leads to the deaths of Phaidra and her stepson. Charged with the rape of his stepmother Phaidra, Hippolytus argues his innocence repeatedly, but is forced into exile by his father Theseus.
Thought dead by an accident at sea, Hippolytus turns out to be only fatally injured. After being brought back to his father's palace, Hippolytus lives long enough to forgive his father. Hippolytus ends the play, however, reaffirming his devotion to Artemis, remaining unaware of the connection between his unwavering and unbalanced attachment to the cult of chastity and his own death. In the character of Hippolytus, Euripides creates a deeply flawed tragic figure.
A victim of both Aphrodite's vengeful spirit and Theseus's misguided abuse of his power as king, Hippolytus himself is not without complicity in the tragedy of the play. Unsympathetically puritan in his opening rejection of Artemis's suggestion to balance his life somewhere between her influence and that of Aphrodite, Hippolytus is also openly misogynistic exhibiting a deep hatred of women in his verbal attacks on his stepmother Phaidra.
Koryphaios Koryphaios is the leader of the Chorus and serves throughout the play as a commentator on the action that occurs throughout the play. Messenger The Messenger is one of the more eloquent rhetorical figures in the play, who carries to Theseus the story of Hippolytus's death at sea as well as the conditions of his exile.
Nurse The Nurse serves Phaidra; she is a figure whose key reversal in the early stages of the play sets the series of events into motion. At the opening of the play she is dedicated to the well being of her queen, but she later tells Hippolytus of the lustful thoughts of his stepmother. It is this sudden change in loyalty that leads to the suicide of Phaidra.
Phaidra Phaidra is the wife of Theseus and stepmother to Hippolytus. She is targeted by Aphrodite as part of the revenge for her stepson's rejection of the cult of sexual love in favor of a life lived in chastity. Made sick with a lust for her stepson, Phaidra initially seeks the assistance of her trusted Nurse, who ignores the queen's admonition to keep the secret of the unnatural desires.
Phaidra's admission to her Nurse, though a trivial mistake, has disproportionately serious consequences, for when the Nurse undergoes a significant reversal telling Hippolytus of his stepmother's desiresPhaidra is targeted by Hippolytus in his verbal attacks. Rather than face her husband and deal with the disgrace that will weigh in upon her, Phaidra turns Hippolytus's loathing and her own self-hatred inwards, launching into a tirade of her own about the weakness and vanity of women.
Without hope, and destroyed by her own words, Phaidra hangs herself. In Phaidra, Euripides successfully creates a tragic contrast to the unsympathetic and misguided male characters of the play.
The theme of Family Relationships in Hippolytus from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes
She is a sympathetic character seen as struggling honorably against overwhelming odds put in place by the vengeful goddess Aphrodite to do the right thing for the good of herself and the benefit of her community.
Despite her best effort to act and think prudently, Phaidra finds her spirit though not her body yielding to her physical passion, and it is in her ravings about finding freedom in nature which serve only to intensify her sense of shame and guilt that audiences come to recognize the depth of her struggles.
She is, quite literally, a woman trapped, unable to act out her passions and unable to contain them in socially acceptable ways. Servant Hippolytus's servant appears throughout the play. Theseus Theseus is the king of Athens, famous in Greek mythology for killing the minotaur. A powerful but gullible man, he believes without question the story that surfaces concerning Hippolytus's alleged rape of Phaidra.
Ignoring his son's plea for a due and just process, Theseus rules single-handedly to exile the accused. He also calls on Poseidon to deliver a fatal curse to Hippolytus to punish him. Later in the play, Theseus learns of the error of his judgment, and begs Hippolytus for forgiveness, which his son grants him.
THEMES The Psychology of Suffering Euripides was innovative in his deeply held and complex interest in the effects of repeated injustice or continued suffering on his characters. Whereas Sophocles often uses his plays to explore the lives of aggressive heroes, who meet their fates as the result of asserting the power of their individual will, Euripides tends to present passive victims, who suffer not because of what they do but because they are trapped in a world that is out of their control.
Often, as in the case of Phaidra, these victims will only act when they find themselves pushed to a point of disaster, at which point they react badly or misguidedly, often with tragic results. Instead of more typical portrayals of larger-than-life heroes of Greek tragedy Sophocles's Oedipus, for exampleEuripides focuses upon the weakness of human nature and the tragedy inherent in the human condition.
Other tragedies focus on the relationship between mortals and gods, the nature of human knowledge, and the question of human freedom, but Hippolytus explores the suffering of a woman overwhelmed by an incestuous love for her stepson.
The tragic suffering of the play has been internalized rather than played out communally or nationally and made a matter of psychology rather than of politics.
Phaidra's struggle illustrates a division between the intellectual and the emotional woman, the woman who knows what to do in her situation but has no idea how to take the actions necessary. She is trapped, in the language of her time, between the forces of nomos the knowledge that her desire is morally wrong and physis the physical drive to act on her desires. Her plight suggests that the source of human suffering is not a constellation of force brought to bear by some external force but an intensely powerful division within each individual.
Morality and Knowledge Stripped of the conventions of traditional tragedy particularly the traditional mythological explanations of human sufferingEuripides shows an innovative interest in the relationship between the question of moral behavior that concerns itself with sound-mindedness or implied intelligence. The vocabulary of ancient Greece was influenced deeply by the radical ideas of Plato's writings about Socrates c. These works put forward a series of propositions known as the Socratic Paradoxes that argue that the ancient concept of virtue is aligned powerfully with knowledge, and that no individual ever commits a morally wrong act knowingly.
Socrates, as described by Plato, went on to make the striking statement that he would rather suffer a wrong at someone else's hands than commit one himself, which was seen by his contemporaries as the talk of a coward.
Are the rhetorical skills necessary in these debates represented as positive or negative in the world of the play? Put another way, are these skills liberating or dangerous in the life of the individual? Write an essay that addresses these topics. Research the conventions of classic Greek tragedy, making a checklist of what can be expected when approaching a play such as Hippolytus. Present your checklist to the class, noting in what ways Hippolytus does or does not meet the items on your list.
One of the most interesting conventions of classical Greek tragedy is the role of the Chorus as a source of supplemental and analytical comments on the events of the play.
Imagine a conversation that you might overhear on an average day between friends, in a store, at school and write a supplemental commentary in the tradition of a classic Greek chorus.
Research Greek culture at the time that Euripides was alive. What did the architecture look like? What was the average family structure? What type of government was in power? Find anything and everything you can on ancient Greece and give a class presentation, with visual aids, summarizing your discoveries.
Pushing contemporary thought in new directions, though, Plato explains Socrates's paradoxes by expounding a doctrine of the soul as an immortal entity that is harmed by immoral action and that suffers in the next life for crimes committed in this one.
Recall Artemis's exit at the end of the play in order to avoid being polluted by the death of Hippolytus. According to this paradox, the souls of villainous individuals suffer a form of eternal damnation, while the souls of average people are sentenced to another life on earth. Returning to earth, these people find themselves in a social position that suits their behavior in their previous life.
The souls of the virtuous, however, eventually are sufficiently purified to escape the cycle of rebirth and enjoy eternal blessedness in the other world. It was thus maintained that any person who understood the true nature of his life would avoid immoral behavior, subordinating their suffering to the greater concern, which was the health of their souls.
Thus, anyone who committed a wrong did so, ultimately, out of ignorance, not understanding that the long term consequences of such an act were far more dire than any immediate loss or humiliation that they might suffer.
According to this philosophy, all human behavior is governed by conscious choice and rational decision. A person's behavior is determined, in large part, by the intelligence of the choices made. Moderation An important theme in Hippolytus is that of moderation as a guiding principle of a good and balanced life.
In Greek, the term sophrosyne was often used to signal this state of balance. In political terms, the idea was used in support of a pattern of deferral, iterating the need to know and understand one's right and proper place in the social structure of the day. Tragedy is filled with characters who try to rise above their station, thereby disrupting the social order. In the context of the morality of the day, moderation applied most obviously to a belief in such ideals as chastity or abstinence for the unmarried or to monogamy limiting sexual relationship to only one's husband or wife for a married person.
This last understanding of moderation proves particularly relevant within Euripides's play. It is Hippolytus's exclusion of sexual love from his worldview, despite Artemis's suggestion, that insults Aphrodite and leads to her revenge. Ironically, Hippolytus remains unwavering in his own immoderate behavior even as the events unfold around him. His diatribe against the wanton ways of women, for instance, is replete with references to the inability of women to contain their lustful ways.
Later, in both his passionate defense before Theseus and his final death scene, Hippolytus repeatedly asserts his chastity and his purity as the most powerful proof of his innocence.
Until now I've never been to bed with a woman. All I know of sex is what I hear, or find in pictures. In her desire to suppress her passion for her stepson, Phaidra is, indeed, a woman of chaste mind and body, despite the best efforts of Aphrodite.
Phaidra has no desire to break the codes of sophrosyne or to be a hypocrite who abides to the ideal only when it is convenient. The dilemma facing Phaidra, though, is that regardless how chaste she remains, it will never be enough to appease the gods Aphrodite or the men Hippolytus and Theseus who dominate the world in which she lives.
By even admitting her unnatural thoughts to her Nurse, Phaidra gives in to the emotional forces at work within her. Breaching the decorum of moderation in her thoughts is enough to set the world of the play into chaos, as Hippolytus's immoderate response most notably, his diatribe against women and Theseus's immoderate ruling exile without appeal to evidence make clear. As Euripides makes clear, the ideals associated with sophrosyne are without problems for those attempting to live their lives to such high standards.
Does Hippolytus excel at moderation or is he narrow minded in his approach to life? To some Sophists, the realization that all men have much the same human nature required the abolishment of all artificial distinctions among men, such as Hellene and Barbarian, master and slave. Other Sophists saw human nature as an aggregate of man's animalistic inclinations to aggression and domination by physical strength.
Human law nomos which restricted those inclinations was seen as an artificial constraint contrary to the natural order of things, created by the weaker members of society.
This view was the philosophical basis of the rhetorical argument of "the right of the stronger" "might makes right" which is used by a number of speakers in Thucydides's History and which you will see advanced by the sophist Thrasymachus in Plato's Republic. The Sophists who advocated this argument saw men in the image of animals in the wild and often recommended the animal world as a model for the human. According to this view, any attempt to constrain the natural human tendency of aggression is not only wrong, but useless.
Nature overrides any artificial constraints set up by man. Just as in the animal world, the strong will always be victorious over and dominate the weak.
Not all Sophists, however, subscribed to this theory. Protagoras believed that men, left to their own natural savage instincts, would destroy each other. In his view nomos, although only an artificial creation of man, enables men to survive and makes possible civilized communal life.
For example, a man charged with assault against a larger and stronger man could argue that it is not likely that he would have attacked such a person. On the other hand, if the man accused of assault were very large, he could argue that a man whose very size would make him a suspect would not be likely to have committed such a crime.
The intellectual revolution fomented by the Sophists also reached into the area of religion. Most Sophists saw the gods as creations of men. In general, Sophists were either agnostic or atheistic and saw the world as operating on the principle of natural rather than divine causation. There was very little room in Sophistic thought for the old anthropomorphic gods.
This, of course, is not to say that the gods disappeared from ancient Greek life because of Sophistic skepticism. The Sophists and their students represented an intellectual minority. The average man, who could not care less about these avant-garde theories, distrusted intellectuals and regarded the agnosticism and atheism of the Sophists as irreligious and impious.
Protagoras was an agnostic who claimed not to know whether the gods existed or not or anything about their appearance. Many other Sophists tended toward atheism. The sophist Prodicus taught that men deify those things which are important to human life such as the sun, moon, rivers, springs, bread Demeterwine Dionysusfire Hephaistos and water Poseidon and at the same time somewhat inconsistently from the modern point of view the discoverers and providers of bread, wine and fire also called Demeter, Dionysus and Hephaistos.
Thus the goddess Demeter was considered simultaneously to be bread and the provider of bread just as Dionysus and Hephaistos were similarly viewed with regard to wine and fire. Another atheistic theory about the origin of the gods is attributed to a certain Critias, an associate of Plato, who was not himself a professional sophist, but whose views were closely allied with those of the Sophists. Critias asserted that the gods were a contrivance of governments to insure that men would believe that everything done on earth whether openly or secretly was seen by the gods and would consequently be discouraged from violating the laws of the state.
Otherwise, men, if not detected by other men, could break the laws of the state without fear of punishment. In this theory, belief in the gods brought stability to the state by providing sanction for its laws. Properly a name given by the Greeks to all those who professed knowledge, or a particular knowledge or a particular art.
Hence the Seven Wise Men are often thus called; but the name was especially applied to the educated men of ready speech, who, from about the year B. They have the merit of having popularized the interest in knowledge which had up to that time been confined within narrow circles, and especially of having contributed to the formation of eloquence.
For they were the first to make style an object of study, and to institute serious investigations into the art of rhetorical expression. Their teaching was chiefly intended to give their pupils versatility in the use of speech, and thus to fit them for taking part in public life. As the subject of their discourses, they chose by preference questions of public interest to persons of general education. The expression, however, always remained the important thing, while positive knowledge fell more and more into the background.
Some of them even started from the position, that virtue and knowledge were only subjective notions. Protagoras of Abdera, who appeared about B.
Wherever they appeared, especially in Athens, they were received with the greatest enthusiasm, and many flocked to hear them. Even such men as Pericles, Euripides, and Socrates sought their society; and Socrates owed to them much that was suggestive in his own pursuit of practical philosophy, though, on the other hand, he persistently attacked the principles underlying their public teaching.
These principles became further exaggerated under their successors who did not think they needed even knowledge of fact to talk as they pleased about everything.
Accordingly the skill of the Sophist degenerated into mere technicalities and complete absence of reason, and became absolutely contemptible. With the revival of Greek eloquence, from about the beginning of the 2nd century A. At that time the name was given to the professional orators, who appeared in public with great pomp and delivered declamations either prepared beforehand or improvised on the spot.
Like the earlier Sophists, they went generally from place to place, and were overwhelmed with applause and with marks of distinction by their contemporaries, including even the Roman emperors. Dion Chrysostom, Herodes Atticus, Aristides, Lucian, and Philostratus the elder, belong to the flourishing period of this second school of Sophists, a period which extends over the whole of the 2nd century.
They appear afresh about the middle of the 4th century devoting their philosophic culture to the zealous but unavailing defence of paganism.
Among them was the emperor Julian and his contemporaries Libanius, Himerius, and Themistius. Synesius may be considered as the last Sophist of importance. Euripides grows at a time when the sophistic movement in Athens is prosperingand his work reflects the spiritual strife and ferment of the period.
Euripides is considering as 'pupil of the sophists' and apostle of the sophistic movement from some scholars, but such a view is exaggerated. Euripides certainly watched with interest the intellectual movement of his time, he knew the ideas of contemporary thinkers and reflects many of these projects, but we should not think that always accepts them: Nor should we think that the works of Euripides was a kind of "ideological manifestos" which aimed to propagate the ideas of sophistication in public.
The aim of Euripides was not to raise a certain ideology, but rather to present dramatically with clean and exciting theatrical way, the struggle and collision of different ideas, which saw the spiritual life of his time.
The sophists had a key role in the development of the art of persuasion and many of them taught rhetoric to their students. The sophists were instrumental in the development of the art of persuasion and many of them taught rhetoric to their students. One of his favorite rhetorical exercises sophists were putting their students to argue both sides of an issue, or to argue for and against the same terms.
This sophistic exercise reflected the "agon" or formal debate which are very common in the tragedies of Euripides: Usually sayings struggles reasons consciously rhetorical and use many features of Attica rhetoric tricks.
Sometimes people read aloud their speeches before a judge, who will decide who is right eg Hecuba Hecuba and Polymistor speak with judge Agamemnon, in the Trojan Women Hecuba and Helen with Menelaus as a judgein Orestes Orestes and Tyndareus with judge Menelaos. Then the battle grounds have something of the atmosphere of the court, where parties compete with sayings to convince the judges. Favorite theme of Sophistic thought preoccupied Euripides: Euripides dramatized this in the tragedy "Antiope" through a mental conflict between the two brothers, Amphion and Zethos: Amphion supports the theoretical life of contemplation and intellectual creation, the Zethos the practical life of political action.
Another issue raised in several tragedies of Euripides is political power, the limits of strength and power and its relationship to the law-again fundamental questions in political theories of the Sophists.
At Phoenician is a formal debate between Eteocles reasons and Polynices on the issue of power. Eteocles appears as an advocate of absolute power; proclaims that he would not hesitate at nothing to gain and maintain power.
His views may reflect contemporary theoretical discussions of the sophists cf. Thrasymachus in Republic and Callicles in Gorgias of Plato, who theoretically defend the law of the fittest and the right of the powerful to dominate and exploit the powerless; similar arguments advanced by the Athenians in their dialogue with Milia in Thucydides' History.
In contrast, Jocasta who acts as referee in the game defends equality between citizens and democracy. In other cases Euripides seems to question the social distinctions and boundaries of social classes: Challenging the old aristocratic attitudes that identified their nobility of origin by virtue of character is another spiritual conquest of sophistic.
This is, in fact, the only known instance of a Greek dramatist composing two tragedies on the same mythic source. It therefore seems likely that Euripides was deeply interested in this narrative. His first treatment, entitled Hippolytos Kalyptomenos Hippolytus Veiledwas met by the disfavor of the Athenian audience.
Though only a brief fragment of this play survives, scholars generally agree that this text portrayed Phaedra as sexually voracious. This representation of Phaedra as a lustful woman who directly propositions Hippolytus likely offended Athenian audiences who would have been appalled by the portrayal of illicit female desire.
The extant dramatization, titled Hippolytos Stephanophoros Hippolytus Crowned or simply Hippolytus, is generally believed to have corrected the characterizations that made the first version so unpopular. This belief originated with Aristophanes of Byzantium, and many modern scholars continue to hold this view.
In this reading, both Phaedra and Hippolytus remain chaste and share some of the responsibility for their tragic fates. Instead of a brazen Phaedra propositioning Hippolytus, the nurse betrays her mistress, which results in the downfall of these two characters.
Ultimately, all characters seem to be absolved of their moral responsibilities. Rather, Aphrodite receives blame for the deaths of Hippolytus and Phaedra, and the conclusion of the play establishes ongoing strife between the goddess of love and the goddess of chastity.
Athenian audiences responded more positively to this reworked version of the Hippolytus myth. Hippolytus was first performed for the City Dionysia in B. Theseus is spending his time in Troezen as a voluntary exile to atone for his killings. His step wife, Phaedra, and his illegitimate son Hippolytus both join him in this story. At the beginning of the play Aphrodite, a goddess particularly the one associated with love appears and mentions how Hippolytus, having sworn chastity, honours Artemis instead, and how she plans to punish Hippolytus for scorning women and, thus, her as well.
He is then approached by a servant who warns him not to displease Aphrodite, but the servant is ignored. This first scene reveals that Hippolytus is not at all interested in women and is quite ignorant of his impending fate.
The chorus, a common tool for Greek playwrights, consists of the married women of Troezen. They enter the play following the temple scene, describing how Phaedra does not seem to be eating or sleeping.
The nurse, believing that the issue can be resolved, lies to Phaedra and tells her she can be cured with some unknown medicine. She then proceeds to tell Hippolytus about Phaedra and her love for him. After telling Hippolytus she makes him swear to tell no one no matter what about what she has said. Hippolytus then remarks angrily about his disdain for the nature of women, partially revealing why he has chosen a life of chastity, and further revealing why Aphrodite wants to exact revenge upon him.
Phaedra, understanding that Hippolytus now knows, believes herself to be doomed to ridicule and such and so she commits suicide. Before she does so, she makes the Chorus swear secrecy regarding her death. Thus, she dooms Hippolytus, though he is unaware. In the next scene, Theseus returns only to find his wife dead with a letter on her body explaining that she had committed suicide because Hippolytus raped her.
The chorus, being bound by their pact with Phaedra, cannot tell him the truth. Hippolytus appears, and though he seems quite innocent in his demeanor Theseus immediately questions him about the alleged crime. Hippolytus, being true to his word, holds his tongue and does not tell Theseus what he knows; only that he is innocent.
Theseus, believing the letter to be the truth, curses Hippolytus using one of the three curses which his father Poseidon the god of water, ocean, and sea has promised him and then exiles him. The messenger, pitying Hippolytus, tries to sue pardon for him saying that he is innocent, but Theseus refuses to believe and is quite happy with the turn of events.
Suddenly, Artemis appears Theseus and tells him the truth of the situation. She lays partial blame on Theseus for cursing his son, but understands that the main faults lays with Aphrodite. Hippolytus is then carried in to a remorseful Theseus, and though Hippolytus was obviously wronged he forgives Theseus and does not lay the blame of his death upon him. Thus, the play of Hippolytus ends. Aphrodite causes Phaedra to fall in love with Hippolytus, which ultimately causes his downfall.
Euripides portrays Aphrodite as a terrifying and vindictive deity, unlike the voluptuous woman often depicted in visual art. Her opening monologue conveys an imperious attitude, and she sees the world and its people as her domain. Because Aphrodite is the goddess of love, her perception of the world seems reasonable, since her power extends to the everyday lives of the mortals over whom she rules. As Aphrodite states, those who fail to accord the proper respect to her will face obliteration.
Aphrodite directs her fury at Hippolytus because he refuses to worship her. This, of course, infuriates Aphrodite who vows to punish him for his blasphemy. Her vehicle for punishing him is Phaedra, his stepmother, who thus becomes a victim of love. As a child, he was sent to Troezen to be raised by his great-grandfather Pittheus.
Theseus hoped that when Pittheus died, Hippolytus would inherit the rule of Troezen while his legitimate children would rule over Athens. Hippolytus worships Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, to the exclusion of the other gods. He is committed to remaining chaste, which angers Aphrodite, the goddess of love.
Angry at his refusal to honor her, Aphrodite plots against him, causing his stepmother, Phaedra, to fall in love with him. After marrying Theseus, she falls in love with his illegitimate son Hippolytus.
Phaedra tells her nurse about her passion for her stepson, who then reveals this to Hippolytus. In order to preserve her honor, Phaedra commits suicide by hanging herself, but not before writing a letter accusing Hippolytus of raping her. Most critics including Aristophanes agree that Phaedra and not Hippolytus is the principal character in this play.
Although Aristophanes accused Euripides of portraying only perverse or monstrous women on the stage, Euripides has a clear interest in women and their role in Greek society.
He grants her character interiority that he denies to Hippolytus and Theseus, as we can see in her nuanced defense of her actions. She describes her own motives with perfect clarity, first explaining her resolution to remain silent and then her determination to die. He is in Troezen with his wife Phaedra serving a year of voluntary exile for murdering the Pallantids, who are nobles of Attica, the region around Athens.
His illegitimate son Hippolytus also lives in Troezen.