LLT 121 CLASSICAL MYTHOLOGY: The Hippolytus of Euripides
Copyright  2001, Joseph J. Hughes
Last reviewed: 13 August 2001

I.   Background
     A. Theseus' past
	1. love match with the Amazon Antiope (Hippolyte)
	   a. bastard son, Hippolytus, produced
           b. Antiope killed or cast off
        2. Theseus makes legitimate match with Phaedra
           a. daughter of King Minos and Pasiphae; sister of Ariadne
           b. family history of misconceived passion
           c. Phaedra already has the hots for Hippolytus
           d. two sons produced by Theseus
              1) Theseus Jr.
              2) Theseus III
     B. The plot thickens
        1. Hippolytus sent to Troezen
           a. home of Theseus' mother, Aethra; 
           b. and of Pittheus, Theseus' grandfather
           c. Hippolytus to rule at Troezen upon Pittheus' death
        2. Theseus goes into exile for killing his Uncle Pallas and sons
           a. moves his new young wife, Phaedra, to Troezen
           b. leaves Troezen on a journey
II.  The Nature of the Conflict: Aphrodite vs. Artemis
     A.	Aphrodite offended: 
	1. Hippolytus is devotee of Artemis
	2. Hippolytus scorns love and marriage
     B.	Aphro.'s revenge
        1. Theseus has been granted 3 wishes by his father, Poseidon
        2. "Renowned shall Phaedra be in her death, but none the less die she must." (line 47)
     C.	Hippolytus and Artemis
        1. prayer at the altar of Artemis
           a. "inviolate Meadow" = purity/chastity = vagina = source of life = life itself
           b. its gardener is the "spirit Reverence"
           c. chastity/purity not learnable; must be inborn
        2. only Hipp. can hear the words of Artemis
     D.	Servant's warning
        1. "Men hate the haughty of heart who will not be the friend of every man." (line 93)
        2. Hipp. replies: "I worship her - but from a long way off, for I am chaste." (line 102)
           a. "Men make their choice: one man honors one God, and one another." (line 104)
           b. Hipp. cannot honor both divinities at once: a purist  
III. Phaedra's "sickness"
     A.	tormented by some offense against Dictynna/Artemis?
        1. the nature of existence:
           "Unhappy is the compound of woman's nature..."  (lines 161-63)
           "The life of man entire is misery..." (lines 189-90)
        2. her madness:
        3. Nurse advises Phaedra to have a care for her children: the bastard Hipp. will inherit if you die
     B.	Phaedra's secret "sickness"
        1. recalls the curse on her family: Pasiphae & Ariadne's ill-conceived passion
        2. Nurse's first reaction to the "sickness": impossible situation
        3. Phaedra's struggle with her sickness: we know virtue, but can't bring it to achievement
           a. at first, endurance in silence was her plan
           b. try to conquer passion with discretion and good sense
           c. die unshamed and with her reputation intact 
           d. will not dishonor her husband and children  
IV.  The Nurse as Mediator
     A.	the Nurse's Choice for Phaedra
	1. Love, the irresistible and divine force
	   a. many others love; to die for love is foolish
           b. love is from a god and part of life
           c. many others have given in to illicit love
           d. nothing is perfect: give in to this great force
        2. both the Chorus and Phaedra still choose honor
           a. "What you want is not fine words, but the man!" (lines 490-91)
           b. which do you want, life or a good name
           c. throw aside your virtue; I have magic potions
     B.	Hippolytus' reaction to mediating Nurse
        1. swears beforehand not to tell
        2. tirade against women (The Misogynist's Credo)
           a. let men buy their children at temples 
           b. instead of there being women to bear them
           c. women are a drain on the house's resources
           d. clever (intelligent) women are the worst
           e. bestial lechers, all of them
           f. "I'll hate you wome,..." (lines 664-68)
        3. "I'll go to a running stream and pour its waters into my ear to purge away the filth." (lines 653-540)  
V.   The Rest of the Story
     A.	Phaedra's reaction to Nurse's mediation
        1. "May Zeus . . . blot you out utterly..." (lines 683-85)
        2. Hippolytus will tell Theseus; I will be dishonored
           a. you have brought about my death
           b. at least I can leave my children with a good name
        3. with my death I shall also have vengeance on Hipp
     B.	Theseus's passionate reaction to Phaedra's death
        1. I curse Hippolytus with exile and death
        2. how I have been fooled 
           a. "You are the veritable holy man!" (line 943)
           b. boast of your purity, but I have found you out
           c. her death proves your guilt because you are a bastard son you hated her
           d.you will say she was taken with passion, but so are young men
     C.	Hippolytus' reply
	1. I swear I am chaste
	   a. I serve the gods first, men second
           b. I am true to my friends
           c. I am ignorant of sexual intercourse
        2. I have no motive
           a. she was not exceedingly beautiful
           b. I do not wish for your power nor your place as king
        3. I formally swear I never sinned against you or your wife
     D.	Theseus' self-judgment
        1. you're a clever deceiver = I'm deceived by Phaedra and myself
        2. you are lustful = I produced you, a child of passion
        3. you are selfish and self-centered
	4. I am too impure to perceive of someone as virtuous as you
        5. you're disloyal to your father = I exile my own son  
VI.  Epilogue
     A.	Theseus' sin against nature
        1. killed his own son
        2. may be redeemed yet
           a. used by Aphrodite
           b. was ignorant
     B. Hippolytus
	1. will be avenged and immortalized (as will Phaedra)
	   a. Artemis will kill Aphrodite's next love (Adonis)
           b. unwedded maids will cut their hair in your honor
           c. you will be immortalized in song (poetry)
        2. forgives his father
  
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1. What is good about Hippolytus, and what is bad?
2. What is your opinion of Phaedra's character?
3. Why is the Nurse's plan unsuccessful?
4. How do Hippolytus (and Artemis) represent youth, especially in contrast to Aphrodite and Phaedra?  

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