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Hippolytus by Euripides

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Introduction

HIPPOLYTUS BY EURIPIDES T ROZEN IS WHERE THE PLAY IS SET AND IT IS RULED OVER BY THESEUS as well as Athens because Thesus' grandfather governed Trozen before he died. Theseus had been sent Trozen because he had been exiled form Athens for a year due to the bloodguilt over the murder of his cousins (the sons of Pallas). Before this however, Theseus conquered the Amazons and took captive the Amazonian Queen Hippolyta and had a child with her, Hippolytus. Therefore, Hippolytus was illegitimate and a foreigner. This reinforces his role as an outsider in the play: he is different to the other Greeks. Theseus later married Phaedra who became Hippolytus' stepmother. Hippolytus is chaste and has therefore shunned the goddess Aphrodite and despises sexual acts and women and prefers hunting and worships greatly the goddess Artemis. The very fact that Hippolytus' mother was an Amazon could explain Hippolytus' strong dislike towards the opposite sex and sexual love, and his strong dedication to hunting and to chastity. Aphrodite says the prologue and outlines what she is going to do. She makes Phaedra fall in love with Hippolytus. Phaedra is highly disturbed by the feelings she has for Hippolytus and attempts to starve herself. ...read more.

Middle

Phaedra becomes very cross with the Nurse and then shows the audience her conniving and malicious side to her personality. She writes a suicide note to save her reputation, which accuses Hippolytus of raping her knowing that this action could have Hippolytus killed. Then she hangs herself. Theseus then arrives home and sees the Phaedra and is very upset and he believes the note. Hippolytus and him then argue and Hippolytus doe not reveal the truth as he has sworn his oath to the Nurse. However, Theseus banishes Hippolytus without trial and then gets Poseidon, who had given Theseus three curses, to use one of the curses on Hippolytus. Poseidon sends a raging giant bull from the sea which scares Hippolytus horses, which run with Hippolytus tangled in the reins, over the rocks. Hippolytus is close to death when he is brought back to the palace. When Hippolytus is carried to Theseus, he is about to use another curse on him when Artemis appears and tells him the truth. Hippolytus forgives his father and Artemis then leaves (as she cannot look upon the dead) vowing revenge on Aphrodite and saying to honour Hippolytus, girls who are about to be married will cut their hair to commemorate him. ...read more.

Conclusion

Therefore a judgement is passed and Hippolytus is condemned unfairly. The roles of the goddesses (which are consistently shown to the audience via two statues one of Artemis and the other of Aphrodite on the stage) is interesting as Euripides shows them to be a petty as mortals despite the slave saying that 'Gods should be wiser than men'. Aphrodite wants to kill Hippolytus as he has shunned her and Artemis vows to kill Adonis (though not named, rather she says that she will avenge Hippolytus' death), who is the mortal youth lover of Aphrodite. Euripides once again in Hippolytus, challenges Greek society and the value of religion in 'Hippolytus'. He shows Theseus, a Greek hero, as being cold hearted and intolerant, however at the end we see a heroically emotional side to him after his previous irrationality towards his son. We also see the gods being petty and Poseidon (though he does not appear) putting one of the curses he has given to Theseus, on his grandson - Poseidon was reputed to be Theseus' father therefore making Hippolytus his grandson. 'Hippolytus' won Euripides first prize at the drama competition. Perhaps this is because he doesn't challenge Greek male superiority as he did in 'Medea'. 1 ...read more.

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