Places Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Places)
*Troezen. Greek city, on the eastern coast of the Peloponnesian Peninsula, that is home of the Athenian king Theseus and his new wife Phaedra. The play’s action is set largely in and around their royal palace. In ancient times, aristocratic Greek women tended to be kept indoors, and in the play the interior of the palace is associated with Phaedra’s incestuous desire for her stepson Hippolytus, which she tries to conceal. After her secret is revealed, Phaedra hangs herself in her bedroom. The palace is a location of containment and repression whose walls cannot, however, ultimately shut out the forces of desire unleashed by Aphrodite, the goddess of love.
Nature. In the mythical landscape of the play, natural locations are the realm of Artemis, the goddess of hunting and virginity, to whom Hippolytus is abnormally devoted, and of Aphrodite, who uses Phaedra to destroy Hippolytus. Bodies of water, trees, and meadows are suffused with sexual symbolism. For example, the bull that causes Hippolytus’s death comes from the sea, which symbolizes, in turn, the elemental power of desire. In contrast to Phaedra, Hippolytus is thus associated with the outdoors, particularly with the forests, where he hunts, and the seashore, where he exercises his horses.
*Crete (kreet). Greek island in the eastern Mediterranean that is the original home of Phaedra. In mythology, Crete...
(The entire section is 316 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Bibliography (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Euripides. Hippolytus. Translated by Robert Bagg. New York: Oxford University Press, 1973. In his translator’s introduction, Bagg claims that Hippolytus’ possession by Artemis can be explained by the concept of sophrosyne, a strength of character so free of guilt and clear of mind that the individual is not even tempted to commit a wrong, weak, or greedy action.
Euripides. Hippolytus. Edited by W. S. Barret. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1964. Scholarly edition of the play, which includes a discussion of the legend and cult of Hippolytus, evidence for lost plays on the subject, the history of the text in antiquity and the middle ages, and a commentary on the play.
Euripides. Hippolytus. In Three Plays by Euripedes, translated by Philip Vellacott. 1953. Reprint. Baltimore, Md.: Penguin Books, 1974. In his introduction, Vellacott points out two major themes in Hippolytus, that of syngnome, or pardon, which differs from forgiveness in its emotional detachment and lack of religious implications, and that of the deep gulf of misunderstanding between men and women.
Kitto, H. D. F. “Euripidean Tragedy: The Hippolytus.” In Greek Tragedy: A Literary Study. 1939. Reprint. London: Methuen, 1978. Focuses on such issues as the contrast in character...
(The entire section is 269 words.)