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In Euripides' Hippolytus, Phaedra, the wife of Theseus, is in love with her stepson Hippolytus. For a long time, Phaedra had tried to hide her love, but eventually her nurse convinces her to reveal her secret to her. When the nurse learns of Phaedra's love for her stepson, the nurse convinces Phaedra to allow her to approach Hippolytus.
Hippolytus, however, is devoted to preserving his chastity and therefore he rejects the "indecent proposal" that the nurse makes on Phaedra's behalf.
Phaedra, in an effort to preserve some semblance of self-respect, hangs herself; but before she does so, she writes a letter accusing Hippolytus of sexually assaulting her.
When Theseus discovers this letter, he believes that Hippolytus is guilty of this crime. Given this belief, Theseus curses Hippolytus, a curse which results in Hippolytus having a chariot accident and being dragged to death by his own horses.
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