What task originally brings Theseus and Hippolyta to the woods in A Midsummer Night's Dream?

In A Midsummer Night's Dream, Theseus and Hippolyta originally come into the woods in act 4, scene 1 for an early morning hunt so that Hippolyta can enjoy the musical sounds of Theseus's hounds on her wedding day. Here, they stumble across the sleeping bodies of Hermia, Helena, Demetrius, and Lysander.

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As dawn breaks on the morning of their wedding in act 4, scene 1, Theseus, Hippolyta, and a hunting party enter the woods. Theseus wishes for his bride to hear the musical barking of his dogs as the day breaks, saying,

My love shall hear the music of my hounds.

Hippolyta says she remembers a time when the hounds of Sparta cornered a bear, and the musical "discord" sounded like "sweet thunder." Theseus assures her she will never have heard a sound as beautiful as his own hounds. As they are talking, they stumble in the dawn light across the sleeping figures of Hermia, Helena, Demetrius, and Lysander. Having no idea that Hermia and Lysander are trying to elope, Theseus and Hippolyta assume the four have come out early to join the king's festive celebrations in the woods.

The sound of the hunting horns wake the four young people. They scramble up, surprised to see the king and queen. Demetrius explains that for some strange reason he is no longer in love with Hermia but wishes to wed Helena. Theseus then declares:

Egeus, I will overbear your will.
For in the temple by and by with us
These couples shall eternally be knit.
The scene is a tender one in which Theseus attempts to appeal to both the side of Hippolyta that loves music as well as the side of her that loves warrior feats by allowing her to hear the music of his hunting dogs. In a happy and loving mood, he wishes to spread the love around and so wants to share his wedding day with the four young lovers.
Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on

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