Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Theseus (THEE-see-uhs), the protagonist and narrator. He becomes the king of Athens after the death of his father, Aegeus, then begins his attempt to unify Attica and create a strong central government in Athens. His love affair with Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons, ends with her death, but he has already married Phaedra, princess of Crete. He later brings her and their son Akamas to Athens. The tragedy of the relationship among Hippolytus, Phaedra, and Theseus results in the deaths of Phaedra and Hippolytus. Theseus ends his days a lonely, embittered, increasingly powerless old man who chooses to throw himself off the cliffs of the island of Skyros.


Hippolyta (hih-PAH-luh-tuh), the queen of the Amazons and lover of Theseus. When she is brought back to Athens after being beaten in battle by Theseus, she becomes the mother of their son, Hippolytus. She is the great love in Theseus’ life, and her death in battle effectively ends Theseus’ joy in life. Her courage and honesty sharply contrast with Phaedra, and she remains symbolic of everything Theseus admires in a woman.


Phaedra (FEE-druh), the princess of Crete and wife of Theseus. The younger sister of Ariadne, Phaedra fell in love with Theseus when, as a young child, she watched him in the bull ring. Their marriage is a...

(The entire section is 542 words.)