Phaedra, sometimes known as Hippolytus is a play by Seneca the Younger, telling the story of Phaedra and her taboo love for her stepson Hippolytus. Lucius Annaeus Seneca (often known simply as Seneca, or Seneca the Younger; Σένεκας in Ancient Greek literature (c This article is on the mythological figure For other meanings see Phaedra. In Greek mythology, Hippolytus ( Greek for "loose horse" was a son of Theseus and either Antiope or Hippolyte. It is an adaptation of Hippolytus by Euripides; in Seneca's version, Phaedra is more sensual and shameless, deceiving her nurse in order to gain her as an accomplice. Hippolytus (Ιππόλυτος / Hippolytos) is an Ancient Greek Tragedy by Euripides, based on the myth of Hippolytus Euripides ( Ancient Greek:) (ca 480 BC–406 BC was the last of the three great tragedians of classical Athens (the other two being Aeschylus
According to Pierre Grimal, it seems that this work is the result of the "contamination" of several sources, including Sophocles (a lost tragedy), Lycophron and Ovid. Pierre Grimal ( November 21, 1912, Paris - October 11, 1996, Paris) was a French Historian, Classicist Sophocles (ˈsɒfəkliːz Ancient Greek, sopʰoklɛ̂ːs circa Lycophron was a Greek Poet and Grammarian (although the Oxford Classical Dictionary regards these as two different men Publius Ovidius Naso ( March 20, 43 BC – 17 AD was a Roman poet known to the English -speaking world as Ovid who wrote on many topics including
In 1591, Jean Yeuwain translated the play into French, as "Hippolyte, tragédie tournée de Sénèque", taking several liberties with the original. Jean Yeuwain (c 1566 - c 1626 was a dramatist and man of letters born in the Southern Netherlands.
Act 1. The young Hippolytus distributes responsibilities in the hunt to each of his people, marking out the places where they must go, and invokes the relief of Diana, goddess of the hunt (1). Phaedra confesses her burning love for Hippolytus to his wet-nurse, who tries in vain to dissuade her. (2). The chorus maintains that all things yield to love - the men of every country, whatever their age or condition, and even the very gods of heaven and hell, as well as all sorts of animals.
Act 2. The wet-nurse (of Phaedra) complains about the evil consequences of love, disease and impatience that results in this violent passion. Then suddenly Phaedra appears, dressed up like an Amazon or huntress to please Hippolytus (1). The wet-nurse strives skillfully to bend Hippolytus's will, to make it consent to the delights of love and to the softness of civil life: but Hippolytus is not at all willing to change his mood, and prefers by far his inclinations for the country life over all the pleasures of the human relations praised by the wet-nurse. (2). Phaedra and the wet-nurse attack his modesty by all sorts of artifices, but they cannot overcome it, and so resort to the slanders (3). The chorus pray to the gods, that beauty be as advantageous to Hippolytus that she was pernicious and fatal to many others and at the end we see the return of Theseus.
Act 3. Theseus, back from the underworld, finds his wife's wet-nurse before him and asks her what is the reason for the mourning in his house, but all she will say is that Phaedra has resolved to die. (1). Phaedra pretends that she prefers to die than to declare to Theseus the wrong that someone has done to him. As Theseus threatens the wet-nurse to make her acknowledge to him the truth of what has happened, she shows him the sword that Hippolytus had left (2). Theseus recognizes the sword, and they leave him to be consumed by anger, wishing his undeserving son dead (3). The chorus complains that the course of the heavens and of all else goes on with regulation, but that human affairs are not governed by justice, since the good are persecuted and the evil are rewarded.
Act 4. A messenger relates to Theseus how Hippolytus was pulled to pieces by his own horses, terrorized by a sea bull sent by Neptune in answer to Theseus's prayer (1). The chorus relates a narrative of the fickleness of good fortunes and the perils to which they are exposed, recommends the children's safety and deplores Hippolytus's death.
Act 5. Phaedra declares Hippolytus's innocence and retracts her confession of his crime, then she kills herself. Theseus regrets the death of his son, gives him the honour of a proper burial, and refuses this to his cruel step-mother.