Composers and their stage works 


(Hippolytos, 428 B.C.)

Tragedy by Euripides


Hippolytus, the young and handsome illegitimate son of Theseus, King of Athens, and the Amazon queen Hippolyte, shuns women and lives an ascetic life devoted to Artemis, maiden goddess of the hunt. His unnatural disposition angers Aphrodite, goddess of love, who vows to take revenge on him for defying her. Phaedra, the young wife of Theseus, is passionately in love with Hippolytus; but her sense of honour forbids the seduction of her stepson, and she decides that her only course of action is to commit suicide. Her nurse, in an effort to prevent this, reveals Phaedra's feelings to Hippolytus after swearing him to secrecy. Hippolytus is deeply shocked, and Phaedra, burning with shame and humiliation, hangs herself after writing a letter in which she accuses Hippolytus of having violated her. Theseus returns from a journey to find his wife dead, clasping the letter. Enraged, he banishes his son, praying to the god Poseidon to kill him. Bound by his vow of secrecy to Phaedra's nurse and thus unable to defend himself, Hippolytus flees from the city and is fatally injured when his chariot horses are stampeded by a sea monster. Too late, Theseus learns the truth from Artemis, who swears revenge against Aphrodite and disappears, leaving Hippolytus to die in his father's arms.