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Lecture 4

HUMA 1105 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Euripides, Sophrosyne, Misogyny

Course Code
HUMA 1105
Loredana Kun

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Lecture November 17th 2015
“Hippolytus” by Euripides
Background on Euripides
- Born in 480 BC on the day of the victory over the Persians (Battle of Salamis)
- Competed in 22 festivals and it took him over 14 years to win 1st prize
The Tragedy “Hippolytus”
- Was preformed in 428 BC in Athens and won 1st prize
- This is the 2nd edition of “Hippolytus”, the 1st was lost
- Theseus: Adventurer and King of Athens, with an Amazon Queen (Hippolyta) he had an
illegitimate son; Hippolytus
- Phaedra: Princess of Crete, and the young wife of Theseus. She is also Hippolytus’
- Hippolytus: illegitimate son of Amazon Queen and Theseus, King of Athens. His name
literally means “destroyed by horses”, and implies a disastrous doom
The Frame of The Play
- Prologos 1-55: Begins with Aphrodite’s long speech; she is angry because Hippolytus
does not honour her, she makes it clear that she will destroy anyone who does not
honour her to the extent that she desires. Aphrodite assumes her superiority to the
humans (the audience) and makes known that she wants to be honoured. She makes
Phaedra fall in love with Hippolytus, and this will lead to Theseus cursing Hippolytus,
which will lead to his death. She also tells the audience that Phaedra will commit suicide
- Scene 1, 56-175: Hippolytus enters with a group of friends they sing a hymn to Artemis
(Goddess of the hunt and chastity)
- Scene 2, 176-560: Phaedra’s nurse knows that something is wrong with her. Phaedra is
reluctant to tell the nurse what is wrong with her. The truth is revealed at around line
350; Phaedra is in love with Hippolytus; she is ashamed of herself as she has resolved
to die rather than to give into her love for Hippolytus
- 486: Phaedra rejects the nurse’s advice. The chorus is a rich repository of traditional
wisdom and insight. Nurse says that love is [the] “sweetest and bitterest”. The Greeks
saw love as a form of insanity. Here we see carnal love and not true romantic love.
Phaedra does not want to feel this way towards Hippolytus
- 525: Love is a powerful and destroying force
- Scene 3, 561-790: Phaedra decides to kill herself and to get revenge on Hippolytus
- Hippolytus lacks sophrosyne (moderation and control; from this the word “sophisticated”
- He is extreme, unbalanced, horrified by love, and a misogynist (hates women and
- There is an eros-sexual love between Phaedra and Hippolytus, not true, deep love
- Phaedra hangs herself, Theses curses Hippolytus, and Hippolytus was killed when his
horses wrecked his chariot
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