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A Father’s Curse In Euripides’ Hippolytus

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Chapter Summary

The penalties that Theseus imposes on his son in the third episode of Hippolytus comprise an uncharacteristic rough spot in an otherwise polished play. Theseus arrives back in Trozen to find his wife a suicide, an accusatory tablet dangling from her wrist. No sooner has he absorbed the tablet's message than he calls on his father Poseidon, reminding the god of the three wishes he once promised him and asking Poseidon to destroy Hippolytus on that very day, &t;if indeed you granted me reliable curses. If in the first Hippolytus Theseus cursed the innocent Hippolytus by appealing to his paternal Erinyes, his words might have disconcerted the spectators as much as or even more than the characterization of Phaedra as a porne (cf. Ar. Ran. 1043), and their shocked reaction might have played a role in Euripides' decision to revise the play.

Keywords: Euripides' Hippolytus; Phaedra; Theseus



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