428 BCE - First Prize


‘Euripides’ - "Greek Dramas" (p251, 1900): Internet Archive Book Images

Translated by George Theodoridis © Copyright 2010, all rights reserved - Bacchicstage

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Dramatis Personae

Aphrodite (also known as Aphrodite)


Theseus (King of Athens)

Phaedra (Wife of Theseus)


Nurse (To Phaedra)

Chorus 1 (Of Women of Troezen)

Chorus 2 (Slaves to Hippolytus)

Messenger (And slave to Hippolytus)

Various Attendants (silent)

Before Theseus’ palace in Troezen (Northern Peloponnese).

The statues of two goddesses, Aphrodite and Artemis, flank the door of the palace. The statue of Artemis holds a bow and a quiver of arrows.

SL is a couch.

Enter Aphrodite from the side of her statue.

Aphrodite I am Aphrodite.

A goddess!

Also called Cypris.

A great goddess among the mortals, as well as throughout the heavens.

Of those mortals who look upon the light of the sun and who live between the very edges of the East, the Black Sea and the farthest ends of the West, the great Pillars of Atlas, of all those of them who respect my power, I, respect them, also.

But those of them who treat me with disrespect, them, I crush and destroy!

It’s part of being a god. We, gods, all of us, enjoy being revered by the mortals.

So I say and so I shall prove very shortly!

You see, Hippolytus, that child of the Amazon Hippolyta, by the seed of Theseus, who was raised by that pure man, Pittheus, is the only one -the only one in the whole of Troezen, who hates me. He says that I am the worst of all the gods! 10

Hippolytus, says this! He is the only mortal, the only man, who says this!

The boy will neither marry anyone nor go anywhere near the bed of love!

Instead, he reveres that Artemis, Zeus’ daughter, Apollo’s sister!

Nods towards the statue of Artemis

He thinks she’s by far the greater of all the goddesses and so, the two of them, he and his little virgin deity there, take their great hunting dogs and go roaming about the plush forest together all day, sending all the wild beasts away!

A mortal has no business being in such a close relationship with an immortal!

Far too inappropriate a behaviour for a mortal, I say!

But the fact is, the relationship itself doesn’t bother me, really. I’m not the jealous type. Why should I be bothered about those two? 20

But the disrespect he shows for me –a goddess! For that I will punish him severely! Today!

Today Hippolytus will pay for all the sins he has ever committed against me and, since I’ve been preparing this plan for a long time now, it will only take a tiny bit more effort on my part to see it through to its execution.

A while ago, Hippolytus had travelled all the way from Pittheus’ house to the precincts of Pandion, to watch, as well as to take part in the celebrations of the great mysteries of the goddesses Demeter and Kore.

Well, his father’s noble wife, Phaedra – that is, Hippolytus’ step mother- saw him there and, at that very moment, the moment her eyes fell on that boy, her heart missed a beat! She fell in love with Hippolytus, her step son!

Now, you see, that little heart flutter of hers was my own doing!

And then, before Phaedra came here, to Trozen, I mean, she had built a temple, next to the rock of Pallas Athena, as a monument to her love, you see, a monument dedicated to me; and because her lover was away, the temple was built so it looked over towards this way, that is, our way. Then she let it known to everyone that she had built that temple in honour of Hippolytus. 29

Then, Theseus, her husband, that is Hippolytus’ father, left Athens to escape the blood guilt he had brought about for treacherously murdering his cousins, the sons of Pallas, that is Aegeas’ brother…

So, Theseus then takes his wife Phaedra and sails off from Athens to end up here, in Troezen, for a one-year long exile from his home.

Poor Phaedra!

Indicating inside the palace

So, she is here now, in there, moaning and groaning from the pain inflicted by the pointy pricks of love! She’s dying in silence, the poor dear because she won’t tell anyone what she is suffering from.

But this is not the way this love sickness of hers is going to end. 41

No. I shall tell Theseus all about it and then the secret will be out.

As for the young man, my enemy, his father -Theseus that is- will have him killed by using one of the three wishes –curses, rather- that his own father, the Lord of the sea, Poseidon, that is, had granted him –Theseus, that is – as a gift. Theseus can ask Poseidon for three things and all three will be delivered.

Still, Phaedra will die! She will but with her… honour, still intact!

I’m not at all interested in her misfortune. No, what I am far more interested in is to see that those who treat me with disrespect get adequately punished.

Noise from within (SL) from a group of men who are singing, as they are approaching.

Ah! I can see Hippolytus coming this way. End of his hunting venture for the day, it seems. I’d better be off! 51

A whole hoard of his servants are with him singing songs about his lovely Artemis!

If only he knew how wide the gates of the Underworld are opened and ready for him! If only he knew that today’s light is the last light his eyes will enjoy!

Exit Aphrodite.

Enter Hippolytus, carrying a garland, followed by a throng of servants.

He walks over to the statue of Artemis.

Hippolytus Come, men, sing with me!

Let’s sing about Zeus’ daughter, the divine Artemis, the one who cares for us!

Servant 1 Most reverend lady, most gracious lady! 61

Artemis, daughter of Zeus and Leto!

Servant 2 The fairest virgin of them all.

You live in a house of gold!

Your father’s house in heaven!

Servant 3 Greetings, Artemis,

Greetings, gracious lady,

The fairest of all the virgins who live on Mount Olympus!

Hippolytus offering the garland

This is for you, dear lady!

I’ve plaited this garland for you, gracious goddess.

I’ve gathered its flowers from a virgin meadow, gracious lady.

A meadow where no shepherd thinks it proper to bring his flocks to graze,

A meadow never yet touched by the blade of the iron scythe.

A truly virgin meadow, gracious lady!

A meadow where even the bee makes its way through it in Spring with utmost care!

A meadow which Holy Reverence nourishes its ground with the cool water of the river streams!

A meadow which only those who are chaste, not simply by schooling but by their very nature, may harvest its blooms. For all others, for those who are impure, it is forbidden to pluck its flowers.

Enter Slave from the palace who stands quietly and watches his master and the group of friends.

And so gracious lady, from the hands of one who worships you, take this garland for your golden hair. 81

He places the garland on the statue’s head.

Of all the mortals alive, only I am allowed this honour because only I spend my days with you and speak with you. Only I, gracious lady, hear your voice, though never see your face.

How I wish, dear lady that my life will end in the purity that it has begun.

Slave My Prince –I’ll call you Prince, my Prince because we should really only call the gods “masters” isn’t that right, my Prince?

Hippolytus nods in agreement

Well, my Prince, would you, my Prince, listen to a word of good advice from me, my Prince?

Hippolytus Of course I would, slave. Not to do so would be the deed of a fool.

Slave My Prince, you do know the rule that all mortals should follow, don’t you, my Prince? 90

Hippolytus No, which rule are you referring to, slave?

Slave My Prince, I’m referring to the rule that says that all mortals detest the proud.

Hippolytus Ah, of course, I do. All proud mortals are a pain to us all.

Slave And, of course, those who are humble are charming, yes, my Prince?

Hippolytus They certainly are. And they are quick to help and serve.

Slave Do you think, my Prince, that this is also true with the gods?

Hippolytus Of course, I do. That is, if we, mortals abide by the laws of the immortals.

Slave But then, my Prince, why is it you do not show any reverence to a venerable goddess?

Hippolytus Which goddess are you talking about? 100

Watch your mouth now, slave! Careful that your mouth does not utter the wrong words to me!

Slave  Indicating the statue of Aphrodite

This goddess, there, my Prince. The one right next to your gate, my Prince!

Aphrodite, sir!

Hippolytus Dismissively

Ah, that one!

Being a pure man, I greet her only from a distance.

Slave But, my Prince, this goddess is revered by many mortals. She’s very famous among us all, my Prince!

Hippolytus Different mortals revere different gods, slave, just as different gods respect different mortals.

Slave My Prince, I wish you good fortune and to gain all the wisdom you need.

Hippolytus I honour no god who is honoured only at night!

Slave Ah, my son! We must honour all the gods!

Hippolytus Turning his back to the slave

My friends, go inside and prepare the meal!

A full table after a good hunting session is an absolute joy!

And rub down my horses, as well, so that after the meal I can harness them to the cart and give them a proper exercise. 110

Turning to the slave again

As for your Aphrodite, well, tell her that I bid her a long farewell!

Friends and Hippolytus exit into the palace.

Slave Shakes his head with disbelief at the words and attitude of his master

No, we old folks should not act like the young folks do. At least not when they have thoughts like that!

Turning to the statue of Aphrodite

No, my gracious lady, Aphrodite, I shall pray to you, to your statue, with words that are appropriate for a slave, a slave, just like me.

And, gracious lady, do please forgive the young whose excessive pride make them say silly things. Pretend, my lady, not to hear their foolish words! I’m sure that gods are much wiser than mortals!

Exit slave into the palace.

Enter the chorus of Troezen women.

Chorus There is a rock, at the very edge of the earth, they say, out of which the clear waters of the river Oceanus flow and fall from all around its precipices to form lots of fountains. People dip their urns into those fountains. That’s where my friend was the other day. She washes her brightly coloured clothes in the waters of that river and then she spreads them over the warm backs of the rocks, under the sun. 121

It was there that I first heard the news about our queen.

Chorus Ah, our queen! 131

They say, she just lies sick in bed, indoors, all day, her beautiful head of blond hair, covered by finely woven veils.

Chorus I heard that for three days now her divine lips haven’t touched even one of the holy and life-nourishing fruit of the goddess Demeter.

Chorus It’s her wish to put an end to some secret thing she’s suffering from, by cutting short her life.

Chorus Poor girl!

Has some god or other took possession of your mind, dear girl?

Pan, or Hekate, perhaps?

Chorus Perhaps the reverend Chorybantes?

Chorus Or Cybele, the mountain mother?

Chorus Could it be that you’re being tormented by guilt for sinning against Dictyna, the goddess of the wild beasts? Maybe you have forgotten to offer her the sacrificial bread. Because, she, too wanders about near those salt-water eddies that swirl about on the dry land, down by the shore.

Chorus Perhaps it’s your Lord and husband, my dear lady, the King of the Athenians! 151

Chorus Perhaps some other woman has turned his mind, dear lady.

Chorus Perhaps she took him into her house and turned him against your embraces!

Chorus Maybe some sailor from Crete, sailed into our welcoming harbour and brought some dreadful news to our queen –

Chorus So dreadful that her soul, weighed heavily with grief drove her to her bed!

Chorus No friends! 161

No! This is the very nature of women!

It is unbalanced.

There’s the awful pain of childbirth and then the pain of dizzy spells in the brain – and there is no harmony between these two.

Chorus Ha!

I had that scream of terror dart through my womb once!

But then I prayed to Artemis, the goddess who averts that pain, the goddess of the bow and arrow and she came! Praise be to the heavens, this, most welcome visitor came to me!

From the palace enter the nurse and Phaedra, who is supported by her servants. They help her walk over to the couch where she lies down.

Chorus Ah, look! Her old nurse is bringing our queen outside! 170

Chorus Look how sad and heavy her face looks!

Chorus It’s getting worse!

Chorus I wish I knew what it is that’s hurting her so much!

Chorus Look how withered her body looks!

Chorus Look how pale her face looks!

Nurse Oh, the horrible things, the shocking diseases that mortals can suffer from!

Tell me what I should do for you, my dear lady and tell what I should I not!

Here we are then.

The daylight, my lady. The clear sky. Your couch is here, too, outside the house.

All day, you talked about coming out here but I know, in no time at all, you’ll be sick of all this and you’ll want to go back inside again. Nothing can give you any pleasure, my lady. Nothing. Nothing you have pleases you, only what you have not. 180


It’s better to be sick yourself than to be looking after someone else who’s sick. The first is a single task but the second, the second makes for double work. The work of the hand follows the work of the heart.

But then again, the whole of a mortal is nothing but trouble. Trouble and work and no rest from either!

But then again, whatever else there is, whatever good there is outside of life, it’s all covered by a great cloud of darkness. And so we cling onto this one. Onto this life. We stick to this life because it’s this life that shines on this earth. What experience do we have of the other? What do we know of the things that are beneath it? 190

We listen to too many stories! Blindly get carried away with them!

Fables of fancy!

Phaedra Help me, friends! Help me stay upright. Help me keep my head up.

Come, come! Hold my hands, friends!

Ah! 200

This scarf is heavy on my head, take it off, please! Let my hair fall loose on my shoulders!

Nurse Come, my child! Courage!

Stop shifting your body about like that!

You could cope with your pain much easier, my child if you behaved like the noble lady you are. With silence and with a strong heart.

Mortals must endure pain.

Phaedra Oh, how I wish!

How I wish I could drink some pure water from the cool springs!

How I wish I could lie and rest under the poplar trees of a lush meadow!

Nurse Dear child! 212

What are you saying?

Stop talking like this in front of all these people. What silly things your tongue rattles off!

Phaedra  Tries to get up

Come, take me to the mountains!

I want to go to the mountains! To the woods. The pine forests.

Take me to where the hunting dogs chase the spotted deer!


Oh, Gods!

I want to watch the dogs hunt the deer.

I want to cheer them on!

And I want to hold a Thessalian spear in my hand, up here, next to my golden hair and hold it high and then hurl it at them!

Nurse Heavens, my child! 223

Why in heavens’ name would you want to do such things?

What is this sudden love for hunting? And mountain springs?

Goodness! We have a lovely cool spring right here, just around the walls of the palace. You can take all the water you want from there!

Phaedra Oh, dear Artemis!

My goddess!

Goddess of the salty lakes!

Goddess of the race tracks that echo with the hooves of horses!

How I wish I were there now, on your plains, breaking Enetians colts!

Nurse Again! 232

Again these mad words, my child!

Such madness, child!

One minute you want to race off to the mountains to go hunting and the next you want to run off to the sandy racetracks chasing after horses!

We need a mighty seer to work out what god pulls at the reins of your mind, my child, what god has driven your senses away from their right track!

Phaedra Ah! 241

Such misery!

What have I done? What could it be that I have done?

Where has my mind gone?

I have gone mad!

Some god has taken my mind away.


Such misery!

Nurse, put the scarf over my head again! I am so ashamed of the things I’ve said.

Quick, nurse, cover my head. My face is flooded with tears!

Oh, I am so ashamed!

Sanity is a source of pain but madness is a sickness!

Best die sensing nothing!

Nurse  Rolls the scarf back over Phaedra’s face and head. 250

Here you are, child. I cover your head!

Now when will death cover my body?

This long life of mine has taught me many things. One is that when friends fill each other’s cup with love, they should do so carefully. Moderately.

Give love, by all means but not drain the very marrow of your soul of it.

The ribbons of love in your heart should be loosely bound so that you can either undo them completely or tighten them at will. To suffer the pain of two loves in the one soul, like I am doing now, is heavy suffering, indeed. I fear I suffer too much for this child.

They say a life that’s lived too sternly is a life that brought more distress than joy, worse to your health. That’s why I’d rather praise moderation than extreme austerity. 260

The wise folks will agree with me there.

Chorus Old lady, faithful nurse to our Queen, what is it that’s brought our dear Phaedra into such a dreadful state?

Chorus Please tell us, dear nurse, what’s wrong with the poor girl?

Nurse I don’t know. She won’t tell me what’s wrong with her. 271

Chorus Not even how this illness started?

Nurse No, she won’t answer that question or any other question I ask her.

Chorus Ah, but look at her!

Look how weak her body looks!

Nurse Of course her body is weak! She hasn’t touch any food for three days now!

Chorus Why has she done that? Has she gone mad or is she trying to kill herself?

Nurse Kill herself. She wants to die –by starving herself!

Chorus But does her husband know what she’s up to? Does he agree with it?

Nurse No, he knows nothing. She says nothing to him. Denies she’s ill.

Chorus But can he not work it out? 280

Chorus All he’s got to do is look at her face!

Nurse How could he do that? He’s always running off abroad!

Chorus Why don’t you force her to tell you what’s wrong with her?

Chorus Force her to tell you what’s driven her out of her senses.

Nurse Ladies, I’ve tried everything and got nowhere with her.

But I won’t stop trying. And now that you’re all here, you can see for yourselves how I behave towards my lady in her hour of pain.

Come dear girl!

Come, let’s forget all the things we said to each other before!

Now, dear child, let’s make a deal.

You try and loosen that painful look of your face –there, undo those wrinkles of pain from your forehead and I, this time, I will try and behave better; listen much more sympathetically to everything you want to tell me and… and I’ll use more soothing words to you. 290

And then, if you’re suffering from those… those unmentionable ills we, women suffer from, well, there are women here who can comfort you. But if it can be uttered in the presence of men, then tell us so we can bring in a physician.

Speak, darling, speak!

Come on, don’t stay silent. Speak, my child!

Come, child, either argue with me or agree with me but don’t just stay silent.

Say something, child! 300

Turning to the chorus

You see, girls?

I can make no progress at all with her. None! I am wasting my time!

Ah! I can’t get anywhere with the girl!

She was not moved by gentle words before and she is not moved now.

Back to Phaedra

But you can be certain of this, child: Be as stubborn as the ocean, if you want but by being so stubborn, you will die and by dying, you will be betraying your sons! Yes, my queen, your sons because they will no longer have any claim to your father’s inheritance! To his palace, my queen! They will have no claim to it at all!

By the Amazonian goddess, my lady! By the horse-loving Artemis, who bore the master of your own sons, my lady. A bastard son, child, a bastard who thinks himself a noble. You know very well who I mean, my child. You know I mean Hippolytus!

Phaedra Oh!

Nurse What, does that thought bother you? 310

Phaedra Nurse, you are killing me!

I beg you, Nurse! I beg you, in Heaven’s name, never speak of him again, Nurse!

Nurse Ah, ha! You are, after all, sane!

But sane or not, you’re still not willing to help your own sons, my child!

Save your sons by staying alive, my Queen!

Phaedra My sons!

I love my sons. It is not my sons who torture me!

Nurse What then?

Suddenly a horrible thought crosses her mind

Your hands, my Queen. Your hands are clean of blood?

Phaedra Yes, Nurse. My hands are clean of blood!

But my mind, my mind, Nurse, is unclean!

Nurse Your mind, child?

How so? Can some enemy have hurled some calamitous curse at you?

Phaedra No, Nurse. Not an enemy but a friend, Nurse.

A friend is destroying me. Against his wishes, against mine.

Nurse What? A friend? 320

Has Theseus committed a grave sin against you, my lady?

Phaedra Ah no!

May I never sin against that man!

Nurse Not Theseus?

But then, child, what is this terror that overwhelms you so much that you want to die?

Phaedra Oh, dear Nurse!

Nurse, do let me sin! It is not against you, I sin my Nurse!

Nurse No, you’re not sinning against me, willingly, child but you’ll still be the end of me!

In a sudden move, the Nurse kneels beside Phaedra and grasps her hand and knee.

Phaedra What are you doing, Nurse? Ah, my arm!

Nurse Your arm and your knees, child! And I’ll never let go of them!

Phaedra Ah, poor woman! You want to know the truth but the truth will be the end of you!

Nurse It would be worse for me to lose you, child!

Phaedra Lose me?

My death, dear Nurse, will bring death to you but honour to me!

Nurse Honour? Well then, why hide it from me, child? Have I not the right to know this…. this truth? 330

Phaedra No, because I’m trying to turn shame into honour.

Nurse But then, will this honour not be greater if it were revealed?

Phaedra Oh, Nurse!

Please! By the gods, I ask you to leave me be! Let me go of my hand!

Nurse I shall not! Not until you give me what is mine!

Phaedra Ah, nurse!

I have too much respect for your suppliant hand not to give it you, so I shall!

Nurse Good. Then I’ll say no more.

From now it is your turn to speak.

The Nurse lets go of Phaedra’s hand and knee.

Phaedra sits up on the couch.

Phaedra Oh, mother! Oh, Pasiphae! King Minos’ bride!

Oh, my poor mother! What a love you had endured!

Nurse Are you talking about the bull from Crete, my child?

Is that what you mean?

Phaedra And, you, poor darling sister, Ariadne, Dionysus’ bride!

Nurse What’s wrong, my child? Are you speaking ill of your parents? 340

Phaedra Yes, those two and me, a third! How miserably I die!

Nurse Child you’re baffling me! Where do all these words take us?

Phaedra They take us back. Back to that time… This misery of mine is old. It comes from long ago.

Nurse That does not make things any clearer for me, child…

Phaedra Oh, nurse! If only you could utter my words instead of me!

Nurse Phaedra, I am not a seer to uncover what is hidden in your mind.

Phaedra Nurse, tell me, please: What do people mean when they say, they’re in love?

Nurse Ah, love! They mean to say, my girl that they feel great pleasure and great pain all the very same time!

Phaedra Well then, it would be the second that I feel.

Nurse What are you saying, my child? That you are in love? But who is the man? 350

Phaedra His name?

I wonder what it is.

Turning towards the statue of Artemis.

He is the son of the Amazon goddess.

Nurse Hippolytus? Do you mean Hippolytus, child?

Phaedra You uttered the words, not me!

Nurse Oh, no! My child, what could you mean by this? You have destroyed me with this!

Turning to the chorus

Ladies, no! No, this is unbearable! I cannot bear to live any longer!

No! I hate the light of this day! I hate this day!

I shall throw myself over a cliff and die! Hades will save me from this life!

Farewell, ladies! I am leaving you! I am no longer alive!

Even the virtuous desire the evil! They might not wish it but they do, just the same.

Indicating the statue of Aphrodite


Now I see!

Now I see that she is not just a mere god but some force far mightier than that!

She has destroyed Phaedra!

She has destroyed me!

She has destroyed the Palace!

The chorus rushes about in alarm and confusion.

Chorus Ah! Did you hear that? Did you hear what our queen just said between her sighs of pain? 362

Chorus Misery that the ears can’t bear to hear!

Chorus How I wish! How I wish I was not alive to hear the pain in your heart, my queen!

Chorus Ah!

Chorus Oh, how you must suffer from this agony, my queen!

Chorus Ah, what pains we mortals feed on!

Chorus Oh, my Queen!

You have brought evil –evil and death!- out into the sunlight!

Chorus What else awaits you this endless day?

Chorus Some unexpected horror will happen to the palace! 370

Chorus There is no doubt about what the Cretan goddess has in store for us.

Chorus Oh, you poor Cretan girl!

Phaedra Ladies!

You, women who live in this, the uttermost corner of Pelops’ land!

I have often wondered, just wondered, during some long nights, what it is that brought about the downfall of the lives of mortals and I came to the opinion that this is not due to the nature of their minds because, many of them do possess much wisdom.

Rather, I think, we ought to look at the question in this manner: 380

We know and understand very well what is virtue and what is evil but, unfortunately, we fail to act virtuously. Some of us do so because we are lazy, others again because we give priority to pleasure rather than virtue.

And life has many pleasures. Lengthy and idle chats, for example, and indolence –a pleasant wrong, and shame; which has a double face, one of which, to be sure, is not an evil thing to possess but then there is yet the other face of it, the one whose weight crushes whole households, and if which was the good face of it and which was the bad was easy to discern, then the word describing them would not be the same.

This, as it happens, is my opinion on the matter and no drug, no magic potion that would make me contradict it and then believe its opposite.

Let me tell you the path my mind took to arrive at this conclusion. 391

Once the darts of love had caused their wounds, I wondered how best to treat them.

First, I thought I’d say nothing about them. The tongue can never be trusted, I thought. It can give grand advice to others but it can also get you into a great deal of trouble, all by itself!

Then, I thought that I could behave like the noble woman I am and tolerate this madness nobly. Use self discipline, I thought. That would heal it.

But then, when neither of these two plans managed to beat Aphrodite’s attack, a third plan came to my mind. 400

It’s the best plan and I am certain you’ll agree.

It is to die.

Death will not only hide what good deeds I have committed but it will also spare me from a throng of witnesses to those deeds I am ashamed of.

I knew only too well that this madness I suffered and the deed that brought it about was shameful. Not only that but I am also a woman, something that men detest!

Curse the woman who first began to pollute her marriage bed by sleeping with another one! Let her die a most miserable death!

And this thing… this evil…. it begins with the women in the families of the nobles. Where else? Because when the common folks see the nobles behaving in such a shameful manner, they’ll think that it’s acceptable and so they, too, will behave just as shamefully! 410

And then there’s the other lot! The lot that are full of virtue with words but their thoughts are full of mischief. I hate that sort of woman, as well!

Turning to the statue of Aphrodite

Tell me Aphrodite! Tell me Lady of the sea!

Tell me how these women can dare look at their husbands in the eye? How can they be so certain that their accomplices, the Night and the walls of their house won’t suddenly start screaming? How can they not be afraid of that?

And that’s what brought me to my conclusion, dear friends. To my death. 419

I don’t won’t to be found shaming my husband or the sons I bore. I want my sons to live as free men in this glorious city. In Athens. Free to speak their mind, free to flourish, free to enjoy a good name, a name untarnished by me, their own mother.

Even the bravest of men falls if he finds out that his mother or father have committed deeds of shame.

They say there’s only one thing that rivals the worth of a life: to have an untarnished, a virtuous heart! The others, the mortals whose hearts are bad, will be exposed sooner or later, according to their Fate, by Time who will raise a mirror of their deeds to their face, as if to a little girl. I hope I will not be among them.

Chorus Yes, yes! What a wondrous thing virtue is everywhere! 431

Chorus How great its fruits of glory and honour they are among all mortals!

Nurse My lady, I admit that what you have told me earlier had given me a sudden and dreadful shock but then I thought again and realised that I was quite wrong.

Second thoughts are can often be much wiser with us mortals.

What you’re suffering from, dear girl is nothing unusual nor beyond comprehension.

Indicating the statue of Aphrodite

No, dear child, what has happened to you is that you are the victim of the goddess’ anger.

So you’re in love! Well, what is strange about that? You’re in love just like many others. Do you want to die because of that? Because of love?

What would then be the point of people falling in love with their neighbours, if they must then die for it? Where’s the benefit in that? 440

When Aphrodite charges at us in full flight, she is unstoppable! No point in trying to resist her because whilst she treats gently those who accept her and obey her, she is ruthless to those who are too proud for her. Those who think they are stronger than her. She grabs that lot and what do you think she does with them? She is merciless with them!

Our goddess is everywhere. In the air, in every wave of the sea. She sows and she harvests everything! She plants love and from love all we mortals are born.

All those people who read the old books, those who love the Muses, they all know that Zeus once lusted madly after Semele and they also know that Dawn, goddess of that delightful light, loved Cephalus so much that she grabbed him and took him up to the heavens with her! But do these gods commit suicide like you want to do by exiling themselves from the heavens and coming to live down here, among us mortals? No, they go on living up there, with each other. They simply shrug the whole thing off as a bit of bad luck! 450

And you can’t cope with all that? 459

Well then, my child, if you don’t want to live under these rules, then perhaps your father should have made a deal with the gods before he did his sowing, or perhaps he should have given you a different lot of gods to be your masters!

Think, child!

How many men do you think there are –men full of sense- who see their marriage beds betrayed but pretend to see nothing?

How many fathers do you think there are who have helped their sons deal their way out of entanglements with Aphrodite?

Here’s the rule mortals follow: The wise thing to do with shameful deeds is to hide them! Out of everyone’s eye!

No point in mortals killing themselves trying to make their lives all perfect! Nobody can build a perfect roof over their house, now, can they? Same thing.

A horrible misfortune like the one that has crashed upon you – how could you hope to escape it? No, my child! In the full reckoning of things, being a mortal, if your good deeds overweigh the bad ones, then consider yourself lucky, indeed. 470

So, dear girl, forget all these ugly thoughts. Swallow your pride. What, after all, is pride? It is thinking that you’re better than the immortals!

Accept, it, girl: You’re in love! You’re in love because a god ordered it that you’d fall in love; and if being in love is making you ill, then try a good remedy to ease its effect, not all this horrible stuff you’ve got in your head!

There are all sorts of charms and chants and potions that we can find to cure you of it.

And it has to be us, us, women, to go looking for these devices because men, well, men are just too slow when it comes to conjuring them up for us.

Chorus Phaedra, I think the advice your nurse is giving you to overcome your great misfortune, is admirable, though I prefer your way of thinking. 482

But I do know, my lady, that my words are more hurtful to your ears than hers.

Phaedra And that’s exactly what destroys good cities and homes: fine speeches!

No, our words shouldn’t just try to please our ears but, rather, to build us a good reputation!

Nurse Angry 490

Oh! What huge words! What piousness!

Forget the big words, dear girl! We must think of this man of yours! Find him immediately and tell him with straight talk what’s really going on here.

Now listen, my girl!

If you hadn’t strayed and fallen into such a great mountain of troubles, I wouldn’t have talked to you the way I did about love and lust and all that!

But trying to save your life, my dear girl, requires lots of hard work and so, who would argue with my method?

Phaedra Outraged at the Nurse

Shame! Shame on you for uttering such disgraceful words! Keep your mouth shut and never talk like that again!

Nurse Shameful they might be but they speak of the better course for you! 500

The deed that saves your life is better than the fine words that may save your reputation but send you to the world below!

Phaedra By the gods!

I beg you, go no further! Speak no more!

You utter pretty words that say shameful things.

My soul has been worked upon by love so much that if you use these pretty words to say such shameful things then, I’m afraid, I shall be undone by the very thing I’m trying to escape!

Nurse As you wish.

Still, since you’ve made the mistake then take my advice and do as I tell you now: I just remembered that I have some love medicine at home which, if you’re brave enough to take it, will get you out of this trouble of yours without shame to your reputation nor harm to your mind.

First, though I must get some little token from your lover. A lock of hair, or a small piece of his clothing and then mingle the two into one, single charm. 510

Phaedra What sort of medicine is it, something you drink or do you apply it on your skin?

Nurse I don’t know, child. Seek the cure, not the knowledge!

Phaedra I’m afraid you’re getting too clever for me!

Nurse Afraid of what child? There’s nothing to be afraid of.

Phaedra I’m afraid you might say something to Theseus’ son.

Nurse Oh, don’t worry about that, my child! 520

I’ll organize everything perfectly.

Turning to the statue of Aphrodite

I only pray that you, my lady, goddess of the sea, help in all this.

As to the rest of my plans, I’ve got enough friends inside the palace to talk them over with.

Exit Nurse

Phaedra retreats to the couch and lies down, covering her face with her scarf.

Chorus Oh, god of lust!

Chorus Eros!

Chorus You make eyes drip with desire!

Chorus You infuse sweet pleasure into the souls you hunt!

Chorus Oh, Eros! Never hunt me in anger! Never be violent towards me!

Chorus Neither the arrows of fire or that of the stars are as powerful as those of Aphrodite which Eros, the son of Zeus, flings at us by his own hand! 530

Chorus It’s pointless for the Greeks to slaughter even more bulls on the shrines of the Pythian Apollo, and by the banks of the Alpheus river, if we neglect to honour Eros!

Chorus Eros! Lord and master of all mortals!

Chorus Eros, who holds the keys to Aphrodite’s sweet chambers! 540

Chorus Eros, whose visits bring ruin and devastation to mortals!

Chorus And then there was princess Iole of Oechalia!

Right up until the moment that Aphrodite delivered that girl to Herakles, Alcmene’s son, she knew nothing of men, of marriage beds or love.

Chorus Like a Water nymph!

A Maenad!

A carefree filly!

Chorus Aphrodite tore that poor girl from her father’s house. 550

The house of Eurytus.

Chorus What blood was shed for the sake of that union!

What smoke was raised for the sake of that wedlock!

What a murderous wedding!

Chorus A whole city was sacked for the sake of that marriage!

Poor girl!

What misery that yoke had brought you!

Chorus Oh, sacred walls of Thebes!

And you, springs of Dirce, witness my account of how Aphrodite comes to us.

Chorus Even Semele, mother of twice-born Dionysius, she yoked with the fiery thunder! 560

Chorus A wedding bed of death for the poor girl!

Chorus Aphrodite is dreadful!

Her breath kills all!

She hovers above us all like a bee.

Suddenly Phaedra hears a noise from the palace and bolts upright with fright.

Phaedra Quiet, women!

She moves closer to the wall and listens.

Oh, no! I hear my undoing!

Chorus What is it, Phaedra?

Chorus What did you hear in the house that made you so afraid?

Phaedra Wait! Be quiet! Let me work out what they’re saying in there!

Chorus I’ll be quiet but this looks like trouble.

Phaedra Oh!




Chorus What is it, my lady? 571

Chorus What are you saying?

Chorus What did you hear, my lady?

Chorus What is that shook your heart so much?

Phaedra I am dead, ladies! I am dead! Come and listen! Listen through this door. Listen to what havoc the house is in!

Chorus Refusing to approach the door

No, my lady! You listen through the door.

What goes on in your house is for you to find out…

Chorus …and then for you to tell us!

Phaedra It’s Hippolytus, the son of that amazon woman who loves horses! 581

He is shouting horrible things at my servant!

Chorus Ah! I can hear his voice but I can work out what he’s saying!

Chorus Tell us what he’s shouting about!

Phaedra I can work it out very clearly! He’s just called her a dirty bawd and told her that she has betrayed her master’s marriage bed!

Chorus Ah! How terrible! 591

Chorus Dear friend, you’ve been betrayed!

Chorus How can I help you, my dear girl?

Chorus Your secret is out!

Chorus You are destroyed!

Phaedra Ah!


Chorus Betrayed by your own friends!

Phaedra She has destroyed me!

Out of love and out of a desire to cure this illness of mine, she has told him of my concerns! Love but betrayal also.

Chorus So, what will you do then?

Chorus Oh, you have suffered something that no one can cope with!

Phaedra I know only of one thing that I can do. 599

To die as quickly as possible! It’s the only cure of these troubles of mine.

Exit Phaedra into the palace.

A minute later an outraged Hippolytus, enter through the same door, followed by the Nurse

Hippolytus Shouts

Oh, mother Earth!

Oh, broad sunlight!

The things I hear! Unspeakable stuff!

Nurse Hush, my boy!


Someone will hear you, shouting like that!

Hippolytus Quiet?

How can I be quiet after the words I’ve heard?

Nurse  Takes his right hand and raises it to her heart

My, son, I beg you!

Please, by your beautiful, right hand, I beg you!

Hippolytus Keep your distance! Don’t touch my clothes, woman!

Nurse  She falls to her knees and touches his

By your knees, my son!

I beg you, my son! You will ruin me!

Hippolytus Ruin you? How would I ruin you?

Didn’t you just tell me that there was nothing wrong with your little tale?

Nurse My son, what I’ve told you was not for everyone else to hear.

Hippolytus It is best that good tales are heard by many. 610

Nurse Your oath, my child! I beg you, don’t break it!

Hippolytus That oath was sworn by my tongue, not by my heart!

Nurse Rises from her knees

But what is it you want to do, my son, destroy all your friends?

Hippolytus  Spits

Ha! Friends! I spit the word! Criminals are not friends!

Nurse Then forgive them!

All mortals make mistakes, my son. It is in our nature.

Hippolytus Zeus!

Oh, Zeus! Why did you bring woman into the light of the sun?

Woman, this impure, this evil destroyer of mortals!

If you wanted to sow the seeds for the mortal race you should not have done it through women but a price.

Men should be able to just go to some temple or other, put there some piece of bronze or iron, or even some gold –whatever their means would allow- and with that price paid, pick themselves the son they want. Take him home with him and there, the two men could live out their lives, in their house without a woman to be seen anywhere! 620

As it is now, even before we want to bring this… this curse, into our house, we must squander away our whole estate!

And here’s what I mean by this. Here’s the clear proof of it: The woman’s father, the man who had begotten that beast and who had raised her -that poor man, not only has to lay a dowry out for her but he must also send her away, so he can shed from himself this unbearable burden!

And then, her husband, the other poor creature, the one who has brought this… fake statue, into his house, this ruinous beast, her husband, the moment he gets her into his house, he begins to happily decorate her! 630

He begins the little game of cajoling her with pretty clothes! Fancy clothes for a worthless, vile statue! And there, you see, there goes, bit by little bit, all the wealth of his estate!

And then come the unavoidable choices of his constrains. Either his in-laws are so good that he accepts the burden of having to endure a rotten and painful marriage, or it’s the other way around: he gets a great wife but rotten and painful in-laws, in which case, he’ll need to content himself with the thought that, the good part of this marriage cancels out the rotten part.

But the man who gets it the easiest is the one who brings into his house a woman who is totally useless. A nothing. A zero. A simple, simple- minded woman. A useless woman.

But I hate the smart ones! I simply loathe that sort! 640

Oh, Zeus, spare me!

I hope I’ll never end up with a woman in my house who’s cleverer than women should be! Aphrodite plants a lot more evil schemes in the minds of those clever ones! The dumb ones are kept on the straight and narrow because of their… rather diminutive wit.

And, if you do get a wife, give her no slave. Instead, give her animals. Give her dumb brutes for companions. Wild beasts that you can’t talk to and they can’t talk back.

Give a bitch of a wife a servant and what have you got? The two talk together inside, hatch up all sorts of evil plans and then the servant goes off and carry those plans outside the house!

Turning to the Nurse 651

And that’s how you did this, you vile creature!

That’s how you came to me, to fill my ears with abhorrent stories about my father’s sacred marriage bed.

Stories that I will flush out with running water. How could I ever be such traitor, the very thought of it makes me feel disgusting?

And let me tell you straight, woman! What saves your life after this, is my own piety because, had not my hands been tied by that oath, I’d never have kept this whole story from my father! But since he’s out of the country, I’ll leave the house and keep silent about it.

But we’ll both be back and then I’ll see how you treat him. You and your mistress. I’ve had a taste of your arrogance, now, so I’ll see how you behave in his presence. 660

Turns to leave in disgust

Curse you woman and curse all of you, women!

No matter how often I’m told that I am constantly saying this, my hatred to you all will never be quenched. I say it again and again because again and again you prove yourselves to be hateful and if they want me to stop saying it then let a man teach them how not to be hateful Otherwise let me disparage them for ever!

Exit Hippolytus SL

Nurse How miserable is the fate of women! How unfortunate their lives!

Chorus What then?

Chorus What’s left for us now?

Chorus What words are left for us? 670

Chorus What tricks can we devise to undo this miserable knot of accusations?

Nurse We have failed.

Enter Phaedra from the palace

Phaedra We have received justice!

Oh, mother Earth!

Oh, Sun!

How can I escape what Fate has in store for me, my friends?

What god, my friends, what mortal will come to help me now?

Who will appear at my side to help me, my friends, help someone to commit unjust deeds?

This pain, this torture I’m suffering now will be hard to endure in life.

Oh! What woman is more unfortunate than me?

Chorus Ah! 680

Chorus Ah!

Chorus Dear lady, it’s all over!

Chorus Your servant’s schemes have not worked!

Chorus It’s all bad, my lady!

Phaedra  To Nurse

Vile monster!

Monster who destroys friends! See now what you have done to me!

I hope Zeus, who is the father of my race destroys you now! I hope he destroys you with his blazing thunderbolt! Destroys you root and branch!

Have I not told you to be silent about these things? Not to reveal any of these things and that to do so would cause me this horrible shame?

But you couldn’t keep your mouth shut, could you? How can I now die with my honor unblemished?

Ah! Now I must work out new plans because now, with a mind whetted with rage, he’ll run off to his father and tell him that it was all my fault – blame me for all the wrong things you’ve done.

He will tell the old man Pitheus about my troubles and then he will have the whole world echoing with tales of shame about me! 690

Curses to you!

Curses to you and to anyone else who thinks of helping their friends against their will and by shameful means!

Nurse My lady, you are right in blaming me for the trouble I have caused you but, my lady, what hurts sharply stops good judgment.

But, my child, listen to me and you will hear that I do have a reason for what I’ve done. I brought you up, my child and so I love you.

I looked around for the medicine to cure your illness, my child but I could not find it but rest assured, if I had found it, I would have been considered as one of the wisest mortals alive. Wisdom is measured by success, my child.

Phaedra What? What manners are these? 702

First you cause me all this shame and then you argue with me?

Nurse We are chatting idly now, my lady. I admit, I made a mistake but even from this point you can still save your life, child!

Phaedra Enough of your talk!

Your first advice was shameful and what you did was wrong.

Now leave me and you look after your own affairs. I shall look after mine –honourably!

Exit Nurse

As for you dear noble ladies of Troezen, grant me, please this one request: Say nothing of what you’ve just heard here. 710

Chorus I swear, my lady!

Chorus By holy Artemis!

Chorus Zeus’ own daughter!

Chorus I will reveal none of your troubles to the daylight!

Phaedra These are good words to hear, my ladies!

I have found a means by which I can remedy my situation in such a way that my sons can live with an honourable reputation and for me to get some benefit out of my present troubles.

I will never disgrace the homes of Crete, nor will I appear before Theseus after having committed shameful deeds, just so I can save my one life!

Chorus What horrible, incurable deed are you thinking of performing, my lady? 722

Phaedra The deed is death. But its performance will be directed by me.

Chorus Ah!

Chorus Such shocking words, my lady!

Chorus Utter good words only, my lady!

Phaedra And you, dear friends, only give me good advice.

This day, I shall please Cypris, the goddess who so wants to destroy me, by shedding my life. I am weaker than this bitter passion.

My death though will hurt someone else. A man who shall learn not to rejoice over my ill fate. This man will take his share of my misfortune and doing so will learn about humility.

Exit Phaedra into the palace.

Chorus Oh, how I wish! 732

Chorus How I wish I lived in hidden caves…

Chorus … far away on some steep crags.

Chorus … mountains and rocks.

Chorus And a god turned me into a bird with wings…

Chorus A bird flying in huge flocks.

Chorus Soaring high above the swelling ocean…

Chorus …all the way to the shores around the Adriatic…

Chorus …above the waters of Eridanus

Chorus The waters of Eridanus where the tears of grief from the unlucky virgins fall…

Chorus Drip by drip the gleaming amber of their tears…

Chorus Tears of grief over their brother’s fall…

Chorus …son of Helios, the sun god…

Chorus They fall and fall into the deep blue waves.

Chorus How I wish! 741

Chorus How I wish I could fly to that shore where the apple trees grow.

Chorus The trees of the harmony lovers, the Hesperides!

Chorus There, where Poseidon, the Lord of the sea, forbids the mariners from passing through into the turbulent waters and where he marks the boundary in the sky which Atlas holds.

Chorus There in Zeus’ halls, where fountains gush out ambrosia, beside his every couch.

Chorus There where the sacred earth gives rich fruit to the gods, gracing them with even greater bliss.

Chorus Oh, you great white-winged ship from Crete!

You have carried my queen through the salty waves of the thunderous ocean!

Chorus And from a blessed home you carried here, to a miserable marriage!

Chorus A joyless joy!

Chorus An evil omen sent her off from Crete, her land, her home and an evil omen brought her here, to glorious Athens. 760

Chorus Here, her ship tied their platted ropes on the moorings of the shores at the port Munichus. Here it was where she first stepped on our land.

Chorus And so the omens were correct.

Chorus Our lady was smitten by a gruesome illness.

Chorus An unholy passion sent by the goddess Aphrodite.

Chorus An incestuous love that spun her heart into madness.

Chorus Now, crushed by her bitter luck, our lady will tie a noose around her white neck and hang herself from the beams in her bridal chamber. 770

Chorus Shame and a hatred for life, drove her to leave it for the glory of a clear reputation and for the ridding from her heart the pain of a shameful desire.

Nurse within



Help! Anyone who’s near the palace, come! Help!

Oh, my lady!

Phaedra, Theseus’ wife has hanged herself!


Chorus Ah!

Chorus Ah!

Chorus It’s all over!

Chorus The queen is dead!

Chorus Snared in the noose!

Chorus She has hanged herself!

Nurse  within 780


Please someone hurry!

Bring a knife someone to cut the noose!

Won’t someone please bring a knife?

Chorus Ladies, what do we do now?

Chorus Should we rush into the house and cut our lady free from the noose?

Chorus Shouting through the door

Are there no young slaves about the place?

It’s not wise for us to meddle!

Nurse Within

Come, lay her neatly on the stretcher.

Straighten out her poor corpse.

What bitter house work I must perform for my master!

Chorus Ah!

Then the poor girl must be dead now!

Chorus They are laying out her corpse.

Enter Theseus SR.

He is wearing a garland of green leaves.

He walks over to the palace door and bangs on it but the door id not opened for him.

Loud noises of people moving about, of tears, of wails come from within the palace

Theseus turns to the chorus:

Theseus Ladies, do you know what those noises in the palace are about? 790

I hear such loud screams from the servants!

No one in palace is seeing fit to open the door for me and, as usual, receive me with joy and with due respect.

Could it be that something has happened to old Pittheus?

He is far into his years but losing the man would still grieve me greatly.

Chorus No, Theseus!

It is not the old folk who is hi by ill fortune!

Chorus It is the young, Theseus!

It is the young who have died!

Chorus Grieve for the young, Theseus, the young!

Theseus Oh, no!


No, it isn’t my sons, surely!

Have I been robbed of the lives of my sons, ladies?

Chorus No, Theseus. Your sons live. 800

Chorus It is their mother who is dead!

Grieve for their mother, Theseus!

Theseus What? What are saying?

Is my wife dead? How did she die?

Chorus Theseus, she has hanged herself.

Chorus She tied a long rope to the rafters of her ceiling and made a noose.

Theseus Did some great sorrow stirred her mind? Or was it some other misfortune?

Chorus I know no more than that.

Chorus We’ve only just arrived to the palace, ourselves, Theseus. We came to grieve at your misfortune.

Theseus Oh!


Tears the garland from his head and throws it to the ground in disgust

And here I am with a crown of plaited leaves on my head!

Oh, such a foul oracle!

Shouts through the door


Servants unlock this door! Pull back the heavy bars! Loosen its bolts!

I want to see the bitter sight of my dear wife!

A sight of death that has destroyed me!

The door opens and through it, the body of Phaedra is carried on a bier by servants.

Her hands are crossed over her body and a wrapped and sealed tablet lies over them.

Chorus Ah! 811

Chorus Ah!

Chorus Poor woman!

Chorus Unfortunate girl!

Chorus What things you’ve done, my girl!

Chorus Things that have destroyed this house!

Chorus What courage, my child!

Chorus How horrible the death you’ve died!

Chorus Unholy death!

Chorus A death by your own hand, Phaedra!

Chorus What was it, Phaedra?

What was it that took your life down to Hades’ darkness?

Theseus Ah!

What pains I feel!

What misery I am suffering!

How horrible my Fate!

Oh, my city! Oh, Athens!

How heavy this Fate has fallen upon my house! Upon my head!

Some invisible stain, sent here by some invisible spirit! 820

It has crushed my life! It has made my life unlivable!

Dear woman!

Oh, the endless ocean of sorrow I can see before me!

I cannot swim through it! I cannot cross its span.

What word would be proper for me to utter, dear woman? What word would match your grave misfortune?

You flew away from within my hands and with force and violence you jumped into the hands of Hades.



How can I bear the horror of this Fate? 830

This is the doing of some ancestor!

The evil deeds of long ago.

The gods are punishing me for those ancient deeds.

Chorus My King!

The pain falls not only upon you but upon many others!

Theseus I want to go to the gloomy darkness of the world below the earth, Phaedra, wife, since I’ve been robbed of your sweet company!



You have killed me more than you have killed yourself, wife!

Who can tell me, dear wife, where this deadly arrow came from, this arrow that pierced your heart? 840

Will not someone tell me?

Or does this royal house gives shelter to all these servants for no reason at all?


Ah, my wife!

What pain comes with your death!

What grief do I see here, my wife? What grief sees my palace!

Unbearable grief, unutterable pain, my queen!

Oh, this is death! This is my death and the death of my house!

You have left our sons, dear girl! Made them orphans!

Ah, the most beautiful of all the women under the bright sun and under the sparkling light of the night’s stars!

Chorus Poor man! 851

Chorus What miserable grief has come down upon your house!

Chorus Tears have flooded my eyes!

Chorus Your pains have melted my heart, my lord!

Chorus I shudder at the thought of what’s to come yet!

Theseus What’s this here?

This tablet. It’s hanging from her hand. Is there some message on it, something I don’t know? Perhaps she’s left me some instructions about our children, our marriage….

Oh, my poor girl, fear not! Our bridal bed and my house will be possessed by no other woman! 860

Takes the tablet out of her hand

Ah! Look! Her golden seal on the message! How enchanting it is to my eyes!

Let me see what the tablet says.

He unwraps the tablet and begins to read it silently

Chorus Ah!

Chorus Ah!

Chorus A fresh catastrophe from the gods!

Chorus Another to follow the old one!

Chorus Why live any longer now?

Chorus This is the end of my King’s house!

Chorus Of Fate!

I pray to you, if prayers you accept!

Chorus Fate do not destroy this house! 870

Chorus Ah!

I see evil signs heading this way!

Prophetic signs!

Theseus Ah!

What is this?

A new grief!

Ah! A grief upon a grief, this one even more unbearable, even more unutterable!

Ah! What a dismal creature I am!

Chorus What is it, my lord?

Tell us that we may know!

Theseus This tablet shouts its words!

It shouts the horror!

Ah! How can my ears endure the burden of this heavy song?

I cannot! I cannot!

Chorus Ah! 881

What ominous words!

Theseus I cannot!

I cannot hold the words locked behind my lips!

I cannot!

Destructive words! Unutterable words that must be uttered!

Shouts as if to the whole city


Various citizens stream in from the sides of the stage

Come, hear my words!

My son, Hippolytus!

He dared assault my bridal bed!

Hippolytus has shamed the holy eye of Zeus!

Well then, my father Poseidon, I call upon you!

You have promised me three curses, once! Grant me one of them now!

Strike dead my son and let him not live beyond the end of this day!

Show me, father, that your gift is true!

Chorus Shocked 891


My lord, no!

Chorus No, my lord!

In heavens’ name, I beg you!

Call back that prayer!

Chorus Soon, you’ll learn my lord…

Chorus …You’ve made a mistake, my lord!

Chorus Listen to me, my lord!

Theseus No, no it’s not a mistake!

And, to be certain, I shall also banish him from this land!

One of the two punishments will strike him. Either Poseidon will hear my prayer and send him off down to the house of Hades, or else, he’ll go off wondering as an exile, his miserable life draining away over foreign soils.

Chorus Indicating within, SL

My lord, look!

It is your son, Hippolytus.

Chorus Just in time!

Chorus Soften your anger, my lord, Theseus! 900

Think carefully about what’s best, for you and for your house!

Hippolytus rushes in.

Hippolytus Father, what is it?

I’ve just heard your shout of distress and came straight here.

Tell me what’s troubling you so much?

He sees Phaedra’s corpse.


What? What is this here? Father, this is your wife. She’s dead!

Oh, what painful shock, is this!

But I have only just left her, father. She was alive only a short time ago. What’s happened to her? How did she die?

Father tell me. I want to hear about this only from your own lips.

Theseus lowers his head but says nothing

Why the silence, father? 911

It is no use being silent during misfortunes, father because the heart, the heart, father, is even more greedy to hear things when it comes to misfortune.

It is not right to keep things from friends, father, and we are more than friends!

Theseus To hell with all you, mortals!

So much, you are so wrong!

Why teach a thousand crafts and skills, a thousand tricks, a thousand inventions!

Why teach all that, when you can’t even teach –not even seek to teach- how to give wisdom to the fool?

Hippolytus Father, you ask for much: A teacher wise enough to make a fool think! 921

But what may these words of yours mean here and now, father?

I’m afraid, father, your grief has made your tongue wander about of its own accord.

Theseus His tone implies that he blames Hippolytus of being an untrue friend.

There should be some way of knowing, of proving, which man is true and which is false. To show clearly the true friend from the false one.

And each man should own two voices, one of them to be true and the other as it wills; and then the voice of truth would convict the other of its falsehood and so we would never be deceived!

Hippolytus Father! 932

Has someone in our family whispered in your ear some accusation against me?

Am I to suffer for something I have not done?

Your words are baffling, father! They are too hard for my mind to understand.

Theseus The boldness of the mortal mind! How far does it extend? Where does its arrogance, its shame end?

Because if it burgeons on endlessly with every new generation, if each successive man surpasses his predecessor in evil, then the gods must build yet another earth upon this earth to fit all those who are born bereft of virtue. 940

Ha! Look at this man here!

My son! The product of my own loins! And yet he has disgraced my bridal bed.

This dead woman here has convicted him completely! He is a man of shame. The accusation is clearly made.

Hippolytus turns to walk away

Come now, turn and face your father! Give me your eye!

No, don’t worry about polluting me now. I am already polluted by your presence, the presence of one who has shed blood. My pollution is beyond redemption.

So, come, turn and face me!

Hippolytus turns towards his father

Well then, are you the man who goes about in the company of gods, away from us, mere mortals? Are you such a rare mortal? Full of virtue and chastity and free of sin?

Oh, I’m not in the slightest way convinced by all of this boasting of yours and the gods are not such fools as not to be able to see what you’re truly like. 950

Go on, then, by all means, spout out all you want about your vegetarian diet like a quack. By all means, let Orpheus be your master! Enjoy, no, revere, if you so wish, all his idle musings, all of his many books.


You have been caught out red handed!

Citizens, I warn you all!

Have nothing to do with such men! They will trick you with their holy-sounding words, only so that they can conjure up against you, deeds of shame!

Look there!

Yes, she is dead!

Do you think this fact will save you?

No, murderer! It will not! Because this fact is the very fact that will convict you!

Waves the tablet angrily at Hippolytus

What oaths, what arguments could there be, you evil man, what could you possibly say that could yield more power than this tablet? Where is there more powerful proof than this? Where is there proof enough to save you from the charge of murder? 960

Will your argument be that she hated you? Will I be that a bastard son is always regarded as the enemy of the pure-bred? Will that be your defence?

Do you think of her such a poor merchant, then, as to trade her own life, the thing she values the most, with something as worthless as mere hatred, the hatred of you?

Or will you argue that evil resides only in women but never in men?

Ha! I know of men who, once Aphrodite takes a hold of their minds and shakes them about for a bit, they are far less stable than women. Their heads spin into utter befuddlement. And their maleness, in fact, gives them an advantage over women.

Bah! 970

Why waste my breath arguing with you when the body of this dead woman, the very proof of your evil deed, is right here?

Leave this land immediately!

Go off into exile and never return to this land, this land which was founded by the divine Athena herself! Go and never approach any other land ruled by the might of my spear either!

Let it not be said by anyone that in this affair I am proven to be weaker than you, or else the Isthmian Sinis will also say that I have never killed him and that I have merely boasted that I have, and so too, with the rocks of Skiron by the sea. They, too will say the same.

Chorus When things can change so quickly, from excellent to dreadful, how can any mortal say he’s ever truly happy? 981

Hippolytus Father!

This intense anger in your heart is dreadful!

If you had examined the issue more thoroughly, father, you would have seen that though your words were good, your facts were lacking.

Father, I am more skilled in making speeches to small crowds of my own age group than to the general public. It’s only natural.

And then, those who are found by the wise folks to be fools, are seen by the mob as persuasive orators.

But I am forced by this disaster that has fell upon me, to loosen my tongue and speak! But let me begin with your first attack against me. 990

You said you would crush me, crush me, even before I had a chance to speak even a word in my defence!

Here is the light of the sun and here is the earth and upon this sun lit earth there is no man -deny it all you wish- there is not a single man, who is more moral than I am!

To begin with, I know the importance of showing reverence to the gods. Then I also know how to make friends only with those who will do no evil whatsoever, who would feel great shame in even suggesting to others to commit evil or to do evil themselves.

And, father, I don’t pretend to be one thing to those of my friends who are present and yet another to those who are absent. 1000

The very thing which causes you enough anger that you want to destroy me, the very thing that you thing you’ve caught me at red handed, I am innocent. To this day, my body is unstained by sex. I know nothing about this act except for what I have heard in talk or seen in paintings, paintings that I care not to look at either, because I have a virgin soul.

But perhaps you are indeed not convinced that I am pure. Well then, show me the proof you have that I am not so. What is it that you think has corrupted me?

Her body? Do you think hers was more beautiful than that of all the rest of the women in the world, or do you think I wanted to marry her so as to rule your kingdom and inherit your estate? What a fool such thinking would have made of me! Totally without a wit! 1009

To be pure and to be a king at the same time? Do you think that would be such a pleasant thing? Not in the slightest! The crowns of tyranny corrupt the minds of those who love to wear them. I prefer the crowns of victory in the sporting events of Greece but as a citizen, I am quite content to be a runner up and enjoy the blessings that come with the company of my noble friends. That would give me enough freedom to do as I please, free of danger, something that I consider to be far more enjoyable than the crown of a king.

There is only one more thing left for me to mention. You’ve heard all the rest. 1021

Had there been a trial and had I a witness to speak on my character and had this woman been alive at this trial and had there been a careful examination of the facts, then you would surely learn who the real guilty person is.

But all I can do as things are now, is to swear by Zeus, god of all oaths and by the earth beneath my feet, that I have never touched your wife, that I have never ever wished to do so and that the thought had never crossed my mind.

And if I am lying then let me die in dishonour, without a name, without a city, without a shelter, an exile ever-wandering all over the earth!

And, if I am guilty, let no sea, nor soil receive my flesh once I am dead! 1030

Perhaps she has taken her own life out of some fear she had. That, I don’t know.

Beyond this, it is improper for me to speak.

She behaved virtuously, though she could not have been virtuous, whereas I who am virtuous have used my virtue to my disadvantage.

Chorus The oaths you have made to the gods are adequate enough to guarantee your innocence.

Chorus More than adequate!

Theseus Well then!

Is this man not a weaver of charms and spells? Is he not a trickster?

Such confidence! Such an even disposition!

He thinks he will seduce my soul, the soul of the father he has dishonoured!

Hippolytus I agree with your anger, father because were I your father and you my son, and had you dared defile my wife, I wouldn’t have just send you into exile but I would have killed you! 1041

Theseus How fitting these words are, coming from you!

But no, you will not die like this. This is the law you’ve declared for yourself, so, no, you will not die like this. A quick death is a merciful death for a miserable wretch like you.

No, your death will come as an exile, sent away from your ancestral land. You will go off wondering as an exile, your miserable life draining away over foreign soils.

That is the punishment of a disrespectful man.

Hippolytus What? Will you not at least wait long enough for some evidence of my innocence appear? Will you banish me from this land immediately? 1051

Theseus Yes!

And if I could, I would banish you to the furthest reaches of the world.

That’s how much I detest you!

Hippolytus But, will you not examine any evidence? Will you not check my oaths, ask any seers?

Will you send away without a trial?

Theseus Shaking the tablet at Hippolytus

This tablet needs no seers.

It has made a very convincing trial of your guilt.

And I don’t care at all about what the birds of omen, that fly about over my head say!

Hippolytus Oh, gods! 1060

Since you, whom I worship will destroy me, why then do I not open my mouth?

But no! It’ll serve no purpose. I shall not persuade those who should be persuaded and I would have also broken the oaths I’ve sworn!

Theseus Oh!

All this piety of yours is unbearable!

Leave now!

Leave your father’s land immediately!

Hippolytus But where can I go, father?

Oh, how sad this is!

How will anyone ever offer me a shelter when I’m exiled under this charge?

Theseus You will find shelter in the house of people who love defilers of bridal beds, people who stay at home all day planning deeds of evil.

Hippolytus Your insults father have stabbed deep into my heart! 1070

To know that you think of me as evil makes me want to shed tears!

Theseus You should have shed these tears and thought more carefully before you had planned to perform this outrage against your father’s wife.

Hippolytus Oh, Palace!

If only your walls could speak and reveal my innocence!

Theseus Now that’s a clever tactic! Ask the dumb walls to stand up for you when all along, the truth, though also silent, lies right here! Indicating Phaedra.

Here is the proof of your evil deeds!

Hippolytus Ah!


Gods, split me in two so that I can stand across from myself and weep at my own misery!

Theseus How fitting! 1080

You’d much rather stand and worship your own self than show respect towards your father!

Hippolytus Oh, poor mother!

Oh, what a miserable existence I live!

May none of my friends ever suffer the existence of a bastard son!

Theseus Servants!

Why haven’t you thrown this man out yet?

Have you not heard me telling you for such a long time now, that this man is no son of mine. He is a stranger.

Hippolytus If any of you lay a hand on me you’ll regret it!

Here’s your chance father. Show me that you have the heart to throw me out of this land with your own hands!

Theseus I’ll be doing just that if you don’t do as you’re told. My heart will not feel sorry by your banishment!

Hippolytus So, this is the end then. Miserable Fate! 1090

Impossible Fate! I have the truth yet I can not reveal it!

Well then, Artemis, Leto’s own daughter.

You are the god, most dear to my heart!

You are the god I have hunted with and whose company I have enjoyed.

Now, Artemis, I must leave this glorious Athens and become an exile!

Oh, Athens! City and soil of Erechtheus, farewell!

Soil of Troezen! What countless blessing you provide to a young man as he grows up!

Let me take one last look at you before I bid you farewell!

Come, friends! Escort me out of this land and bid me farewell!

Come, say good bye to the most virtuous man you’ll ever see, even though my father does not seem to think so!

Exit Hippolytus and friends SL,

Exit Theseus into the palace

Chorus The thought that the gods care for us mortals sends away all my sadness but if I look for it, if I look for evidence of this care in the deeds and fortunes of mortals, I find none. One minute you see one thing and the next a thing that’s totally its opposite. A man’s life changes constantly. 1104

Chorus Oh, how I wish that the gods would answer my prayer and grant me a Fate that is replete with prosperity and a soul free of sadness. 1111

Let me not be stubborn in my views nor also be ever-shifting.

And let not my mood be stiff and unreceptive to the new things that each dawn brings. Let it be willing to receive each dawn’s new blessing.

Chorus But my mind is now thoroughly confused. 1120

What I have just seen is not what I have expected.

Chorus The brightest star of Greece– we all saw this, we saw it with our own eyes!

The brightest star of Greece was banished from his own land by his own father!

His own father’s anger!

Chorus Oh, you golden sands of our city’s shores!

Chorus And you, dense woods where, with his swift hounds and the goddess Artemis, he hunted and slew wild beasts.

Chorus Poor boy! 1131

The horses, Hippolytus!

You’ll never train your team of Venetian steeds for the chariot races again!

There you were, thundering along the racecourse around Limna, jumping from the back one onto the back of the other, tightening your legs hard around their bare flanks!

Chorus And the music, Hippolytus!

The music that never slumbered, ever-singing beneath those lyre strings of yours!

That music will now fall silent in your father’s palace!

Chorus And the garlands, Hippolytus!

The fallen logs and the rocks, those resting spots in the green precincts of Artemis, Leto’s daughter, will miss your garlands.

Chorus And the girls, Hippolytus! 1140

The girls who fought over your love will stop their rivalry, now that you’re an exile!

Chorus And I, Hippolytus!

I shall live out the rest of my life in tears!

I, who have become unfortunate because of your misfortune.

Chorus Oh, mother of the boy!

Why ever did you give birth to him?

Chorus Gods!

I am so angry with you!

Chorus And you, Graces of marriage!

Why do you send the poor boy away from his land for no reason at all?

He has committed no wrong!

Chorus Indicating behind the wings of SL 1151


Look there!

I see one of the boy’s servants rushing towards the palace.

Chorus His face looks very sad!

Enter Messenger

Messenger Women, where is the king? Where do I go to find Theseus?

Is he in the Palace? Tell me!

Enter Theseus from the palace

Chorus Here he is now.

Messenger Theseus!

I have brought you news that will cause you and the rest of the people of Athens and the rest of Troezen, great concern!

Theseus What sort of news? Has something dreadful happened our two neighbouring cities? 1160

Messenger My lord, Hippolytus is dead –or, rather, at the very edge of the sun’s light.

Theseus Oh, yes? And who killed him? No doubt some poor husband whose wife he defiled and turned against him!

Messenger No, my lord.

His own chariot has killed him. That, with the help of your curse. The one you uttered in your prayer to your father, Poseidon, god of the sea.

Theseus Oh, yes!

Thank you gods!

Thank you, Poseidon! You have heard my prayer because you are truly my father!

Tell me, man, how did he die? How did the sword of Justice strike this man, this man who has dishonored his own father?

Messenger We were near the wave-torn shore, grooming our horses, brushing their manes, when a messenger came and told us that Hippolytus was no longer allowed to walk upon this land because you’ve had the poor man banished. This news made us shed many tears. Then Hippolytus himself appeared at the shore, followed by a whole lot of his friends and joined us in our groans of pain. 1173

Eventually, he stopped crying and said, “why am I so distressed over this? It is my duty to obey my father’s words. Come, friends, yoke the horses to my chariot. This city is no longer mine.” 1181

At that, we all jumped and, in no time at all, we had the horses readied and brought the chariot around beside our master. He took the reins from the rails and planted his sandaled feet onto the chariot’s boards.

Then he first spread his hands wide, palms upward in prayer and said, “Oh, Zeus, may I die, if I am evil but, whether I die or live to see the light of day, let it be known by my father that he has treated me unfairly.” 1190

And with those words, he picked up the whip and cracked it at the four horses.

We, his servants, followed close by, on foot, along the roads that lead directly to Argos and Epidaurus.

Eventually we arrived at some deserted spot, outside our territory, near the shores of a headland that’s jutting out into the Saronic Sea. Just there we heard a tremendous, horrible groan, roaring up through the earth, a groan that made us shudder, a groan that sounded like Zeus’ thunderbolts! It got the horses shooting their heads and ears up towards the heavens and us servants terrified. We couldn’t work our where that horrible noise came from; that is, until we looked towards the wave-beaten shore. That’s when we saw a huge wave, reaching up high and deep into the sky. So high was this wave that I couldn’t look past it to see the shores of Skiron, nor the Isthmus and not even the rock of Asclepius! 1200

And then this wave just surged up and swelled and splashed about and spewed out a whole lot of foam which came out onto the shore where we and the chariot with the four horses were. And then this huge wave, suddenly swelled up even more and became a ghastly bull. A vicious bull whose ferocious bellow filled the whole land. The roar echoed everywhere around us. 1210

It terrified us all.

Our eyes couldn’t bear to look at it. It was a dreadful sight to behold.

The horses panicked immediately but my master, who knew everything there is to know about horses, tugged at the reins tightly and pulled them towards him like a sailor pulls his oars, dropping the weight of his body back against the pull of the straps. 1220

The steeds, though, took the iron-forged bit between their jaws and charged violently away, as if their master’s hand or the reins or the beautiful chariot did not exist!

Then, whenever he tried to steer the four horses towards a softer ground, the huge bull would appear right in front of them and frighten them towards the opposite direction.

Or, if the horses, in their frenzy, turned towards the rocks, the bull came right up close to them and guided them towards those rocks. It did this until the chariot was toppled and thrown up against those rocks, the rims of its wheels smashing against them. 1230

It was a horrible mess. Every bit of the chariot spun wildly into the air. Wheel naves and axel rods, every part of it flew up in all directions and the poor man got himself all tangled up with the mess of straps and dragged along until he fell against a rock, smashing his head and his flesh torn to bits.

Ah, the things the poor man yelled to those horses! Things that were painful to hear.

“Stop,” he called out to them. “Stop, don’t kill me! You were raised in my stables!” And then he yelled, “Father, what a miserable curse you’ve made against me!” 1240

And then, in utter desperation, he called out, “Will no one come to rescue the most virtuous of men?”

Of course, many of us wanted to do that but we couldn’t. Our feet weren’t fast enough.

And then, I don’t know how, but he was cut loose from the straps and fell on the ground, barely enough breath in him to stay alive.

Then all the horses as well as that monstrous bull somehow vanished! I don’t know where they disappeared in that mountainous country.

My lord, I know I am only a slave in your house and I shouldn’t speak out of turn but, my lord, I can never believe that your son is guilty of committing any evil deeds. I wouldn’t believe that even if the whole female race hanged itself and if they had covered all the wood of Mount Ida with writing, accusing him! 1249

I know for certain, that Hippolytus is a virtuous man!

Chorus Ah! New misfortunes have come!

Chorus What must happen will happen.There is no escape from Fate.

Theseus At first, your words have pleased me because I hate the man but now, because he is my son and because I have respect for the gods, now, hearing about these misfortunes of his, gives me neither pleasure nor concern.

Messenger Well, then, my lord, what would you have us do to please you? Should we bring the poor boy here? Tell me what you think but I suggest that you should not act too harshly towards your unfortunate son. 1261

Theseus Bring him here.

I want him here, to look at him in the face and see him try to deny that he has polluted my wedding bed, eye-to-eye!

I shall give him proof of his guilt with my words and with the deeds of the gods!

Exit Messenger

The chorus gathers around the statue of Aphrodite

Chorus Oh, Aphrodite!

You can lead the direction of the unbending minds of both gods and mortals!

Chorus And Eros, is with you, Aphrodite. 1270

All around you, goddess, darting about with his swift wings and his plumes, rich in colour!

Chorus He flies over the brine of the roaring seas and over the earth and enchants those whose love-frenzied hearts burn with desire.

Chorus The god with the golden wings enchants the very hearts of all the wild beasts that live in the mountains and in the oceans and all those that the earth nurtures and the sun’s rays burn!

Chorus Beasts and men! 1280

But you, Aphrodite, you alone, rule!

You alone are their Queen!

Enter Artemis dressed as a huntress, with a bow and a quiver of arrows.

Artemis Theseus! Son of king Aegeas!

I command you to listen!

I am Artemis, Leto’s daughter.

Miserable man! How is it you enjoy such things? You have killed your own son in a most sinful way!

You have heeded your wife’s false words about things that you have not seen with your own eyes. But your sin is obvious.

How is it that you have not yet hidden yourself with the deepest shame, in the darkest recesses of the earth?

Or you could turn into a flying beast and fly far away from this crime. 1290

There is no place for you in a life lived by good men.

Listen to the nature of your misfortunes, Theseus! They will cause you great pain to hear but will give me no pleasure to tell them.

I have come here to tell you in clear terms, Theseus, that your son’s heart is free of any guilt and that you must bury him with his reputation intact; and to tell you of your wife’s madness –or, perhaps, nobleness.

Indicating the statue of Aphrodite

She was stung by this goddesses’ prick, a thing most hated by us who delight in virginity, and so she fell in love with your son, Hippolytus. 1301

Then, when with her own will, the poor woman tried to conquer Aphrodite, she was destroyed quite by accident, by her nurse’s plan who revealed the truth about her illness to your son, after she had made him swear an oath to secrecy.

Hippolytus, however, quite rightly did not heed the nurse’s words but nor, being a virtuous man, did he break his oath to her, though he had to endure your anger against him.

Your wife, however, afraid that she’d be questioned on the matter, wrote that letter of lies and so, by that deceit, destroyed your son by convincing you with her lies.

Theseus Oh, no! 1313

Artemis Do the facts hurt you, Theseus?

Wait then and here the rest of them. They will hurt you even more.

Your father has given you a gift of three curses, Theseus. Curses whose results are guaranteed. You do know that, don’t you?

Well, being the evil man that you are, Theseus, you’ve decided to use one of these curses against your own son, instead of some enemy of yours. Your father, then, Poseidon, the god of the sea, has done what he had to do, since he loves you and since has made the promise.

But, to his view and mine, you acted badly. You’ve not examined the matter at all, nor asked for the opinion of the prophets, not even let time judge it but rushed quickly to apply the deadly curses upon your son. 1320

Theseus Oh, goddess! May I be destroyed also!

Artemis Theseus, though you’ve committed dreadful sins, there’s still hope for you to gain pardon.

It was Aphrodite who, wanting to vend her rage, has caused all this to happen.

Now, the rule among us gods is this: None of us will go against the will of another.

Instead, we will stand aside. 

And understand this well, Theseus: Had I not been afraid of Zeus, I would have never fallen to the shame of allowing the mortal I loved the most to die. 1331

You are acquitted of the charge of being evil because you were ignorant and because, by her death, your wife has erased all hope for you of testing the truth of her words and so she has convinced you.

Well, then. These sorrows fall mainly upon you, Theseus but I, too, feel the grief because we, gods, find no joy in the death of the pious. But as for the sinners, we destroy them, along with their offspring and their houses.

Enter Hippolytus, gravely hurt and supported by his servants.

Chorus Ah! 1342

Here’s the poor boy!

Chorus Look how bruised and beaten his young flesh is!

Chorus And his blond head!

Chorus Oh, the mountain of sorrows that have fallen upon these houses!

Chorus The heavens have sent a double misery upon these palaces!

Hippolytus Ah! Miserable Fate!

Unjust curses delivered unjustly by an unjust father! I am utterly destroyed!

Oh, how my smashed body aches! 1350

Pains spin through my head! Shudders dash across my brain!

Stop, friends!

Let me rest my body! I am exhausted!

Ah! What wretched pain is this!

Ah those horrible horses! Horrible chariot beasts! I have fed them with my own hands! They have destroyed me! They have killed me!

Ah! Ah!

Gently, friends, gently! By the gods, I beg you, friends, careful of my wounds!

Who’s here? Who’s by my right side? Slowly, gently, men. Lift me gently. Evenly across my whole mangled body, friends! 1360


Miserable man! A man mistakenly cursed by his own father.

Oh, Zeus!

Do you see all this, Zeus? Do you this man, Zeus? Do you see how this god-fearing man, this most chaste of men is dying?

I am destroyed!

In vain, I have spent my whole life working hard at respecting all men.

Ah! What pain is this! It spreads throughout my whole body! 1370

Ah! Miserable man!

Pain leave this miserable man and let Death come to heal him!

Kill me!

Kill this miserable man!

How I wish a sharp sword would cut me asunder and put my life to an endless rest!

Oh, miserable curse! My father’s curse!

The curse and some blood-spilling evil, committed by my ancestors, long dead, family, could wait no longer and has erupted upon me! 1380

But why Zeus?

Why upon me? Why upon an innocent man?


What is there for me to say to free my life from this pain, this gruesome disaster?

Oh, how I wish!

How I wish that Hades’ dark night, Death’s Fate, came to take me. To put this miserable wretch to sleep!

Artemis You poor man!

How dire the disaster to which you are yoked!

But it was the nobility of your mind that has brought this destruction upon you!

Hippolytus Suddenly noticing Artemis 1391

Ah! A heavenly fragrance!

My goddess!

Though my misery is great, I feel your presence, goddess and the pain of my body has softened.

The goddess Artemis is here!

Artemis Yes, my poor man. The goddess dearest to your heart is here!

Hippolytus Oh, my lady!

Do you see the wretched state I am in?

Artemis I do, Hippolytus but divine law forbids me to shed tears.

Hippolytus Ah, my goddess!

You no longer have your fellow huntsman and servant.

Artemis No, Hippolytus but even though you will die, you will still have my love.

Hippolytus There is no one to care for your horses and your statue, my lady!

Artemis No, Hippolytus because this was the will of Aphrodite. 1400

Hippolytus Ah!

Now I know what power has killed me!

Artemis Her honour was attacked and she hated your chastity, Hippolytus.

Hippolytus I can understand it now. One power has destroyed all three of us!

Artemis Yes, you, your father and then your father’s wife, was the third.

Hippolytus And so I moan for my father’s fate as well!

Artemis Theseus was deceived by a god.

Hippolytus Poor father!

How terrible is your misfortune!

Theseus This is the end for me, my son!

I have no joy left in life.

Hippolytus You have made a mistake father and I grieve more for you than I do for me.

Theseus If only I could die in your place my son! 1410

Hippolytus Oh, what bitterness your father’s gifts have brought upon us!

Theseus If only they had never reached my lips!

Hippolytus But what then? Your anger was so great father, that you would have still killed me.

Theseus Yes, son. The gods have twisted my reason.

Hippolytus Ah!

If only mortals could curse the gods -

Artemis Interrupts Hippolytus

Leave it at that, Hippolytus.Because even in the darkness of the earth where you are buried, Aphrodite’s anger which has broken over you, your chastity and virtue will be rewarded by many and great honours.

I, personally, will see that justice will be granted to you with these unerring arrows of mine, by shooting them at another mortal, whoever is the dearest to her. 1420

And to you, you poor, suffering man, for these pains you have endured, I shall grant you the highest honours in the city of Troezen.

Unmarried girls will cut their hair before their wedding and through the passage of many years, you will harvest an abundance of tears of their grief, for you.

Virgins will cherish you for ever and they will sing about you and keep the memory of Phaedra’s love for you alive.

Turning to Theseus 1430

But you, son of old Aegeas, take now your son, Hippolytus, in your arms and hold him close to you. You were not responsible for his death because it is only to be expected that men will make dire mistakes when the gods declare it so.

Back to Hippolytus

And you, Hippolytus. I urge you not to hate your father because you know well Fate by which you were destroyed.

And now I must leave because it is unlawful for me to look upon the dead, or to pollute my sights with the final breaths of the dying and I can see, poor man, you are already near that calamity.

Farewell, Hippolytus!

Exit Artemis

Hippolytus Farewell to you, too, blessed virgin! May you quickly forget our days together and, since you ask this of me, I shall hold no animosity towards my father. I have always done as you have asked of me. 1440



Father, take my body and lay it straight. The darkness is coming over my eyes!

Theseus My, son, my poor son! What are you doing to me?

Hippolytus Father, I am gone. I see the gates of Hades!

Theseus Will you leave me like this, my son, with my soul polluted after spilling your blood?

Hippolytus No, father. I set you free of any guilt for this murder.

Theseus What did you say son? Do you set me free of murder? 1450

Hippolytus Let the huntress Artemis be my witness!

Theseus Oh, my darling son! How magnanimous you are to your father!

Hippolytus Father, farewell to you, too and may your life be filled with joy!

Theseus Oh, what a virtuous and brave soul!

Hippolytus Then pray father that you have legitimate sons like me.

Theseus Courage, my son. Don’t abandon me!

Hippolytus My courage has left me, father. I am finished.

Quickly, now, cover my face with my cloak!

Hippolytus dies.

Theseus covers his son’s face and after a few moments of contemplation rises and addresses the chorus

Theseus Glorious land of Erechtheus and Pallas Athena! 1459

You have lost a great man!

Turning to the statue of Aphrodite

And I, Aphrodite! In my misery, I shall remember well all the pains you have delivered us!

Exit Theseus

Chorus This unexpected grief has fallen upon all the citizens.

The tears will fall in floods for a long time because the grief of the famous is mightier.

Exit all

End of Euripides’ “HIPPOLYTUS”

Note: The French playwright Racine was inspired by this play to write “Phaedra.” You may wish to read Tony Kline’s translation of this play into English hereand Seneca’s “Phaedra” Translated by F.J. Miller here