Some Themes
in Euripidesí Hippolytus

Folktale Themes
revenge of the woman scorned (Joseph and Potiphar's Wife)

the divine curse

Athenian Themes
story of their great hero Theseus

aetiology for the Athenian cult of Hippolytus (mentioned by Artemis at the end of the play)

need for discretion by Athenian women

    Two versions of the play

        Veiled Hippolytus: In this version Phaedra approaches Hippolytus herself and Hippolytus throws a veil over his head in shock. This play created a scandal in Athens when it was performed.

        Crowned Hippolytus: In this surviving play Hippolytus arrives wearing a crown of Artemis and the nurse, not Phaedra, tells Hippolytus about her love.

Divine Rivalry
Aphrodite vs. Artemis

    Aphrodite speaks the prologue

    Artemis appears as a dea ex machina in the exodos

Sophrosyne (Moderation) vs. EXCESS
Hippolytus (excessive chastity)

Phaedra (excessive passion)

Theseus (excessive anger)

Kairos (Critical or Appropriate Moment)

Divine Retribution

Predetermination vs. Free Will

Aristotle's Poetics

This material has been published on the web by Prof. Tom Sienkewicz for his students at Monmouth College. If you have any questions, you can contact him at

Return to Monmouth College Department of Classics Homepage