previous next


Ἱππόλυτος). The Joseph of classical literature, a son of Theseus and Hippolyté, or, according to others, of Theseus and Antiopé. Theseus, after the death of his first wife, married Phaedra, the daughter of Minos and sister of Ariadné. This princess was seized with a criminal affection for the son of the Amazon, an affection produced by the wrath of Aphrodité against Hippolytus for neglecting her divinity and for devoting himself solely to the service of Artemis; or else against Phaedra as the daughter of Pasiphaë (q.v.). During the absence of Theseus, the queen made advances to her step-son, which were indignantly rejected. Filled with fear and hate, on the return of her husband she accused Hippolytus of an attempt on her honour. Without giving the youth an opportunity of clearing himself, the monarch, calling to mind that Poseidon had promised him the accomplishment of any three wishes that he might form, cursed and implored destruction on his son from the god. As Hippolytus, leaving Troezen, was driving his chariot along the seashore, a monster, sent by Poseidon from the deep, terrified his horses; they burst away in fury, heedless of their driver, dashed the chariot to pieces, and dragged along Hippolytus, entangled in the reins, until he died. Phaedra ended her days by her own hand; and Theseus, when too late, learned the innocence of his son. Euripides has founded his tragedy, Hippolytus, on this subject, but the legend assumes a somewhat different shape with him. According to the plot of his play, Phaedra hangs herself in despair when she finds that she is slighted by her step-son, and Theseus, on his return from his travels, finds, when taking down her corpse, a writing attached to it, in which Phaedra accused Hippolytus of having attempted her honour. According to another legend, Aesculapius restored Hippolytus to life, and Artemis transported him, under the name of Virbius, to Italy, where he was worshipped in the grove of Aricia. (See Virbius; Apollod. iii.10.3.) The story of Hippolytus forms the subject of a play by Euripides with that title, of a Latin tragedy by Seneca, and the Phèdre of Racine.

hide References (1 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (1):
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library, 3.10.3
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: