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Messenger Character Analysis

The messenger belongs to Hippolytus’ group of friends, and he is present in the crowd that escorts Hippolytus to his exile. He witnesses the earthquake, wave, and divine bull that kill Hippolytus on the shore, and returns to the palace to report it. Since this climax happened offstage, the messenger has the task of making it vivid to his listeners in his one appearance.

Messenger Quotes in Hippolytus

The Hippolytus quotes below are all either spoken by Messenger or refer to Messenger. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Desire, Sexuality, and Chastity Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Oxford University Press edition of Hippolytus published in 1992.
Lines 1728-2208 Quotes

King, I am your slave, but don’t ask me
To believe that your son was guilty.
I couldn’t, not if the whole female sex
Hanged itself,
And all the timber on Mount Ida
Were sliced up to write suicide notes.
I know he was a good man.

Related Characters: Messenger (speaker), Theseus, Hippolytus
Page Number: 1902-1908
Explanation and Analysis:

Unable to believe that Hippolytus raped Phaidra, a servant of Theseus (the Messenger) questions his incrimination of his son.

The strength and quality of Hippolytus's reputation is revealed here. The messenger boldly addresses his King and questions his judgment--an action that radically outsteps his status as a civilian. He refuses to concede to the King's decree, taking Hippolytus's word for face-value, based on his knowledge of Hippolytus's character--that is, based on Hippolytus's reputation. On the contrary, Theseus haphazardly and without reservation distrusts his own son--perhaps due to his status as a bastard child (ironically, since Hippolytus's status as illegitimate is entirely Theseus's doing). He takes his wife's word for face value--even though that word comes in the form of a brief note left behind on her corpse, leaving open the question of whether or not she is even the true author.


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Messenger Character Timeline in Hippolytus

The timeline below shows where the character Messenger appears in Hippolytus. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Lines 1728-2208
Gods and Fate Theme Icon
Cities and Place Theme Icon
A messenger enters, looking for Theseus, and reports that Hippolytus has died. When he learns that his... (full context)
Desire, Sexuality, and Chastity Theme Icon
Gods and Fate Theme Icon
Truth, Falsehood, and Reputation Theme Icon
When the messenger exits, the chorus sings a brief song to Aphrodite, recognizing her power over all things.... (full context)