Hippolytus

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Crown of Flowers Symbol Icon
Two different characters at two different moments in the play wear a crown of flowers as a meaningful sign. When we first meet Hippolytus, he has just returned from hunting in the wilderness with a band of huntsmen, and he places a crown of flowers by the statue of Artemis as a token of worship. He wove it together, he says, in a “meadow as virginal as you [Artemis] are” (115). Later, when it becomes clear that Phaidra’s accusation has doomed Hippolytus and he goes into exile, the chorus laments that Hippolytus will no longer place “wildflower crowns” for Artemis (1764). The crown represents Hippolytus’ commitment to chastity and virginity, and the beautiful nature with which those commitments are associated – and the goddess Artemis watches over all of these. The other crown of flowers appears when Theseus returns from the oracle. The fact that Theseus is wearing such a crown means that the gods there gave him a favorable or optimistic response to whatever question he asked of the oracle. Unlike Hippolytus’ crown, Theseus’ comes with a deep irony: the gods made him hopeful even though disasters unfolded at home, including the death of his wife.

Crown of Flowers Quotes in Hippolytus

The Hippolytus quotes below all refer to the symbol of Crown of Flowers. 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 1-425 Quotes

I have brought you this green crown,
Goddess, fresh from the scene
Where I spliced its flowers together,
A meadow as virginal as you are…

Related Characters: Hippolytus (speaker), Artemis
Related Symbols: Crown of Flowers, Statues of Artemis and Aphrodite
Page Number: 112-115
Explanation and Analysis:

Here, Hippolytus enters the stage for the first time and approaches the statue of Artemis. Out of admiration for the goddess, Hippolytus adorns her statue with a crown of flowers he's taken from a meadow he considers "virginal." This reveals how Hippolytus views Artemis as pure, whole, and representative of chastity, as opposed to Aphrodite, whose association with sexuality and erotic desire he refuses to revere. The crown of flowers also shows the importance of offering material favors to the gods--they are integral to the act of worshipping the gods and maintaining good standing with them, thus avoiding punishment for hubris (pride or arrogance). Hippolytus leaves Aphrodite's statue bare, and this upsets her--only sealing Hippolytus's fate.

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Crown of Flowers Symbol Timeline in Hippolytus

The timeline below shows where the symbol Crown of Flowers appears in Hippolytus. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Lines 1-425
Desire, Sexuality, and Chastity Theme Icon
Gods and Fate Theme Icon
Cities and Place Theme Icon
...in a poetic hymn in praise of Artemis. To complete the prayer, he places a crown of flowers on the statue of Artemis, which he created from the flowers of the beautiful meadow... (full context)
Lines 1120-1368
Gods and Fate Theme Icon
Truth, Falsehood, and Reputation Theme Icon
Family Relationships Theme Icon
...the chorus confirms Phaidra’s death, Theseus enters for the first time in the play. His crown of flowers indicates that the oracle, whom he was visiting, gave him a favorable response to whatever... (full context)