Hippolytus

Hippolytus Character Analysis

Hippolytus is the son of Theseus by another woman, an Amazonian named Hippolyte. As a bastard child, he is unlikely to ascend to political power in Troizen. Instead, he prefers hunting and riding his horses. He has dedicated himself completely, and arrogantly, to virginity and the goddess Artemis. These characteristics affect his downfall: as a bastard child, he words hold less weight when he is accused, and his devotion to Artemis and chastity angers that goddess’ rival, Aphrodite, who is the goddess of love and desire.

Hippolytus Quotes in Hippolytus

The Hippolytus quotes below are all either spoken by Hippolytus or refer to Hippolytus. 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:

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Because I prize my purity
I keep clear of [Aphrodite]…

Related Characters: Hippolytus (speaker), Aphrodite
Page Number: 164-165
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lines 426-816 Quotes

Aphrodite,
Sea goddess, share this adventure with me,
Though I have my own tactics
And these, once set in motion,
Once I share them inside with a certain young friend,
Will carry our affair to its climax.

Related Characters: Nurse (speaker), Hippolytus, Aphrodite
Page Number: 811-816
Explanation and Analysis:
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Lines 817-1119 Quotes

Mother Earth and Great Sun, whose light
Unfolds the freshness of the clear blue depths –
Could anything spoken be more repulsive?

Related Characters: Hippolytus (speaker)
Page Number: 914-916
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lines 1120-1368 Quotes

The truth is hideous. It sears and wrenches
And will not stay clenched in my throat.
To speak it out excruciates me,
But it must come. Ahhh!
Hear it, men of the city!
My wife was raped – by Hippolytus!

Related Characters: Theseus (speaker), Hippolytus, Phaidra
Page Number: 1337-1342
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lines 1369-1727 Quotes

I came bitterly from your womb,
O my cruelly wounded mother.
Let no one I love ever
Enter this world a bastard.

Related Characters: Hippolytus (speaker)
Page Number: 1691-1694
Explanation and Analysis:

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Daughter of Leto, you who were
Closest to me, my friend, my hunting partner,
Now I will go in exile
From radiant Athens.
I say goodbye to my city…

Related Characters: Hippolytus (speaker), Artemis
Related Symbols: Statues of Artemis and Aphrodite
Page Number: 1710-1713
Explanation and Analysis:

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There is one practice
That I have never touched,
Though it’s exactly what you attack me for:
Physical love. Until now
I’ve never been to bed with a woman.
All I know of sex is what I hear,
Or find in pictures – these I’m not very keen
To see, since I keep my inner life
As calm and pure as I can.

Related Characters: Hippolytus (speaker), Theseus
Page Number: 1544-1552
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lines 1728-2208 Quotes

What the gods did to you
Fills me with rage – O Graces, goddesses
Of beauty and kindness,
You have given – why did you do it? –
A hard life to an innocent man.
You cut him off from his home and country
To travel depressed and alone.

Related Characters: Chorus (speaker), Hippolytus
Page Number: 1774-1780
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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And the maidens’ spontaneous songs
Will dwell on you with endless care.
And fame will find musical words
For Phaidra’s terrible love for you,
And that too will be known.

Related Characters: Artemis (speaker), Hippolytus, Phaidra
Page Number: 2159-2163
Explanation and Analysis:

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Hippolytus Character Timeline in Hippolytus

The timeline below shows where the character Hippolytus 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
Aphrodite vents her anger about Hippolytus, the bastard son of Theseus. Her charge is that Hippolytus has gone so far his... (full context)
Desire, Sexuality, and Chastity Theme Icon
Gods and Fate Theme Icon
Cities and Place Theme Icon
Hippolytus enters with a group of huntsmen, carrying weapons and accompanied by dogs. He leads the... (full context)
Desire, Sexuality, and Chastity Theme Icon
Gods and Fate Theme Icon
A servant of the palace, an old man, approaches, and engages Hippolytus in a discussion by offering a piece of advice. After getting Hippolytus to agree that... (full context)
Lines 426-816
Truth, Falsehood, and Reputation Theme Icon
Family Relationships Theme Icon
...her interrogation, the nurse mentions to Phaidra that if she dies, her husband’s bastard child, Hippolytus, will inherit everything, while her own beloved children will suffer deeply from her absence. The... (full context)
Desire, Sexuality, and Chastity Theme Icon
Gods and Fate Theme Icon
Truth, Falsehood, and Reputation Theme Icon
Family Relationships Theme Icon
...slowly catches on. It is the nurse who finally guesses the name of Phaidra’s beloved, Hippolytus, and Phaidra does not deny it. The nurse responds with shock and disgust that Phaidra... (full context)
Desire, Sexuality, and Chastity Theme Icon
Truth, Falsehood, and Reputation Theme Icon
Family Relationships Theme Icon
...reason, she consigned herself to silence and death when she felt her growing desire for Hippolytus. That is the essential law of a woman’s life in aristocratic circles: to protect one’s... (full context)
Desire, Sexuality, and Chastity Theme Icon
Gods and Fate Theme Icon
Truth, Falsehood, and Reputation Theme Icon
...to push: without saying it explicitly, she implies that Phaidra should follow her desire, pursue Hippolytus, and save her own life. When Phaidra denies the nurse’s effort, the nurse changes her... (full context)
Lines 817-1119
Desire, Sexuality, and Chastity Theme Icon
Truth, Falsehood, and Reputation Theme Icon
...she hears inside. The Koryphaios gets her at last to describe what she’s hearing: it’s Hippolytus “in a huge fury”, shouting vicious slurs against some woman. The Koryphaios helps Phaidra realize... (full context)
Desire, Sexuality, and Chastity Theme Icon
Truth, Falsehood, and Reputation Theme Icon
Hippolytus enters still raging, and the nurse follows, urging him to be quiet. Worried that Hippolytus... (full context)
Desire, Sexuality, and Chastity Theme Icon
Truth, Falsehood, and Reputation Theme Icon
Phaidra, though standing or lying elsewhere onstage, has heard Hippolytus’ rant and admits defeat. Hippolytus’ comments about the hideousness of the female sex seem to... (full context)
Desire, Sexuality, and Chastity Theme Icon
Gods and Fate Theme Icon
Truth, Falsehood, and Reputation Theme Icon
...the nurse exits, Phaidra makes the chorus swear an oath, like the one that binds Hippolytus, not to reveal what they have seen unfold. The Koryphaios, speaking for the rest of... (full context)
Lines 1120-1368
Desire, Sexuality, and Chastity Theme Icon
Gods and Fate Theme Icon
Truth, Falsehood, and Reputation Theme Icon
Family Relationships Theme Icon
Cities and Place Theme Icon
...Theseus goes to read it, and it turns out to be accurate: the tablet accuses Hippolytus of raping Phaidra, and Theseus declares that the tablet convinces him of its truth, as... (full context)
Lines 1369-1727
Desire, Sexuality, and Chastity Theme Icon
Truth, Falsehood, and Reputation Theme Icon
Hippolytus enters, rushing to answer his father’s shouting without knowing that he is accused of rape.... (full context)
Desire, Sexuality, and Chastity Theme Icon
Truth, Falsehood, and Reputation Theme Icon
In response, Hippolytus buries his head in his cloak, but Theseus tells him to look up. To Hippolytus’... (full context)
Desire, Sexuality, and Chastity Theme Icon
Gods and Fate Theme Icon
Truth, Falsehood, and Reputation Theme Icon
As he finishes his defense, Hippolytus wishes that some witness had seen his behavior of the previous hours, or that Phaidra... (full context)
Truth, Falsehood, and Reputation Theme Icon
Cities and Place Theme Icon
After their two long speeches, Theseus and Hippolytus continue to debate in a more rapid-fire style. When Hippolytus says that Theseus should have... (full context)
Gods and Fate Theme Icon
Truth, Falsehood, and Reputation Theme Icon
Cities and Place Theme Icon
Growing impatient, Theseus shouts and commands Hippolytus to leave at once. When Hippolytus complains that nobody will accept him after rumors of... (full context)
Lines 1728-2208
Desire, Sexuality, and Chastity Theme Icon
Gods and Fate Theme Icon
Cities and Place Theme Icon
While Hippolytus’ fate befalls him offstage, the chorus sings another ode. They reflect on what the loss... (full context)
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 own curse killed his son, Theseus seems pleasantly... (full context)
Desire, Sexuality, and Chastity Theme Icon
Gods and Fate Theme Icon
Truth, Falsehood, and Reputation Theme Icon
...suddenly. The goddess wastes no time telling the truth: Phaidra had a criminal desire for Hippolytus, who nobly and honorably rejected the nurse’s advances on Phaidra’s behalf, and Phaidra then resolved... (full context)
Gods and Fate Theme Icon
Truth, Falsehood, and Reputation Theme Icon
...kill his own son, a binding agreement with the gods and not a proof of Hippolytus’ guilt. When Theseus now wishes for death, Artemis offers some condolence, revealing that it was... (full context)
Gods and Fate Theme Icon
Truth, Falsehood, and Reputation Theme Icon
Hippolytus’ friends drag him onto the stage, where he cries out in pain and wishes for... (full context)
Desire, Sexuality, and Chastity Theme Icon
Gods and Fate Theme Icon
Truth, Falsehood, and Reputation Theme Icon
Family Relationships Theme Icon
Cities and Place Theme Icon
...a ceremony by which maiden women of Athens clip their hair and sing songs to Hippolytus just before marriage. In music, she says, his reputation will improve. Before exiting, she reminds... (full context)