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Phaedra Summary | Seneca

Phaedra Summary | Seneca

Writer’s Intro:

Seneca (4 BC–65 AD) was a Roman Stoic philosopher, politician, playwright, and, in one of his works, a comedian. He lived during the Silver Age of Latin literature. Here, we are going to discuss the Summary of ‘Phaedra’.


Phaedra Summary


The first part of ‘Phaedra’ Summary

The story of Phaedra starts with Hippolytus, the son of Theseus and Phaedra’s stepson, going on a hunt. Stepmother to Hippolytus is Phaedra. He begs the goddess of hunting, Diana, for good fortune since he would rather be in the forest than at the palace. He has already departed when Phaedra arrives, her world in ruins.

Phaedra confesses to her wet nurse her love for Hippolytus. She recalls how the legendary Minotaur was created as a result of her mother’s passion for a bull. Later Theseus killed the bull. Because Phaedra’s mother Pasiphae wanted a bull, the Minotaur was created.

She claims that because of this, Venus has cursed her. Because Apollo was the one who revealed that Venus loved Mars to everyone, Venus is enraged at Phaedra’s ancestor.

Despite the nurse’s best efforts to calm Phaedra down and teach her to regulate her emotions, her passion and feelings are out of control. Phaedra likens her predicament to that of a ship that is engulfed in a storm and sailing straight into rocks.

She will continue to be pushed toward the rocks by the waves no matter how hard she steers away from them. The nurse resolves to attempt to assist her mistress despite how dismal the circumstances are.


The second part of ‘Phaedra’ Summary

It is commonly known that Hippolytus, an Amazonian woman who is the biological offspring of Theseus’ former wife Antiope, has abandoned civilization and despises all women. When he returns from the hunt, the nurse makes an effort to persuade him otherwise by encouraging him to take advantage of his good fortune by indulging in fine dining, fine wine, and the companionship of attractive ladies.

Hippolytus vehemently rejects this notion. He claims that while in the natural world, man is the most free and pure, women are the root of many of the world’s ills.

Phaedra shows up at that same time, collapses, and hits the ground. She is awakened by Hippolytus, who immediately inquires as to what is upsetting her. Phaedra first lacks the confidence to tell Hippolytus the truth, but she eventually works up the nerve to do so in the hopes that he would reciprocate her love and provide her “success” in order to conceal her “sins.”


But as a result of what takes place, Hippolytus becomes furious and lashes out at Phaedra, calling her worse than her “monster-bearing mother.” When she declares she wants to die, he pulls his sword on her but then throws it away and flees into the woods. She claims she wants to pass away.


The final part of ‘Phaedra’ Summary

Phaedra’s nurse devises a scheme to cover up what Phaedra did incorrectly by making it appear as though Hippolytus attempted to rape Phaedra’s stepmother. He won’t be able to deny it because he failed to carry his sword. Theseus ultimately emerges from the underworld, where he had just attained freedom.

He tells Phaedra he demands an explanation when he sees her dejected and seems about to commit suicide. Hippolytus is informed by Phaedra that an unanticipated party attempted to rape her. Phaedra then calls his attention to his sword. Theseus is stunned by the information and promptly orders his father Neptune to kill his children.


They receive the tragic news that Hippolytus has passed away from a messenger. The monster emerged from the raging water and pursued Hippolytus’ horses. The young man was jerked and ripped apart limb by limb as he became entangled in the reins. Phaedra tells Theseus the truth. Then she kills herself by falling on her sword. Before death, she tells him the way of the dissection of Hippolytus’s body.

Then Theseus orders that Hippolytus’s remains be located and properly buried after berating himself for making such a foolish decision. As for her, which roughly translates to “Let her be buried deep in dirt, and heavy may the soil weigh on her evil head,” he murmured after taking a glance at Phaedra’s body.


Character List

Hippolytus was the son of Theseus and Antiope, a woman from the Amazon. He is known to dislike women, but he loves the outdoors, especially hunting and spending time in the woods. He prefers the ease (but also the restrictions) of the outdoors over the ease (and freedoms) of society.


Phaedra was Theseus’s wife, and she was also Hippolytus’s stepmother. She is the daughter of Pasiphae, who loved a bull and had the Minotaur with him. She, too, is overcome by a “sinful” desire, which in this case is a desire for Hippolytus.


Theseus who was King of Athens and known for his bravery. He is introduced in the play as being imprisoned in Hades’ realm while on a mission with his best friend Pirithous. Their mission was to rescue Persephone and bring her back to the land of the living. He was known for being cruel and was responsible for the death of his ex-wife Antiope, who was also Hippolytus’ mother.


The Nurse Phaedra’s wet-nurse is an old woman who, at first, seems wise when she tries to comfort and help her mistress. Later, though, she shows a darker side when she comes up with a plan to say that Hippolytus tried to rape his stepmother when he didn’t.


Phaedra’s lust for Hippolytus is the main theme of the ancient Greek play.

This the end of our content ‘Phaedra’ summary. We hope you have enjoyed it. Anyway, if you want to read more content from , you can read the following articles:

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