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Midterm Paper

1212 words - 5 pages

After Phaedra decides to kill herself, the chorus gives what I think is a little prayer or poem to free Phaedra from this consuming love but they talk about how she arrived to Athens from her homeland Crete and the fact that she’s found nothing but misery in Athens. Just before she commits suicide they finish it off with, ”And therefore her soul has been broken / by the terrible sickness of Aphrodite, / an unholy love” (762-765). In Hippolytus by Euripides, love is described as a sickness. A metaphor for her feelings towards Hippolytus and its illicitness. The metaphor today helps explain why people fall in love,but is mostly used to talk about the dark forbidden aspect of love.
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[…] and now the wretched woman, groaning and maddened by the stings of love, is dying without a word and none of the household knows what has made her sick. […] Phaedra must die—with her honour safe, but nevertheless die she must” (21-50). It’s pretty clear from this quote that Euripides intends to blame a higher power, a goddess, for the actions of a mortal, which was popular believe at the time. Later on he talks about love in terms of it being a sickness, yet I think that he only meant to refer to Phaedra’s love as a sickness.
After hearing Hippolytus’ rejection, Phaedra loses it and just like Aphrodite she wants revenge. “He and I shall share in this sickness, and that will prove his lesson in virtue” (730-731). I believe this is the first time that the word sickness is used to talk about love, but it’s not the first time that love and sickness are somehow connected. Towards the beginning of the play Phaedra is starving herself to death and it seems that she has lost her mind because her mind goes from one thing to another, and she has no idea about what she’s saying. Just like when a person is suffering from a cold or the flu, and they refuse to eat, and are just a bit delusional. Phaedra is only acting like this because she knows that her love is both A) illegitimate and B) unrequited. It’s illegitimate because the person she has fallen in love with is Hippolytus, her step-son and its unrequited because Hippolytus is known to be asexual, his only focus being the hunt and the outdoors.
It goes with out say that Euripides removes the blame from Phaedra in this situation, giving the goddess Aphrodite the upper hand in this case. She is portrayed as the cause for the entire thing, which in a way is messed up. I think I have difficulties accepting that it wasn’t in Phaedra’s control because despite the fact that Aphrodite made her fall in love, Aphrodite never forced her to lie about why she killed herself or kill herself. To me there was always an option to discuss it with Hippolytus, ask him to understand the situation and explain that she knows that her emotions are taboo. She could have ran away, and eliminate herself from the situation. Instead she eliminated herself permanently, but on top of that due to her pain caused by the rejection she falsely accuses Hippolytus. I think that at the...

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