Open main menu

Wikipedia β

In Greek mythology, Phaedra /ˈfdrə, ˈfɛdrə/ (Ancient Greek: Φαίδρα, Phaidra) (or Fedra) is the daughter of Minos and Pasiphaë, wife of Theseus, sister of Ariadne, and the mother of Demophon of Athens and Acamas. Phaedra's name derives from the Greek word φαιδρός (phaidros), which meant "bright".

Phaedra (1880) by Alexandre Cabanel

Though married to Theseus, Phaedra fell in love with Hippolytus, Theseus's son by another woman (born to either Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons, or Antiope, her sister). But Hippolytus rejected her.

In revenge, Phaedra wrote Theseus a letter that claimed Hippolytus had raped her. Theseus believed her and cursed Hippolytus with one of the three curses he had received from Poseidon.[1] As a result, Hippolytus's horses were frightened by a sea monster and dragged their rider to his death.

In another version, after Phaedra told Theseus that Hippolytus had raped her, Theseus killed his son, and Phaedra then committed suicide out of guilt, for she had not intended Hippolytus to die. Then Artemis later told Theseus the truth.

In a third version, Phaedra told Theseus and did not kill herself; Dionysus then sent a wild bull which terrified Hippolytus's horses.

Euripides twice placed this story on the Athenian stage, of which one version survives.

According to some sources, Hippolytus had spurned Aphrodite to remain a steadfast and virginal devotee of Artemis, and Aphrodite made Phaedra fall in love with him as a punishment.[2]

In one version, Phaedra's nurse told Hippolytus of her love, and he swore he would not reveal her as a source of information.


In ArtEdit

  • Alexandre Cabanel's Phaedra depicts Phaedra stretched out on her side in a lavishly decorated bed, one arm at supporting her head and one hanging off the edge fingering the expensive drapery. She stares out of the left side of the picture plane, her face dark and resolute, while her unkempt hair is splayed on the decorated pillow. Her pale nude body covered by a sheer white sheet contrasts with the deep red, black, and gold tones around her. Two ladies in waiting are on the right. Great River, New York's [[Great River, New York#Notable residents|Olivia Peyton Cutting (née Murray) (1855–1949)]] sat as the model for this portrait.
  • Sarcophagus with the death of II fedra
    Sarcofago con la morte di fedra del II sec., da tomba di incisa vivaldi (1304) fuori s.m. delle vigne
  • Phaedra with attendant, probably her nurse, a Fresco from Pompeii circa 60-20 BC., From the tomb of engraved vivaldi (1304) outside s.m. Of vineyards

In literatureEdit

Phaedra with an attendant, probably her nurse, a fresco from Pompeii, 60-20 BC

Phaedra's story appears in many acclaimed works of literature, including:

In musicEdit

Phaedra is also the subject of a number of musical works, including:

In filmEdit



  1. ^ Odyssey iv. 274.
  2. ^ The Athenians maintained a small shrine high on the south slope of the Acropolis devoted to Aphrodite 'for Hippolytus' (Karl Kerenyi, The Heroes of the Greeks, 1959:243).
  3. ^ Fedra (Dramma mitologico dell'Antica Grecia) (1909) on IMDb
  4. ^ Phädra (TV 1967) on IMDb


External linksEdit

  •   Media related to Phaedra at Wikimedia Commons