Euripides' Hippolytus and Seneca's Phaedra: an interpretation of the characters in the two classical tragedies based on the Phaedra-Hippolytus legend



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The subject of this study is the Phaedra-Hippolytus legend dramatized by Euripides in the fifth century B. C. in his Hippolytus and by Seneca in the first century A. D. in his Phaedra. The principal purpose is to compare the two works and to show how Seneca elaborated on the characters in Euripides' tragedy. The study begins with a discussion of the Phaedra- Hippolytus legend itself and of the difficulty of finding any reliable information regarding what version or versions of the legend Euripides might have known or at least had access to; and with a discussion of the critical arguments over the possible contents of an earlier Hippolytus play (Hippolytus Veiled) by Euripides, and whether or not Seneca knew the earlier play, only about fifty lines of which remain. It is impossible to prove anything conclusive about either the source of the extant Hippolytus or the nature of the lost Hippolytus Veiled; therefore, it is valid only to discuss the ways in which Euripides' Hippolytus served as a model for Seneca either to follow or change. [...]