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Phaedra

In Greek mythology, Phaedra was the mother of Acamas by Theseus.

Phaedra fell in love with Theseus' son by Hippolyte, his ex-wife, Hippolytus. According to some sources, he had scorned Aphrodite to become a devotee of Artemis and Aphrodite made Phaedra fall in love with him as a punishment. He rejected her. Alternatively, Phaedra's nurse told Hippolytus of her love, and he swore he would not reveal her as a source of information--even after Phaedra killed herself and blamed his seduction of her in her suicide note. In revenge, Phaedra wrote Theseus a letter that claimed Hippolytus raped her. She then killed herself. Theseus believed her and, using one of the three curses he had received from Poseidon, Hippolytus' horses were frightened by a sea monster and ragged their rider to his death. Alternatively, after telling Theseus that Hippolytus had raped her, he killed his son and Phaedra committed suicide out of guilt for she had not intended for Hippolytus to die. Artemis later told Theseus the truth. In an alternate version, Phaedra simply told Theseus this and did not kill herself; Dionysus sent a wild bull which terrified Hippolytus' horses.

A cult grew up around Hippolytus, associated with the cult of Aphrodite. Girls who were about to be married offered locks of their hair to him. His cult believed Asclepius resurrected Hippolytus and he lived in a sacred forests near Aricia[?] in Latium.

Virgil VII, 765; Ovid XV, 497

Noteworthy among modern retellings is that of Jean Racine (in his play Phédre).



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