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Relationship Between Greeks And Gods In Hippolytus

1854 words - 8 pages

Relationship between Greeks and Gods in Hippolytus       


The play Hippolytus by the Greek playwright Euripides is one which

explores classical Greek religion.  Throughout the play, the influence

of the gods on the actions of the characters is evident, especially when

Aphrodite affects the actions of Phaedra.  Also central to the plot is

the god-god interactions between Artemis and Aphrodite.  In this essay,

I hope to provide answers to how the actions of Hippolytus and Phaedra

relate to the gods, whether or not the characters concern themselves

with the reaction of the gods to their behavior, what the characters

expect from the gods, how the gods ...view middle of the document...

" (1420-1422)

        The relationship of mankind and the gods also needs to be discussed.

This relationship seems to be a sort of give-and-take relationship, in

part.  The Greeks believed that if they gave to the gods, through prayer

and sacrifices, that the gods would help them out.  This is especially

true of Hippolytus and his almost excessive worship of Artemis.  Also,

Theseus praying to his father Poseidon is another example of this, only

Theseus actually gets what he prays for.  (887-890)  Just because

mankind worshipped the gods, however did not mean that the gods had any

sort of obligation to help out the humans.  Artemis did nothing to

protect Hippolytus from being killed.  But not all relations between the

gods and mankind were positive from the humans' standpoint.  Since

Aphrodite is angry with Hippolytus for not worshipping her, she decides

to punish him by making Phaedra love him, then making it seem that he

rapes her, when she actually hangs herself, whether that is through her

own actions or is the doing of Aphrodite.

        The thoughts and actions of Hippolytus and Phaedra certainly are

irrational at times.  After all, a stepmother falling in love with her

stepson is unlikely, but probably even less acceptable.  This is

directly related to the gods.  What Aphrodite does to Phaedra certainly

causes her to do some strange things.  For instance, first Phaedra seems

to go crazy, and then she decides to hide her new-found love for

Hippolytus from the nurse.  Later, though, she decides to tell the

nurse, and when she finds that the nurse has told Hippolytus, decides

that the only logical course of action is to kill herself.  This action

is certainly related to the gods because Aphrodite makes it look as if

Phaedra's suicide is really the fault of Hippolytus.  Some of

Hippolytus' actions are related to the gods as well.  When Theseus

discovers that Phaedra is dead and decides to exile Hippolytus,

Hippolytus does object to his banishment, but eventually he stops

arguing with his father.  At this point, he prays to the gods that he be

killed in exile if he is guilty of the death of Phaedra.  It is also

possible he may be expecting Artemis to help him out, though she does

nothing until he is on the verge of death.

The characters do worry about how the gods react to them at times.

Hippolytus does not seem to concern himself much with how Aphrodite

reacts to his behavior.  At the beginning of the play, the old man

questions Hippolytus' decision not to worship Aphrodite, but Hippolytus

really does not worry that he may be making Aphrodite angry.  He does

care how Artemis reacts, however, because he is hoping to keep her happy

so that she may help him out if he should need it.  Theseus certainly

concerns himself with how the gods react, since he needs Poseidon to

send a...

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