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Hippolytus (son of Theseus)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Death of Hippolytus, by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836–1912).
The Death of Hippolytus, by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836–1912).

In Greek mythology, Hippolytus (Greek: Ἱππόλυτος Hippolytos means "unleasher of horses")[1] was a son of Theseus and either Antiope or Hippolyte. He was identified with the Roman forest god Virbius.

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  • ✪ Miscellaneous Myths: Pygmalion and Galatea
  • ✪ Miscellaneous Myths: Niobe
  • ✪ Miscellaneous Myths: Sisyphus Captures Death


Man, girls are so complicated. Well I mean, people are complicated, but girls are specifically *taught* to be complicated, especially when we interact with dudes. There's this whole song and dance we're taught to do about not communicating our negative emotions, but also bottling them up to the point where they explode, but only when someone else notices that we're having them first because somehow that's how we know they care and... Urgh. Not gonna lie, I don't really get any of this stuff, but from what I've seen, it's pretty crazy. Now this whole bizarre courtship ritual can get pretty disheartening, which has led to a long-standing fantasy in human society of just.. making your ideal boy- or girlfriend. No muss, no fuss, no misinterpreted sidelong glances and awkward coffee dates, just call on the magic of science or divine intervention and craft yourself the perfect partner. And this is everywhere-- you watch TV as a kid, you remember this episode. Now this is an idea that recurs very easily; all it takes is one tragic breakup and BOOM, suddenly you're sketching blueprints for your black belt ninja super-girlfriend. But there's one story that's kind of the Ur-Example behind all the Build-A-Girlfriend tropes and although it's been adapted for modern audiences and reexamined in a million different ways, sometimes it's best to stick with the classics-- this is the myth of Pygmalion and Galatea. So Pygmalion's a famous ivory sculptor known for both his skill and his unconventional taste in women, namely that he doesn't have one. You might be confused as to why this was a controversial subject in ancient Greece of all places, but it's not so much that Pygmalion doesn't like women, he just doesn't like women who do things like... Talk. And have sex. I don't know how to tell you this buddy, but we do have a word for that now. Several words, actually. Well regardless of his thoughts on women, Pygmalion still has a great appreciation for beauty and deciding that no woman alive could possibly meet his standards, Pygmalion does what he does best and makes one. Now, this statue is beautiful, but more than beautiful, she's also Pygmalion's literal perfect woman: gorgeous, quiet, flawless, nonjudgmental... ...incapable of speech... ...not breathing.....? Sorry Pygmalion, there's no way to spin this that makes you look good. So Pygmalion falls in love with his statue and, much like the archetypal basement dweller, dresses his waifu up in fancy clothing, goes on dates with her, tells her all his problems and gives her a name, Galatea, meaning "white as milk." But of course Pygmalion isn't truly happy, as even though he loves Galatea, since she's, you know, not real, she can't love him back. Now normally this doesn't seem to be a problem for the waifu community, but hey, guess they dude's a romantic. Anyway, the festival of Aphrodite rolls around and in-between all the pleas for beauty and true love and all that jazz, Pygmalion begs the goddess to bring his waifu to laifu. Err, sorry, LIFE. Bring her to life. Aphrodite, always a sucker for a pretty face, deems Galatea fine enough to warrant her efforts and grants Pygmalion's wish, making Galatea into a real woman. So now she can do things like... Talk. And have sex. You kids have fun.



More precisely, the meaning of Hippolytus' name is ironically ambiguous. The element -λυτος (from λύω "loosen, destroy") suggests the adjective λυτός, -ή, -όν "which may be undone, destroyed." His name thereby takes on the prophetic meaning "destroyed by horses".[1]


The Death of Hippolytus, by Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne (1679–1731), Louvre.
The Death of Hippolytus, by Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne (1679–1731), Louvre.

The most common legend regarding Hippolytus states that he was killed after rejecting the advances of Phaedra, his stepmother, the second wife of Theseus. Spurned, Phaedra deceived Theseus saying that his son had raped her. Theseus, furious, used one of the three wishes given to him by Poseidon to curse Hippolytus. Poseidon sent a sea-monster—or, alternatively,[citation needed] Dionysus sent a wild bull—to terrorize Hippolytus's horses, who dragged their rider to his death.

Versions of this story appear in Euripides' play Hippolytus, Seneca the Younger's play Phaedra, Ovid's Metamorphoses and Heroides, and Jean Racine's Phèdre.

Phaedra's suicide

Euripides' version has Phaedra's nurse tell Hippolytus of Phaedra's love. Hippolytus swore that he would not reveal the nurse as a source of information – even after Phaedra killed herself and falsely accused him of raping her in a suicide note, which Theseus read.

Alternatively, it is stated that Phaedra simply killed herself out of guilt for Hippolytus’ death and that the goddess Artemis subsequently told Theseus the truth.

Hippolytus as Virbius

According to some sources, Hippolytus had scorned Aphrodite in order to become a devotee of Artemis, devoting himself to a chaste life in pursuit of hunting.[2] In retaliation, Aphrodite made Phaedra fall in love with him. Hippolytus’ rejection of Phaedra led to his death in a fall from a chariot.

As a result, a cult grew up around Hippolytus, associated with the cult of Aphrodite. His cult believed that Artemis asked Asclepius to resurrect the young man since he had vowed chastity to her.

He was brought to Latium, Italy, where he reigned under the name of Virbius or Virbio. After his resurrection, he married Aricia. According to another tradition, he lived in the sacred forests near Aricia in Latium. Girls who were about to be married offered locks of their hair to him as a sign of their virginity.


See also


  1. ^ a b Aeneid - Virgil - Google Boeken. Retrieved 2013-10-16.
  2. ^ Frazer, James. The Golden Bough (Chapter 1–2, particularly)

External links

This page was last edited on 5 October 2018, at 08:38
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