“Phaedra” of Racine in brief summary

Hippolytus, the son of the Athenian Tsar Theseus, goes in search of his father, who has been traveling somewhere for six months. Hippolytus is the son of the Amazon. The new wife of Theseus Fedra disliked him, as everyone thinks, and he wants to leave Athens. Phaedra is also sick with an incomprehensible disease and “yearns to die.” She speaks of her suffering, which the gods sent her, that there is a conspiracy around her and she was “decided to lime.” The fate and the wrath of the gods aroused in her some sinful feeling that terrifies her and about which she is afraid to say openly. She makes every effort to overcome the dark passion, but in vain. Phaedra thinks about death and waits for her, not wanting to reveal her secret to anyone.

The nurse Enon fears that the queen’s mind is racked, for Phaedra herself does not know what she is saying. Enona reproaches her for the fact that Phaedra wants to insult the gods by interrupting her “life thread”, and calls on the queen to think about the future of her own children, that they will quickly take power from the “haughty Hippolytus” born by the Amazon. In response, Phaedra claims that her “sinful life is already too long, but her sin is not in her actions, her heart is guilty for everything – the reason for the torture.” However, in what is her sin, Phaedra refuses to say and wants to take her secret to the grave. As soon as she was in love with Hippolytus, she was afraid that Fedor had become the wife of Theseus and had seen Hippolytus as “the fire, then the chill,” and she was tormented by the body. “This is the fire of the all-powerful Aphrodite,” the goddess of love. “Phaedra tried to propitiate the goddess – “

The maid of Panope informs, that the news is received, as if the husband of Phaedra Theseus died. Therefore, Athens is worried – who should be the king: the son of Phaedra or the son of Theseus Ippolit, born of a captive Amazon? Enona reminds Phaedra that the burden of power now rests on her and she has no right to die, since then her son will perish.

Arica, the princess of the Athenian royal family of the Pallans, whom Theseus had deprived of power, would learn of his death. She is concerned about her fate. Theseus kept her captive in the palace in the city of Trebene. Hippolytus was elected ruler of Trezen and Yemen, Aryiki’s confidante believes that he will free the princess, since Hippolytus is not indifferent to her. Arica, however, captivated in Ippolite spiritual nobility. Keeping with the glorified father “in high resemblance, he did not inherit the low features of his father.” Theseus is sadly famous for seducing many women.

Ippolit comes to Arica and announces to her that he cancels his father’s decree of her captivity and gives her freedom. Athens needs a king and the people nominate three candidates: Hippolytus, Arica and the son of Phaedra. However, Hippolytus, according to the ancient law, if he is not born Hellenic, can not own the Athenian throne. Ariki also belongs to the ancient Athenian family and has all the rights to power. And the son of Phaedra will be king of Crete – so decides Hippolytus, remaining the ruler of Treason. He decides to go to Athens to convince the people of the right of Arica to the throne. Ariki can not believe that the son of her enemy gives her the throne. Ippolit answers that he had never before known what love is, but when he saw it, he “humbled himself and put on the love chains.” He always thinks of the princess.

Phaedrus, meeting with Hippolytus, says that he is afraid of him: now that Theseus is gone, he can bring down his anger at her and her son, revenge for being expelled from Athens. Ippolit is outraged – he could not do so poorly. In addition, the rumor of the death of Theseus may be false. Phaedrus, unable to cope with his feelings, says that if Hippolytus was older when Theseus came to Crete, then he too could accomplish the same feats – to kill the Minotaur and become a hero, and she, like Ariadne, would give him thread, so as not to get lost in the Labyrinth, and tie your destiny with him. Ippolit in perplexity, it seems to him that Phaedra dreams of reality, taking him for Theseus. Phaedra reinterprets his words and says that he loves not the old Theseus, but the young one, like Hippolytus, loves him, Hippolytus, but does not see it as his own fault, since he does not have authority over himself. She is a victim of divine wrath, it is the gods who sent her the love that torments her. Phaedra asks Hippolytus to punish her for a criminal passion and...get the sword from its scabbard. Ippolit flees in horror, no one should know about the terrible secret, not even his mentor Teramen.

From Athens is the messenger, in order to hand Fedra reins. But the queen does not want power, she does not need honors. She can not rule a country when her own mind is not hers, when she is not powerful over her feelings. She had already revealed her secret to Hippolytus, and the hope for a reciprocal feeling awoke in her. Hippolytus, according to the mother of the Scythians, says Enon, his savagery is in his blood – “he rejected the female sex, does not want to know him.” However, Phaedra wants to wake up love in “wild as a forest” Hippolyte, he has never been told about tenderness. Phaedra asks Enon to tell Hippolytus that she is giving him all power and is ready to give her love.

Enon returns with the news that Theseus is alive and will soon be in the palace. Fedra embraces horror, for she fears that Hippolytus will reveal her secret and expose her deceit before her father, she will say that her stepmother dishonors the royal throne. She thinks of death as a salvation, but is afraid for the fate of children. Enon proposes to protect Phaedra from dishonor and slander Hippolytus before his father, saying that he wanted Phaedra. She undertakes everything to arrange herself to save the honor of the lady “conscience in defiance of her own,” for “that honor was… without a speck for everyone, and it is not a sin to sacrifice virtue”.

Phaedra meets with Theseus and declares to him that he is offended, that she is not worthy of his love and tenderness. The latter asks Hippolytus in bewilderment, but the son replies that his wife can open the secret to him. And he himself wants to leave to perform the same feats as his father. Theseus surprised and angry – returning to his home, he finds his family in confusion and anxiety. He feels that something terrible is hidden from him.

Enona slandered Hippolytus, and Theseus believed, remembering how pale, embarrassed, and evasive the son was in talking to him. He drives Hippolyte and asks the god of the sea of ​​Poseidon, who promised him to fulfill his first will, to punish his son, Hippolytus is so amazed that Phaedra blames him for criminal passion, that he does not find words to justify – his tongue “ossified”. Although he admits that he loves Arica, his father does not believe him.

Phaedra tries to persuade Theseus not to harm his son. When he tells her that Ippolit is supposedly in love with Arica, then Phaedra is shocked and offended that she has a rival. She did not expect that someone else would be able to awaken love in Hippolytus. The queen sees the only way out for herself – to die. She curses Enona because she blackened Hippolytus.

In the meantime, Hippolytus and Arica decided to flee the country together.

Theseus tries to convince Arica that Hippolytus is a liar and she listened to him in vain. Arikia replies to him that the king has taken down the heads of many monsters, but “fate has saved one monster from the formidable One” – this is a direct hint at Phaedra and her passion for Hippolytus. Theseus does not understand the hint, but he begins to doubt whether he has learned everything. He wants to interrogate Enona once more, but finds out that the queen drove her away and she threw herself into the sea. The very same Phaedra rushes in madness. Theseus orders to call his son and pray Poseidon, so that he does not fulfill his desire.

However, it is too late – Teramen brings the terrible news that Ippolit was dead. He was riding a chariot along the shore, when suddenly an unseen monster emerged from the sea, “an animal with a bull’s muzzle, a lobate and horned, and with a body covered with a yellowish scales.” Everyone rushed to flee, and Ippolit threw a spear into the monster and struck scales. The dragon fell to the feet of the horses, and they were carried by fear. Ippolit could not hold them, they raced without road, along the rocks. Suddenly the axle of the chariot broke down, the prince became entangled in the reins, and the horses dragged him along the ground, strewn with stones. His body turned into a solid wound, and he died in the hands of Teramen. Before his death, Ippolit said that his father had vainly accused him.

Theseus in horror, he blames Phaedra for the death of his son. She admits that Ippolit was innocent, that it was “by the will of the higher forces… ignited by an incestuous and irresistible passion.” Enon, rescuing her honor, slandered Hippolytus Enona is no more, and Phaedra, having withdrawn from innocent suspicion, ends his earthly torment by taking poison.


“Phaedra” of Racine in brief summary