Phaedra is the Latinized form of Ancient Greek Phaidra, a figure in Greek mythology, a Cretan princess who was the sister of Ariadne and the one who married Theseus. However, Phaedra fell in love with Theseus’s son Hippolytus but when he rejected her, she told Theseus that he had raped her. In response, Theseus cursed his son (using one of three wishes owed to him by Poseidon) and when Hippolytus was riding his horses, a sea monster rose up out of the sea, frightening his horses and causing Hippolytus to be dragged to death by them. Soon after his death, Phaedra’s lies were discovered and she committed suicide.
There’s another version of the myth, in which Hippolytus swore eternal virginity in honor of the goddess Artemis and shunning love and marriage, which somehow Aphrodite found to be insulting to her. As revenge, she made Phaedra fall in love with her stepson and though she tried hard to overcome it, it was too much for her to bear. She confided in her nurse who later told Hippolytus; and soon after that Phaedra decided to kill herself but before she did she wrote a letter to her husband accusing Hippolytus of raping her, who also winds up dead in the same way as the story above. His story doesn’t end, though, as Artemis had him brought back from the dead and he lived the rest of his life devoted to her.
Phaedra’s name comes from Greek phaidros meaning “bright” derived from PIE root word *bʰeh₂- (to shine, glow light).
- Phaidra (Ancient Greek)
- Fedra (Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Galician, Croatian, Bosnian)
- Phaedrus (Latinized Ancient Greek)
- Phaidros (Ancient Greek)
- Phaedros (Latinized Ancient Greek)
- Phaedro (Latinized Ancient Greek)