Euripides vs. Dassin
The classic Greek legend of Phaedra probes the tragic consequences that occur when a woman becomes sexually obsessed with her stepson. In Phaedra (1962) director Jules Dassin presents Phaedra as a woman overwhelmed by passions she cannot control. This follows the interpretation of Phaedra developed by Euripides, who broke with older versions in which Phaedra was an evil sensualist seeking to corrupt her innocent stepson. Dassin adds political punch to the film by exploring the luxurious lives enjoyed by elite shipping families. Where as Hippolytus takes place in Troezen, a city in the northeastern Peloponnese. In the Hippolytus, Phaedras husband is serving a year of voluntary exile for murdering the Pallantids. Where as in Phaedra, he is a very wealthy and free man. A majority of Hippolytus revolves around the goddess Aphrodite. Where as in Phaedra there is no gods or goddess’s. Euripides’ play Hippolytus was written in 428 B.C., and ever since it has been regarded as one of the great classical works. In his treatment of the Phaedra myth, Euripides presents Phaedra in a state of mental anguish and exhaustion brought about by her love for Hippolytus, which she strives to conceal. Euripides frames the events of the human characters with the presence of the gods Aphrodite and Artemis. Euripides’ Athenian audience was therefore provided with prior knowledge about Phaedra’s guilty secret, for her ‘passion’ is described as being imposed by the god Aphrodite. Euripides portrays Aphrodite as a terrifying and vindictive deity, unlike the voluptuous woman often depicted in visual art. Her opening monologue conveys an imperious attitude, and she sees the world and its people as her domain. Because Aphrodite is the goddess of love, her perception of the world seems reasonable, since her power extends to the everyday lives of the mortals over whom she rules. This is not, however, the benign emotion that today we might associate with the word...
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