Phaedra: Empathy for a Disloyal Wife in Roman Painting and Poetry Public Deposited

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  • February 26, 2019
  • Dupree, Abigail
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Classics
  • Phaedra, the daughter of Minos, sister of Ariadne, wife of Theseus, and step mother of Hippolytus, attempted an affair with Hippolytus, committed suicide, and orchestrated Hippolytus’ murder by means of his father Theseus. Her actions and their consequences are condemnable acts to the modern audience and would have likely been seen as such by Roman viewers who encountered images of Phaedra on the walls of Roman houses. I will argue, however, that the representations of Phaedra in Greco-Roman antiquity were not meant solely to point to all of her mistakes as a disloyal wife. Despite Phaedra’s reputations as a terrible wife, representations of her in Roman private art—especially in Roman wall painting—were designed to invoke empathy in the hearts and minds of Roman viewers.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Funding: None
  • Valladares, Herica
  • Bachelor of Arts
Academic concentration
  • Classics
Honors level
  • Honors
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduation year
  • 2017
  • English

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