Study Guide

Theseus: Later Adventures and Death Betrayal

Betrayal

Even though he was a major hero and a king, Theseus was definitely not the kind of guy you'd want to marry. Seriously, watch out ladies. His first major betrayal of a woman happened when he ditched Ariadne on an island. Now, in his later years he continues his bad behavior by kicking his wife, Hippolyta, to the curb to marry Ariadne's sister, Phaedra. Of course, the theme of betrayal gets flipped on its head when Phaedra betrays Theseus by passing love notes to his son, Hippolytus. (Does this sound like a soap opera to you too?) In the end, all this betrayal leaves everybody either miserable or dead. Hmm, we sense a lesson in there somewhere...

Questions About Betrayal

  1. How does Theseus's history of betrayal affect his status as a hero?
  2. Do the people of Athens betray Theseus when they decide to back another king? Why, or why not?
  3. Does Theseus betray Hippolytus when he believes Phaedra over his son? Why, or why not?
  4. What is the meaning of betrayal?

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