In Greek mythology, Phaedra /, / (Ancient Greek: Φαίδρα, Phaidra) is the daughter of Minos and Pasiphaë, wife of Theseus, sister of Ariadne, and the mother of Demophon of Athens and Acamas. Phaedra's name derives from the Greek word φαιδρός (phaidros), which meant "bright".
In revenge, Phaedra wrote Theseus a letter that claimed Hippolytus had raped her. Theseus believed her and cursed Hippolytus with one of the three curses he had received from Poseidon. As a result, Hippolytus's horses were frightened by a sea monster and dragged their rider to his death.
In another version, after Phaedra told Theseus that Hippolytus had raped her, Theseus killed his son, and Phaedra then committed suicide out of guilt, for she had not intended Hippolytus to die. Then Artemis later told Theseus the truth.
In a third version, Phaedra told Theseus and did not kill herself; Dionysus then sent a wild bull which terrified Hippolytus's horses.
Euripides placed this story twice on the Athenian stage, of which one version survives.
In one version, Phaedra's nurse told Hippolytus of her love, and he swore he would not reveal her as a source of information.
Phaedra's story appears in several major works of literature, including:
- Euripides, Hippolytus, Greek play
- Seneca the Younger, Phaedra, Latin play
- Jean Racine, Phèdre (1677), French play
- Algernon Charles Swinburne, Phaedra (1866), English lyrical drama
- Herman Bang, Fædra (1883), Danish novel.
- Gabriele D'Annunzio, Fedra (1909), Italian play
- Miguel de Unamuno, Fedra (1911), Spanish play
- Eugene O'Neill, Desire Under the Elms (1924), American play
- Marina Tsvetaeva, Fedra (1928), Russian play
- Robinson Jeffers, Cawdor (1928), English long poem
- Marguerite Yourcenar, "Phaedra", short story from Fires (1957)
- Mary Renault, The Bull from the Sea (1962), English novel
- Frank D. Gilroy, That Summer, That Fall (1967), retelling of Phaedra and Hippolytus
- Tony Harrison, Phaedra Britannica (1975), English verse play
- Salvador Espriu, Fedra (1978), Catalan play
- Per Olov Enquist, Till Fedra (1980), Swedish play
- Sarah Kane, Phaedra's Love (1996), Gate Theatre London
- Charles L. Mee, True Love (2001), modernized adaptation of Euripides's Hippolytus and Racine's Phèdre
- Frank McGuinness, Phaedra (Donmar Warehouse, 2006)
Phaedra is also the subject of a number of musical works, including:
- Hippolyte et Aricie, opera (tragédie en musique) by Jean-Philippe Rameau, 1733
- Fedra, opera by Giovanni Paisiello, 1788
- Fedra, opera by Simon Mayr, 1820
- Fedra, opera by Ildebrando Pizzetti, 1909–1912
- Character in L'abandon d'Ariane by Darius Milhaud, 1928
- "Some Velvet Morning", Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood, 1967
- Phaedra (monodrama for mezzo-soprano and orchestra) by George Rochberg, 1973–1974
- Phaedra, album by Tangerine Dream, 1974
- Phaedra, song cycle by Mikis Theodorakis
- Phaedra, cantata by Benjamin Britten, 1976
- Lament for Phaedra, composition for soprano and cello by John Tavener, 1995
- "Phaedra's Meadow", song on the Blue Rodeo album Are You Ready, 2005
- Phaedra, opera by Hans Werner Henze, 2007
- Phaedra, song from Obsidian, the 2013 third studio album of electronic artist Baths.
- Fedra (1909), silent short film directed by Oreste Gherardini with Italia Vitaliani as Fedra, and Carlo Duse and Ciro Galvani
- Minotaur, the Wild Beast of Crete, 1960 Italian sword-and-sandal fantasy film, with Rosanna Schiaffino as Phaedra and her sister Ariadne
- Phaedra (1962), based on Euripides's play, directed by Jules Dassin with Melina Mercouri and Anthony Perkins
- Phädra (1967), based on Racine's play, directed by Oswald Döpke with Joana Maria Gorvin as Phaedra and Rolf Henniger as Hippolyt; Lina Carstens as Phaedra's nurse
- Luciana Paluzzi, portrayed Phaedra in War Goddess (1973)
- Freida Pinto portrayed Phaedra in Immortals (2011), loosely based on the Greek myths of Theseus and the Minotaur and the Titanomachy.
- Odyssey iv. 274.
- The Athenians maintained a small shrine high on the south slope of the Acropolis devoted to Aphrodite 'for Hippolytus' (Karl Kerenyi, The Heroes of the Greeks, 1959:243).
- Fedra (Dramma mitologico dell'Antica Grecia) (1909) at the Internet Movie Database
- Phädra (TV 1967) at the Internet Movie Database
- Smith, William; Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, London (1873). "Phaedra"
- Virgil, Aeneid VI.445; Ovid, Metamorphoses XV.497
- Media related to Phaedra at Wikimedia Commons