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Title: Phaedra
Original title: Phèdre
Genus: tragedy
Original language: French
Author: Jean Racine
Literary source: The wreathed Hippolytus ( Euripides )
Premiere: January 1, 1677
Place of premiere: Hotel de Bourgogne , Paris
Place and time of the action: Troizen , a city in the Peloponnese , in Theseus' palace
  • Theseus , son of Aegeus , king of Athens
  • Phaedra , wife of Theseus, daughter of Minos and Pasiphae
  • Hippolytus , son of Theseus and the Amazonian queen Antiope
  • Aricia , from the royal family of the Pallantids at Athens
  • Œnone , nurse and confidante of Phaedra
  • Theramen , educator of Hippolytus
  • Ismene , confidante of Aricia
  • Panope , woman of Phaedra's retinue

Phèdre , German title Phädra , is a tragedy in five acts by Jean Racine . The premiere took place on January 1, 1677 in the Hôtel de Bourgogne in Paris . The piece consists of 1654 Alexandrians rhyming in pairs and is one of the most important works of the French classical period . It is best known in the German-speaking world through the translation by Friedrich Schiller .

Phèdre is Racine's last tragedy, the subject matter of which is taken from classical antiquity. The protagonist Phaidra and most of the other people come from Greek mythology . In dealing with the subject, Racine relies heavily on the tragedy The Wreathed Hippolytus by the Greek poet Euripides .

Summary of the content

Phèdre, title page, 1678

In the absence of King Theseus , his wife Phaedra confesses to her nurse Oenone her love for Hippolytus, a son of Theseus and the Amazon queen Antiope . To prevent Hippolytus from telling his father about his stepmother's confession of love, the nurse claims that Hippolytus tried to rape Phaedra. Theseus, initially believed dead, curses Hippolytus and turns to Neptune , who is supposed to kill his son. After Phaedra learns that Hippolytos loves Aricia, she refrains from defending him from his father. The suicide of Oenone and the death of Hippolytus, who, after leaving Troizen , was attacked by a sea ​​monster and dragged to death by his terrified horses, caught in the reins , are finally reported in messenger reports . Phaedra has poisoned herself, confesses to Theseus her guilt and dies on the stage.


Racine's tragedy provided the template for the operas Hippolyte et Aricie (1733) by Jean-Philippe Rameau and Fedra (1820) by Johann Simon Mayr . Jean Cocteau turned to Racine for his ballet Phèdre, choreographed by Serge Lifar in 1963 . Phèdre will be staged by Claudia Bosse as a contemporary performance in 2008 in the Salle du Faubourg in Geneva.

The German translation of Racine's Phaedra (1805) by Friedrich Schiller is the last completed work of the German poet.


  • Wolf Steinsieck (Ed. And new translation): Phèdre. Reclams Universal Library Ditzingen 1995, ISBN 3150008395 (text in two languages).
  • Phaedra. Reclam, 1986, ISBN 3150000548 (Schiller translation, monolingual).
  • Jean Firges : Jean Racine. Phèdre. The demony of love. Exemplary series literature and philosophy, 23. Sonnenberg, Annweiler 2008, ISBN 978-3-933264-50-3 (interpretation).
  • Henning Krauss: Jean Racine, Phèdre (1677). in dsb. & Till R. Kuhnle & Hanspeter Blocher Eds .: 17th century. Theatre. Series and Vlg .: Stauffenburg Interpretation, French Literature. Tübingen 2003, ISBN 3860579029 .
  • Otto Zwierlein: Hippolytos and Phaidra. From Euripides to D'Annunzio . NRW Academy of Sciences, Humanities. Series, lectures G 405. With an appendix on Jansenism. Verlag Ferdinand Schöningh , Paderborn 2006, ISBN 350675694X .
  • Astrid Poier-Bernhard: Illusion and knowledge in Racines “Phèdre”. Series: Romania Occidentalis, 16. Wissenschaftlicher Verlag A. Lehmann, Gerbrunn 1988.
  • Thierry Maulnier: Lecture de “Phèdre”. Essay. Gallimard, Paris 1968, ISBN 2070242897 .

Web links

Wikisource: Phèdre  - Sources and full texts (French)


  1. Among other things with a family tree of the named gods and hero figures, as well as their mutual references. Firges interprets, following Roland Barthes , that the “thought of fate” originating from Greece in Racine's tragedy corresponds to the Jansenist worldview, whereby sexuality is viewed negatively and, as the driving force of a depraved human nature, always leads into the abyss. Otto Zwierlein, 2006, expressly does not want to endorse the ideological interpretation of Phèdre in the light of Jansenism, which ultimately goes back to Antoine Arnauld , he sees greater differences between Racine and Jansenius; in growing up in the vicinity of Port-Royal, he sees no sufficient reason for this
  2. Review in: Papers on French Seventeenth Century Literature 18, Vol. 34, 1991, pp. 169–170.
  3. In French. - i.a. a structural analysis