Yes, I am talking to you. Did you not discover my letter? This epistle was intended for my husband Theseus but my nurse-maid suggested I should hide the writings in a secure location until someone, such as you, could read the truth of my fate. You see I have been condemned in this life by circumstance: the first, because of my family and the second, by the Goddess of Love.
I was not aware at the time that this forbidden love, such excruciating yearnings I had for a beautiful youth, would be the cause of my death. This youth not only scorned my offerings of pleasure, but hurt me with words of loathing. I had no other option but to wreak vengeance in the only way I knew how. Life is such a tenuous thing, but even more so when the gods set in motion a series of events, which may culminate into tragedy. This has been the fate of my family. My father was once a powerful king, who ruled the islands of the Aegean and, in a moment of greed, failed to comply with the wishes of the sea god, Poseidon. That was the beginning of the end for my family.
If only my father had known his actions would not only be his undoing but also the demise of his power and family. Still, I do not believe he thought when he decided to not sacrifice the bull, it could affect the lives of many. Yet, it did. To defy the gods is infamy, which is why I find myself in a precarious situation; one with a definitive course of action.
Ahhhh… there it begins. Such is the bliss.
I must tell you for if I digress and I may, during the telling of my story, it is because of the poison I have taken. By nightfall, death will be near, so it is vital I write as much as I can, before I can no longer hold this quill. From that point on, the handwriting may change but the voice is still my own.
…What was I saying? O yes, that is right. I simply have one choice; unfortunately, there really is no other way to avoid what The Fates have decreed. Though, I must make it clear, it has not all been terrible, for I have two beautiful sons and have led a very comfortable life.
The forbidden love I speak of happened one fateful day when I saw a beautiful youth exercising in the palace grounds. His bronze athletic body glistened in the sun as he wrestled with his companion. Just now, thinking about him, I stir with longing. That was the day Aphrodite blessed and cursed me: the youth I so desired was the son of my husband.
Hippolytos was his name. He was the result of a union between Theseus and the Amazonian, Hippolyte. His mother was dead so he had resided with his father until my arrival. Theseus felt it would be better for Hippolytos to live in Troezen, raised by the elderly king, so that one day he would reign over that region. I remember the day we met, as clear as a cloudless day on Kretos, when Theseus brought me to the palace and introduced me to his son. He was as tall as his father, well-built and had the same facial structure but that was where the similarities ended. Hippolytos kept his thick brown hair cut short and face shaven; this was unusual as it was the practice of Athenian men to grow their hair as they got older. He had light brown, fawn-like eyes and a keen intelligence, but O, the way he looked at me. He was dismissive. Me! A princess of repute; yet he regarded me as one would a lowly servant. I made a promise to Aphrodite, that if she would somehow make Hippolytos take notice of me, I would build a temple in her honour next to the Akropolis.
The goddess granted my wish!
But it was indeed both a blessing and a curse.
Forgive me for my bad manners; I have not yet introduced myself. My name is Phaedra, daughter of King Minos and Pasiphae, both of whom I am sure you have heard, sister to Ariadne and as you already know, wife of Theseus, ruler of Athens.
Let me tell you how it all began…
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