April 12, 2009

Dramaturgy Part 4: Geography and Genealogy

(This is part 4 of a package of dramaturgical material for Phèdre, written, collected and edited by Megan Cohen and Michael Paller of the American Conservatory Theater.)

Trezene (or Troezen) was a city in southern Greece. Athens was the great capital city of the realm, and Crete was a large and powerful island to the south.


Detail map showing Troezen and Athens:


Aethra was the princess of Trezene, and Aegeus was king of Athens; Theseus was their son and heir to both thrones. (Some myths say that on the night of Theseus' conception, Aethra also lay with the god Poseidon, making her child semi-divine.)

When Theseus wed Phèdre, King Minos' daughter and therefore princess of Crete, the three kingdoms were consolidated under Theseus' reign. According to Bulfinch's Mythology, Theseus was a semi-historical figure famed for uniting many city-states under his banner. (For more, see the chapters "Theseus" in Edith Hamilton's Mythology, and "Minos and His Brothers" in Robert Graves's The Greek Myths.)

Pandion, an earlier ruler of Athens, made Aegeus his adopted son and heir. Pandion's biological son, Pallas, was Aricie's father, which could give her a rightful claim on the Athenian throne.


Posted by Alison Humphrey at April 12, 2009 03:03 PM