The character of Hippolytus, as it is drawn by Euripides, usually receives but half-hearted praise. His coldness, inherited, no doubt, from his Amazon mother, and his consciousness of virtue, inevitably allied to priggishness in the eyes of a society which tolerates any extreme of self-depreciation, are not attractive. It is, perhaps, more surprising that no surprise seems to be provoked by the dramatic portrayal of a disposition unique in Greek literature. The association of holiness with a life of celibacy is so familiar from the history both of Christianity and of other faiths that it seems natural to us that one who aspires to the highest purity, like Hippolytus, should allow no place in his life for sex. Hippolytus is pure, we are apt to imagine, for the same reason that a monk is pure, because such purity is pleasing to the god whom he serves and favourable to the life of the spirit.
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