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Medea

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Author: Euripides

Published: April 19th 1993 by Dover Publications (first published -431)

Format: Paperback , 59 pages

Isbn: 9780486275482

Language: English


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One of the most powerful and enduring of Greek tragedies, Medea centers on the myth of Jason, leader of the Argonauts, who has won the dragon-guarded treasure of the Golden Fleece with the help of the sorceress Medea. Having married Medea and fathered her two children, Jason abandons her for a more favorable match, never suspecting the terrible revenge she will take. Eurip One of the most powerful and enduring of Greek tragedies, Medea centers on the myth of Jason, leader of the Argonauts, who has won the dragon-guarded treasure of the Golden Fleece with the help of the sorceress Medea. Having married Medea and fathered her two children, Jason abandons her for a more favorable match, never suspecting the terrible revenge she will take. Euripides' masterly portrayal of the motives fiercely driving Medea's pursuit of vengeance for her husband's insult and betrayal has held theater audiences spellbound for more than twenty centuries. Rex Warner's authoritative translation brings this great classic of world literature vividly to life. Reprint of the John Lane, The Bodley Head Limited, London, 1944 edition.

30 review for Medea

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lizzy

    “Stronger than lover's love is lover's hate. Incurable, in each, the wounds they make.” Euripides writes a masterpiece of love, betrayal and revenge. The theme of Medea is the extravagant hatred, for the once bewildering love of the heroine for Jason was transformed when he repudiates her to marry another. Medea had given up everything for the man she was led by the Gods to love above even herself. She saved him from certain death, she left the safety of her kingdom, she even killed her own b “Stronger than lover's love is lover's hate. Incurable, in each, the wounds they make.” Euripides writes a masterpiece of love, betrayal and revenge. The theme of Medea is the extravagant hatred, for the once bewildering love of the heroine for Jason was transformed when he repudiates her to marry another. Medea had given up everything for the man she was led by the Gods to love above even herself. She saved him from certain death, she left the safety of her kingdom, she even killed her own brother. All in the name of her love for Jason. To be abandoned for another woman? Medea does not passively sit back and accept the injustice of Jason’s actions; she is definitely not silent in the face of injustice. When she feels persecuted by man or men she asserts her own power, assuming she has just as much right to act in this way as any man does. “Of all creatures that can feel and think, we women are the worst treated things alive” The play evolves from a heartbroken, melancholic Medea, betrayed wife who languished in bed and incapable of even raising her eyelids, apparently resigned to her fate, to an effervescent and sanguine woman with a terrible desire for revenge that will not stop at infanticide for the utter destruction of her once once-loved husband. It is interesting to note that compared to the majority of Greek tragedies, in Medea the sins and errors committed by Jason and Medea are due to their own actions and not blame it on their destiny or on some avenging God. Medea is certainly a terrible play, infanticide is not an easy theme, to read about a mother who kills her children is no easy theme. “They are the sun that lights his world So I will plunge him into darkness.” But revenge here has assumes life on its own, and should prevail. “I understand too well the dreadful act I'm going to commit, but my judgement can't check my anger, and that incites the greatest evils human beings do.” It is intimate, powerful and visceral. In the play Medea’s designation as a wife or mother is secondary to her own feelings as a woman. “A woman like me! What am I like that's different from you or any man." She appropriates an identity as an individual subject equal to the men who surround her, equally powerful and equally wrong. If she despises Jason for his ill use of her, does she not commit equal crime with so many innocents to obtain her revenge? However, that is the essence of the play. Hard as the theme may be, this is the ultimate revenge drama. Once again, I couldn't help but be enthralled by the searing intensity of Euripedes' tragedy. Our tragedy, however, is that today we still witness crimes that remind us of this Greek play. ___

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kalliope

    Medea, with her suffering, her hatred, her cruelty, has been present this week in my life. Her myth living in various guises of representation. And all engaged me in various degrees and manner. It all started on Monday when, touring the Thyssen Musem in the search of paintings which had to do with the idea of ‘Travel”, I stopped to admire this painting, The Argonauts Leaving Colchis, by Ercole de Roberti (ca 1480). This depicts the earlier part of the Myth – the adventure in Colchis, The Voyage Medea, with her suffering, her hatred, her cruelty, has been present this week in my life. Her myth living in various guises of representation. And all engaged me in various degrees and manner. It all started on Monday when, touring the Thyssen Musem in the search of paintings which had to do with the idea of ‘Travel”, I stopped to admire this painting, The Argonauts Leaving Colchis, by Ercole de Roberti (ca 1480). This depicts the earlier part of the Myth – the adventure in Colchis, The Voyage of Argo: The Argonautica. As the lovely Medea, in read, is already in the Argos, this represents the return trip with Golden Fleece on board. There is no hint of their dark future. On Tuesday I watched Pasolini’s classic, from 1969,with the magnificent Maria Callas impersonating Medea. Pasolini’s account gives us the full myth, from the youth of Jason under the care of the Centaur, until the final gruesome deed perpetrated by Medea. What enraptured me of this film was Pasolini’s ability to portray an ominous barbaric kingdom. Sinister in all its splendour. For splendorous the filming certainly is. Just to admire his choice of locations is it worth watching this film. These are: Göreme in Capadocia, with those haunting caves and extended yellow land; the imposing and Aleppo fortress, which we may very well lose as Syria is now under the control of other dark forces; and parts of the delicate Camposanto in Pisa. Beautiful. The only time Callas agreed to act without singing was for this Medea. She and her director succeed in giving us a cold hearted Medea, possessed by her hatred and full of feelings of revenge, but who is in control of hers and other’s destiny. Disheartening. Then I finally landed in and read a text, the major literary source, Euripides play. The tragedy begins at the end. This is Medea’s revenge. There were two aspects that drew my attention most in Euripides. One was his pride in the Greek civilization, for he justifies Medea’s barbarity as precisely that, the act of a barbarian. Impossibly expected from a Greek. And second his lines on the plight of women. Medea’s lmost out of a feminist pamphlet, but this is Euripides’ stylus. Of all things with life and understanding, We women are the most unfortunate, First, we need a husband, someone we get For an excessive price. He then becomes The ruler of our bodies. This misfortune Adds still more troubles to the grief we have, Then comes the crucial struggle: this husband We’ve selected, is he good or bad? For a divorce loses women all respect, Yet we can’t refuse to take a husband, Then, when she goes into her husband’s home, With its new rules and different customs, She needs a prophet’s skill to sort out the man Whose bed she shares... My latest Medea was last night, when I attended a performance of Seneca’s version Medea. This play focuses more on Medea’s abilities as a magician and zeroes in sharply into her hatred and rage than does Euripides. The quality of the performance wavered between some less convincing passages and some truly brilliant ones. I withheld my interest when hysteria took over the tragic, but there was an unforgettable representation of magical rites. If the play had begun with an astonishing enactment of the beginning of the Universe--the ancient Greek Big Bang--, when out of the amorphous chaos a series of deities emerged, the stage later offered Medea in her rage engaged in a metamorphosis through which she conjured up her powers. A frenzy of mud and voices, of dislocated movements and terrorizing tremors build up to a climatic trance, and Medea, becoming one with the goddess Earth, adjured the destruction of the Kingdom of Corinth. To my astonishment I found myself gradually slouching in my chair, pulled down by my daze and holding my breath—clearly I could not resist being dragged by the intoxicating trance. Unforgettable. --------- There is at least one more Medea waiting for my attention...Christa Wolfs Medea ..... for when I have recovered.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Medea is a play about society, and how it deals with people who do not fit into the dominant cultural code. It is about power, marriage, betrayal, hate and revenge as well, but the most important aspect is the typical fate of a strong and intelligent woman, following her husband to his home country. She is treated as an intruder and danger to society, mainly because she is different, and knows things other people do not want to see. She is the witch that narrowminded provincial men like to hunt Medea is a play about society, and how it deals with people who do not fit into the dominant cultural code. It is about power, marriage, betrayal, hate and revenge as well, but the most important aspect is the typical fate of a strong and intelligent woman, following her husband to his home country. She is treated as an intruder and danger to society, mainly because she is different, and knows things other people do not want to see. She is the witch that narrowminded provincial men like to hunt, the threat to traditional family structures that scares the community to the point of becoming evil. She is the wronged women who has to bear the shame and the consequences of her husband's weakness and treachery. I have thought of teaching the play with a global citizenship focus after seeing recent developments in the world, as being "foreign" once again has a great impact on your life, your perception in "mainstream" society, and your outlook on the future. Medea is the archetype of a person who won't accept injustice without fighting back. The way she chooses to do this, according to Euripides, causes acute nausea of course, which might explain why her social suffering and fight against an oppressive mainstream community has not become more well-known and symbolic. Christa Wolf came up with an interpretation of Medea that took away the guilt of infanticide and left the failure of the strong, vocal woman as the main focus. I liked that idea, as it is more acceptable to modern readers. However, nothing beats Euripides' complex Medea in my eyes! The brutality of her fate matches the brutality of human beings and their response to change and diversity.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    I wish Shakespeare had written a play where the Macbeths got divorced. You'd love to see what Lady Macbeth would have to say about it, right? The thing with marrying an asshole is, divorcing them isn't going to be pretty. Here's the ugliest breakup in history, the most famous play by the nastiest Greek playwright, the sly and vicious Euripides. The plot is, Jason of the Argonauts, this guy: has married an asshole. It was a good idea at the time: Medea slew an actual dragon for him, and who doesn't I wish Shakespeare had written a play where the Macbeths got divorced. You'd love to see what Lady Macbeth would have to say about it, right? The thing with marrying an asshole is, divorcing them isn't going to be pretty. Here's the ugliest breakup in history, the most famous play by the nastiest Greek playwright, the sly and vicious Euripides. The plot is, Jason of the Argonauts, this guy: has married an asshole. It was a good idea at the time: Medea slew an actual dragon for him, and who doesn't get turned on by a good dragon slaying. But now that the adventures are over, Jason wants to leave her for a more politically advantageous wife. The thing with dragon slayers is you get back to your kingdom and they're sortof traipsing around looking scary and you're like well, I feel like you're not going to be amazing at throwing feasts. Jason tries to break it to her easy: he's like listen, I'm going to marry this princess lady but here's the good news, your sons will be princes now! No seriously, that's what he says. He's such an asshole, and that's one of the fun things about Euripides, he'll take a hero like Jason and be like "But what if he was a douche?" Here's Jason in a more honest moment: "To me, fame is the important thing. I'd give up all I owned for it. What good is a voice like Orpheus If no one knows it belongs to you?" So what happens next is that Medea is miffed. "Men win their battles On the field but women are ruthless when the bed Becomes the battlefield. We've lain In our own blood before...and have survived." Medea shocked everyone when it was first performed in 431 BCE; it came in last in the competition that year. It's like when Hardy wrote Jude the Obscure and everyone got so mad about it that he never wrote another novel. There's a level of darkness that people just can't handle, and when you go there they blame you for it. This play is a dark place. Look, Greek plays are sortof spoiler proof. There's only one thing that happens in each of them, really. Their characters spend the whole play deciding whether to do the thing, and then they always do the thing, and then the chorus is like holy shit, they did the thing, that was nuts, and then that's the end of it. (Which is one of the nice things about them: they take like an hour and a glass of wine to read. Maybe two.) You shouldn't even read Medea if you don't know how it ends. But here it is: in order to get back at Jason, she murders his new fiancee. Which actually that part sounds almost reasonable, right? It's pretty gory: the fiancee's dad (not that Creon!) comes and embraces her corpse but she poisoned the corpse, wow, so he gets "Stitched To it like ivy to laurel, Felt his flesh ripping from his bones." But we're not at the bad part yet. The bad part is that she murders her and Jason's children, too. Murders her own two kids. Euripides doesn't make you watch it - you never watch murders in Greek tragedies, it's always just howling off stage, and here you get to listen to her kids yelling, "Look! A knife!" and then screaming. It's awful. The chorus, always weird and ambiguous participants in Euripides' plays, tries half-heartedly to talk her out of it: Chorus: Suffering so great you’ll kill your sons? Medea: Yes, anything to make Jason’s suffering worse then mine Chorus: And turn your grief into wretchedness and misery? Medea: Who can say? The time for talk has ended. It's an Iagoesque villainy: she's uninterested in thinking this through. Medea is one of the starkest and cleanest of the Greek tragedies. Euripides in particular tends to have slightly messier plots, but not here: this is one cold dagger stroke to the heart. It's troubling and unforgettable. Its reputation has blossomed since its inauspicious beginning; it was the most-performed Greek tragedy of the 20th century, with a reputation for winning Tonies for its Medeas. And here's the chorus again: "Stronger than lovers love is lovers hate Incurable, in each, the wounds they make." So just keep that in mind, next time someone slays a dragon for you. That was nice of them, but what happens when you run out of dragons?

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sean Barrs

    “I understand too well the dreadful act I'm going to commit, but my judgement can't check my anger, and that incites the greatest evils human beings do.” - Medea about to Kill her Children, Eugène Delacroix (1838.) As terrible as Medea’s actions are at the end of the play, I can’t help but feel sorry for her (at least is some small way.) She murders her own children, but she was pushed to the brink of despair as the knife was placed in her hand by her own husband. And Euripides plays on this dyn “I understand too well the dreadful act I'm going to commit, but my judgement can't check my anger, and that incites the greatest evils human beings do.” - Medea about to Kill her Children, Eugène Delacroix (1838.) As terrible as Medea’s actions are at the end of the play, I can’t help but feel sorry for her (at least is some small way.) She murders her own children, but she was pushed to the brink of despair as the knife was placed in her hand by her own husband. And Euripides plays on this dynamic beautifully. Does one wrong justify another? She gave absolutely everything to Jason. The gods compelled her to love him, and she did more ardently that I think she ever realised. She murdered for him, she fled her own kingdom and saved him from death. She bore his children and helped him rule. She gave him everything. Without her support he would have achieved nothing. And what does he do? He betrays her. Pity the man who would attract the ire of such a woman. “Stronger than lover's love is lover's hate. Incurable, in each, the wounds they make.” Medea is passionate and volatile, without any scruples, and when the person she loved most in the world abandons her for another woman, she only thinks of how she can get him back. She doesn’t care about what she will lose or who else she will hurt: she only wants to hurt him as he hurt her. And Jason is a fool for hurting her. He must have known how she was, and he should not have pushed such a woman to the brink of despair. He drove her mad, and she struck back harder than he could have imagined. Her actions are, of course, inexcusable but they are not entirely her own fault. Her volatility erupted and she channelled it into the most ugliest and bloodiest of revenges. And it’s difficult to read about, but it’s also important to read about. Although Euripides, through his raw and visceral language exaggerates the tempest that becomes Medea’s mind, this is surprisingly real world because this does happen: it has happened. Despair can change a person. The play also has powerful feminist undertones. Medea shouts to the skies that she is the equal to any man and when she has been wronged she will wrong back as a man would, recognising her own crime but committing it all the same. And that’s her tragedy: she cannot look beyond her own pain and anger.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lyn

    Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Although this was first written by William Congreve in 1697 (not the Bible) the distant origins of the sentiment is frozen in human memory; but its earliest dramatic expression may have originated with Euripides. I think he just gave it words; the instinct of some women to be vindictive carriers of hellish wrath is innate. I have handled more than a few divorces where all parties involved – both attorneys and the husband – stood in open mouthed shock and am Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Although this was first written by William Congreve in 1697 (not the Bible) the distant origins of the sentiment is frozen in human memory; but its earliest dramatic expression may have originated with Euripides. I think he just gave it words; the instinct of some women to be vindictive carriers of hellish wrath is innate. I have handled more than a few divorces where all parties involved – both attorneys and the husband – stood in open mouthed shock and amazement of how bats*** crazy mad the wife could be. Damn, girl. Let it go. Some women cannot. She has been wronged and God and all the angels are going to know about it. In Medea’s defense, Jason had it coming. Euripides has created an archetype, a template upon which over twenty centuries of artists have contributed and added variation. But the origin is forged in a woman’s soul, and God help you if you get sideways of this capability for vengeance. As good to experience now, and as relevant, as it was centuries ago.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Mήδεια = Medea (play), Euripides Medea is an ancient Greek tragedy written by Euripides, based upon the myth of Jason and Medea and first produced in 431 BC. The plot centers on the actions of Medea, a former princess of the "barbarian" kingdom of Colchis, and the wife of Jason; she finds her position in the Greek world threatened as Jason leaves her for a Greek princess of Corinth. Medea takes vengeance on Jason by murdering Jason's new wife as well as her own children, after which she escapes t Mήδεια = Medea (play), Euripides Medea is an ancient Greek tragedy written by Euripides, based upon the myth of Jason and Medea and first produced in 431 BC. The plot centers on the actions of Medea, a former princess of the "barbarian" kingdom of Colchis, and the wife of Jason; she finds her position in the Greek world threatened as Jason leaves her for a Greek princess of Corinth. Medea takes vengeance on Jason by murdering Jason's new wife as well as her own children, after which she escapes to Athens to start a new life. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز پانزدهم ماه جولای سال 2012 میلادی عنوان: مده‌آ‏: همراه با تحلیل روانشناختی؛ نویسنده: اوری‍پ‍ی‍د؛ مترجم و تحلیل امیرحسین ندایی؛ تهران، افراز، 1389؛ در 148ص؛ چاپ دوم 1390؛ شابک 9789642432714؛ چاپ سوم 1391؛ چاپ چهارم 1392؛ چاپ هفتم 1394؛ چاپ هشتم 1395؛ چاپ نهم 1396؛ در در 164ص؛موضوع: اساطیر و افسانه و نمایشنامه های نویسندگان یونانی - سده پنجم پیش از میلاد عنوان: مده‌آ‏‫؛ نویسنده: اوری‍پ‍ی‍د؛ مترجم: غلامرضا شهبازی؛ ویراستار: مرتضی حسین زاده؛ تهران، بیدگل، 1397؛ در 76ص؛ شابک 9786007806777؛ مده‌آ (مده ئا) نمایش‌نامه‌ ای تراژیک؛ اثر «اوریپید»، از «یونان باستان» است، که براساس اسطوره ی «یاسون (جیسون)» و «مده آ»، نخستین بار در سال 431پیش از میلاد، روی صحنه ی نمایش رفته است.؛ پی‌رنگ این نمایش‌نامه، روی کنشهای «مده آ»، شاهزاده‌ ای «بربر»، از پادشاهی «کولخیس»، و همسر «یاسون (جیسون)»، تکیه دارد.؛ هنگامیکه «یاسون (جیسون)»، «مده آ» را ترک می‌کند، تا با شاهزاده‌ ای یونانی، از «کورینتوس» باشد، «مده آ» درمی‌یابد جایگاهش در جهان یونانی، در خطر است.؛ او با کشتن همسر تازه ی «یاسون (جیسون)»، و دو پسر خودش، از «یاسون (جیسون)» انتقام می‌گیرد، و پس از آن، به «آتن» می‌گریزد، تا زندگی تازه‌ ای را آغاز کند.؛ همروزگاران «اوریپید»، «مده آ» را تکان‌دهنده دانسته، و آن را ستوده اند، «مده آ» و مجموعه‌ ای از نمایش‌نامه‌ های ارائه‌ شده به فستیوال شهر «دیونیسیا»، در پایان آن فستیوال اجرا شدند.؛ با این وجود، این نمایش‌نامه از آثار برتر تراژدی، به حساب می‌آمد، و توجه به آن، با جنبش فمینیستی، و برای درگیری و مبارزه ی «مده آ»، برای به اختیار درآوردن زندگی خویش، در دنیای مردانه ی آن روزگار، افزایش یافت.؛ این نمایش‌نامه بیشترین اجرا را در میان تراژدی‌های یونان باستان، در سده ی بیستم میلادی داشته است.؛ همگی داستان نمایشنامه را ننوشتم تا خود لذت خوانش آن را ببرید تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 09/05/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی

  8. 4 out of 5

    Paquita Maria Sanchez

    Gracious, hell hath no fury. While tunneling through Ovid's Metamorphoses, I've been coming across a lot of familiar stories from childhood, the ones that have stuck with me over the years and from which I find frequent references in popular culture (and life in general) such as this tale of a famous warrior who scorns his sorceress wife for another woman (you dumbass), the story of Medusa and Perseus, the rape and imprisonment of Persephone, etc. I have also, with wholly unchecked excitement, d Gracious, hell hath no fury. While tunneling through Ovid's Metamorphoses, I've been coming across a lot of familiar stories from childhood, the ones that have stuck with me over the years and from which I find frequent references in popular culture (and life in general) such as this tale of a famous warrior who scorns his sorceress wife for another woman (you dumbass), the story of Medusa and Perseus, the rape and imprisonment of Persephone, etc. I have also, with wholly unchecked excitement, discovered many myths which I was either previously unaware of, or not yet old enough upon my first readings to feel the reverberations from them. One such story is that of Philomela which, during my reading, started playing a familiar tune in my head which I finally managed to place: it is Titus Andronicus minus the character Titus Andronicus. More specifically, it is the story of Titus's daughter Lavinia's tragic fate, with all the rape, tongue-cutting, and cannibalism included in the box. Shakespeare, you pomo, re-appropriating son of a gun. Naturally wanting to read more, I investigated a bit and found that with the exception of Ovid and Shakespeare, there really isn't much as far as plays or re-tellings of the Philomela and Procne myth are concerned, so I moved on to the next most fascinating story. This is my long-winded way of saying I think I will invest some time and read a bunch of these old Greek tragedies, and Medea is the one I opted to start with. Just because I can't sit through a musical doesn't mean I can't enjoy reading plays, right? This story is such a severe caricature of revenge that it makes Beatrix Kiddo look like a woman of marked restraint. I won't spill it all here like so much baby blood and oozing princess flesh and ruin it all for you, but I will attempt to analyze the moral encoded in this thing. First, is there one? You read a lot about the vengeful nature of (the) god(s) almost no matter what ancient scripture or interpretation of scripture you are analyzing, and blind though the rage and excessive though the punishments may often seem, there is consistently at least an attempt at bigger picture lesson-teaching. This is not really the case with the mortals, however. The tales on Earth are more about the wicked ways of mankind, the bruised egos and battered hearts, and the violent rage such insults can cause. This is not a map of how to live; this is human brutality exhibited. I suppose if I were to draw any conclusions from stories such as that of Medea, it would be that control over one's emotions is hard-won if it's even remotely embraced at all, the line between righteous vindication and moral depravity, in fact between emotion-fueled yet justifiable behavior and sheer insanity, is hazy on the best of days. I'm still working through this in my head. Basically, there is no light here, there isn't a shred of an upstanding character in this romantic turmoil, everyone's some new mutation of a self-centered asshole, and life/humankind are straight up fickle and mean, so just deal with it already because all you can really do is try your best to break the bucking mare that is your brutal heart. Some of the lines in this play are gorgeous, but the final dialogue between Medea and Jason is so Jerry Springer that it drags the whole stage down on their heads. I'm not saying the crowd would've egged the former couple, but some of them would've definitely gotten on the mic and screamed at these people to just shut up already, inter-splicing their advice with any number of obnoxiously censored curse words. The last few pages were basically "No I didn't!", "Yes you did!", "No, you are!", "No, YOU ARE!", which was a disappointing finale to an otherwise great show. All the same, I would recommend it if you are interested in morally ambiguous revenge tales, mythology, scorned love, poison, discussions of the role of a good sex life in sustaining emotions, how fleeting our hearts and minds are, how cruel and self-serving people can be, violence as a human instinct, the role of money and status in human interactions, how women have been viewed throughout history, physical and emotional pain, family, friends, country, sacrifice... Oh, it's harsh to think of what the future hides. Sho nuff, man.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    “Gods often contradict our fondest expectations. What we anticipate does not come to pass. What we don't expect some god finds a way to make it happen. So with this story”

  10. 5 out of 5

    Trish

    Rachel Cusk was invited by London’s Almeida Theatre to write a new version of Euripides’s Medea. The new play is both thoroughly modern and bears the stamp of personality of this talented novelist and memoirist. That she fiercely loves her children, two boys, is apparent. She followed Euripides’s formula, creating a storyline which places the blame differently. If you remember the story, Medea kills her sons when her unfaithful husband marries the young & well-tended daughter of Creon. Considerin Rachel Cusk was invited by London’s Almeida Theatre to write a new version of Euripides’s Medea. The new play is both thoroughly modern and bears the stamp of personality of this talented novelist and memoirist. That she fiercely loves her children, two boys, is apparent. She followed Euripides’s formula, creating a storyline which places the blame differently. If you remember the story, Medea kills her sons when her unfaithful husband marries the young & well-tended daughter of Creon. Considering how difficult it would be for anyone to contemplate such an act, and considering Cusk was severely castigated by readers for her memoir about motherhood, A Life’s Work, Cusk manages to make her work, like Euripides's work, many things at the same time: strong, agonized, righteous, and tragic. Commentaries on the original Greek play had different interpretations of Medea herself. One made her out to be a young lover who changed her view of her husband when she’d had children. The things that she liked about her husband when he was a young man annoy her when she’s older. When she learned he was unfaithful and was looking for something new, she poisoned his new wife and killed the husband and sons out of pique and revenge. A more nuanced interpretation, suggests Medea pursued her ambitious middle-aged husband Jason hotly, helping him to secure the fleece of the Golden Ram and thus develop a reputation as one of the most daring heroes of Hellas. But Medea was an foreigner and when she returned to Jason's home with him, her combative and fiery alien nature grated on the conservative natives . She grew tiresome for Jason and he sought another, younger, wealthier alliance that would increase his standing. Then Medea sought revenge. Cusk’s Medea has less backstory, though from the voices of the chorus (a group of mothers meeting while their kids playdate, and who cross paths picking up their children at the school gates), we learn that Medea is not liked. She’s smart, but no one really likes her writing, if they read it at all. She’s opinionated, which doesn’t work if one wants a marriage to run smoothly ("she asked for it"). She’s a “snooty cow” because she doesn’t always recognize the women in different settings, her mind on other things. Cusk slips in a Holocaust joke: “She gone very Belsen,” referring to how Medea has stopped eating. “It’s called the divorce diet.” Meanwhile, Medea turns to the audience and makes her case: “A bad thing has happened to me You’re scared that if I name it, it might happen to you, too. …Sleep, woman, sleep. You won’t even feel it when he creeps to your side and slits your throat. What’s that you say? What about love? Yes, you’re loving souls aren’t you? You love the whole world, You love your little hearts out. It’s all right, you can hate me. Go ahead, feel free. It’s so much easier than hating yourselves.Medea has other voices speaking with her, ones more intimate: the Tutor and the Nurse and the Cleaner. The Cleaner is clear-eyed and clear-spoken and shares what she learned from her mother: the best revenge is to be happy. Pretend if you don’t feel it. Women are good at pretending. The eventual playing out of the story is unique yet retains the pain of the original. We hear Creon slyly telling Medea “You know, you look completely different when you smile” while she is in the midst of her life’s most curdling trial. “There’s the sourness again. The problem with you is you don’t know how to love…an unloving woman is a freak.” The audience undoubtedly feels stress levels rising as the characters have interleaved speaking parts—talking over one another. If you’ve ever been witness to a disagreement, this is one…after another…after another. Any uncomfortableness we feel when Jason and Medea are speaking is relieved by Nurse, Tutor, and Cleaner pointing to the absurdities of male expectations. But the best joke goes to Aegeus, who will become Medea’s second husband. Aegeus, speaking to a Medea distraught about the money Jason expects from the marriage says he understands Jason is about to get his needs “assuaged” by a wealthy heiress. This word comes as a surprise in the midst of conversation and surely would elicit a burst of laughter in any theatre. The word joke may only work in English, but its excessive formality and sound-similarity to “massage” is a perfect bomb. Cusk’s originality in portraying the oldest stories of all—love and infidelity—continues to entrance. I am even more impressed now with her fictional trilogy Outline than I was before I read whatever I could of her work. This author is special. In a book talk at Politics & Prose bookstore in Washington, D.C., Cusk says a criterion to use when creating is that a work should be “useful.” Exactly. That’s why her work, her honesty, her humor, her willingness ‘to go there’ is so exciting. What she does keeps us alive.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    Yes, I'm giving this classic Greek play a 5 stars because it's classic, but DAMN. This is the classic trophy wife who's constantly misused by the men in her life (view spoiler)[I removed a classic Freudian wife, alas (hide spoiler)] then laying down the LAW... all for the sake of revenge. Sweet, sweet revenge. But to think that she would go so far as to kill her own children just for the sake of it... is chilling in the extreme. The furies definitely rode this woman. Simple, classic, and clear. Oh, a Yes, I'm giving this classic Greek play a 5 stars because it's classic, but DAMN. This is the classic trophy wife who's constantly misused by the men in her life (view spoiler)[I removed a classic Freudian wife, alas (hide spoiler)] then laying down the LAW... all for the sake of revenge. Sweet, sweet revenge. But to think that she would go so far as to kill her own children just for the sake of it... is chilling in the extreme. The furies definitely rode this woman. Simple, classic, and clear. Oh, and you men, if you get that freaking fleece, use your head. Sheesh.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Des

    Euripides writes a masterpiece of love, betrayal and revenge. Medea gives up everything for the man she falls in love with. She pulls him out of jail and certain death, she departs with him from the safety of her kingdom, she kills her own brother in order to guard her lover and at the end he abandons her for another younger woman. Medea poisons this woman and kills her children to take revenge. The mother chooses to sacrifice her own children to ease the pain of unfaithfulness. The last scene o Euripides writes a masterpiece of love, betrayal and revenge. Medea gives up everything for the man she falls in love with. She pulls him out of jail and certain death, she departs with him from the safety of her kingdom, she kills her own brother in order to guard her lover and at the end he abandons her for another younger woman. Medea poisons this woman and kills her children to take revenge. The mother chooses to sacrifice her own children to ease the pain of unfaithfulness. The last scene of the book- the monologue of a merciless Medea- is a tragic voice of desolation, which knows that there is no escape from This pain.

  13. 5 out of 5

    David Sarkies

    Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned 13 February 2012 Surely, of all creatures that have life and will, we women Are the most wretched. When, for an extravagant sum, We have bought a husband, we must then accept him as Possessor of our body. This is to aggravate Wrong with worse wrong. Then the great question: will the man We get be bad or good? For woman, divorce is not Respectable; to repel the man, not possible. (Trans Phillip Veracott) These few lines near the opening of Euripides' Medea pr Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned 13 February 2012 Surely, of all creatures that have life and will, we women Are the most wretched. When, for an extravagant sum, We have bought a husband, we must then accept him as Possessor of our body. This is to aggravate Wrong with worse wrong. Then the great question: will the man We get be bad or good? For woman, divorce is not Respectable; to repel the man, not possible. (Trans Phillip Veracott) These few lines near the opening of Euripides' Medea pretty much describes what life was like for women in Ancient Greece: it was not pretty. What struck me when I read this play again (and it is one of my favourites) is how astute Euripides was to the plight of Greek women, and it was not as if it was any better elsewhere. Granted, women did have more rights in Ancient Rome (and would become very astute political maneuverers, such as Nero's mother Agripina) but in general the freedoms that women have won over the past 150 years are probably the furthest that they have come to participate in society than any other time throughout history (with a few exceptions). I should talk about about the play and its background (the legend that is, not the writing of it, which took place just prior to the Peloponesian War). The play is set sometime after Jason's return to Greece after obtaining the Golden Fleece from Cholchis. When he was in Cholcis, he had wooed Medea, the daughter of the king, and with her aid managed to steal the fleece and escape, but in doing so Medea was forced not only to kill her brother but renounce her citizenship of Colchis never to return. Years later, after they returned to Greece, Jason and Medea married and had children. However, Jason received an offer from King Creon of Corinth to marry his daughter and thus take the throne, so he pretty much ditched Medea, arranged for her exile, and shacked up with his new wife. If I can describe the play in one sentence, it would be 'hell hath no fury like a woman scorned'. Let all men out there understand this, and if there is one piece of literature I would recommend that all men who wish to have a relationship with a woman should read it should be this one. It is not so much that Medea is a noble character, she is not. She poisons Jason's wife and father-in-law, and then proceeds to murder both of her children, and this is after she forced an oath out of the King of Athens to provide her protection, no matter what. Medea is not a lovely person, and despite the argument that she was driven to this point by a nasty man just simply does not cut it. I agree that Jason is not a noble man either, but still does not justify Medea's actions. One can simply feel the pain of Medea in this play as she struggles with this change to her life. Yes, she acts on instinct and out of vengeance, but she has renounced her country and her people and fled to an alien land, all over the love of a man, only to discover that this man discards her once she is no longer needed by him. As she says, a Greek woman still has family and friends, whereas she has nobody (not quite true, as she secured sanctuary in Athens). We are reminded, over and over again, of the plight that is to be a woman, and an alien woman, in Ancient Greece, and it is not pleasant. Does Euripides' write a decent female character then? Well, that is difficult since we have fragments of only one female Greek poet, and that is Sappho. Everything else is written by men, though not necessarily about men. I believe Medea's character is representative of a woman scorned, seeking vengeance upon he who discarded her. She cries, and is in deep emotional pain, but then lines like 'it is the nature of a woman to cry' is clearly the writing of a man. However Euripides is different from the other Greek playwrights in that he stands up for the woman, and we see this clearly in this play. There are others where he covers such themes as well, but we will look at them when we do. Further, not all of Greek literature deals only with strong men and weak women. Homer's Odyssey is a clear example of this as Penelope is painted as a strong, loyal, and dedicated woman that we resist even the wise men to remain faithful to a husband that she believes is still alive. Further, we have gods like Athena and Artemis, who clearly break out of that mould that we like to put Greek women into (both of these gods are major gods, not married to any other gods, are warriors, and are worshipped by many Greeks of the time). Another thing that struck me in this play this time is the nature of children. Medea weeps about how it is difficult to know how a child turns out. Is all that time wasted in raising the child, only to see him either turn bad, or die in a war? Many parents fret and worry about that, and sometimes the more we worry, the less we actually look into ourselves and ask what can we do to make the situation better. This is a fallen world, and people die in fallen worlds: it is a fact of life. Death will always be painful, but sometimes we need to accept this. The more we try to mould our children into what we want, the more we force them away from us: many a piece of literature explores this (especially these days, just see Dead Poet's Society). However, Medea slays her children, if only out of spite. I have heard many people suggest that Christianity has made the world worse, not better, and that is something that I must heartily dispute. All we need to do is to look at the pre-Christian world to see how horrid and barbaric it was. In many of the Greek tragedies there are no noble characters. There are only two truly noble characters that I can think of in Greek antiquity, one of them being Penelope, the other being Leonidas. Athens, the beacon of freedom and democracy, oppressed women and maintained a slave economy. Further, during the early days of the Peloponesian War, they attacked the island of Mytilene, sacked the place, killed all of the men, and enslaved all of the women and children. While we may have had issues with the way the United States (and Britain) have acted in other lands, I cannot think (with the exception of the period of slavery) of any time where they have acted in such a way. Further, while birth control has always been around, the ancients would deal with unwanted pregnancies by breaking the baby's legs, and then leaving them in the wilderness to die.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lena K.

    Medea is a tragedy written by one of the great tragedians of classical Athens, Euripides (the other two are Aeschylus and Sophocles). Medea’s husband, the famous Jason of the Argonauts betrays and abandons her for another woman, the princess of Corinth, no less. Which is a real douche move. If it weren’t for Medea, he would have never gotten the golden fleece in the first place. She murdered her own brother for him, and if that’s not a token of true love, I don’t know what is! She is not only aban Medea is a tragedy written by one of the great tragedians of classical Athens, Euripides (the other two are Aeschylus and Sophocles). Medea’s husband, the famous Jason of the Argonauts betrays and abandons her for another woman, the princess of Corinth, no less. Which is a real douche move. If it weren’t for Medea, he would have never gotten the golden fleece in the first place. She murdered her own brother for him, and if that’s not a token of true love, I don’t know what is! She is not only abandoned by Jason, but is also ordered by the king of Corinth to leave the city, for he fears she will seek revenge on his daughter (boy oh boy was he right), Medea is doubly humiliated and is seriously pissed off. “Stronger than lover's love is lover's hate. Incurable, in each, the wounds they make.” We all know that ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’ and Medea shows Jason exactly who he messed up with. She definitely takes it too far, but we feel sympathy towards her, even after her monstrous actions. I think that is the genius of this play. “Of all creatures that can feel and think, we women are the worst treated things alive” Another plus is the agency given to Medea as a woman in this play (and let’s not forget the chorus is made up of wise women here). Women held no rights in Athens and were considered as property, so this is a nice surprise – to see Medea act with agency (horrible as it is, but still). She is a mastermind, she is conniving and manipulating and will not stop until she gets what she wants – she used her smarts to build Jason up and eventually she used her smarts to tear him down. You don’t mess with a women like that without suffering the consequences. I love Greek drama, Ancient Greek culture and mythology, and will definitely read more plays by Euripides.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Elliot A

    Part of BBC’s “100 Stories that shaped the World” list, I thought it would be fun to keep track of all the works I have read that are listed. I have been feeling kind of down and blue since finishing my term paper (go figure) and thought a Greek tragedy would afford me some perspective. It didn’t fail. It has been a while since I last read a play, let alone a Greek play, but I am still surprised how much I enjoyed it; I even smiled a few times. Euripides’ writing and the dialogue he creates for M Part of BBC’s “100 Stories that shaped the World” list, I thought it would be fun to keep track of all the works I have read that are listed. I have been feeling kind of down and blue since finishing my term paper (go figure) and thought a Greek tragedy would afford me some perspective. It didn’t fail. It has been a while since I last read a play, let alone a Greek play, but I am still surprised how much I enjoyed it; I even smiled a few times. Euripides’ writing and the dialogue he creates for Medea with respect to women and their struggle in society is very forward and even modern. Obviously, as a tragedy, the main character’s actions and words are somewhat heightened (for some reason I don’t want to label them exaggerated) and provide so much richness to this short play. Some of the phrases were quite humorous and seemed rather modern, which was interesting to observe. Overall, a quite entertaining and short play that will have the reader forget their problems for a while. I highly recommend it. ElliotScribbles

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kelly H. (Maybedog)

    There is scholarly evidence to support the idea that Euripides was hired by the people of Corinth to write this play to make Medea into a villain: not even crazy but a purely evil woman who would (view spoiler)[kill her own children (hide spoiler)] . I did a paper on it in grad school. Of course I don't know where my paper is nor the citations but who needs references in an opinion piece? ;) I did the research after I read The Dawn Palace, a young adult novel with a feminist take on the story. (T There is scholarly evidence to support the idea that Euripides was hired by the people of Corinth to write this play to make Medea into a villain: not even crazy but a purely evil woman who would (view spoiler)[kill her own children (hide spoiler)] . I did a paper on it in grad school. Of course I don't know where my paper is nor the citations but who needs references in an opinion piece? ;) I did the research after I read The Dawn Palace, a young adult novel with a feminist take on the story. (That book was excellent in its own right, helping me to understand what it was like to live in that era, particularly as a woman. It's one of my very favorite books and I highly recommend it.) I didn't mind the play but the inherent misogyny gave me pause even before I discovered that it was propaganda. I'm not disputing how well it was written but it was not enjoyable to me.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Elle (TheBookishActress)

    Medea begins with a displacement, and ends with a displacement. Medea is perhaps one of the most ferocious female characters in all Greek tragedy, and I’m fascinated by her. Medea is a masterful manipulator, conniver, convincer: her stychomythia with Creon and later Aegeus each remind me of Clytemnestra’s with Agamemnon in Aeschylus’ Oresteia. She makes herself a suppliant to Aegeus, falling at his feet in honor. She kills her children out of revenge. Well, actually, her killing of her children Medea begins with a displacement, and ends with a displacement. Medea is perhaps one of the most ferocious female characters in all Greek tragedy, and I’m fascinated by her. Medea is a masterful manipulator, conniver, convincer: her stychomythia with Creon and later Aegeus each remind me of Clytemnestra’s with Agamemnon in Aeschylus’ Oresteia. She makes herself a suppliant to Aegeus, falling at his feet in honor. She kills her children out of revenge. Well, actually, her killing of her children functions here as somewhat of an attempt to cut her final ties. I think it’s interesting that the original myth does not actually even make her kill her children. Euripides has a tendency towards putting his female characters (most notably with Electra, who actually kills Clytemnestra rather than sympathizing with Orestes) into roles with less moral goodness, but more agency. Yet she is also sympathetic. Medea’s role as the ‘other’ is downplayed, and her identity as a murderer sympathized with. Medea’s only ask for an oath to King Aegeus is that she never seeks expulsion: she desires a safe harbor, after one expulsion after another. Jason is desperate for power, but throughout, it is Medea who has saved him, who has helped him, who has become a murderer to save him. When he betrays her, she has nothing to go back to, and an identity forever corrupted by her past deeds. Medea and Jason accuse each other of selfishness, a lack of love for their children, and a desire for power; both exhibit all of these traits themselves, but it is Jason, the familiar, whom we criticize most. The gods, towards the end, are on her side. (Interestingly, this ending, too, would’ve been a plot twist to Euripides’ original audience. Plot twists in this era of tragedy are rare.) This play allegedly took third place in 431 BCE drama competition into which Euripides entered it, but by the end of the century, Aristophanes was cheerfully mocking it, and it made the ‘select’ plays of Euripides, the ones passed along. Notable Lines (Rachel Kitzinger translation): NURSE: The bonds of love are sick. (16) NURSE: Moderation sounds best on the tongue. (127) MEDEA: Oh, Father, oh, city, to my shame: I killed my brother and left you. (168) MEDEA: I’d rather three times over stand behind a shield than give birth once. (250) MEDEA: And we’re women: most helpless when it comes to noble deeds, most skillful at constructing every evil. (409) CHORUS: Had Phoebus, lord of singing, given us the gift, we would have sung in answer to men’s voices? (426) MEDEA: O Zeus, you gave a sure test for false god: why is there none for human baseness? (516-517) MEDEA: Let me be thought the opposite of these: harsh with my enemies, gentle with my friends. (805-806) JASON: O, children dearest— MEDEA: To their mother, yes. Not to you. (1396-1397) Notable Lines (Paul Roche translation): JASON: It was Aphrodite and no one else in heaven and earth who saved me on my voyage. MEDEA: I would not touch anything of yours - how dare you offer it. MEDEA: My heart dissolves when I look in their bright blue irises. CHORUS: So ended this terrible thing. Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Spotify | Youtube | About |

  18. 4 out of 5

    Carmen

    Voices of women ringing out. Not only do they have good speeches but their experience is the subject, Medea does not passively sit back and accept the injustice of what has been happening to her, she is definitely not silent in the face of patriarchal injustice. When she feels aggrieved by man or men she asserts her own power, assuming she has just as much right to act in this way as any man does. When Creon wants to banish her,she assumes that she has the right to speak (as well as to act). She Voices of women ringing out. Not only do they have good speeches but their experience is the subject, Medea does not passively sit back and accept the injustice of what has been happening to her, she is definitely not silent in the face of patriarchal injustice. When she feels aggrieved by man or men she asserts her own power, assuming she has just as much right to act in this way as any man does. When Creon wants to banish her,she assumes that she has the right to speak (as well as to act). She doesn't hesitate to argue on her own behalf, and her arguments prove persuasive. Medea is certainly a horrifying play: the mother who kills her children, going against her nature to exact the ultimate justice on her husband, Jason “They are the sun that lights his world /So I will plunge him into darkness.” It is intimate, intense and visceral. Medea's actions are monstruous but she's not plain evil, she is vindictive and seductive when needed, arrogant, proud, manipulative and violent all these to get revenge, retaliation even. Because she has been left behind: Jason- the man she married and for who she has left land and family even comitting some deeds nobody else would - is going to marry again (leaving her for no other reason than ambition) and she must also leave her home. Medea's characterization represents an early form of feminism in that Medea sees herself as woman first. Her designation as a wife or mother are secondary to her own feelings as a woman. She appropriates an identity as an individual subject equal to the men who surround them, equally powerful and equally wrong. If she despises how Jason makes use of her until she is no longer needed she does not realize she makes use of the lives of innocent to obtain the revenge she thinks she deserves.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Will

    Medea isn't just about pre-feminist ideals, mental illness, revenge, or betrayal. It is a commentary on society, ostensibly Ancient Greek society, but also our global society today. Euripides does something so revolutionary and foreign that the Greek audiences used to tales of heroes or tragedies driven by men must have been flabbergasted and appalled. Medea is the first all-powerful female character. She makes Electra look like a whiny, helpless, pitiable woman. Medea shows that in ancient Gree Medea isn't just about pre-feminist ideals, mental illness, revenge, or betrayal. It is a commentary on society, ostensibly Ancient Greek society, but also our global society today. Euripides does something so revolutionary and foreign that the Greek audiences used to tales of heroes or tragedies driven by men must have been flabbergasted and appalled. Medea is the first all-powerful female character. She makes Electra look like a whiny, helpless, pitiable woman. Medea shows that in ancient Greece, there were challenges to women, but also that there was a male playwright daring enough to focus his master work on a previously completely reviled and evil female character. I feel for Medea, but unlike most women in early literature and drama, she solves her own problems. And while her methods may be extreme, she is still in control. Medea is a master work of Greek drama. I applaud the translator's modern approach and language. Updating a classic masterpiece is hard, and Robin Robertson does it admirably.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    Penetrating psychological study of Medea, the wronged wife, and Jason, the unfeeling, selfish contemptible husband. Classic revenge tragedy.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Vivian

    I may not win, but you'll lose--or I'll just win. Medea is not a woman to be trifled with, and that's precisely what Jason did. The context of Medea's identity is critical to understanding this play, and definitely something I did not have when I first read it age 13. Euripides list Medea as daughter of Aietes the King of Colchis, not terribly helpful if you don't know that she is not Greek--though you'll learn this during the play when Jason insinuates, nay, says that he took her from the barbar I may not win, but you'll lose--or I'll just win. Medea is not a woman to be trifled with, and that's precisely what Jason did. The context of Medea's identity is critical to understanding this play, and definitely something I did not have when I first read it age 13. Euripides list Medea as daughter of Aietes the King of Colchis, not terribly helpful if you don't know that she is not Greek--though you'll learn this during the play when Jason insinuates, nay, says that he took her from the barbaric land and gave her civilization by bringing her to Greece.  (\_/) (O.o) But...what's even more important and super helpful to know is that Medea is the niece of Circe and granddaughter of Helios. She is a "wise woman" aka witch aka enchantress. Now, Jason in his quest for glory and power casts Medea, mother of his two sons, aside and takes another wife, the King of Corinth's daughter.  Jason is not only an ass, but stupid too. Medea is not having any of this. Jason should have known better when he saw what Medea did for him to win the Golden Fleece--not going to spoil it. Let's just say that the bloodshed here is typical. Not only does Medea win, she rides off in a winged-serpent (dragon) drawn chariot to Athens where she's secured sanctuary. Yes, literal dei ex machina with Helios aiding her. And dumbass Jason? He eventually dies alone in the refuge of the skeleton hull of the Argo when a beam falls on his head. That's actually not in the play, but my edition's editor notes.  Game, set, match goes to Medea.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Gastón

    B A R D O

  23. 4 out of 5

    sologdin

    As with the Herakles, we start with the basic recitation of mythological lore, as passed along in Apollodorus: They went to Corinth, and lived there happily for ten years, till Creon, king of Corinth, betrothed his daughter Glauce to Jason, who married her and divorced Medea. But she invoked the gods by whom Jason had sworn, and after often upbraiding him with his ingratitude she sent the bride a robe steeped in poison, which when Glauce had put on, she was consumed with fierce fire along with h As with the Herakles, we start with the basic recitation of mythological lore, as passed along in Apollodorus: They went to Corinth, and lived there happily for ten years, till Creon, king of Corinth, betrothed his daughter Glauce to Jason, who married her and divorced Medea. But she invoked the gods by whom Jason had sworn, and after often upbraiding him with his ingratitude she sent the bride a robe steeped in poison, which when Glauce had put on, she was consumed with fierce fire along with her father, who went to her rescue. But Mermerus and Pheres, the children whom Medea had by Jason, she killed, and having got from the Sun a car drawn by winged dragons she fled on it to Athens. (Bibliotheka I.9.28 (Frazer, trans.)) Fairly straightforward. The euripidean version adheres fairly closely to this--or, perhaps, Euripides is the primary source for Apollodorus, who wrote centuries later. Euripides retains Medea’s objection that Jason has broken an oath by taking up with Creon’s daughter (“Do you hear what she says, and how she cries / On Themis, the goddess of Promises, and on Zeus, / Whom we believe to be the Keeper of Oaths?” (ll.168-70)). He also presents a slick agon between them, wherein it is revealed that not only does Jason not deny the oathbreaking, but he defends it as economically and politically expedient: What luckier chance could I have come across than this, An exile to marry the daughter of a king? It was not –the point that seems to upset you—that I Grew tired of your bed and felt the need of a new bride; Nor with any wish to outdo your number of children. We have enough already. I am quite content. But—this was the main reason—that we might live well. (ll. 553-59) Jason apparently does not lack bravery, as he had prior to action in this text witnessed Medea’s capabilities on the voyage of the Argo, during which time she was the crew’s heavy artillery. Consider just one episode from Apollonius’ Argonautica, the confrontation with Talos: Then, with incantations, she invoked the Spirits of Death, the swift hounds of Hades who feed on souls and haunt the lower air to pounce on living men. She sank to her knees and called upon them, three times in song, three times with spoken prayers. She steeled herself with their malignity and bewitched the eyes of Talos with the evil of her own. She flung at him the full force of her malevolence, and in an ecstasy of rage she piled him with images of death. (loc. cit. at IV. 1660 ff.) Reckless beyond measure, therefore, to piss her off. For his part, however, Jason may have understood that she thought that he has a “lack of manliness” (Euripides at l. 466) and is a “false man” (l. 519), and thus is not subject to the hounds of Hades who feed on ‘living men.’ She nevertheless is perfectly agambenian in her intention to “make dead bodies” (l. 373) of her enemies. She is perhaps irrational in this--not simply in wanting the deaths of several persons over a divorce, but also misconstruing her host’s fear of her art as “envy and ill will” (l. 297)—which is incidentally what Ayn Rand thought about her colleagues at school when they hated her for being an abrasive jerk. Here, the host monarch reasonably fears her as a walking artillery piece who makes corpses (i.e., in order to ‘pay back’ (l. 268) her husband in a marriage gone sour, and thus “leave that account paid” (l. 790)). That said, her position is that it is no mere divorce, but is an abandonment during exile from her home, after having killed her brother and then killed the monarch of the first place of asylum. Jason knows all of this, as he was there and was a beneficiary of these killings—and yet he still uses these events against her: A traitress to your father and your native land. The gods hurled the avenging curse of yours on me. For your brother you slew at your own hearthside, And then came aboard that beautiful ship, the Argo. […] A monster, not a woman, having a nature Wilder than that of Scylla in the Tuscan Sea. (ii.1332-42) Significant that he acts like an antisocial nihilist here--this may well be his hamartia, warranting is own tragic result in aristotelian terms--along with the nasty failure to consult her about his marry-rich/take-half plan (“If you were not a coward, you would not have married / Behind my back, but discussed it with me first” (l. 586-87), indicating a certain reasonable pragmatism in Medea). It is likewise important both that Jason says she is not a ‘woman,’ as this is not an indictment of women (that is more Euripides’ Hippolytus), and that she is rather distinguished as a ‘monster,’ which makes her more like Euripides’ Herakles, the fighter of monsters who becomes monstrous in the process (and also killed his own children). And, indeed, she is noted as furens several times (ll. 1014, 1079)—but also she has a “plan” (l. 772), marked by instrumental rationality, but manifestly lacking in objective reasonableness (to use Frankfurt Marxist terms), as there shall be no objectively reasonable set of facts wherein one savagely slaughters one’s own minor children to cause pain (e.g., l. 1399) to one's party opponent in a divorce case. To her, however, it is ananke, a “necessary wrong” (l. 1243), arising out of all the hardship of double exile, abandonment, and, even, the original childbirths: What they say of us is that we have a peaceful time Living at home, while they do the fighting in war. How wrong they are! I would very much rather stand Three times in the front of battle than bear one child. (ll. 248-51) A proto-feminist perspective, perhaps—but also we must recall that Medea is something of a cross between the Angel of Death and the Terminator; warfare for her would accordingly (and will, as it happens) be almost trifling in ease. When Seneca gets a hold of this text (and we knew he would, as it has dead children, similar to the Hercules Furens, the Troades, the Thyestes, the Hippolytus), he keeps the general outline of the narrative, but makes several deft inversions for the Roman world. First, whereas Euripides has Jason as the primary topos of Medea’s rage, in Seneca the locus of anger is Corinth’s monarch: “The fault is Creon’s, all, who with unbridled sway dissolves marriages [coniugia solvet], tears mothers from their children, and breaks pledges bound by straightest oath; on him be my attack, let him alone pay the penalties” (ll. 143-47). In Euripides, Creon banishes her as a preemptive measure, which she therein regarded as arising out of Jason’s infidelity; here, she regards Creon as the principal offender—converting euripidean drama of the oikos into a matter of the polis here. We shall recall MacIntyre’s point that the function of the Oresteia is to transform certain sets of problems for the oikos into matters for the polis--so, mission accomplished. Creon decides that he needs to “purge my kingdom [purge regna]” (l. 269), which is the language used in the Hercules Furens to describe how monsters are exterminated (op. cit. at 1279). Second, the voyage of the Argo, while traditionally the first of its kind within the legend, is not emphasized in Euripides as something special insofar as it is a voyage; but for Seneca, the Chorus of conservative Corinthians regards it as a moment when “The lands, well separated before by nature’s laws, the Thessalian ship made one” (ll. 335-36); previously, Trump voters might’ve rest assured that--Unsullied the ages our fathers saw, with crime banished afar. Then every man inactive kept to his own shores and lived to old age on ancestral fields, rich but with little, knowing no wealth save what his home soil yielded. Not yet could any read the sky and use the stars [stellisque quibus pingitur aether / non erat usus]. (ll. 329-333) --so, yeah, obviously Medea is just an alien criminal seeking to use anchor babies to do whatever it is alien criminals do in the febrile imaginations of right populist white nationalist scum--and it's all her fault for seducing the captain of the voyage. Seneca’s chorus accommodates to the Real of the Roman world, however: “Now, in our time, the deep has ceased resistance and submits utterly to law” (l. 364) and “All bounds have been removed, cities have set their walls in new lands, and the world, now passable throughout, has left nothing where it once had place” (ll. 369-372). And then it prophesies: “There will come an age in the far-off years when Ocean shall unloose the bonds of things, when the whole broad earth shall be revealed, when Tethys shall disclose new worlds and Thule not be the limit of the lands” (375-79)—and thank the Argo for this, the modern world, approximately two thousand years prior to Marx & Engels when they stated that “The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe” (Communist Manifesto, I). Ovid, for his part, will make the similar equation of the Argo with the Empire and the world proto-market in his note that “And Jason won the famous Golden Fleece / And proudly with his prize, and with her too, / His second prize, who gave him mastery, / Sailed home victorious to his fatherland” (Metamorphosis, VII.55-58): foreign goods and foreign persons to be imported via successful maritime adventure. And of course it's all consistent with Virgil's ideological project of "Roman, remember your strength to rule / Earth's peoples [sic]--for your arts are to be these: / To pacify, to impose the rule of law, / To spare the conquered, battle down the proud" (Aeneid VI, 1151-54) (emphasis added). This is definitely not Euripides' project, by contrast. Otherwise, same crisis, same denouement, same dreadful violence—but with Seneca’s normal emphasis on visceral horror. And Medea is still a nuke: Nurse: The Colchians are no longer on thy side, thy husband’s vows have failed, and there is nothing left of all thy wealth [nihilique superest opibus e tantis tibi]. Medea: Medea is left [superest]—in her thou beholdest sea and land [mare et terras vide], and sword and fire and gods and thunder [ferrumque et ignes et deos et fulmina]. (ll. 164-67) That’s genuinely badass. After the catastrophe, in both versions she hops on her magical flying dragon chariot and zips away, giving the survivors the middle finger. Afterward, Apollodorus (Bibliotheka I.9.28) reports that she ends up in Athens for a bit, had a thing with the monarch, fell out with Theseus, escaped to Persia and took over some towns there, and then returned to Colchis to set things upright. Her ultimate result is given in Apollonius, as part of the incentive to Thetis to help the Argo: “And there is something else that I must tell you, a prophecy concerning your son Achilles, who is now with Cheiron the centaur and is fed by water-nymphs though he should be at your breast. When he comes to the Elysian Fields, it has been arranged that he shall marry Medea the daughter of Aeetes; so you, as her future mother-in-law, should be ready to help her now” (loc. cit. IV 791-97). “Who profits by a sin has done the sin” (Seneca, l. 500)—who profits by a reading has done the reading, so go read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Inkspill

    Medea is Circe’s niece, a loose connection to Homer’s Odyssey. The play by today’s standards is shocking but I wanted to revisit it to read it better. The edition I read is translated by Robin Robertson published by Vintage. It starts with a short introduction that talks about Medea beyond her dark traits, Robinson points out how her behaviour is of a woman betrayed. With this in mind I read the play again, and closely. I found the poetry in this translation full of warmth in contrast to the scenes Medea is Circe’s niece, a loose connection to Homer’s Odyssey. The play by today’s standards is shocking but I wanted to revisit it to read it better. The edition I read is translated by Robin Robertson published by Vintage. It starts with a short introduction that talks about Medea beyond her dark traits, Robinson points out how her behaviour is of a woman betrayed. With this in mind I read the play again, and closely. I found the poetry in this translation full of warmth in contrast to the scenes that unfold, and by the end, as shocking as Medea’s actions are, I also felt sympathy. I am not sure if this is down to the translation or I’m reading this differently; as I now have a better understanding of the ideas of how oaths, heroes and gods fitted into that culture back then. It may also be down to reading Emily Wilson’s translation of Medea Seneca’s (included in Six Tragedies) which helped me to read this differently this time; it was down to this where I’ve meaning to read this play again. In Wilson’s translation of Seneca’s version showed a Medea I had never seen before, I always sensed there had to be more but until now, this Euripides’s version only gave me a vague sense of Medea’s vulnerabilities, as I previously did not have the understanding of this ancient world. So, previously one of the things I had missed was how much Medea loved her children. I realise now it’s too simple to say her actions are about spite and jealousy when it’s a cultural ideology she is relying on to support her. The women around her, the chorus and the nurse, along with the tutor do not approve. Previously, these are the voices that I noted but it overshadowed that she was a victim here but these are my words as Medea is not willing to be made a fool by anyone no matter the cost, where her actions become more callous for keeping her emotions in check, but what I had previously missed was the gods approved.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sita

    I read this for my Ancient History class. I was going to give a oral presentation on Greek Theatre and one of the great playwrights of that time Euripides and even though he really wasn't recognised as a good playwright back then, he is now remembered as one of the best playwrights from that time. Medea is about a woman who kills her two children to get revenge on her husband, because he left her for a younger woman. That's basically the gist of the play. But damn is it an amazing play. The monol I read this for my Ancient History class. I was going to give a oral presentation on Greek Theatre and one of the great playwrights of that time Euripides and even though he really wasn't recognised as a good playwright back then, he is now remembered as one of the best playwrights from that time. Medea is about a woman who kills her two children to get revenge on her husband, because he left her for a younger woman. That's basically the gist of the play. But damn is it an amazing play. The monolouges. The writing. The characters. The concept and Medea's reasoning. All amazing. This is a must read for fans of Euripides or just people willing to read amazing plays. And the cover, the childs hand print. It doesn't get creepier than that. The translation I read was easy to read but still very moving. I read it all in one afternoon and have read it a few times afterwards. It is alot to take in. But it is amazing!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    "O Zeus, you've given us the clear criteria to test if gold is counterfeit: so why is there no stamp of guarantee marked on the human body to discriminate which ones among our men are fakes?" Medea gives up her homeland and family for Jason, who proceeds to cheat on her with a Corinthian princess who he is set to marry. Medea, who isn't to be messed with, murders his new would-be wife by poisoning her, and—what is worse—kills her own children in an act of (ultimate?) revenge against Jason, who i "O Zeus, you've given us the clear criteria to test if gold is counterfeit: so why is there no stamp of guarantee marked on the human body to discriminate which ones among our men are fakes?" Medea gives up her homeland and family for Jason, who proceeds to cheat on her with a Corinthian princess who he is set to marry. Medea, who isn't to be messed with, murders his new would-be wife by poisoning her, and—what is worse—kills her own children in an act of (ultimate?) revenge against Jason, who is left with nothing but pain.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Shad

    MEDEA OWNED HIS ASS AND JASON NEEDS TO WORK ON HIS WORD CHOICES DAMN HE'S A WEAK ASS MOTHERFUCKER. I'D GIVE THIS MORE STARS THAN FIVE IF I COULD..... sad part is, sounds exactly like the conflicts of a saudi polygamous family

  28. 4 out of 5

    Katy

    A classic tragic play. I would love to see this one on the stage.

  29. 5 out of 5

    T S

    My mind has become an unpleasant place after reading this.

  30. 5 out of 5

    BAM The Bibliomaniac

    As much as I was impressed by the premise, I just can’t rate a Dover above a three. Medea is in the headlines. She’s in the latest true crime publications. Funny thing though. Medea is now often Medeo. Men have a strong criminal profile of “if I can’t have you, then nobody can”. This play I’m sure is often viewed as quite anti-feminist, with such phrases from the Chorus trying to cheer up Medea by telling her all husbands seek other bedmates at times it’s really not that big of a deal stop takin As much as I was impressed by the premise, I just can’t rate a Dover above a three. Medea is in the headlines. She’s in the latest true crime publications. Funny thing though. Medea is now often Medeo. Men have a strong criminal profile of “if I can’t have you, then nobody can”. This play I’m sure is often viewed as quite anti-feminist, with such phrases from the Chorus trying to cheer up Medea by telling her all husbands seek other bedmates at times it’s really not that big of a deal stop taking it personally. I was actually quite struck by exactly how timely this Ancient Greek play is. Something written in 400 BC is socially applicable in 2017. Some things between husbands and wives have never changed.

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