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Medea by Euripides - review

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Introduction

MEDEA BY EURIPIDES M EDEA WAS THE DAUGHTER OF KING AEETES OF COLCHIS, THE HOME OF the Golden Fleece. Medea was a witch and her grandfather was the Sun God, Helios and her aunt was the witch, Circe of 'Odyssey' fame. Jason sailed to Colchis on the Argo with his Argonauts in hope of stealing the Golden Fleece from Aeetes. The pair fell in love and Medea betrayed her father and helped Jason retrieve the fleece then escaped, with her brother, Absyrtus, back to Greece. However, Aeetes chased them and to delay him catching up with the Argo, she chopped her brother in little pieces and threw them over board. In order to give Absyrtus a proper burial, it was imperative that the body was complete, so Aeetes had to pick up all the pieces of his son. Back in Ioclus, where Jason's father was king, Jason's uncle, Pelias, had killed Jason's father and had usurped the throne. Medea had Pelias murdered by his daughters. She did this by showing them how to rejuvenate an old goat by chopping it up and boiling it in a cauldron and using magic, the goat, now in the form of a lamb, hopped out. She told them to do it to their father but Medea purposefully didn't use any magic and therefore, Pelias' daughters had murdered him out of love. Medea and Jason were banished from Ioclus and they went to Corinth where Euripides' play is set. ...read more.

Middle

Now however, a scandal centring on a man, Jason has emerged and now poetry and literature will change, as a man has been shown as treacherous. When Jason enters and the first confrontation in the play between him and Medea, Jason is shown as a self-satisfied, arrogant man whose only ambition is the throne of Corinth. He is patronising toward Medea by claiming that he is marrying Glauce because he wants to give Medea and the children royal connections and that he will not see them banished with 'an empty purse, or unprovided'. Medea responds to this by calling Jason a 'filthy coward'. This is because she had given up everything for Jason and he owes his very fame to her as she helped him get the fleece, escape from Colchis and killed his evil uncle and bore him two sons. However, Jason believes that he can 'ride-out' as though he were on one of his ships, the rage of Medea. It is as though he is living in the past. Jason also claims that he owes the retrieval of the Golden Fleece to Aphrodite as it was she who prompted Medea's passion for Jason, he also says that Medea should be grateful to him for bringing her to civilised Greece away from barbarian Colchis. Jason shows that he is a misogynist by saying ' if women didn't exist, human life would be rid of all its miseries'. ...read more.

Conclusion

Medea then goes into the house to kill her sons. The Deus ex Machina - final scene, is the third and final confrontation between Medea and Jason. Jason runs to the house to save his sons but when he finds out that Medea has already killed them he bangs on the doors for the slaves to open them so that he can kill Medea in revenge. However, Medea appears in a chariot sent by Helios driven by dragons upon which, the corpses of Medea's sons are lying. It is as though Euripides is hailing Medea. Usually the bodies of the dead were rolled out on a trolley in tragedy and only a god was elevated above the hut, however, Euripides is challenging this with his own innovations to shock the audience. It is also as though he god Helios is pardoning and even condoning his granddaughter's actions by rescuing her from Corinth and taking her to Athens. Medea then delivers a prophecy to Jason: he will live out a miserable and childless old age and will die unheroically when a beam from his precious Argo falls on him, shattering his skull. Medea wouldn't even let Jason bury his own sons. There are three disturbing messages in 'Medea': 1) A god pardoned her actions. 2) A mere woman triumphed over a husband, and a hero one at that. 3) She was a barbarian who was now going off to the most respected citadel in Greece: Athens, to live with and marry the king Aegeus. In short, Medea had won by destroying all boundaries to a foreign woman in Greece. 1 ...read more.

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