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Medea

STUDY
PLAY
Medea probably loved Jason, but it is more pride that motivates her: (quote)
are my enemies to laugh at me?
In Medea's first encounter with Jason she underlines how important she was to his success, thereby wounding his pride: (quote)
I...lit the touch to your success
Medea's bitterness and sarcasm about why Jason left her underline her hurt pride, she will not accept his help: (quote)
But your an aging man and an asiastic wife was no longer acceptable
Medea's obsession with pride is very masculine, women were supposed to do as they were told, she shows this in her determination to get revenge: (quote)
I will myself take sword in hand, harden my heart to the uttermost, and kill them both, even if I am to die for it
When we first see her Medea is being a typical women, how?
lamenting, weeping, very emotional, exactly what a greek man would expect
At a superficial level Medea is the simplest of all the tragedies:
its action consists of little more than its implacable protagonist's revenge on her treacherous husband by the murder of their children
The play is visually austere until...
the final, overwhelming epiphany of Medea aloft in an air borne chariot
Euripides chose to make a play that could only be played by 2 actors, thus:
there is no complex scene with a triangular requirement for three actors unlike every other tragedy
The visual, structural and narrative simplicity serves to
throw the dominating figure of Medea into grander relief
the dominating figure of Medea is stressed in her bipolar encounters with men where she repeatedly...
extracts by rhetorical power and psychological manipulation whatever she requires
The play came last in the competition when it was performed in ???
431 BC
Why might an Athenian audience not have responded very well to it?
how Aegeas is presented, ethically shocking, Medea not punished, ending unresolved, Medea's betrayal of femininity
Medea stands alone amongst tragic felons in committing her offence with ???, no other kin-killers leave unpunished
impunity
The vengeful, competitive and sexually honest Medea, in escaping unpunished, was.....
any Athenian husband's worst nightmare realised
How does Euripides exploit the opportunities for pathos that the children present?
we see them long before Medea, their death cries and begging for help from the chorus heart-breaking
why was the question of Medea's acceptability as an alien to her city state one of such contextual importance?
in Athens the possession of citizenship was tied to the descent group and guarded with paranoid anxiety
what were the terms of Pericles' law on citizenship, and when was it decreed
only men with athenian parentage on both sides wcould be citizens, 451 BC
In 431 BC Jasons plight would have been understood by the male audience, if not actually sympathised with. Even Medea stresses that a barbarian wife could be an embarrassment, saying
"your marriage with a barbarian wife was proving a source of no glory for you"
Medea rejects 'femininity' she fundamentally....
repudiates the gender role assigned to her as a woman in 5th century Greece
Medea's first monologue marks her rejection of femininity in her
exit from the feminine sphere of the oikos
Medea's first monologue has an extraordinary focus on masculine notions of
cleverness and citizenship
Medea combines feminine qualities of............with the masculine heroic values of..................
compassion and maternal love + honour, status and revenge
Medea shows she is able to conquerer her emotions 4 times
- speaks kindly to Creon, Jason and Aegeus
- able to kill her children
Medea is able to distance herself from her emotional side: (quote)
I understand the horror of what I'm about to do ; but anger, the spring for all life's horror, masters my resolve
Medea remains totally pitiless to whom? how?
Jason- destroys his life, Glance and Creon- kills them then gloats over their deaths, Aegeus- she tricks him into letting her stay in Athens, her own children
At first we are invited only to pity Medea, we hear the nurse and tutor's sadness for her, we hear Medea's groaning, we hear her side of the story the Chorus say: : (quote)
That unhappy woman from Colchis
Only gradually is Medea's darker side revealed. We get hints about her dark past: (quote)
O my father, my city, you I deserted, my brother I shamefully murdered
Medea makes clear she wants revenge: (quote)
If i can find a way to murder Jason
We don't see the extent of her psychological manipulation until after Creon has left: (quote)
Oh what a fool, by bashing me at once he could have thwarted me utterly
Bit by bit Euripides builds up the picture of an inhumane monster: (quote)
Should I set fire to the house and burn the bridal chamber? or creep up to their bed and drive a sharp knife through their guts?
The cruelty of her character is emphasized, not only in the elaborate messenger speech by in what she says to the messenger: (quote)
You give me double pleasure if their death was horrible
but she is not a straightforward villain. Euripides clearly wants us to feel sorry for her. How is this portrayed?
She has the sympathy of Aegeus, the servants, the chorus, we hear her grief and see her (apparent) helplessness
We see Medea's anguish when she has to kill her sons. Twice she decides she can't do it: (quote)
Their bright young faces- I can't do it
Medea emphasizes how much she loves them, there is an implied contrast with Jason here: (quote)
oh darling hand, and darling mouth, your noble childlike face and body
The audience do not feel sure that she is going to kill them until after the messenger speech, when she decides she had better...: (quote) (i.e. like Jason, she realizes that Creon's family will want revenge)
I'll not leave sons of mine to be the victims of my enemies rage
After Medea realizes Creon's family will want revenge, she shows she can do it and kill her sons. It is this ability to control her feminine, maternal emotions that makes her so formidable: (quote)
For one short day forget your children; afterwards weep: though you kill them, they were your beloved sons.
when she resolves to kill her sons she pities herself and what her Jason's actions have brought her to do
Life has been cruel to me.
Unlike Jason, Medea makes clear that she does understand love and commitment, however....
her pride allows her to channel her emotions and challenge Jason
Medea's tragedy is that....
she sacrifices the love she has for her children to her anger and pride
In breaking his marriage oath to Medea Jason disrespected which gods?
Zeus, god of oaths, and Themis, goddess of justice
To an Athenian audience why might Jason appear an innocent victim? (4 reasons)
- he had married a foreigner giving her the benefits of Greek civilization
- she was a mere concubine and her sons not full citizens
- Jason was correct to win a kingdom through marriage
- Jason had honorably offered her money and advice, it was Medea who had made the threats leading to her exile
Explain what Medea had done in the past and why that makes Jason's actions so much worse.
She had killed her brother and betrayed her father so he could be a hero and win the golden fleece; she had gained revenge for him against Pelias through persuading his daughters to kill him.
As well as producing two sons for him, Medea had also: 2 quotes
-been "all obedience to him"
- "gained the citizens welcome" in Corinth
Jason had married for personal greed and power, in in doing so....
rejected the woman who had given him fame and saved his life
Our first impression of Creon is unfavorable- his first words are harsh and unfeeling, showing no sympathy for Medea at all: (quote)
You there, Medea, scowling rage against your husband I order you out of Corinth
Crean does, however, care a lot about his daughter, and that is why he banishes Medea: (quote), we see this too when he rushed to help his daughter after she put on the poisoned dress
I fear that you may do my daughter some irreplaceable harm
Creon is intelligent enough to see that Medea is dangerous which is why he banishes her, puts him in contrast with...
Jason and his gullibility when Medea tells him she understands why he is marrying Glauce
Creon is merciful up to a point, shown when...
he allows Medea another day to "settle some plan" for her exile
Medea claims to Creon that she is no threat and that she doesn't blame him, she says "......." and that as a woman she is "......."
- you've done me no wrong
- in no position to wrong a king
Creon is suspicious of Medea, he perceives that her (quote) but that she may be nursing plots (quote)
words are gentle, deep within her heart
Medea persuades Creon to let her stay another day by asking if she can make plans for "my two sons", this works as
Creon cares about his on daughter and can sympathize with this desire
Aegeus is an attractive character who speaks kindly to Medea: (quote), contrast with Creon and Jason who insult her
All happiness to you Medea!
Unlike Creon, Aegeus does not seem very intelligent, he says he finds the oracle's answer: (quote), and acknowledges happily we needs Medea's help because she is wiser
too subtle for me
Aegeus is less suspicious than Creon and gladly swears the oath and is critical of Jason: (quote)
He's a bad lot let him go...does Jason accept this? How disgraceful!
Aegeus is extremely grateful for Medea and the help she can provide him with fertility, contrast...
his gratitude to Jasons ingratitude
Glance's first reaction to seeing Medea's boys is to sulk and Jason tells her: (quote)
those your husband loves you must love too. Now take the gifts
Jason defendung actions quote
"What I've done is wise"
What law meant Jason's argument may have been well received by the male Athenian audience
After 451 bc full citizenship was denied to children who could not prove both their parents were citizens
Thus Jason may have been seen to have been helping his son by...
Distancing himself from a foreign wife and allying himself with the ruling family
Jason is conscious as their status as foreigners and says to medea "the country that you left is primitive", he often depicts her as
A primitive foreigner, faced by the civilised, rational values of the Greek world
Jason tries to convince Medea that he is acting out of his love for Medea and the boys quote
"I am willing to do any service for you and the boys but you do not want my kindness"
Jason is scared of Medea due to both
Her intellect and sexual power
Jason quote on showing afraid of Her intellect
"You and your subtle mind"
Jason says what evidencing his fear of Medea and women in general
That he wishes that man could procreate without women and he hates females sexual jealousy
Jason shows that he is aware of his debt to Medea but inflammatory aspect of his acknowledgement of this very arrogant
Says she only helps him because of Eros (insinuating that sexual lust for Jason was all that motivated her)
Jason's pragmatism eclipses all else, he is married to Medea and has sworn an oath to her but thinks about his position quote
"What more lucky chance could I get, as an exile, than to marry the Kings daughter"
Jason argues he just wants to bring up his sons in a "worthy" manner and resents Medea for not comprehending his pragmatism, attributing her anger to
Sexual jealousy
Medea killed her brother, turning her whole family and country against her and then killed Pelias for Jason and bore him two sons but he arrogantly says
That he has done more for her (she "gained more than she gave") because she got to marry him and even though she is an exile he brought her to civilised Greece, away from her barbaric homeland
Jason is also extremely patronising to Medea quote
"You'd better change your attitude...accept what's best for you"
On many occasions medea's rhetoric focuses on betrayal, powerful quote when we first meet her
"I am alone, stateless, dishonoured by my husband"
"I am alone, stateless, dishonoured by my husband" why was this such a terrible fate for a Greek woman
Polis necessary condition of civilised life, Medea has absolutely no means if representation of protection, left completely vulnerable
Chorus' reaction to Medea's first speech one of extreme sympathy, they are appalled and say
"I am not surprised that what has happened grieves you"
Where does Medea display her great rhetorical power and remarkable command if language
In Medea's second speech to the chorus in the first episode
In Medea's seconda speech to the chorus in the first episode she refers to herself in the third person quote
"Spare none of your skill Medea...you see how they treat you"
A complex woman like Medea was likely to provoke enmity and misogyny from an Athenian audience, contemporary view on women described in Perciles' Funeral Oration quote: the ideal woman was to be
"The least talked of amount men wh they for good or bad"
Medea speaks in distress of her "country which I lost" in her supporting Jason, why is this is great importance in her current situation
Homeland would be her natural refuge to her, chorus reinforce this pitying that she does not have an "anchorage"
What did Medea do for Jason
Killed Pelias and her brother
What characteristics of Medea resemble Homeric heroes
Passion, anger, similes comparing her to wild animals, excessiveness, concern for timē
"She'll not give up her anger" "her rage" who says this When
Nurse in prologue making anger clear from outset
Medea often self pitying she cries out about how she has been wronged quote
"My wrongs call forth great cries of woe"
Medea's powers of persuasion and manipulation evidenced as she gets favours secured from which characters
Chorus, Creon, Aegeus, Jason
Favour Medea secured from chorus
They promise to be silent without knowing what Medea intends to do
Favour Medea secured from Creon
He allows her to stay one more day
Favour secured from Aegeus
Allows asylum in Athens
Favour secured from Jason
He agrees to take Glauce the present
1 of 3 confrontations between Jason and Medea happens in
The second episode
In The second episode there is an agōn between Medea and Jason, describe an agōn
A debate taken into Greek drama from the law court
In The second episode in the agōn Medea takes in the role of ? Evidence
The prosecution, details her services to Jason and calls on the Greeks as possible witnesses, "I saved your life- as those Greeks know"
In Medea's speech in The second episode Medea presents a case based on
Jason's ingratitude and faithlessness
In Medea's speech in The second episode Medea confidently appeals to the gods and says condemns Jason for
Forgetting "the gods by whom we swore"
In Medea's speech in The second episode Medea and Jason's relationship is shown to have an odd balance of power evidence
The backstory shows how Medea put Jason in his place and Medea's masculine language
Examples of Medea's masculine language
tells Jason "I'll deal with you" and uses a wrestling metaphor "one point will floor you"
Medea's language in the second episode highlights the different status between man and wife and is disconcerting evidence
"Did I make you my wife?", "I am that curse"
The speeches in the second episode reveal much about the characters of Jason and Medea, primarily
The balance of power in their relationship, their contrasting attitudes and values
In response to medea's prosecution, Jason takes up the defence in the second episode, how does he start his reply
With extreme formality and artifice, "I must...like a careful helmsman...ride out the tempest of your stinging tongue, my dear"
What answer does Jason offer Medea's charge of ingratitude the second episode
He plays down Medea's part in his escape from Colchis and says Eros was responsible for her actions
In the second episode how does Jason depict Medea
As a primitive foreigner who is lucky to have met him and gone to civilised Greece with its rational values
Irony in Jason's argument that he is going to marry the Kings daughter to improve his status
This is exactly why he married Medea in Colchis
In the second episode what do we learn about Jason's attitude to marriage and children
Marriage is a means to raise social standing, having a strong family he says "I could prosper"
In the second episode what do we learn about Jason's attitude to money and possessions
Thinks money will solve any harm done to Medea, doesn't understand why she is not grateful, he loves money, says he prays for gold
In the second episode what do we learn about Jason's attitude to social status
Excited about great social capital in joining the royal family, especially as an exile, all that matters to him is social status which he believes will safeguard his family
The chorus suggest Jason has made a plausible speech In the second episode when he explains his motives but agree with Medea quote
"Jason, you have put a fine gloss on your words but....you've acted wrongly: you've betrayed your wife"
When does Medea trick Jason into thinking she has changed her mind
Fourth episode
In the Fourth episode Medea admits Jason is right, how does she do this so convincingly, she is at the height of her manipulation here
Dramatises her inner conflict, repeating the arguments Jason has used eg "fool!..he's doing what's in our best interests...stop being angry!"
Medea in the fourth episode takes control of the staging, explain this and importance
Reflects her orchestrating the plan and control over the situation, tells the boys to come in and hold the hands of their father to unite the family and end cobfluct
What do we learn about Jason from his response to Medea's speech in fourth episode
Gullibility and underestimating Medea, the speech confirms Medea's view of his values as he emphasises the raised status of the men in the family to come
Delivery of the news of Creon and Glauce happens when
Sixth episode
Why would the delivery of the news of the death of Creon and Glauce have been so dramatic?
A common person, the servant, coming to tell Medea of a terrible message and can't believe it when he is faced with her delight, eagerness for details and effusiveness
Describe the messenger convention in Greek tragedies
A messenger reports an important event that has taken place away from the plays setting and is a highly charged piece of narrative
Storytelling techniques in used by the messenger to enable his report to come to life
Direct speech, metaphor, colourful language and vivid detail
gruesome detail the messenger tells us about glances death quote
"Blood dripped from her head in flaming drops. Her flesh...melted from her bones like resin tears"
Gnomic wisdom at end of messenger speech
That achieving worldly and material success does not equate to real happiness
After the messengers speech Medea says
"I am resolved...to kill the boys...though you kill them, you did love them"
The exodus opens with speech by Jason which highlights his blindness, he says
That he has come to save the boys from danger to come from the royal family
How does Medea appear to Jason in exodos
On a chariot drawn by snakes held up my the mekhanē
The exodus is a..
Reversal of the first confrontation between Jason and Medea in 2nd episode
In the exodus Jason is the prosecution and argues
He saved her from a savage land, she is a traitor to her homeland, she killed her children because of sexual jealousy, a thing no Greek woman could ever do
In the exodus Jason insults Medea many times he brandished get as uncivilised and likens her to
The monster Scylla
Medea's speech in the exodus dies what
Encapsulates Medea's character
In Medea's speech in the exodus she takes up the defence and argues
The gods are on her side as Jason broke his oath, she wasn't going to let Jason dishonour her, he deserves punishment
In the exodus Euripides explains
The origin of a cult in his present day
Medea shows her godlike status in the exodus by doing what
Using prophecy to predict Jason's ignoble death and being in the mekhanē
Why did Aristotle criticise the ending of Medea
Relies on external intervention for which audience is not prepared