Medea of Euripides by Euripides. No cover available. Download; Bibrec. Bibliographic Record Download This eBook. Format, Url, Size. 1. Euripides. Medea. BC. This translation by Ian Johnston of Malaspina University-College, The Nurse, a slave who serves Medea, is standing by herself]. Publication date: Topics: Medea (Greek mythology). Publisher: New York, Oxford University Press, American Branch. Collection.

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Euripides, Medea 1 of 5/16/06 PM. 5. Euripides' Medea. Translated by. C. A. E. Medea, like so many of Euripides' plays, was better appreciated after . As Euripides turned the conclusion of the Jason-Medea myth into a. This play of Euripides was first produced in B.C. , but the time of the action is archaic. Jason having won the Golden Fleece from the. IGng of barbarian.

The audience initially sees the god Apollo emerge, youthful and resplendent, though potentially violent, with his characteristic bow and arrows. The audience would have known that Asclepius, the founder of medicine, had angered Zeus by using his skills to resurrect a human being. Death arrives and argues with Apollo about his mission. The rhetoric and legalisms of their debate are incongruous, probably humorously so, with the gravity of the situation, yet the clash provokes Apollo to prophesy the saving arrival of Heracles.

The Chorus continue their mourning as husband and wife enter, but Euripides exploits his poetic resources to indicate further that something is lacking in Admetus; Alcestis continually sings to him in emotional lyrics, while Admetus replies in iambic trimeters, the conversational rhythms of normal theatrical speech.

The contrast is startling, and when Alcestis follows this exchange with an extended speech that mixes a eulogy of herself with her fears for her children by insisting that he never remarry, it is difficult not to have the impression that she is disappointed in her husband. She dies in full view of the audience, Admetus, and her children, who then lament their mother in emotional lyrics while their father continues to respond in colorless, flat iambic trimeters.

The Chorus sing their wish that they could bring her back from Hades. Enter Heracles, the greatest of all Greek heroes, instantly recognizable to all with his lion-skin cloak complete with head and club; if there is one man alive who could rescue Alcestis, it is this hero who visits the Underworld with regularity in the course of his heroic deeds.

Here he is in the midst of his Twelve Labors in servitude to King Eurystheus as Apollo had been, though in much kinder circumstances, to Admetus , and Admetus now once again goes out of his way to help a guest, again under extraordinary conditions.

Admetus does so in adherence to a code of behavior known in Greek as xenia, most commonly referred to now as the guest-host relationship. Xenia was a sacred, reciprocal bond that guaranteed the safety of travelers and those who sheltered them, and extended even to their descendants.

In Greek tragedy, many characters find themselves in crises because of an excessive devotion to a particular value or virtue; for example, Hippolytus is destroyed because his obsession with his chastity blots out all other aspects of life.

The dilemma of Admetus rests in being faced with a guest, and an important one at that, immediately following the death of his wife. Many modern readers find this behavior inexplicable; indeed, members of the household of Admetus criticize him for his decision, and Heracles later seems genuinely upset about the deception. The one request Alcestis makes of her husband is that he not take a new wife, and Admetus makes this promise in front of their children, which Alcestis duly notes.

After wresting the body of Alcestis from Death, Heracles presents her, veiled, to Admetus and asks him to keep her safe. When Admetus demurs, it is on the grounds of public propriety, and not the promise he made to Alcestis.

Heracles manages to convince Admetus that this is indeed his wife, but only after Admetus has agreed to accept her into his house. And is this in fact the same living wife Admetus buried? If so, what will she say to him later, given his behavior in this scene? And why does she not speak? Whatever may explain her silence, it cannot be the simple fact that two speaking actors are already on stage. He badly wants his friend to accept the woman, insisting that 3. Although Euripides could have used as many as three speaking actors, Alcestis required only two, an option that would have involved the triple casting of the same actor as Alcestis, Pheres, and Heracles.

Scholars have recently argued that Alcestis was performed with three, not two, speaking actors, which invites that much more scrutiny of her silence. See Rehm , p. In any event, much seems to hang on this silence, which neither Admetus nor we are allowed to hear broken at this crucial juncture. Such ambiguity is characteristic of the close of this multifaceted drama, which resists attempts at overly simple readings. Medea So utterly opposite are this drama and its heroine to the earlier Alcestis that one might be tempted to suggest they were composed as a complementary pair had we not evidence to the contrary, as Medea was first produced seven years later, in BCE, the moment when Athens and Sparta girded for war against each other.

The world of Athens was changing rapidly, and the savagery unleashed by Euripides in this tragedy seems prophetic of the violence and irrationality that would engulf his civilization in the coming years.

The folktale motif of the exotic princess who helps the handsome hero achieve his quest but is callously dispatched by him later is so prevalent in Greek myth that it must have been one of its older story types; Homer seems to play off the expectations of this type of story several times in the Odyssey.

He does not leave her asleep on an island, as Theseus did to Ariadne, but simply takes a new wife, the daughter of the king of Corinth. During his absence, he gained the favor of the goddess Hera who already hated Pelias. After escaping with the fleece, Medea and Jason killed her young brother, chopping his body to pieces and throwing them overboard in order to slow the pursuing fleet. Euripides himself had dramatized aspects of this legend earlier in his career; as noted above, his very first entry in the City Dionysia included The Daughters of Pelias.

But nothing could have prepared his audience for what they saw in As Edith Hall has shown, since the conclusion of the Persian Wars roughly a half-century earlier, Athens had fostered an image of itself as the defender of Greek values, and hence civilization itself, against the barbarians, whose quintessence was the Asiatic Persians, and Medea herself had become a useful symbol for the Persian threat to Greek manhood as embodied by Jason and Theseus.

It is possible that the actor and I stress actor, not actress who played Medea and only Medea wore clothing of a distinctly Persian appearance and a mask that stressed her racial characteristics.

The drama thus explores the legitimacy of the Greek claim to superiority over barbarians. The Chorus of Corinthian women feel more solidarity and sympathy for Medea as a woman than contempt for her as a barbarian. Euripides manipulates his audience into a position of sympathy for his heroine as skillfully as she herself manipulates everyone who crosses her path. King Aegeus stumbles in on his way home to Athens after consulting the Delphic oracle concerning his inability to sire children.

While the child-murdering Medea is now the Medea in our imagination, it is likely though not universally agreed among scholars that Euripides is the author who created this image; other ancient sources and the gradual way in which Euripides reveals this possibility both suggest a transformation of this myth to this most shocking form.

But where are the gods? Distant, it seems. Medea is a furious woman. Jason is a shadow of a hero, with not the least whiff of the semidivinity of Achilles or Heracles.

Comparative Drama

He has broken his oaths to Medea, and oaths are sworn to, and thus guaranteed by, the gods. Jason, who pursues magical objects through fantastical means, seems like a hero from folktale rather than high myth, the realm to which Medea belongs. The Achillean rage of Medea transforms her into something more transcendent, perhaps a form of Hera, the goddess of marriage, the often-betrayed wife of Zeus who had earlier protected Jason but who is in this play nowhere to be seen.

Perhaps Medea, in essence, becomes Hera. Anne Burnett has argued that Medea becomes a quasi-divine personification of the spirit that punishes oath breakers. Medea has continually told her audience that she does the work of the gods in punishing Jason. She flies off to Athens on the dragon-drawn chariot of her grandfather, the sun god Helios.

Jason cannot reach her, in either a literal or a figurative sense. Medea has thus moved from being a sympathetic abused woman, to a monstrous child-killer, and finally to something almost indefinable and incomprehensible: a mother who kills her children and is not only unpunished but actually helped by the gods. Do the gods, then, care more about oaths than the lives of children?

Has Medea proven her heroic greatness in her punishment of Jason, or has she confirmed every stereotype about women and barbarians that has been articulated by the Greek men in the drama? In the City Dionysia of , Euripides placed third out of three.

I often wonder whether the sheer horror of the deliberate murders of the children had something to do with this defeat.

As in Alcestis, a wife is determined to do the right thing, to have a good reputation, and dies in the effort.

Unlike in Medea, the gods are present, but the humans might wish they were not, for the gods display a terrifying combination of hostility and indifference to human suffering. A further connection with Alcestis is that the mortal whom Asclepius tried to resurrect was Hippolytus, a myth Euripides suppresses here. Uniquely among all known tragedies, however, this is the second version of the same essential myth by a single poet, as Euripides had a few years earlier staged another Hippolytus in which the amorous Phaedra tried openly to seduce her stepson—the kind of shocking plot Aristophanes ridiculed.

Aphrodite would destroy the young Hippolytus because of his scorn for her and the sexuality she represents, and for his worship solely of Artemis, the virgin goddess of the hunt.

Now incensed at him and afraid he will tell his father, Theseus, Phaedra commits suicide, but leaves a note accusing Hippolytus of rape. After a heated dispute with Hippolytus, Theseus amends the sentence to exile. As his mangled body is returned to his father, Artemis reveals the truth to Theseus, orders their mutual forgiveness, and establishes a cult in honor of Hippolytus.

In the City Dionysia of BCE, the judges agreed that the program that included Hippolytus should receive the first prize.

Some have seen in Hippolytus a young man whose main offense is in his very virtue, his desire to live a principled life, free from the distractions caused by the charms of Aphrodite. Such divisions parallel the clash in this drama between the forces of sexuality, in the form of Aphrodite, and asceticism, as represented by the virgin goddess Artemis, and this conflict is played out in the desires and actions of the characters. Theseus, faced with an accusatory suicide note left by Phaedra, first fatally curses his bastard son Hippolytus, whom an site queen had borne to him, and then engages in an extraordinarily aggressive argument with Hippolytus, in which the detailed accusations they fling against one another suggest a lifetime of bitterness and disappointment.

This is a play about what desire, and not just carnal desire, does to people. It is also fundamentally, like Alcestis and Medea, a family tragedy; as Aristotle argued Poetics b15 , the best tragedies are those involving actions of kin against one another. The context of Athens in BCE suggests other levels of meaning.

It had been three years since the start of the Peloponnesian War, which was clearly not about to end any time soon.

Over the course of a series of attacks from to , the plague killed from a quarter to a third of the Athenian people. Thucydides 2. The sense that the gods had abandoned Athens is perhaps reflected in the indifference of Aphrodite and Artemis to the human wreckage they inflict and watch. Pericles had died in that same plague, and Pericles had often adopted Theseus, long a central figure in Athenian self-representation, as a supreme exemplar of the mythological propaganda in the public works program on the Acropolis.

The controversy over this law can be seen in a number of tragedies that involve the fate of bastard sons, including Hippolytus, whose title character is depicted several times lamenting his status. Here, however, they seem to be evoked only to be rejected.

Given the realities of human life, it is insufficient to know the good, and action will fail her.

Thus Phaedra resolves to die. Yet language fails her no less than action does. This was a profoundly antidemocratic outlook, and the Sophists, who generally have taken the rap for much of what went wrong during the fifth century, should perhaps be regarded more kindly for their role in questioning the political implications of such assertions. Theseus, Hippolytus, and Phaedra all grapple with the extent to which their identities are determined by their parents. Hippolytus believes fervently in the power of his natural superiority and virtue, but, like so many protagonists in Greek tragedy, he is fatally wrong about his nature.

Moreover, chastity in Greek culture was associated more with the nature of young women, not young men. But the insecurity of being the bastard son of the great hero Theseus, left in Troezen by his father who lives in Athens, with his mother mysteriously dead, creates instabilities in Hippolytus that become manifest in his language and actions.

Hippolytus is destroyed for this life and for these beliefs, and he remains an anomalous character to the end of the drama. He seems reconciled to his father at the end, but some have read that reconciliation as coerced by Artemis, not as love freely given. He dies angry and resentful of the forces opposed to him. Does he understand?

Has he learned? Is the cult promised by Artemis, in which young women will worship him in preparation for marriage, the kind of commemoration appropriate for this misogynistic young man? Characters could enter the acting area from the house or from either of the two side entrances. Typically but not always the right entrance was used for entrances from the city, and the left from nature and the rest of the world; see Wiles For other concerns with entrances and exits and sundry aspects of Greek theater practice , see Taplin The plays are powerful in Greek because the stories are compelling, the language is beautiful, and Euripides had a brilliant eye and ear for the way people act and speak.

My goal in bringing these plays into English has been to do justice to all of these elements. The Texts I have used as my primary text of reference J. Dale Alcestis , Donald J. Mastronarde Medea , Denys L. Page Medea , and W. I have also consulted D. I was able to consult H. Roisman and C. The line numbers in the margins are those of my English versions; the line numbers of the corresponding Greek text appear in brackets at the top of each page.

The Medea of Euripides;

In this Preface, I cite lines by their numbering in my translations. This endeavor leads to competing claims, of course, and at different times different types of faithfulness have taken precedence over others. That is, if I repeat an English word, there is a pretty good chance that it reflects a repetition in the Greek, and readers can expect that I have followed any repetitions in the Greek that are thematically significant.

Different meters patterns of heavy and light syllables were traditional for different parts of each play. In English, meter is based on patterns of stressed and unstressed syllables. Despite this difference in the basis of the English and ancient Greek systems, the patterns themselves—iambic, trochaic, anapestic, dactylic—are comparable, and so it is possible to get some sense of Greek meters through their English analogues.

In these translations I have used different English verse rhythms to reflect the changes in meter in the Greek originals. These meters fall into three distinct categories, each with its own texture and register: spoken dialogue, anapests chanted or sung , and lyrics. Aristotle said that iambic rhythm was native to everyday Greek speech, and in ordinary conversation people would unintentionally produce lines of iambic verse Poetics a; cf.

Rhetoric b. The same is true of contemporary English; like ancient Greek, it naturally falls into patterns of alternating light and heavy syllables. Apply to neck with gentle upward strokes. Oedipus Rex deals with the aftermath of Oedipus's terrible fate to kill his own father and to marry his mother. In Antigone a kind of sequel to Oedipus Rex the king, Creon, prohibits Antigone Oedipus's daughter from burying her brother as is necessitated by divine law.

Aeschylus' trilogy, The Orestia, concerns the return of Agamemnon from the Trojan War, his murder by his wife Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus, and the subsequent aftermath as Agamemnon's children seek revenge against their own mother. As such, it too examines agonizing grief after the pain of marital infidelities.

Climax: Medea murders her two sons offstage and ascends over the stage in a flying chariot sent by her grandfather, the sun god, Helios. According to some sources Euripides produced more than 90 plays. Unfortunately only 18 of them survive into the present day. Euripides' innovation to the already existing Greek story of Medea and Jason.

In previous versions of the story, the Corinthians killed Medea's children in retaliation for her murdering their ruler, Creon. In Euripides' version, Medea kills her children herself. Cite This Page Fournier, Jacob.

The Medea of Euripides

Fournier, Jacob. Retrieved July 16, Copy to Clipboard.Aristophanes constantly mocked Euripides as the decadent purveyor of all cultural trends, a follower of the Sophists, an atheist, and an excessively bookish poet who staged fallen women and ruined heroes in rags.

Whatever may explain her silence, it cannot be the simple fact that two speaking actors are already on stage. Cite This Page Fournier, Jacob. The audience would have known that Asclepius, the founder of medicine, had angered Zeus by using his skills to resurrect a human being.

In this Preface, I cite lines by their numbering in my translations.

The old minder. The three men wrote many plays with related themes or other similarities.

His debut program included The Daughters of Pelias, a drama that depicted the murder of King Pelias by his daughters at the urging of the duplicitous barbarian princess Medea, then still desperate to assist her new husband, Jason.