This is a secondary source analysis, so the secondary materials provided must be utilized. I would recommend using each of the essays once in your writing. QUESTION: Write an essay arguing that Mede

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This is a secondary source analysis, so the secondary materials provided must be utilized.

I would recommend using each of the essays once in your writing.


Write an essay arguing that Medea was justified in her actions. You may discuss the sacrifices she made and how she was mistreated in order to develop this argument.

(1500 words)

  • You must use the secondary materials provided
  • You must include citations and a bibliography
  • You must observe the word count
  • Any plagiarism will be punished appropriately

This is a secondary source analysis, so the secondary materials provided must be utilized. I would recommend using each of the essays once in your writing. QUESTION: Write an essay arguing that Mede
MEDEA THE FEMINIST Author(syf % H W L Q H Y D Q = O 6 P L t Source: Acta Classica, Vol. 45 (2002yf S S 2 Published by: Classical Association of South Africa Stable URL: Accessed: 22-04-2020 01:15 UTC JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected] Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at Classical Association of South Africa is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Acta Classica This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:15:18 UTC All use subject to ACTA CLASSJCA XLV (2002yf , 6 6 1 1 MEDEA THE FEMINIST Betine van Zyl Smit University of the Western Cape ABSTRACT This paper considers the phenomenon of a mythical figure, chiefly known as the murderess of her own children, becoming an icon of feminism. Euripides’ Medea is the origin of Medea’s impact through the ages. Thus the seeds of Medea as feminist are sought in the Greek tragedy. Subsequently, later depictions of Medea are examined to see in what respects they may be regarded as feminist. The works considered are those of Albee, Harrison, Cardinal, Kennelly, Crossland, Wolf Lochhead, Labute, Nick, and Wakoski. Medea has become one of the figures of Greek mythology who speaks most directly to our age. Not only have there been dozens of productions of Medea dramas in different parts of the globe every year for the past decades,1 but die attention of scholars to this figure and to the reception of Medea in the modem world has also been noticeable in recent years. In addition to numerous academic articles, and the monographs of McDermott (1989yf D Q G & R U W L f, Princeton University Press in 1997 published a volume with the title Medea – Essays on Medea in Myth, Literature, Philosophy and Art, while the Archive of Performances of Greek and Roman Drama, founded at the University of Oxford in 1996, devoted its first conference in July 1998 to Medea. The papers delivered at this conference, as well as some written for the volume, were published in late 2000 as Medea in Performance 1500-2000.2 A seminar held in Urbino in 1998 on Medea in literature and art led to another publication in 2000: Medea nella letteratura e nell ‘arte? The enduring interest in Medea must be ascribed to the fact that modem audiences, readers and artists find that her story has a certain resonance with the modem world. Writing about the continuing practice of 1 See Gowen 2000. 2 Hall, Macintosh & Taplin 2000. 5 Gentili & Perusino 2000.1 have not been able to consult this volume, but there is a useful review by J.J. Clauss in the BMCR: accessed 28/8/2002. 101 This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:15:18 UTC All use subject to modern writers to reflect their themes by way of Greek mythology, George Steiner remarks, ‘The incensed hurt of women continues to find voice via Medea.4 This is true, but modern plays, films, operas, novels and poems based on the Medea myth5 reveal that for the modem world Medea can be made to represent not only betrayed women, but also oppressed racial groups, exploited colonials and women. These themes have all been developed from Euripides’ Medea which fundamentally influenced all subsequent versions of the myth, whether by imitation or reaction. They are an elaboration of Medea as barbarian, an outsider in the Greek world and a woman dishonoured by her husband. Modem works of art expand the application of these themes to the exploitation of less developed countries and peoples by the first world, and the subjection and marginilisation of non-White peoples by Whites.6 But perhaps the most frequently explored theme is that of the subjugation and domination of women by men. It is in this last case that Medea has become a symbol for women and an icon of feminism.7 Some of these interpretations by modem artists may not be acceptable to classical scholars. There are, for instance, considerable differences of opinion about interpreting Eurpides’ Medea as a feminist drama. Gilbert Murray, Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford University, noted about Euripides in 1913: ‘To us he seems an aggressive champion of women; more aggressive, and certainly far more appreciative than Plato. Songs and speeches from the Medea axe recited to-day at suffragist meetings.8 Bernard Knox, another illustrious scholar, pithily dismissed the feminist reading: ‘The Medea is not about woman’s rights; it is about woman’s wrongs, those done to her and by her.9 This diversity in interpreting Euripides’ Medea is 4 Steiner 1984:129. 5 For adaptations of the Medea material, see Reid 1993:643-50; Mimoso-Ruiz 1980; Clauss 6 Johnston 1997; Hall, Macintosh & Taplin 2000; Van Zyl Smit 1987. 4 See Mimoso-Rniz 1980:139-96; Van Zyl Smit 1987:154-224 and Van Zyl Smit 1992. 7 The term ‘feminism’ is used rather broadly in this paper. It indicates women’s awareness that they are unequally treated by men. It seldom goes as far as demanding the same rights as men, but the implication is that women should be treated equally. Medea’s example in the versions discussed in this paper is of two kinds. In some versions, she is shown as killing her children, but the moral responsibility rests with Jason. In others, the children are killed, but not by Medea. However, because of the machinations of men, the murder is ascribed to her. * Murray 1913:32. ‘Knox 1977:211. 102 This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:15:18 UTC All use subject to well summarized by John Harrison: ‘Those wishing to discuss Euripides’ own views on women can, in fact, find passages in Medea to support the view both that he was a proto-feminist and a misogynist.10 Knox is correct that the Greek tragedy cannot simply be interpreted as advocating women’s rights, but this is the approach that many modem artists have chosen.” They have often elected to simplify the nuances of the ancient drama and have produced adaptations dominated by the ideas that they want to convey to their modem audience. A statement by the Algerian bom feminist writer Marie Cardinal, who translated Euripides’ Medea into French, about who or what the ‘true’ Medea is, makes the point very clearly: ‘Truth is not in the least important here, Medea is a myth. Besides the truth about Medea cannot ever be known, even admitting that there may be one. Let’s speak about reality rather than about truth. For all the Medeas are true. They all contain the truth of those who tell them; that is what is interesting in the study of myths. Each interpretation is significant for a period, for an idea These fables say more about the evolution of humanity than most historical documents.12 This paper thus proposes to examine the elements in Euripides’ Medea that are most likely to lead to an interpretation of the drama as a feminist work.13 Then a number of modem feminist versions based on the Medea myth will be analysed to attempt to show how they relate the mythic material to the modem world. ♦*» The first aspect of Euripides’ drama that is relevant to seeing her as a typical woman is that, at the opening of the play, she is a woman betrayed by the man she loves and for whom she has made considerable sacrifices. The sympathy with her lot shown by the Nurse and the Chorus of 10 2000:26. 11 For 19th century feminist productions and adaptations of Medea, see Macintosh 2000, especially 17-19; and for die 19th century and early 20th, Hall 1999. 12 Cardinal 1987:169 (my translationyf . 13 Jennifer March (1990:32-33yf L V U L J K W W R Z D U Q W K D W V F K R O D U V V K R X O G Q R W W D N H S D V V D J H V R r characters in Euripidean drama out of their context when trying to establish Euripides’ attitude to women. However, audiences, readers and artists do not always judge texts so dispassionately. 103 This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:15:18 UTC All use subject to Corinthian women establishes her as a typical representative of her sex.14 Her experience is portrayed as one that any woman may suffer. A com parison between this relationship of protagonist and Chorus with the relationship between Seneca’s Medea and the Chorus immediately throws into relief the hostility to Medea in the latter play. Seneca’s Chorus support Jason. They sing a gracious hymn for his new wedding (56-115yf D Q G S U D y for his safety (595-96, 668-69yf E X W W K H U H F R L O L Q K R U U R U I U R P 0 H G H D D Q d her plans (362, 849-73yf 7 K H L V R O D W L R Q R I W K L V 0 H G H D I U R P K H U I H O O R w human beings precludes her from representing the fate of ordinary women. One of the most striking aspects of Euripides’ drama is that he made Medea credible as a woman. She is not a witch, but for most of the drama she is portrayed as a woman accepted as their peer by other women and supported by their solidarity with her cause. Even Jason’s treatment of her, his deception and his planning of her future without consulting her, in keeping with the contempt for the female sex shown by him, mark her as an ordinary woman. Medea knows the position of ordinary women. This is famously apparent in her great ‘Women of Corinth’ speech.15 When Medea first ‘leaves the house’ (214yf V K H D O U H D G K D V W K e sympathy of the Corinthian women because she has been abandoned by her husband. They want to comfort her in her distress. When Medea addresses them, however, she is calm and delivers a rational speech that reflects not only her own position, but the general situation of women. She describes the unequal position of women. A woman has to provide a dowry for a husband who takes control of her body. A woman has to adapt to her husband’s expectations and has no recourse when he abandons her. Medea boldly asserts that women’s life requires more courage than that of men. She compares giving birth to fighting in war and says that the former requires more courage. This has rightly been called ‘the most famous feminist statement in ancient literature.16 The Chorus support Medea so strongly that they do not protest against her threats of violent revenge, but promise to be silent. Even after Medea ” See Foley 1989:73 for a description of the nuances of the relationship between Medea and the Nurse, and between Medea and the Chorus. She argues persuasively that the Chorus accept Medea as a helpless victim of her husband’s desertion, while the Nurse remains uneasy about her dangerous temperament. 15 Eur. Med. 214-66. ” Morwood 1998:171, notes to 230-51. 104 This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:15:18 UTC All use subject to has secured a day’s delay of her exile from Creon and speaks of specific deeds of vengeance, a triple murder, the Chorus do not attempt to restrain her. Instead, die first Choral ode is devoted to the faithlessness of men, thus underlining the injustice suffered by women. In the first scene between Medea and Jason, his insensitive and selfrighteous tone accords with Medea’s earlier picture of male dominance and disregard of women’s rights. Her confrontation with him shows, not only in the contents of her speech, but also in its style, that a woman is able to hold her own in the man’s world of rhetoric. She lists the many debts Jason owes her. Jason’s response is patronising: he accuses Medea of sexual jealousy and shows general misogyny. It is not surprising that the Chorus stay on Medea’s side after this scene. Only when they learn of her plan to murder her children do they realize that she is, after all, not like than in every respect and they try to dissuade her from the unnatural deed. Medea cleverly exploits Jason’s idea of the stereotype of a wife in the way she plays the submissive woman in her second meeting with Jason. Her true womanly nature comes to the fore in her love for her children, evident especially, and ironically, in the monologue (1019-80yf Z K H U H V K e summons up her courage to murder them.17 As the tragedy unfolds, however, it becomes apparent that Medea is no ordinary woman. In that regard a feminist view could be that she is driven to the unnatural act – the reversal of her role as nurturing mother – of killing her own children, by the harsh treatment she has received from the men who have some power over her, namely Creon and Jason. It could be argued that the men bear the moral responsibility for her act.18 The spectacular ending of Euripides’ drama provides a further complication in the acceptance of Medea as an ordinary woman. No 17 Coiti’s statement, ‘The tragedy of Medea may be read as a constant restatement of the wish that the children did not exist’ (1998:33yf V H H P V W R P H D U D G L F D O P L V L Q W H U S U H W D W L R Q , t would negate the purpose of Medea’s revenge if neither she nor Jason loved or attached importance to their children. For a cogently presented argument that it is precisely the conflict between Medea’s passion for vengeance and her love for her children so compassionately portrayed by Euripides that is the essence of the tragedy, see March 1990:40-43. ” In many of the feminist versions, Medea is exculpated. The murder is variously presented as euthanasia, Medea committing the murder while of unsound mind, or, the murder is transferred to other agents, as in the pre-Euripidean tradition. 105 This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:15:18 UTC All use subject to ordinary mortal has at her disposal a chariot drawn by dragons to transport her to a safe haven. Curiously, this aspect has provided few obstacles to modern adaptors of the tragedy, as shall be seen below. Foley (1989:77yf likens the pattern of Medea’s revenge to that of ‘divine rather than human action.’ I do not think it necessary to discuss here the further point that Foley raises about Medea’s masculine, heroic side, as that is not an aspect taken up by the modem adaptors of Medea. *** An instructive example of how a new interpreter could approach Euripides’ tragedy is Marie Cardinal’s version. Although Cardinal was not trying to write a new Medea drama, but was translating Euripides’ Medea, her translation was inevitably coloured by her interpretation of the Greek play. Her reaction to the Greek text, noted in the preface to her translation and in the interview published as an epilogue, is a useful guide to subtle changes observable in her version, despite the claim that she wanted to stay as close as possible to the spirit of the original.19 Notable is her emphasis on the tragedy being one of a stranger, a woman who is isolated and whose jealousy thus grows more easily,20 and on the fact that women – Medea, the Nurse and the Chorus – were pleading the same women’s cause that women are still pleading.21 In her translation, Cardinal’s emphasis on Medea as a woman and on the solidarity of women comes through. There is one exception to this solidarity – Jason’s new bride. Cardinal introduces an element that I have not been able to find in the Greek text, when she has Medea in her first speech in the first meeting with Jason saying: Mais comment peut-elle coucher avec toi, ta nouvelle epousee! Comment peut-on faire l’amour avec un homme dont la femme erre sur les grands chemins de la misere en trainant ses enfants derriere eile! Mais comment peut-on ” Cardinal 1987:162. See her comments in the Preface (32-41yf R Q W K H G L I I L F X O W L H V R f translating Euripides’ text and her decision not to try to reproduce the metre of the original. For explanations of problems encountered in translating specific words and phrases, see 154-56. 20 Cardinal 1987:21. 21 Cardinal 1987:42. 106 This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:15:18 UTC All use subject to coucher avec un homme pareil!22 Some of the other feminist adaptors of the drama, notably Crossland, have tried to change the role of Jason’s bride so that she too becomes aware of the discrimination against women, while others (Albee, Wolf and Loch headyf K D Y H D W W H P S W H G W R V R I W H Q W K H F K D U D F W H U R I * O D X F H & U H X V D E P D N L Q g her express pity for Medea. Cardinal has not strayed too far from Euripides, but small changes in emphasis highlight the opposition Medea-Jason, woman-man even more than in the original. For instance the choral ode (lines 204-12yf L V I U H H O y paraphrased as a strong statement of support for Medea,23 which is affirmed after Medea’s ‘Women of Corinth’ speech: ‘Tu peux compter sur nous, Medee. Nous te donnons raison. Jason merite d’etre puni.24 The Chorus’ next intervention (Eur. Med. 357-63yf H [ S U H V V H V H Y H Q P R U H V W U R Q J O W K D Q L n the Greek, support for Medea, thus strengthening the impression of Medea as a wronged victim. This is emphasised again by Cardinal’s effective rendering of the Chorus (lines 410-45yf Z K L F K L V G U D V W L F D O O V K R U W H Q H G D Q d culminates in a striking finale: Medee abandonnee bafouee exilee. Medee sans pere sans ffere sans terre sans amant. Pauvre Medee! Ton regne est fini, une autre femme a pris ta place dans la maison!23 After the first scene between Medea and Jason, the choral ode on the power of Aphrodite (lines 627-62yf L V G U D V W L F D O O F X U W D L O H G E X W W K H Z R P H Q s conclusion powerfully encapsulates their sentiments: “Cardinal 1987:97. “Cardinal 1987:77-78. “Cardinal 1987:80. “Cardinal 1987:91. 107 This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:15:18 UTC All use subject to Medee, toi qui η’as plus de terre toi qui n’as plus de maison toi qui n’as plus d’amant Nous te plaignons! Jason, toi qui n’as pas de coeur toi qui n’as pas de reconnaissance Nous ne t’aimons pas Nous souhaitons ta mort.26 A comparison with the Greek text will make it clear that the hostility they express towards Jason is stronger than in the original, while Cardinal’s version here strikingly summarizes and contrasts the position of the woman and die man. Because Cardinal’s version is a translation, not an adaptation, she has not changed the outcome of the tragedy. Nevertheless, because of the accentuation throughout, especially by the Chorus, on the wrongs done to women by men, the audience at the end would not be unmindful that Medea might be the perpetrator of the killing, but that Jason bears a large part of the guilt. *** In a recent article, Edith Hall provides evidence that feminist interpretations of Euripides’ Medea have a long history.27 She describes how performances of the full text of Euripides’ Medea in England in the early twentieth century coincided with an upsurge of public interest in the movement for women’s suffrage. ‘Medea not only offered the authority of Classical drama to a contemporary cause, but can be understood… as one of the founding dramas in the prolific genre of suffragette plays and songs which were placed before tire public from 1907 onwards.28 Edith Hall mentions that, in this period, women began to give a more sympathetic hearing to women who had killed their children. The causes were sought in factors like social position and male irresponsibility, instead »Cardinal 1987:104. “Hall 1999:42-77. a Hall 1999:44. 108 This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:15:18 UTC All use subject to of assuming that the women themselves must bear the full blame. She also adduces some evidence that productions of adapted Medea dramas in the 19th century had a certain impact on the reform of the Divorce Law in Britain.29 However, Hall concludes that the real impetus to productions of Medea as part of the commercial theatre repertoire was given by die upsurge of feminism in the 1970s: ‘When the story of Medea’s stage appearances in the late twentieth century comes to be written, it is certain that connections will be drawn between the upsurge of interest in Euripides’ tragedy and the unprecedented success of feminism, reflected in Britain in legislative activity around sex discrimination, equal pay, equal opportunities, divorce, child custody, and, more recently, wives’ retaliation against abusive husbands.’30 Hall’s paper refers mostly to productions of Euripides’ text. But recent decades have also brought some strongly feminist versions of the Medea story, whether in the form of plays, poems, films or novels. Some of these have been productions of new translations of Euripides, but others are new works in which the artists aim to give their interpretation of the myth. The interpretation of the Medea as a feminist drama in the days of the suffragettes rested chiefly upon the quotation, often probably out of context, of Medea’s famous ‘Women of Corinth’ speech (lines 214ff. and especially lines 230ffyf E X W W K H Q H Z I H P L Q L V W Y H U V L R Q V V H H N W R U H L Q W H U S U H t the whole story in the context of the treatment of women and women’s rights. The first of these overtly feminist treatments was probably that written by Gloria Albee and performed at the Westbeth Playwrights Feminist Collective in New York City in January 1975. This script was not published, but one typescript copy is available in the library of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Significantly, Ms Albee prefaces her play by quoting from Robert Graves’ Greek Mythology the reference to the Corinthian bribe of Euripides to absolve them of their guilt by pretending that Medea killed two of her own children. This is a sign that this is not Medea as she is generally expected. It is interesting that many of the feminist interpreters of Medea reach back to alternative versions of the myth which in most cases precede »Hall 1999:54-64. »Hall 1999:72. 109 This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:15:18 UTC All use subject to Euripides’ canonical version.31 It quickly becomes apparent that Ms Albee presents Medea in a gentle light. In the first act it is revealed that she is not guilty of killing her brother, but loves and protects him. Jason is responsible for his death. This Medea is not a witch, but uses herbs for healing only. Nevertheless Jason manipulates her feelings so that she pretends to Pelias and his daughters that she is able to rejuvenate him. Jason succeeds in forcing Medea to do this because she really loves him and is afraid of losing him if she does not carry out his wishes. In Corinth, Jason has to serve a ten-year appren ticeship to win Glauce’s hand and the kingship, but does not want to expel Medea until after he has married Glance. Medea by now has seven children and is thoroughly disillusioned with men. She accuses Jason of furthering his career at her expense and cannot understand how he can abandon his children. His reply is that he knows that she will look after them. Then the bodies of two of the children are carried in. They have been stoned to death by the Corinthians who have been told that Medea is a witch and that she and her children are barbarians. Jason does acknowledge some measure of guilt, for, as Medea leaves, he asks her to forgive him. Women are thus seen as the victims of men, who take what they can from women they profess to love, but are prepared to sacrifice them when their careers are at stake. Women are portrayed as sensitive to others. Medea is characterized by her caring nature, and even Glauce is drawn with some sympathy as she expresses pity for Medea. Nevertheless, the one crime Medea does commit in this play is the murder of Glauce and her father, who both die because of a poisoned crown left by Medea as a gift. Yet when the play ends with Jason’s discovery of the corpses and his horrified scream ‘Medea!’, the audience realize that Jason bears the guilt of having provoked this act by his treatment of a woman who loved and supported him.32 Other feminist treatments leave Medea the agent of the crimes, but put the blame squarely on Jason. One of the most remarkable feminist versions 31 For other such examples, cf. the works of Crossland, Wolf, Harrison. 32 Another American work, the novel Medea by Miranda Seymour, is cast in the form of reflections upon Medea’s eventful life. The Medea-Jason relationship is portrayed as, amongst other aspects, a struggle for political equality. Who actually killed the children is left to the reader’s decision. There is uncertainty whether Medea was responsible or whether it was the Corinthian mob. This novel is an attempt to bring some nuances to the accepted version of Medea’s past and at the same time to reflect on her role as woman. 110 This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:15:18 UTC All use subject to is Medea: A Sex-war Opera by Tony Harrison.33 This is the libretto of a work commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera in New York. The score by Jacob Druckman is incomplete and thus the foil work has never been performed. Harrison’s Medea is an extremely dense and complex work that embraces a number of quotations from other Medea dramas (such as those by Euripides, Buchanan, Corneille, Seneca, Hosidius Geta and Catulle Mendesyf D Q G I U R P R S H U D V E & K H U X E L Q L D Q G & D Y D O O L > * L D V R Q H @ f.These works are cited in the original language and this adds to the effect of the ‘sex-war’ encompassing all peoples from time immemorial. To add to the complexity, Hercules is brought in as counterpart to Medea and shown to be a real child-murderer. There are two choruses, one male, one female, but they change many times: for instance, the women form a procession of wedding attendants, change to contemporary New Yorkers and, at other times, to women of Lemnos, Sirens, slave girls in Colchis and so on. No wonder that Oliver Taplin refers to this as a ‘highly wrought and rather difficult script!34 Nevertheless, this is a groundbreaking adaptation, not least in the way it starts with Medea about to be executed in the electric chair for the murder of her children. By means of flashbacks, the history of Jason and Medea is presented, accompanied by the constant theme of the war between the sexes. It is impossible to unravel the intricacies of this work within a limited compass,35 but one of its strengths is that in a direct and punchy style it forces the reader/audiences to reconsider the whole story from new angles: for example, the Chorus of Women when Medea is about to be electrocuted: Remember when you hear her screams that a woman goes to such extremes when men abuse her …36 The following extract, also from the Women’s Chorus, encapsulates the main theme: Beneath all Greek mythology n Harrison 1986. M Taplin 1997. 55 See the short discussion by Macintosh 2000. * Harrison 1986:368. Ill This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:15:18 UTC All use subject to are struggles between HE and SHE that we’re still waging. In every quiet suburban wife dissatisfied with married life is Medea, raging!37 Another feminist revision is the Irishman Brendan Kennelly’s adaptation of Euripides’ text.38 Kennelly makes it clear that his version was inspired by the rage of women. He writes: ‘The Medea I tried to imagine was a modern woman, also suffering a terrible pain – the pain of consciousness of betrayal by a yuppified Jason, a plausible, ambitious, articulate and gifted opportunist who knows what he wants and how to get it.39 Kennelly interprets Medea’s acts as sentencing Jason to life (in both senses of the wordyf 6 K H K D V G H V W U R H G K L V Z R U O G E X W O H D Y H V K L P L Q W D F W . This is, after all, not very different from what happens in the original.40 Although Dagmar Nick stated in an interview published as an epilogue to her Medea, ein Monolog, that she was not interested in feminists,41 her Medea survives being abandoned by Jason and having her children taken from her and stoned. She now roams as an exile, while stories are spread that she killed her own children. This Medea does not ask for pity, she endures because she knows the truth. She also knows that the truth is often obscured by myths. She knows that she has created Jason the hero who rejoices in his reputation as conqueror of the Golden Fleece, while in reality he fainted from fear while she was busy removing the Fleece guarded by the serpent.42 Implicitly Ms Nick has created a Medea who is not out of place in the ranks of the feminists.43 *** Euripides’ Medea is fascinating because of the power of her love and the 37 Harrison 1986:371. * Kennelly 1991. » Kennelly 1992:8 40 For a discussion of Kennelly’s Medea, see McDonald 1997. 41 Nick 1991:52. «Nick 1991:15. 43 A more optimistic feminist revision of the Medea myth is a Dutch novel by Marie-Sophie Nathusius, Medeia. The author conflates three parts of the Medea myth set in Colchis, in 112 This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:15:18 UTC All use subject to power of her hatred, because she refuses to become a victim. The modem Medeas devised by some feminists are often somewhat pale in comparison. A particular example of this is provided by the play Collateral Damage, subtitled The Tragedy of Medea.” The term ‘collateral damage’ was used during the 1991 Gulf War to describe the thousands of civilian deaths that resulted from the bombings in Iraq. I quote the words of the author of Collateral Damage, Jackie Crossland: ‘[T]he killing was shrugged off as an unavoidable consequence of the political and economic struggles over which those who died had no control. Similarly the women and children in this play are buffeted by circumstances over which they have no control. The tragic part of die story stems from this: a mother, Medea, is separated from her children by such circumstances and never gets to see them grow up.45 From this it is clear that the themes of this play extend beyond feminism, although feminist issues dominate. The play is set in an East Vancouver kitchen filled with utensils and toys such as in any house with children. This background underscores the author’s belief that Medea’s story ‘could be any woman’s story’. The cast is essentially the same as in the Greek tragedy, but Aigeus is omitted, Medea’s mother features as a ghost while Crayon’s (sicyf G D X J K W H U K H U e called Princess, also has a speaking part. Ms Crossland’s intention is that all the roles, including those of men, should be played by women, thus neatly subverting the practice in ancient Athens. Masks are to be used. This links with the idea that Medea is a woman’s story with men presented as women see them. The male characters are portrayed as rather seedy political adventurers and male chauvinists. They are in charge because of their physical strength. When Jason arrives in Colchis in search of the Golden Fleece, Medea has already been abused by her father and her brother and welcomes the chance of escape. Nevertheless, her opinion of Jason is not high: ‘This Jason is not a clever man. But he is brave in the way that men are and handsome … He pays more attention to his muscles than my conversation, which he does not seem to understand most of the time. But Corinth and in Athens. Medea becomes a kind of earth mother and disappears into the blue yonder with her three children. This novel links Medea into a matriarchal society. 44 Crossland 1992. 43 Crossland 1992:9. 113 This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:15:18 UTC All use subject to they say love is often like that and that a woman can’t expect much.”6 Later in Corinth, Crayon gives the reason why Jason would be a suitable son-in law thus: ‘This boy is as thick as two planks, but nobody messes with him.”7 The female characters are much more intelligent and show great solidarity with one another, but are nevertheless wronged and suppressed. For instance, in this play Jason kills Medea’s brother, but Medea’s father spreads the story that she was the murderer. Further evidence of female striving for personal realization is provided by the character of Jason’s intended bride. Princess is independent-spirited and does not wish to marry Jason when her father instructs her to do so. She reacts: Ί see what this means for me. I must marry this guy and start making babies to consolidate your position.”8 Princess is forced by Crayon to marry Jason and he rapes her. When he falls asleep, she gets up, sets fire to the marriage-bed and goes to the women’s temple where Medea has also sent her maid with the children. Crayon has the women’s temple destroyed, but Princess as well as Medea’s maid with the children manage to get away safely. The children are brought up by the maid who regrets that their mother does not know they are safe and well. Medea lives a lonely life, mourning for her children. In spite of this, ‘stories were circulated about her wickedness and enchantments. They say she killed the king’s daughter with poison and murdered her own children.49 This is, of course, the Euripidean version that has just been shown to be false. In contrast to the triumphant supernatural being at the end of the Greek drama, this woman has become a victim. The message of Collateral Damage is unambiguous: Men are unscrupulous in exploiting women to fulfil their every need. Even while fighting for survival, women will be accused of perpetrating vile crimes. It is thus fitting that the play should end with the message: ‘Mothers make your daughters strong.50 The theme of cynical political expediency indicated by the title again comes to the fore in Crayon’s strategy of choosing Jason as his son-in-law in order to have his military skill at his disposal. The way in which he plans to remove Medea also illustrates this: Ί was thinking that I could make a * Crossland 1992:31. 47 Crossland 1992:62 “Crossland 1992:64. ” Crossland 1992:73. 50 Crossland 1992:74. 114 This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:15:18 UTC All use subject to law that foreigners couldn’t live here. … Or, if push comes to shove, we could just kill her. Whatever it takes.51 The combination of all these themes makes this play a good example of how the Medea myth may be manipulated to conform to ideas that are acceptable to die politically sensitive in the modem world. Another recent work that joins several themes in its interpretation of the Medea myth is the novel Medea-Stimmerf1 by the renowned German author Christa Wolf who was bom in the German Democratic Republic and spent most of her life under the communist regime. Her novel is set in the ancient world, but in the Prologue Wolf explicitly points to the similarities between the ancients and us. She calls them ‘fremde Gäste uns gleich’.53 Thus the reader is invited to draw comparisons and apply conclusions to modem society. By means of six voices from the past – Medea, Jason, Agameda (a former pupil of Medea who now hates heryf $ N D P D V . U H R Q V I L U V t astronomer and the regime’s chief spin doctoryf * O D X N H D Q G / H X N R Q W K e second astronomer of the realm and a man who keeps aloof from the intrigues of the courtyf W K H V W R U R I 0 H G H D L V W R O G L Q H O H Y H Q F K D S W H U V 7 K e narratives of the ‘voices’ transmit the details of the story in a roughly chronological order. The novel starts in Corinth at a time when tension is already high, but in the course of the description of events the past in Colchis is also depicted. Wolfs Medea is not guilty of any of the murders ascribed to her by Euripides and those who followed his version. Instead, she is presented as an exceptional woman, a wise woman and a healer who has the welfare of ordinary people at heart. She does not hesitate to expose herself to infection by the plague, which breaks out in Corinth, but tries to help the sick. However, Medea is in danger, not only because Creon needs to have her removed so that Jason may marry Glauke, but because she has discovered that the state of Corinth is rotten to the core and that Creon’s power was entrenched by the sacrifice of his own daughter. This forms a counterpoint to Colchis where king Aeetes has sacrificed Apsyrtus to consolidate his hold on power. Ironically, Medea’s escape from Colchis and her father’s brutal regime have brought her to a state which on the surface seems 51 Crossland 1992:63. 53 Wolf 1997. a Wolf 1997:9. 115 This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:15:18 UTC All use subject to prosperous and benign, but on closer inspection is totally corrupt. The position of women in both these states is that of subordinates. Additional themes are xenophobia, imperialism and the clash of cultures. In Corinthian society, not only the Colchians who came as refugees with Medea are marginalized because of their brown skins, dark hair and different customs, but also the original inhabitants. These groups are huddled on the fringes of the city and excluded from participation in civic events. Both themes are linked to die overarching one of the manipulation of power and the effect power has on those who hold it. In both states, power is used to exclude women. Early Colchis is depicted as a kind of socialist state, ruled by men and women alternately in seven year cycles. Aeetes was approaching the end of his second ruling cycle when the Colchian women were planning to install Medea’s sister as ruler, but Aeetes engineered a scheme that implicated women in the slaughter of Apsyrtus and thus discredited them as potential rulers. In Corinth, Medea discovers evidence that, faced by a similar plan to replace the corrupt Creon by his daughter Iphinoe, the king and his faction succeeded in eliminating her. Medea cannot be charged with discovering this secret because, according to the ruling party myth, it does not exist. Iphinoe has eloped to marry abroad, the official story goes. In order to discredit Medea and neutralize the threat that her knowledge poses, Akamas, officially first astronomer, but in fact chief of propaganda, spreads the rumour that Medea murdered her own brother in Colchis. Further charges are concocted against her and there is even a trial before she is formally banished without her children. This is reminiscent of trumped up charges and show trials in totalitarian states. Before she leaves Corinth, Medea entrusts her twin boys to the temple of Hera where she thinks they will be protected, but years later she learns that the Corinthians stoned them. As final blow she is told that the Corinthians have spread the report that she killed her own sons. In Wolfs novel, Medea is exonerated of every act of homicide attributed to her. Although Glauke initially dislikes Medea because she would like to be Jason’s wife, she is so distraught at the Corinthians’ treatment of Medea that she commits suicide by jumping into a well. Of course, the Corinthians spread the story that she jumped into the well because Medea’s gift to her, a bridal dress, burnt her. Wolfs Medea is thus a tragic figure in a different way to Euripides’ 116 This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:15:18 UTC All use subject to protagonist. She does not even attempt to exact any revenge, but becomes the victim of relentlessly corrupt political forces and consciously suffers the full implication of the heinous injustices served out to her. For this Medea there is no escape into a world of delusion like that of Seneca’s heroine, who imagines that through killing her children she has restored her virginity, in other words, that she has cancelled her whole relationship with Jason. Christa Wolf has managed to produce a totally new interpretation of the myth. Her Medea stands not only for die injustices suffered by women and groups who have been colonized or are regarded as racially inferior, but for all victims of one-party states where corrupt rulers fabricate rumours and stories to discredit their opponents, who are summarily tried and punished. Parallels in the modem world are not hard to find. *** Most of the modem versions dispense with the flamboyant final scene in Euripides’ tragedy, where Medea is ready to depart in a chariot drawn by dragons. Modem artists represent the aftermath of the horrifying act in a different, more realistic way. Their protagonist is left in the everyday world and must accept the consequences of the events. Neil Labute’s monologue, Medea Redux,54 starts with the Medea figure already in that position. At the start of this monologue, she is in an institution, probably a detention centre, making a statement for the record. Gradually it emerges that this woman was seduced by one of her teachers when she was thirteen years old and abandoned when she became pregnant with his child. This adds a fresh dimension to the exploitation of women and represents another frequent theme of the modem media – child abuse. The bleak simplicity of the narrative underlines the horror of the outcome. She brings up her son alone, but, after a few years, again establishes contact by letter with the father. At the first face-to-face meeting of father and son, on his fourteenth birthday, the mother understands, not only that the father loves his son, but also that he is happy ‘because he had gotten away with it all.55 This is the trigger that releases her desire to punish her exploiter. She kills the son she loves by electrocuting him in the bath. The play ends with the woman admitting that 54 Labute 2000. 55 Labute 2000:88. 117 This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:15:18 UTC All use subject to the only thing that keeps her going is the thought of how ‘he’ (the father/teacher/exploiteryf P X V W E H V X I I H U L Q J 7 K H Y H U X Q G H U S O D H G D Q d restrained tone of the monologue with its shocking revelations shows how deeply disturbed the woman is. This is a counterpoint to the strong emotions and passionate language of most Medea dramas and subscribes to the notion aired in some of the other feminist adaptations (Albee, Crossland, Harrisonyf W K D W D Q Z R P D Q P D E H F R P H D 0 H G H D . A similar elegaic tone is adopted by Diane Wakoski in her poem Medea the Sorceress.56 The narrator likens her decision to give up her baby in ‘the Home for Unwed Mothers’ to Medea’s decision to kill her children. Her action is prompted by the callous lack of support by her boyfriend, J, who has no scruples about writing to her about his adventures with other girls. Her description of her mundane life in different parts of the United States after this event is in ironic counterpoint to the ‘dragonlady power’ of Medea. Her references to other women abandoned by men define her story as the sad pattern of the lives of many women in the modem world. Although the sensationalism of the literal killing of a child or children may be absent, the grief at the loss is lifelong. Liz Lochhead,57 on the other hand, preserves the traditional Euripi dean ending in her adaptation of the Medea created for Theatre Babel and produced in Glasgow and Edinburgh in 2000. This Medea subscribes to the feminist view of the world. She starts the ‘Women of Corinth’ speech in a way that unambiguously makes her a mouthpiece for women: ‘ladies of all time ladies of this place and others …58 Nevertheless, she is shown taking full responsibility for killing her children. As in the ancient dramas, her motive is revenge, which is only softened by her claim that if she delayed the deed, ‘another’s hand not a mother’s loving hand would kill my children’59 To Jason she expresses the vengeance she has exacted in shocking terms: 56 Wakoski 1991. 57 Lochhead 2000. ” Lochhead 2000:9. ” Lochhead 2000:43. 118 This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:15:18 UTC All use subject to Ί have torn out your heart and devoured it.60 Thus, at the end, Medea and Jason are left, but the unbridgeable chasm between them and the two approaches to life they represent are indicated when Jason says, ‘it’s all over’ and Medea replies ‘it will never be over end of story.’61 Unlike the feminist interpretations of Albee, Crossland and, to a certain extent Wolf who tum Medea into a soft, womanly character, Lochhead’s Medea has all the fire and steel of the ancient Medeas. She does not spare Glauce whom Lochhead introduces in a speaking part in place of die Euripidean scene with Aigeus. The destruction of Glauce is given an added dimension because she is presented as a woman in her own right who, somewhat naively, does not want her happiness to hurt another woman. The Chorus have little sympathy for Glauce. Their feminism is robust and realistic. For instance, they are women ‘of all times, all ages, classes and professions.62 They call Medea ‘sister’, use strong language and call themselves ‘all survivors of the sex war’. Their support for Medea falters only when she resolves to kill her children. However, even when they have accepted that Medea is not to be stopped, they express pity for her and put the situation in perspective: We weep for you too Medea mother of bairns murderer of bairns mother murderer The adulterous husband in the other woman’s bed.63 The understanding of the Chorus expressed in this way is a powerful statement. It implies that Medea is not a monster. What has happened to her, may happen to any woman. Lochhead’s Medea does not exonerate the protagonist from any of the deeds ascribed to her and accepted as part of the myth since Euripides’ Medea was first produced in 431 BC, namely the killing of her brother, the deaths of Creon and Jason’s new bride and the murder of her own children. Nevertheless, this play makes as strong a declaration for women as some 40 Lochhead 2000:45. ” Lochhead 2000:46. a Lochhead 2000:7. ° Lochhead 2000:35. 119 This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:15:18 UTC All use subject to of the others where Medea is portrayed as a victim of slander and the killing attributed to others. Euripides and Lochhead both have Medea claiming the killing of Absyrtus as one of her services to Jason, but Albee, Crossland and Wolf make others responsible. Euripides and Lochhead make the death of the princess the first part of Medea’s vengeance, but Crossland and Wolf alter that. Crossland annexes the princess to the women’s cause, while Wolf lets her take her own life in despair. Euripides and Lochhead have Medea killing her own children to complete her punishment of Jason, although, by this act, she is cruelly punishing herself too. Crossland and Nathusius deny that the children were killed, while Albee, Wolf and Nick make the Corinthians the killers. Readers and audiences have to judge for themselves which of these Medeas – triumphant but anguished murderer, or wronged and slandered victim – makes the best figurehead for die feminist cause. It cannot be gainsaid that all the versions of the Medea myth discussed here force a reappraisal of the original version by Euripides and of the position of women in society. It is worth noting that of these new versions, nine are by women: Gloria Albee, Marie Cardinal, Jackie Crossland, Liz Lochhead, Marie-Sophie Nathusius, Dagmar Nick, Miranda Seymour, Diane Wakoski and Christa Wolf. This too indicates the important place Medea has taken in the minds of creative women and what a potent icon she has become for women. Bibliography Albee, G. 1975. Medea. Unpublished typescript in Library of Lincoln Center for die Performing Arts, New York. Byrne, S. (ed.yf 7 R Q + D U U L V R Q / R L Q H U 2 [ I R U G . Cardinal, M. 1987. La Midie d’Euripide. Paris. Clauss, J.J. & Johnston, S.I. (edsyf 0 H G H D ( V V D V R Q 0 H G H D L n Myth, Literature, Philosophy and Art. Princeton. Corti, L. 1998. The Myth of Medea and the Murder of Children. Westport, Conn. Costa, C.D.N, (ed.yf / X F L X V $ Q Q D H X V 6 H Q H F D 0 H G H D 2 [ I R U G . Crossland, J. 1992. Collateral Damage: The Tragedy of Medea.Vancouver. Elliott, A. (ed.yf ( X U L S L G H V 0 H G H D 2 [ I R U G . Foley, H. 1989. ‘Medea’s divided self.’ ClAnt 8:61-85. Gentiii, B. & Perusino, F. (eds.yf 0 H G H D Q H O O D O H W W H U D W X U D H Q H O O D U W H . 120 This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:15:18 UTC All use subject to Venice. Gowen, D. 2000. ‘Medeas on the archive database’, in Hall, Macintosh & Taplin 2000:232-274. Hall, E. 1999. ‘Medea and British legislation before the First World War.’ G&R 46:42-77. Hall, E., Macintosh, F. & Taplin, O. (eds.yf 0 H G H D L Q 3 H U I R U P D Q F e 1500-2000. Oxford. Harrison, J. 2000. Euripides Medea, A New Translation and Commentary. Cambridge. Harrison, T. 1986. Medea: A Sex-war Opera, in Theatre Works 1973-1985, 363-448. Hannondsworth. Kennelly, B. 1991. Euripides’ Medea: A New Version. Newcastle upon-Tyne. Knox, B.M.W. 1977. ‘The Medea of Euripides.’ YCS 25:193-225. Labute, N. 2000. Medea Redux, in Bash: Latterday Plays, 71-90. London. Lochhead, L. 2000. Medea, after Euripides. London. Macintosh, F. 2000. ‘Introduction: The performer in performance’, in Hall, Macintosh & Taplin 2000:1-31. March, J. 1990. ‘Euripides the misogynist?’ in Powell 1990:32-75. McDermott, E. A. 1989. Euripides’ Medea: The Incarnation of Disorder. London. McDonald, M. 1997. ‘Medea as politician and diva: riding the dragon into the future’, in Gauss & Johnston 1997:305-312. Mimoso-Ruiz, D. 1980. Midie antique et moderne: Aspects rituels et socio-politiques d’un mythe. Paris. Morwood, J. (trans.yf 0 H G H D D Q G 2 W K H U 3 O D V 2 [ I R U G . Murray, G. 1913. Euripides and His Age. London. Nathusius, M.S. 1989. Medeia. Schoorl. Nick, D. 1991. Medea, ein Monolog. Aachen. Page, D.L. (ed.yf ( X U L S L G H V 0 H G H D 2 [ I R U G . Powell, A. 1990. Euripides, Women and Sexuality. London. Reid, J.D. 1993. Classical Mythology in the Arts, 1300-1990’s. New York. Seymour, M. 1982. Medea. New York. Steiner, G. 1984. Antigones. Oxford. Taplin, O. 1997. ‘The Chorus of Mams’, in Byrnel997:171-184. Van Zyl Smit, B. 1992. ‘Medea and Apartheid.’ Akroterion: 37.2:73-81. 121 This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:15:18 UTC All use subject to Van Zyl Smit, E. 1987. Contemporary Witch- Dramatic Treatments of the Medea Myth. Unpublished D.Litt. dissertation, University of Stellenbosch. Wakoski, D. 1991. Medea the Sorceress. Santa Rosa. Wolf, C. 1997. Medea-Stimmen. Munich. 122 This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:15:18 UTC All use subject to
This is a secondary source analysis, so the secondary materials provided must be utilized. I would recommend using each of the essays once in your writing. QUESTION: Write an essay arguing that Mede
The Ending of the “Medea” Author(syf & D U U L H ( & R Z K H U d Source: The Classical World, Vol. 76, No. 3 (Jan. – Feb., 1983yf S S 5 Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press on behalf of the Classical Association of the Atlantic States Stable URL: Accessed: 22-04-2020 01:09 UTC JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected] Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at The Johns Hopkins University Press, Classical Association of the Atlantic States are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The Classical World This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:09:45 UTC All use subject to THE ENDING OF THE MEDEA In the Poetics Aristotle states that the lusis of the plot should come about from the action itself and not, as in the Medea, apo mechanes, by means of external contrivance. For this reason scholars almost inevitably ask why it is that Medea at the end of her play escapes in the dragon- drawn chariot of the Sun. The answers that they provide to this question are various. Of those proposed, the least helpful, it seems to me, are the ones which attribute this dramatic manner of escape to Medea’s being a witch. More subtle but still representative of this school is the interpreta- tion of Conacher, who emphasizes the “character of the folk-tale witch which still attaches to Medea in the exploits recounted of her in Greece.” For him “the only point of interest in the deus ex machina ending lies in the symbolic purpose which this device fulfills.” That is, “by this macabre touch of symbolism, the poet is once again expressing the trans- formation of a human heroine back to the folk-tale fiend of magic powers.” I A second school inclines toward the view that, since the lusis apo mechanes is the work of gods, we must assume that Euripides meant us to understand by the chariot that Medea herself has become a god. This identification of Medea as a divinity-a theos apo mechanes in the words of Cunningham 2-takes several forms. In the simplest, scholars remind us that she is a descendant of Helios, and stress those lines in the play in which the Sun is named. Especially useful as corroboration for this view is Medea’s cry (764-766yf D I W H U V K H K D V J D L Q H G I U R P $ H J H X V D S O D F H R I U H – fuge in Athens: “O Zeus and Justice, daughter of Zeus, and light of He- lios, now we shall become victorious over my enemies.” Burnett considers that Medea has become a personification of venge- ance, with her humanity “mortified” and “sloughed off.” “Medea is no longer a woman when she appears in the chariot but she has been one. . . . Killing her sons has cost her. . .a suffering beyond that of all other women and by inflicting that suffering upon herself she has tainted her human victory while she became at last a truly impersonal alastor.” I Similarly, Schlesinger speaks of Medea’s “annihilation as a human be- ing”; combining this with the issue of her genealogy, he ends his discus- sion with the observation that “the granddaughter of Helios may stand in triumph on her dragon-chariot, but Medea the woman is dead.” 4 Cunningham himself, after showing that Medea is to be identified as a god, does not accept her actual divinity. His view is that “the appearance of Medea in the exodos constitutes a sort of visual metaphor emphasizing I D. Conacher, Euripidean Drama: Myth, Theme, and Structure (Toronto 1967yf , 195, 198. 2 M. Cunningham, “Medea APO MPCHANPS,” CP49 (1954yf . 3 A. Burnett, “Medea and the Tragedy of Revenge,” CP68 (1973yf . 4 E. Schlesinger, “On Euripides’ Medea,” in Euripides: A Collection of Critical Essays (Englewood Cliffs 1968yf . 129 This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:09:45 UTC All use subject to 130 CARRIE E. COWHERD the utter evil and callousness of Medea and her loss of human qualities as a result of what she has done. But it is only a metaphor and not a true apotheosis.” I Knox extends this compromise: although he has charac- terized Medea as a hero like Achilles or Ajax, he calls her, at the end of the play, a “theos or at least something more than human.” But he adds the important qualification that “Medea as theos must also represent some kind of irresistible power, something deeply rooted in the human situation, as dangerous as it is universal. It has something to do with re- venge for betrayal but its peculiar ferocity must stem from the fact that before she was a hero and through her action became a (stageyf W K H R V V K e was a woman.” While all these discussions of Medea as theos shed some light on the play, the focus seems wrong. The fact and nature of the chariot fall into the same category as the fact and nature of the pharmaka used to corrode the Princess. It seems to me that the real question about the ending of the Medea is not “Why does Medea get away in a magic chariot sent by the Sun?” but “Why does Medea get away?” She has committed two sepa- rate crimes, the murder of the Princess and Creon and the murder of her children, but she gets away, or as Knox says, “she triumphs. . . .And she escapes the consequences of her actions, goes safe to Athens.” 6 To understand why Medea escapes, we must re-examine her character and Jason’s and the nature of their relationship. From the first, it is spoken of as more than an ordinary marriage. In the prologue the Nurse calls the new marriage a betrayal of Medea and the children, and reports (20-23yf W K D W Z U H W F K H G G L V K R Q R U H G 0 H G H D V K R X W V R D W K V D Q G F D O O V W K e gods to witness what sort of repayment she gets from Jason.” I Burnett considers understanding the marriage as central to understanding the play. “It existed outside society as a thing sanctioned only by the gods the two had named. . . .These two were united as two states might be.” 8 For her, Jason’s oath-breaking and the complicity of Creon and the Princess account for Medea’s revenge. The marriage is like a political alliance secured by theon pistis and hor- kon charis-translated by Burnett as “the lovely reciprocity of oaths.” Jason must have sworn a permanent marriage with Medea. With any- thing less, her position in the play would always remain the same, lonely and city-less (255yf 0 H G H D I R U K H U S D U W P X V W K D Y H S U R P L V H G Z K D W H Y H U K H O p she could offer Jason-and children. We must include children because she concedes (490-491yf W K D W L W Z R X O G K D Y H E H H Q D O O R Z D E O H I R U – D V R Q W R G H – sire his new marriage if he had been childless. This concession occurs in Medea’s first confrontation with Jason; the whole speech is instructive for the nature of their relationship. After noting that she saved Jason’s life, and mentioning other incidents in Colchis and the murder of Pelias in lolcus, she turns to the crux (488-498yf : 5 Cunningham (note 2, aboveyf . 6 B. M. W. Knox, “The Medea of Euripides,” YCS 25 (1977yf . 7 All textual references are from the edition and commentary of D. Page (London 1938yf . 8 Burnett (note 3, aboveyf . This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:09:45 UTC All use subject to THE ENDING OF THE MEDEA 131 And experiencing these things from me, you betrayed me, and you got a new marriage-bed, when there were children. For if you were still childless, it would be understandable for you to desire this mar- riage. The faith guaranteed by oaths is gone, nor can I learn if you think that the gods of old no longer rule or that the present laws for men are new, since you are aware that you are not faithful to your oaths, in respect to me. Alas, right hand which you so often took and these knees-how I have been ill-used by a vile man and I am cheated of my expectations. As each swore an obligation to the other, each also had individual rea- sons for entering into the alliance. These reasons are still of importance, since they motivate actions. For Medea, the reason clearly was feeling, generalized as thumos, particularized as love. As Jason says in response to Medea (530 ff.yf ( U R V Z L W K K L V X Q H U U L Q J D U U R Z V I R U F H G R X W R V D Y H P y body. But I will not press this too much, for where you benefited me, it is all right.” By his manner of ascribing credit to Cypris and Eros, Jason intends to deny Medea’s freedom of action and his obligation to her. Nevertheless, the fact remains that Medea took her oaths because of love. On the other hand, as even this quotation shows, Jason was simply looking to his own advantage. The Nurse’s prologue as neatly marks the contrast. If the Argo had not been built, Medea would never have sailed to lolcus (8yf V W U L F N H Q L Q K H U K H D U W Z L W K O R Y H I R U – D V R Q H U R W L W K X P R n ekplageis’ lasonosyf Q R U Z R X O G V K H K D Y H F R P H W R & R U L Q W K f, “she her- self being an advantage to Jason in every way” (aute te panta xumpher- ous’ Iasoniyf . The agon of the play is not confined to the actual debates between Medea and Jason, but extends throughout as an agon between feeling and absence of feeling, or rather between an excess of feeling and an ab- sence.9 Medea is characteristically associated with her thumos. I have al- ready cited the first mention of her in the play (8yf D V H U R W L W K X P R n ekplageis’ Iasonos. Thumos appears nine times in the Medea, once refer- ring to the Princess, the remainder directly or indirectly to Medea.’0 It appears only three times in Hippolytus and once or twice in most of the other plays. No one translation or sense is adequate. At times, as in line 8, thumos seems to be the seat of emotion, but then and in most other in- stances it is also the appropriate emotion. In addition, Medea is de- scribed as oxuthumos and baruthumos (the latter a hapax in extant Euri- pides and the former used only twiceyf D Q G D V W K X P R X P H Q H D Q G G X V W K X – moumene. And Aegeus names her situation dusthumia. 9 But see G. Walsh, “Public and Private in Three.Plays of Euripides,” CP 74 (1979yf , 295-301. He assumes that Medea has no thumos. 10 The eighth instance is from the antistrophe quoted below, line 639, which, I argue, re- fers also to Jason, but the wording nearly repeats (8yf H U W L W K X P R Q H N S O D J H L V O D V R Q – os: (639-640yf W K X P R Q H N S O [ ] D V K H W H U R L V H S L O H N W U R L V S U R V E D O R L G H L Q D . X S U L V 7 K H U H S H W L – tion of the combination “thumon ekplexas”‘ recalls Medea and her love; in actual fact, the thumos here belongs to the Chorus. In 1 152, the Messenger reports that Jason asked the Princess to cease from her thumos at seeing his children; here thumos can be little more than pique, however. This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:09:45 UTC All use subject to 132 CARRIE E. COWHERD From line 8 through the ode in which the Chorus comments on Me- dea’s decision to kill her children, in remarkable consonance with the play’s movement, the context for thumos progresses from love to lamen- tation (108yf W R K D W H f ‘2 to murder (865yf R X G X Q D V H L S D L G n hiketan pitnonton, /Itegxai chera phoinian/tlamoni thumoi. ” Immediate- ly after this ode, in her disingenuous recantation to Jason, Medea herself summarizes her range of responses to his perfidy as thumos (870yf R X k apallachthesomai/thumou?” and in 883 she says she was “maten thu- moumene.” But she does not give up her thumos. When she has learned that the Princess had accepted her gifts, she addresses it in the manner of Odysseus (1056yf ‘ R Q R W W K X P H G R Q R W G R W K L V O H W W K H P J R Z U H W F K , spare the children.” Line 1079, no doubt the most famous from the play, best illustrates the importance of thumos for Medea: thumos de kreisson ton emon bou(eu- mat6n, generally translated as “my passion is stronger than my reason.” Ton em6n bouleumaton cannot really bear the weight of this translation, since Medea has consistently and as recently as 1044-1045 and 1048 iden- tified ta bouleumata 2 as her plans to kill the Princess and the children. Formerly, therefore, her bouleumata and her thumos agreed. But after the children have returned from their fatal mission, her resolve is shaken, and ta bouleumata become plans to spare the children and carry them away with her. Even so, thumos kreisson applies well to Medea. This thumos is called excessive by the Nurse in the prologue and by the Chorus after the first confrontation of Medea with Jason. In the Nurse’s final speech before the parodos, with reference to Medea, she makes a conventional appeal to The Mean in 122-123: “the practice of living on an even keel is better,” and in 125-130: For the name of moderation wins first place for saying, and for practicing, it is by far the best thing for men. For things exceeding the right amount 13 have no power for mortals. But divinity, when it is angered, pays back greater ruin to a house. The choral song is very useful for our purposes because it comments on both Medea and Jason. We may consider the first strophe a comment on 11 In Medea’s fawning on Creon; she says (309-31 1yf ) R U Z K D W Z U R Q J K D Y H R X G R Q e me? You married your daughter to the one to whom your thumos led you. But I hate my husband.” Page follows Denniston, The Greek Particles (London 1934yf L Q P D N L Q J W K e sentence “all’ emon posin/misO refer to the rhetorical question “su gar ti m’ edikAsas?” Yet it seems to me that the first and lasting impression, at least, is that al/a sets up the ex- pectation of “my thumos leads me. . .”, and we get instead, “but I hate my husband.” 12 Bouleumata also occurs nine times; where it does not refer to Medea’s plans for re- venge, it refers to Jason’s plans for his new life as Creon’s son-in-law and their joint plans for Medea’s exile. See lines 270, 886, and especially Jason’s speech at 449: “soi garparon ggn tnde kai domous echein/kouph6s pherousei kreisson6n bouleumata, /log6n matai6n hounek’ ekpesti chihonos. 13 1 read huperballont’/ouden kairon for Page’s huperballont’/oudena kairon (127- 128yf 7 K H W H [ W L V F R U U X S W D W W K L V O L Q H D Q G R X G H Q D L V D F R U U H F W L R Q 3 D J H D F F H S W V W K H U H D G L Q g with the translation, “excess does not mean profit,” that is, “excess has no power for pro- fit.” This involves a justification both of dunamai as governing a direct accusative and of kairos in the sense of “profit.” What results does not fit well into the ode. This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:09:45 UTC All use subject to THE ENDING OF THE MEDEA 133 Medea and its antistrophe as referring to Jason (627-642yf ) U R P W K e strophe: Love coming over-much offers neither good reputation nor perfec- tion to men. But if Cypris should come just enough (halisyf Q R R W K H r god is so gracious. From the antistrophe: May sophrosune, the fairest gift of the gods, love me, and may dread Cypris never madden my heart (thumonyf I R U D Q R W K H U E H G , casting me into angry arguments and insatiable quarrels; but re- specting peaceful marriages, with a sharp mind, may she judge the beds of women. Initially, one supposes that the Chorus desires the sophrosune which Medea lacks, but as they sing, it becomes clear that the reference is also to Jason.’4 Sophrosune occurs only here in the Medea. In her discussion of Euripides, North gives primacy to the meaning of “self-control” with the additional connotations of “understanding” and “moderation.” She notes Jason’s lack of generosity and calls him “selfish and calculating, an example of pseudo sophrosyne.” She goes on, however, to discuss in- adequate or partial sophrosune for Hippolytus and Pentheus. They thought they were sophron because they were Ichaste, but “we discover the narrowness and imperfection of the sophrosyne which the champion of reason claims to possess: he has chastity and sobriety, indeed, but without self knowledge, imagination, or genuine understanding of real- ity.” ‘s From this description, Jason belongs with Hippolytus and Pen- theus: he too has claimed to be both sophos and s6phron (548-549yf E X t he is without genuine human feelings. Sophrosune must encompass not only the control or absence of excessive feeling but also the presence of feeling halis, “just enough.” The second antistrophe reinforces this view (653-662yf : We saw; I do not have to tell the story from others. No city, no one of your dear ones pitied you who suffer the most awful of suffer- ings. May he perish gracelessly, for whom it is possible not to re- spect friends by opening the bolt of a pure mind. He will never be a friend to me. Jason’s lack of feeling is alluded to in this choral song, but it is every- where evident. In his first speech, he pronounces the impending exile and the fury of Medea as no concern to him (451yf , Q W K L V U H E X W W D O W R 0 H G H D , he approves of her love-inspired saving of him, since it benefited him; he explicitly denies dissatisfaction with Medea or desire for his new wife- his marriage is simply a lucky find; he finds no fault with the children by Medea. That is, he neither loves nor hates Medea; he does not love his 14 As extra indication that this refers to Jason, one may note that it is Jason who desires another bed. 15 H. North, Sophrosyne: Self-Knowledge and Self-Restraint in Greek Literature (Itha- ca 1966yf . This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:09:45 UTC All use subject to 134 CARRIE E. COWHERD new wife; he expresses no feeling for his children. Every consideration is for his personal advantage, and he even urges that on Medea (565-567yf : “For you, what need is there of children? but for me, it profits to benefit the living children by ones to come.” If for Medea the motivating force is thumos, it is kerdos for Jason, as the Paidagogos attests (86-88yf ( Y H U R Q H O R Y H V K L P V H O I P R U H W K D Q K L s neighbor; some justly, others even for the sake of advantage (kerdous charinyf V L Q F H L Q I D F W W K H L U I D W K H U G R H V Q W O R Y H W K H V H E R V K H U H R Q D F F R X Q t of his marriage.” Jason’s looking out for his own advantage is part of his sophistic na- ture. In fact, Finley, in discussing the speeches of Euripides, character- izes this first one by Jason as an argument from advantage, to sumpher- on, and classifies Medea’s as an argument from what is just, to dikaion.’6 Jason has no standard beyond self-interest. He considers his confronta- tion with Medea only as a contest of words (hamillan logonyf $ V K D V R I – ten been noted, he “makes the better argument the worse and the worse, the better.” The Chorus congratulates him on adorning his words well (576yf 0 H G H D F D O O V K L P V N L O O H G D W V S H D N L Q J V R S K R V O H J H L Q f (580yf D Q d clever at speaking (legein deinosyf D Q G K D Y L Q J D J R R G I U R Q W H X V F K H P R Q f (585 and 584yf E X W I R U K H U Z K R H Y H U L V V N L O O H G D W V S H D N L Q J E H L Q J X Q M X V W , deserves the most punishment (pleisten zemianyf f. Although many other passages can be adduced which illustrate Jason’s interest in words over substance and advantage over feeling, it is perhaps sufficient to look at the final conversation between him and Medea. The language is conventional for grief but appropriate for Jason. He comes to save the children from the Corinthians, but it is he himself in whom he is interested. When he learns they are dead, he thinks only of himself (1310yf : K D W G R R X V D ” + R Z R X K D Y H G H V W U R H G P H $ Q G D I W H r cursing Medea, he returns to himself (1347-1350yf , W L V W L P H I R U P H W o bewail my daimon, I who shall not have benefit of my newly married bed nor shall I have, living, the children whom I begot and brought up, but I have lost them.” So Jason is punished because he broke his oaths, and he broke his oaths because he valued only his own advantage and skill with words. The Messenger who reports and describes to Medea the death of the Princess says as much. Although Page rejects the reference to Jason, clearly Jason is meant (1222-1230yf : Let your part be removed from speech; for you yourself will devise an escape from punishment. But not for the first time now do I con- sider mortal things a shadow, and without fear I would say that, of mortals, the ones seeming to be wise and the ones having a care for words, these deserve the greatest punishment (megisten zemianyf ) R r no one of mortals is a fortunate man; when wealth abounds, one might be luckier than another, but not fortunate. 16 J. H. Finley, Three Essays on Thucydides (Cambridge 1967yf . This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:09:45 UTC All use subject to THE ENDING OF THE MEDEA 135 From Medea’s view and that of the Messenger, Jason deserves punish- ment, but they and everyone else expect and assume that Medea will es- cape punishment. In fact, Medea has said that only if she is caught in the palace, red-handed, will she have to die (381-383yf 6 R Z H U H W X U Q W R W K e original question: Why does Medea get away? We can repeat part of the previous quotation from Knox: “Medea… must… represent some kind of irresistible power. . . .” I submit that this power is thumos. With Medea it is part of her being against Jason’s seeming and part of her deeds against his words. Earlier I quoted line 1079: “thumos de kreisson ton emOn bouleumat6n. ” Not only is thumos stronger than the plans of Medea, it is stronger than the plans of Jason (1080yf W K X P R V Z K L F K Y H U y thing is responsible for the greatest evils for men.” The Mean is best, but in a contest between Medea with her excess of thumos and Jason with none, Medea has to win. Even with her dragon-drawn chariot, she has not become a god. She has not ceased to be human, she has ceased to be a mother. But we see demonstrated in her, against Jason, the same vital force which Aphrodite demonstrates against Hippolytus and Dionysus against Pentheus. It is perhaps not good but it is real and mighty. 17 Howard University CARRIE E. COWHERD 17 An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Fall Meeting of the Classical As- sociation of the Atlantic States in Philadelphia on October 27, 1979. SamothLrace Excavations Conducted by the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University Volume 5: The Temenos PHYLLIS WILLIAMS LEHMANN and DENYS SPITTLE Located in the center of the Sanctuary of the Great Gods, the Temenos appears to have been the site of ceremonies performed during the annual Samothracian festival. It is the earliest example of the extensive use of archaistic style in Greek sculpture. Part One contains the text and covers the history of the excavation. Part Two contains sixty plates, featuring restored plans, elevations, and sections of the building and the precinct. 0 Bollingen Series LX: 5 Pn 423 illustrations. 0 2 volumes, $125.00 U 41 William Street * Princeton, New Jersey 08540 This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:09:45 UTC All use subject to
This is a secondary source analysis, so the secondary materials provided must be utilized. I would recommend using each of the essays once in your writing. QUESTION: Write an essay arguing that Mede
Revenge and Mythopoiesis in Euripides’ “Medea” Author(syf 0 D U L D Q Q H + R S P D n Source: Transactions of the American Philological Association (1974-2014yf , Vol. 138, No. 1 (Spring, 2008yf S S 3 Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press Stable URL: Accessed: 22-04-2020 01:17 UTC JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected] Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at The Johns Hopkins University Press is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Transactions of the American Philological Association (1974-2014yf This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:17:14 UTC All use subject to Transactions of the American Philological Association 138 (2008yf 3 Revenge and Mythopoiesis in Euripides’ Medea* MARIANNE HOPMAN Northwestern University summary: In the first stasimon of Medea, the chorus of Corinthian women exalts Medea’s revenge as a palinode that will put an end to the misogynist tra- dition and bring them honor. This article analyzes Euripides’ tragedy as a meta- poetic reflection on Medea’s voice, its relation to the earlier poetic tradition, its power and limitations, and its generic definition. While Medea’s revenge meta- phorically and symbolically unfolds as a revision of the Argo saga and thus un- dermines one of the most famous androcentric epics of the Greek song culture, I argue that mythical constraints ultimately prevent Medea from generating a new, gynocentric epic. Rather, the intertextuality of the final scenes increasingly departs from the Iliadic model and firmly anchors Medea’s revenge in the tragic genre. Metapoetically, Medea’s palinode thus defines tragedy, by contrast to epic, as a genre that is congenial to female voices but does not bring them kleos. epyb e 7 [ L W L X R F X Y D L . H L F R L H Y H L + R Q R U L V F R P L Q J W R W K H I H P D O H U D F H ! THE CHORUS OF CORINTHIAN WOMEN ENTHUSIASTICALLY SINGS THESE WORDS (E. Med. 417-18yf D V W K H K H D U 0 H G H D G H V F U L E H K R Z V K H Z L O O D Y H Q J H K H U K R Q R r by killing Jason, his new bride, and the bride’s father Creon (374-85yf ) R U R Q e fleeting moment, Jason’s unsettling breech of his oaths is envisaged as hav- ing one positive consequence. It will allow for a twist in the spoken tradition (axpe|/oyf D L F S D M Q D L f that will bestow praise on women and put an end to the old misogynist discourse castigating the “female race” (yuvaiKeicoi yevei, 417-18yf . * I wish to thank Daniel Garrison, Jonas Grethlein, and the two anonymous TAPA readers for their helpful suggestions on earlier drafts. This article is dedicated to the memory of my grandmothers, Johanna Jansen and Marguerite Lassier. This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:17:14 UTC All use subject to 156 Marianne Hopman From an enunciative standpoint, the chorus’s utterance engages Medea’s plans (|k>iyf $ e L f|naTa, 372yf D W D G R X E O U H I H U H Q W L D O O H Y H O L Q W U D D Q G H [ W U D G L – egetic. On the one hand, the plans are evaluated with reference to the fiction of the tragedy. The opening considerations about the reversal of natural order, the transgression of justice, and the treachery of males (410-13yf U H I H U G L U H F W O y to Jason’s broken oaths; the hope that “honor” (xijxd, 417yf Z L O O F R P H W R W K e “female race” harks back to Medea’s attachment to her reputation and to her emphatically repeated concern that she has been dishonored (f|ti|xaa|xevr|, 20; cf. 33, 438, 696, 1354yf E – D V R Q V Q H Z P D U U L D J H < H W W K H G L F W L R Q R I W K H V W D - simon also indicates that the revenge is evaluated in meta-poetic terms. The word cpr||LiT| (cpajxai, 415-16; v, 421-22yf Z K R W K H F K R U X V K R S H V Z L O O V W R S E O D P - ing women for their untrustworthiness. The revenge of Medea, then, is not only evaluated as an adequate retaliation to the offense but is also envisaged as a palinode that will subvert the earlier poetic tradition.1 The chorus's appreciation of the revenge as a palinode on a par with the songs of old is doubly justified by Medea's special authorial status and constant engagement with the poetic tradition. From her entrance at line 214 to her spectacular departure on the chariot of Helios in the exodos, Medea continu- ously occupies the stage, except for a brief exit at lines 1251-316 to kill the children. Her overwhelming physical presence matches her control over the tragic plot. The revised plans (xdjiid ... Poyf $ H L ! _ L D 7 D f that she describes to the chorus at 772-810 provide the spectators with an exact outline of the events that they are about to witness on stage. Medea is more than a mere character in the play; she also acts as its implied author.2 Consequently, her revenge can be analyzed as a poetic performance embedded in the tragedy - a mise en abyme of the poetic process. Moreover, the tragedy - or Medea's revenge - displays a high level of engagement with earlier traditions, including epic, lyric, iambic, and tragic poetry. The background of the plot overlaps with the story of Jason and the 1 My analysis of Medea's revenge as a palinode systematizes the idea raised by Rush Rehm 1989: 101 and Deborah Boedeker 1991: 109-10, that Medea behaves as the author of her own myth and enacts a new A,6yo<; about Jason and herself. 2 1 borrow the concept of the implied author from literary criticism, especially Booth 1983, to refer to the persona constructed in the fiction, as opposed to the historical author of the work. For the idea of the collusion of a character and its author, see Felson-Rubin 1987: 63-65 on Penelope. This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:17:14 UTC All use subject to Revenge and Mythopoiesis in Euripides' Medea 157 Argonauts that was celebrated in an important body of now lost epic poetry3 and is the subject matter of Pindar's fourth Pythian Ode. Medea's attachment to her honor and reputation engages the model of Homeric and Sophoclean heroes, as Bernard Knox (1977: 196-206yf D Q G ( O L ] D E H W K % R Q J L H f have brilliantly demonstrated.4 Laura McClure (1999: 379-93yf K D V V K R Z Q W K D t Medea's speeches appropriate and twist the language of praise and blame about women epitomized in the epics of Hesiod and the iambic poetry of Archilochus and Hipponax. References to lyric diction also cast Medea as an athlete emulating the victors celebrated by Pindar.5 Finally, the modalities of her revenge, including the princess's entanglement in a poisoned robe and the murder of blood relatives, echo the tragic plot of Aeschylus's Oresteia and possibly - depending on the relative chronology of the plays - Sophocles' Trachiniae.6 Clearly, Medea's revenge engages the "Muses of the singers of old" mentioned by the chorus. As such, it can be analyzed as an ancient pre- cursor of the modern concept of mythopoiesis, which describes the revision of prevailing myths or discourses by minoritarian (often femaleyf V S H D N H U V 7 The question arises, then, whether Medea fulfills the chorus's hopes by suc- cessfully twisting the earlier poetic tradition and generating a new story that will bring glory to women. 3 The idea that stories about the Argo saga formed a body of epic poetry on a par with the Trojan cycle was first raised by Meuli 1921 and more recently developed by Drager 1993 and West 2005. 4 Bongie's study is a striking example of the results and limitations of a methodology based on the search for parallels and sources. Her analysis of Medea as "a heroic play of Sophoclean type*' stresses several illuminating resemblances with Ajax and Antigone, but fails to note the differences among the plays. My own approach is based on the structural premise that meaning emerges by contrast and thus, once a paradigm has been established, departures need to be analyzed as carefully as similarities. 5 The adjective koAAIvikoi (765yf J O R U L R X V O W U L X P S K D Q W W K D W 0 H G H D D S S O L H V W R K H U V H O f after her encounter with Aegeus often occurs in Pindar to refer to athletic victors (/. 1. 12; I. 5(4yf 3 f. The evaluation of the length of the princess's agony with reference to a race (1 181-84yf I X U W K H U F K D U D F W H U L ] H V 0 H G H D V U H Y H Q J H D V D Q D W K O H W L F W U L X P S K . 6 The distinctively tragic character of those deaths, as well as Medea's quasi-authorial status, has been recognized by Nancy Rabinowitz, who describes Medea as "the drama- turge behind the messenger speech" and "the playwright orchestrating the deaths from a distance," Rabinowitz 1992: 49; Rabinowitz 1993: 145. About the date of Sophocles' Trachiniae, see Easterling 1982: 19-23, who emphasizes the lack of external and internal evidence and concludes that "any date between 457 and, say, 430 would not be implau- sible." 7 About the tension between patriarchal mythos and feminist mythopoiesis, see Retif and Niethammer 2005. This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:17:14 UTC All use subject to 158 Marianne Hopman This paper addresses that question by comparing Medea's revenge to the poetic paradigms that it addresses and revises. The first two parts emphasize Medea's mythopoietic and dramaturgic abilities. Drawing on studies of tragic space, I first show that the language and movements of the actors diffract the Corinthian setting of the tragedy and create a new, imaginary space that focuses on the Argo journey and the passage through the Symplegades (Iyf . Beyond the Corinthian setting, that imaginary space provides a context for Medea to enact a symbolic revision of the Argo story that nullifies the old saga, annihilates her marriage, and deprives Jason of his heroic glory (IIyf . Yet the increasing gap between Medea's revenge and the plot of the Iliad, as well as her progressive alienation from the internal audience, suggests that her palinode will not bring her the glory (kXeocyf D V V R F L D W H G Z L W K F R P P X Q D l performances of epic (IIIyf 7 K H O D V W V F H Q H V R I W K H W U D J H G I L U P O D Q F K R U W K e revenge in the tragic genre, a genre that Medea fully controls but which will not bring honor to her or her fellow women (IVyf . SCENIC AND METAPHORICAL SPACES Plainly put, Medea stages the revenge of a woman whose husband has aban- doned her for a new bride. The theme of marriage thus stands at the core of the tragedy, and much of the tension between Medea and Jason derives from the incompatibility of their views on their relationship. As the prologue unfolds, the nurse makes it clear that, as far as Medea is concerned, Jason's recent engagement to the Corinthian princess amounts to a nullification of their ties. The philiay the reciprocal friendship that used to bind them, has been replaced by enmity ( 16yf D Y L H Z O D W H U U H L W H U D W H G E W K H W X W R U D Q R W K H U P H P E H r of Medea's household (76-77yf 7 K H G L V F U H S D Q F E H W Z H H Q W K D W D Q G - D V R Q s viewpoint is forcefully conveyed in the agon. While Jason insists that his new marriage does not impinge on his obligations to Medea and their children and still speaks of them as his philoi (559-65, 609-15yf 0 H G H D F R Q V L G H U V K L m an enemy (exOiaxoq, 467yf Z K R L V G R L Q J H Y L O W R K L V I U L H Q G V F S L W D Q [ N R F N R N ; 8paaavx', 470yf ) U R P K H U S H U V S H F W L Y H W K H F K D U L V W K D W V K H H [ S H F W H G L Q U H W X U n for her help in Colchis has been annihilated (506-19yf - D V R Q V H Q J D J H P H Q t to the Corinthian princess breaks away from their common past. Given the prominence of the marriage theme, the drama fittingly takes place in front of Medea's and Jason's house in Corinth - a suitable image of the household (oiKoqyf W K D W L V E H L Q J G L V U X S W H G D Q G G H V W U R H G < H W W K D W V F H Q L c space is not the only space that the spectators are invited to visualize. While most Greek tragedies open on deictic pointers to their setting, the first lines 8 About the themes of x«pi<; and reciprocity in the agon, see Mueller 2001: 473-86. This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:17:14 UTC All use subject to Revenge and Mythopoiesis in Euripides' Medea 159 of Medea transport the spectators far from Corinth to the Symplegades that Jason, the Argonauts, and later Medea traversed on their way to and from Colchis (1-6yf 7 K H L P S R U W D Q F H R I W K D W G L V W D Q W O R F D W L R Q L V F R Q I L U P H G E L W s thrice reiterated description in the parodos (208-13yf W K H I L U V W V W D V L P R n (432-38byf D Q G W K H I L I W K V W D V L P R Q f. Those recurring, almost obsessive references to the Argo journey are of course relevant to the plot since the expedition coincides with the beginning of Jason and Medea's relationship. Yet, from a performative standpoint, they do not merely belong to that past. The coincidence between the description of the Symplegades and the movement of the actors suggests that the passage is actually enacted on stage and therefore belongs to the performative pres- ent. Two of those evocations are sung precisely when Medea goes through the doors of the skene either to enter (204-13yf R U H [ L W f the stage. As David Wiles (1997: 121yf S R L Q W V R X W W K H S D V V D J H W K U R X J K W K H V N H Q H L Q W R W K e orchestra is thus equated spatially with the passage through the Bosphorus. The crossing of the Symplegades does not only belong to the tragic past; it is also enacted in its present. As such, it exemplifies the capacity of theater to conjure a variety of spaces and times in the present of the performance. The ability of language to bring imaginary settings before the reader or listener's eyes has been termed space deixis am phantasma by Karl Biihler (1934yf , Q $ W K H Q L D Q G U D P D D I D P R X V H [ D P S O H L V W K H S D U R G R V R I $ H V F K O X V s Agamemnon which, as George Kernodle (1957/58yf K D V V K R Z Q U H H Q D F W V W K e sacrifice of Iphigenia and juxtaposes a new space in Aulis to the scenic space of Argos. Drawing on analyses of space in Oedipus at Colonus and other trag- edies, Lowell Edmunds (1992; 1996: 39-83; 2002: 114-15yf K D V G H Y H O R S H G a classification of theatrical space that displays its many levels and layers, includ- ing physical and dramatic, deictic and diegetic, ad oculos and am phantasma. Further justification for the idea that ancient tragedy enacts a variety of spaces and times has been offered by Wiles ( 1997: 18yf Z K R V K R Z H G W K D W W K H G L V W L Q F - tion between theatrical, scenic, and dramatic space that applies to modern theater breaks down in the case of ancient theater. In the latter, the scarcity of props - the signifiers that identify the scenic space - allows for that space to be shaped by the language and movement of the actors and the chorus.9 Subsequently, Wiles ( 1 997: 121yf L Q W U R G X F H V W K H Q R W L R Q R I P H W D V S D F H W R U H I H r to the alternative space that, in contrast to the referential space set in front of a house, cave, or temple, is constructed through the language and movements of actors. In the case of Medea, Wiles suggests that the Symplegades function 9 The distinction between theatrical, scenic, and dramatic space comes from Ubersfeld 1977 and Issacharoff 1981. This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:17:14 UTC All use subject to 1 60 Marianne Hopman as an alternative space that constantly interacts with the scenic space of the Corinthian setting.10 Just as the crossroad where Oedipus and Laius met in the past of the plot lies at the core of the dramatic development of the Oedipus TyrannuSy the crossing of the Symplegades provides Medea with a spatial focus constantly re-invoked and revisited by the participants in the drama. Thematic reasons for the spatial and performative prominence of the Symplegades are many and involve various referential levels. First, the pas- sage through the rocks metonymically stands for the journey of the Argo and, by extension, for the marriage initiated by that journey. In the prologue, the nurse's contrary-to-fact wish that the Argo had never crossed the Symple- gades (1-6yf L V I R O O R Z H G E W K H Q R O H V V F R X Q W H U I D F W X D O V W D W H P H Q W W K D W 0 H G H a would then not have sailed to Iolcus and Corinth (6-13yf 7 K H 6 P S O H J D G H s epitomize the journey of the Argo that itself symbolizes Medea's marriage. The latter equivalence literally expresses the metaphor of marriage as a sea journey that appears elsewhere in Greek tragedy11 and which Medea invokes in her first speech to promote a sense of community between the Corinthian women and herself.12 Through that series of equivalences, the Symplegades come to stand metonymically for Medea's marriage. The transgression of cosmic order to which their passage amounted (3-4yf R P L Q R X V O I R U H V K D G R Z s the destruction of the relation between Medea and Jason. The choral odes further elaborate on the symbolic relation between the Symplegades and the marriage by metaphorically connecting the rocks to key moments of it including the wedding procession, the wedding night, and the birth of children. In the first stasimon, the chorus describes the sea journey in terms of leaving the father's house (oikcov Tiaxplcov, 432yf I R U D I R U H L J Q O D Q d (£evai...x0ovi, 435-36yf , Q W K D W F R Q W H [ W W K H 6 P S O H J D G H V D U H H Q Y L V L R Q H G D s the double doors (5i5yf ` L R L fc;... rcexpaq, 433-35yf W K D W G H O L Q H D W H W K H W K U H V K R O d crossed (opiaocaoc, 433-34yf E W K H E U L G H W R J R W R W K H K R X V H R I W K H J U R R P D n analogy visually enforced by Medea's simultaneous entrance through the doors of the house that she used to share with Jason.13 More distinctively 10 Burnett 1973: 16 already intuited the performative and visual importance of the myth of the Argonauts, which she describes as "[hanging] like a great painted scene behind this play." 11 Seaford 2005: 1 15n5 lists among other examples Eur. Hipp. 732 ff., A. Niobe fr. 154a Radt, and S. OT 420-23. 12 Cf. Med. 238-40, where Medea describes the troubles of the bride - any bride - forced to discover new "customs and ways" (fiGr| ml voumx;, 238yf % G R L Q J V R 0 H G H D P D Q D J H s to cast her foreign status as a paradigm for the female condition and hence to secure the unconditional support of the Corinthian women. 13 On the juxtaposition of the words and movements of the actors at that moment, see above. This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:17:14 UTC All use subject to Revenge and Mythopoiesis in Euripides' Medea 1 61 sexual connotations are conjured up in the parodos, when the passage through the straits is described as a night event (vt>xwv, 211-12yf D Q G W K H % R V S K R U X s referred to as the “key” (KA,f|i8′, 213yf R I W K H % O D F N 6 H D 7 K H S D V V D J H F O R V H O y follows a reference to Jason as the “evil bridegroom betrayer of [Medea’s] bed” (xov ev Aiyb H L L S R [ D Y N R F N Y ? f|li(pov, 206yf D Q G N H L P D J H U L V X V H d elsewhere in Euripides and Aristophanes to refer to defloration; it is thus tempting to follow Rush Rehm in his reading of the lines as a metaphor for the wedding night.14 Finally, in the fifth stasimon, the chorus juxtaposes an evocation of Medea’s vain labor pains (1261-64yf W R W K H O D V W P H Q W L R Q R I K H r passage through the Symplegades. Here, as Rehm suggests, the straits seem to be linked to Medea’s body and to offer a metaphor for childbirth.15 The association between the Argo journey and the marriage of Jason and Medea goes far beyond chronological coincidence. Not only is the marriage met- onymically equated to the sea journey, but its most important components are metaphorically tied to the passage through the Symplegades. Medea’s mar- riage to Jason chronologically, metonymically, and metaphorically coincides with the journey of the Argo. A SYMBOLIC REVISION OF THE JOURNEY OF THE ARGO The symbolic equation of the marriage and the passage through the Sym- plegades bears important implications for the logic of Medea’s revenge. I mentioned earlier that, in Medea’s view, Jason’s new marriage amounts to a destruction of their bond. Her revenge, especially the infanticide, precisely enacts that view. As Christopher Gill (1996: 168-69yf K D V H P S K D V L ] H G E N L O O – ing the children, Medea destroys the tangible proof of her relationship with Jason; by causing their death, she acts out in the most literal and irreversible manner the vanity of his oaths (496-98yf D Q G X O W L P D W H O R I W K H L U V K D U H G S D V W . Yet the revenge involves a second spatial and referential level. Since the mar- riage chronologically, metonymically, and metaphorically coincides with the journey of the Argo, the revenge unfolds as a new journey, a revised version 14 Rehm 2002: 254, who quotes Eur. Hipp. 538-40 and Ar. Thesm. 976. In the former passage, Eros is referred to as “the holder of the keys (kA,t|i5oyf [ R Y f to the beloved chambers (GaX,d(icovyf R I $ S K U R G L W H 7 K H D O O X V L R Q W R G H I O R U D W L R Q L V U H L Q I R U F H G E W K H I D F t that, as Barrett 1966 points out ad loc, the word 8dA,auoi hints at the use of the term to refer to a bridal chamber. Ar. Thesm. 976 praises Hera “who holds the keys of marriage” (KA,iU5a<; Y|i(pT| xt>pavvo<; oAXoxai, 1066yf D E U X S W O S X W V D Q H Q G W R K H r hesitations. Like the princess's death, the infanticide symbolically acts out Medea's interpretation of Jason's remarriage. Earlier in the agon, she had emphasized that Jason's broken oaths make her help in Colchis a vain gesture (uaxr|v, 497yf 7 K D W Y D Q L W L V P L U U R U H G E W K H F K R U X V V G H V F U L S W L R Q R I 0 H G H D s vain childbirth pains (udxav, 1261, 1262yf D V V K H N L O O V K H U V R Q V R I I V W D J H 7 K e filicide symbolically revises the Argo saga by destroying the most obvious proof of Medea's and Jason's shared past. (6yf 7 K H I L Q D O H Q F R X Q W H U E H W Z H H Q 0 H G H D D Q G - D V R Q E R W K D F N Q R Z O H G J H s and explores the implications of that symbolic revision. After announcing to Jason that she will bury the children, institute a cult in their honor, and go to Athens, Medea prophesies that he will encounter a death worthy of his deeds and have his head struck by a remnant of the Argo ('Apyoiiq mpa aov tai|fdv(0irc£7iA,TiY|ievo<;, 1387yf : K L O H L W L V X Q F O H D U Z K H W K H U W K H V W R U Z D s traditional or invented by Euripides (Mastronarde 2002: 55yf L W V K D U S O H F K R H s the opening lines of the play.20 The participle 7ie7iA,r|YU£VO<; comes from the 19 The similarities between Medea and the princess have been noted by Boedeker 1997: 143, who interprets them as a demonstration of Medea's power to assimilate the features of other characters in her story. My interpretation of the princess as a substitute for Medea coincides with Pasolini's reinterpretation of Euripides' tragedy in his 1969 film, where Medea gives the princess the attire that she wore when she met Jason in Colchis. 20 For a detailed analysis of the formal correspondences between the first and last parts of Medea, see Cunningham 1954: 157. This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:17:14 UTC All use subject to 1 66 Marianne Hopman same verb uXtgg(o "strike" as the toponym Symplegades (LviinX^yaSeqyf , whose occurrence in the prologue of Medea is its first extant attestation. The ring composition thus casts the death foreseen by Medea as a suitable though delayed response of the Crashing Rocks to Jason's initial transgression.21 Jason too senses that the outcome of the drama counteracts the Argo expedition. Not only does he regret having brought Medea from Colchis (1329-32yf E X t in his two final lines (which may be the final lines of the play if 1415-19 are indeed spuriousyf K H Z L V K H V W K D W K H K D G Q H Y H U E H J R W W H Q W K H F K L O G U H Q U D W K H r than witness their murder. The grammatical structure of his contrary-to-fact wish (ovq jlititcox* eyoo cp>aa<; ocpeAxw, 1413yf F O R V H O S D U D O O H O V W K H Q X U V H V L Q L W L D l wish that the Argo had never crossed the Symplegades (Ei'0' fikpeA,' 'Apyouq jLt-ri 8ia7ixdoGai amcpoq, 1 yf D Q G S U R Y L G H V D V X L W D E O H F O R V X U H W R W K H W U D J L F S O R W . Medea's revenge has fulfilled the nurse's wish and symbolically negated the Argo journey. The violent exchange between Medea and Jason contains one further detail that brings that new version of the story even closer to an utter revision of the past. After singling out Medea as the most hateful woman of all, Jason de- scribes her as "having a nature more savage than Tyrrhenian Scylla" (1342-^43yf . Shortly after (if the lines are not spuriousyf 0 H G H D F R R O O D F N Q R Z O H G J H V W K e comparison and argues that her deeds are a legitimate retaliation for the way Jason treated her (1358-59yf 7 K H W Z R U H I H U H Q F H V W R 6 F O O D D U H V K R U W D Q G L Q - clude little characterization except for her savagery (dypicoxepav, 1343yf D Q d location in the Tyrrhenian sea. The poetic pedigree of the monster, however, indicates that it participates in Medea's revision of the Argo journey. Like the Symplegades, Scylla and her counterpart Charybdis delineate sea nar- rows, an attribute apparent as early as the Odyssey and emphasized here by the epithet Tyf S D U _ Y L F R L Q H G D I W H U W K H V H D W K D W V S D Q V W K H Q R U W K R I 6 L F L O D Q d west of Italy, and ends at the Straits of Messina. Moreover, the rocks crossed 21 As Mastronarde 2002: 55 notes, the motif of Jason's deadly stroke by a remnant of the Argo parallels a tale transmitted by Diodorus Siculus, according to which a hunter is killed in his sleep by the head of a boar that he has suspended from a tree as an impious dedication to himself (D.S. 4.22.3yf - X V W D V W K H E R D U L V W K H K X Q W H U V V R X U F H R I S U L G H D Q G J O R U , so is the Argo the guarantor of Jason's fame. The fact that he dies struck by a remnant of the ship matches the inglorious version of the Argo saga staged by Medea. 22 For a discussion of the authenticity of the lines, see Mastronarde 2002 ad loc. 23 Aesthetic considerations about the "flatness" of the relative clause ti TopaTivov ftiicriaev 7te8ov and the "impropriety" of the word 7te8ov to describe Scylla's habitat, have led Arthur Verrall, followed by James Diggle, to excise line 1359 and take the mi of 1358 as adverbial. While the aesthetic judgement of modern editors may not be a sufficient argument to excise the line, my argument does not depend on its authenticity. This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:17:14 UTC All use subject to Revenge and Mythopoiesis in Euripides' Medea 1 67 by Jason whether they are called Symplegades, Cyaneae, or Planctae and the straits of Charybdis and Scylla are often featured as structural alternatives. In the Odyssey, Circe describes the Planctae, on the one hand, and Charyb- dis and Scylla, on the other, as two possible routes that Odysseus could take after passing the island of the Sirens (Od. 12.55-1 26yf 7 Z R F H Q W X U L H V D I W H r Euripides, Apollonius of Rhodes places the Symplegades against Charybdis, Scylla, and the Planctae in mirroring positions on the Argonauts' way to and from Colchis (Vian and Delage 2002: III, 41yf , Q W K H F R Q W H [ W R I W K H Q D X W L F D l "meta-space" of Euripides' tragedy, Medea's assimilation to Scylla amounts to a replacement of the Symplegades with a new set of straits. That assimilation, moreover, does not occur only at the linguistic level. As Wiles (1997: 122yf V X J J H V W V 0 H G H D V I L Q D O S R V L W L R Q L Q D G U D J R Q G U L Y H Q F K D U L R W , overlooking Jason from the top of the skene, and holding two corpses in her arms, provides a visual counterpart for the comparison.25 The verbal image is fully enacted on stage: the dragons are reminiscent of the fish or snake tails characteristic of Scylla in visual arts, while Medea's lofty position and the bodies that she holds parallel the monster's location in a high cliff and the sailors that she snatches in the Odyssey {Od. 12.73-84 and 12.245-57yf % y the end of the play, Medea has indeed become a Scylla and Jason stands below as a helpless Odysseus whom she has bitten (Sri^exai, 1370yf W R W K H T X L F N . The implications of Medea's transformation are twofold. First, it con- tributes to the challenge that her appropriation of heroic values raises for Jason's own heroism. The two sets of straits convey opposite connotations. The Symplegades or Planctae are a locus of heroic glory, one of the most famous moments of the Argo journey. In the Odyssey, after Circe singles out the Argo as the only ship ever able to sail past the Planctae, she calls her "who is in all men's minds" (naoi iekovaa, Od. 12.70yf D Q H [ S U H V V L R Q U H P L Q L V F H Q t of the phrase naci... dvOpomoioi i£X(o (Od. 9.19-20yf W K D W 2 G V V H X V X V H V L n conjunction with a reference to his heaven-reaching glory (icAioq, Od. 9.20yf D t 24 The structural equivalence of the Planctae on the one hand and Charybdis and Scylla on the other, are further emphasized by verbal and narratological similarities in Circe's description, on which see Hopman 2005: 62. 25 The evidence for dragons or serpents pulling the chariot comes from the B scholium to Med. 1320 and from the iconography of South Italian vase-painting, where the theme of Medea's escape on the chariot of the Sun first occurs (and becomes popularyf D I W H r 430 b.c.e. See Cunningham 1954: 152 for a discussion of the scholia and Sourvinou- Inwood 1997 for a careful evaluation of the visual evidence to reconstruct the staging of the tragedy. 26 For Scylla's representation in the visual arts, see Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae s.v. Scylla. This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:17:14 UTC All use subject to 168 Marianne Hopman the beginning of the apologoi. From a formulaic standpoint, the phrase naci ieKjoyf R D L V V H P D Q W L F D O O F R Q Q H F W H G W R K H U R L F J O R U - D V R Q V V X F F H V V I X O S D V V D J e through the Planctae is one of his claims to immortal fame as celebrated in epic poetry. In the exodos of Medea, Jason himself alludes to that epic past by calling Argo "beautiful of prow" (KaMircpcGipov, 1335yf D U D U H R U Q D P H Q W D l epithet reminiscent of epic diction. Conversely, the passage through Scylla and Charybdis is one of the lowest moments in Odysseus's journey, when neither his wits nor his strength can save his men from the impending danger that becomes "the most pitiful scene that [his] eyes have looked on in [his] sufferings" (Od. 1 2.258-59yf : K L O H W K H 3 O D Q F W D H R U 6 P S O H J D G H V W U D Y H U V H d by Jason are a traditional locus of heroic glory, Scylla and Charybdis define narrows through which even the most cunning hero of all cannot find a safe passage. Medea's transformation into Scylla at the end of the tragedy deals the final blow to Jason's traditional heroic status.28 Moreover, that transformation brings the revision of Medea's and Jason's story very close to a literal nullification of the past. In the previous scenes, Medea had first verbally revised the Argo journey in the agon and then acted out that revision through symbolic substitutes, including the princess and the children. Her metamorphosis into Scylla - and Jason's simultaneous transformation into a helpless Odysseus - brings that revision to a new level that involves the actual participants of the past events. I showed earlier that the Symplegades and the straits of Charybdis and Scylla are alternative paths, hence incompatible spaces from the Odyssey onward. Since the Symplegades are metaphorically and metonymically associated with the marriage, Medea's transformation into Scylla symbolically negates the past that she once shared with Jason. While history can never be undone, Medea's revenge comes very close to such nullification. Her revenge acts out a gradual negation of the Argo journey that first involves words, then symbolic substitutes, and finally the original actors. To that extent, her palinode fully exploits and demonstrates the capacity of drama to symbolically re-enact, and thereby modify, events of the past. 27 About the Scylla episode as Odysseus's failure to use a heroic, Iliadic strategy, see Hopman 2005: 62-66. 28 Jason's loss of his heroic status was already pointed out by Burnett 1973, who stressed that "behind the worldly oath-breaker of the visible play there stands always the larger and more disturbing figure of the hero who has sullied his quest" (17yf , G L V D J U H H , however, with Burnett's idea that Jason was never a full hero in Greek poetic traditions. The diction of Odyssey 12 makes it dear that he was. This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:17:14 UTC All use subject to Revenge and Mythopoiesis in Euripides' Medea 1 69 AN ABORTED EPIC Medea's revised version of the Argo saga at least partly fulfills the hopes expressed by the chorus in the first stasimon. The poetic tradition, indeed, has been reconfigured - aTpeyovai cpa^iai. Yet that palinode may not be enough to bring a "life of good fame" (evicXeiav . . . Pioxdv, 415-16yf D Q d "honor" (xijid, 417-18yf W R W K H I H P D O H U D F H $ V * U H J R U 1 D J 7 and passimyf K D V V K R Z Q W K H Q R W L R Q R I J O R U N ; H R F f is intrinsically con- nected to the genre of epic poetry in ancient Greek culture. That connection is exemplified in the first stasimon, whose meter, dialect, and intertext make it clear that the chorus thinks of Medea's glory in terms of epic poetry.29 The dactylo-epitrites of the first stanza are reminiscent of dactylic hexameters (Page 1938: 183-85yf W K H , R Q L F F R Q W U D F W L R Q R I W K H L Q I L Q L W L Y H ? f|iveyf R D L f may refer to the dialect of the misogynist poetry of Archilochos, Hipponax, and Semonides that the chorus hopes to see put to an end (Page 1938 ad 423yf , but it also connotes Homeric diction; the phrase Gearciv doi5dv (425yf H F K R H s the diction of the Odyssey, where it refers to the "divine song" performed by Phemios (Od. 1.328yf D Q G W R W K H G L Y L Q H J L I W R I V L Q J L Q J R I ' H P R G R N R V 2 G . 8.498yf , I 0 H G H D V U H Y H Q J H L V W R E U L Q J K R Q R U W R Z R P H Q L W Q H H G V W R L Q L W L D W H D n epic tradition in her praise. While tragedy can of course not morph into epic, it may include some proleptic references to epic songs to be performed in praise of its main char- acters. That capacity is exemplified in Euripides' Alcestis. Alcestis's willingness to die in lieu of her husband is described as a female equivalent for what Jean-Pierre Vernant ( 1991 yf K D V F D O O H G W K H E H D X W L I X O G H D W K R I H S L F Z D U U L R U V . Just as Sarpedon and other Iliadic heroes fall in their prime like trees to the ground (//. 16.482-84yf V R $ O F H V W L V G L H V L Q E O R R P D W W K H S H D N R I K H U I O R Z H U - ing youth" (Ale 471-72yf $ V $ F K L O O H V $ J D P H P Q R Q D Q G W K H L U L O N F R P S H W H W o win honor and become the "best of the Achaeans" (//. 1.91, 2.768, etc.yf V o does Alcestis's death make her worthy of "honor" (ti|iti<;, Ale 434yf D Q G W K e title of "best woman" (yovaiK' dplaxav, Ale 442yf $ F F R U G L Q J O W K H F K R U X s suggests that just like Achilles, Alcestis will become the subject of epic songs. In the second stasimon that immediately follows her death, they announce that poets will "sing her kleos" (icAiovTeq, 447yf E R W K W R W K H V H Y H Q V W U L Q J H d lyre and in hymns without the lyre" (446-47yf W K D W L V L Q E R W K O U L F D Q G H S L c songs. Moreover, those songs will involve the participation of a large audi- ence, including the Athenian spectators, since they will be performed both 29 See Boedeker 1991: 108n53 for a brief analysis of the songs envisaged in the first stasimon as epic poetry. This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:17:14 UTC All use subject to 170 Marianne Hopman in Sparta and in "rich and blessed Athens" (452yf $ F F R U G L Q J W R W K H F K R U X V , Alcestis's death will leave behind epic and lyric songs for singers to perform (453-54yf D Q G I R U W K H Z K R O H * U H H N F R P P X Q L W W R H F K R D Q G H P E U D F H . The hopes enthusiastically voiced by the Corinthian women after they hear Medea's initial plan to kill Jason seem to rely on a similar scenario to the one described in the second stasimon of Alcestis. That plan, indeed, seems most suitable to initiate an epic tradition since it shares many similarities with the deployment of Achilles' wrath in the Iliad. As Ruby Blondell (1999: 163-64yf K D V S R L Q W H G R X W W K H Q X U V H V R S H Q L Q J G H V F U L S W L R Q R I 0 H G H D U H F D O O s many features of Achilles' grief at Patroclus's death. Medea does not eat (24; cf. //. 19.205-14yf V K H O L H V S U R V W U D W H R Q W K H J U R X Q G F I f; she retreats from her friends (27-33yf D Q G V K H U D L V H V W K H I H D U W K D W V K H P L J K t kill herself (43; cf. //. 18.32-34yf , Q W K H Z R U G V R I W K H Q X U V H 0 H G H D V L Q V H Q - sibility to the advice of her friends assimilates her to "a rock or the surging sea" (doq 8e nexpoc, f QaXaooxoq / kMScov, 28-29yf D F R P S D U L V R Q U H D F K L Q g back through literary history to Patroclus's complaint about Achilles' harsh- ness (//. 16.33-35yf 0 D V W U R Q D U G H D G f. As Gill (1996: 154-74yf K D s noted, Medea's acts and choices later in the play confirm her psychological resemblance to Achilles. Like Achilles, Medea makes the choice of a difficult but honorable life, rather than a prosperous and easy one (598-99; cf. //. 9.410-16yf V K H U H I X V H V P D W H U L D O F R P S H Q V D W L R Q I R U W K H R I I H Q V H W R K H U K R Q R r (616-18; cf. //. 9.378-87yf V K H S D V V L R Q D W H O G H E D W H V Z L W K K H U W K X P R V R Y H U Z K D t she should do ( 1056; cf. //. 9.644-48yf D Q G V K H L V Z L O O L Q J W R F K R R V H D P R G H R f revenge that implies her own death, if not a physical death like Achilles (//. 18.95-96 and 1 14-16yf D W O H D V W D Q H P R W L R Q D O R Q H D Q G f. Until the infanticide, Medea's revenge has much in common with the development of Achilles' wrath, thus justifying the chorus's hope that she may become the subject of an epic tradition. The infanticide brings that possibility to an abrupt ending. Such a deed does not fit into the subject matter of epic. Achilles kills, but does not shed his kindred's blood. As Richard Seaford (1994: 1 1-13yf K D V H P S K D V L ] H G W K H , O L D d and the Odyssey depict a society characterized by the solidarity of the house- hold and therefore tend to exclude stories of intra-familial killing. Homeric accounts of the death of Agamemnon and its aftermath, for instance, downplay Clytemnestra's role and do not mention Orestes' matricide.30 The non-Ho- meric character of Medea's infanticide is fully revealed in the exodos, whose 30 About the Odyssean accounts of the return of Agamemnon and their contextual specificities, see Garvie 1986: x and Heubeck et al. 1988: 16-17, with further bibliography on the Atreidae-paradigm in the Odyssey. This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:17:14 UTC All use subject to Revenge and Mythopoiesis in Euripides' Medea 1 71 progression can be read as a negation of Iliad 24. Both involve the encounter of a murderer (Achilles or Medeayf D Q G W K H I D W K H U R I W K H Y L F W L P V f (Priam or Jasonyf D G L V F X V V L R Q D E R X W W K H F R U S V H V D Q G S U R Y L V L R Q V I R U W K H L U I X Q H U D O V < H t those three themes receive opposite treatments. The Iliad closes off its an- nounced subject matter - the anger of Achilles - on a scene of reconciliation, physical proximity, and shared grief (//. 24.507-12yf F R Q Y H U V H O W K H I L Q D O V F H Q e of Medea brings the tension and physical distance between Medea and Jason to a climax, as she stands on the top of the skene far away from him and proclaims that she killed the children solely to hurt him ( 1 398yf $ F K L O O H V H P S D W K Z L W h Priam leads him to grant the old man's request, accept material compensa- tion for the death of Patroclus, and return Hector's corpse (//. 24.560-70yf ; in contrast, when Jason begs Medea to let him bury (1377yf R U D W O H D V W W R X F h (1399-1400; 1402-03yf W K H F R U S V H V R I K L V V R Q V V K H L P S O D F D E O U H I X V H V W R G R V o (1378-83yf D Q G G L V P L V V H V K L V V X S S O L F D W L R Q V D V H P S W Z R U G V f. Achilles' reconciliation with Priam leads to the celebration of grandiose funerals that gather the whole Trojan community around Hector's body (//. 24.692-804yf ; Medea announces that she will bury the children "with [her] own hands" (1378yf K H Q F H S U R E D E O D O R Q H L Q W K H W H P S O H R I + H U D $ N U D L D D V D Q F W X D U y located in Perachora at the fringes of Corinthian territory. Medea's intention to take the corpses there excludes Jason and the Corinthian community from the funerals and involves a very different burial from the emphatically public funerals celebrated for Hector in the Iliad,31 Medea's prophecy sanctions the departure of her revenge from the model of Achilles and closes off the hope that it may inspire an epic tradition. Just as the plot of Medea's revenge progressively departs from the story of the Iliad, so does the evolution of her internal audience confirm that no one will be there to listen to and perpetuate an epic tradition about her. The audience's fundamental role in the performance of Greek poetry, especially praise poetry, is now widely recognized, thanks in particular to the work of Bruno Gentili (1988yf 7 K H L Q G L V S H Q V D E O H L Q W H U D F W L R Q E H W Z H H Q S R H W D Q G D X G L - ence is epitomized in Medea through the intertext of the first stasimon. The phrase Qeonxv doi8dv that the chorus uses to refer to the "divine gift of song" (425yf H F K R H V W K H K L J K O P H W D S R H W L F S D V V D J H R I W K H 2 G V V H Z K H Q 2 G V V H X s challenges Demodokos to sing the fall of Troy exactly as it happened (Qecniv doi8r|v, Od. 8.498yf 6 X E V H T X H Q W O D V K H K H D U V ' H P R G R N R V G H V F U L E H W K H W U L F k 31 The rituals to be instituted in Corinth (ypi 8e xfji8e, 1381yf D U H S K V L F D O O G L V F R Q - nected from the tomb in Perachora and involve atonement, not burial. Dunn 1994: 109-1 1 suggests that one of the reasons why Medea buries the children in Perachora, far from the cult place in Corinth, is to make the place of burial inaccessible to Jason. This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:17:14 UTC All use subject to 1 72 Marianne Hopman of the wooden horse and the sack of Troy (two episodes where he played a major roleyf 2 G V V H X V Z H H S V X Q F R Q W U R O O D E O D Q G L G H Q W L I L H V Z L W K K L V R Z n victims (Od. 8.521-34yf 7 K H S K U D V H * H D U F Z G R L G Y W K X V F R Q M X U H V D S D V V D J e deeply rooted in literary history that bases epic performance on the close emotional connection between bard and audience. In contrast, the evolution of Medea's internal audience makes it clear that the infanticide leaves her bereft of potential listeners to her praise. As the plot of the revenge departs from the Homeric model, so does the initial sympathy of the internal audience move towards alienation. Initially, Medea enjoys a full, unconditional support from the Corinthian women, who affirm that she will "justly pay back" (ev8iKGyf D S H . 7 H L D U _ L f Jason for his offence, chastise his guile (410-14yf D Q G H I I H F W L Y H O F X U V H K L P f. Their attitude changes radically after the disclosure of Medea's revised plan (772-810yf $ I W H r a vain attempt to dissuade her (811-13yf W K H F K R U X V O D X Q F K H V L Q W R D Q R G e that extends their own moral estrangement to the implied Athenian audi- ence.32 As Mastronarde (2002 ad 824-65yf K D V V K R Z Q W K H S U D L V H R I $ W K H Q L D n wisdom (aocpiocv, 828-29yf D Q G P R G H U D W H ( U R V f implies a systematic contrast with Medea's dangerous cleverness (aocpr|, 305yf D Q G G H V W U X F W L Y e desires (627-62yf : K L O H $ O F H V W L V L V S U D L V H G E W K H F K R U X V D Q G Q R W L R Q D O O W K e whole Greek world, Medea finds herself alienated from both the chorus and the implied Athenian audience. Musical images confirm that Medea's moral alienation from her internal and implied audience voids the possibility of an epic tradition celebrating her. While Alcestis leaves a song for all the Greeks to hear and hum, Medea's pali- node explicitly becomes out of tune with her audience. The musical harmony mentioned in the third stasimon as a distinctive feature of Athens (832-34yf implicitly suggests that the song left by Medea will not blend into the local tradition. As the revenge proceeds, that discordance becomes increasingly apparent. As the tutor points out, Medea's scream of anguish upon hearing that her sons' exile has been revoked "does not sing" (o> £iyf Y F R L D f with his news. Later, her response to the report of the princess’s death, which she finds a “most beautiful tale” (k(xM,igtov… hayf R Y f that she enjoys hearing (xaipei<; KMovacc, 1131yf D U L V H V W K H L Q G L J Q D W L R Q R I W K H P H V V H Q J H U . Whether she cries at good news or rejoices at bad, Medea's interaction with her internal audience contrasts with the emotional and musical connection between the epic bard and his listeners. That departure is confirmed a contrario 32 The notion of "implied audience" mirrors that of "implied author" and was devel- oped by Wayne Booth (1983yf W R U H I H U W R W K H I L F W L R Q D O D X G L H Q F H G H V F U L E H G D Q G F R Q V W U X F W H d by the play. This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:17:14 UTC All use subject to Revenge and Mythopoiesis in Euripides' Medea 1 73 by the chorus's final mention of "the bed of women, cause of many suffer- ings" (1291-92yf 6 L P X O W D Q H R X V O D G L U H F W U H I H U H Q F H W R D Q G U H H Q D F W P H Q W R f the misogynic tradition deplored in the first stasimon, the chorus' expression sanctions the end of the hope to see the poetry of Hesiod, Archilochus, and Hipponax replaced by an epic tradition in praise of women. The increasing distance between Medea's palinode and the genre of epic reaches its climax in the final laments embedded in the tragedy. Tradition- ally, laments are a type of publicly performed songs closely tied to praise poetry (Alexiou 2002: 182yf $ W W K H H Q G R I W K H , O L D G W K H O D P H Q W V I R U + H F W R r simultaneously assert the community of the living, grant eternal kleos to the dead, and announce the epic tradition that will rise in his honor. The three solo songs performed by Andromache (24.725-45yf + H F X E D f, and Helen (24.762-75yf D U H I R O O R Z H G E D Q W L S K R Q D O U H V S R Q V H I U R P W K H F R P P X Q L W y (24.746; 24.760; 24.776yf D Q G W K H P D W L F D O O U H V H P E O H W K H Z R P H Q V J U H H W L Q J V W o Hector in the homecoming of Book 6 (Richardson 1993 ad //. 24.718-76yf . The laments embedded in Iliad 24 point toward the future performance of the epic itself.33 In contrast, the laments at the end of Medea are isolated ut- terances, bereft of the community that would bring everlasting honor to the dead. While Medea's farewell to her children (1021-40yf L Q F O X G H V W U D G L W L R Q D l lament themes, it nevertheless perverts the genre, since it is performed be- fore the death by the future murderer and is devoid of antiphonal responses (Mastronarde 2002 ad 1030yf 7 K D W V D P H L V R O D W L R Q F K D U D F W H U L ] H V W K H O D P H Q W s and dirges performed by Creon (Gpf|voyf Y f, Medea (9pf|vei, 1249yf D Q d Jason (Gpriveiq, 1396; 0pr|VGyf f, as well as the funerals and hero cult that Medea plans for her children. Unlike the aetiologies for the cult of Alcestis (Ale. 445-54yf R U + L S S R O W X V + L S S f, Medea's prophecy does not mention songs to be performed in honor of the children, an omission all the more striking as the actual cult seems to have included dirges and laments.34 In its tragic stylization, the cult for the children is featured as a silent ritual. Medea's revenge arouses not praise but mournful silence from her internal audience. The infanticide and the manner of the children's burial irremedi- 33 The generic relation of lament and epic was first emphasized in 1974 by Alexiou (re-edited in Alexiou 2002yf D Q G K D V U H F H Q W O U H F H L Y H G P X F K D W W H Q W L R Q ) R U D V W L P X O D W L Q g survey of the scholarship on the question, see Due 2006: 30-56. Comparative evidence on the fluidity of the boundaries between the genres of lament and epic poetry has recently been adduced by Aida Vidan 2003 in her analysis of South Slavic traditions. 34 For recent work on the cult of Medea's children, see Pache 2004: 9-48. Evidence for the songs performed in that context include Philostratus's mention of a "mystical and inspired lament" (Her. 53.4yf D Q G W K H V F K R O L X P W R 0 H G H D Z K L F K U H I H U V W R a "mournful festival." This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:17:14 UTC All use subject to 174 Marianne Hopman ably thwart the chorus's hope that Medea's revenge will give rise to an epic tradition favorable to women. If the infanticide prevents Medea from becoming the focus of such an epic tradition, why then does she not follow her initial intention to kill Jason? The mixed motivations mentioned in the play suggest that Medea's change of plan is at least partly dictated by the mythical tradition. To be sure, psychological causes can be invoked. In the second part of this article, I noted the psycho- logical necessity that ties the death of the children to Jason's remarriage. In Medea's logic, as Gill ( 1 996: 1 54-74yf K D V V K R Z Q W K H G H V W U X F W L R Q R I W K H S K L O L a between the parents necessarily results in the death of the children who embody that bond.35 That reasoning underlies Medea's final accusation that Jason's "sickness" was the cause of the children's death ( 1 364 yf , Q K H U Y L H Z W K e infanticide brings to its logical conclusion a chain of causes and effects initi- ated by Jason. Moreover, the language (803-06 and 1398yf D Q G R U J D Q L ] D W L R n of the play make it clear that Medea sees the infanticide as the most effective way to harm Jason. Its revengeful power is emphasized by the timing of the disclosure of her new plan right after the Aegeus scene (790-806yf ) R F X V L Q g at it does on Aegeus's sterility and his hopes for paternity, the conversation emphasizes the importance for Greek males to father legitimate children and perpetuate the family line. Medea's new plan, which she describes to the chorus immediately after Aegeus's departure, applies Aegeus's concerns to Jason's situation and involves the full extinction of the latter's progeny, both present and future (803-06yf $ O W K R X J K D V W U L N L Q J S H U L S H W H L D W K H L Q I D Q W L F L G e plan is carefully prepared for and grounded in Medea's understanding of her situation. Yet other scenes, in particular Medea's great monologue, suggest that psychological motivations could have been dismissed to let the children live. When Medea contemplates the pain that the murder will bring her (1046-48yf and the future joys of which she will deprive herself ( 1058yf V K H P R Y H V E H R Q d these psychological considerations and ends with an argument of external necessity: since "at any rate, it is necessary that [the children] die" (navxcoq oxp' avaYicn KaxOaveiv ercei 8e xpri..., 1062 = 1240yf V K H Z L O O S H U I R U P W K H G H H G 6 35 Except for Gill's contribution, Medea's change of plans, although a central issue of the play, has received little scholarly attention. 36 The repetition of those lines at 1062-63 and 1240-41 has led most editors to deem the first occurrence spurious, an excision confirmed by the Berlin papyrus that does not have 1062-63. See Page 1938 and Mastronarde 2002 ad loc. Even if the lines in the monologue are spurious, the argument remains that Medea's final justification for the filicide relies on the unavoidability of their death. This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:17:14 UTC All use subject to Revenge and Mythopoiesis in Euripides' Medea 1 75 The line - possibly spurious in the monologue - is repeated immediately before the children's murder. In both instances, it follows a fearful allusion to the possibility that the children may die at the hands of Medea's enemies (1060-61; 1238-39yf $ V 0 D V W U R Q D U G H D G f points out, those passages (as well as 1301-05 and 1380-81yf S U H V X S S R V H W K H D X G L H Q F H s awareness of a tradition in which the children were killed by Creon's relatives. No matter whether the infanticide by Medea is a Euripidean innovation, the children have to die because the audience expects it and a long mythical tradition says so.37 Ultimately, the infanticide is only one among the many competing versions that variously ascribe the death of the children to Hera, the angry Corinthians, or Creon's relatives.38 Medea's latitude for revenge concerns the manner and motivation of the death but cannot alter the brutal fact that is yielded by the mythical and ritual material. In spite of her clever- ness, her palinode is bound by the tradition that shapes the expectations of her - and ultimately Euripides' - audience. A TRAGIC REVENGE As Medea's palinode departs from the epic genre that would yield her praise, the staging and intertextual references of the final scene signal its distinctively tragic tone. As Maurice Cunningham (1954yf D Q G % H U Q D U G . Q R [ f have shown, Medea's final appearance on the chariot of the Sun positions her as the deus ex machina that closes off many Euripidean tragedies. In addition to offering Medea an escape from Corinth to Athens, the device conveys a complex and ambiguous range of meanings. Medea's quasi-divine status may cast her as an incarnation of ferocious vengeance and divine retribution for Jason's betrayal of his oaths (Knox 1977: 209-1 1 yf , W P D D O V R V W U H V V K H U O R V V R f humanity and transformation into a being that is simultaneously infra- and supra-human (Cunningham 1954: 158-60yf ) U R P D P H W D S R H W L F S H U V S H F W L Y H , the device simultaneously anchors Medea's revenge in the genre of tragedy and emphasizes her control over it since she, a mortal woman, now occupies a position normally reserved for the gods.39 37 The thorny issue of whether the infanticide was first introduced by Euripides impinges on the question of the relative chronology of Euripides' Medea and that of Neophron, about which see Mastronarde 2002: 57-64, with bibliography. My argument, however, is not affected by that problem. 38 For a full account of the many versions of Medea's story, see Moreau 1994 and Graf 1997. 39 Another indication of the tragic character of the revenge comes at 1282-89 from the chorus's comparison of Medea with Ino, the subject matter of a Euripidean tragedy of unknown date. This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:17:14 UTC All use subject to 1 76 Marianne Hopman Medea's masterful appropriation of the tragic genre is further confirmed in the allusions to the language, plot, and staging of Aeschylus's paradigmatic trilogy, the Oresteia, in the final scenes of the play.40 Beyond the individual echoes and references previously noted by commentators (Cunningham 1 954: 152; Katz 1994: 88; and Boedeker 1997: 138-39yf W K H O D V W V W H S V R I K H U U H Y H Q J e fundamentally subvert and appropriate the logic of the Aeschylean trilogy. Elements of vocabulary and staging concur to create an uncanny re- semblance between Medea's infanticide and the death of Agamemnon in Aeschylus's tragedy. A first possible allusion to the imagery of Agamemnon occurs when Medea characterizes the murder as a "sacrifice" in her monologue (1054yf $ O W K R X J K W K H S K U D V H F D Q E H X Q G H U V W R R G D V 0 D V W U R Q D U G H D d 1053-55yf K D V D U J X H G D V D G L V W R U W L R Q R I U L W X D O O D Q J X D J H W K D W I U H T X H Q W O R F F X U s in tragedy, it may also be read as a specific allusion to the Oresteia which, as Zeitlin (1965; 1966yf K D V E U L O O L D Q W O V K R Z Q P D N H V S D U W L F X O D U O W K R U R X J K X V e of sacrificial imagery. The fifth stasimon, performed while Medea kills the children off-stage, confirms the Aeschylean connotations of the murder and its resemblance to the death of Agamemnon. The comparison of Medea to a "wretch, bloody Erinye driven by an avenging demon" (xdAmvav cpoviav t' 'Epwbv yf W D $ ; * 7 R S R Y f41 parallels the attribution of Agamemnon's murder to the vengeful Erinyes of the house (A. Ag. 59, 463, 1119, 1433, 1580yf . As in Aeschylus's play, the chorus hears cries from within the skene ( 1 270-78yf and senses that a murder is being performed but fails to act quickly enough to prevent it; the helpless agitation of the Corinthian women who cannot decide whether to enter the house (1275-76yf U H V H P E O H V W K H F R Q I X V L R Q R I W K e old men of Argos running across the stage during the murder of Agamemnon (A. Ag. 1 330-7 1 yf 7 K H Z H D S R Q Z L W K Z K L F K 0 H G H D N L O O V W K H F K L O G U H Q L V G H V F U L E H d by one of her victims as a "hunting net of swords" (dpKt>cov ^icpoix;, 1278yf that closely resembles the net-like garment used by Clytemnestra to ensnare 40 My suggestion that Medea makes precise allusions to both the text and performance of the Oresteia is supported by the probability that Aeschylus’ plays were re-performed after his death. Evidence for such a revival includes Ar. Ach. 9-11 (where Dikaiopolis speaks of sitting in the theatre expecting Aeschylusyf 5 D Z K H Q $ H V F K O X V V D V W K D t his tragedies have not died with himyf D Q G 9 L W D $ H V F K Z K L F K V W D W H V W K D W D G H F U H e passed after the death of Aeschylus authorized the continuous production of his playsyf . See Dover 1993: 23, with bibliography. 41 The text is difficult. The manuscript reading xmy aA,aatopcov “remove that Erinye through the agency of avenging divinities” seems implausible, since Medea is being com- pared precisely to one of those divinities. The text that I print here follows the emendation yf F D $ [ [ D 7 R S R Y S U R S R V H G E 3 D J H . This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:17:14 UTC All use subject to Revenge and Mythopoiesis in Euripides’ Medea 1 77 Agamemnon (A. Ag. 1380-83yf ) L Q D O O R Q F H W K H F U L P H K D V E H H Q S H U S H W U D W H G , Medea appears holding the corpses of the children just as Clytemnestra comes out of the skene between the bodies of Agamemnon and Cassandra.42 Vocabulary and staging concur to assimilate the infanticide to Clytemnestra’s murder of her husband. Those similarities carry dangerous implications for Medea since they sug- gest that like Clytemnestra, she will eventually fall at the hands of an avenger. That scenario is in fact exactly what the chorus fears and Jason hopes. The chorus’s concerns for the pollution (jiidaixata, 1268-69yf L Q Y R O Y H G E W K e shedding of kindred blood (aijia, 1256yf D Q G I R U W K H G L Y L Q H Z U D W K f that will irremediably follow, reflect the same notion of pollution and retribu- tion that structures the Aeschylean trilogy and prompts Orestes’ murder of Clytemnestra in the Choephoroi and the Erinyes’ incessant pursuit of him in the Eumenides. Likewise, Jason too expects Medea to encounter an Aeschylean type of retribution. Right before learning the full extent of her revenge, he asserts that she will face a “just punishment” (8(icnv, 1298yf D W W K H K D Q G V R I W K e royal family and fears that the children may be the victims of the retaliation (1293-1305yf + L V I H D U V D Q G K R S H V U H O R Q W K H V D P H Q R W L R Q R I M X V W L F H N W _ f as do Aegisthus’s revenge for the banquet of Thyestes (A. Ag. 1577-1611yf , Clytemnestra’s retaliation against her husband for the sacrifice of Iphigenia (A. Ag. 1412-25yf D Q G 2 U H V W H V U H Y H Q J H D J D L Q V W K L V P R W K H U I R U W K H P X U G H U R f his father (A. Ch. 306-14 and passimyf : K H Q – D V R Q X Q G H U V W D Q G V W K D W 0 H G H a has killed their sons in addition to his bride, his orders to open the door of the skene (1314-16yf U H O R Q W K H H [ S H F W D W L R Q R I V H H L Q J W K H W Z R F R U S V H V U R O O H d out of the stage building, perhaps on the ekkyklema, like those of Agamemnon and Cassandra in Agamemnon (A. Ag. 1372yf D Q G W K R V H R I & O W H P Q H V W U D D Q d Aegisthus in the Choephoroi (A. Ch. 973 yf : K H Q 0 H G H D V D S S H D U D Q F H R n the top of the building undermines this expectation, Jason still invokes the 42 About the paradigmatic status of the death of Agamemnon and Cassandra off-stage, see Lebeau 2003: 310-11. 43 Similarly, Burnett 1973: 17 points out that audience’s expectations are deceived when they do not see the princess’s and Creon’s corpses rolled out on the ekkyklema and hear a long, unusually gory messenger speech instead. The use of the ekkyklema to display the murder tableaus in the Agamemnon and the Choephoroi is discussed by Taplin 1977: 325-27 and 357-59. The lack of a linguistic signal to the device leads Taplin to doubt that it was used in the Oresteia (and even to conclude that it was not invented during Aeschylus’s lifetimeyf D Q G W R V X J J H V W W K D W W K H F R U S V H V Z H U H F D U U L H G R X W E P X W H V F H Q H V K L I W – ers. What matters for my argument here is that the corpses of Agamemnon, Cassandra, Clytemnestra, and Aegisthus were brought outside the skene and that Jason expects the same to happen with the corpses of his sons. This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:17:14 UTC All use subject to 1 78 Marianne Hopman model of retributive justice by announcing that the children will arise Furies (1389-90yf D Q G E H F R P H Y H Q J H I X O G H P R Q V M L L G D [ R S H F f. This is a word used in the Eumenides (piaaxop’, A. Bum. 177yf W R V L J Q L I W K H D Y H Q J H U Z K o would punish Orestes for the murder of his mother and thus perpetrate the cycle of retributive justice. Like the chorus, Jason senses that the infanticide resembles the murder of Agamemnon and thus expects Medea to undergo Clytemnestra’s fate. Medea, however, manages to undermine those expectations. As a drama- turge fully in control of the tragic genre, she circumvents the danger of becom- ing a new Clytemnestra by combining characteristics of various Aeschylean figures.44 Earlier in the play, the nurse’s description of her mistress “bulling her eye” at the children (o|i|ia…Ta’opo’U|ievr|v, 92yf X V H V W K H V D P H S D U W L F L S O H D s a description of Orestes (xorupoujievov, A. Ch. 275yf W K D W Z D V I D P R X V H Q R X J h to be parodied by Aristophanes (Ra. 804yf 7 K H L Q W H U W H [ W X D O H F K R M X V W L I L H s the nurse’s concern that, like Orestes, Medea may shed kindred blood and explains her recommendation that the children stay away from their mother (89-95yf : K L O H W K H L Q I D Q W L F L G H F R Q I L U P V W K H Q X U V H V I H D U D Q G F O R V H O U H V H P E O H s Clytemnestra’s murder of Agamemnon, it also assimilates Medea to Agamem- non himself. Like the king of Argos, Medea kills her own children, and her description of the infanticide in terms of a “sacrifice” (xoiq enoun Oujkxgiv, 1054yf L V U H P L Q L V F H Q W R I W K H O L W H U D O V D F U L I L F H D O O R Z H G E $ J D P H P Q R Q D W $ X O L s (0yf 7 7 L S * Y D [ S R T $ $ J f. Medea’s resemblance to Agamemnon reaches a climax in the exodos, when she appropriates some of his words. Jason’s descriptions of Medea as a lioness and Scylla ( 1 342-43yf K D U N E D F N W o comparisons made by Cassandra about Clytemnestra (A. Ag. 1233, 1258yf D Q d thereby confirm Medea’s resemblance to the Argive queen.45 Medea’s answer that “long is the speech that [she] could have made” (jioncpav av ec^exeiva, 1351yf G L U H F W O E R U U R Z V I U R P $ J D P H P Q R Q V F K D U D F W H U L ] D W L R Q R I & O W H P Q H V W U D s greetings (nctKpav yap e^exeivaq, A. Ag. 916yf D Q G W U D Q V I R U P V L W W K U R X J K W K e use of a counterfactual construction. That subtle intertextual appropriation displays Medea’s awareness of, and careful distancing from, the Clytemnes- tra model by integrating Agamemnon’s perspective. In her own and other characters’ words, Medea combines features of Clytemnestra, Clytemnestra’s victim, and Clytemnestra’s murderer in a way that blurs the lines across the Aeschylean cycle and makes her own punishment impossible. 44 Medea’s assimilation of the characteristics of several Aechylean figures has been pointed out by Boedeker 1997: 138-39. 45 About the intertextuality of the Scylla comparisons in Agamemnon and Medea, see Hopman 2005: 109-10. This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:17:14 UTC All use subject to Revenge and Mythopoiesis in Euripides’ Medea 1 79 Medea’s masterful appropriation of the Oresteia paradigm reaches its climax and conclusion in the treatment of the corpses. I noted earlier that her appearance with the dead children on high undermines Jason’s expecta- tion to see the corpses rolled out in the Aeschylean manner. By withdrawing the children from the ground where tragedies typically unfold, Medea pre- vents them from becoming or inspiring avengers along the lines of the dead Agamemnon and Clytemnestra. Similarly, Medea’s control over the hero cult of the children protects her from future retaliation. In the Aeschylean trilogy, Clytemnestra attempts to placate Agamemnon’s angry spirit only after en- countering an ominous dream. The libations that she sends byway of Electra and the captive slaves are ritually incorrect (A. Ch. 89-90yf D Q G F R P H W R R O D W e to cure the pollution (A. Ch. 5 1 4-22 yf 6 X E V H T X H Q W O V K H G L H V D W 2 U H V W H V K D Q G V , but fundamentally through Agamemnon’s agency (A. Ch. 886yf % L Q V W L W X W L Q g rites of atonement in honor of her children, Medea simultaneously recog- nizes and avoids the pregnancy of the Oresteia paradigm. By becoming both “the murderer and the agent of ritualization of the event” (Pache 2004: 13yf , she undermines the audience’s expectation to see her die in the manner of Clytemnestra. The conspicuous absence and apparent deafness of the gods to Jason’s cries (1391-92; 1405-12yf F R Q I L U P W K H G H I L Q L W H F O R V X U H R I W K H U H Y H Q J e process. As the deus ex machina of her own plot, Medea undercuts the pos- sibility of divine retribution. She may not become the focus of an epic song, but she has created the perfect revenge tragedy. Read as a palinode that engages major genres and songs of Greek culture, Medea’s revenge offers a rich reflection on the poetic space available to a new voice – a question, which, as Michelini (1987yf K D V V K R Z Q Z D V R I V S H F L D O L Q W H U – est to Euripides. Medea’s revised version of the Argo saga fully exploits the power of Athenian drama to conjure distant times and spaces, symbolically re-enact past events, and thereby modify their interpretation and meaning. By killing the princess, murdering the children, and emerging as a new Scylla who dominates Jason from the roof of the skene> Medea offers a version of the Argo journey that nullifies her past relationship with Jason and deprives him of the heroic glory epitomized by the successful crossing of the Symple- gades. Yet her mythopoiesis also underscores the impossibility of creating a new story at odds with the mythical tradition. Even though Medea’s initial plan to kill Jason would fulfill epic values and bring her glory, it cannot be completed, partly because of psychological motivations, and partly because the tradition says that the children will die. Medea’s revenge cannot alter the brutal “facts” of life and death yielded by the mythic tradition; it can only appropriate them. This content downloaded from on Wed, 22 Apr 2020 01:17:14 UTC All use subject to 180 Marianne Hopman Ultimately, Medea’s revenge fails to fulfill the possibility – already raised by the disguised Odysseus about Penelope at Odyssey 19.107-14 – that a woman may gain epic glory, kleos. Although her revenge initially resembles the plot of the Iliad, it increasingly departs from it and loses the support of the internal audience. In particular, Medea’s refusal to return the children’s corpses to Jason strikingly contrasts with the pity that unites Achilles and Priam in Iliad 24. Yet as Medea departs from the epic model, she also cre- ates a perfect tragic plot, one that appropriates – and therefore perhaps surpasses – Aeschylus’s paradigmatic Oresteia. 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