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Medea
by Euripides, Philip Vellacott (Translator)
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One of the literary world's greatest dramas. Deserted by Jason, whose life she saved at a great cost to herself and others, and forced into exile by the father of her rival in love, Medea plots a barbaric revenge. The consequences wrought by her destructive actions, and by those who underestimate her bewitching power, are harrowing.
 


Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (13 of 14), Read 17 times Conf: Classics Corner From: George Healy malword@ameritech.net Date: Friday, August 31, 2001 09:41 AM Found a very interesting comment from the poet/translator Richmond Lattimore: 'With Euripedes, tragedy is either transcending itself or going into decline, in any case turning into something else. If E is less of a master in his own medium than Sophocles, it is partly because he was less happy in that medium. This shows in the faults which his greatest admirers will concede. There are signs of haste, slovenliness, inconsequence, windiness, in most of his best plays. Some whole plays are mediocre. His most characteristic fault is to try to get too much into a single plot or character or situation. His Medea is several kinds of woman unsuccessfully assembled... His faults are obvious. Equally obvious is his genius...' I didn't myself take Medea as several personalities sewn together on my first read through, I thought the difference in her was the cleverness, a mind that can't shut off even in the throes of anguished passion or despair. Gonna go through it again with Lattimore's criticism in mind. Thought I'd throw it out here because the umbrella of protection that stems from putting the label 'Classic' on a text interests me... sometimes I assume there are no significant flaws in a book because it's a classic, back covered with raves and homages, etc.,
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (14 of 14), Read 7 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Kay Dugan okaychatt@yahoo.com Date: Friday, August 31, 2001 07:58 PM The following quote comes from an internet site that claims Robert Graves' "The Greek Myths" Vol. 2,156e as a source. http://www.geocities.com/Broadway/1928/myth.htm "(Jason) lost interest in Medea and married Creusa, the daughter of the King of Corinth. Medea sent a poisoned robe as a gift to Creusa, killing her. Creon, the King of Corinth retaliated by killing 13 of Medea’s 14 children and laid their bodies in the marketplace for all to see. Here is where the histories become confused. Even 400 years after these events, tourists were still avoiding Corinth. Nobody wanted to visit a country where the king killed children. So, in the 5th century B.C., the playwright Euripedes was hired to write a play blaming Medea for the deaths of her children. He reduced the number of her children from 14 to 2 and then in his play, had Medea stabbing her own children. This play convinced many people and this version of events appears in most mythology books available today." Emphasis is my own. The intro to my book discusses the importance of Athens in the resolutions of "Medea," "Electra," and "Heracles." Athens is seen as an example of a city that "loved and honoured justice, integrity, and generosity, and loved their city as the shining embodiment of those virtues - which it was not." Athenians were seen as having the "beauty of goodness, and in what their city has sometimes tried to be, even if success had been rare: the sanctuary of Hellas." Even Medea could expect sanctuary in Athens with Aegeus. The foreword argues that Jason should not be judged harshly, as, after all, he is dealing with a barbarian (Medea). It points out "...that when a community or a nation has adopted, in its political and social institutions, the quality of self-control, sophrosyne it soon learns that this quality belongs only in limited measure to its citizens; that the principle of barbarous excess is predominant in most individuals, so that the constant concern of government is to deal with barbarism inside the walls..." (Is it me, or does that sound a bit like the Grand Inquisitor?) Though there may have been a lot of political intention behind "Medea", I have to wonder at Philip Vellacott's emphasis in his foreword. Surely that wasn't Euripides' dramatic intent. I think seeing this play performed would have me on the edge of my seat, in a complete state of dread and horror at Medea. Isn't it interesting that the Corinthians had to change the mythology by making the mother the villain? Medea did make a few good points. NOW would have been proud. Ha! K
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (15 of 26), Read 26 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Robert Armstrong rla@nac.net Date: Saturday, September 01, 2001 06:55 AM Kay, I have the same introduction in my Penguin edition. There's something of a parallel between Athens and America, in that both have idealistic identities as bastions of civilization. American idealism is not always met in reality, barbarism still exists within our society, but that never stopped our patriotic spirit, and evidently the same held true for Athens. The play is riveting to me, too. I'd be on the edge of my seat if I saw this live even knowing the outcome. It is a horror story, isn't it? There's the tragedy, destructiveness and horror of revenge and yet, the vicarious thrill of it, too. There's something satisfying about getting back at that smug S. O. B. all the while being annihilated with its true consequences. This story is the ultimate tragedy to me. Any actress who plays Medea with real conviction must have to be carried home on a stretcher after each performance. Wow. What a role. Robt
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (16 of 26), Read 24 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Kay Dugan okaychatt@yahoo.com Date: Saturday, September 01, 2001 09:31 AM "Smug S.O.B." Ah, yes, Robt. That about sums Jason up in this play. That's some custody battle, isn't it? Those children are the pawns of power. It's interesting that Medea falters in her decision so many times, which indicates her genuine love for her sons. It takes her rage against Jason to find the nerve to kill them. What would her defense be in today's courts? Temporary insanity? No, she knew what she was doing was wrong. Post partum psychosis? No, they're old enough to walk about and know what's happening. Aha - I have it - "It's all HIS fault! He made me do it. I put him through Power School, and this is the thanks I get!" I'm curious about the reception the play got from the Greeks. They were familiar with the original story, of how Creon had 13 of her 14 children killed and displayed in the public square. They had to be aware that the story had changed, and for what reasons. They must have also been aware of her character - she was the one that had put the childless curse on Aegeus. They knew the story of Jason and the Argonauts, and her willingness to murder her brother to help Jason escape. They also knew of her trick on Pelias' daughters to get them to murder their father, so Jason could thrive. She was a piece of work, so they may have been willing to believe her capable of infanticide. All that cultural information would have put a twist on the play, I think. It's still a horror story and a cathartic event, nevertheless. K
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (17 of 26), Read 24 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Saturday, September 01, 2001 10:03 AM I've been out of town and haven't had a chance to read the play yet, but before I left I checked out a video of the play from the library. Judith Anderson and Colleen Dewherst are in the cast. It should be good. Ann
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (18 of 26), Read 24 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Robert Armstrong rla@nac.net Date: Saturday, September 01, 2001 11:33 AM Kay, I didn't realize that Medea had put a childless curse on Aegeus. Why then would they still be friends? Aegeus seemed to be unaware that Medea had done this to him in Euripides' play. Were Medea and Jason historical figures as well as mythological ones? The "It's all HIS fault" defense cracked me up. Robt
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (19 of 26), Read 20 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Saturday, September 01, 2001 01:13 PM I've seen this on the stage. It was about 2 eons ago, at UCLA, a traveling production, not a student job. I hate to report that I remember not being entirely grabbed. Greek drama is so stylized in its presentation, with the chorus and all, that it seldoms grabs me emotionally like a more contemporary piece would. That said, this is still a powerful play. I'm about 3/4 through my reread. Ruth "Citizen! Consider my traveling expenses: Poetry—all of it—is a trip into the unknown. " Vladimir Mayakovksy
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (20 of 26), Read 16 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Kay Dugan okaychatt@yahoo.com Date: Saturday, September 01, 2001 02:42 PM Robt- I think Jason, Medea, and Creon were solely mythological figures. However, if the online article citing Robert Graves is correct, Euripides was hired to change the myth so people wouldn't want to avoid Corinth. According to the article, even 400 years after the supposed event where Creon murdered Medea's sons and displayed them in the city square, Corinth suffered from an image problem. No one wanted to visit a city where a king had put children to death. Euripides was hired to change the myth. The quote from my post #14 is found about 2/3 of the way down the page. (link posted below) The paragraph starts with...."Meanwhile, Pelias still refused to give Jason the throne." Whether the statement is accurate or not, I do not know. If it is, I find it fascinating. I'm not ready to tackle Graves' "Greek Myths" to verify. http://www.geocities.com/Broadway/1928/myth.htm K
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (21 of 26), Read 14 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Robert Armstrong rla@nac.net Date: Saturday, September 01, 2001 03:47 PM Kay, Very interesting about Euripides' attempt to change the myth. I agree that the play is so strong that it is hard to believe that changing the myth was his primary goal. Robt
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (22 of 26), Read 16 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Sherri Kendrick sheval@hotmail.com Date: Saturday, September 01, 2001 03:48 PM I've just started my first reading of this, and so far it's interesting. I love the idea of Euripedes writing the play to give Corinth a better name. Slander the woman, save the town, seems like a fair trade to me. Sherri
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (23 of 26), Read 15 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Saturday, September 01, 2001 04:04 PM Fourteen kids!!! No wonder she murdered them. Ruth "Citizen! Consider my traveling expenses: Poetry—all of it—is a trip into the unknown. " Vladimir Mayakovksy
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (24 of 26), Read 13 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Kay Dugan okaychatt@yahoo.com Date: Saturday, September 01, 2001 06:19 PM Ruth - Creon murdered them in the original myth. He seemed to be a tad miffed at Medea's poisoning of his daughter. Gee - can't imagine why. Sherri- Had to laugh at your "Slander the woman, save the town, seems like a fair trade to me." Good one! All - IF the story is true and Euripides did re-write the myth to benefit the town, I have to wonder if he gave Medea such a strong platform from which to spout her feminist lines because he saw the irony, or if it was a theatrical necessity. Probably the latter. Someone earlier in the thread mentioned the recent news story of the mother who drowned her 5 children. I was reminded of her when I read "I understand the horror of what I am going to do; but anger, The spring of all life's horror, masters my resolve." The deadly rage and despair that drove that mother was the same one that drove Medea. The actual reasons may have differed, but the power of that intense an emotion staggers the mind. Even when Medea is considering the murders because she fears Creon's retaliation, she carries my empathy. That would be a terrible situation to be in. I am reminded of the scene in "Beloved" where Sethe hurls her children to kill them. She does not want them to become slaves. And here I thought she was a little over the top. Perhaps the problem is I cannot imagine any degree of passion that would override a mother's natural instinct to protect her children. Ruth- How did the actress portray Medea? As truly torn in the beginning? Or as trying to justify herself for murdering solely out of a sense of rage against Jason? K
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (25 of 26), Read 10 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Saturday, September 01, 2001 07:47 PM Kay, it was so long ago that mostly what I remember is a lot of brow-beating and emotional rhetoric. All nuance has been lost in the mists... Ruth "Citizen! Consider my traveling expenses: Poetry—all of it—is a trip into the unknown. " Vladimir Mayakovksy
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (26 of 26), Read 6 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Sherri Kendrick sheval@hotmail.com Date: Sunday, September 02, 2001 07:27 AM I finished this last night, and found it easy reading. I remember from school days having a hard time with Greek plays, but this was easy. I'm not sure where I put blame, Medea certainly for going too far, but Jason didn't seem very considerate either. Even if Medea didn't help him as much as she thought, he seemed rather blase about dumping her. It also seemed that Jason, and the King only thought women were good for one thing, sex! and when that is taken away, they don't understand why she should get angry. "Mere sexual jealousy", that's what Jason says it is and Medea should not make such a big deal about it. But she had nothing else in life, but being a wife, it wasn't like she could go out and get a job, without a husband she was nothing. Sherri
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (27 of 47), Read 45 times Conf: Classics Corner From: George Healy malword@ameritech.net Date: Sunday, September 02, 2001 11:05 AM I'm having trouble with what specifically is motivating Medea's revenge. I wonder if Euripedes could've said what Flaubert said when asked about M. Bovary... 'I am Medea'. She says numerous times something to the effect of 'I will not fade into the background to be laughed at.' Line 1353-54: "No, it was not to be that you should scorn my love, and pleasantly live your life through, laughing at me..." Line 1048-50: "No, no, I will not do it. I renounce my plans. Ah, what is wrong with me? Do I want to let go my enemies unhurt and be laughed at for it? I must face this thing." Line 1362 (Medea to Jason): "Yes, and my grief is gain when you cannot mock it." I'm having trouble seeing even a highly intelligent and proud woman slaughtering her children to avoid becoming laughable... certainly she has various other reasons to commit her crime, but Euripedes heavily stresses this one, or so it seems to me. Euripedes was a master-mocker. My experience of people tells me that most of those who are good at mockery are driven to be so for fear of being ridiculed themselves. I'm suspicious of this strain of Medea's motivation... it sounds more like the voice of a very proud and angry genius than like the voice of a bereft wife and mother. I do love the part where Medea wishes counterfeit men could be detected and stamped like counterfeit money... a great sentiment.
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (28 of 47), Read 39 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Sunday, September 02, 2001 12:07 PM George, Hell hath no fury, etc. Ann
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (29 of 47), Read 39 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Kay Dugan okaychatt@yahoo.com Date: Sunday, September 02, 2001 12:18 PM George- I have trouble identifying with Medea as well. Intellectually, I follow her reasoning, but I totally lose any sense of identification when she actually murders her children to get back at Jason. That's the step I cannot understand. We're not meant to understand. Euripides made sure of that. It's not as if Medea is oblivious to her use of the children. Sometimes parents can unwittingly use their children as middle men in a divorce, but Medea was fully aware. Are you saying that Euripides projected his own character into Medea's? That he carried that trait to its extremes as a kind of experiment? Interesting. When I consider that Medea is the granddaughter of Helios, the sun god, I begin to realize she's only part human. The gods were notoriously indifferent to individuals and focused on satisfying their every whim. She was a sorceress, a descendant of the gods, and therefore prone to their trait of satisfying each and every narcissistic need. There is something inhuman about the murdering of children. If I see Medea as a part goddess, I can more easily account for her unbelievable act. Unfortunately, that retreat is not possible when I am confronted by humans that kill their children. K
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (30 of 47), Read 37 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Sherri Kendrick sheval@hotmail.com Date: Sunday, September 02, 2001 12:53 PM I, too, kept noticing the not wanting to be laughed at lines. To her that seemed as bad if not worse than being dumped. I didn't realize she was descended from Helios, but even being part goddess, she seems to take the revenge a bit far. In some ways it seems very light - Medea helps Jason, the get married, have kids, then he dumps her for a "better" (younger) woman. Medea feels like an idiot and wants revenge. Yet there has got to be a lot more than that, and trying to understand why, or would the play have been important, or am I being simple, and that is the whole point? Sherri
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (31 of 47), Read 39 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Sunday, September 02, 2001 01:03 PM I wish I remembered more about Greek theatre from my brief period as a drama major. I have a feeling we're missing something here. Perhaps we need to know more about how the Greeks regarded theatre and what they expected of their plays. We're looking at the play with 20th century eyes, analyzing motive, etc. I'm wondering if the Greeks saw them more as fable, or metaphor, or something along those lines. I do remember that they often wore masks. Maybe with their faces covered, and unable to portray emotion with facial expressions, they upped the ante on the actions in the play. Just musing here. Ruth "Citizen! Consider my traveling expenses: Poetry—all of it—is a trip into the unknown. " Vladimir Mayakovksy
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (32 of 47), Read 40 times Conf: Classics Corner From: George Healy malword@ameritech.net Date: Sunday, September 02, 2001 01:12 PM Sherri & Ruth-- Good points and questions. I got a similar feeling: powerful language, something missing underneath. Euripedes' The Bacchae is one of my ten favorite plays of all time... I went into this expecting to like Medea more than I did. Perhaps Lattimore was right, and the something missing is the fault of an author in a rush. Ruth's point stands, and I actually read an essay that said we can't ever know what Aeschylus and his peers were up to because too much context is lost. I'll take the play as a beautiful relic made of an indeterminate metal.
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (33 of 47), Read 40 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Sunday, September 02, 2001 02:40 PM I started prowling around for info on Greek theatre. I was quickly waylaid by the images, of course. Here’s a Red-Figure (the red is the clay of the vase, the black is the painted on slip) Volute krater (that’s just a description of the shape of the vase) that shows Medea's vengeance. It’s from 330 B.C. - 310 B.C, which would put it about 100 years later than Euripedes play, 431 BC. (When we visit Milwaukee Museum of Art, we’ll see a red-figured vase from 461 BC, but it doesn’t show Medea.) These images don't want to come up here. I suspect it's because the URL won't come up as a jpg. But if you just click on the link, you can see them. Volute krater depicting Medea: Drawing of side A http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/image?lookup=1993.01.0476 And some details: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/image?lookup=1993.01.0477 Volute krater depicting Medea: Drawing of side A (left) http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/image?lookup=1993.01.0478 http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/image?lookup=1993.01.0479 And I discovered what looks like a useful site for more netcrawling on Medea, Euripedes, and ancient Greek theatre. http://english.tyler.cc.tx.us/engl2332nbyr/Euripedes.htm Ruth "Citizen! Consider my traveling expenses: Poetry—all of it—is a trip into the unknown. " Vladimir Mayakovksy
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (34 of 47), Read 38 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Kay Dugan okaychatt@yahoo.com Date: Sunday, September 02, 2001 05:20 PM Wasn't catharsis an objective in Greek drama? The audience was expected to leave the theater emotionally drained and ready to start anew. I'm culling this from classes taken centuries ago, in my youth. The Chorus was meant to speak the truth as it commented on the drama, I think. My guess is that reading the play is nowhere near the experience that seeing it would be. I think the impact would feel more horrific were I to witness the events on stage. K
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (35 of 47), Read 43 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Sunday, September 02, 2001 06:03 PM I remember that catharsis business now that you mention it, Kay. And I did find out this morning that Greek theatre grew out of the Dionysian cermonies. I don't remember being particularly affected by seeing Medea on stage. But then I knew what was coming. Ruth "Citizen! Consider my traveling expenses: Poetry—all of it—is a trip into the unknown. " Vladimir Mayakovksy
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (36 of 47), Read 42 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Sunday, September 02, 2001 10:32 PM This was a quick read. I read it in one sitting and it held my interest throughout. The translation by Phillip Vellacott was very smooth. Like the rest of you, I can't begin to explain Medea's murder of her children. I can't imagine myself so consumed by rage that I could destroy my own children. And yet, we do read about such people in the newspapers. To give only two recent examples, there is the woman suffering from postpartum depression who drowned her 5 children and the Ukrainian immigrant who killed his pregnant wife and his young son. We generally assume that these people are crazy because their actions are so irrational. So, was Medea insane? What do you think? Ruth,you cited the following internet source: http://english.tyler.cc.tx.us/engl2332nbyr/Euripedes.htm. This is an outline for an internet based world literature course from Tyler Junior College. A woman named Noamie Byrum is responsible for the course. According to her online notes, the main themes of the play are: 1. Uncontrolled emotions of anger and jealousy overcome reason and bring disaster to all. (Passion over reason) 2.Internal conflict of emotions. Medea is torn between emotions of mother love and the desire for revenge. 3.Argument for women's rights--creates sympathy for women who serve as inferiors under the Greek marriage custom. I can buy #1 and #2 pretty easily, but I'm not so sure about #3. What do you all think? For me, it is hard to think of Medea supporting any argument for women's lib. I think her most chilling lines are these, which follow Jason's comments on her murder of their sons. Jason: You suffer too; my loss is yours no less. Medea: It is true; But my pain's a fair price, to take away your smile. Ann
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (37 of 47), Read 39 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Sherri Kendrick sheval@hotmail.com Date: Monday, September 03, 2001 07:31 AM I think reason #3 was working earlier on, mentioning how she now has nothing, nowhere to go, no way to live without Jason's support. But as she gets angrier, and her rage overcomes everything, I think that reason falls by the wayside. To a certain extent I can understand her rage, but her wanting to do all this so that her enemies won't laugh at her seems a bit far fetched. Sherri
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (38 of 47), Read 40 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Monday, September 03, 2001 12:19 PM A lot of harm has been done because of pride. I saw quite a few references to Euripedes and women while I was poking around in the ether. Evidently this was quite an issue with him. Maybe #3 can be supported because 1)he shows how badly women were treated in Greek society and 2)he shows a strong woman who says in effect, "I've had it up to here and I ain't gonna take it any more, so don't mess around with me." Ruth "Citizen! Consider my traveling expenses: Poetry—all of it—is a trip into the unknown. " Vladimir Mayakovksy
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (39 of 47), Read 40 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Pres Lancaster plancast@neteze.com Date: Monday, September 03, 2001 12:24 PM Thanks, RUTH, for the links, both to the vase art and the lit course. Two things I've noted from various readings so far : a) That it is possible that Medea kills the children herself rather than let them be killed by the community, as they doomed to be because of her crimes. There is talk, too, of the "revenge" of leaving Jason childless, but this would be meaningless if the children are to be killed by the state. And what does the horror of their accepted, expected deaths say about revenge by the community. b) That Euripides poetry was so well thought of that there are stories of captives of war being freed because they could quote his lines. Further, his reputation was great in ancient times - much written about and quoted by other writers in the following centuries (see Moses Hadas' Ancilla to Classical Literature). Another important aspect of the writing was its use of the people's speech forms rather than the ritual, hieratic speech of earlier drama. Euripides was much mocked by Aristophanes and other "traditional" writers of the times. Obviously, the point of drama is drama, but the then almost fundamental story of Medea and Jason only becomes something special if the dramatist shows it in a new light. (Assuming, of course, we put aside the value we assign to the play by mere reason of the fact that it has survived from antiquity.) pres The eternal verities don't seem to have much of a shelf-life these days.
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (40 of 47), Read 37 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Monday, September 03, 2001 02:13 PM Pres, God point about Medea justifying her actions because the children would have died a worse death at the hands of her enemies. Ann
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (41 of 47), Read 38 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Kay Dugan okaychatt@yahoo.com Date: Monday, September 03, 2001 07:00 PM Medea used that argument early on in the play, but by the end, she admitted she killed her sons solely as revenge against Jason. K
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (42 of 47), Read 34 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Monday, September 03, 2001 08:36 PM I just finished reading the online version Theresa provided. Gosh! Things haven't changed much since this was written! Jason finds this younger, richer chick and what does he say to his wife? "I'm doing this for you, honey..so you'll be rich and our kids will be considered royalty"..(Oh, Jason! Shame on you!) My favorite line in the entire play is this little goodie from Jason: "for it is but natural to the female sex to vent their spleen against a husband when he trafficks in other marriages besides his own." Oh, no kidding.. Trust me, if my husband 'trafficked' in any other marriage but our own, it would be more than a spleen I'd 'vent'. Beej
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (43 of 47), Read 34 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Tuesday, September 04, 2001 12:30 AM Beej, Me too. :) Actually, I was surprised that an ancient Greek woman expressed herself so aggressively. From what I have read about Greek society, it was completely male dominated. Very few women played any active role outside their own households. Of course, Medea, as a socceress, was not your average female. It would really be interesting to know how Euripides' contemporaries reacted to this play. I did find it interesting that Medea said she might have understood his actions if she had failed to provide him with sons. Modern attitudes have changed, but through most of history producing a male heir was a wife's primary duty. My translation makes several references to Medea's "sexual jealousy." I have concluded that the whole problem with Medea and Jason's marriage is that it started as a love match. If it had been the usual (I presume) arranged marriage, Medea would not have become so consumed with anger and jealousy. Ann
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (44 of 47), Read 37 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Tuesday, September 04, 2001 01:02 AM Ann, that might connect with the praise of moderation which is heard in the nurses first speech and is later repeated. Dean. All roads lead to roam.
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (45 of 47), Read 24 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Sherri Kendrick sheval@hotmail.com Date: Tuesday, September 04, 2001 07:30 AM Couple of things, one sort of off topic, but I was reading a mystery-Dressed to Die by Connor, and in it a woman dies by suddenly bursting into flames. It turns out a graduate student, a classist and chemist, had worked out the formula used on Hercules tunic, and Medea's tunic, that caused them to burn. I looked back at my copy, and it says the gown poisoned her, but the coronet burst into flames. A little confusion, but I loved how Medea popped up in an unexpected place. Looking through Medea, I found another quote by Jason that I loved: "Was such a plan, then, wicked?Even you would approve if you could govern your sex-jealousy. But you women have reached a state where, if all's well with your sex-life, you've everything you wish for; but when that goes wrong, at once all that is best and novlest turns to gall. If only children could be got some other way, without the female sex! If women didn't exist, human life would be rid of all its miseries." That last part really got me, I was laughing and furious at the same time. I also came across another site on Medea, but I haven't fully checked it out: www.webcom.com/shownet/medea/grklink.html Sherri
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (46 of 47), Read 14 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Tuesday, September 04, 2001 02:27 PM Dean, Yes, it makes sense that the chorus reflects the ideas of most of the audience. If so, it is significant that they show a lot of sympathy for Medea's situation, at least in the beginning. Didn't the Greeks invent the concept of the golden mean? Sherri, Yeah, if only women wouldn't be so emotional. Good old Jason, only looking out for the best interests of the family as a whole --- :) Ann
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (47 of 47), Read 13 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Tuesday, September 04, 2001 05:14 PM Right you are, Ann. The Golden Mean is a ratio which was said to produce aesthetically perfect proportions. It was derived by the Greeks and used by both the Egyptians and the Greeks in their designs. Sherri, Jason seems to have conveniently forgotten much. Jason's speech is even disingenuous. He is not dealing with an ordinary woman. She was royalty in her fatherland, she is the granddaughter of the sun and she is a mighty sorceress. All these things which made Medea exceptional were put to use in his service and he now ignores them and his vow to her. I thought that the conversation between King Creon and Medea showed a fascinating contrast and even a reversal. The King loves his children first then his fatherland. For Medea, fatherland comes first. So Jason's marriage to assure Greek citizenship for them is no consolation to Medea who will have to live subservient to her new mistress. This speech of Jason and his secrecy about the wedding call his credibility into question. By the way, I should think that Aegeus will think twice, which is once more than Jason did, before he breaks his oath of sanctuary to Medea. The calculated nature of Medea's moves is chilling. The other reversal which I noticed was the speech by the Chorus which said happy are they who have no children. Dean. All roads lead to roam.
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (48 of 54), Read 38 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Chrees . condrieu@yahoo.com Date: Tuesday, September 04, 2001 09:02 PM Two good sites I found with helpful foreground information: http://www.webcom.com/shownet/bulfinch/fables/bull17.html http://hsa.brown.edu/~maicar/Medea.html I just finished reading the play this morning, so here are some first drafts or attempts at collecting my thoughts. There is so much to cover in this play, but I'll keep it to a few points so I don't ramble all over the place. And I need to go back and read all the other comments as well (only made it halfway through because of a slow isp). I find it very difficult to read something this old since I tend to impose current standards and morality on the action. It seems there are many values competing or at odds with each other in the play. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but the overriding value seems to be fealty to ruler and country. Everything else seems to be subservient to the proper role an individual is supposed to play in the community. Or rather, being a proper citizen will guide you in what you are supposed to do in your other roles. Those who are a threat to the state are also threats to family, friends, and social order. The amazing thing to me in the play is the lack of responsibility everyone displays. Denial and blame are the common methods of dealing with events. At times, it seems everyone has a good and defensible rationale for what they have done, but no one tries to understand the other person. Medea is the only character that 'evolves' or changes, and unfortunately (?) she moves from suicidal lethargy to murderous rage. Which, in one sense, is the state she was accustomed to and not really a development (given her previous murders and plots). It seems Euripides wants to have his cake and eat it too with Medea at times-he uses her as a mouthpiece to condemn the subordinate status of women in society, yet also has her perform monstrous acts so everyone can ultimately condemn her. By doing this, is he also providing an 'out' for what he has her saying earlier in the play? The incredible sense of nationalism (Medea no longer "lives among barbarians" and while "living at the ends of the earth, nobody would have heard of you" comments) plays to the audience and the way Athens probably thought of itself (again, making it hard to avoid imposing current judgment). I can't help but think that many of Jason's arguments that we view as absurd rationalizations would have been regarded by Athenians of the time as just and well reasoned. Aegeus' brief part seems to play to the crowd in that Athens can supply reason and justice to the world, while at the same time underscoring the irony of the barbarism within their own refined culture. A few more quick notes since I haven't succeeded in avoiding rambling: It is an interesting paradox that I view Medea as more heroic than Jason and I think helps present the complexity and depth of human character. I need to think about Jason's character before I make too many comments on him, especially in light of his previous heroics and how Athenians of the day would have viewed him. I find it interesting the emphasis put on love, marriage, children and all the burdens these things bring into the world. The Chorus laments how tough it is to have kids, while Jason comments on how love blinded him to the monstrous things that Medea had done in the past. (A great attitude! "I loved you while the evil you did helped me. But I could have done all those things without your help." Typical guy, right? *lol*) Several lines reflect the depth of hatred that can replace love. What role do the gods play? The last lines of the chorus seem to give the "gods work in mysterious ways" argument, but also seems to say that our actions are independent of the gods. And throughout the play, Euripides seems to puts the blame squarely on human shoulders. Lastly, I couldn't help but laugh at the Chorus. I pictured a sympathetic daytime host or panel ("you said it honey, kick that man to the curb! Ditch that zero and get yourself a hero!") until Medea begins to consider murdering her children ("say what? now hold on hon and think about this for a spell!").
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (49 of 54), Read 40 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Tuesday, September 04, 2001 09:19 PM Crees, Welcome to Constant Reader..What a great post! Beej
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (50 of 54), Read 47 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Edward Houghton eddh@pacbell.net Date: Wednesday, September 05, 2001 02:30 AM It is difficult to fully understand the Greek society that watched this play. But Euripides was writing of a time and place where he also did not fully understand the customs and mores of the participants. We are left with a story seen through two prisms, or more. And then throw in the tourist trade, the politics of the day, and the logistics of presenting a play to an audience for enjoyment. It's a wonder anything is coherent. The logic does seem to hold up, although historical veracity may be in doubt. EDD
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (51 of 54), Read 29 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Chrees . condrieu@yahoo.com Date: Wednesday, September 05, 2001 11:18 PM Maybe there is the additional irony of the play that it was performed first in 431 B.C., the same year that Athens and Sparta started their long war. Need to pull out my Thucydides (no, that isn't a sexual reference) and refresh myself on the destruction that Athens realized over the next 3 decades. Those darn barbarians...
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (52 of 54), Read 24 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Thursday, September 06, 2001 02:10 PM Chrees, Welcome to Classics Corner. I've been enjoying your notes. You mentioned the Spartans. I will never forget learning in high school world history that the Spartan women used to say to their sons, "Come home with your shields or on them." In other words, better dead than defeated. Now there were some tough women. I used to say the shields bit jokingly to my boys before soccer games, but I think they just thought I was nuts. Ann
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (53 of 54), Read 28 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Chrees . condrieu@yahoo.com Date: Thursday, September 06, 2001 09:37 PM Thanks Ann. And it doesn't matter what you would have said...your boys would have thought you nuts anyway. It's a phase we go through before we realize how smart and strong our mothers really are. *lol* I'm still working on my thoughts on Jason, but the more I think about it, the more I think E's audience would have reacted to his explanations and excuses differently than we do. I need to re-read the play to figure out why, though.
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (54 of 54), Read 11 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Friday, September 07, 2001 03:54 PM Chrees, Unfortunately my college age sons still have not reached the age where they recognize my brilliance. :) :) I really wonder how contemporary audiences of Euripides reacted to Jason and the other characters too. The plot of MEDEA, with two characters burning to death and two children murdered by their mother, seems extreme to modern readers, but Greek tragedies seem to be full of hideous things happening to the characters. I suppose the Greek world was so much more threatening and unpredictable than our own that audiences took these awful stories somewhat in stride. In Greek mythology the gods seem to be the worst offenders against morality, but the very human Medea managed to screw things up almost as well as any god. The fact that she was 1/4 divine might help explain her ruthlessness. Ann
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (55 of 59), Read 22 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Theresa Simpson theresa.a.simpson@gte.net Date: Monday, September 10, 2001 03:00 AM I nominated this for CC. I read it years ago, and have also heard a fantastic reading on NPR. This reading disappointed me - I wish I had access to whatever dramatization it was I heard, it impressed me so much at the time. I think this is a very simple story compared to, say, Sophocles' tales. Jason is the "bad boy" the spoiled, but very clever, rich girl takes off with, betraying homeland and family only to have him ditch her in a foreign land. And so Medea, voice of the emotions and a very spoiled girl, has one major, major temper tantrum. While old Jason, voice here of reason, doesn't really have a clue. What makes the plot semi-interesting is that the emotional Medea (a mark of barbarism to the Greeks, antithesis to Greek adoration of reason above all) is so darn clever. Otherwise, she would have ranted and raged to no avail. Theresa I had to quit my fire-eating career when I could no longer tell when to spit and when to swallow. Daphne Gottlieb
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (56 of 59), Read 21 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Kay Dugan okaychatt@yahoo.com Date: Monday, September 10, 2001 08:16 AM Aha! Theresa's comment about how the Greeks loved reason above all is interesting. Euripides used Medea's passions to stress her barbarism and as a complimentary contrast to the Greeks. That was a subtlety I had missed. How interesting to compare our modern view of the play to the Greek view. The Greeks thought Jason the epitome of heroism and were supportive of his reasoned arguments. We see him more as a user and a philanderer. Theresa- When you heard it read, how did the actress portray Medea? Was she truly agonizing over killing her children in the beginning, or was she just trying to work herself up to what she knew she was going to do as revenge? K
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (57 of 59), Read 13 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Robert Armstrong rla@nac.net Date: Monday, September 10, 2001 07:02 PM I thought Euripides was challenging the supremacy of reason by making Jason (the voice of reason) so unreasonable and so heartless and thereby bringing public opinion, as voiced by the Chorus, to Medea’s side initially. Ultimately, the play speaks to the inadequacy of reason alone and how, without compassion, it opens the way to ruin. Theresa, I'm so glad you nominated MEDEA. I think it is a very powerful play. Robt
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (58 of 59), Read 18 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Theresa Simpson theresa.a.simpson@gte.net Date: Tuesday, September 11, 2001 02:33 AM Kay, she portrayed her as a woman in the throes of extreme emotional anguish. It really was mesmerizing. It was also quite a few years ago, I've no way of finding out which particular reading this was. Theresa I had to quit my fire-eating career when I could no longer tell when to spit and when to swallow. Daphne Gottlieb
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (59 of 59), Read 17 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Kay Dugan okaychatt@yahoo.com Date: Tuesday, September 11, 2001 04:40 AM So the audience was pulled into her "dilemma." I would like to see this play performed because the distance I have from a reading does not allow me to understand a passion for revenge overwhelming her love for her children. It is difficult to imagine that kind of selfish quest for satisfaction against a spouse that has done her wrong. All that illustrates Robt's point that reason without compassion leads to the unthinkable. K
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (60 of 66), Read 29 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Robert Armstrong rla@nac.net Date: Friday, September 14, 2001 12:19 AM The big theme in Medea is revenge. That theme seems pertinent to me today. Here are some excerpts from an editorial in today's New York Post: "The men behind the men who rained havoc down need to be called to account. The heavens need to fall on their heads. They need to bleed. Not next month. Not next week. Now. Who are they? Who cares? Cast a wide enough net and you'll catch the fish that need catching……..Locate them. Bomb them……The weight of American military might-just short of nuclear oblivion-needs to be visited upon those who planned and executed Tuesday's attacks. And also on those who support the terror. America needs to strike hard-and as often as it takes to impose peace………Bombs away!" There is a point in the play where Medea has the complete sympathy of both the Chorus and the audience due to the injustice of her treatment. Then in a blind rage, Medea destroys not only her enemies, but also everyone she loved and ultimately herself. So, I am not interested in a global tragedy and neither is anyone else. I don't think Medea was much interested in a tragedy either. I take from Euripedes' play a warning about the self-destructive force of our own fury. As Shakespeare said: "All the world's a stage." The play has begun. Robt
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (61 of 66), Read 27 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Gail Singer gailsinger_gross@hotmail.com Date: Friday, September 14, 2001 05:21 AM very well said... gail..in the wee small hours of the morning...
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (62 of 66), Read 27 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Chrees . condrieu@yahoo.com Date: Monday, September 17, 2001 11:12 PM I skimmed through the play today and came to some different conclusions from the first pass. I’m still struggling how to express the currents within the play as I feel them (so excuse the rambling). I think there are divergent messages in the play. As Robert alluded to, some of the play is social commentary. For example, Medea’s speech to the Chorus (starting with line 214) bemoans the fate of women and their status in society and is supported by the Chorus. I also think Jason is cast in an unflattering light deliberately, to taint both him and men who take their roles and responsibilities lightly. But there are counter-themes underneath the surface as well. Specifically mentioned by Jason is the superiority of living in ‘Greece’: “Firstly, instead of living among barbarians, / You inhabit a Greek land and understand our ways, / How to live by law instead of the sweet will of force.” I think this is key to what happens in the play. Medea, instead of appealing to any form of redress, threatens her husband, his new wife, and the king. (Counterpoint: what avenue was available to her to mitigate what happened?). Meanwhile, Creon (and the law) failed in their responsibilities by allowing Medea to stay one additional day, which allowed the destruction to happen. It seems to be a two-fold approach from Euripides: support for Greek society/law by saying they are superior to anything else on earth (but don’t fail strongly enforcing the order to avoid such atrocities), yet at the same time commenting on what needs improving in the ‘superior’ society to maintain supremacy and avoid chaotic events in the first place. On a side note, there is a local production of the play “By the Bog of Cats…” (1998) by Marina Carr that draws heavily on “Medea” (or at least according to the reviews I’ve read). I’m hoping to see it before it ends its run.
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (63 of 66), Read 30 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dottie Randall randallj@ix.netcom.com Date: Tuesday, September 18, 2001 02:34 AM Chrees -- in reading through your analysis of Medea much came through in my mind as applicable to the position of the US to the current situation. Me thinks I will have to think about it a bit and come back. Dottie
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (64 of 66), Read 23 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Chrees . condrieu@yahoo.com Date: Wednesday, September 19, 2001 12:12 AM Dottie, I was afraid it would seem that I was influenced by the recent events, but these were thoughts I was struggling with the first time through the play. There clearly is an "us vs. them" (or rather civilized vs. barbarian) theme. The more I think about this play, the more I realize there is much more depth than first appeared.
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (65 of 66), Read 17 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Wednesday, September 19, 2001 02:08 PM Chrees, Considering how highly developed Greek culture was in comparison with the rest of the world, maybe this was one case where the dominant culture was justified in touting its superiority? Ann
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (66 of 66), Read 15 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Wednesday, September 19, 2001 05:59 PM It seems to me that, at a certain point in the play, Medea has it all. Jason has said that he will provide whatever support she wants. Aegues has provided a place of refuge for her and her children. Yet, she chooses to inflict a terrible revenge. I think that what really infuriates her is hypocrisy and deceit. For her to accept an outcome which does not challenge the lies would be to bring unacceptable ridicule on herself. Both Medea and Jason uphold higher principles. For Medea, it is the sanctity of the oath. For Jason, it is the value of Greek citizenship. The play is a conflict between the pride of being Greek and the "old ways" which valued oaths. When these two principles are not in accord, Euripides shows us that the result can only be horrible tragedy. Dean. All roads lead to roam.
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (67 of 69), Read 19 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Chrees . condrieu@yahoo.com Date: Saturday, September 22, 2001 03:21 PM Ann, maybe they were justified to some extent. Part of the reaction today to how callous the 'barbarian' comments are has to be from the recent multicultural push that is everywhere. I won't get into any politically correct discussion here, but it is fun to contrast the tone of this part of the play's theme vs. today's tone. A side note--I was cleaning out some books to take to a used bookstore when I ran across a copy of Medea that had been adapted by Robinson Jeffers in the mid-1940's specifically for Judith Anderson. I'm about halfway through and it is interesting to see what he added to the play. For the most part it follows faithfully, but there are a few additions. Two points that jumped out at me in this version: (1) the imagery is much stronger in Jeffers. Not surprisingly, the descriptions of the ocean and coastline 'feel' just like the Big Sur coastline (a constant image/description in much of his poetry). But he also adds a lot of other descriptive imagery and increases the violent feel of the play. (2) He also adds to the Greek vs. barbarian them in the play, using stronger language and additional lines regarding this. I'll finish it this weekend and see where else it differs. A very interesting comparison!
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (68 of 69), Read 16 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Chrees . condrieu@yahoo.com Date: Sunday, September 23, 2001 04:29 PM I finished Robinson Jeffers' adaptation of Medea and I *highly* recommend it! While true to the original, there is a lot of additional scenes that help flesh out the characters. It would take as long as the play is to go into the differences, but I'll point out a few things I enjoyed. In the original, you got the feeling that Medea's mind changed about killing her children after Aegeus offered Athens as a safe haven. In Jeffers, the turning point is about the same time but for different reasons: Meadea--You have never had a child? Aegeus--No. And it is bitterness. M--But when misfortune comes it is bitter to have children, and watch their starlike faces grow dim to endure it. A--When death comes, Medea, it is, for a childless man, utter despair, darkness, extinction. One's children are the life after death. M (excited)--Do you feel it so? Then--if you had a dog-eyed enemy and needed absolute vengeance--you'd kill the man's children first? Unchild him, ha? And then unlife him. There are several powerful additions like the above. Jason has more scenes with Medea (or at least longer scenes) and he comes off as a much rounder character. One change at the end makes for easier staging: instead of her chariot being pulled by dragons, she has two fire dragons beside her (symbolized by lamps) that protect her in the final dialogue with Jason. And as I've said before, the imagery Jeffers uses (many the same as his other poetry, especially the rugged coastline and bird & eagle imagery) makes this a delight to read.
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (69 of 69), Read 16 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Sunday, September 23, 2001 05:53 PM Do you know if this was produced as a TV play with Anderson? I have a feeling I saw it back in the days of black & white. Ruth "Citizen! Consider my traveling expenses: Poetry—all of it—is a trip into the unknown. " Vladimir Mayakovksy
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (70 of 72), Read 20 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Chrees . condrieu@yahoo.com Date: Tuesday, September 25, 2001 11:00 PM I had a few minutes today to do a little investigating and this is what I found. Keep in mind I'm going by what these websites are telling me, so I can't comment on the veracity of what I'm posting here. (Hey, this is cool... give enough disclaimers and I can say whatever I want to!) There was a TV version of Medea broadcast in 1959, using the Jeffers' adaptation with Judith Anderson in the title role. I even found where this is available on VHS if you so wish, but the quality is that of the original broadcast. But here's the fun part! There was a 1982 version on TV as well, also based on Jeffers' adaptation and Anderson played the nurse!
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (71 of 72), Read 21 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Tuesday, September 25, 2001 11:23 PM Hey thanks, Chrees. I have no doubt it was the 1952 production I saw. I'd forgotten all about it until you posted on it. Ruth "Citizen! Consider my traveling expenses: Poetry—all of it—is a trip into the unknown. " Vladimir Mayakovksy
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (72 of 72), Read 8 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Friday, September 28, 2001 11:16 PM Chrees and Ruth, I just finished watching a library copy of a video of a 1959 performance of Judith Anderson in MEDEA. Chrees, I believe this is the script you were reading. It was originally performed in 1947. Apparently, Anderson won all kinds of accolades for this role. The performance was interesting but Anderson really laid everything (including some bad makeup) on very thick. This looked like a filmed play. I think it was probably shown on TV. Anderson was principally a stage actress and that might explain in part some of the exaggerated gestures and facial expressions. Most of the time she seemed semi- or fully hysterical and she had a tendency to roll her eyes. The other actors, including a beautiful and impressive Colleen Dewhurst, seemed much more natural.Given the story, it would, of course,be very difficult to play Medea in any kind of subdued way, so my criticism of Anderson may not be entirely fair. According to the Internet Movie Data Base, Anderson was born in 1897, which would have made her 62 years old in 1959. She was way too old to play Medea and she looked it. It was hard to believe that Jason could ever have been in love with her. The script emphasized the barbarian theme, as you already pointed out Chrees, and it also made it very clear that Medea killed her children because she felt it would be the most painful way of getting back at Jason. She kept asking Jason to assure her how much he loved those children. Anderson also played the role of Mrs. Danvers in the original REBECCA movie, one of my old favorites. I thought she was very good in that. Ann
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (73 of 74), Read 62 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ernie Belden drernest@pacbell.net Date: Saturday, October 06, 2001 11:55 PM My first impression reading Medea was the Euripides had a fine understanding of people and human nature. He not only presents the drama, the action, but also shows what's going on inside the individual their motivation. The emphasis is Medea's rage which she justifies. She is incapable to live with the loss of her husband to a younger (perhaps better looking) woman and felt that any action, no matter how deadly is justified (even if it involves the life of her own children). She could not to accept "defeat" on the part of another young woman. It is interesting to observe how she disguises her murderous anger to carry out her plans i.e.to kill her children by means of the sword and see them suffer. It is difficult to understand such action at this day and age. As an ex-psychologist I was doubly interested as I had seen a few mother and one man who had killed their children. The women that I saw seemed depressed and very down and were diagnosed as suffering from a post partum psychosis - depression. The youngish man killed the children to get even with his wife who had left him. He seemed to be a psychopath and lacked all feeling for his children. I just recently read Sarah Blaffer Hrdy's Mother Nature, a History of Mothers, Infants, and Natural Selection, published 1999. It is a superb review of research on this subject and deals at length with infanticide. It is a gruesome topic and some of it may have some bearing on the play. Infanticide in one form or another was far from a rare occurance in man's not too distant past. I don't recall that she dealt with the matter of revenge as a prominent cause. She deals with the biological survival and selection mechanism in humans and chimps. (Still had a hard time reading those chapters). What pathological mother nature comes up with! Ernie
Topic: September Discussion: Medea by Euripides (74 of 74), Read 128 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Wednesday, October 10, 2001 02:52 PM Ernie, That sounds like an interesting book, but I can understand why reading it was difficult. Most of the cases we read about do seem to involve women who suffer from postpartum depression, don't they? However, there was a case awhile back where a Mom drowned her two sons in a car and then blamed a car jacking. I think she viewed them as an encumbrance to an affair she was having. People like her and the father you mentioned must completely lack empathy for anyone. If you can't feel it for your children, it's difficult to imagine you could feel it for anyone else. When I lived in Japan I would sometimes hear about parents who committed suicide and killed their children at the same time. The reasoning was that it was cruel to leave the children behind. Ann Ann

 

 
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