Carolynn Ohlenburger Dr. Rick Jones Play Analysis 162.

2 December 10, 2010 Grecian Mythology as it pertains to Euripides’ Medea

The story of Medea is a tragedy on the part of a mother and wife. Euripides takes the story and turns it into an understanding for the pain and anguish on a women’s part which is uncommon in this era of theatre which has tragedy on a male hero and the women is the helpless background filler. For the most part women are the reason for their strife, and never the other way around, because of their seductive nature and grief shedding personalities. Euripides twists this with the fact that Jason is the one who puts up in bed with another woman and therefore he is the reason for the strife that becomes his new bride to be, her father, and his two sons by Medea. Euripides does give the viewers of this play the background behind the story and this allows us to pity the character and feel emotions toward her ordeal. In most Greek plays the audience is required to already have some prior knowledge as to what the mythological background is behind the scene that is being portrayed. Euripides also blatantly gives his characters the ability to tell the story with the emotions that they would feel from actually being there, making them more realistic in that regard. He also doesn’t leave anything up to the gods, or at least doesn’t give them presence in this play. Events

This gives you the feeling that the Gods were watching the whole time and they finally decided to act to help Medea. she makes and ointment so his hands don’t burn from the breath of the bulls and puts the snake to sleep. For that matter the gods aren’t even personified at all in the play. However the king’s daughter fell in love with him being shot in the heart by Eros’ arrow. and the notion that the Gods are always watching and only act as they see fit. and the owner of the Golden Fleece didn’t want them to have it so he set up three tests to make sure that Jason never got his hands on it. Euripides (431 B. Yes.480 . Medea’s father. sleepless. They do not have any physical manifestation in the play to sway the mortals and bend actions to the will of the Gods. 1 “… You were sent to yoke the fire-breathing bulls and sow the plot of death. The third was to sew dragon teeth into the soil and fight the warriors that sprung from the ground.146 Medea.C. coil on coil. The first task was to plow a deep furrow using the fire breathing bulls. Global Book Publishing (2003) pgs. King Aietes. when I slew the guardian of the Golden Fleece. she therefore wanted to help him no matter what. that giant snake which hugged it.E) lines: 477 . The second task was to retrieve the fleece from the giant serpent that guarded it.2” 1 2 Mythology.just happen whether by the will of the gods or not. 143 . So. The mythological background behind this story is that Jason and the Argonauts end up at the harbor of Aia to retrieve the Golden Fleece. lit up life for you. the only divine intervention is at the end when Medea is carried off by a chariot pulled by dragons while Jason is left with the mess he created. I saved you.

The king’s ships were approaching fast and they needed to do something to slow them down. 3 4 Mythology. his body was reformed and younger. Orpheus the musician blessed by the gods and given a sacred lyre. the one who sent Jason on the quest for the fleece. Global Book Publishing (2003) pg. sang their wedding song. Global Book Publishing (2003) pg. but without Medea’s magic he just died. was also aging and wanted to be younger. The king sees this and yells for them to stop the ship and collect the pieces. Jason and Medea are wed on the island of Phaeacians.C. Euripides (431 B.E) line: 166 5 Mythology. With another murder on the lover’s hands they now were thrown into exile to Corinth. Global Book Publishing (2003) pg. Medea his new bride was eager to help him so she told the servants to cut him up and put him in her magic cauldron. Medea ordered his daughters to cut him up and throw him in a boiling cauldron. my country. although because Medea betrayed her father she was not welcome in Circe’s house. “O Father. Medea gets the idea to chop her baby brother into little pieces and throw him overboard.6 Because of the crime of murder that Medea and Jason committed they were scorned by the other gods and therefore had to be cleansed by the only goddess that would do it. the land I abandoned. Hecate’s daughter Circe performed the cleansing.Now that Jason and Medea have the Golden Fleece they flee the island to escape the wrath of her father. Pelias. 146 . After many trials they finally make it to Iolcus were Jason’s father was ill. flagrantly killing my brother4” By the time they collect all pieces the Argo5 (Jason’s ship) is safely in the distance. 146 Medea. Medea takes her baby half-brother Apsyrtus3 on her way to the ship. 146 6 Mythology.

As a priestess to the goddess Hecate she can use her magic for either good or bad. she devises a plan to 7 Medea. In the play you hear how sad she is. how she gave everything she had to him only for him to turn away from her now. “Plot. She just finds out that her husband no longer loves her or never has and that she will live alone with her two sons by him for the rest of her life while her husband lives as a king.7” Another interesting thing about her is the fact that we get to see her pain and anguish. The goddess Hecate was the goddess of cross roads and therefore decisions had to be made whether for the good or the bad. we see that in this play. Like in Trojan Women we see her after a terrible thing has happened.E) line: 395 . Medea just finds out that Jason wishes to marry another woman and leave Medea and her two children behind. Euripides (431 B. Medea and Jason live in Corinth for ten years with two sons when Euripides begins his tale. The Gods would make the choice for her as to whether or not she can be good or not in any other play. Medea.C. We feel for her and her family that is about to be broken.Medea is an interesting character in the fact that she uses magic and poisons. For this time in playwriting all of this was unheard of and women’s feelings were never taken into account. Because of her knowledge in poisons. With her anguish and hate we feel sympathy for her and her want to seek revenge. Again there seems to be an absence of the god’s intervention when she is given the choice as to how she will kill all those close to Jason and if she wants to help his father. how much she scorns her husband. devise your recipes: advance to the deadly act that tests your courage. but in this play she is completely given the choice.

she was forced into exile for the very thing that she left them for. who was trying to run her out of town.hurt everyone at once. Either way she does and when Jason comes down and sees what has happened he is appalled and in disbelief that she wont even let him touch his now dead children ever again. Medea flies away to Athens where she becomes the queen until she is kicked out by Theseus when she tries to poison him too. . Mythology behind this one womans tail gives us a reason to understand suffering for love and pain in giving it up. honor and country. In one version of the story it was an accident in all the commotion that was going on and Medea accidently killed her sons and Euripides tale where she chased after them with a sword in their home killing them. The next part is debatable as to whether or not it happened like in the play. She poisons a crown and wedding cape and sends them to Jason’s new mistress. Jason is hated by both the Gods and man because of his betrayal of Medea and he eventually dies by being hit in the head by a falling piece of his own ship. So the story goes that after Medea gave up everything she had in her life for love. Whether by the power of the gods or by the will of man Medea and Jason do not end as a happy story and their pain and strife give us the stories that live on threw the rest of our lives. her family. therefore killing her and her father.

she was forced into exile for the very thing that she left them for. . Mythology behind this one womans tail gives us a reason to understand suffering for love and pain in giving it up. honor and country.him touch his now dead children ever again. So the story goes that after Medea gave up everything she had in her life for love. Jason is hated by both the Gods and man because of his betrayal of Medea and he eventually dies by being hit in the head by a falling piece of his own ship. Medea flies away to Athens where she becomes the queen until she is kicked out by Theseus when she tries to poison him too. her family. Whether by the power of the gods or by the will of man Medea and Jason do not end as a happy story and their pain and strife give us the stories that live on threw the rest of our lives.

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