Lecture 23 – Euripides' Medea

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					Lecture 24 – Euripides’ Medea
                 Last Class
End of the Section on
  the stories of the
  ancient heroes
  - Aeneas
This Class
      First of Several Lectures
        on Heroes and
        Heroines in Literature
        - Start with Euripides’
      -We move from what
        was said more to who
        said it and in what
            Map of the Lecture
-   Greek Theatre
-   The Greek Tragedians
-   Euripides’ Medea
-   Passages
              General Details
 Chorus of singer/dancers performing in honor of
 Peisistratus – remade it as an urban Athenian
 Thespis – separated out a lead singer from the
 Aeschylus – adds a 2nd actor
 Sophocles – a 3rd actor
                    General Details
City Dionysia
   - An Archon chose wealthy citizens to fund the choruses, -
   costumes and training
   - also chose which playwright would be competing
        (449 – prizes established)
   - Three Days for Tragedies
               - One playwright each day
                       - three tragic plays
                       - a satyr play

  -    5th Century Theatre at Athens - 14000
  -    Athens paid the cost of seating for its own citizens
  -    Citizens and Foreigners allowed, slaves?, women?
General Details
                    General Details
- Actors (typically at a minimum)
- Costumes – including ‘platform boots’ and
- All roles were played by males
- Plays were episodic
  - divided between dialogue between characters and
     choral odes and dances
- Special Effects
  - a crane to lower a ‘god’ down from the sky
  - ekkuklema – a platform on wheels could role forward to
     reveal what happened inside/offset
              The Tragedians
Aeschylus -    525-456 BC   6 of 80
Sophocles -    496-406 BC   7 of 123
Euripides -    485-406 BC   12 of 92
                            1 Satyr Play
                   Subject Matter
- tends to focus on the fall of heroes
  (Myths of Argos and Thebes were popular)
- occasionally on historic subject matter
- the tragedian makes the fall a powerful emotional
  - brought on by some mistake
  - brought on by flaw in character (hubris – ate - nemesis)
  - envy of the gods, mortals must know their place
- as a general theme tragedy often deals with the
  question of what is the proper place of mankind – i.e.
  in relationship with the gods, with those more powerful
  than they are, and those with less or no power
Euripides is the last of the three great Athenian
His language is simplest and he makes his heroes
  human. He is far more interested in the psychology
  of his characters than earlier tragedians.
He is more questioning of society and his plays are
  restless; jumping at times from idea to idea at the
  expense of a cohesive plot.
He was least successful at Athens in his lifetime but
  became very popular after his death.
Euripides’ Medea
Medea dates to 431 - came in third - it may have been too

Medea (A powerful sorceress from Colchis – a barbarian city on
  the Black Sea)

Plot: After Jason retrieved the Golden Fleece, he settled down in
    Corinth with Medea where they had some children.
    Eventually the king of Corinth offered Jason his daughter to
    marry and Jason agreed. Medea kills their own children for

Euripides gives us the kind of Medea who could kill her children
    and the kind of Jason to drive her to it.
             Passages: Chapter 18
225 – 270 – Medea convinces the chorus of Corinthian
  women to side with her if she wants revenge.
She is an outsider, a barbarian, but speaking of their
  common plight and disadvantage that all women are at
  as well as presenting herself most sympathetically, she
  wins them over – they will not interfere with her plots.

1) Prove from the passage that she argues as ‘one of
2) Prove from the passage that she is particularly
            Passages: Chapter 18
446 – 470 – Jason comes on stage and this is out first
  look at him.

How does he come off?
How hard do you think he argued for Medea to stay?
Do you sense his distance from his old family?

 “And keep in mind, that, however you may hate me,
 never could I bear you the least resentment.”
            Passages: Chapter 18
471 – 527 – Medea rages against Jason, giving him the
  reasons for why he is the worst of men and how she
  thinks that he betrayed her.

Why does Jason owe to Medea?
         Passages: Chapter 18
530 – 585 Jason counters her argument.

What are his main points?
How are they flawed?
         Passages: Chapter 18
Lines 1133 – 1225: these come late in the play.

What details are particularly gruesome?
Why would Euripides make the deaths so cruel?
         Passages: Chapter 18
Lines 1323 – 1353: Jason arrives and finds out
  that Medea has also killed their own children.

How has Jason’s position reversed?
                Next Class
- Ovid’s treatment of
  Cadmus in Chapter
  17 - make that
  change to the
  syllabus – and
  treatment of

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