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If there's any justice, I want them - both of them - in a car crash. Her husband's gone and her future isn't bright. Imprisoned in her marital home, Medea can't work, can't sleep and increasingly can't cope. While her child plays, she plots her revenge. This startlingly modern version of Euripides' classic tragedy explores the private fury bubbling under public behaviour and how in today's world a mother, fuelled by anger at her husband's infidelity, might be driven to commit the worst possible crime.
Medea And Other Plays
This view derives support from Aristotle, who, as is well known, regarded the end of Medea as inorganic and contrived Poet. But even if we ignore the dragon-chariot, all is not smooth going. Viewed as a purely human drama and apart from the end, Medea is about the wrath of the heroine.
Yet the extremity of that wrath, which leads Medea to murder her own children, is something that has given some interpreters pause. Page registers the difficulty when he couples the child murder with the dragon-chariot as part of the "fantastic conclusion" of the play. That would be more reassuring than it is if one could see any evidence that others had found a more satisfactory solution to this problem.
There are other approaches besides Page's, some more plausible than others. For Pohlenz, Medea is a Seelendrama, an exploration of the inner life of the heroine.
The purpose of Medea and other similar plays of Euripides' early period is to give an artistic depiction of a psychological sequence of events, a subject the more objective earlier 2Conacher, Euripidean Drama Medea shows the barely submerged tensions in Greek culture between men, who manage affairs as seems best to themselves, and women, whose interests are sacrificed so that this may be so.
There is much to be said in favor of this view, and clearly the theme of men and women is an important one in the play. Yet it does not, by itself, quite "save the phenomena. She is also a foreigner, and if we thought Euripides intended to show the tensions in Greek society, it is hard to see why he would turn to this story.
Another group of interpretations sees in the play certain generalities about the human makeup. Kitto summarizes its meaning thus: "we have in us, besides reason, non-rational emotions that may run wild, thwarting our reason and bringing calamity. In the last analysis Euripides' tragic hero is mankind. But stated thus it seems jejune: did anyone doubt that irrational actions take place, and did Euripides feel this needed showing?
Easterling, "Infanticide" , who cites sociological statistics on child murder in the United Kingdom and Denmark. It may be that Euripides wants his audience to "understand" the phenomenon of child murder against the background of ordinary existence we cannot disprove this , but if so it is odd that the chorus are made to stress the unintelligibility and uniqueness of Medea's act. Easterling, "Infanticide" , writes in a similar vein: "The sense that Euripides seems to be making out of all this is as comfortless as the conclusions to which he points in the Hippolytus and the Bacchae.
What a vulnerable thing is civilization, when man's passions are so powerfully destructive. But the murder of her children is not a typically heroic act, and her appearance as a sort of deus ex machina at the end is not typically heroic exodos. The infanticide is thus one of the problems in this play that still remains to a degree opaque. But the play has another large problem, not at the end but at its very center, the notorious problem of Aegeus' bolt-from-the-blue appearance, already commented on unfavorably by Aristotle in the fourth century.
He comes along precisely when needed not as a result of anything in the play up to that point, and not even for the purpose of seeing Medea, but merely, so it seems, to advance the plot. Von Fritz well says that Aegeus' appearance precisely in the ten or twelve hours when he is needed is asking a lot not only of the reader in his study but also of the spectator in the theatre:Der schwerste [Anstoss] ist der, dass Aigeus bei Euripides ganz offenkundig nur zu dem Zweck eingefuhrt wird, Medea ein Asyl zu verschaffen.
Sogar bei Neophron war sein Erscheinen wenigstens etwas besser motiviert als bei Euripides. Dass er gerade innerhalb der zehn oder zwolf Stunden, wo Medea ihn braucht, vollig zufallig mit ihr zusammentreffen soll, obwohl er nicht die geringste Absicht dazu gehabt hat und ganz woanders hin unterwegs ist, heisst nicht nur dem nachrechnenden Leser, 8See esp.
Since Euripides does "make use of" the irrationality, I propose to read anagkes ouses eis meden cf. Gomperz's similar conjecture pros , the corruption being easily explained by assuming that eis was omitted by haplography after -es. Dafur soil man den Euripides ruhig tadeln. That is what Robinson Jeffers does pointedly several times in his otherwise quite close adaptation. Neophron, whom Page convincingly places after Euripides, addresses this problem by at least making Aegeus come looking for Medea.
Why did Euripides not see the simple point that the use of unexplained coincidence to further the plot is rather unsatisfying? The first point to be considered is that coincidence-frequently identified as divinely caused-is an important ingredient in the plays of all three tragic poets.
The second is that Aristotle had his reasons for failing to recognize or accept this fact. It is clear that significant coincidence is part of the design of many fifth-century plays. In Aeschylus' Septem we find the terrifying coincidence that all the other champions are assigned when Eteocles learns that his brother is at the seventh gate.
This is fundamental to the plot, which could not take place without it, and Eteocles is right to see in it the hand of Apollo destroying the offspring of Laius. In Sophocles' Antigone a dust storm allows Antigone to approach her brother's body unseen and then dissipates, revealing her to the eyes of the guard. There is some reason to regard this as divinely sent coincidence. It is clear by the end of the play that Apollo has saved his son's life, revealed the poison plot, and brought about the mutual recognition of mother and son.
The problem becomes even more acute, of course, if Neophron was not Euripides' imitator, as Page tried to show convincingly to my mind , but his predecessor.
It is easy to see why Neophron might have altered Euripides but difficult to explain the converse. The attempts by von Fritz ibid. Michelini's attack "Neophron" on Page's conclusions leaves the most important of his arguments still standing.
If Aeschylus had raised the question at all why it was Cilissa rather than someone sympathetic to Aegisthus who is sent with a message to him, a message it is essential to alter, he would surely have had someone comment on it as a favorable and perhaps providential occurrence. Aristotle-with his own philosophical agenda-was in one respect not well placed to appreciate what the tragic poets were trying to do.
As Gerald Else showed, his view of tragedy represents a deliberate jettisoning of its claims to deal with the superhuman or metaphysical realm. Notoriously, the gods are mentioned only twice in the entire Poetics,14 and the only duty they are assigned is that of filling in the unknowable past or future for the audience.
Aristotle carefully banishes the role of the gods in Oedipus to a place exo tes tragoidias, somewhat disingenuously since Apollo is clearly at work in the play itself. The intervention of the gods would be an alogon, the same word Aristotle applies to the chance arrival of Aegeus.
Yet though Aristotle does not admit divinely sent coincidence into the drama he is prescribing, we have seen that fifth-century tragedy has quite a bit of it.
We should consider carefully whether the arrival of Aegeus is not another instance. Aristotle's presuppositions led him to reject two things about Medea that also cause moderns concern, the divine intervention at the end of the play and the chance arrival of Aegeus. The question arises naturally whether we should follow his lead, or whether a truncated view of tragedy like Aristotle's might be responsible for many of the difficulties interpreters have had with Medea.
Is the chance event at the play's center meant to be understood as a dramatic convenience or as a manifestation of divine guidance of mortal affairs? Do any other things in the play, the dragon-chariot apart, suggest the presence of divinity?
Can the supposition that the gods are at work help us in any way to understand the other great problem in the play, the pathological direction taken by Medea's wrath against Jason? This is denied by Heath, "Universality" I here transcribe for brief comment a fraction of them.
The to suggest that Zeus has a reason to punish Jason, while Medea's words hint that he is actually at work in the arrival of her rescuer Aegeus. Both before and after Medea's revenge, Medea, the chorus, and the messenger are made to say that the gods will bring about, or have brought about, the punishment of Jason.
Before the fact the chorus predict , quoted above that Zeus will take Medea's part. Medea's last words to Jason at the end of their first scene together foretell Jason's downfall and claim that this prediction is divinely inspired: The irony of these lines has been well prepared by all the preceding suggestions that Jason, far from being the darling of the gods, is about to be signally punished. A plausible reading of a work intended for performance is one that is able to proceed through the work scene by scene and speech by speech and find thematically significant material throughout.
Before we produce this erzahlende Analyse,15 however, it will be important to reflect in a more general way on the workings of the gods in earlier writers. How, in Greek literature, is Zeus thought to punish offenses against himself?
Zeus rarely employs the thunderbolt or intervenes in any overtly miraculous way. Sometimes human agents, who have their own motives for revenge, are taken up in Zeus's plan and become agents mostly unwitting of his justice. Such is the case, Aeschylus' chorus of old men tell us, with Agamemnon, who has his own reasons for being angry with the house of Priam but whose wrath is made to serve the purpose of Zeus Xenios.
The punishment of Creon in Antigone is similar. The agents of his punishment, Antigone, Haemon, and Eurydice, act out of their affections for brother, affianced bride, and son, affections that Creon's high-handedness has outraged. At the same time they succeed in punishing Creon for his offenses against the unwritten laws of the gods, though none of them explicitly saw that as their role. In the case of Agamemnon the agent of divine justice himself perishes when he has served his turn, and there are indications that his role in the punishment of Priam was deliberately shaped by Zeus notably the sacrifice of Iphigenia so as to cause his own subsequent destruction in order to settle a quite different score.
Agamemnon and Priam are both destroyed by Zeus's Erinyes for different reasons. Likewise, there is a strong suggestion in the second stasimon and elsewhere in Antigone that Antigone's fate is what it is because of her Labdacid inheritance, that in punishing Creon for his transgression of immemorial custom she is also serving to bring about her own ruin and with it the ruin of the house of Laius.
Her heroic stubbornness in the face of death is at once morally admirable, necessary for her role in the punishment of Creon, and part of her father's damnosa hereditas leading to her own destruction.
The relevance of all this to our play should now be clear. Zeus has an excellent reason for punishing Jason, Jason is in fact punished, and both before and after the punishment everyone agrees in ascribing it to Zeus or to the gods in general. The agent of the punishment is a woman whose heroic sense of honor smarts under the insult of being cast aside, flTLlato[lrVE.
The revenge her anger leads her to take is one that involves inflicting misery on herself, the ruin of her future happiness even if not the actual end of her life.
There are suggestions that Zeus has his own score to settle with her, notably for the murder of her brother. And, as we will see, the change in her plan of revenge looks very much like the result of an intervention of Zeus, an intervention that both destroys Jason in a manner that befits his perjury and insures that Medea herself will be punished as well. All this comes about in spite of circumstances that would seem to make such a revenge highly unlikely on any human estimate of probabilities: truly Tcv a6oxlT ov o r6eov vlet T 0 6og.
In the opening monologue the nurse describes Medea's first reaction to the news that she has been cast off: anger and chagrin that her trust in Jason's oath and her benefactions to him have been repaid in this way, grief at having betrayed her father, her country, and her home for a man who has now dishonored her, and the knowledge that she has no community or family to support her.
The nurse, who knows her well, fears that she will take no slight measures to avenge the insult to herself. It looks, however, as if this will prove impossible.
[PDF.16au] Medea and Other Plays (Oxford World's Classics)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required. Four plays which exemplify his interest in flawed, characters who defy the expectations of Greek society The four tragedies collected in this volume all focus on a central character, once powerful, brought down by betrayal, jealousy, guilt and hatred. The first playwright to depict suffering without reference to the gods, Euripides made his characters speak in human terms and face the consequences of their actions. In Medea, a woman rejected by her lover takes hideous revenge by murdering the children they both love, and Hecabe depicts the former queen of Troy, driven mad by the prospect of her daughter's sacrifice to Achilles.
Medea , in which a spurned woman takes revenge upon her lover by killing her children, is one of the most shocking of all the Greek tragedies. Medea is a towering figure who demonstrates Euripides' unusual willingness to give voice to a woman's case. Alcestis is based on a magical myth in which Death is overcome, and The Children of Heracles examines conflict between might and right, while Hippolytus deals with self-destructive integrity. Euripides is thought to have lived between and BC. He is considered to be one of the three great dramatists of Ancient Greece, alongside Aeschylus and Sophocles.
Dominating the play is Medea herself, a towering and powerful figure who demonstrates Euripides' unusual willingness to give voice to a woman's case. These plays show Euripides transforming the awesome figures of Greek mythology into recognizable, fallible human beings. John Davie's accessible prose translation is accompanied by a general introduction and individual prefaces to each play. Euripides Euripides. Euripides is thought to have lived between and BC. He is considered to be one of the three great dramatists of Ancient Greece, alongside Aeschylus and Sophocles.
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Medea and Other Plays
The plot centers on the actions of Medea, a former princess of the " kingdom of Colchis , and the wife of Jason; she finds her position in the Greek world threatened as Jason leaves her for a Greek princess of Corinth. Medea takes vengeance on Jason by murdering Jason's new wife as well as her own children two sons , after which she escapes to Athens to start a new life. Euripides ' play has been explored and interpreted by playwrights across the centuries and the world in a variety of ways, offering political, psychoanalytical, feminist, among many other original readings of Medea , Jason and the core themes of the play. Medea , with three others, [a] earned Euripides third prize in the City Dionysia.
Euripides was one of the most popular and controversial of all Greek tragedians, and his plays are marked by an independence of thought, ingenious dramatic devices, and a subtle variety of register and mood. He is also remarkable for the prominence he gave to female characters, whether heroines of virtue or vice. This new translation does full justice to Euripides's range of tone and gift of narrative. A lucid introduction provides substantial analysis of each play, comp You can specify the type of files you want, for your device.
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Medea , in which a spurned woman takes revenge upon her lover by killing her children, is one of the most shocking of all the Greek tragedies. Medea is a towering figure who demonstrates Euripides' unusual willingness to give voice to a woman's case. Alcestis is based on a magical myth in which Death is overcome, and The Children of Heracles examines conflict between might and right, while Hippolytus deals with self-destructive integrity. A statement in Herodotus gives grounds for thinking that he was a slave. He has published widely on many aspects of Greek literature, especially tragedy. He is in great demand as a lecturer all over the world, and is a frequent broadcaster on radio and television on classical matters.
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