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Unformatted text preview: Euripides’ Euripides’ Medea
Tuesday, July 29 Euripides Euripides ca. 480406 BC 18 plays survive Wrote at least 90 Won at Dionysia four times, far fewer than Aeschylus and Sophocles Wrote the Cyclops, the only satyr play we have The Medea The Produced in 431 BC Came in 3rd place (i.e. last place) Creon = general name for a ruler; this Creon is different from the Creon of the Theban plays Set in Corinth Issues in the Medea Issues in the Barbarians as the Other Gender Heroism Jason Jason Rightful king of Iolchus Jason’s father Aeson overthrown by Pelias, his brother and Jason’s uncle Oracle to Pelias: “Beware of a man wearing one sandal.” When Jason returned home after being sent away by his mother, Pelias promised him the throne if he could bring back the golden fleece Jason set sail with his men, called the Argonauts, after their ship, the Argo Summary of Euripides’ Medea Summary of Euripides’ Jason is going to marry Glauce, the Corinthian princess Medea seeks revenge but buys some time by acting like a woman should Aigeus, the king of Athens shows up, and Medea arranges asylum for herself She sends her kids with poisonous gifts to Glauce Glauce’s dad, Creon, grabs her and sticks to her, thus dying with her Medea kills the children she and Jason share as her final act of revenge Medea flies away in the chariot of the sun Medea the Barbarian Other Medea the Barbarian Other Foreigner (barbarian = nonGreek) Animal (inarticulate sounds) Woman in a man’s world Homeless Witch (Circe’s sister or niece) Barbarian Other continued Barbarian Other continued Medea: “It isn’t the same for me as it is for you. This is your country, your families are here, your homes are here, and all your friends are round you. I am alone, a displaced person, stateless.” (p.317) Cf. Telemachus and the importance of social ties Athens in the Medea Athens in the “Athens, always a happy city, her kings descended from the gods, her land sacred, unravaged by hostile affray, her people drinking knowledge, walking serenely, where the light of day is brightest in the world . . . How can such a land, such a city give refuge to a murderess, a killer of her own children, an infanticide?” (p.334) Women in Tragedy Women in Tragedy 32 extant tragedies Women play central roles in nearly all of them Only Sophocles’ Philoctetes does not have a single woman Does tragedy perpetuate the ideology that produces it or challenge it or both? Euripides a Misogynist? Euripides a Misogynist?
Jason: “Women are better than men at planning evil.” Jason: “Why can’t men get children some other way, without women? What a picnic life would be if women didn’t exist.” (p.325) Or Feminist? Or Feminist?
Medea: “I’d rather serve in the front line a dozen times than go through childbirth once!” (p.317) Jason the Sophist Jason the Sophist Regarding his marriage to Glauce, the Corinthian princess, Jason says: “I can prove to you that this act of mine is a wise one, and not only wise but reasonable, and not only reasonable but beneficial to you and to my children.” (pp.32425) Jason’s reason vs. Medea’s passion Critics of the sophists – making the weaker argument the stronger (Plato) The Kleos of Medea The Jason: “Your gifts are appreciated here by people of culture. If you’d still been living out there in the back of beyond, do you think you’d be the talk of the town as you are here?” (p.324) Medea: “In this land of Corinth, in after time, there will be an annual ceremony in remembrance of this act of mine.” (p.347) [Pericles’ quote from funeral oration] Pericles on Women Pericles on Women
“If I must say something on the subject of female excellence to those of you who will now be in widowhood, it will be all comprised in this brief exhortation. Great will be your glory in not falling short of your natural character; and greatest will be hers who is least talked of among the men whether for good or for bad.” (Thucydides 2.45) Female Weapons Female Weapons Weapons, cunning, fabric, poison, magic (cf. Clytemnestra) Medea: “There’s something very persuasive about a gift; the proverb says even a god can’t say no to a gift.” (p.337) Medea’s Revenge Medea’s Revenge Kills her children (cf. Procne and Itys) Cf. Antigone = “anti seed, antibirth” Begins in solidarity with the female chorus, but gradually alienates herself from them A Divided Medea A Divided Medea According to Aristotle, women are naturally without autonomous moral authority Medea lacks a male authority, so her only opposition is herself Maternal Medea vs. Vengeful Medea The feminine voice in her loses Tries to hide what she is from those around her Medea the Hero Medea the Hero Heroes are removed from the social norm Jason fails to treat her like a hero, fails to honor their pact, and he pays for it “And so Medea’s shouting to high heaven about his marriage oaths and the joining of hands, and what can be a more solemn bond than that?” (p.311)
– Their marriage resembles a bond between two heroes, two people of equal status Medea the Hero continued Medea the Hero continued Medea acts like the archaic and tragic hero – Rage (cf. Ajax) – Drive for survival (cf. Odysseus) – Stubborn individualism – Does anything to defend honor – Lack of pity (cf. Achilles) – Puts down injustice Aigeus, King of Athens Aigeus, King of Athens Aristotle: unmotivated arrival A reminder of the future Aigeus childlessness Thematic, rather than narrative, continuity The problem with Medea’s children The Ending The Ending Medea’s departure on the chariot of the sun suggests there is no place for her in the social structure of the world ...
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