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Medea | Study Guide


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Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of the Parados of Euripides's play Medea.

Medea | Parados | Summary



This section includes the entrance of the Chorus and the dialogue between the Chorus and the Nurse. Summoned by Medea's cries from within her house, the Chorus enters the stage. The Nurse and the Chorus speak about Medea's plight, and the Nurse says that Medea receives no comfort from friends. Inside, Medea cries out for death and laments her past misdeeds to help Jason. The Chorus asks the Nurse to tell Medea to come out of the house and speak. The Nurse wishes that music could comfort human sorrow and suffering.

When the Chorus hears Medea's cries, it comments that the gods she is calling to watched over her on her dangerous journey from her homeland of Colchis to Greece through places many do not travel. One of these is "the strait which guards the Pontic Sea." This references the journey of the Argonauts, when the Argo slipped through the clashing black rocks on each side of a narrow strait. Few ships could navigate the area, and Jason, with the help of his crew and Medea, was able to do so.


The Chorus enters and speaks for Greek society, giving voice to moral issues and offering a counterpoint of reasonable judgment to Medea's passionate cries. Though the Chorus has yet to speak with Medea, it presents itself as a group of friends who can console her in her time of pain. The gods are mentioned in this section: Medea cries for Themis, the goddess of justice and promises, and to Artemis, the goddess of the hunt. Her choice of these goddesses reflects her need for revenge as well as her own feminine strength and partial divinity.

The brief lines from the Nurse on music could be a reference to the Muses, who inspired humans in the arts or sciences. The Nurse sets the audience up for imminent tragedy, and, although she wishes human sorrow could be "cured" by music, she admits this cure has never been found. Traditionally, it was the chorus's job to explicate characters' feelings and deeds, but Euripides pushes against the confines of classical tragedy by making the Nurse the one to comment on Medea's moods and actions. This is an early indication of his dwindling reliance on the chorus as a narrator and direct commentator on the action of his plays.

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