Medea Study Guide by Course Hero What's Inside ABOUT THE TITLE Medea is the main character in the play and is based on a sorceress from Greek mythology. j Book Basics ................................................................................................. 1 d In Context ..................................................................................................... 1 d In Context a Author Biography ..................................................................................... 2 h Characters .................................................................................................. 3 Ancient Greek Theater k Plot Summary ............................................................................................. 5 The drama festivals where tragedies such as Medea were c Scene Summaries .................................................................................... 9 g Quotes ......................................................................................................... 17 l Symbols ...................................................................................................... 18 performed began as gatherings to honor the wine god Dionysus. At the earliest festivals, large groups would dance and sing hymns praising the god. This was the earliest form of the chorus. Then, in the 6th century BCE, Thespis, a poet, became the first actor when he joined in and interacted with m Themes ....................................................................................................... 19 b Glossary of Literary Terms and Devices ................................... 20 e Suggested Reading ............................................................................... 21 the chorus. (It is from Thespis's name that the word thespian emerged, which means "actor.") For more than a century, theatrical productions continued to feature very few actors, with just the playwright and later two and then three actors portraying all the characters. All of the actors were men. They wore masks with exaggerated j Book Basics expressions and used dramatic gestures that could be seen by the entire audience in the vast open-air theaters of the day. These theaters were constructed with steep fan-shaped walls AUTHOR of seats holding as many as 14,000 viewers looking down Euripides toward a raised stage. This construction helped the large FIRST PERFORMED 431 BCE GENRE Tragedy audience to hear the dialogue. It is also believed that the mouthpieces of the masks may have been similar in structure to megaphones in order to project the actors' voices. As time passed the chorus shrank in size and became less involved in the action. Instead, the chorus acted as an observer PERSPECTIVE AND NARRATOR of the characters and their actions. Like narrators, the chorus As is typical of ancient Greek plays, Medea's characters described parts of the plot that happened outside of the play's include a Chorus that functions as her moral advisors and the action, interpreted the emotions of the characters, and collective voice of society. commented on the action. The chorus recited and sometimes Medea Study Guide sang its lines in unison, though at times the chorus leader would speak alone. In addition, the chorus would dance. It Author Biography 2 a Author Biography moved in a circular motion in one direction for the strophe, or first part of its song, and then reversed direction for the Few details about Euripides's life are documented. He was second part of the song, called the antistrophe. In Greek born around 485 BCE. He was likely from a fairly wealthy comedy the chorus eventually disappeared, to be replaced by family and was initially educated to become an athlete. Among intermittent singing. Euripedes's tutors was the foremost sophist Protagoras, whose ideas influenced his own. Protagoras was a known Dramatic Structure of Greek Tragedies agnostic concerning the gods, a viewpoint that was not uncommon among the educated elite of Greek society; he famously wrote, "Man is the measure of all things." In general sophists valued and practiced skepticism and the use of clever rhetorical argument to sway others' opinions and acquire In ancient Greece tragedies were performed in one sitting, so political power. Even in their own time, sophists were viewed they did not have the acts, scenes, or intermissions of modern with distaste and considered amoral tricksters. Euripedes's theater. The dramatic structure often given to Greek tragedies fellow pupil and lifelong friend Socrates was also tarred with follows: prologos (introduction to the topic), parados the sophist brush by many of his contemporaries. This (choreographed entrance of the chorus, who chant the association with sophism was used against both Euripides and background to the present story), episode (a dialogue scene Socrates by their detractors. between characters—including the chorus—in which they describe action that has occurred elsewhere), stasimon (the chorus's comment on the scene and the action described), and exodos (final comment by the chorus giving the moral of the play). Medea follows this structure. Euripides might have grown up on the island of Salamis, where his parents owned some property, and he probably wrote many of his plays there. The 1997 archaeological excavation of a cave on the island found a clay pot inscribed with the playwright's name, dating from the era in which he lived. Though the inscription had been added at a later date, the The Dionysia Medea was first performed at the Dionysia, a famous Athenian drama festival. It grew in popularity in the 5th century and discovery gave weight to historical evidence that Euripides wrote in the cave. He was married and had three sons. He died in 406 in Macedonia, where he had spent several years as a member of King Archelaus's court. included dramatic competitions. The three best-known Greek Euripides left a large body of work—about 92 plays and many tragic playwrights of the time were Sophocles, Euripides, and fragments. His complete tragedies include Alcestis (438 BCE), Aeschylus. Many of their tragedies, like Medea, were based on Medea (431), Hippolytus (428), Electra (c. 418), The Trojan Greek mythology. Even though Athenian audiences knew these Women (415), and The Bacchae (410). stories, Greek tragedy added theatrical elements, thoughtprovoking dialogues, and moral dilemmas to the familiar myths. Medea is one of Euripides's most famous tragedies. It not only At the Dionysia in 432, Euripedes's submission of Medea draws on Greek mythology but also explores the darker side of received third place, which may have reflected its its protagonist—a strong-willed and memorable female unconventional treatment of a familiar story. As the British character. This focus on the emotions and humanity of his classical scholar Gilbert Murray put it, "Athenians in 432 [BCE] characters sets Euripides apart from the other great had not yet learn[ed] to understand or tolerate such work as dramatists of Ancient Greece. Because of its dominant female this." lead, some consider Medea one of the earliest pieces of feminist literature. Others disagree, saying that Euripides actually held up Medea as an example of how women should not behave. Copyright © 2018 Course Hero, Inc. Medea Study Guide h Characters Medea From Colchis, the land of the magical Golden Fleece, Medea is the daughter of King Aeetes and granddaughter of Helios, the sun god. She met and fell in love with Jason when he arrived in Colchis on a quest for the Golden Fleece. Medea has magical powers and used them to help Jason in his quest. The pair ended up in Corinth, where they began raising their children. But now Jason has left Medea to marry the princess of Corinth. The play opens with Medea raging at Jason's betrayal. She plots and executes her revenge on Jason, even denying her parental feelings toward her children. Jason Jason was born a prince of Iolcus, but when his uncle Pelias usurped the throne from Jason's father, Jason was sent to the centaur Chiron to be trained as a Greek hero. When he was old enough to seek his birthright—the throne of Iolcus—Jason acquired a ship called the Argos and manned it with a crew called the Argonauts. Jason and the Argonauts set sail to take up King Pelias's challenge to bring the Golden Fleece to Iolcus. Supported by Medea's magic, Jason used his hero training to complete a series of difficult tasks set by King Aeetes of Colchis, Medea's father. In the play Jason's betrayal of Medea stings all the more because of how she has loved and helped him throughout his exploits. He claims to want to help his family by leaving Medea, but she doesn't see that as a valid excuse. Copyright © 2018 Course Hero, Inc. Characters 3 Medea Study Guide Characters 4 Character Map Father New spouses Jason Father Hero; remarries for wealth and status Ruler Former spouses Creon Second Son Child of Medea and Jason Medea Ruler Sorceress; betrayed, seeks revenge King of Corinth Brothers Murders First Son Murders Child of Medea and Jason Father Murders Princess Princess of Corinth; Jason's new wife Main Character Other Major Character Minor Character Copyright © 2018 Course Hero, Inc. Moral advisors Chorus Women of Corinth Medea Study Guide Plot Summary 5 Full Character List Character Description Medea Medea is Jason's wife and the mother of his two children, whom she murders as revenge for Jason's betrayal. Jason Jason is a Greek hero and Medea's husband, who leaves her to marry the Princess of Corinth for wealth and social standing. Second Son Medea and Jason's two sons are killed by their mother as revenge for their father's infidelity. k Plot Summary Medea is set in the ancient Greek city-state of Corinth. Jason, the heroic son of King Aeson of Iolcus, has left his wife, Medea, and married the princess of Corinth. As the play begins, the Nurse, Medea's slave, gives a monologue summarizing events that took place before the play began. Jason had been given Nurse The servant of Medea, the Nurse comments on Medea's emotional state. Tutor As the servant assigned to the children of Medea and Jason, the Tutor also comments on Medea's mental state while watching over the children. the task of capturing the Golden Fleece by the king, Pelias, who took the throne of Iolcus away from Jason's father. The Golden Fleece, a ram's gold skin, is defended by a dragon in Colchis, a region on the Black Sea. With a group of men called the Argonauts, Jason sailed to Colchis in the Argo and enlisted the help of Medea, the king's daughter, to carry out the task. Medea, who has magical powers, fell passionately in love with Chorus Leader Leader of the Corinthian women who speak for society. Jason. She not only helped him, betraying her own family, but married him. She then conspired to murder Pelias through trickery, which forced the couple into exile in Corinth. They Chorus The Chorus is a group of Corinthian women who speak for society as they observe Medea's words and actions and offer moral advice. have two sons, but Jason wants more wealth and so has left Medea for his new bride, the daughter of King Creon of Corinth. Medea is mad with rage at being dishonored and abandoned. Creon As the King of Corinth, Creon attempts to banish Medea and her children, but in the end he unwittingly allows her the time she needs to take revenge. The Nurse hears her crying to the gods from within her house and worries about what Medea will do in her dangerous state of mind. The Chorus—a group of Corinthian women who are Medea's friends and serve as the voice of Greek society in the Aegeus Aegeus, the king of Athens, visits Medea and offers her sanctuary in exchange for magical help to cure his sterility. play—arrives onstage, and the Nurse fetches Medea to speak to the women. Medea, however, will not be consoled. A divorced woman has no respect, she tells them; she has no city, no protection, and no relatives to help her. Messenger The Messenger reports the gory details surrounding the murders of the princess and King Creon. King Creon arrives to order Medea and the children into exile, because he fears Medea will harm his daughter, given her experience in "evil ways." After Medea begs to remain for one Princess First Son Although she does not appear in the play, the princess is an important target of Medea's revenge and is described as vain and disdainful of Jason's sons. Medea and Jason's two sons are killed by their mother as revenge for their father's infidelity. day, the king grants her wish—foolishly, for Medea begins plotting the murder of his daughter. Jason appears to say that Medea deserves her exile for slandering the royal house. When Medea reminds him of all the crimes she committed to help him and of their children, Jason belittles her help. He claims he did more for her than she for him and says he's marrying the princess to give his children financial security. Medea refuses his offer of help, saying,"Gifts from a worthless man are Copyright © 2018 Course Hero, Inc. Medea Study Guide without value." When Aegeus, the king of Athens, comes to ask Medea for some advice, Medea asks him to take her in, and he agrees. After he exits Medea reveals to the Chorus her plan to send the children to the princess with a poisoned robe and tiara, then kill the children. She feels she has no other choice with "no father, no home, no refuge." Soon a messenger from Creon's house comes to say the princess and king are both dead; in trying to lift his dead daughter, the king became entangled in the poisoned robe and died. Medea next enters the house to kill the children, and the audience hears their cries for help. Jason arrives to the news that the boys are dead. As Medea rises above the house in a winged chariot, the bodies of the children inside, she taunts Jason: she has finally moved his heart. She flies off to "Hera's sacred lands/in Acraia" to bury her children and then go to Athens. The Chorus comments, "What we don't expect/some god finds a way/to make it happen." Copyright © 2018 Course Hero, Inc. Plot Summary 6 Medea Study Guide Plot Summary 7 Plot Diagram Climax 7 Falling Action 6 Rising Action 8 5 4 9 3 Resolution 2 1 Introduction 7. Medea stabs her sons. Introduction 1. Nurse and Tutor discuss Jason's betrayal; Medea cries. Falling Action 8. Jason arrives to take his sons but learns they are dead. Rising Action 2. Creon grants Medea one more day before her exile. Resolution 3. Medea plots to kill Creon, Jason, and the princess. 9. Medea flies off in a winged chariot with her sons' bodies. 4. Medea arranges sanctuary in Athens. 5. Medea plans to kill her sons as her final revenge on Jason. 6. Medea sends poisoned gifts to kill the princess and Creon. Climax Copyright © 2018 Course Hero, Inc. Medea Study Guide Plot Summary 8 Timeline of Events The Beginning The Nurse and Tutor discuss Medea's turmoil. First Visitor Medea begs Creon for a one-day reprieve. Afterward Medea uses poison to murder the princess and Creon. Second Visitor Medea has her first encounter with Jason, which is bitter. Third Visitor Medea asks King Aegeus for sanctuary, which he grants. Afterward Medea announces she will kill her sons. Fourth Visitor Medea hears how the princess and Creon died. The End Medea kills her sons and flies off in a winged chariot. Copyright © 2018 Course Hero, Inc. Medea Study Guide c Scene Summaries Scene Summaries 9 suggests destruction and accompanies the introduction of the symbol of offstage cries. The doors open as if the house were breaking as Medea screams from within, calling on the world to heed her anger. Prologos In her retelling of the tales of Jason's acquisition of the Golden Fleece, the Nurse tells a story that would have been familiar to Summary the Athenian audience. Medea, already an exile from her family, helped Jason, who needed the help of others, including that of a sorceress from a non-Greek land. It is significant that the first The prologos consists of the Nurse's monologue, the dialogue line of the play references Jason's ship the Argo, which sailed between the Nurse and the Tutor, and the bellows of Medea from Greece to the land of Colchis, Medea's homeland. The from within the house. In the Nurse's monologue, she wishes Nurse takes the audience back to the source of the tragedy for the erasure of past events, such as the making of Jason's when she says, "O how I wish that the ship the Argo/had never ship, the Argo, which sailed to Medea's land of Colchis in sailed off." Had that one event not taken place, Jason and search of the Golden Fleece. She laments the crimes Medea Medea would not have met, and the present events would not committed to help Jason, acknowledging that things between be happening. Jason and Medea had been "secure and safe" because they had stood "as one." But Jason's betrayal has disrupted this Euripides goes against convention by having servants relay harmony. information about the two main characters, who are already entrenched in their new roles of betrayer and betrayed. The The Nurse continues to set up the conflict in the play in her setup of the main characters mirrors the mood of urgency, monologue by telling of Jason's marriage to the princess of where tragedy will unfold from their actions. The Nurse's words Corinth, which causes Medea to despair, to "[waste] away," show the characters not as masters of the house who are and to be "always in tears." She goes on to explain Medea's above questioning but as failing humans whose decisions exile from her homeland and her growing estrangement from result in permanent consequences. her own children. Fearing Medea may stab herself, the king, or Jason, the Nurse calls her a "dangerous woman." The Nurse and the Tutor discuss Medea's woe. The Tutor tells Parados the Nurse he overheard gossip that King Creon plans to banish Medea and her children from Corinth. The Nurse curses Jason for his rejection of his own sons. Asking the Tutor to keep the Summary children from Medea because of her rage, the Nurse hopes this anger "falls on enemies, not on friends!" When Medea enters to speak with the Nurse, she does, indeed, connect her children with her rage toward Jason's betrayal, asking the house and those in it to "crash down in ruins." 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 Analysis misdeeds to help Jason. The Chorus asks the Nurse to tell The prologos creates an urgent, tension-filled atmosphere, that music could comfort human sorrow and suffering. crackling with the reverberations of Medea's fury. The Nurse introduces the themes of passion and betrayal in her first few sentences, and they are reinforced when the audience hears Medea's cries from within the house. Medea's temper is "intense," and the Nurse muses it will "catch fire." This Copyright © 2018 Course Hero, Inc. Medea to come out of the house and speak. The Nurse wishes 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 Medea Study Guide Scene Summaries 10 Argonauts, when the Argo slipped through the clashing black agrees that Jason needs some form of punishment. The rocks on each side of a narrow strait. Few ships could navigate Chorus says to Medea, "You are right/to pay your husband the area, and Jason, with the help of his crew and Medea, was back." able to do so. When Creon enters he tells Medea that he's heard of her threats of revenge. Because of this Creon orders Medea and Analysis her two children into exile. Creon fears Medea's rage and abilities as a sorceress. Medea downplays her cleverness, The Chorus enters and speaks for Greek society, giving voice saying she hates only Jason and will be silent. She asks that to moral issues and offering a counterpoint of reasonable she and her children be allowed to remain in Corinth. Initially judgment to Medea's passionate cries. Though the Chorus has Creon refuses, but he relents when Medea begs for one more yet to speak with Medea, it presents itself as a group of friends day to prepare for her exile. 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 Medea tells the Chorus she placated Creon only to gain an advantage. She reveals that she wants to "turn three of my enemies/to corpses—father, daughter, and my husband." Medea ponders how to kill them and decides, as long as she can secure sanctuary for herself afterward, to use poison. A more direct means, such as the sword, would only end in her own death. 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, Analysis she admits this cure has never been found. Traditionally, it was the chorus's job to explicate characters' feelings and deeds, In her first speech, Medea switches quickly from rational but Euripides pushes against the confines of classical tragedy speech to heated words. Her arguments skip from point to by making the Nurse the one to comment on Medea's moods point about the hardships of women, without landing on one and actions. This is an early indication of his dwindling reliance clear, cohesive speech. And yet the audience gets a sense of on the chorus as a narrator and direct commentator on the her inner journey, her need to travel to a place where she is not action of his plays. the foreigner and to a place where Jason pays for his betrayal of their family. Episode 1 Medea's rage clouds any fair and moral judgement. She speaks of her "special skill" of sorcery to concoct the poison to murder her enemies. Just as the Greek actors wore masks to Summary represent emotions or characters, Medea wears a mask with Creon, feigning docility and resignation, when actually she is manipulating him, preying on his dedication to fatherhood to Episode 1 includes the entrance of Medea, dialogue between secure one more day to execute her plan. Euripides shows Medea and Creon, and dialogue between Medea and the Medea's traits through her interactions with Creon: she has the Chorus. Medea enters the stage to speak to the Chorus about ability to assess the situation. And just as she can switch from the unfortunate lot of women. She laments how men rule rational to emotional argument, so she can change tactics to women's bodies in marriage, how women must work to learn gain what she needs to carry out her revenge. She reads their husbands' needs in marriage, and how divorce brings Creon's weaknesses immediately and exploits them. shame to women but not to men. She also speaks of the pain of childbirth, preferring to be in battle than to give birth. She The theme of exile is presented in this section: Medea as a says that, when a woman is hurt by love and her marriage woman in exile, alone with two children, is a desperate image. betrayed, her heart is "desperate for blood." The Chorus She pleads her need to provide for her children because, as Copyright © 2018 Course Hero, Inc. Medea Study Guide she says, Jason refuses to do so. In actuality, after Creon's exit, Medea calls on her noble parentage, her divine heredity, Scene Summaries 11 Episode 2 and her worship of Hecate (the goddess of magic) to help her with her plot. Stasimon 1 Summary Episode 2 is Medea's first encounter with Jason. Throughout the play they fight bitterly, casting names and insults at each other. When Jason enters he immediately accuses Medea of Summary The Chorus comments that Medea has reversed the usual flow of history. The man is no longer in control, no longer the one singing of women's faithlessness. Lamenting women's inability to "[make] sacred music" or sing responses to the songs of men, the Chorus has sympathy for Medea, a foreigner deserted by her husband. The Chorus restates the unfortunate making her situation worse with her "stupid chatter." He believes she and the children would otherwise have been allowed to remain in Corinth. Medea recounts all she did to help Jason attain the Golden Fleece, saying her love for him was greater than her "wisdom" and reminding him that she has no homeland any longer because of the crimes she committed to help him. She tells Jason his children will live "like vagabonds" in exile. things that have happened to Medea, mentioning how Jason Jason believes Medea exaggerates her past help. He suggests shamelessly broke his oath to her. he could injure her more by saying her love for him is from the arrow of Eros and nothing more. Continuing the insults, Jason Analysis Even though Medea distorts her power by using it for evil, her strength in a male-dominated time is appealing, and the Chorus echoes her strength, softening it with reason. One of the main themes in Medea is passion. While Medea's murderous crimes are the most apparent, the crime that sets her current plan in motion is emotional: Jason's betrayal and desertion of her and their children for personal gain. Jason's marriage to Medea is not a typical one because she is not Greek. What's more, the gods have given the marriage their says she is better off in Greece than in her "country of barbarians." Jason claims he did not marry the princess out of desire but to bring more status to his family. If he had told Medea of this plan, things might have been different. Jason calls women "idiotic" and says men would be better off if they didn't need women to produce children. As the two argue, the Chorus leader comments that, although Jason has made some sound points, he should not have betrayed his family. Jason tells Medea he is done arguing and offers some money for her banishment if she wants it. Medea refuses and tells him to leave. approval. As a stranger in Greece with no family and friends of her own, Medea needs Jason's support. She has earned that support through her repeated aid in his endeavors—aid that Analysis called on her divine resources. Jason's disregard for her and Jason presents himself unsympathetically in this encounter. for the oath he has implicitly made through creating a family His speech is demeaning to women, and his degrading words with her calls for punishment. The Chorus says, "The honour in flow easily. By saying that his marriage to a new woman is for an oath has gone./... throughout wide Hellas/there's no shame the benefit of Medea and their children, Jason shows his lack any more." At the same time, Medea's excessive passion raises of honor. It is not his infidelity that makes him a candidate for some sympathy for Jason on the part of the audience, lending revenge but his willingness to replace his long-standing oath to moral complexity to the play. Medea with a new oath to the princess. In contrast, Medea continually comes back to the importance of commitment and love, placing a greater value on them than on money and status. Copyright © 2018 Course Hero, Inc. Medea Study Guide Scene Summaries 12 Jason also disparages Medea as an outsider. While he eagerly body, and scattering the remains for their father to find. Later, accepted her help in acquiring the Golden Fleece and escaping again for Jason, she forced King Pelias's daughters to kill their Colchis, he is quick to criticize her country as being uncivilized. father. All these acts were rooted in her passionate love for Of course, his views of non-Greeks were likely not much Jason, and, as long as she was with him, she could bear her different from those of the Athenians watching the play in exile. But now he has left her to bear it alone—and he doesn't ancient Greece. By making him come off as a status-seeking even see this betrayal as important. oath-breaker, Euripides may have been criticizing such views, especially by pairing his unoriginal statements with Medea's passionate words. Episode 3 The idea of value threads through this episode. Medea speaks to Zeus, wishing the god had given humans the ability to assess the value of a man just as they do the value of gold. Jason, once a hero, gives his opinion of Medea and women in general openly, belittling their worth to society. He believes a prosperous life means a link to royalty, while Medea scoffs at this view. Status and wealth have value to Jason, but Medea deems any offer of monetary compensation, even if it will benefit her children, completely worthless. She says, "Gifts from a worthless man are without value." Summary Medea's next visitor is Aegeus, who has just seen the oracle to ask why he is unable to have children. The oracle has told him to see a holy man in Corinth. Medea wishes Aegeus well. When he asks why she is so pale, Medea tells him how Jason has betrayed her by marrying the princess of Corinth. Aegeus is appalled. Medea says she knows of medicines that can cure his sterility and asks Aegeus, who is king of Athens, to provide refuge for her and her sons. Aegeus agrees, saying he cannot Stasimon 2 get her safely to Athens; but, if she and her children reach Athens, he will give her sanctuary. Medea makes him promise and swear by her grandfather Helios that he will accept her. Summary After Aegeus departs Medea works on the details of her plan. First she will have to convince Jason of her acceptance of his After Jason leaves the Chorus extols moderation in love in a marriage. She will beg him to convince Creon to allow their choral prayer to Aphrodite, goddess of love. It asks her not to children to remain in Corinth. Then she will send her children to strike them with passionate love driven by jealousy or desire the princess with gifts—a gown and a golden tiara—to ask that but to grant them moderation and peace in marriage. The they be spared from banishment. The gifts, however, are Chorus also prays to their homeland never to be exiled poisoned and will kill anyone who puts them on or touches because "there's no affliction worse than losing one's own them. Medea also announces an additional act of revenge—the land." Finally, the Chorus says it could never be friends with murder of her sons—in order to eliminate "Jason's house Jason because he shamed and was dishonest with his family. completely." The Chorus leader pleads with Medea to reconsider her sinister plot, pointing out that it is against the Analysis law and, worse still, will destroy her to have to kill her own children. Medea says, "That's beside the point," and she sends the Nurse to fetch Jason. This choral pairing of the motifs of moderation in love and desperation in exile brings Medea's suffering to the fore. Medea suffers because she is passionate, not moderate, in her Analysis love for Jason. It is made worse because of the "affliction" of exile. Committing crimes against her homeland when she Aegeus's visit allows the audience to see Medea as a middle- helped Jason acquire the Golden Fleece forced her to flee with aged, experienced woman—an atypical avenger—who has him. To ensure their escape, she committed even more friends and cares for other people. With Aegeus, Medea is her atrocious crimes—murdering her brother, chopping up his most lucid and everyday self. She inquires sincerely after Copyright © 2018 Course Hero, Inc. Medea Study Guide Scene Summaries 13 Aegeus's welfare, and they chat as old friends would. The perhaps Athens is actually the most suitable place for Medea episode provides insight into another time in her life. to find sanctuary. In some ways this section is out of sync with the rest of the play simply because of Medea's calm demeanor. Nevertheless, it propels the plot forward because Medea uses her old Episode 4 friendship to secure sanctuary after she commits her murders, allowing her to move forward with her revenge plot. Summary Medea's speech in this episode displays her self-confidence, striking a spirited, almost heroic tone. This strength contrasts Jason returns and demands to know what Medea wants from with Jason's weakness. Once the hero leading the Argonauts, him. Medea begins by asking his forgiveness, saying she was he now pales in comparison with Medea in terms of power, foolish to be angry with him for seeking an advantageous pride, and determination. Medea, as a character on an inner marriage that will link their sons to royalty. She calls to the journey, is coming into her own as a force of feminine power, children to come and see their parents mending things. Medea an avenger who is righting injustices. (Of course, her plan is not cries holding the children, and the Chorus leader weeps, too, out of keeping with her own prior history of familial murder.) knowing what will come to pass. Jason tells his sons that they will grow up to rule Corinth alongside their future brothers. Medea weeps more. When Jason asks why Medea weeps, she Stasimon 3 gives him an expected, pat response—that tears are the normal response for women. Summary Medea says she will accept her own exile but asks Jason to implore Creon not to exile the children. To gain the princess's help in convincing her father, Medea says she wants to offer In response to Medea's plot, the Chorus sings the praises of the princess the crown and gown as gifts, explaining that they Athens and asks Medea to consider how "this city of sacred were passed down from her grandfather, the god Helios. streams,/this land of strolling lovers" will react to the presence Medea tells the children to deliver them and to make sure they of a woman who has murdered her own children. It begs place them only in the princess's hands. Medea again to give up on her plan and show mercy to her children. Analysis Analysis Euripides uses two types of irony in this section: dramatic irony and situational irony. Dramatic irony is when the audience or The Chorus mentions Erechtheus, an early king of Athens. His reader knows more about what will come to pass than the "sons," the Athenians, are said to be blessed and living in a "city characters do. Dramatic irony takes place in this portion of the of sacred streams." The Chorus once again brings up the motif play because the audience knows Medea's plan while Jason of binding love with wisdom, which it believes Athenians do in does not. Although the audience can infer what is behind order to "foster all fine things." This motif contrasts with the Medea's tears and words, he takes them at face value. themes of betrayal and revenge, which result when passion Euripides adds layers to the dramatic irony because, while the overcomes wisdom. The Chorus foreshadows possible action audience knows Medea's plot and Jason does not, they must beyond the play, to the time when Medea makes her escape still make guesses about her character development. Where is and lands in this sacred country, bringing the memory of her her inner journey at this point in the tragedy? Does she truly rage and violent acts with her. weep for the children? Or is she just acting like a devoted In one of Euripides's lost plays, Erechtheus sacrificed his own daughters to the god Apollo in order to win a battle with another city-state. The chorus seems unaware of this, but Copyright © 2018 Course Hero, Inc. mother releasing her children into another woman's arms? After all, everyone involved in the scene knows that those arms are the same ones that receive Jason into the princess's bed. Medea Study Guide Situational irony is where the opposite occurs from what is expected. Jason expects that his efforts will bring unity Scene Summaries 14 Episode 5 between his old and new houses, but he is terribly wrong. In actuality, by having his sons present the poisoned gifts to the princess of Corinth, he will be instrumental in bringing down Summary both houses. At this point in the play, Jason still cannot see his role in the destruction of the royal house of Corinth and the This episode includes the Tutor's dialogue with Medea, in end of his own line. which he recounts how the gifts were presented to and received by the princess. When he declares that Medea's sons Two symbols feature in this episode. First, the marriage will not be banished, Medea weeps. Bewildered, the Tutor asks house—the one broken by Jason's betrayal—is central to the why Medea is not happy at the news, but she replies in vague dialogue between Medea and Jason. It is significant that all of generalities and finally ends the conversation by sending the the action of the play and dialogue takes place outside the Tutor into the house to oversee the normal routine with the marriage house and that Medea calls the children outside to children. speak with their father. The children do not speak or even react to the feigned reunion of their parents, and their silent The second part of this episode is Medea's monologue with presence in front of the broken marriage house casts an the children present outside the house. Medea begins by ominous shadow over coming events. The poisoned crown describing the woes of exile she will endure while her children symbolizes Jason's ill-fated thirst for royal status, which he remain in Corinth. They listen, and when they smile at her, she hopes to gain through his marriage to the princess. Medea reconsiders her plan to murder them. But her resolve to assures him that "among mortal men,/gold works more complete her plan resurfaces. She tells the boys to go into the wonders than a thousand words"—words that ring with house, but they remain outside and listen to more of her dramatic irony and foreshadow the death her gifts will bring. monologue. Medea briefly wavers again but becomes determined to spare her sons from dying at the hands of her enemies. Instead, she says, the one who "gave them life, will kill Stasimon 4 Summary In this stasimon the choral ode focuses on the sorrow of the coming tragedy, detailing the agony and destruction that will ensue because of Medea's thirst for revenge. them." Analysis Though Medea falters in her determination to kill the children, in the end, she holds to her plan. She admits her "judgment/can't check [her] anger." Her rage is an uncapped force. She confesses that it controls her and explains, not necessarily as a defens, but as a matter-of-fact statement Analysis about her decision, that anger "incites/the greatest evils The use of the word slaughter twice to describe the imminent Throughout her monologue Medea expresses her inner murder of the children at their mother's hand evokes the conflict, weeping and using rich, evocative language to slaughter of lambs—the ruin of innocents, doubly cruel describe her love for her sons. She dwells on how much she because the one who brought them life brings death. loves their hands and their mouths, the softness of their skin, The Chorus uses metaphors to describe the coming denouement, the resolution of the plot. The princess will be tempted by the "ornament of twisted gold" and thus ensure that "her marriage bed will lie among the dead." It laments the end of Jason's foolish ignorance and is filled with sorrow when it thinks of the children's murder. Copyright © 2018 Course Hero, Inc. human beings do." and the scent of their breath: "Give me your right hands, children .../Let your mother kiss them. Oh, these hands—/how I love them—and how I love these mouths,/faces .../.../O this soft embrace! Their skin's so tender./My boys' breathing smells so sweet to me." The audience can feel the extremity of her love, so they can also imagine the agony of her choice as she Medea Study Guide Scene Summaries 15 follows her self-determined path of revenge. Her choice inverts of women you might find one." Given that the role of the nature. In order to commit child homicide, Medea must close Chorus—which in Medea is made up of women—is to provide herself off to the part of her that is maternal. She rejects the wise counsel, these comments may be understood as verbal path that includes a possible future with her children in Athens, irony (saying the opposite of what one means). a safe place she has secured no matter what her crimes. But Medea crosses a point of no return on her inner journey: She will not allow herself to retreat. Episode 6 Stasimon 5 Summary In the last episode of the play, Medea receives the news she Summary has been awaiting. A messenger arrives and relates in detail what happened when Medea's boys brought her gifts to the When Medea has disappeared into the house with her sons, princess of Corinth. At first the princess was cold toward them, the Chorus sings about the advantages of not having children. but Jason prodded her to let them stay, and the gifts swayed It argues that people without children are much happier and her. When she first put on the crown and gown, she sashayed are spared a tremendous amount of grief, such as having to across the room, delighted with them. But then she went pale provide for the children, worry about what sort of people they and started frothing at the mouth. Finally, the crown began will become, or bury a grown child. dripping fire down her and she burned to death. King Creon arrived, and, when he saw what was left of his child, he took Analysis her body in his arms, wishing he were dead as well. The poison transferred itself to him, and he also died in agony. The messenger warns Medea that her punishment is coming. Euripides often contemplates the difficulties of having children. He does this through Medea's words about the pain of The Chorus leader comments that Jason is getting his due. childbirth and complaints of the limits placed on women in She feels compassion for the princess but also says that the marriage, the bond meant to produce children. Here the princess has paid "the price ... for marrying Jason." Chorus goes further into this idea by discussing the griefs that can afflict parents with children. These views, presented by the female characters, counter the words of the male characters such as Aegeus, Jason, and Creon. Aegeus has visited an oracle in the hope of overcoming his sterility, Jason claims his infidelity is for the betterment of his children, and Creon Medea, in contrast, is delighted by the news. Still, she knows it is inevitable that her sons will be put to death for their part in the murders and believes it is better they die at the hand of someone who loves them. She picks up a sword and goes into the house to kill the children. softens to Medea because of his devotion to his daughter. Euripides does not hesitate to call attention to the complexities involved in human reproduction. Analysis In Greek mythology the Muses were goddesses who inspired Up until this point there has been much talk about Medea's mortals in the areas of the arts and sciences. Their parents plan, but in this scene that plan comes to fruition. The main were Zeus and Mnemosyne, goddess of memory. The Chorus action takes place offstage with the messenger relaying the prefaces its argument against parenthood with a moment of news. This type of exposition was often used in Greek tragedy humor, claiming that, like men, women "have an artistic and led to the later phrase "Don't shoot the messenger," Muse/who lives among [them] to teach [them] wisdom." meaning "Don't blame the person who brings bad news." Thus, Apparently agreeing with the attitude toward women the messenger might expect to be received with hostility. expressed by Jason, the Chorus admits that only very few However, once again, Euripides inverts expectations because women are actually able to learn from their Muse—"in a crowd Medea welcomes the messenger's news about the horrific deaths of the princess and King Creon. Copyright © 2018 Course Hero, Inc. Medea Study Guide Scene Summaries 16 Another type of inversion occurs as her delight is crushed by Medea appears above the house in a winged chariot. With her the bitter realization that she must kill the children immediately are the bodies of their two sons. Jason hurls abuse at her, if she is to save them from death at the hands of her enemies. saying he must have been mad to take her onboard the Argos when she had killed her own brother. Medea points out that Stasimon 6 Zeus knows what she did for Jason and what Jason did to her. Jason demands she give him his sons' bodies so that he can bury them, but Medea refuses. Summary The Chorus begs the Earth and the Sun to keep Medea from The two argue over who is to blame and who has committed the more grievous sins, but the only mistake Jason will admit to is ever having become involved with Medea. carrying out the final act in her revenge. It warns of the wrath He begs to hold the boys' bodies, but Medea refuses and flies of the gods, who will "send down/onto the houses of the ones off in the chariot. who kill/sorrows to match their crimes." The recitation is interrupted by the boys' cries from inside the house as they try The Chorus ends the play by saying that the gods often to avoid the sword. Outside the women of the Chorus are confound men's plans and that that is what has happened frantic but take no action. In anguish they tell the story of here. another woman, Ino, who was so distraught after killing her children that she leapt into the sea to join them in death. Analysis Analysis Medea's murder of her children completes her revenge. Her inner journey complete, she is full of power and confidence. The symbol of the broken marriage house is a potent one at Jason, on the other hand, appears fragile and hurt. His earlier the end of the play. The offstage cries that emanate from it, composure, when he could spout off insults easily, has which, at the start of the play, were Medea's cries of cracked. He can no longer contain his passion. He rages just anger—have been replaced by the cries of her sons as she as Medea did at the beginning of the play. For once in the play, stabs them in a betrayal of the natural maternal role. Jason speaks from the heart. He shows he is not immune to passion and feeling. (Of course, it could also be argued that The modern reader might expect the Chorus to take action, Jason's betrayal of Medea resulted from his inability to contain but the audience of the time would have had no such his passion for status and wealth.) expectation. The Chorus's role was only to observe and comment; it did not directly involve itself in the action of the Nevertheless, Jason never admits his culpability. When Medea play. asks, "Do you think an insult to a woman/is something insignificant?" he states blatantly, "Yes, I do." However, even if he still does not recognize the harm he has done, Jason's last Exodos words show that Medea has succeeded in wounding him as deeply as she intended: "I wish I'd never been a father/and had to see you kill my children." Summary The Chorus's final lines warn others not to be as complacent as Jason because things often do not turn out as expected. Jason arrives, knocking on the door, cursing Medea for what she has done to Creon and the princess and demanding his children. The Chorus gives him the news that his sons are dead. Although he demands that the enslaved people let him into the house, the door remains bolted. Copyright © 2018 Course Hero, Inc. Medea Study Guide g Quotes Quotes 17 In moments like these, when Jason spouts such matter-of-fact insults to women in general and Medea in particular, it is easy to understand and sympathize with Medea's rage. "Why link your children with the nasty things/their father's done?" "If Aphrodite comes in smaller doses,/no other god is so — Nurse, Prologos In the opening of the play, Euripides foreshadows Medea's heinous acts. This quotation also expresses one of the central desirable." — Chorus, Stasimon 2 themes: revenge. According to the Chorus, tempering passion brings peace rather than the destruction of jealous passion. This quotation "We women are the most unfortunate." — Medea, Episode 1 not only addresses the theme of passion, but it also refers to the gods as unseen players pulling the strings in human lives. "I'm ... dangerous/to enemies, but well disposed to friends." Medea often articulates the low position of women in society. Here she speaks of the costs, both monetary and physical, of being a wife, for a woman's father paid a dowry to her new — Medea, Episode 3 husband. Through Medea's words Euripides accentuates how women were treated much like enslaved people in Greek In addition to her relationship with the Chorus, this quotation society. describes Medea's treatment of Aegeus, for whom she expresses sincere concern even while using him to secure sanctuary. At the same time, these words warn against her "What country, what home will you ever find/to save you from misfortune?" — Chorus Leader, Episode 1 The Chorus leader speaks of one of the play's themes: exile. ruthlessness in dealing with those who cross her, such as Creon, the princess, and Jason. "I want to help you,/holding to the standards of human law." — Chorus Leader, Episode 3 The audience and characters feel the fragile position Medea is in while on the brink of banishment. The Chorus leader gives a voice to society and urges Medea to abide within the law. She also tries to serve as Medea's "With no female sex .../men would be rid of all their troubles." — Jason, Episode 2 Copyright © 2018 Course Hero, Inc. conscience. "She gets these gifts,/which my Medea Study Guide grandfather Helios once gave/to Symbols 18 that Medea will incur the wrath of the gods because she not only killed her children but also spilled divine blood. his descendants." — Medea, Episode 4 l Symbols Medea speaks to Jason here, telling him she is sending gifts to the princess to soften her feelings toward the children. Her words remind Jason and the audience of Medea's divine Poisoned Crown ancestry, which will later enable her to escape. "I shall bring others to their homes—alas." The symbol of the crown can refer not only to the princess of Corinth but also to Creon (her father, the king) and to Jason, who was briefly king in his homeland of Iolcus. Medea has flouted the authority of Corinth by speaking against the royal crown and refusing exile. She then sends a poisoned golden — Medea, Episode 5 crown, along with a poisoned robe, as a gift to soften the princess's heart toward Medea's children. The princess doesn't With the use of double entendre (using a word that can be want to accept the gifts, but Jason urges her to. After the understood in more than one way), Medea expresses two princess arranges the "golden crown,/fixing it in her hair in the meanings for the word home. While she will kill the children bright mirror," she becomes as bright as the mirror by bursting within their home, for the princess and Creon the word refers into flame. Medea's jealousy, rage, and need for revenge have to their graves. transformed a symbol of authority into a weapon that destroys the royal house. It is fitting that Jason is the one who encourages the princess to accept the gifts, because his "We mortals/must bear our bad betrayal of Medea is the cause of his new bride's death. times patiently." — Tutor, Episode 5 Offstage Cries Here the Tutor voices a Greek view of patience during troubles, waiting out the plan the gods have for mortals. Medea Medea and Jason's marriage house symbolizes their time rejects this patience and moves things along on her own together as husband and wife. Symbolically, all action and timeline. dialogue in Medea take place outside of the house. The play starts with the Nurse commenting and then talking with the Tutor about how the union between Medea and Jason is "It's a fearful thing for men/to spill broken, making them "enemies." During this opening Medea's the blood of gods." punctuate the tale of betrayal the Nurse is recounting. Medea's offstage cries from within the marriage house can be heard to cries draw the Chorus to her door, from which position it — Chorus, Stasimon 6 serves as a moral conscience to Medea even though its advice does not alter her plans. Medea, who is a descendant of the god Helios, has killed the Medea destroys the marriage house completely when she kills children, who are also related to Helios. The Chorus speculates her sons within its walls. One child cries from within, "Help me Copyright © 2018 Course Hero, Inc. Medea Study Guide ... help," and other boy calls out, "What do I do? How can I Themes 19 does not breed destruction. escape/my mother's hands?" These cries symbolize the final obliteration of the marriage. The door of the house is now Love is not the only passion explored in the play. Jason is closed, never to open again, just as Medea and Jason's driven by his passion for glory and status. These were his marriage has been irrevocably destroyed by his betrayal and motives in setting off after the Golden Fleece, in seeking to her revenge. recapture his throne from his uncle, and, of course, in leaving Medea to marry the princess. Golden Chariot Betrayal The final scenes with Medea escaping in a winged golden chariot bring awe and fear. Helios was the god in Greek Part of the play's power comes from Euripedes's ability to mythology that brought the sun up and down each day by make the audience feel sympathy for Medea despite her riding his golden chariot across the sky. Medea is the monstrous actions. At the end of the play, she reminds Jason granddaughter of Helios, and her use of his chariot symbolizes of what she did for him in the past and how she has taken her partial divinity and her female pride and strength. She revenge for his betrayal. In abandoning her, Jason has not only claims her victory when she rises beyond Jason's reach and dishonored her, because a divorced woman is not respected, says to him, "You'll never/have me in your grasp, not in this but also deprived her of an identity. She betrayed her own city- chariot." While she escapes punishment in her chariot, her state for him and in exile will be dependent on the help of King flight also reinforces her portrayal as an outsider who is not Aegeus. His lack of shame and his refusal to credit the help entirely human. she gave him are further instances of betrayal. Medea also commits acts of betrayal and did so long before the beginning of the play. She killed her brother and betrayed m Themes her father to help Jason, and she manipulated the daughters of Pelias into killing him. Betrayal breeds betrayal as she uses her sons to deliver her deadly gifts to the princess and then kills Passion them to make Jason suffer. Revenge Medea's passion for Jason supersedes everything else, even her motherly love for her sons. References to Aphrodite, the goddess of love, support this theme. Jason speculates that Medea only loved and helped him because Eros, Aphrodite's son, shot her with an arrow. Medea herself admits that her passion, in the form of anger over Jason's betrayal, overwhelms her judgment. Medea embodies the theme of revenge. From the beginning of the play, she plots her revenge on Jason, laying out her plans in monologues and in conversations with the Chorus. In dialogues with Creon and Jason, she feigns understanding while manipulating the men to participate in her revenge. Although The Chorus frequently mentions that passionate love is not she feels pain at the thought of killing the children and desirable: "Love with too much passion/brings ... no fine recognizes the crime as sacrilegious, her need to triumph over reputation." The Chorus prays that Aphrodite not fill a "heart Jason is greater than her motherly love. with jealousy/or angry quarreling" but "bless peaceful unions,/using wisdom." The Chorus insists that love without passion but with moderation and wisdom is better because it Copyright © 2018 Course Hero, Inc. After Medea kills her children and Jason arrives, he reminds her of how she betrayed her family and claims the revenge he Medea Study Guide Glossary of Literary Terms and Devices 20 is suffering was actually meant for her. He says, "The avenging married woman's lack of power. She does not ruminate on fury meant for you/the gods have sent to me." Yet Medea inconsequential topics, and she uses the princess's vanity and escapes punishment for her crimes, while Jason is going to interest in pretty things to exact her revenge. have his "head smashed in," as Medea predicts. As Medea says, the gods know who began the fight. In the end Jason compares Medea to female monsters from Greek mythology, calling her a "she-lion ... more bestial than Scylla." Scylla is the six-headed female monster living opposite Exile the deadly whirlpool Charybdis in the Odyssey. She devours any man who passes through her channel of water. Medea dons these labels with pride, saying, "Call me lioness/or Scylla ... For I've made contact with your heart at last." Exile is part of Medea's past, present, and future. By Euripides's Chorus is also a group of women who offer wise committing crimes against her family, Medea exiled herself advice throughout the play, presenting another example of from Colchis, her homeland. Later, she and Jason left his home feminine power. The Chorus speaks to the theme when it says of Iolcus to become exiles in Corinth. After Jason marries the that women have their own "artistic Muse/who lives among us princess of Corinth, Medea is threatened with exile by King to teach us wisdom." Creon. The Athenian audience in ancient Greece would feel the fear of exile with Medea. Ancient Greece was composed of city-states that provided cultural identity, protection, and economic security. Without this safety, those in exile had to fend for themselves as individuals begging for entry and acceptance b Glossary of Literary Terms and Devices that might or might not be granted. Even Jason commiserates with Medea: "Exile brings with it all sorts of hardships." Choral ode: an ode sung by the chorus in classical Greek drama; an "ode" is a lyric poem with complex stanza forms. As an exile, Medea is a foreigner to Jason and other Greeks in Each stasimon in Medea is an ode that offers an emotional Corinth. From the start Medea is cast as "other"—a stranger response to the events of the preceding episode. The first from a foreign land and an object of suspicion and mistrust in ode (Stasimon 1) expresses the Chorus's recognition that the eyes of the Greeks. Her "otherness" is exacerbated by her Jason's betrayal of Medea has reversed the natural order of divine ancestry and use of sorcery; she is not only not Greek, things: "The waters in the sacred rivers/are flowing in but she is not quite human. Jason believes he delivered her to reverse./ ... /For now a stronger woman/rules in your civilization by bringing her to Greece. He says to Medea: "you household,/queen of Jason's marriage bed." now live among the Greeks,/not in a country of barbarians." Denouement: the resolution of the issues of a plot; the end According to Jason, this alone should be enough to satisfy of the action in a story. In Medea the denouement begins Medea. Instead, his sanctimonious words infuriate Medea and when Medea has heard that her plot against the princess fuel her rage. and Creon has succeeded. Now she must force herself to kill her children before others capture and execute them: "I, who gave them life,/will kill them. Arm yourself for this, my Feminine Power heart./Come, pick up the sword,/ ... /For this short day forget they are your children/and mourn them later. Although you kill them,/still you loved them." The resolution ends as she leaves a shattered Jason behind and carries Though her actions are deplorable, Medea embodies the away the bodies of their children. theme of feminine power. She tells the Chorus leader to let no Deus ex machina: a plot device that introduces an person "think that I'm a trivial woman,/a feeble one who sits unexpected power or occurrence that saves the day. The there passively." In her monologues she often bemoans a term, which means "god from the machine," originated with Copyright © 2018 Course Hero, Inc. Medea Study Guide Suggested Reading 21 ancient Greek drama, in which a "god" would often swoop in Essays on Medea in Myth, Literature, Philosophy, and Art. at the end, having been hoisted by a crane (the "machine"), Princeton: Princeton UP, 1997. Print. to rescue the protagonist, just as Helios allows Medea to use his winged chariot to escape Corinth. Corrigan, Robert W. Classical Tragedy, Greek and Roman: Eight Double entendre: a word or expression that might have Plays in Authoritative Modern Translations Accompanied by multiple senses, interpretations, or two different meanings. Critical Essays. New York: Applause Theatre, 1990. Print. Medea uses a double entendre when she says, "I shall bring others to their homes," where home can refer to either a dwelling place or the grave. Euripides. Medea. Trans. Ian Johnston. Johnstonia. N.p. Web. 14 June 2016. Irony, Dramatic: commonly found in plays, movies, and Foley, Helene P. Female Acts in Greek Tragedy. Princeton: some poetry, a plot device for creating situations where the Princeton UP, 2002. Print. audience knows more about the situations than the leading characters do. An example of dramatic irony in Medea Nardo, Don. Readings on Medea. San Diego: Greenhaven, 2001. occurs at the end of the play when Jason arrives to take his Print. sons from Medea; even as he states his intentions, the audience knows the boys are already dead. Irony, Situational: an occurrence when the opposite of what is expected happens. In Medea, when Jason expects that by marrying the princess he will unite two royal houses, it is situational irony that the opposite occurs. By betraying Medea he sets in motion a series of events that will end in the destruction of both houses. Irony, Verbal: the use of words that denote the opposite of what is actually meant. This occurs in Medea when the Chorus admits that only very few women are actually able to learn from their Muse—"in a crowd of women you might find one"; this is ironic because the role of the Chorus—which in Medea is made up of women—is to provide wise counsel. Motif: a recurring element, such as an image, a sound, an action, or a literary device, with symbolic significance, which contributes to the development of the themes. A notable motif in Medea is the heroic quest; this is mentioned, for instance, whenever characters refer to Jason's quest for the Golden Fleece and his efforts to retake the throne of Iolcus from his traitorous uncle. e Suggested Reading Apollonius of Rhodes. Jason and the Golden Fleece (The Argonautica). Trans. R.L. Hunter. Oxford: Clarendon, 1993. Print. Burnett, Anne. "Medea and the Tragedy of Revenge." Classical Philology 68.1 (1973): 1–24. Web. 14 June 2016. Clauss, James Joseph, and Sarah Iles Johnston. Medea: Copyright © 2018 Course Hero, Inc. Segal, Erich. Euripides: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1968. Print.