Thoughts (from my theatre blog)
Question: why was exile from Corinth worse than her self-imposed exile from her homeland?
Edit: Euripides hints at this at some point where Jason claims Medea defied her father and killed her brother because she was in love. Still… not quite a great explanation (in my opinion).
Creon describes her as ‘serpent and wolf (the wolf of Asia)’: if I’m not mistaken, weren’t wolves a symbol of Apollo?
Creon: “I want my hands washed of this business.” (sound familiar? hint hint: Pontius Pilate?)
Medea kills her rival (Creon’s daughter) using a poisoned robe… sounds a lot like how Deianeiira tortured Heracles (with a poisoned shirt drenched in centaur Nessus’ blood, if I’m not mistaken).
Just realised… Medea refers to herself/is referred to as wolfish, while the ‘civilised’ Corinthians are all dogs. And so the battle of Wild vs. Tame/domesticated continues?
Aegeus (of Athens): “One’s children are the life after death.”
Medea: “Do you swear by the fruitful earth and high-shining heaven to protect me in Athens against all men?”
Nurse (to Jason, who stands in full armour waiting for his sons to embrace him and bid him farewell): “I think he’s afraid of your helmet, sir.” => is it me or is this a reference (and perhaps a hint of foreshadowing?) to the scene in the Iliad (no idea which book) when valiant Hector returns to Andromache’s side after a long day’s fighting and asks for his son, Astyanax, who starts to wail (supposedly because he’s afraid of the helmet)?
Euripides through the voice of the Chorus is intent on making the distinction between justice and vengeance.
“The demon comes through the locked door and strangles the child” -> again, sounds a lot like Hera’s attempt to kill Heracles as a child (two serpents)
Out of breath messenger: strong contrast with Pheidippides, the runner from Marathon who, according to legend, died bringing good news to Athens about the Persians’ defeat.[obviously, this is a tragedy, it’s kind of expected he wouldn’t bring good news…]
Nurse’s description of the deaths of Creon and his daughter: why is it so important that no one could touch them? Euripides mentions it at least three or four times [perhaps they couldn’t have a traditional burial?]
“I pour and pour… […] bottomless cup”
Medea: “I have no choice”
“Look at their proud young eyes” => contrast with her statement earlier about seeing Jason in their eyes. (and as soon as she’s alerted to the danger, she seems to remember this)
“People go mad if they think too much.”
screams = like the Harpies.
“it was destined when she was born” => like Oedipus.
Interestingly, Chorus turns against Jason: “you caused this!”
Death is there, death is here.
“Help me.” => Jason is reduced to asking for help – whereas just a few scenes ago, he thought himself almighty. He thinks he’s so above it that Medea actually comments on his ‘serenity’ (which is ‘god-like’?).
wine = blood… a sense of ritual. Drunk on wine perhaps paralleled with being bloodthirsty?
“they’re sleeping”=> echoes of this in loads of later works… if I’m not mistaken (need to look this up), there’s a version of mythology where Morpheus, God of Sleep, was a brother of Death? [Or is that a different mythology?] Edit: According to Wikipedia (very reliable resource, I know), it wasn’t Morpheus who was a brother to Death, but rather Hypnos. A twin, in fact.
Sacrifice of children: Clytaemnestra – Iphigenia. Both Medea + Clytaemnestra were ‘tricked’ by men (Agamemnon makes up a lie about Achilles wanting to wed Iphigenia to ‘lure’ them to Aulis when the sacrifice is needed, Medea is cast aside by Jason.) Of course, both are avenged… but is it really just about wifely scorn? Then again, there’s ‘proof’ that prior to the action, Medea has killed before…
All for a game of power?
Argo = the ship, and the last companion. Medea ‘sees’ (prophesies) Jason’s death. Note: ships were (and still are) ‘female’. η ναύς? (Perhaps then, Argo is, according to Medea, another ‘betrayal’?)
Just when I think I understand it, meaning slips away again. What could drive someone to do something like this? Revenge seems plausible, but then that would mean starting from the principle that Medea is ‘evil’ (in the traditional sense) at her core, and I find that hard to believe… Then again, Euripides does mention all the sacrifices she’s made: betraying her father, killing her brother (chopping him up into pieces – which is strangely reminiscent of the encounter between Orpheus and the Maenads? Or is that just me?)