By Isis Burks and Michele Stewart
Euripides is one of the three great Greek tragedians along with Aeschylus and Sophocles. He was born in 480 BC in Athens. Many of his approximately ninety plays have survived; we have more of his plays than of Aeschylus and Sophocles. The Medea (see below), Helen, and Orestes are his most well-known plays. His plays were performed in the City Dyonisia in the drama contests. He won the contest only four times. His plays were frequently disliked by his contemporaries because they challenged traditional Athenian values. Specifically, he wrote women with strong roles and language. Some of his plays were left unperformed when he died in 406 BC in Macedon.
The Medea is one of Euripides’ most famous tragedies, he created it in 431 BCE. The Medea was a play about a sorceress name Medea and her revenge that she seeks against her husband Jason for leaving her to be with a different woman.
Jason was on a quest given by Pelias to retrieve the Golden Fleece in order to win his rightful throne back and along the way received aid from Medea. They quickly fell in love but after Medea killed Pelias, they moved to Corinth. However, Jason married the king of Corinth named Creon’s daughter, Glauce for political gain, which angered Medea tremendously. She then killed Creon, Glauce, and her own two children that she had with Jason. Since Jason broke his vows with Medea, Hera cursed him and he died alone.
In the beginning of the play Medea is heartbroken by the fact that her husband Jason, does not love her anymore and that he’s married to Glauce now. Her nurse and a group of women, also known as the Chorus of Corinthian Women, were worried for her safety and her children’s safety, fearing that she could possibly do something irrational. The King, Creon, was also nervous so he exiled her from Corinth but Medea convinced him to give her one more day.
Jason came to clear up the misconception and explained to Medea that he married Glauce for political gain. Glauce is a princess and is rich, which could help him further his career. He continued by telling her that he does not love Glauce and he still wants to be in a relationship with Medea while he is married. Unpleased with his response, she quickly reminds him of all that she has done for him and his love. She murdered her own brother and slew a dragon while on the quest for the Golden Fleece for him, but he paid little mind to these facts. In return, Medea warned him that he is going to regret what he did to her, not telling him that she’s going to kill his wife and the king.
Aegeus, the king of Athens came to Medea asking or her to help his wife because she is having trouble becoming pregnant. Medea agreed to help them as long as he would give her refuge and he agreed, but she did not tell him what she really needed it for.Next Medea informed the Chorus of how she is going to get revenge on Jason. First she is going to give Glauce a golden robe from Helios but the robe will be poisoned. Then she decided to kill her children because the really wants to hurt Jason in the worst way that she can think of. Medea decided to carry out her plan by giving Jason an apology and told him that she has a gift for Glauce and that her children will bring it to her.
While Medea was thinking about what she just did, someone came and told her that her mission was accomplished. Glauce and Creon were killed by the poison from the robe, Creon was poisoned because he was trying to take the robe off of her once he realized it was killing her. After hearing the news of her success, she then struggled with idea of actually killing her own children, but she decided that it was the best thing for them so they would not have to be punished for her actions. Medea spoke softly to them displaying how much she loved them, then moments later she killed them. The Chorus heard all of their screams but they did not go in and stop Medea. After learning of Glauce and Creon’s death, Jason hurried to Medea to reprimand her for killing them but when he arrived, he realized that she killed their children also. Medea emerged holding her children’s dead bodies basking at how hurt Jason is and how good her revenge felt. She told him that she foresaw his life ending terribly and then she left for Athens. At the end of the play, the Chorus blamed all of the tragic events that took place on the gods.
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