Medea plots evil
The Ultimate Displaced Person

Greek dramatist Euripides characterized Medea as a woman torn between love and hate. Her rage against her husband's betrayal leads her not only to spectacular murder of her rival but the slaying of her own children, both to inflict pain on Jason and to rid herself of his memory.

Medea was the daughter of an Asian king in Colchis, a realm on the far eastern shores of the Black Sea. She gave up her homeland for the love of Jason, helping him recapture the Golden Fleece from her father and even allowing her brother to be killed in the pursuit as they fled. She helped him again in Hellas, using her cunning to slay the usurper to his father's throne, which Jason soon gave up for fear of retaliation.

Now they have lived 10 years in Corinth -- happily, so she thought. Despite her helpful, if magical, knowledge of herbs and medicines, she remains a dark foreigner among the fair and "civilized" Greeks. Seeing opportunity for power and prestige in the court of the king, Jason dismisses his marriage to Medea as a barbarian ritual and arranges a "proper" Greek wedding with the daughter of the king. The king himself, fearing her wrath, banishes Medea and her children from Corinth.

She cries, "What use is life to me? I have no land, no home, no refuge from despair. My folly was committed long ago, when I was ready to desert my father's house, won over by eloquence from a Greek, whom with God's help I now will punish."

Her old nurse who accompanied her from Colchis laments, "I am afraid some dreadful purpose is forming in her mind. She is a frightening woman; no one who makes an enemy of her will carry off an easy victory."

(The complete text of Euripides's play can be found at MIT.)


© 2003 Margot Serowy     Home    Refugees    Medea    Goethe    Oils    Watercolors    Woodcuts    Bio