“Medea” Euripides in summary

There is a myth about the hero Jason, the leader of the Argonauts. He was the hereditary king of the city of Iolc in Northern Greece, but his elder relative, the powerful Pelius, seized power in the city, and to recover it, Jason had to perform a feat: with the heroic friends on the ship “Argo” swim to the eastern edge of the earth and there, in the country of Colchis, to obtain the sacred golden fleece guarded by the dragon. About this voyage later Apollonius of Rhodes wrote the poem “Argonavtika”.

In Colchis the mighty king, son of the Sun, ruled; his daughter, the princess-sorceress Medea, fell in love with Jason, they swore to each other in loyalty, and she saved him. Firstly, she gave him witchcrafts that helped him to withstand the test feat-to plow the plowland on fire-breathing bulls-and then to lull the dragon guardian. Secondly, when they sailed from Colchis, Medea, for love of her husband, killed her own brother and scattered pieces of his body

along the shore; the Colchis who pursued them lingered, buried it, and could not reach the fugitives. Thirdly, when they returned to Iolk, Medea, in order to save Jason from the insidiousness of Pelias, invited the daughters of Pelia to slaughter their old father, promising to resurrect him later to the young. And they slaughtered his father, but Medea abandoned her promise, and the daughter-fathers disappeared into exile. However, the Jolk kingdom could not be obtained by Jason: the people were indignant against the foreign sorceress, and Jason and Medea and two young sons fled to Corinth. The old king of Corinth, looking closely, offered him his wife to marry, and with her a kingdom, but, of course, so that he divorced the witch. Jason accepted the proposal: maybe he himself was already beginning to fear Medea. He made a new wedding, and Medea the king sent an order to leave Corinth. On a solar chariot pulled by dragons, she fled to Athens, and ordered her children: “Pass your wedding gift to your stepmother: a shawl cloak and a gold-laced headband.” The cloak and the bandage were imbued with fiery poison:
the flame encompassed both the young princess, the old king, and the royal palace. The children rushed to seek salvation in the temple, but the Corinthians furiously beat them with stones. What became of Jason, no one really knew.

It was difficult for the Corinthians to live with the infamous fame of infanticides and wickedness. Therefore, says the legend, they begged the Athenian poet Euripides to show in the tragedy that they did not kill the Jason children, but Medea herself, their own mother. Believe in such horror was difficult, but Euripides forced to believe it.

“Oh, if those pines were never destroyed, from which the ship on which Jason sailed was…” – the tragedy begins. This is said by Medea’s old nurse. Her mistress has just learned that Iason marries the princess, but does not yet know that the king tells her to leave Corinth. Behind the stage, Medea’s groans are heard: she curses both Jason, herself, and children. “Take care of children,” the nurse said to the old tutor. The choir of Corinthian women in alarm: would not call Medea the worst misfortune! “Terrible pride and passion are terrible, better is peace and measure.”

The groans stopped, Medea went to the choir, she says firmly and courageously. “My husband was everything to me, nothing more than me, about the pathetic share of a woman, They give her to someone else’s house, pay her a dowry, buy her a master, give birth to her painfully as in a battle, and leave is a shame: you are local people, you are not alone, but I am alone. ” The old king of Corinth appears to meet her: immediately, in front of everyone, let the witch go into exile! “Alas, it is hard to know more than others:

From this fear, from this hatred. Give me a day at a time: decide where I should go. “The king gives her a day’s deadline.” Blind! she says after him. “I do not know where I’ll go, but I know that I will leave you dead.” Whom are you? The choir sings a song about a general injustice: vows are broken, rivers are flowing back, men are more crafty than women!

Enter Jason; the dispute begins. “I saved you from the bulls, from the dragon, from Pelia – where are your vows? Where do I go?” In Colchis – the remains of my brother, in Iolka – the ashes of Pelia, your friends are my enemies. “O Zeus, why can we recognize fake gold, but not a fake person! ” Jason replies: “It was not you who saved me, but the love that moved you.” For salvation, I’m counting: you’re not in the wild Colchis, but in Greece, where they know how to sing glory to me and you. from you, they are incomplete, and in my new home they will be happy. ” – “You do not need happiness at the cost of such insult!” – “Oh, why people can not be born without women, there would be less harm in the world.” The choir sings a song about evil love.

Medea will do his job, but where then to go? Here the young Athenian king Aegeus appears: he went to the oracle to ask why he has no children, and the oracle did not answer. “You will have children,” says Medea, “if you give me shelter in Athens.” She knows that Acei will have a son on a stranger side – the hero of Theseus; knows that this Tesey will drive her out of Athens; knows that then Aegeus will perish from this son – he will throw himself into the sea at a false news about his death; but he is silent. “Let him perish if I let you be expelled from Athens!” – says Agei, More Medea now does not need anything. Egeya will have a son, and Jason will have no children-neither from his new wife, nor from her, Medea. “I’ll tear out the genus with the roots!” – and let the descendants be horrified. The choir sings a song to the glory of Athens.

Medea recalled the past, secured the future, now her concern is for the present. The first is about the husband. She summons Jason, asks for forgiveness – “so are we women!” – flattering, tells the children To embrace the father: “I have a cloak and a bandage, a legacy of the Sun, my ancestor, let them bring them to your wife!” – “Of course, and God grant them a long life!” Medea’s heart contracts, but she forbids herself pity. The chorus sings: “Something will happen!”

The second concern is about the children. They carried gifts and returned; Medea is crying over them for the last time. “I gave birth to you, I nurtured you, I see your smile – is it really the last time?” My hands, sweet lips, royal faces-will I not spare you? “Father stole your happiness, my father deprives you of your mother, I will regret you-my dare enemies, do not happen, Pride in me is strong, and anger is stronger than me, it is decided! ” The chorus sings: “Oh, it’s better not to give birth to children, not to lead a house, to live a thought with the Muses – are women wiser than men?”

The third concern – about razluchnitse. The messenger rushes in: “Save yourself, Medea: the princess and the king perish from your poison!” – “Tell me, tell me, the more detailed, the sweeter!” The children entered the palace, everyone admires them, the princess rejoices in the dressings, Jason asks her to be a good stepmother for the little ones. She promises, she puts on an outfit, she flaunts herself in front of the mirror; suddenly the paint escapes from the face, foam appears on the lips, the flame envelops her curls, the burnt meat contracts on the bones, the poisoned blood oozes like resin from the bark. The old father screams at her body, the dead body wraps it like ivy; he tries to shake it off, but it’s dead himself, and both, charred, lie, are dead. “Yes, our life is only a shadow,” concludes the messenger, “and there is no happiness for the people, but there are successes and failures.”

Now there is no return path; If Medea does not kill the children herself – they will be killed by others. “Do not be slow, heart: only the coward hesitates, be silent, remember: now I’m not their mother, I’ll be crying tomorrow.” Medea goes behind the stage, the choir sings in horror: “The ancestral Sun and the highest Zeus, hold her hand, do not let the killing kill you!” There are two children’s groans, and it’s all over.

Jason bursts in: “Where is she on earth, in the underworld, in the sky? Let her be torn to pieces, I only need to save the children!” “It’s late, Jason,” the choir said. The palace is being plowed up, over the palace – Medea on the Sun chariot with the dead children in their arms. “You are a lioness, not a wife!” Yason yells, “you are a demon, with which the gods astonished me!” “Call as you like, but I hurt your heart.” – “And your own!” “It’s easy for me to feel pain when I see yours.” “Your hand killed them!” – “And before that – your sin.” – “So let the gods execute you!” “The gods do not hear perjurers.” Medea disappears, Jason vainly appeals to Zeus. The choir ends with the tragedy:

“It does not come true that you believed faithful, / And the unexpected gods find ways – / This is what we experienced” …

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“Medea” Euripides in summary