Places: Medea

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First produced: Mēdeia, 431 b.c.e. (English translation, 1781)

Type of work: Drama

Type of plot: Tragedy

Time of work: Antiquity

Asterisk denotes entries on real places.

Places Discussed*Corinth

*Corinth. MedeaRich and powerful city in ancient Greece, located on the northeastern portion of the Peloponnesian Peninsula, that is the setting for Euripides’ play.

House of Medea

House of Medea. Corinth home in which Jason and Medea live in exile with their young sons. All the play’s action takes place in front of this house. Jason and Medea’s precarious position in Corinth is underscored by this building, which lacks the power and status of a king’s palace. Concerned about his status in Corinth as a noncitizen, Jason abandons Medea and his children in this house, where Medea kills the children to punish Jason for his unfaithfulness.

Creon’s palace

Creon’s palace. Home of Corinth’s King Creon. Located offstage in the play, the palace is the focus of Jason’s ambition and of Medea’s vengeance. Jason seeks the power of the palace in his plans to marry the daughter of Creon. Medea sends her sons to this palace with a gift of a poisonous cloak, which kills both Creon and his daughter.

*Athens

*Athens. City to which Medea flees with the bodies of her dead sons in a fiery chariot after obtaining a promise of protection from Aegeus, the king of Athens. Euripides’ Athenian audiences would have understood these events in the context of Athens’s role as a place of sanctuary and as the enlightened protector of the oppressed.

BibliographyMcDermott, Emily A. Euripides’ “Medea”: The Incarnation of Disorder. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1989. McDermott presents Medea as heroic, sympathetic, and morally repugnant. Medea is the incarnation of disorder because of her repeated assaults on family stability and her lack of adherence to the expectations of the parent-child relationship.Ohlander, Stephen. Dramatic Suspense in Euripides’ and Seneca’s “Medea.” New York: Peter Lang, 1989. Scene by scene, Ohlander explores Euripides’ sense of dramatic suspense, examining how motifs from mythic tradition are handled and how Euripides manufactures new ones.Papageorgiou, Vasilis. Euripides’ “Medea” and Cosmetics. Stockholm: Almqvist and Wiksell, 1986. Papageorgiou discusses Euripides’ language, which inspires the audience to think beyond polarities, leading them from Jason’s world of light and logic into Medea’s, where light cannot reach.Pucci, Pietro. The Violence of Pity in Euripides’ “Medea.” Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1980. Pucci examines the painful experience audience members suffer when exposed to the play’s violence and the ways Euripides’ language moves them from dread to contemplation of the peacefulness of their own existence.Rabinowitz, Nancy Sorkin. Anxiety Veiled: Euripides and the Traffic in Women. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1993. Focusing on women in Athens and in tragedy, Rabinowitz explores female desire as a threat to family and the Athenian polis, interpreting Medea as a female victim who, though initially sympathetic to the audience, forfeits that sympathy by indulging in a vengeance made to seem excessive–an act for which she pays no price.
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