Publication in: Spring 2023 Issue

Medea: Monster, Mother, Victim
Ariel Akuneme
Ancient Mediterranean Studies
Faculty Mentor(s):
Sophie J.V. Mills
Abstract / Summary:
Medea is a complicated figure who elicits both horror and sympathy through her cunning, ruthlessness, and sorrow. Some see her as an irredeemable monster, others as a neglected and mistreated wife, and others, a tempting sorceress. In Euripides’ play Medea, the titular character is living with her husband and children in Corinth and reeling from the news that her husband Jason is about to leave her for a Corinthian Princess; The story follows Medea as she deals with her husband's betrayal and her revenge against him by killing the Princess and the children Medea had with Jason. The complexity of Medea’s character in Euripides’s play inspires various receptions of Medea’s character. Part of the reason her characterization changes so much is based on the biases of the people or group that gets to write about Medea. Typically, the study of Classics and Classical Literature have been reserved for elites who represent a small percentage of the population, and results in similar receptions of Medea that provide a damning characterization of her. Euripides himself was an elite Athenian male who managed to elicit some sympathies for Medea, but in the end, he portrays Medea as an inhumane force condemning Jason to a life of sorrow. But as the field of Classics has become more accessible to people previously excluded from the study, receptions of Medea became less damning and focused more on Medea as a human being, not as an inhuman monster.
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