The old songs will have to change.
No more hymns to our faithlessness and deceit.
Apollo, god of song, lord of the lyre,
never passed on the flame of poetry to us.
But if we had that voice, what songs
we'd sing of men's failings, and their blame. History is made by women, just as much as men.
Medea has been betrayed. Her husband, Jason, has left her for a younger woman. He has forgotten all the promises he made and is even prepared to abandon their two sons. But Medea is not a woman to accept such disrespect passively. Strong-willed and fiercely intelligent, she turns her formidable energies to working out the greatest, and most horrifying, revenge possible.
Euripides' devastating tragedy is shockingly modern in the sharp psychological exploration of the characters and the gripping interactions between them. Award-winning poet Robin Robertson has captured both the vitality of Euripides' drama and the beauty of his phrasing, reinvigorating this masterpiece for the twenty-first century.
|Product dimensions:||5.83(w) x 8.27(h) x 0.13(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Michael Collier is a professor of English at the University of Maryland. The Ledge, his most recent book of poems, was a finalist for both the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award.
Georgia Ann Machemer, Ph.D. is currently a visiting assistant professor in Classics at Duke University, and a fixed-term lecturer in Classics and History at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Read an Excerpt
By Euripides, Oliver Taplin
The University of Chicago PressCopyright © 2013 The University of Chicago
All rights reserved.
Characters NURSE to Medea
Two SONS of Medea and Jason
TUTOR to the two sons
MEDEA, princess of Colchis, wife of Jason
CREON, king of Corinth
JASON, son of Aeson, king of Iolcus
AEGEUS, king of Athens
SERVANT of Jason as messenger
CHORUS of Corinthian women
Scene: Corinth, in front of Medea's house.
(Enter Nurse from the house.)
If only the swift Argo never had swooped in between
the cobalt Clashing Rocks to reach the Colchians' realm;
if only pines had never been chopped down among the woods
of Pelion to put oars in the hands of those heroic men,
5 who ventured forth to fetch the Golden Fleece for Pelias.
Medea, then, my mistress, never would have sailed
for Iolcus' towers, her heart infatuated with desire for Jason;
nor spurred the daughters of old Pelias to kill their father,
10 never would have settled here in Corinth
with her husband and her sons.
She managed though an exile to delight the people of the land
she'd joined, and gave support in every way to Jason—
life's most secure when there is no conflict
15 to alienate a woman from her man.
But now ... now hatred rules, and loyal love is sick,
since Jason has betrayed my mistress and their sons,
by mounting the royal bridal bed
beside the daughter of Creon, the monarch of this land.
20 And so my poor Medea is disdained.
She cries, "What of his oaths?," recalls
the solemn pledge of his right hand, and prays the gods
to witness what poor recompense she has received.
Lying without food, she gives her body up to pain,
25 and has been wearing down the nights and days with tears,
since she first found she had been wrongly treated by her man.
Never lifting up her eyes from staring at the ground,
she listens to her friends' advice no more
than if she were a rock or sea-surf—
30 except for when she turns her pale white neck,
lamenting to herself for her lost father, country, home,
which she betrayed to join the man who now dishonors her.
She's learned from her catastrophe how much
35 it matters not to lose your homeland.
She hates the children, takes no pleasure in the sight of them.
I fear that she may plan some new mischief;
her temperament is fierce, and she'll not tolerate
mistreatment—I know too well what she is like.
She fills me with alarm,
40 that she will stab their livers with a sharpened sword,
entering by stealth the palace where the bed is laid,
and kill both monarch and his daughter's new bridegroom,
and so incur some even graver consequence,
for she is fearsome—
and no one who picks a fight with her
45 will find it easy to descant the victory chant.
(Enter the two boys and their Tutor from the side.)
But here the children come, fresh from their exercise,
and unaware of all their mother's sufferings—
young minds are not inclined to cares.
Old servant of my mistress' house,
why are you standing solitary here outside the doors,
50 bewailing troubles to yourself?
How could Medea want to be left without you near?
Old man, you who take care of the young sons of Jason:
when affairs break badly for their masters,
55 this can affect good slaves as well.
And my distress reached such a pitch I felt compelled
to come out here and tell the problems that beset
my mistress to the earth and sky.
You mean she's still not stopped her grieving cries?
60 You've no idea! Her pain's not even halfway through.
Poor fool—if I may say that of my betters—
how little she knows yet about the latest downward turn.
What's that, old man? Don't hold it back from me.
Nothing—I wish I had not said a thing.
65 Do not, I beg you, hide this from your fellow slave.
I shall keep quiet about these matters, if I should.
I overheard a person say—pretending not to hear
as I drew near to where the old men sit
and play their checkers, by the sacred spring of Peirene—
70 I heard him say that Creon, lord of this land, intends
to drive these children out from Corinth, with their mother.
I do not know whether this rumor's true—I only hope it's not.
Will Jason tolerate such treatment of his sons
75 even if he has this feud against their mother?
Ancient ties become displaced by newer ones;
and he's no friend to this house here.
Then we are ruined if we have to add
this new disaster to the one we've not yet drained.
80 But you at least keep quiet and spread no word of this—
it's not the time to let our mistress find this out.
Do you hear how your father's turned against you, children?
I won't say "curse him," since he is my master still.
But he has been exposed as false toward his closest kin.
85 And who has not? Have you found out so late
that every person loves himself more than those close to him,
some justly, some for profit's sake?
And so the father of these boys does not feel love for them,
because of his new bride.
NURSE (To the children.)
All will be well; now, children, go inside.
(To the Tutor.)
90 And you should keep them well secluded
from their mother for so long as she remains
in such an agitated state; don't let them near.
I've seen her cast a savage look at them,
as though she's contemplating doing something to them.
I know for sure she won't relent her anger
until she's struck some victim to the ground—
95 but when she does, may it be enemies, not friends.
MEDEA [singing from inside]
Oh, in pain, in pain,
I'm so unhappy, I ...
oh for me, for me,
if only I could die.
NURSE [chanting throughout this scene while Medea continues to sing from inside]
As I said, dear children, your mother is stirring
her passion, bestirring her fury.
100 Now hurry indoors; don't stray in her sight,
don't even go near, keep well away
from her violent mood,
the wild hate of her passionate will.
105 Hurry along, quickly inside.
It is all too clear that she's going to ignite
this cloud of complaint now billowing
from its beginning to yet hotter resentment.
What will she do, now that her heart
has been so envenomed,
110 proud to its core, tough to restrain?
(Exit the two boys and the Tutor into the house.)
The suffering I have endured, endured,
calling for bitter lament aloud!
Accursed children of a hated mother,
I wish you were done for along with your father.
To hell with the family, all of the house.
115 Oh no, terrible! Why should your children
share in the guilt of the crimes of their father?
Why should you hate them?
I'm utterly stricken with fear for your safety,
poor children. Rulers have dangerous natures:
120 subjected to little, controlling much,
they are not inclined to relent from their passions.
Better to live in the ways of fair-sharing:
the height of ambition for me is to live out my life
without much, but entirely secure.
125 The word "moderation" sounds first
in our speaking, and is easily best in enactment.
Exaggeration can never provide
sound balance for humans.
And if ever a god gets angered against
130 some household, the payoff's yet greater disaster.
(Enter Chorus of Corinthian women.)
CHORUS [singing throughout this scene, while the Nurse continues to chant and Medea sings from inside]
I heard her call, I heard her cry,
Medea's pain, the Colchian.
So she has still not settled calm?
Old woman, tell. I heard her voice
135 from deep inside her mansion gates.
The sufferings of this household cause
me pain—my friendship's blended close.
No household exists any more—it's all gone.
140 He is possessed by his royal embraces;
she is eroding her life away
deep in her chamber, my lady,
her spirit encouraged not the slightest
by any suggestion from any well-wisher.
May lightning shatter my skull;
145 life no longer brings gain.
May I find shelter in death,
freed from this hated life.
O Zeus, Earth, and shining Sky,
do you hear the wailing cry
150 of the inauspicious bride?
Why crave for that unwanted bed,
poor woman? Death comes with all speed.
Don't pray for dying, no.
155 If your husband worships so
at his newfound marriage-couch,
don't be torn by him so much.
Zeus will be your advocate;
so don't pine away so much,
wasting for your old bedmate.
160 Artemis and mighty Themis,
see the pain that I'm enduring,
I who had my cursed husband
tied by strong bonds of his swearing.
May I see him and his consort
and their palace ripped in pieces,
payment for the ways they dared first
165 to mistreat me with injustice.
O my father, O my city,
after killing my own brother,
in disgrace I had to leave you,
lost my fatherland forever.
You hear her calling aloud on Themis
170 and on Zeus, the protector of oaths
binding on humans? My mistress will never
relent from her anger with some petty gesture.
I wish she would meet with us,
and engage us face to face;
I wish she would heed our voice
175 to see if she might relent
from her heavy-hearted rage
and the passion of her heart.
May I never stand apart
from supporting my own friends.
But, you, please return indoors,
180 fetch her, bring her here outside,
tell her we are on her side;
quick, before she does some harm
against those inside her home—
because her intense distress
comes upon her at a pace.
I'll do this—although I'm afraid
185 that I'll never prevail on my mistress—
I'll try as a favor.
Yet she glares like a lioness with new cubs
at anyone who comes close and offers her any suggestion.
190 You'd be right to conclude that the people
of olden times were stupid and lacking in wisdom
when they invented poems
to accompany feasts, celebrations, and dinners,
sweet ornamentations of life.
Still no one has found out the way
195 to abolish our harrowing griefs
with poetic powers
or with songs and elaborate strings—
griefs that result in the deaths and terrible mishaps
that overturn households.
Yet that would have offered us profit:
to medicine these troubles with music.
200 Why bother with loudly voiced singing for nothing,
when feasting is garnished with pleasure?
All by itself the rich banquet provides
full satisfaction for people.
205 I have heard her tearful moans
and the piercing words she cries
out against that guilty husband
who betrayed their marriage ties.
She has borne unjust abuse
and she calls out aloud on Themis,
guardian of the oaths of Zeus,
210 oaths that ferried her to Hellas
over ocean's inky dark,
opening a salt-sea exit
through the daunting Black Sea's lock.
(Enter Medea from the house.)
Women of Corinth, I have come outside to show
215 you have no cause to tarnish me with blame.
Understand: I'm all too well aware
that many people are perceived as arrogant—
some privately, others in public life—and there are those
who gather a bad name for idleness by lying low.
Do not suppose there's any justice rests
in people's eyes: they hate on sight,
220 before they get to know a man's real inner core,
although he's done no wrong to them.
And therefore foreigners should take especial care
to be in tune with the society they join—
nor would I give approval even to a native man
who foolishly offends his fellow citizens through selfishness.
225 But in my case, this new and unforeseeable event
has befallen me and crushed my spirit,
so that I've lost delight in life—I long to die, my friends.
I realize the man who was my all in all
has now turned out to be the lowest of the low—my husband.
230 We women are the most beset by trials
of any species that has breath and power of thought.
Firstly, we are obliged to buy a husband
at excessive cost, and then accept him as
the master of our body—that is even worse.
235 And here's the throw that carries highest stakes:
is he a good catch or a bad?
For changing husbands is a blot upon
a woman's good repute; and it's not possible
to say no to the things a husband wants.
A bride, when she arrives to join new ways
and customs, needs to be a prophet to predict
240 the ways to deal best with her new bedmate—
she won't have learned that back at home.
And then ... then if, when we have spent a deal of trouble
on these things, if then our husband lives with us
bearing the yoke without its being forced,
we have an enviable life.
But if he does not: better death.
But for a man—oh no—if ever he is irked
245 with those he has at home, he goes elsewhere
to get relief and ease his state of mind.
He turns either to some close friend or to someone his age.
Meanwhile we women are obliged
to keep our eyes on just one person.
They, men, allege that we enjoy a life
secure from danger safe at home,
while they confront the thrusting spears of war.
250 That's nonsense: I would rather join
the battle rank of shields three times
than undergo birth-labor once.
In any case, your story's not at all the same as mine:
you have your city here, your father's house,
delight in life, and company of friends,
255 while I am citiless, deserted,
subjected to humiliation by my husband.
Manhandled from a foreign land like so much pirate loot,
here I have no mother, brother, relative,
no one to offer me a port, a refuge from catastrophe.
So I would like to ask this one small thing of you:
260 if I can find some means or some device
to make my husband pay the penalty to quit me
for the wrongs he's done, stay silent, please
—also the man who's given him his daughter, and the bride herself.
Although a woman is so fearful in all other ways—
no good for battle or the sight of weaponry—
265 when she's been wrongly treated in the field of sex,
there is no other cast of mind more deadly, none.
I will do this: you're justified inflicting punishment,
Medea, on your husband. I am not surprised you feel such pain.
(Creon approaches from the side.)
270 I see King Creon coming to announce some new decision.
Grim scowling scourge against your husband—
yes, that's you, Medea:
I proclaim that you must leave this land in banishment,
and take your pair of sons along with you.
And no delay allowed.
I am myself the arbiter of this decree,
275 and I shall not go home before I have made sure
I've thrown you out beyond the borders of this land.
Utter, complete catastrophe for me!
My enemies are in full sail,
and I have no accessible haven
to land me from this storm of hell
. 280 But I'll still ask, although I am so poorly treated: say,
what reason have you, Creon, for expelling me like this?
I am afraid of you—no point in mincing words—
I am afraid you'll work incurable mischief
upon my daughter.
And many things combine toward this fear of mine:
285 you are by nature clever and well versed
in evil practices; and you are feeling bruised
because you've been deprived of the embraces of your man.
And I have heard—so people say—you're threatening
some act against the giver in this marriage
and the taker and the given bride.
Therefore I'm going to move before that happens.
290 Better to be hated by you, woman, now
than to be soft, and later groan for it.
O misery ... not for the first time reputation's
done me harm and damaged my whole life.
A man who knows what he's about should never have
295 his children taught to be more clever than the norm.
They get a name for idleness, and only earn
resentful spite from citizens.
The stupid ones, if you bring new ideas to them,
will view you as not clever but impractical.
300 And if you are perceived to be superior
to those who are supposed to be the subtle ones,
society will brand you as a troublemaker.
I myself have shared this fate:
because I'm clever, I am resented by some people,
and in some eyes I'm idle and in others opposite to that,
305 and for others I'm a nuisance.
Yet, in any case, I'm not so very clever ...
But still, you say you are afraid of me ... for what?
Becoming victim of some outrage?
No, don't be scared of me, Creon.
There is no call for me to do offence against the king.
What injury have you done me?
You gave your daughter to the man your heart proposed.
310 It is my husband; he's the one I hate:
your actions were, I think, quite sensible.
So now I don't begrudge your happy state—
go on, enjoy your wedding, and good luck to you all!
And let me live on in this country here—
since, even though I have been done injustice,
315 I'll hold my peace, subdued by those who have more power.
Your words are soothing to the ear;
but I still have a horror that inside your head
you're hatching plans for something bad.
I trust you all the less than I did previously.
A woman acting in hot blood
320 is easier to guard against—it is the same with men—
than one who's clever and stays secretive.
No—on your way immediately; don't give me speeches.
It's fixed, decided, and you have no art that can contrive
to let you stay among us here as enemy to me.
Excerpted from Medea by Euripides, Oliver Taplin. Copyright © 2013 The University of Chicago. Excerpted by permission of The University of Chicago Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
On the Translation
Notes on the Text
Reading Group Guide
This teaching guide for Medea includes:
1. Background of Euripides Medea
2. Table of Contents for Euripides Medea
3. Discussion questions for each section of Euripides Medea
4. Supplementary exercises
Background of Euripides Medea
Parts of the Greek Theater
Skene: located directly in back of the stage, and decorated as a palace, temple, or other building, depending on the needs of the play. It had at least one set of doors, and actors could make entrances and exits through them. There was also access to the roof of the skene from behind, so that actors playing gods and other characters could appear on the roof, if needed.
Orchestra: a circular space where the chorus would dance, sing, and interact with actors on stage near the skene.
Theatron: part of hillside overlooking the orchestra, which is where spectators sat.
Parodos: the paths by which the chorus and some actors (such as those representing messengers or people returning from abroad) made their entrances and exits. The audience also used them to enter and exit the theater before and after the performance.
Greek Theater Festival
Euripides presented Medea along with Philoctetes, Dictys, and the satyr play, Theristai, as his offerings in the playwright competition at the Dionysian Festival in 431 BC. The Dionysian Festival traditionally featured playwrights competing against each other in two categories, tragedy and comedy. Over the course of several days, each playwright would present three plays and a satyr (mixture of tragedy and comedy typically offered as comic relief) and a winner would be crowned in tragedy and comedy. Tragic plays often employed characters and stories from ancient myths as the basis of their stories, while comedies employed contemporary figures. Thus, Euripides used the ancient tale of Jason and Medea as the basis for his Medea. A chorus and three actors using differing costumes and masks act out the plays; because their faces were obscured, actors used exaggerated movements and tones of voice to connote emotions and tone to their audience. With Medea, Euripides took third prize behind winner, Euphorion, son of Aeschylus, and Sophocles, who took 2nd place.
Background on the author, Euripides
Little is known about the life of Euripides. He is the youngest of the three well-known writers of Greek tragedy, which include Aeschylus and Sophocles. He lived and wrote at a time when Athens was considered the cultural and political center of Greece. Euripides produced ninety-two plays for the Dionysian festival, and won first prize four times. He is credited with introducing an extensive prologue and the deus ex machina (the appearance of a person, god, or thing that resolves a situation) to the structure of plays. Scholars attribute him with the typifying elements of melodrama, specifically sudden reversals, miraculous rescues, startling discoveries, and contrived endings.
The Mythical Origins of Jason and Medea
Prior to their arrival in Corinth, Jason and Medea's relationship begins when Jason arrives with his crew on the ship, Argo, in Colchis seeking the Golden Fleece. However, King Aeëtes, the possessor of the fleece, wants to retain it and challenges Jason to a series of seemingly impossible tasks before he can claim it. Medea, King Aeëtes’s daughter, falls in love with Jason and extracts his promise to marry her if she helps him with his tasks. Using her skills as a sorceress, Medea successfully aids Jason in completing the tasks, but when King Aeëtes fails to hand over the Golden Fleece, Jason and Medea steal it. King Aeëtes takes chase and Medea distracts her father by killing her brother and scattering his body parts behind the Argo, forcing her father to retrieve his body in order to give his son a proper burial.
Jason returns with Medea to Iolcus to retrieve his rightful place on the throne from his uncle, Pelias, who had stolen the throne by killing King Aeson, Jason's father. Pelias is reluctant to give up the throne and Medea convinces his two daughters to kill and dismember their father by telling them she would restore his youth through sorcery. Instead, Pelias dies horribly and the inhabitants of Iolcus drive Medea and Jason out of the city. Jason and Medea marry, have two children and eventually settle into Corinth; Euripides' Medea takes place after their settlement there.
Using this well-known myth as a starting point, Euripides allows us to see Jason and Medea as realistic, complex characters with comprehensible emotional depth and range. Rather than keep them as larger than life, static figures trapped in the ancient past, Euripides introduces the possibility that Jason and Medea remain wholly contemporary and reflective of human imperfections for not only the audience who watched the first rendering of the play but for all who have seen this play since then. His balanced treatment of both Jason and Medea, and his exploration of women and individual psychology, continues to evoke debate and questions centuries later.
Robin Robertson’s Translation
Robin Robertson translates an incredibly accessible, fast-paced, and stirring version of Euripides’ well-known masterpiece. Robertson aims to bring the lyrical and poetic elements of Medea to the fore as this play was meant to be acted or spoken aloud on a stage rather than read as straight texts. His translations succeed at being colloquial without being reductive of Euripides’ evocative language. With an introduction that effectively grounds us in the tradition and meaning of Greek tragedy, Robertson demonstrates Medea’s continued relevance to modern readers and invites us to consider its enduring themes of gender conflict, racial ‘otherness,’ and human frailty. Students and general readers alike will find Medea a compelling book to read and deconstruct.
Table of Contents
1. Robertson introduces us to the mythical tale of Medea and Jason prior to the opening of Euripides’ Medea. What do we know about Jason’s and Medea’s lives before they settle in Corinth? What is the nature of their relationship? How would you characterize these two people?
2. Knowing that the first audience to view Medea would know Jason and Medea’s mythical story, what do you think Euripides hoped to reveal to them in his version of their story? Like a director of a film about real persons, what challenges do you think Euripides faces in telling his version of Medea and Jason’s tale?
3. According to Robertson, what elements in Medea would Euripides’ Greek audience find most important? Do you suspect a modern audience would find these elements as important? Why or why not?
4. What does Robertson identify as the defining features of a Greek Tragedy?
5. It’s been noted that the chorus for Euripides’ Medea were women as opposed to a chorus of male and female citizens. How does that impact your understanding the play? Why do you think Euripides employs a chorus of women only?
1. Describe the world that the Nurse establishes in her opening monologue. What type of tone and mood does she set for the audience?
2. Compare and contrast the Nurse’s and the Tutor’s perspectives on the events unfolding between Medea and Jason. Whose perspective do you find most understandable and why? What lessons do they suggest we learn from Medea’s current plight?
3. In light of Medea and Jason’s past, what ironies do the Nurse and Tutor reveal about their current predicament?
4. What is your impression of the Chorus? What purpose do they serve? Whose voice do you believe they reflect? Why?
5. Describe the picture that Medea paints of Greek women’s lives. What problems does she identify? What does Medea recommend for women who seek to secure or negotiate a good life? Do you believe her portrait continues to hold true today? Why or why not?
6. What parallels does Medea draw between her life as a woman and a foreigner? Beyond her status as a non-citizen, what claims does she make about her essential difference in nature from the women in Corinth?
7. Why do you believe Creon banished Medea? How is Medea able to temporarily sway Creon? At this juncture in the play, are Creon’s fears of Medea justifiable? Why do you believe his fears do not extend to Jason as well?
8. After Creon departs, Medea says “this is now a contest of courage.” What does Medea mean by this remark? How has her assessment of her situation shifted from the opening scenes?
9. Upon hearing Medea begin to plot against her enemies, the chorus appears to collude with her. How do they justify Medea’s anger? What vision of justice do they offer for Medea and Greek women in general? Do you agree with their sentiments? Why or why not?
10. Compare and contrast Medea and Jason’s arguments about the demise of their marriage. Whose perspective do you find most convincing? Why?
11. Who is Aegeus and how does he impact the story? What does the curious oracle given to him mean? Why do you think Euripides introduces him into the mix?
12. How does Medea exact revenge on those she labels her enemies? How is the method or means Medea employs to destroy them an apt reflection of her conceptions of their shortcomings?
13. What reasons does Medea offer for killing her children? How does she justify what she calls “the most unutterable of crimes”? Do you believe she was genuinely conflicted? Why or why not?
14. When do you believe Medea devised her plan? Do you think Medea could have been dissuaded from her plan? If yes, how and by whom? If no, why not?
15. When Jason sees Medea with his dead children, he says, “How could I have not seen the beast inside of you? I am sane at last, but I was mad before.” How is this remark a contradiction to the arguments he offered in his earlier confrontation with Medea? What does it suggest about his understanding of the nature of their relationship? Do you believe his assessment is accurate? Why or why not?
16. Medea says, “Passion is the root of all our sin, and all our suffering.” What does she mean by this phrase? To what extent is Medea wholly possessed by her passion as she claims or do you see evidence of her use of reason throughout the play? Provide examples from the text to support your argument.
17. At the start of the play, Medea called for justice for Jason’s betrayal, do you believe she found justice? Why or why not?
18. What is the chorus’s final rationale for why events unfolded as they did between Jason and Medea when they claim: “Zeus has all things in his power and has the power to confound…they turn the bright air black, and turn our dreams back to nightmare.”? Does their suggestion rob Jason and Medea of responsibility? Do you see evidence of this outlook in our time? Provide examples.
19. What elements of the play do you believe resonate with a modern audience? What did you find relatable?
20. Do you believe the play imparts an overarching moral or lesson? If yes, what is it? If no, why not?
1. Divide readers of the play into groups. Have each group take on the role of Medea’s chorus and create a new choral speech to be delivered either in place of or in addition to one of the existing choral speeches in the play. Group members should determine the following:
a. What is the purpose of your chorus?
b. What sentiments would you like your chorus to reflect?
c. Where in the play would you place your choral speech?
After each group delivers their respective speeches, discuss the following:
a. What were the challenges you faced in determining the purpose and content of your speech?
b. What similarities or differences emerge amongst the choral groups?
c. If you replaced a speech, why did you remove the existing speech? What does your speech do for the play that the original did not?
d. If you added a speech, why did you add the speech? What did the speech provide to the play?
2. Divide readers of the play into groups with two leads who will perform Jason and Medea’s confrontation scene in a variety of settings. Assign one group to one of these settings:
· A talk show set (such as Oprah, Dr. Phil, Tyra, or Jerry Springer)
· A marriage counselor’s office
· A private bedroom
· On a busy sidewalk with curious onlookers
Each group should work with their respective Jason and Medea leads to develop the look and feel of the scene befitting their assigned setting. Perform the confrontation scene and discuss the following questions:
a. How does the setting impact your reaction to the speech between Jason and Medea?
b. How does setting alter the dynamics between the couple?
c. Does your sympathy change for each character based on the setting? Why or why not?
d. How is the tone or mood altered by each setting?
e. What insights or perspectives did you gain?
3. Writing a missing scene:
a. Who are the characters in the scene?
b. Where would the scene fall in the overall structure of the play?
c. What purpose does the scene serve?
d. What is the content of the scene? What are the characters saying and why?
4. Find a modern day Medea or Jason and Medea story in the news. Bring in copies of your story and discuss the following:
a. How did you determine that your finding was a modern-day Medea or Jason and Medea story?
b. What similarities and differences do you see between Euripides’ Medea and your modern tale?
c. If you have identified a modern Medea, how is she characterized by friends and strangers?
d. What justifications are offered for your modern Medea’s actions? Do they resemble any of the arguments in the play?
e. What do your modern Medea or Jason and Medea suggest about the enduring nature of human relationships?
f. Why do you think we have modern-day parallels to Jason and Medea? What lessons can we learn from these individuals?
5. Imagine you are a reporter for a local paper in Medea’s time. You have learned of the events that unfold at Jason and Medea’s home and you have been granted an exclusive interview with Medea. Create a 100 word introduction of the piece. What types of questions would you ask Medea; what tact would you take? How would you cover the story? Have each member of your group write a short article about the events that unfolded.