Of all the frightening characters in Greek tragedy, Medea is surely the most terrifying and the one that gets most disturbingly under our skin: there is a singular horror about women who kill their children.
Medea is one of the oldest surviving plays of Euripides. It is the story of a woman who takes the ultimate revenge when her husband Jason, the hero she has helped to win the Golden Fleece, abandons her for another woman.
The complex portrait that emerges is that of a Medea both rational and irrational, in the grip of a vengeful idée fixe, yet still open to maternal feeling.
Medea cries out to the heavens at one point, as she switches, with devastating volatility from the manipulative to the murderous to the abruptly humane.
Euripides' Medea taps into primal emotions that frighten and fascinate us in equal measure. Try as you might to interpret the tale of a wife who, having sacrificed everything for her husband, murders their children to punish him for his unfaithfulness, there’s a mystery at the heart of this shocking crime that is ultimately irreducible.
EURIPEDES of Athens (ca. 485–406 BCE), famous in every age for the pathos, terror, surprising plot twists, and intellectual probing of his dramatic creations, wrote nearly ninety plays. Of these, some eighteen have survived to come down to us from antiquity.
“This ancient play still speaks to us with astonishing directness across the millennia…”