MEDEA written by EURIPIDES
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Servant to Medea and Medea's children. Her worries for the children foreshadow the children's deaths. She is loyal to Medea and disapproves of Jason's decisions. Along with the tutor, she is an outside commentator on the events of the play. As a slave, she is a canny but powerless observer.
Tutor to Medea's children. The Tutor is another slave of Medea's household. Along with the Nurse, he comments on the behavior of his masters, although he has a different perspective on events.
The tutor has heard a rumour.
Kreon the King intends to banish Medea - she will be sent into exile with her children. And it doesn't surprise him that Jason will let it happen:
"Jason cares nothing for those he once loved.
The promises of men who seek power
are easily made
and easily broken."
Like the nurse, the tutor is fearful of what is to come.
Medea is heard howling in agony - the agony of betrayal.
But when she arrives she is utterly calm.
She explains the situation to the women of Corinth and asks for their silence as she works her revenge.
"I have no-one
I am no-one –
thought of as nothing by my husband –
a prize won in a foreign land.
No mother, no brother, no relation
no refuge in this sea of woe."
Driven by an uncompromising vision of what is right, she relently carries out her revenge.
The women of Corinth agree to remain silent.
They will allow Medea to wreak her revenge.
They agree that Jason's behaviour is intolerable and that he deserves to die.
However, when Medea resolves to kill her children the women can no longer support her.
"Both for your sake Medea
and to keep the world from running mad
I tell you not to do this thing.
O shining light of day
lend your light to illumine
the dark soul of this woman
before she hack her flesh and blood."
King Kreon fears Medea.
"You’re a clever woman
well versed in the evil arts.
You’re angry at having lost
your husband’s love.
I have heard of your threats
to my daughter
So he has decided to exile Medea along with her children.
But Medea appeals to him as a father and he grants her one day to prepare herself.
One day is all Medea needs to carry out her muderous revenge.
Jason is frustrated by being on the margins of power
He will do anything to cross the threshold - including abandoning his wife and children in order to marry the daughter of the King.
He uses all his powers of persuasion to try to justify his actions.
"I grabbed at the chance
of a brighter future for our children
and hoped that by producing sons of royal stock
to be brothers to yours
to draw the two families together
in one happy unit
to the benefit of us all.
Now this seems to me
an entirely sensible plan."
He never understands why Medea doesn't share his vision.
Aigeus is the consumate politician.
Medea needs a refuge to escape to once she has taken her revenge. Aigeus is the ruler of Athens and could provide protection.
He is very interested in her promise that she will help him produce children because he lacks an heir.
But he can't risk war with Corinth by being seen to help her.
"If you arrive in Athens an exile
I can welcome you in with no blame attached
but I cannot myself be seen to carry you there.
Make the journey yourself
for I cannot afford
to stir ill-will against me."
The messenger has witnessed a true horror.
He describes how Medea's sons brought a golden robe and crown for Jason's new bride. How the princess dressed herself in the robe and crown. How she danced for joy. But then how joy turned to agony because the robe and the crown were laced with poison:
"and the poison was eating her skin.
The wreath of gold around her head
hissed a stream of all-devouring fire
while the dress of gold your children gave
fastened firmly to the girl’s young flesh."
Medea's gifts killed the girl and her father and watching them die has left the messenger traumatised.