Medea (Dover Thrift Editions)
Home : Medea : Study Guide : Character List

Medea Characters

by Euripides

Character List

Medea

Princess of Colchis. Wife of Jason. Barbarian, sorceress, woman of passion and rage. Clever, powerful, and ruthless, Medea enabled Jason to complete his quest for the Golden Fleece. For his sake, she murdered her own brother; because of this act, she can never return home. Now, in Corinth, she has been betrayed by Jason, and she refuses to suffer in silence. She is fiercely proud, unwilling to allow her enemies to have any kind of victory; she murders her own children in part because she cannot bear the thought of seeing them hurt by an enemy. She is also a cunning and cold manipulator: she sees through the false pieties and hypocritical values of her enemies, and uses their own moral bankruptcy against them. Her revenge is total, but it comes at the cost of everything she holds dear.

Jason

Son of Aeson. Hero of the Golden Fleece. Leader of the Argonauts, Jason met Medea during his quest for the Golden Fleece. Although he has received credit for retrieving the treasure, Medea is the one who killed the monster guarding the Fleece. She also saved Jason's life during the escape. Jason married her, and fathered two children by her; however, due to her overly ardent actions on Jason's behalf, Jason and his family were exiled from his native kingdom of Iolcus. Here in Corinth, Jason has gone behind Medea's back and taken another bride. He is depicted as an opportunistic and unscrupulous man, full of self-deception and repugnant smugness. He condescends to his wife, although she is in every way superior to him.

Creon

King of Corinth. New father-in-law to Jason. Not to be confused with Creon of Sophocles' Theban plays. Creon exiles Medea, fearing that the dangerous witch will seek vengeance against his family. Medea takes advantage of Creon's underestimation of her: she begs for one day to make preparations, and the king grants it. This day is enough fro Medea to destroy Creon and his daughter.

Aegeus

King of Athens. Friend of Medea. Kindly and trusting ruler. He runs into Medea by chance, on his way back from the great oracle of Apollo. Aegeus remains childless, and Medea promises to help him. Not aware of her plans, Aegeus vows to grant her safe haven in Athens, providing Medea with the means to ensure her own survival.

Nurse

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

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.

Messenger

He brings the news of the deaths of Creon and the Corinthian princess.

Chorus of Corinthian Women

The women of Corinth. Medea enlists their loyalty, extracting a vow of silence. They watch the horrific events unfold, but do not interfere. Though they condemn Medea at times, on the whole they seem to be more enthralled than disgusted by her. Like Medea, they are subject to the injustices that befall women; there is a part of them that seems to live vicariously through Medea's terrible revenge.

Medea Essays and Related Content