Although the play is considered one of the great plays of the Western canon, the Athenian audience did not react so favorably, and awarded it only the third place prize at the Dionysia festival in 431 BC. A possible explanation might be found in a scholium to line 264 of the play, which asserts that traditionally Medea's children were killed by the Corinthians after her escape; Euripides' apparent invention of Medea's filicide might have offended its audience just as his first treatment of the Hippolytus myth did.
In the 4th century BC, South-Italian vase painting offers a number of Medea-representations that are connected to Euripides' play — the most famous is a krater in Munich. However, these representations always differ considerably from the plots of the play or are too general to support any direct link to the play of Euripides – this might reflect the judgement on the play. However, the violent and powerful character of princess Medea, and her double nature — both loving and destructive — became a standard for the later periods of antiquity and seems to have inspired numerous adaptations thus became standard for the literal classes.
With the rediscovery of the text in 1st-century Rome (the play was adapted by the tragedians Ennius, Lucius Accius, Ovid, Seneca the Younger and Hosidius Geta, among others), again in 16th-century Europe, and in the light of 20th century modern literary criticism, Medea has provoked differing reactions from differing critics and writers who have sought to interpret the reactions of their societies in the light of past generic assumptions; bringing a fresh interpretation to its universal themes of revenge and justice in an unjust society.