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Euripides, Medea
Euripides' Medea
Translated by
C. A. E. Luschnig
in Greek, Trophos, Medea's old Nanny from her
or child-minder, in Greek, Paidagogos, a Slave who
tends the children
Children of Medea and
two boys, non-speaking characters
refugee from Colchis, former princess, former wife
of Jason
King of Corinth
refugee, former husband of Medea, recently married
to Creon's daughter
King of Athens, passing through Corinth
a slave of Jason
Corinthian Women
The Medea was first produced for the Greater Dionysia in the spring of 431
B.C.E. The scene represents Medea's house in Corinth. It is most likely to have
used only two actors with speaking parts. There are also several extras
representing the entourages of Creon and of Aigeus.
PROLOGUE[1] (1-130)
Medea's old Nanny from her childhood in Colchis comes out of the house alone
and addresses the elements.
How I wish the Argo's sails had never swept through
the dark blue Clashing Rocks[2] into the land of the Colchians;
I wish the pine trees had never fallen
in the groves of Pelion, cut down to put oars in the hands
of the heroes[3] who went after the golden fleece
for Pelias. Then my mistress Medea would not
have sailed to the fortress of Iolcus' land,
her heart battered by love for Jason.
And she would not have convinced the daughters of Pelias[4] to kill
their father and would not have come to live here on Corinthian soil
with her husband and children, winning over[5]
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Euripides, Medea
the citizens of the country she had come to as a refugee,
and obliging Jason in every way.
This is what brings the greatest stability at home:
when a woman does not challenge her husband.
It has all gone sour now, affection turned to hatred.
Jason has cast aside his children and my mistress,
and now goes to bed in a royal marriage
with the daughter of Creon who governs this land.
And Medea, in despair, rejected by her husband,
howls out "the oaths he swore" and calls upon the right hand,
a potent symbol of fidelity, and invokes the gods
to witness Jason's treatment of her.
She won't eat; she just gives in to her grief,
washing away all her hours in tears,
ever since she realized her husband had abandoned her.
She never looks up or raises her face
from the ground. She is like a rock or wave of the sea
when those who love her try to give advice;
except that sometimes she lifts up her pallid face[6]
and mourns for her dear father,
her country, and the home she betrayed
to come here with this man who now holds her in contempt.
The poor woman knows from bitter loss
what it means to have once had a homeland.
And she hates her children, takes no pleasure in seeing them.
I'm afraid of her, in case she has some new plan in mind.
She is a deep thinker, you know, and she will not put up with
this kind of abuse. I know her and I am terrified
that in silence entering the house where the bed is laid
she might thrust a sharp sword through the heart[7]
or kill the princess and the one who married her
and then suffer some greater tragedy.
She is frightening. It won't be easy for an enemy
to come out victorious in a battle with her.
But here come the children from their play.
They know nothing of their mother's troubles
for the childish heart is not used to grief.
The old minder of the children of Jason and Medea enters with the children
running about him, perhaps playing with hoops or other toys.