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Book Title: Médeia|
The author of the book: Euripides
Date of issue: 2010
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Format files: PDF
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Medea, with her suffering, her hatred, her cruelty, has been present this week in my life. Her myth living in various guises of representation. And all engaged me in various degrees and manner.
It all started on Monday when, touring the Thyssen Musem in the search of paintings which had to do with the idea of ‘Travel”, I stopped to admire this painting, The Argonauts Leaving Colchis, by Ercole de Roberti (ca 1480). This depicts the earlier part of the Myth – the adventure in Colchis, The Voyage of Argo: The Argonautica. As the lovely Medea, in read, is already in the Argos, this represents the return trip with Golden Fleece on board. There is no hint of their dark future.
On Tuesday I watched Pasolini’s classic, from 1969,with the magnificent Maria Callas impersonating Medea. Pasolini’s account gives us the full myth, from the youth of Jason under the care of the Centaur, until the final gruesome deed perpetrated by Medea. What enraptured me of this film was Pasolini’s ability to portray an ominous barbaric kingdom. Sinister in all its splendour. For splendorous the filming certainly is. Just to admire his choice of locations is it worth watching this film. These are: Göreme in Capadocia, with those haunting caves and extended yellow land; the imposing and Aleppo fortress, which we may very well lose as Syria is now under the control of other dark forces; and parts of the delicate Camposanto in Pisa. Beautiful.
The only time Callas agreed to act without singing was for this Medea. She and her director succeed in giving us a cold hearted Medea, possessed by her hatred and full of feelings of revenge, but who is in control of hers and other’s destiny.
Then I finally landed in and read a text, the major literary source, Euripides play. The tragedy begins at the end. This is Medea’s revenge. There were two aspects that drew my attention most in Euripides. One was his pride in the Greek civilization, for he justifies Medea’s barbarity as precisely that, the act of a barbarian. Impossibly expected from a Greek.
And second his lines on the plight of women. Medea’s lmost out of a feminist pamphlet, but this is Euripides’ stylus.
Of all things with life and understanding,
We women are the most unfortunate,
First, we need a husband, someone we get
For an excessive price. He then becomes
The ruler of our bodies. This misfortune
Adds still more troubles to the grief we have,
Then comes the crucial struggle: this husband
We’ve selected, is he good or bad?
For a divorce loses women all respect,
Yet we can’t refuse to take a husband,
Then, when she goes into her husband’s home,
With its new rules and different customs,
She needs a prophet’s skill to sort out the man
Whose bed she shares...
My latest Medea was last night, when I attended a performance of Seneca’s version Medea. This play focuses more on Medea’s abilities as a magician and zeroes in sharply into her hatred and rage than does Euripides. The quality of the performance wavered between some less convincing passages and some truly brilliant ones. I withheld my interest when hysteria took over the tragic, but there was an unforgettable representation of magical rites. If the play had begun with an astonishing enactment of the beginning of the Universe--the ancient Greek Big Bang--, when out of the amorphous chaos a series of deities emerged, the stage later offered Medea in her rage engaged in a metamorphosis through which she conjured up her powers. A frenzy of mud and voices, of dislocated movements and terrorizing tremors build up to a climatic trance, and Medea, becoming one with the goddess Earth, adjured the destruction of the Kingdom of Corinth.
To my astonishment I found myself gradually slouching in my chair, pulled down by my daze and holding my breath—clearly I could not resist being dragged by the intoxicating trance.
There is at least one more Medea waiting for my attention...Christa Wolfs Medea
..... for when I have recovered.
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Read information about the author(Greek: Ευριπίδης )
Euripides (Ancient Greek: Εὐριπίδης) (ca. 480 BC–406 BC) was the last of the three great tragedians of classical Athens (the other two being Aeschylus and Sophocles). Ancient scholars thought that Euripides had written ninety-five plays, although four of those were probably written by Critias. Eighteen of Euripides' plays have survived complete. It is now widely believed that what was thought to be a nineteenth, Rhesus, was probably not by Euripides. Fragments, some substantial, of most of the other plays also survive. More of his plays have survived than those of Aeschylus and Sophocles together, partly because of the chance preservation of a manuscript that was probably part of a complete collection of his works in alphabetical order.
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