Medea: Shmoop Study Guide

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  • Medea Questions
  • source The comic playwright made fun of Euripides's use of language and his characters' tendency to spout the new fangled philosophies of Socrates.

    Like his buddy Socrates, Euripides's ideas were hard for mainstream Athens to swallow. This was due in part to his progressive ideas. The guy was anti-war, sympathetic to slaves and women, and so critical of traditional religion that many believed him to be an atheist.

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    Athens just wasn't ready for these "liberal" ideas. Euripides was known to be kind of a loner.

    He spent most of his time writing in a cave on the island of Salamis. Eventually the lack of appreciation and disgust with Athenian politics especially the destructive Peloponnesian War may well have been what drove Euripides to leave Athens. He spent the last months of his life in the court of the King of Macedonia, where he proved them all wrong by penning his undisputed classic, The Bacchae , and perhaps met a pack of dogs with a taste for playwrights.

    In Poetics , Aristotle rates Euripides as much a lesser tragedian than Sophocles, pointing out his haphazard plots and un-heroic heroes. These criticisms are valid both are true in Medea , but we wonder if Aristotle ever stopped to think that Euripides had another agenda altogether.

    Medea Questions

    While his rival Sophocles was towing the traditional line, Euripides was busy inventing entirely new genres. In retrospect, we can see that it wasn't necessarily that Euripides didn't know how to write a traditional tragedy; he was just dissatisfied with the form altogether.

    By blending comic elements with tragic, Euripides basically created Tragicomedy genre.

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    His loosely plotted plays with happy endings created the genre of Romance. And, of course, there's Medea , which revolutionized Revenge Tragedies by letting its heroine off the hook. On top of all that, Euripides's focus on the emotional lives of his characters, along with his comparatively natural-sounding dialogue, foreshadowed by thousands of years the creation of modern realism.

    History has vindicated Euripides. More of his plays are extant still around than any other ancient Greek playwright. Medea is now recognized as a timeless classic, while the two plays that beat it in the original competition don't even exist anymore.

    How It All Goes Down

    Euripides is now known as one of the greatest and most innovative playwrights to ever walk the Earth. We're glad the man has finally gotten his due — he was basically a one man dramatic revolution. Medea 's relentless protagonist has become more than just a character. She has become a timeless symbol of feminine revolt.

    Medea has spent quite some time in male-dominated Greece. As a woman, she has no rights. This is made worse by the fact that she's a foreigner. Medea is laced throughout with the theme of exile.

    Euripides' Medea - Plot Summary

    All the characters relate to the motif. Some, like Medea, have been banished from their homes; some are the ones doing the banishing.

    Ancient Greeks had a deep suspicion of foreigners, thinking of them all as "barbarians. Medea is an extreme depiction of just how bad a marriage can go. It really doesn't get much worse than the marriage seen in this play. When Jason takes a new wife, Medea, his former wife takes reve Medea is symbolic of the clever woman imprisoned in a world of men.

    Her intelligence inspires both suspicion and cautious admiration. In the end, her cunning becomes her supreme weapon in her quest