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CLA204H1 Lecture Notes - Broken Oath, Heroides, Euripides

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Lee Sawchuk

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CLA204: Introduction to Classical Mythology!
Jason and Medea in Corinth !
• Jason and Medea have two sons!
• Jason arranges new marriage!
!– Glauke, daughter of Creon, ruler of Corinth!
- Jason divorces Medea!
- she had helped Jason get through the trials that her father set up, and in return all he
had to do was marry her and now he won't do even that!
!- generally she ends up just killing Creon and his daughter!
• Euripides’ Medea is a different version of the myth!
!– Medea seeks revenge for broken oath!
!– Poisons new bride and Creon!
!– Kills her own children with Jason!
! ! - according to the play, she says that she does this because she gets the children to
help with the plot!
! ! - the children bring the magical, poisoned clothing to Creon and his daughter!
! ! - because she has involved her young children, she thinks that the city of Corinth
will kill them!
! ! - to stop that from happening, she kills them herself!
! ! - at the end of the play, she also says that she killed them partially to punish
!- the reason she is mad is that Jason broke a bond!
! ! - somebody has to punish him for not upholding his end of the bargain, and
Medea decides to be that person !
!– Escapes in a magic, dragon-pulled chariot!
!- she also has the ability to tell Jason how he is going to die!
! ! - he will be sleeping under a boat, and part of it will break off and kill him!
Jason dies ingloriously!
!- usually something good happens after, but not to Jason!
!- he just dies and goes down to Hades!
***Image: Medea flying over Jason in her magic chariot!
!- not necessarily depicting what Euripides said, just the same sort of tradition!
!- dragon-drawn chariot (look like serpents)!
!- sun around her, represents that she is descended from Helios and this is his
!- we can tell it is Medea by the scene, also because she is wearing a hat that eastern
people wear (shows that she is not Greek; she is a barbarian)!
!- on the left you can see Jason--nothing recognisable, standing in shock!
!- to the right are two bodies--these are the children!
!- two figures--one with white hair is probably Creon's daughter burning up, and
the other person is probably Creon!
!- the winged figures on the top are the personifications of retribution--Ponoi!
Folktale Motifs and Jason !
• Quest themes!
• Motifs!
!– Deprived of birth-rite!
!– Disguise and recognition !
!– Questing!
!Accidental killing!
!– Travel to exotic locales!
!– Magic, love charms!
• Jason the hero?!
!– Twice a lover!
! ! - different from Heracles--Jason falls in love (sign of weakness?)!
! ! - has an adverse effect on his quest!
!– Kills a friend!
! ! - Heracles also involved in bad deaths, but he gets purified!
!– Kills a young boy!
!– Succeeds by assistance of others!
!– Despondent!
!– Fails to gain throne upon completion!
!– Dies ignominiously!
Interpreting Medea !
Ovid Heroides 12!
!– letter that Medea writes to Jason!
!– talks about all of her sacrifices for him!
!– what this means to her now--negative spin on Jason's character and makes
Medea seem a bit more positive!
!– in the last line she says that she has something in store--killing her children!
Transgressive force!
!– gender roles!
!– Social roles!
! ! - seen as a scary outsider!
! ! - foreigner--not a citizen!
! ! - not Greek--no shared cultural heritage!
! ! - despite all that, she is very powerful--usually foreigners had no say !
Monster? !
!– she knows witchcraft!
!– scary to men--she will trick and harm them!
!– uses magic rather than physical actions to overcome others!
!– "No Greek woman would kill her children--she is not a woman, she is a monster"!
!– access to prophecy--usually only restricted to the gods!
!– negative character to the Greek male mindset!
!– might be pushing it too far for the Greeks!
!– does line up with a lot of what other heroes do!
! ! - divine ancestry!
! ! - emotional excess!
! ! - very courageous, very resourceful!
! ! - strong desire for glory and vengeance (like Heracles)!
! ! ! - Medea gets vengeance for a broken oath!
! ! - overcomes beasts!
! ! - conquering negative figures in the world!
!– in some myths, when she dies, she goes to the Elysian fields (blessed realm)!
! ! - marries Achilles!
Early Kings of Athens!
- Athenians boasted that they were born from the ground, and they were always there!
- had never been conquered by anyone else!
- this idea seeps into myths!
Autochthonous = "sprung from the earth"!
!– earliest king in Athens!
!– said to have been born out of the earth one day !
!– Serpent-shaped lower half !
! ! - symbolises having been born from the earth!
! ! - like Typhon!
! ! - another example is Giants, which are sometimes depicted with snake lower
!– Cecropia is the original name of the area he rules (Attica)!
!– Judged patronage!
! ! - between Athena and Poseidon!
Erichthonius (sometimes called Erectheus)!
!– also sort of springs from the earth!
!– Erion = “wool”!
!– Eris = “strife”!