2012-02-15_Lecture#11-Euripides Medea.doc

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12 Mar 2012
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2012-02-15
Lecture#11- Euripides Medea
Male and female relationship
Greek male thought and the men were generals, politicians etc…
Greek society was dominated by men
Medea bridges barbarian, men and female (She is a witch, female, and
barbarian)
Barbarian witch woman vs. Jason Greek make hero
431 BCE
Knowing this play: which side do you think Euripides would come down
on?
oTragedy would support the male side
oThe audience would also be male dominated
oVery little evidence of women present
Evidence is contradictory
If women were present, there would be very few of them
Why else would you expect Euripides to take the side of Jason instead of
Medea’s?
oEuripides is Greek, he is a man
He grew up in a culture that respects men over women
oIt is a HEAVILY CIVIC occasion
oSeats were subsidized and given that Athens prides itself on
manliness, we might expect that the play comes down the male
side.
It is not as simple and nuanced.
Foreign women is more rational, civilized and even superior to male
Greek hero.
Same tension in gender with ethnicity. On the one hand, there is polar
thinking.
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2012-02-15
oMen are always good and women are always bad.
How do we understand what tragedies depicting strong women in a very
male centered context?
oMany of the women in these plays do end up having bad ends.
Women kills themselves most often than not.
Morality tale
oWomen’s emotions: let us Athenian men to feel like a woman.
(this is what the play allows us to do)
oMuch like the barbarian tales, it allows the Athenian man to play
the women role
Masculine literature/cultureconstantly exploring what it was like to be
a woman
Medea
Greek man vs. other
Comes from eastern Shore of the Black Sea (Ukraine)These would be
the Scythians
They were people that ancient ethnographers who were very much were
interested in.
She is a foreigner
oDoes the play ever talk about her foreign origins?
She is an exile
People talk about her wild nature and compared to tiger
Jason saysyou are so lucky to have met meI took you
out of the barbarian lands and brought you to the civilized
Greek land and he thinks he has done her a favor
You can take the girl out of barbarian land but you
can’t take the barbarian out of her
oShe is about to be exiled from Corinth
She is cut off from her family, friends, her countries
She is without a polis
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