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Euripides Medea

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Victoria Wohl

February 15 , 2012  Male and female alterity  By greek thought we mean greek men thought, culture and society dominated by men  Medea—combines a convenient bridge between barbarian and grek and male and female—shes both barbarian, woman, and sorceress  Play stages conflict between barbarian witchy woman and Jason her husband a greek male hero  Jason favoured character, audience at city dionysia is predominantly male  Little evidence for this kind of thing  “the brids” aritstophanes—learning of advantages of brid life over human life, one advantage is if your sitting in city dionysia you can fly home have sex with your neighbours wife and come back to catch the more exciting plays—proving women are at home  Furies—so terrifying on stage, all women in audience spontaneously aborted  Well bread women not supposed to leave house or be around other men  If women were in audience, might not have been legitimate wives, but concubines, prostitutes, or foreighners, where ideology of Athenian feminity not held so strong  Predominantly male audience with male audience  Why else would Jason be taken over medea o Euripides a greek and male o Grown up in culture that respects men more than women o Heavily civic occasion—not just about drama but about promoting the city o Plays chosen by the demos, play that won at the end awarded a prizeby demos, civic occasion, citizens paid taxes for it, civic importance and a city of manliness and hellenisity, expect play to come down on male side  Not so simple, more nuanced than youd expect  Foreign woman more civiliozed and superior to greek male  Same tension as with barbarians and greek  On other hand we will see examples of greek tragedy/literature depicting strong intelligent rational women  Women who are equal if not superior to the men  Men playright, audience and even actors, medea played by man, malecentric world, yet sometimes the female are the equal to the men or if not at least sympathetic  How do we understand what tragedies are doing  Women suffer and do kill themselves in tragedy as do men, but not just as simple as morality like Oedipus  Plays enduce us to empathise with women  Let us into womens emotions, feel what it would be like to be a woman  Agave—didnt honour Dionysus, challenged semele’s story, and is punished  How sympathetic that moment is portrayed  Almost an animal in her frenxy, yet a woman, but we see what its like to be her  Let the greek man play the woman  Strange situation, on one hand very masculine genre, culture, literature, but masculine culture thats exploring what it would be like to be a woman  Conflict between greek man and other  Barbarous—scythians, excessively moist and hairless and impotent, medea is Scythian  All ancient ethnographers are interested in their culture  She’s a foreigner  do we get a sense of her as a foreigner in play? o Less that shes a foreighner than that shes an exile o Wild and tigerlike o Husband Jason thinks hes done her a favour by taking her out of barbarian land o But remains savage o Less emphasis on barbarian than exile o Exile from pulpis, about to be exiled from Corinth, hates how cut off she is from her own tradition and family, a woman without a polis o This is her own fault o Jason one of the Argonauts, sailed on argo, band of heros, looking for golden fleece, fleece sheepskin, find out its possessed by king aeetes ( king of many vows—medeas father) o Ask for it, you can have it but have to perform som tasks—kill firebreathing dragon and sew its teeth to the ground o Medea helps out, falls in love with Jason first sight, what help can she be in killing the fragon, medea has certain advantages, granddaughter of sun god, and neice of cerces the witch from odyssey o Power over men o Represented as sorceress, knows spells, can commune tih dead, makes potions, her name means scheme or trickery in greek, also related to word for genitals o Men commenting on how awful it is to be a clever woman o Makes charm to make Jason powerful, able to kill dragon and gets him the fleece o Also helps him get away o Aeetes annoyed and chases after fleece, medea takes her brother hostage chops him into pieces off boat, father has to collect parts, helps to get Jason away o Cant go home after betraying father and killing brother o In Corinth o How arte Greeks going to deal with her? o Think of play within Athenian context o 431bce beginning of pellopenesian war o 451 pericles citizen law o Before 451 if Athenian man married foreign woman their child could be a foreign citizen o After pericles citizen law, a relationship like Jason and medeas would not produce legitimate children o Not set in Athens but mythical Corinth o About Greeks and barbarians o Athenians projected own issues on mythic cities o Corinth dealing with this mixed marriage, we see this as a translation into mythic world fo tragedy about Athenian concern of mixed marriages o Metics—resident aliens never became full citizens o Think of medea as a metic o Living in greece but cant marry a greek man because children wont be citizens o Outsider o Situation her precarious situation o When she fled here she found favour with her citizens, and there in relies on Jason for everything she has, sexurity, livelihood, ability to dtay in city o This is like situation for all metics o All metics have a proxenos which are a sponsor or guardian—pro in favour of—xenos— host o When abandoned left without protection o Says to Corinthian women which are chorus o “wronged by husband with no kin who i find refuge form storms of misfortune” o Contrasts her exile to their community o Her exile reinforced by femininity o Status fo being woman and in exile similar o Woman needs her husband like metic needs proxenos o First belong to fathers than belong to husband o Because a woman not related to husband or family o Always a stranger in home o As soon as they have children meshed in bloodline but really always felt like a stranger o Medeas story—exile, dependence, etc really allegory for life of woman o Page 37-38 medea complaining about lot of women, feminist scholars take this as first piece fo feminist writing—written by male, played by male, and ambivalent mother who kills children wife who kills rival—not feminist scree, tremendous insight as woman “of all creature that think and feel we women are unhappiest species” mentions marriage as a type of exile “you have to marry, not really an option, and once your married you have to stick with them if marriage is bad, not possible to renounce ones husband, regulations unheard of in her own home, releaves disgust of heart to his friends, we women only have one person to turn to” o If he gets sick can go to symposium hang with friends, sleep with prostitutes, women cant go anywhere, cant even leave house o Life of woman like one of exile o Xenos—means foreigner o Refers to guest or host o How do Greeks accept this foreigner, what kind of xenos will they show her o Kreon wants to banish her, thinks shes a threat to polis and family  Loses her proxenos, kreon wants to kick her out, who shows her xenos? o Aeigeos o On his way back from Delphi where consulting oracle about infertility, weird detail, king of Athens has problem with fertility, solve it by offering xenia to foreighner o Makes a point, not just about self interest, that its a virtue to offer xenia in need, ethical o Athens with restricted citizenship, offering place to barbarian
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