Background of play

  • In this Athenian society, women had little power of their own and relied on men
  • Medea met Jason on his search for the Golden Fleece, in which he succeeded because Medea fell in love with him and so helped him with her magical powers
  • They went back to Greece, married and had two children
  • She hated his uncle so killed him by conning his two daughters - this meant they had to flee to Corinth
  • Here, Jason plans to marry Glauke, King Creon's daughter, abandoning Medea and his two sons. This is where the play begins
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  • Medea is described as being an obedient wife, and is now distraught because he true love is abandoning her for another woman
  • She hates her children because they remind her of her husband, Jason
  • The Tutor brings the news of her exile
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Rest of the play

  • The Nurse and Tutor feel sorry for Medea because she was deeply in love with Jason and now regrets her actions of betraying her homeland and father, but she is a tempremental character so they are scared to tell her of her exile
  • Creon comes to tell her that she and her children are banished from Corinth, but Medea begs for one more day to "prepare" which Creon foolishly grants her
  • Jason comes to talk to her to tell her how dramatic she is being and how she is blind to see that all of this is in her best interest, however Medea refuses to accept this and his help
  • Aegeus, king of Athens and one of Medea's friends, meets up with her and Medea tells him of all her misfortunes. He feels sorry for her so offers her a place too stay with him on the conditions she gets there by herself and finds him a cure for his sterility 
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Rest of play

  • Medea meets with Jason again and apologises for her earlier behaviour, offering him a gift to give to his wife, a dress and a coronet, meant to ostensibly to convince Glaukie to talk her dad out of exiling Medea.
  • However, they are actually poisoned and kill Glauke and her father, Creon, too.
  • Medea, although pleased by the news of her deaths, now struggles with deciding whether to kill her children. The Chorus try to talk her out of it but she ignores them and goes ahead with her plan, killing the children out of sight.
  • She flees the scene in a dragon-pulled chariot provided by her father, the Sun God, and leaving Jason cursing and in despair
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Characters - Medea


  • Sorceress and princess
  • Manipulative, vindictive and revenge driven
  • Everyone is afraid of her as she is very unpredictable
  • Did a lot for Jason - sacrificed her homeland and family to be with him and helped him win the Golden Fleece
  • Good mother before the events, and she did think twice before killing them
  • Caused a lot of deaths - her brother, Jason's uncle, Creon, Glauke and then her children
  • Never listens to anyone - not the Chorus, Nurse or Jason
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Characters - Jason


  • Unloyal to Medea and his children
  • Sexist and unloyal attitude is symbolic of the pariarchol Greek society
  • Wouldn't be the legendary hero he is without Medea, and then ironically not good enough for Glauke
  • Selfish - says he saved her but from what? She had a good set up as a princess with family and wealth
  • But by marrying Glauke he is supporting his children and Medea out of poverty
  • He never planned on her being exiled - she brought that on herself
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Characters - Aegeus


  • Friend of Medea
  • Honourable - can't believe Jason's behaviour
  • Respects Medea for telling him her problems
  • Self-centred - only cares about him getting something out of it and his own problems
  • Sympatises with Medea
  • Firm with Medea - insists she gets to Athens on her own
  • By swearing oath, protects him and Athens
  • Shrewed leader - puts Athens' political relationship with Corinth before Medea
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Characters - Creon


  • Direct and rude with Medea at first but shows some sympathy by allowing her one more day
  • Afraid of Medea
  • As a result of this he is forward thinking
  • Authoritative - threatens Medea if she stays more that the day
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Characters - The Chorus, Nurse and Tutor


  • At start, help lift Medea from hr depression
  • Stand silent most of the time - maybe because they are so dissatisfied with the wat women are treated
  • Pray to Zeus to stop Medea killing her children, but once again they have no affect on the action of the play
  • They swear to silence as Medea plots revenge


  • Medea and her children's servent
  • worries for the children foreshaddow their death
  • dissaproves of Jason and is loyal to Medea


  • Like Nurse, doesn't have much effect but does comment on situations
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Rest of the play

  • The Nurse and Tutor feel sorry for Medea as she was deeply in love with Jason and regrets betraying her father and homeland, however she is a dangerous person so they fear what she might do
  • Creon banishes Medea and her children, but Medea begs for one more day "to prepare", which he grants her reluctantly
  • Jason accuses her of overreacting and that voicing her grievences so publicly will put her and her children's lives in danger. Medea refuses his help and rejects his idea that this is all in their best interest
  • Aegeus, King of Athens and good friend to Medea shows up in Creon and Medea tells him everything. Aegeus then offers her a place to stay with him on the terms she makes her way there herself, and also if she gives him details for a drug to cure his sterility.
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