Structural Importance of the Episodes in "Medea"



Start of the Play (0) until the Entrance of Medea (215)

  • Nurse provides the mythological exposition of Jason, Medea and the Golden Fleece and the tragedy that has already happened of Jason leaving Medea in order to marry Glauce, at the command of Creon.
  • Exposition of the knowledge that she "hates" her children and they should not be near her in her "depression"
  • Nurse and Tutors hatred of Jason - from the offset, he is presented in a negative fashion: "Curse him - but no, he is my master"
  • Medea is crying of "woe" and "anguish" offstage
  • Foreshadowing: "O accursed children of a hated mother, may you die with your father"
  • Parados: Chorus of Corinthian Women: Entrance before Medea - Creates a solidarity and pathos for the character
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Medea's Entrance

Medea's Entrance (215) until Creon's Entrance (272)

  • First time we see Medea as a character on stage and she is surprisingly composed through her calm use of direct address: "Women of Corinth"
  • Surprising, abundant use of boulemata used in the speech contrasting her wilderness off stage - "We come to new ways of behaviour"
  • Suicidal Semantic Field but it is expressed far more calmly than the prologue - "I want to die"
  • Creates a female solidarity with the Nurse and the Corinthian Women through the inclusive personal pronoun - "Men say of us that we live a life free from danger" - Presents her as a good orator
  • Violence/Children Motif used for the first time - "I would rather stand three times in the battle line that bear one child" - Presented in a masculine form?
  • Evokes pathos from the audience and women by recapping the story of Colchis
  • Aims for a "just revenge" - foreshadows and sets out the plot for the audience
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Creon's Episode

Entrance of Creon (272) to the Exit of Creon (357)

  • First sign from someone who is not a main character that Medea is an impending threat upon Thebes - "You must go into exile"
  • Highlights Medea's intimidation upon significant authoratarians, for example Creon says "I am afraid of you"
  • First mention of exile! Acts as possible incentive moment?
  • Medea's acting ability, her change in characterisation and ability to evoke pathos for herself: "I am not excessively clever" and "How have you wronged me?"
  • Motif of Parent and Children - this is how Medea gets her way. Does this plant the first seed in her mind as how she will destroy Jason's oikos? "You too are a father, you have children. You are likely to be sympathetic to mine."
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First Stazimon including Medea's Speech

Creon's Exit (358) until The Entrance of Jason (446)

  • The chorus is the one to be logical and voice their concerns for Medea's wellbeings - sets up the next scene and Medea's next objective. Medea alligns with this! "Wherever can you turn?" - "What host will give me refuge?"
  • Medea's decision to kill Jason, Glauce and Creon finalised
  • Concept of Witchcraft is introduced for the first time: "I revere above all gods  and have chosen as my co-worker, Hecate"
  • The Chorus repeat their devotion to womanhood and Medea against males "It is men who plan trickery" against "Women will be free from the bitter tounge of slander" - aware of contemporary social standing in Athens
  • Recap of Colchis - another reminder for the audience!
  • Reminder of Oaths and their importance - "The spell of reverance for oaths is no more" - almost damns Jason for his lack of respect for them
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Jason's First Episode

The Entrance of Jason (446) until The Exit of Jason (627)

  • Jason realises Medea's passion for the first time: "how harsh passions lead you to impossible deeds"
  • Blames Medea but offers to help Medea - perhaps give her an exit clause (does the Tragedy needs to happen when he tries to make up for his actions) - he has a genuine care for Medea - "Even if you hate me, I could never feel badly towards you."
  • Medea recaps Colchis (once more for good measure) for almost emmasculates him for his role in it as she exclaims "I saved you"
  • Repetitious mention of oaths; signifies the importance to the audience - "No more is there any trusting to oaths"
  • Is Jason the only character to see her true self in this one scene? - "You are a clever woman (...) but love forced you (...) to save me"
  • Their relationship dynamics: lengthy monologues with logos and thymos at one another and "Medea makes a gesture of impatience" which results in Creon her to "No, keep quiet" - Argumentative relationship.
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Second Stazimon

Exit of Jason (628) until The Entrance of Aegeus (663)

  • Sophrosyne - "If Cypris come in moderation, no other goddess is so delightful" - Dramatic Irony, moderation is not any where present in plot or characterisation!
  • "May dread Cypris never madden my heart" - Idea of Medea's thymos being caused by love being reinforced and brought to surface by the women who know her best
  • Reinforces Medea as a Metic (outsider), to drill into the audience the context as they plead "may I never be without my city" - contemporary fear for audience
  • Continues to reinforce their hatred for Jason - "May he perish without reward" "He will never be a friend of mine"
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Aegeus' Episode

The Entrance of Aegeus (663) until The Exit of Aegeus (758)

  • Aegeus conveyed as yet another contemporary fear - the inability to have children. Reinforces the power of being a father in contemporary society for Medea
  • Aegeus, a man, sympathises and is friendly with Medea. Furthermore, he believes that Jason did act in a "shameful" way to her
  • Medea finally admits the way her relationship was with Jason - "Very much in love" - Is she telling the truth or begging for pathos?
  • Importance of Supplication in Greek World - for the second time in the narrative!
  • "I shall not be willing to take you from this land" - Medea is aware that she must plan to flee Thebes for Athens off her own will - a new obstacle to tackle!
  • She gets what she wants! Including him swearing an oath to her! Medea knows that this will be binding and she prepares and is ready for the worst
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Medea's Speech

The Exit of Aegeus (763) until The Exit of the Nurse (827)

  • Decided on her plan to kill her children and whatsmore, tells the Chorus this! Eating up her concious/excitement/expositional: multiple functions
  • Knows the methodical way she will do this! Boulemata - "I shall ask him" - this is thoroughly thought through! Insight into Medea's true thought process
  • Her fear of "laughter from my enemies is not be endured" trumps the safety of her own children in favour for the destruction of Jason's oikos.
  • BUT she is emotional over the death of her children but her own pride takes priority - "I  cry out when I think what kind of deed I must do"
  • The Chorus begin to turn against her - "I forbid you to do this"
  • Theme of silence, still encourages the Chorus to keep silent
  • Above all, it is the "best way to hurt my husband"
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Third Stazimon

Exit of the Nurse (823) until the Entrance of Jason (865)

  • They cement their distain for Medea for the first time - they believe she is wrong but it is too late! She is already set in her ways!
  • She tries to persuade her to stop in her decision
  • "We beg you by your knees, unreservedly, in every way, do not kill your children"
  • "Will you hold fast to their fate in death and not weep?"
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Jason's Second Episode

Entrance of Jason (865) until The Exit of Jason with the Children (974)

  • Medeas acting ability: she complies to female stereotypes; her ultimate acting challenge - "I beg you to pardon what I said before", "I wont call us evil - we women"
  • Dramatic Irony! "Be like your mother and as you greet him be reconciled from your previous hatred"
  • Jason finally accepts Medea and wishes her a "better course" - as if a happy resolution could happen from this scene because both parties seem content
  • Medea is "prone to tears" because of this or is she taken aback with the concept of killing her children?
  • Jason is at first, reluctant to let Medea bring gifts to Glauce through the children: should trust first instincts!
  • More Dramatic Irony! "I pray that you succeed and return with good tidings for your mother of what she longs to achieve"
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Fourth Stazimon

The Exit of Jason (974) until The Entrance of the Tutor (1001)

  • Finally give up on trying to convert Medea from killing her children - "No longer have I any hope now for the childrens lives"
  • "I share with your grief"
  • They understand why - because of Jason and his new "bedfellow" and the breaking of "oaths"
  • They start to turn against Medea
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Medea and The Tutor

The Entrance of the Tutor (1001) until (1081)

  • Audience sees Medeas reaction to news; first hand hysteria; "your reaction is out of harmony with what I have told you" - demise in her madness and characterisation
  • She is constantly conflicted as to what she is going to do - her maternal instinct vs her fears and her boulemata against her thymos
  • Her biggest fear trumps her instinct: "Do I want to make myself ridiculous by letting my enemies go unpunished?"
  • Blames Jason - cements her hatred
  • Imagery of Hands used in most explicit terms
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Fifth Stazimon

Start of the Stazimon (1081) until the Entrance of the Messenger (1120)

  • Repetitious mention about the importance of children - "Children prove in the end a delight or a sorrow for me." Dramatic Irony - representative of Jason and Medea in their characterisation
  • Medea realises that the messengers appearance in a "fresh disaster" which highlights her self-awareness.
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The Speech of the Messenger

The Entrance of the Messenger (1120) until The Exit of Medea (1251)

  • The first instinct the Messenger has is to blame Medea as she is the "unholy author of a dreadful deed"; people are starting to see her true colours
  • Reports in explicit detail the perepetia of the tragedy for the narrative - the death of Glauce; "the frenzy of Pan or some other god had come upon her"
  • Highlights the key theme of parental relationships; "poor father (..) fell upon the corpse"
  • Medea has a surprising and unsettling reaction to this; demise in the audiences empathy and her characterisation - "What glorious news you bring!"
  • The Chorus still pities her! "We pity you in your catastrophe - for your marriage with Jason has brought you to the house of Hades" - they are saddened that she has commited hubris!
  • Her final decision is made, there is no going back! "Come, my cruel hand" "They must die"
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The Death of the Children

The Exit of Medea (1251) until The Entrance of Jason (1293)

  • The catastrophe actually happens - the audience and the chorus react to "the childrens cry" as we hear them exclaim "Help!" multiple times in the scene - emotive.
  • The Chorus consider saving them - they dont! "I think I should defend the children from death"
  • The Chorus now have NO sympathy for Medea: "Cruel women, you must be stone or iron" and they sing of the "history of catastrophe you have brought upon men!" - prepares for the next scene.
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The Entrance of Jason (1293) until the End of the Play (1421)

  • The Chorus show support and provide exposition for Jason who learns of the childrens death
  • The Audience actually see the catastrophe: "Medea appears above the palace in a chariot drawn by dragons. The childrens corpses are on the chariot" - visual horror!
  • Jason blames and puts a "curse" upon her along with calling her "Etruscan Scylla" or a "lioness" -her true colours are revealed even to him for the first true, explicit time
  • The objective of Medea is complete in this scene - "I have stung your heart"
  • Refusal of burial and the escape to Athens: unsettling for it to compound to this catastrophe for the audience, pathos is further evoked as Jason pleads - "let me touch the soft skin of my children" - affection for his children in the most explicit terms
  • The Chorus summarize the play; anything happens with the support of the Gods - "The God has found a way to accomplish the unexpected" - tries to mitigate the shock impact by pinning it on the Gods - for the first time!
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