Medea reading questions


Next week will be devoted to Medea. You are required to read the entire play before Monday’s seminar.

1.) What function does the Nurse’s opening speech perform?

2.) What rhetorical strategies does Medea use to gain the Chorus of Corinthian women’s sympathy. Pay attention to the lines 250-2, when Medea says to the women of Corinth, “How wrong they are! I would very much rather stand/ three times in the front of battle than bear one child.” Why does she say this?

3.) In lines 285-304, Creon and Medea discuss her “cleverness,” sophos in Greek, which encompasses both the positive sense of “wise” as well as the pejorative notion of “ingenious, devious.” This is perhaps one of the most important words in the play. What senses of “cleverness” are they using?

4.) Medea says, “Do you think that I would ever have fawned on that man/ Unless I had some end to gain or profit in it?” (lines 368-70) Did Medea ever love Jason? Answer with references to other textual examples from the play.

5.) Jason’s speech in 522-575: What justifications does he give for marrying a new princess? Is it convincing? (The Chorus doesn’t seem to think so, saying, thought you have made this speech of yours look well. . . you have betrayed your wife and are acting badly.)

6.) Examine Medea’s fear of her exile from the polis. Given what you have studied in Aristotle’s Politics, why would this be a real fear for her and those in the audience?

7.) As is common is Greek tragedy, physical atrocities take place off the stage (as opposed to, say, Shakespearean tragedy.) and reported as speech by the messenger. Why do you think this is so?

8.) Examine Jason’s plead for justice (dike) in the end of the play.

9.) In what ways does Medea skirt the boundaries between mortal and “super-mortal” in the end of the play?

10.) Whose tragedy is it?

11.) What does Medea want?

12.) Is Medea mad or does she have full deliberate knowledge of her deeds?

13.) In what ways is Medea a political play?

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