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Medea

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Lan Anh Nguyen

on 11 April 2016

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Transcript of Medea

He was an ancient Greek tragedy writer, part of a trio including Sophocles and Aeschylus
Only about 18 of his 95 plays have survived; only fragments of others remain
He reshaped the formal structure of tragedy writing by including strong female leads
Considered to be the most socially critical of all the ancient Greek tragedians

Jason and the Golden Fleece
Jason went to his hometown of Iolcus to regain the throne that his Uncle Pelias stole from his father
King Pelias promised that as long as Jason brings him the Golden Fleece in Colchis, he would step down from the throne
Jason accepted and formed a team of famous Greek heroes to go along with him aboard the magical ship
Argo
When they arrived at Colchis, King Aeëtes said that Jason could have the Golden Fleece as long as he completed three (nearly) impossible tasks:
Till a field using a team of fire breathing oxen
Sow dragon's teeth into the soil and defeat the magical warriors that sprout from the earth
Defeat the dragon that guards the Fleece
Jason gained the help of Medea, the daughter of Aeëtes

The History of Euripides
Life in Ancient Athens
Men were dominant and held all the political and public jobs/events
To Greeks, magic was considered taboo and scary, especially in the hands of women; in her early life, Medea was said to have practiced magic
Women spent most of their lives in the house; they weaved, cooked, trained the slaves, sewed, and raised children
Women also had their own rooms in houses that men could not enter. If a house guest were to enter the women's quarter, it would beconsidered an act of disrespect

An Ancient View of Hubris
What is hubris construed as today? A character flaw?
Moderation
Ancient Gender Roles
Male vs Female Expectations
"Good/Proper" Women
Passion/madness
Works Cited
Medea
In Ancient Greek plays, when hubris
offended the gods, it was usually punished.
Is there an example of this in Medea?
Which Best Represents Medea?
Originated primarily in ancient Athens as a public genre intended for a theatre audience in worship to Dionysus:
god of wine, ritual madness, fertility, theatre, and religious ecstasy
plays began at festivals for Dionysus with people dressed as satyrs, nymphs, and panes singing choral songs and dancing
Early Greek Tragedy
Began with only the choral songs and dances, but eventually Thespis (a poet in 6th century BC) added himself as an actor (meaning literally "to answer")
Aeschylus added a second actor making action separate from chorus
Sophocles added a third actor
no more than three actors on the stage at once, but there could be more characters
"Moderation! Firstly the very name of it is excellent; to practice it is easily the best thing for mortals. Excess avails to no good purpose for men, and if the gods are provoked, brings greater ruin on a house."
In Ancient Athens, hubris was seen as a crime of arrogance that could refer to status violations against fellow citizens.
Hubris could be offensive against the gods or an abuse of power against those lower in social hierarchy.
Hubris was viewed as a significant cause of internal unrest and revolution in Ancient Greece.
Are there examples of this in Medea?
Willett, Cynthia. The Soul of Justice: Social Bonds and Racial
Hubris. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2001. Print.
There were legal and social codes to prevent hubris and restrain the influence of the powerful.
"Love may go too far and involve men in dishonor and disgrace. But if the goddess comes in just measure, there is none so rich in blessing...May moderation content me, the fairest gift of heaven."
Contrasting Views in Medea
Other Major Themes
Is she the magical witch that Sophocles and Seneca portray her as?
or...
Did she go to the Elysian Fields and marry Achilles in the afterlife as Ibycus and Simonides claim?
Does she murder and dismember her brother (Apsyrtus) and commit infanticide for a man she just met?
or...
Does she do it because she is manipulated by a man into loving and saving him then is abandoned?
Which views do you most agree with?

Does Euripedes show a bias towards Medea or Jason/Creon? Towards the women or the men? In what way?

Clauss, James Joseph., and Sarah Iles Johnston. Medea: Essays on Medea in Myth, Literature, Philosophy, and Art. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1997. Print.
Selfishness
Children
Gods
Passion vs Reason
"Justice"
1866-68
by Frederick Sandys
1889
by Evelyn De Morgan
1906-07
J.W. Waterhouse
1969
from Callas' play
1828
by Joseph Turner
2008
by Lana Rogers
Can you think of examples in Medea in which lack of moderation leads to the characters' downfalls or pain?
What does lack of moderation in love (excessive passion) lead to?
Is Jason a uncaring man who abandoned Medea in order to create a royal lineage?
or...
Is he a hero who did whatever necessary to complete the dangerous quest of obtaining the golden fleece?
Was she was saved by Zeus with a dragon-chariot because he pities her?
or...
Did she summon the dragons using evil magical powers?
"In Search of Myths & Heroes: Jason & the Argonauts." PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 04 Oct. 2015.
How does the use of a female chorus change the play or how does recognizing the chorus affect your view of Euripides and his biases when writing this play?
How are each of these themes expressed?
Do you respect Creon more because he is trying to protect his family or less because him marrying his daughter to Jason and exiling Medea is destroying another?
What are examples of betrayal in Medea? Which betrayal do you think is worst?
Which themes are most prominent in Medea?
Should we see Medea as a powerful/dangerous deviant or instead as an everywoman?
Was there justice for Medea's actions? What about for Jason?
Female chorus
Nurse
Medea
Love
Considering Jason's upbringing in a predominantly patriarchal time, are you able to understand he actions and carelessness towards the women in his life? Or do you see Jason's actions from a different point of view?
Man vs Woman
Revenge
Distrust
Betrayal
"Family"
"Euripides." Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2004. Encyclopedia.com. 5 Oct. 2015 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.
Euripides's Writing Style
Euripides wrote to bring tragedy closer to the experiences of everyday life
He used everyday expressions, because he hated archaic words
He liked to start his plays with a mapped out plot structure by using a deus ex machina or a prologue
He believed women, slaves, and children were humans too, so he placed them in higher positions and roles in his plays instead of just as nobility
He used three main ideals as influences for his plays:
His hatred of war
His advocation for women's rights
His questioning of divinity
Medea was used to show that "Hell hath no fury like a woman's scorn" and won third prize for Greek plays in 431 B.C.

How does Euripedes' writing style portray women in positive and negative aspects?
How did Sophocles and Aeschylus affect Euripides' or later writers' writing styles?
Do you think that Medea was "manly" by Ancient Greek standards? If so, in what ways?

Did Medea fit the social norms of a "woman"?

Was Jason presented as"manly" or "unmanly" in Medea? In what ways?
Do you think that Euripides' impact on Greek tragedy affected the public? If so, was it a good or bad impact?

To what extent do you think he identifies with Medea and what kind of person would you characterize him as?
Does Euripides represent Jason as the same legendary hero who went on the quest for the Golden Fleece? How or how not?
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