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Jo Eun Kim (jek266)

Medea: Tragic or Evil?

Greek mythology is depicted in a variety of forms, from writings to works to art such as paintings and sculptures. With these different venues of expression, myth is also expressed in various ways, raising the question: how does the depiction of myth differ in texts and images? Sometimes the depiction in images matches that of textual writings, whereas in other instances the pictorial representation presents the same myth in a different light. For the purposes of this essay, I analyze the depiction of the story of Medea killing her children and fleeing Corinth in text and in images. I base my analysis on Euripides’ play Medea, and on images depicted on a Roman sarcophagus from the mid-second century CE, a Greek krater from 400 BC, and an Greek amphora from 300 BC. I argue that Euripides portrays Medea as both a victim and a perpetrator, while the images depict Medea in either a completely sympathetic or a nefarious manner. Euripides’ play portrays Medea’s murder of her children and subsequent fleeing from Corinth in a more well-rounded manner than the one sided depictions that are represented in the images. In order to analyze the differences in how the story is told in the textual version and the images, we must first examine the myth of Medea. Medea, a sorceress, was the daughter of King Aeetes, the king of Colchis. She fell in love with Jason when he came to Colchis to retrieve the Golden Fleece, which was the property of Aeetes. Medea agreed to use her magical powers to help him as long as he would marry her once he succeeded. After Jason obtained the Golden Fleece, Medea killed her brother and scattered parts of his body to distract her father so that they could successfully escape from Colchis. They fled to Corinth where they married and had two sons. There, Jason betrayed Medea and abandoned her to marry…...

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