MEDEA by Euripides
Theatro ENA, Cyprus
Wednesday 1 July│Paphos Ancient Odeon [official opening]
Friday 3 July│Curium Ancient Theatre
Sunday 12 July│“Skali” Amphitheatre, Aglantzia
The staggering tragedy Medea by Euripides, a production by Theatro ENA in cooperation with Versus Theatre, will open this year’s “International Festival of Ancient Greek Drama”. In this masterly tragedy, which deals with the last act of the passionate affair between Jason and Medea, Jason decides to abandon his wife in order to marry the daughter of the king of Corinth. Medea takes the cruelest revenge: she kills their two children.
▪ The performance will be surtitled in English
Medea, daughter of Aietes, king of Kolchis, and grand-daughter of the Sun-god, leaves her father and murders her brother to help Jason to take the treasure of her family, the Golden Fleece. To crown all, she has remained a faithful wife to him and has born him two sons. Nevertheless, he betrays her and wrongs her. He decides to abandon her for the daughter of Creon, king of Corinth. Moreover, as if this was not enough, Creon orders her banishment from the country. After an outburst of despair, she manages to convince Creon to let her stay in the country until the next day.
In vain, Jason tries to convince her that what he is doing is for her own good and the good of their children. Now she proceeds deliberately to destroy Jason and all who are connected with him: Creon’s daughter, Creon himself and her two children. And when Jason swears vengeance against her and tries to force the doors of the house, Medea suddenly appears above, borne on a fiery car sent by her grandfather, the Sun- god.
Euripides focuses on the place and time of the drama, cutting out the figure of Medea from the mythological context. Euripides’ Medea is a woman who acts motivated solely by love; her love for Jason and this quality she owes is so special that cuts her out of the human race.
This tragedy is a masterly presentment of passion in its secret folds and recesses. Euripides opens a new world to art and gives us a nearer view of passionate emotion, both in its purest forms and in the wildest aberrations by which men are controlled, or troubled, or destroyed.
Greek tragedy, and Euripidian tragedy in particular is profoundly concerned with problems and conflicts of gender, yet in no other play has Euripides such a powerful and subversive female figure as Medea, or such a radical critique of male tradition and authority. Athenian society was marked by firm divisions between the sexes and multiple constrains upon the possibilities of female agency and authority.
Medea is a clever, well-educated woman in a society that forbids these qualities. The play warned the male audience of the danger inherent in allowing women too much independence and that is why Aristophanes accuses Euripides as a misogynist.
With Medea, which combines moral complexity with overwhelming emotional impact, Euripides has succeeded in creating not only one of the most powerful figures in all Greek literature, but also one of its greatest tragic dramas.