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by Euripides

Medea First Episode & First Choral Ode Summary

  • Medea finally gets on stage.
  • She tells the Chorus that she doesn't want them to think she's snobby for hiding out in the house all day.
  • My life has lost all meaning now that Jason has deserted me, says Medea.
  • She goes on to observe that women are treated like the lowest form of life on Earth, and lists some reasons why.
  • For starters, women's families have to pay huge dowries just to get a man to marry them.
  • The women, who rarely have a say in the matter, have to hope against hope that their husband is a nice guy.
  • If the husband is a jerk, women are kind of trapped because divorce always makes them look bad instead of the men.
  • When men get bored with the marriage, they just go traveling or hang out with their buddies. Women, however, have to stay at home, and are mostly only allowed to talk to their husbands.
  • Medea thinks childbirth also stinks. She says she'd rather go into battle any day than give birth.
  • Medea tells the Chorus of women, that she has it worse than all of them, because she no longer has a home. She's a foreigner in a strange land and has no one to whom she can turn.
  • She begs the Chorus to not stand in the way of her revenge.
  • Medea observes that most women are scared of war, but when they're "wronged in love, there is no heart more murderous" (1.76).
  • The Leader of the Chorus tells Medea that they won't stand in her way.
  • Creon enters.
  • The King orders Medea to take her sons and get out of Corinth.
  • Medea asks him why she has to go.
  • Creon says he's afraid that she'll kill his daughter. Medea has a reputation as a sorceress and Creon thinks she's plotting to use those skills for revenge.
  • Medea complains that she's always getting discriminated against because she has a little knowledge.
  • She tells Creon that the rumors of her powers are overblown.
  • Medea tries to ease the King, by telling him that she's not mad at him or his daughter. She's just angry at Jason.
  • Creon doesn't buy it, and tells her again to hit the road.
  • Medea pleads with him on her knees.
  • The King threatens to have her thrown out forcefully.
  • She begs him to let her stay just for the day. There are travel arrangements to be made, and she has to prepare her sons.
  • Creon takes a little pity on the sons, and tells Medea that she has until tomorrow to get out of town. If she's still around tomorrow, though, she will be executed.
  • Creon exits.
  • The concerned Chorus asks Medea what she plans to do now, since she has nowhere to go.
  • Medea tells them not to worry, she's got a little something in mind for Jason and his young princess.
  • She chastises the Chorus, saying she never would have kissed up to Creon if there wasn't something to gain from it.
  • Medea declares that she's going to kill Creon, his daughter, and Jason.
  • She ponders how to kill them.
  • Should she set their house on fire?
  • Perhaps stab the?
  • Bad idea, says Medea. She'll get caught if she does those things.
  • She decides poison is the way to go.
  • Medea realizes that she'd better chill out for a second. If she kills them, no other city will take her in.
  • She decides she'd better postpone her revenge until she has some guaranteed shelter.
  • Medea swears to use her sorcery to bring them down no matter what.

First Choral Ode

  • The Chorus sings a song about the trials of women over the years.
  • They observe that women are treated so badly, it's like the universe is askew.
  • The women hope that one day their gender will rise to a place of respect that they observe.
  • The Chorus empathizes with Medea, who has been jilted out of her home.

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