Medea Foreignness and 'The Other' Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act.Scene.Line). Every time a character talks counts as one line, even if what they say turns into a long monologue. We used Paul Roche's translation.
Jason: So […] this is not the first time
I have seen irrevocable damage done
by a barbarous rage. (59)
When Jason uses the word "barbarous" he's making a direct reference to the fact that Medea is not Greek. The word comes from the Greek barbaros which simply means foreign. Now, of course, the word is associated with wild and unruly behavior. It's highly likely that the modern connotations come directly from Greek prejudice towards outsiders. With the line above, Jason seems to be blaming Medea's fury on the fact that she's a foreigner. (59)
Jason: you [Medea] have a home in Hellas [Greece]
instead of some barbarian land.
You have known justice (62)
Jason is under the impression that Medea should be grateful for the time she's spent in with him in Greece. He views himself as having rescued her from a dark and savage land. There would've most likely been some Athenians in the audience who agreed with Jason on this front. We wonder, however, if Euripides is trying to show his audience that they might be just a little bit full of themselves. After all, Medea is by far the most intelligent person in the play. She moves all the "enlightened" Greeks around her as easily as chess pieces. Would a stupid barbarian be able to do this?
Medea: Oh, the mistake I made was […]
trusting the word of a man from Greece (137)
Medea is showing some prejudice of her own here. She seems to imply that all Greeks are just as untrustworthy as Jason. Medea, like all tragic heroines, is definitely not free from flaws.