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  • I doubt whether there bee any amonge all the Catalogue of Heathen Wryters, that with more grauity of Philosophicall Sentences, more waightynes of sappy words, or greater authority of sound matter beateth down sinne, loose lyfe, dissolute dealinge, and unbrydled sensuality: or that more sensibly, pithily, and bytingly layeth downe the guerdon of filthy lust, cloaked dissimulation & odious treachery: which is the dryft, wherunto he leueleth the whole yssue of ech one of his Tragedies.
  • Thomas Newton, Seneca: His Tenne Tragedies (1581)

Antiquity to the Renaissance

Seneca's nephew Lucan is credited with a Medea, which would most probably have post-dated that of Seneca and almost certainly been influenced by it. If Lucan's Medea did exist, it no longer does so. But Lucan's Erichtho does survive (BC 6), and is clearly indebted to Seneca's sorceress, whose magic is alluded to at 4.552–6, 6.441–2, and who receives a brief, demonic portrait in Book 10 (464–7). Medea seems to be absent from Silius' long epic and almost absent from Statius' extant works,257 even though their fellow-Flavian poet Martial complains about readers and writers of 'the Colchian', and contemporary philosophers such as Epictetus employ the Medea figure in their discourses, following the tradition of Chrysippus.258 The dramatist of Hercules Oetaeus makes only one reference to her, pg cxxbut it is a powerful one, part of Deianira's self-condemnation and demand for punishment:

  •       laxate, manes. recipe me comitem tibi,
  •       Phasiaca coniunx. peior haec, peior tuo
  •       utroque dextra est scelere, seu mater nocens
  •       seu dira soror es.
  •       Make room, dead spirits. Take me as your comrade,
  •       Wife from Phasis. This hand is worse, is worse
  •       Than both your crimes, whether as guilty mother
  •       Or heinous sister.
  •                                               (Hercules Oetaeus 949–52)

The literary field seems to have been left open for Curiatius Maternus in tragedy (Tac. Dial. 3.4) and Valerius Flaccus in epic. Maternus' tragedy, if Tacitus is to be believed, was written under Vespasian, but has not survived. Valerius' Argonautica is extant, if unfinished, composed a little later than Maternus' Medea, apparently in the second decade following the civil wars of 68–9 CE. Valerius chose a subject which by his time had become a major grammar of Roman civilization;259 he chose, too, self-consciously to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors, especially those of Seneca, whom he references conspicuously in his epic's opening lines:

  •       prima deum magnis canimus freta peruia natis
  •       fatidicamque ratem, Scythici quae Phasidis oras
  •       ausa sequi mediosque inter iuga concita cursus
  •       rumpere, flammiferoque tandem consedit Olympo.
  •       Seas first pierced by sons of gods we sing
  •       And a prophetic ship, which dared to hunt
  •       Scythian Phasis' bank and to burst through clashing rocks,
  •       And settled at last on fiery Olympus.
  •                                                                   (Argonautica 1.1–4)

These opening four lines contain six verbal allusions to the first Argonautic ode of Seneca's Medea: prima ('first', 1.1, cf. Med. 301, 363), freta (1.1; cf. Med. 301), peruia (1.1; cf Med. 372), ratem (1.2; cf. Med. 302, 312, 359), ausa (1.3; cf. Med. 301, 318, 346), and rumpere pg cxxi(1.4; cf. Med. 302). There are allusions to other poetic predecessors (especially Catullus, Horace, Ovid, Lucan),260 but the deployment of Seneca is unmistakable, as Valerius marks his intention to use the conceptual landscape of Seneca's Medea as frame for his narrative epic. In that epic a very different Medea would arise, one marked by pudor and pietas and a profound affection for father, home, and country.261

Valerius Flaccus died in the early 90s CE and is commemorated in a short, moving obituary by Quintilian (Inst. 10.1.90). Medea's subsequent history in antiquity ranges from her appearance in such Latin authors as Juvenal (6.642–4)262 and Apuleius (Met. 1.10) and in the Greek writers of the 'Second Sophistic' (Plutarch, Lucian, Aelius Aristides, etc.),263 to Justin (Epit. 42.2–3),264 Hosidius Geta (Medea), the Orphic Argonautica, Augustine (Confessions 3.6.11), Macrobius (1.12.26, 5.17.4, 19.9–10), and Dracontius, who in Vandal Africa during the late fifth century wrote a hexameter epyllion on Medea (Rom. 10), more influenced by Statius than by Ovid, Seneca, or Valerius.265 To these may plausibly be added the Colchian's treatment in the handbooks of the mythographers, Hyginus and Apollodorus.266 The high empire also witnessed the use of the Medea legend by sculptors, particularly sculptors of sarcophagi,267 where Senecan influence is sometimes detected. Of the imperial literary works cited above, perhaps the most extraordinary instance of Senecan reception is Hosidius Geta's Medea (probably late second century), a cento compiled from Virgil's Eclogues, Georgics, and Aeneid, which is also a homage to the Roman dramatist. It begins with Medea's invocation of the gods, includes the prescribed Creon/Medea, Nurse/Medea, and Jason/Medea scenes, a narrative of Medea's sorcery (330ff.), and ends pg cxxiiwith an appearance of the ghost of the mangled Absyrtus (399–401), Medea's onstage infanticide accompanied by a desire for Jason's spectatorship (394), a Jason threatening with arma (459), and closing Senecanesque repartee (460). Hosidius was clearly a close reader of Seneca's text,268 and his Medea, like all Senecan tragedies, ends in dialogue, not choral lyric.

The Middle Ages witnessed a plethora of variants of the Medea myth, which, though formed primarily from Ovid's account in the Heroides and Metamorphoses (rather than from Valerius or Seneca), was constantly rewritten and adapted to changing societal and cultural norms, especially to the ideological and political concerns of church and aristocracy.269 The Greek Medea is conspicuously absent; secondary influences are the presentations of passionate, even deranged women in such epic poets as Virgil, Lucan, and Statius. Allegorizing narratives abounded. In the anonymous Franciscan's Ovide moralisé ((1316–28) Medea's rivalry with Creusa becomes an allegory of God against the Antichrist; in Pierre Bersuire's Ovidius Moralizatus (1340/62) Jason is Jesus or God the Father. Neither text portrays Medea's destructive power as a function of her gender. Senecan touches appear in some medieval accounts. Benoît de Sainte-Maure's Le Roman de Troie (c.1165) suggests that the slaughter of Jason's children is divine punishment for his breach of fides/oaths to the gods: Medea, as in Seneca, becomes a 'tool of the divine'.270 Boccaccio's Genealogia Deorum Gentilium ((1360–74) makes explicit reference to Seneca's Medea (see 13.26) and clearly derives certain aspects of its account of the Medea/Jason saga from the play, especially the description of the infanticide itself: eo uidente trux foemina filios trucidauit innocuos, 'Before his [Jason's] eyes the wild woman butchered the innocent sons' (4.12; cf. 13.26). Indeed, in De Mulieribus Claris 17 Boccaccio adds to the butchering of the sons 'with Jason as spectator' (spectante Iasone, 17.9) the burning of both pg cxxiiiCreusa (thus named) and Creon's palace. Quintessentially Senecan, too, is the ending of John Gower's lengthy Jason and Medea narrative in Book 5 of Confessio Amantis (completed 1390). Though Gower's account focuses on the erotic relationship between Jason and Medea, it concludes by emphasizing Medea's performance of infanticide before an armed Jason as spectator and her ascent to heaven. The legal language, too, is reminiscent of Seneca:271

  •       Tho came Medea to Jason
  •       With bothe his sones on hire hand,
  •       And seide, 'O thou of every lond
  •       The moste untrewe creature,
  •       Lo, this schal be thi forfeture.'
  •       With that sche bothe his sones slouh
  •       Before his yhe, and he outdrouh
  •       His swerd and wold have slayn hir tho,
  •       Bot farewel, sche was ago
  •       Unto Pallas the court above,
  •       Wher as sche pleigneth upon love,
  •       As sche that was with that goddesse,
  •       And he was left in gret destresse.
  •               (Confessio Amantis 5.4210–22)

The Renaissance to 1900

Several major fourteenth- and fifteenth-century literary treatments of Medea and Jason display little that seems indebted to the Roman dramatist. They include Dante's Inferno (early fourteenth century), Chaucer's The Legende of Good Women (1386), and de Pizan's La Livre de la mutacion de Fortune (1404) and La Livre de la cité des dames (1405), all of which are sympathetic to Medea. La Cité des dames focuses on Medea as sorceress, but both it and Chaucer's Legende suppress the infanticide.272 Dante (Inferno, Canto 18.86–96) places Jason in the torments of the eighth circle of hell for his pg cxxivdeception of Hypsipyle and Medea. Raoul Lefèvre's mid fifteenth-century L'Histoire de Jason, on the other hand, defends Jason's character and creates an image of the Argonautic hero (and patron of the Duke of Burgundy's Order of the Golden Fleece) consonant with contemporary chivalric ideals; it even engineers a post-infanticide reconciliation between Jason and Medea, reminiscent of Pompeius Trogus and found a century earlier in Boccaccio (Gen. 4.12, 13.26, De Mul. Clar. 17.9).273

In drama things are very different. The late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries witnessed a resurgence of Seneca's tragedies, marked by (and in part the result of) Lovato Lovati's discovery of a new manuscript of the tragedies and a detailed commentary on them by Nicholas Trevet (1311–17). Although Boccaccio, as has been noted, reveals knowledge of Seneca's tragedies,274 the most important fourteenth-century text for the illustration of Senecan influence was Ecerinis, Albertino Mussato's irata tragoedia, written in Padua in 1315 and the first known Renaissance tragedy. It models itself in theme, language, style, and metre on the Senecan corpus, including Medea, whose heroine's deeds, like those of Atreus in Thyestes, resembled in Mussato's eyes those of Ezzelino III da Romano (Ecerinus).275 In the next century (1426–7), Correr's Progne was to display even more debts to Seneca's Medea.276 The neo-Latin tragic tradition which Mussato founded continued until the seventeenth century,277 pg cxxvand, though it was soon to be marginalized by a complex, evolving vernacular drama, from Mussato onwards Seneca encodes Renaissance theatre. Texts of Seneca's dramatic corpus circulated as early as the thirteenth century and abounded in the centuries which followed.278 From the late fifteenth century his plays were performed regularly in European theatres, in universities, schools, and Inns of Court. A performance of Medea is attested on the university stage in England (at Trinity College, Cambridge) for 1559–61.279 In non-Latin tragedy Seneca's informing paradigm was acknowledged by dramatist and critic alike: Giraldi's Orbecche (1541) and Discorsi (1543), Sackville and Norton's Gorboduc ((1561–2), Sidney's Apologie (1595) underscore the position of Seneca within contemporary theatrical thinking.280 The Newton translations of 1581, which appeared shortly after the opening of the public theatres and which reprinted translations published separately between 1559 and 1567 (with one exception),281 were both index and product of a theatrical ideology in which Seneca had a primary position. Polonius' famous instruction to Hamlet's Players—'Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor Plautus pg cxxvitoo light' (Ham. II. ii. 396f.)—despite its baldness and boldness, embodied a cultural truth.

Recent studies of Renaissance drama—its Senecanesque devices, strategies, conventions, and themes; its use of quotation and allusion; its rewriting of Senecan texts; its concept of tragic experience and the tragic self; its metatheatrical focus; its exhibition of theatre as self-reflective and as cultural mirror—have displayed the profundity and complexity of the Senecan reception. Seneca's Medea was particularly important for the literary construction of vengeance in Renaissance tragedy, including its metatheatrical dimension, and for the development of the existential function of violence, its use in the construction and fixing of the self. Medea, through her onomastic rhetoric, also served as a paradigm of the linguistic basis of the self, its foundation in the ability to construct and fix itself through and in language. The play's reception and influence continued beyond the Renaissance. Although it has not always been possible to isolate the influence of individual Senecan plays, the following is a selective list of playwrights and (both neo-Latin and vernacular) plays written between 1500 and 1900 which may be claimed to show the influence, direct or indirect, of Seneca's Medea:282 Buchanan, Medea (1543—Latin translation of Euripides); La Péruse, Médée (1553); Dolce, Medea (1560), Marianna (1565); Studley, Medea (translation of Seneca 1566, reprinted in Newton 1581); Groto, Dalida (1567); Kyd, The Spanish Tragedy (1587); Hughes, The Misfortunes of Arthur (1588); Marlowe, Tamburlaine Part II (1590); Shakespeare, Richard III (c.1591), Titus Andronicus (c.1592), The Merchant of Venice ((1596–8), Hamlet (1601), Othello (1603), King Lear ((1603–6), Macbeth (1606), Antony and Cleopatra ((1606–7), The Tempest ((1610–11); Marston, Antonio and Mellida ((1599–1600); Fulke Greville, Alaham (c.1600); Middleton, The Revenger's Tragedy (1606), Women Beware Women (1620s; publ. 1657); Webster, The Duchess of Malfi ((1612–13); Heywood, The Brazen Age (1613); Goffe, The Courageous Turke (1619); Vega, El vellocino de oro (1622); Corneille, Médée (1634/5), L'Illusion comique (1636); Calderón, Los Tres Mayores Prodigios (1636); Sherburne, Medea pg cxxvii (1648—translation of Seneca); Voss, Medea (1665); Racine, Andromaque (1667), Bajazet (1672); Settle, The Empress of Morocco (1673); Lee, Nero (1674), The Rival Queens (1677); Dryden and Lee, Oedipus (1678); Longepierre, Médée (1694); Anon., The Unnatural Mother (1697); Gildon, Phaeton; or, the Fatal Divorce (1698); Dominique and Lelio fils, La Méchante Femme (1728); Johnson, Tragedy of Medæa (1730); Carolet, Médée et Jason, parodie nouvelle (1737); Lessing, Miss Sara Sampson (1755); Glover, Medea (1761); Wagner, Die Kindermörderin (1776); Klinger, Medea in Korinth (1787); Niccolini, Medea ((1810–16); Shelley, The Cenci (1819); Grillparzer, Das Goldene Vließ‎ (1821); Lucas, Médée (1855); Legouvé, Médée (1856—often performed in the Italian translation by Montanelli); Brough, Medea, or the Best of Mothers, with a Brute of a Husband (1856); Heron, Medea (1857—from Legouvé); Heraud, Medea in Corinth (1857); Tsereteli, Medea (1892); Mendès, Médée (1898); Gastambide, Médée (1898); Vrchlický, Kreusa ((1898–9).

The rediscovery of Euripides in the late fifteenth century (the first printed edition of Euripides' Medea is that of Janus Lascaris in Florence, 1494–5) allowed for another antique influence on the dramatic treatment of Medea. But in the four centuries nominated above, although the Euripidean version gradually made itself felt, especially during the renewed 'valorization' of the Greek playwright in the eighteenth century,283 Seneca remained prime and, since the influence of Seneca on European conceptions of tragedy was not only earlier than that of Euripides but also foundational, Senecan tragedy and its dramatization of Medea modified Euripides' reception.284 In these centuries, too, non-dramatic poets, musicians, choreographers, painters, and librettists turned to the story of Medea—pre-eminently to Seneca and Euripides—for inspiration. Indebted in different ways to Seneca were the operas of Cavalli (Il Giasone, 1649—libretto by Cicognini), Lully (Thésée 1675—libretto by Quinault), Gianettini (Medea in Atene, 1675—libretto by Aureli), Sabadini (Teseo in pg cxxviiiAtene, 1688—libretto by Aureli), Kusser (Jason, 1692—Singspiel with libretto by Bressand after Corneille), Charpentier (Médée, 1693—libretto by Thomas Corneille based on Pierre Corneille's play), Collasse (Jason, ou, La Toison d'or, 1696—libretto by Rousseau), Handel (Teseo, 1713—libretto by Haym after Quinault), Salomon (Médée et Jason, 1713—libretto by Pellegrin), Brusa (Medea e Giasone, 1726—libretto by Palazzi), Gebel (Medea, 1752—Singspiel with libretto by E. C. von Kleist), Mondonville (Thésée 1765—libretto by Quinault), Benda (Medea, 1775—Melodram with libretto by Gotter), Gossec (Thésée 1782—libretto by Chédeville after Quinault), Lidner (Medea, 1784—libretto only), Andreozzi (Giasone e Medea, 1785—libretto by Palazzi), Vogel (La Toison d'Or, 1786, revised as Médée de Colchos, 1788—libretto by Desriaux), Moneta (La vendetta di Medea, 1787—libretto by Giotti), Naumann (Medea in Colchide, 1788—libretto by Filistri), Winter (Medea und Jason, 1789—libretto by Törring-Seefeld), Marinelli (La vendetta di Medea, 1792), Cherubini (Médée, 1797—original libretto by Hoffmann, Italian libretto by Zangarini 1909),285 Piticchio (La vendetta di Medea, 1798—libretto by Balsamo), Spontini (Il Teseo reconosciuto, 1798—libretto by Giotti), Mayr (Medea in Corinto, 1813—libretto by Romani),286 Coccia (Teseo e Medea, 1815), Bellini (Norma, 1831—libretto by Romani), Pacini (Medea, 1843—libretto by Castiglia), and Mercadante (Medea, 1851—libretto by Romani and Cammarano).287 The Senecan influence on the above operas is varied and, even when not extensive, always evident (for details, see Commentary), but two recurrent features are worth underscoring: Medea as performed and performing spectacle and Medea's emphatic 'sense of self'.288

pg cxxixOther musical forms were often similarly indebted to Seneca: Caldara's cantata (Medea in Corinto, 1711), for example, or Noverre's spectacular and successful ballet d'action (Médée et Jason, 1763—music by Rodolphe), with its focus on Medea's shifting moods, its onstage Furies and sorcery, its dramatized infanticide, and its climactic burning of Creon's palace. The ballet of Millon Médée et Jason (1813—words by Milcent, music by de Fontenelle) was influenced greatly by Glover's Medea, itself indebted to Seneca.289 D'Indy's orchestral suite Médée (1898) is derived from pieces initially composed as incidental music for the tragedy of Catulle Mendès. Among the paintings of Medea in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries notably Senecan are those of 'Antoine Coypel', Medea ((1694–1722), and Carle van Loo, Jason et Médée (1759), Mademoiselle Clairon dans le rôle de Médée (1760), modelled on productions of Longepierre's Senecanesque Médée. To these may be added Turner's Vision of Medea (1828), which was inspired apparently by a production of Mayr's Medea in Corinto. The Pre-Raphaelites, too, Burne-Jones (1862–5), Sandys (1866–8), and De Morgan (1889), with their representations of Medea as sorceress, and Noble, with his focus on infanticide as spectacle in the famous painting of Margaret Garner (The Modern Medea, 1867), may be placed in the Senecan tradition. Delacroix' celebrated Médée furieuse (1838), also apparently influenced by Mayr's opera, may also be noted for its non-Euripidean, that is, Senecan fusion of dramatic tension, sensuality, and horror. It received the homage of an 'imitation' from Cézanne (c.1880).290

Some specific comments are worth making on three of the main Medea tragedies of the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries: those of Corneille, Glover, and Grillparzer.291 The Médée of Pierre Corneille, written at the time of a fresh surge in French dramatic Senecanism,292 is signally indebted to the Roman playwright—in dramaturgy, sententiousness, declamatory rhetoric, and in the use of soliloquies, pg cxxxirony, dramatic language (many lines are close adaptations of Seneca's own),293 and spectacle. The Senecan focus on Medea as barbarian sorceress is evident. There is an abundance of difference, too. Corneille introduces a completely new character to the Medea myth, Pollux, to act as a foil to Jason, and he brings back Aegeus from Euripides, here Égée, to increase the play's 'love interest' (he is a rival suitor for the hand of Créuse) and to provide Médée with an extra opportunity for the display of magic power and with a destination for her serpentine chariot. Dramaturgical changes abound: Corneille removes the choruses, reduces the soliloquies (including the famous infanticidal monologue of Medea at 893–977: see Médée, V. i. 1347ff.), cuts back the sorcery scene and Medea's dominant presence in the play (Créuse has a large speaking and acting role), lessens (to some degree) the horror, omits Medea's vision of her brother's ghost and the Furies, pushes the infanticide offstage,294 and has Jason suicide in the play's final lines.295 But though the infanticide is not enacted before Corneille's audience, the playwright is enough of a Senecan to satisfy the audience's desire for spectacle and horreur. What Seneca had kept offstage—the deaths of Creon and Creusa—Corneille enacts in scenes ii–iv of Act V. 'Quel spectacle d'horreur!' exclaims Jason (V. iv. 1467), as he witnesses Créon and Créuse burning alive onstage before an audience, many of whom would have had visual experience of public burnings.296 The play ends with the spectacles of Médée's departure and Jason's suicide.

The politics of Jason's Corinthian marriage and Medea's banishment are more overt in Corneille than in Seneca: Medea's exile is a condition of a peace treaty already contracted with Thessaly (Méd. II. ii. 392). Créuse, as a character, is essentially invented by Corneille: she does not appear in Euripides and, if she appears in Seneca, it is as pg cxxxia persona muta. Corneille turns both her and Jason into seventeenth-century figures: the former is petty, coquettish, selfish, and greedy; the latter is the narcissistic political philanderer, boasting of his sexual conquests in the service of political self-advancement ('par maxime d'État', I. i. 28), yet also affected by his passion for Créuse, after whose death he even threatens to kill the children himself (V. iv. 1565–8). Jason frames the play. The Senecan Medea's opening invocation is postponed in Corneille to the third scene of Act I, allowing Jason to dominate the play's opening as he does its close. The final three scenes of Act V feature Jason and Créuse, Jason and Médée, and then Jason alone on stage, uttering the play's final long soliloquy, at the end of which he stabs himself. Médée seems as much the tragedy of Jason as it is of Médée, a less superhuman figure than Seneca's Medea and dramatically less dominant, severely curtailing the self-mythologizing and metadramatic obsession with her name which marks her Roman predecessor.297 Seneca's ending is altered drastically. Jason is allocated a 'Stoic' position on suicide foreign to the Latin Medea,298 and the famous atheistic outburst which ends Seneca's play (Med. 1026–7) is transformed into one of theistic optimism, a vague hope for the divine punishment of Médée (Méd. V. vi. 1655–60). As in Oedipe, an apparently bleak Senecan ending is replaced with a bland and comforting Corneillian and un-Senecan one.299

Similarly comforting and un-Senecan is the ending of the popular eighteenth-century Medea of Richard Glover (1761—revivals into the 1790s), in which the 'impious' tyrant Creon is slain, Medea, the 'all-transcending woman', is sent by the goddess Juno to 'climes remote', and Jason is left to restore the Colchians to their kingdom and to 'redeem' his father's realm (Med. V. vi–viii). Medea remains pg cxxxiiguiltless throughout: not only is the murder of Absyrtus not included in the play, but even the infanticide, which takes place offstage, is committed by Medea in 'an act of ignorance and madness' (V. ii),300 for which she tries to atone with suicide until the voice of the goddess prevents her. Her departure from Corinth in a serpent-drawn chariot is engineered by the goddess herself and made part of a larger providential picture. An additional innovation is that Medea and Jason, who has renounced Creusa, still love each other at the end and are 'disjoin'd' by the agency of the gods. Glover's Prologue clarifies the moralizing thrust of his play: 'Where love and fury, grief and madness join'd | O'erturn the structure of a godlike mind.' Yet there is much that is Senecan in the tragedy: Medea's opening invocation of 'fiends and furies' (I. vii); her association with 'nature' (III. iv); her invocation of Hecate (III. vi–vii); her 'madness', in which she imagines onstage a personified figure of Revenge, a 'grim shape embru'd with gore' waving a 'Stygian torch' (IV. iii); her appearance on stage dripping with blood (V. ii); her play with her own name (esp. V. ii); a Senecanesque Schreirede for both Medea and Jason (V. ii–iii). Senecan-style sententiae and declamatory rhetoric are employed throughout, and even that bête noire of Senecan studies, the anatomy of a character's changing physical appearance, is in evidence (II. i, IV. iii). The play's recurrent focus on Medea's divine origins is also reminiscent of its Latin predecessor.

Senecan touches also mark the celebrated Medea of Franz Grillparzer, performed in 1821—the third play of his trilogy Das Goldene Vließ‎: the exemption of the children from Kreon's banishment, Kreon's weakness for the children, Medea's continuing love for Jason and her attempt to maintain her relationship with him,301 Medea's onomastic play with her own name,302 a permeating focus pg cxxxiiion her as sorceress and barbaric outsider,303 the burning of the royal palace. Occasionally Senecan lines or passages seem recalled.304 The feel and ideology of the play, however, are quite un-Senecan. The destructive impact of parents upon children was a preoccupation of Grillparzer's,305 and Medea is presented in the first play of the trilogy, Der Gastfreund, as a victim of physical and psychological abuse from her father Aeetes—to which is added by the end of that play her inclusion in a curse (by the murdered Phryxus) on her whole family.306 By the third play, Medea, the eponymous heroine is a most sympathetic figure. Defined by love for Jason and her children and by loathing of herself, she is presented, too, as loathed by others, victim not only of Phryxus' curse but of overt 'Greek' prejudice against her as the barbaric, Colchian 'monster'. Her past deeds include neither fratricide nor even (it seems) the murder of Pelias; Jason's betrayal is of a Medea no longer a murderess. The other major female character, Kreusa, seems also portrayed sympathetically.307 She quickly discards her received view of Medea and positions herself outside 'Greek' prejudice (which the dissatisfied, narcissistic, melancholic Jason himself exhibits); she shows kindness and consideration towards Medea and her children, and naively attempts to mediate between Jason and his wife. She dies horribly anyway. Among major innovations in Grillparzer's Medea are the construction of a scene (to be 'imitated' by Legouvé)308 in which Medea's children reject her and a finale in which a prostrate Jason is now a forlorn, rejected wanderer and Medea appears to him as a calm, grave mater dolorosa, dispensing homilies on human suffering and the vanity of happiness and fame. Both Jason and Medea are presented to the audience as pg cxxxivpunished for their actions. The triumphal apotheosis of Seneca's Medea could not be more distant. Ironically, some of the sentiments expressed by Grillparzer's Medea in the final scene have a Stoic resonance not evident in the Latin play:

  •       Hätt'st du das Leben höher nicht geachtet
  •       Als es zu achten ist, uns wär' nun anders.
  •                                               (Medea, Act V, p. 124)

After 1900

The twentieth and twenty-first centuries have witnessed an explosion of creative variations on the Medea theme in drama, non-dramatic literature, and in the visual and performing arts, including opera, which seems to have witnessed few new Medeas (Mercadante, 1851; Bach, 1874) in the second half of the nineteenth century. Among noteworthy figures and works:309 Wilamowitz-Moellendorf, Medea (drama, 1904); Puccini, Madama Butterfly (opera, 1904); Tomassini, Medea (opera, 1906); Waterhouse, Jason and Medea (painting, 1907); Murray, Medea (drama, 1907); Messter, Das Goldene Vließ (film, 1911—adaptation of Grillparzer); Teme, Medea (film, 1920); Moore, Medea (drama, 1920); Jahnn, Medea (drama, 1926); Tralow, Medea (drama, 1927); Milhaud, La Délivrance de Thésée (opera, 1927—libretto by Hoppenot), Médée (opera, 1938—libretto by Madeleine Milhaud); Lenormand, Asie (drama, 1931); Unamuno, Medea (drama, 1933); Cullen, Medea (drama, prose adaptation, 1935), Medea in Africa (drama, 1959); Anderson, The Wingless Victory (drama, 1936); Stiebitz, Medea (drama, 1941); Graham, Cave of the Heart (ballet, 1946, music by Barber—later entitled Medea's Meditation and Dance of Vengeance); Anouilh, Médée (drama, 1946—first performance, 1953); Jeffers, Medea (drama 1946—first performance, 1947; film adaptation, 1959, directed by Quintero); Csokor, Medea Post Bellica (drama, 1947); Alvaro, La lunga notte di pg cxxxvMedea (drama, 1949); Zweig, Medea in Prag (drama, 1949); Cullberg, Medea (ballet, 1950—after Jeffers); Rey, Medea (drama, 1950); Canonica, Medea (opera, 1953); Bergamin, Medea la encantadora (drama, 1954); Valgimigli, Medea (television production, 1957—directed by Ferrati); Inclán, Malintzin, Medea americana (drama, 1957); Braun, Medea (drama, 1958); Sastre, Medea (drama, adaptation of Euripides, 1958); Schroeder, Medea (drama, 1959); Braque, Le Char de Médée (lithograph, c.1960); Triana, Medea en el espejo (drama, 1960); Cureses, La frontera (drama, 1960; Dreyer, Medea (film script, 1960); Dygat, Medea (drama, 1962); Plath, 'Edge' (poem, 1963); Paolozzi, Medea (sculpture, 1964); Kaschnitz, Jasons letzte Nacht (radio play, 1965); Duncan, Medea at Kolchis: The Maiden Head (drama, 1965); Elkus, Medea (opera, 1966); Dilmen, Kurban (drama, 1967); Magnuson, African Medea (drama, 1968); Gurney, The Golden Fleece (drama, 1967); Kyrklund, Medea fran Mbongo (drama, 1967); Kovách, Médée (opera, 1967—libretto by Anouilh); Vauthier, Medea (drama, 1967—adapted from Seneca); Pasolini, Medea (film, 1969); Papanikolaou, Medea 70 (short film, 1970); Wilson, Deafman Glance (drama, 1970), Overture to the Fourth Act of Deafman Glance (drama, 1982); Xenakis, Medea Senecae (Suite for 6 Instruments with Male Chorus, 1970); Lees, Medea of Corinth (opera, 1971—libretto by Lees); de Regt, Medea (music 'per soprano, oboe e clavicembalo', 1971); Şerban, Medea (drama, 1971), Three Greek Plays (drama, 1974); Volonakis, Medea (drama, 1973); Gardner, Jason and Medeia (poem/novel, 1973); Müller, Medeaspiel (mimodrama, 1974), Verkommenes Ufer Medeamaterial Landschaft mit Argonauten (dramatic triptych, 1981, first performed 1983); Buarque and Pontes, Gota d'agua (drama, 1975); Butler, Medea (ballet, 1975—music by Barber); Albee, Medea (drama, 1975); Antoniou, Medea (opera, 1976); Baskin, Medea (drawings and sculptures: 1976, 1981, 1982); Smuin, Medea (ballet, 1977—music by Barber); Fo and Rame, Medea (drama, 1977); de Anna, Medea (drama, 1977); Dassin, A Dream of Passion (film, 1978); Aleksidze, Medea (ballet, 1978—music by Gabichvadze); Takahashi, Medea (drama, 1978—directed by Ninagawa); Luke, Medea (opera, 1979—libretto by Osterhaus); van Itallie, Medea (drama, 1979); Schroeder, Medea (drama, 1979); Ferlita, Black Medea (drama, 1979); Raine, 'Medea' (poem, 1980); Boonen, Medea (drama, 1980); pg cxxxviBoggio, Medea (drama, 1981); Ciulli and Schäfer, Medea (drama, 1981); Reible, Medea (drama, 1981); Procaccini, Medea (music, 1981); Bryars, Medea (opera, 1982—libretto after Euripides); Cullingham, Medea (film for television, 1983); Weldon, The Life and Loves of a She-Devil (novel, 1983—television adaptation, 1986, directed by Saville, film adaptation She-Devil, 1989, directed by Seidelman); Sato, Kabuki Medea (drama, 1983); Bishop and Fuller, Medea/Sacrament (drama, 1983); Fuseya and Franchini, Médée (drama, 1983); Santaliz, El castillo interior de Medea Camuñas (drama, 1984); Gray, Medea and the Doll (drama, 1984); Granero, Medea (flamenco ballet, 1984—music by Sanlúcar); Harrison, Medea: A Sex-War Opera (libretto for an opera, 1985—music never completed); Werder, Medea (opera, 1985—libretto after Euripides); Lang, Trilogie der Leidenschaft: Medea (drama, 1986); Plaitakis, Medea's Summer (film, 1987); Morrison, The Beloved (novel, 1987); Hoover, The Dawn Palace (novel, 1988); von Trier and Dreyer, Medea (film, 1988); Kennelly, Medea (drama, 1988—publ. 1991); Butler, Demea (drama, written 1950s—first performed, 1990); Everett, For Her Dark Skin (novel, 1990); Papoulis, Medea (dance-theatre, 1990); Neumeier, Medea (ballet, 1990); Theodorakis, Medea (opera, 1991—libretto after Euripides); Egan, Medea (drama, 1991); Atwood, 'Hairball' (short story, 1991); Froscher and Bildstein, Medea (drama, 1991); Cuocolo, Medea: A Vision of the Void (drama, 1991, after Euripides, Pasolini, and Müller); Carter, Pecong (drama, 1991); Marmarinos, Medea of a Suffocating Closed Space (drama, 1991); Dusapin and Waltz, Medea (opera/ballet, 1992, after Müller); Salvaneschi, Medea de Moquehua (drama, 1992); Crossland, Collateral Damage (drama, 1992); Eliot, Medea (drama, translation of Euripides, 1992); Riaza, Medeia é bom rapaz (drama, 1992); Kerry, Medea (chamber opera, 1992—libretto by Macdonnell after Seneca); Bouchaud, Médée (drama, 1993); Sex Gang Children, Medea (song album, 1993); Fleishman, Reznek and Hinkel, Medea (improvised drama, 1994); Fisher, Medea: The Musical (musical drama, 1994); Leonard, 'Medea' (short story, 1995); Liebermann, Freispruch für Medea (opera, 1995); Kalinska, If I am Medea (one-person show, 1996); de Haeck, Medeia-Ballade (drama, 1996); Wolf, Medea (novel, 1996), Medea-Stimmen (drama, adapted from novel, 1997), Medea: A Modern Retelling (translation of novel, 1998); Montero, Medea (drama, pg cxxxvii1997); Wooden, Medea Media (radio play, 1997); Greenwood, Medea (novel, 1997); Taxidou, Medea: A World Apart (drama, 1997); Pessoa, Escrita da Água: No Rasto de Medéia (drama, 1998); Carr, By the Bog of Cats (drama, 1998); Venables, Medea (drama, 1998—adaptation of Seneca); Buffery, Messing with Medea (drama, 1999); LaChiusa, Marie Christine (musical, 1999); Reinshagen, Die Grüne Tür, oder Medea bleibt (drama, 1999); Labute, Medea Redux (Bash) (drama, 2000); Enoch, Black Medea (drama, 2000); Lochhead, Medea (drama after Euripides, 2000); Ripstein, Así Es La Vida (film, 2000); Moraga, The Hungry Woman: A Mexican Medea (drama, 2000); Wilson and Wilson, Mapping the Edge (2001); Glynatsis, Medea (drama, 2001—after Euripides, Seneca, and Müller); Lanoye, Mamma Medea (drama, 2001); Holdstock, Celtika (novel, 2001), The Iron Grail (novel, 2002), The Broken Kings (novel, 2007); Amenábar, The Others (film, 2001); MacLeish and Raphael, Medea (drama, 2002); Dante, Medea (drama, 2004); Scarabaeus, Memoria Viva (drama, 2004); Scheib, The Medea (drama, 2005); Danielpour, Margaret Garner (opera, 2005—libretto by Toni Morrison); Van Gogh, Medea (TV mini-series, 2005); Preljocaj, Le Songe de Médée (ballet, 2007); Ginkas, Medea (drama, 2009—after Seneca, Anouilh, and Brodsky); Reimann, Medea (opera 2010—libretto by Reimann after Grillparzer).

The above constitutes a selection (albeit an extensive one) of post-1900 Medeas. It will be apparent that Medea has become a truly global myth, explored and re-presented in all five continents and a dizzying array of countries. In most of the listed works the Euripi-dean model is clear, but Senecan indebtedness, often unrecognized, is regularly attested, indeed often the dominant influence, notably in more recent adaptations. Robinson Jeffers' Medea (1946), 'freely adapted from the Medea of Euripides', has several Senecan touches, including a focus on Medea as witch and barbaric foreigner, an invocation of Hecate, a penchant for Senecan rhetoric, and the occasional reuse of Senecan irony, motifs, and even (apparently) lines.310 Jean Anouilh's Médée, composed in post-war France (1946), is concerned (among other things) with the clash between pg cxxxviiiprincipled, resolute idealism (Médée) and realistic, collaborative politics (Jason), especially pertinent to Anouilh's recently occupied nation. Yet the play is nevertheless saturated with Senecan language, scenes, focus, and dramaturgy.311 Like Seneca, Anouilh is preoccupied with what constitutes 'Medea', and there is considerable metadramatic play with the heroine's proper name.312 As in Seneca, too, there is a strong focus on memory and on the individual's responsibility to the past. Medea's fiery suicide, however, at the conclusion of Anouilh's play is more reminiscent of Cherubini than Seneca.

In the latter part of the twentieth century Seneca's influence expands. Jean Vauthier's adaptation of Seneca's Medea (1967), performed at the Odeon in Paris, precedes the celebrated adaptations of Seneca's Oedipus by Ted Hughes (1968) and Hugo Claus (1971) by one year and four years respectively.313 Andrei Şerban's Medea (1971) and Three Greek Plays (1974) blend Euripidean Greek with Seneca's Latin script to produce a hybrid Medea. Its focus on the heroine as witch, on her rage, her incantatory ritual and triumph is more Senecan than Greek—as reflected in the finale, which reuses in Latin some of Seneca's key lines to bring the play to its close.314 Heiner Müller's Medeamaterial Landschaft mit Argonauten (first performed 1983) with its long, passionate monologue by a raging Medea, is also strongly Senecan. Müller's presentation of the Medea myth as a narrative of colonization makes prominent the 'barbarian' stigma of Medea and develops the Senecan focus on postlapsarian decline. There are several pointers to Seneca's Medea, including an overtly metadramatic heroine and an emphasis on her transcendence of gender: 'Ich | Kein Weib kein Mann'.315

Tony Harrison's allusive Medea: A Sex-War Opera (1985)316 is even more self-consciously metadramatic than Müller's play, virtually a pg cxxxixparadigm of metatheatre. It uses previous tragic and operatic versions of 'Medea' to dramatize what Harrison considers a permanent constituent of humanity: the sex war. The influence of Seneca may be seen in occasional quotations (directly or through Studley's Tudor translation), the use of the wedding song and procession at the beginning of Act II,317 the exchanges between Jason and Medea also in the second act,318 and the whole metatheatrical thrust of the opera. What is not Senecan is the 'ordinariness' of Medea: she is every suburban wife, a raging victim of misogyny and patriarchal oppression.319 Similarly, Arturo Ripstein's Julia (= Medea) in his film, Así Es La Vida (2000), which is highly Senecan in several respects,320 is an ordinary Mexican woman driven to infanticide by male abandonment. Jay Scheib's The Medea (2005), a 'Play with Mixed Music & Mixed Media After Euripides Seneca Mueller Cherubini', continues the Senecanesque metadramatic focus and allusivity of Harrison's opera (the play is also 'After', or referential to, Grillparzer, Pasolini, Dreyer, and von Trier), but goes much further in its deconstructive approach to the myth by beginning with its ending (Jason's death) and working chronologically backwards 'to the days of milk and honey' (Jason, Medea, their sons, and the Nurse dancing happily). In the process Scheib outdoes Seneca by staging the infanticide twice, but does so inside an enclosed room containing video cameras, which display the action to the audience on screens. Scheib's aim is to 'split the distance' between Euripides and Seneca so that the murders are 'partially seen, partially screened'.321 The play's postdramatic fragmentation of dramatic form, narrative, and character through emphasis on 'individual moments as unique episodes'322 is designed to keep the audience alert and unsure as to what may happen next; it is a technique not unrelated to Senecan dramaturgic practice. As with Harrison's opera, what is not Senecan is the dramatist's somewhat crude attempt to contemporize the story and his pg cxldetermination to undercut what Seneca underscores: the mythic, transcendent nature of the protagonist.

In several recent works Medea has achieved the status of an icon for those suffering from oppression (sexual, political, ethnic, racial).323 This is certainly the approach of the Italian playwrights Dario Fo and Franca Rame (Medea 1977) and Maricla Boggio (Medea 1981), who present Medea as a feminist paradigm, (in Fo/Rame's case) subverting patriarchal ideology or (in Boggio's case) constructing a new self through solidarity with other feminist women324—the approach, too, of the French playwright Elisabeth Bouchaud (Médée, 1993), who presents Médée as a victim of racism mirroring that 'facing North Africans in Paris',325 and of Gordon Kerry's and Justin Macdonnell's operatic adaptation of Seneca (Medea, 1993), which presents Medea as the oriental 'other'. The East German writer Christa Wolf (Medea, 1996) similarly reinterprets the myth for a postmodern, politically nuanced readership.326 Her study of the 'operations of power' and of Medea as power's innocent victim, like Boggio's revisionist drama, contains several pointers to Seneca.327

Senecan indebtedness (unconscious or otherwise) may be seen, too, in the 'Euripidean' plays of Brendan Kennelly (1988) and Guy Butler (1990), who associate Medea's oppression with that of abused (Irish) women and of black Africa respectively. Butler's focus on Demea and 'Nature' is overt. In Kennelly's version, too, Medea is identified with natural forces: 'She is the clouds the sun cannot penetrate, I she is the sun the clouds cannot resist, | she is the voices of the rain' (Medea, Part I, p. 15); her cry is 'like | the cry of Nature itself' (Part I, p. 21). This is close to Seneca's own association of pg cxliMedea with nature, which the Oxford University Dramatic Society attempted to underscore in their performance of Seneca's play at the Oxford Playhouse in 2011.328 'Nature' is also prominent in Pier Paolo Pasolini's influential vision of a primitivist Medea (1969) and in Lars von Trier's feminist-poisoner-witch heroine (1988)—and, more recently, in Wesley Enoch's Black Medea (2000), which, though it transfers the myth to modern Aboriginal Australia, quickens the play with Senecan citations,329 including not only the celebrated cry, 'I am Medea' (Section I), but also the more enigmatic, 'My revenge is born, already born, for I have given birth' (Section IV). In a trans-culturally ironic move Jason's atheistic outburst at the end of Seneca's play is transferred by Enoch to Medea, who speaks it as her final line: 'Wherever you go, bear witness that there are no gods' (Black Medea, Section IV). In 2005 a 'totally new production' of Black Medea was staged in Sydney and Melbourne; four years later in Moscow, Kama Ginkas' Russian-language Medea (2009) adapted itself in part from the imperial Latin text. Reimann's opera Medea, based on Grillparzer's play, itself indebted to Seneca, followed a year later (2010), ending a decade which began with Ripstein's Así Es La Vida (2000). There seems little to indicate that the cultural progeny of Seneca's masterwork is likely to end soon. Indeed, even as I write (summer 2012), Maravala and Ura's award-winning Hotel Medea, an interactive theatrical experience from midnight to dawn 'exploring the dark revenge myth of Medea', is about to play in London's Southbank Centre.


257 There seem to be no allusions to Medea in Silius and perhaps three in Statius: Theb. 4.551, Silu. 2.1.141, Ach. 2.75–7.

258 Martial: Epig. 5.53.1, 10.4.2, 35.5 (Shackleton Bailey). Epictetus (Disc. 1.28.7–9) cites the famous moral and psychological conflict of Eur. Med. 1078–9 as exemplum of an act by a whole but self-deceived soul and contends that Medea is thus deserving of pity. Later Platonists, however, saw the conflict as evidence of a divided soul. Epictetus elsewhere describes Medea's decision to kill her children as the 'collapse of a soul of great vigour', ἔκπτωσις ψυχῆς μεγάλα νεῦρα ἐχούσης‎ (Disc. 2.17.21). See Dillon (1997), 214–16, who also cites the use of the famous lines by Plutarch, Lucian, Aelius Aristides, Clement of Alexandria, Synesius, Hierocles, Simplicius, and Stobaeus. For Chrysippus, see n. 130.

259 See here, lxxxvi.

260 Note e.g. Cat. 64.6, Hor. Odes 1.3.25ff., Ovid Her. 12.13, Luc. 1.2, 5.70, 147.

261 See Zissos (2012).

262 See Comm. ad 954–7.

263 See n. 258.

264 See n. 154.

265 Dracontius replaces Corinth with Thebes as the site for Medea's infanticidal vengeance. See Malamud (2012).

266 Seen. 154.

267 There are nine 'Medea sarcophagi' surviving simply from the mid to late second century CE. For Roman imperial statues and sarcophagi featuring Medea and/or Jason, see Gaggadis-Robin (1994).

268 For further interplay with Seneca's Medea, see Comm. ad 670–848, 991–4, 1006–8.

269 In my discussion of the medieval representation of Medea I am deeply indebted to Morse (1996) and McElduff (2012).

270 McElduff (2012), 194. The text is quite explicit: 'Les Deu vers lui s'en corocièrent, | Qui trop asprement la vengièrent', 'The gods were aroused against him and avenged her most terribly' (2025–6)—text and trans. Morse (1996), 88.

271 See lxxxvi–lxxxix.

272 In La Cité des dames, after her abandonment by Jason Medea simply becomes despondent (fu comme desesper[e], Curnow, 932).

273 For Pompeius Trogus, see n. 154. The reconciliation reappears in Boccaccio's fifteenth-century 'translators': e.g. Laurent de Premierfait, Des Cas des nobles hommes et femmes, and John Lydgate, The Fall of Princes. For an illuminating treatment of Lefèvre, see Morse (1996), 148–84.

274 See also De Casibus Virum Illustrium ((1355–74).

275 Coluccio Saltati even included Ecerinis in his MS of Seneca's tragedies: Berrigan (1975), 6.

277 Apart from Progne, Ecerinis' successors include Loschi's Achilles (c.1390), Muret's Julius Caesar (1544, publ. 1553), Buchanan's Baptistes (publ. 1576) and Jephthes (publ. 1554), Thomas Legge's Richardus Tertius (performed in Cambridge 1573, 1579, 1582), William Gager's Meleager, Dido, and Ulysses Redux (written and performed in Oxford in the 1580s and 1590s), William Alabaster's Roxana (performed in Cambridge c.1592), Matthew Gwinne's Nero (1603), and Nicolas de Vernulz' Henricus Octavus (1624). On Ecerinis and its aftermath, see Braden (1985), 99ff. Texts of Ecerinis, Achilles, and Progne may be found in Grund (2011).

278 The first printed edition of Seneca's tragedies was published at Ferrara in 1478 by Andreas Bellfortis/Andrea Beaufort (for the date, see Petrini (1999): 127 n. 1). By the end of the sixteenth century approximately thirty editions of the collected plays had been published in five countries alone: Italy, Germany, France, Holland, and England. Erasmus himself was involved in both the Ascensius Paris edition of 1514 and the Avantius Aldine edition (Venice) of 1517. Translations of the tragedies were available in French, Italian, and English verse.

279 Boas (1914), 389. Noted productions of Seneca's tragedies were those of Phaedra by Pomponius Laetus in Rome in the mid 1480s and in England by Alexander Nowell at Westminster School in the mid 1540s. In 1551–2 Troades was produced at Trinity College, Cambridge, and at the same college in 1559–61 Oedipus, Medea, and (probably twice) Troades again; at Queen's College, Cambridge, in 1563 Medea again. Octavia (considered today non-Senecan) was performed at Christ Church, Oxford, in 1588. For other performances in England see Charlton (1946), cxliii; Binns (1974), 206.

280 For Giraldi, see here, xv, xliii; for Sidney, see his praise of Gorboduc in An Apologie for Poetrie (published 1595) as 'clyming to the height of Seneca his stile, and as full of notable moralitie, which it doth most delightfully teach, and so obtayne the very end of Poesie' (quoted from Smith (1904), 1. 197). For Sidney and Oedipus see Comm. ad 705–6. For further testimony see Cunliffe (1893), 9–12.

281 The exception was Thebais (= Phoenissae), translated for the collection by Newton himself.

282 The dates appended to works are those of performance or publication (or both). A different date in the Select Bibliography may reflect a difference in the dates of publication and performance.

283 The term is that of Wygant (2007), 173, used with reference to eighteenth-century France.

284 Even Clément's pro-Euripidean/anti-Senecan Médée (1779) concludes with an on-stage suicidal stabbing reminiscent of the Roman tragedian (cf. Phaedra and Oedipus).

285 The historical ironies of Seneca's influence over Cherubini's Médée and its embodiment of 'the spirit of the French Revolution' (Macintosh 2000: 12) need no clarification. For specific 'Senecanisms', see n. 301 and Comm. ad 1–55, 56–115, 67–70, 116–17, 164–7, 465–70, 500–3, 544–9, 549–50, 752–70, 885–90, 893–977, 907–10, 958–65, 967–71, 991–4, 1006–8, 1019–22, 1022–5.

287 The APGRD database lists some thirty operas in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries alone, concerned with the myth of Medea: see Gowen (2000). I offer an extensive selection.

288 For opera's focus on the latter, see Reynolds (2000), 134.

289 For Glover's Medea, see here, cxxxi–cxxxii.

290 See the jacket illustration for Delacroix' Médée.

291 For the texts used see Niderst (1984–6), Glover (1761), Grillparzer (2010).

292 1634 also saw performances of Rotrou's Hercule mourant and La Pinelière's Hippolyte, adapted from the Senecan corpus. Thomas Farnaby's annotated edition of the tragedies, first published in London in 1613, was printed in Paris in 1625, and Benoist Bauduyn's French translation of the tragedies in Troyes in 1629.

293 According to Steegman (1965), 171, Corneille was indebted to Seneca for 'the discovery of the nature of tragedy, the art of building the dramatic development around a few essential, properly distributed scenes, and a few essentials of the tragic style'. For Corneille's adaptation of Senecan lines, see General Index.

294 Its description is confined to four lines: V. v. 1571–4.

295 Jason's suicide has a long tradition, going back to Medea's prophecy of it in Neophron's Medea: see n. 123.

296 See Corti (1998), 92–4. Macintosh (2000), 9, cites 'the recent execution by burning in August 1634 of the priest Urbain Grandier'.

297 Interestingly, Longepierre's heroine reverts to the Senecan obsession with her own name; so, too, Glover's Medea.

298 Corneille's Jason describes Créon's suicide as a way 'de braver le destin qui l'outrage' (Méd. V. iv. 1518).

299 Less bland endings were possible in seventeenth-century French versions of Medea, as Longepierre demonstrated by concluding his play (V. iv–v) on Médée's role as instrument of divine punishment and on Jason's inability to avenge himself before 'les Dieux inhumains'. Longepierre's play remained popular throughout the next century.

300 Hall (2000), 53–4, observes that Glover's Medea would probably have been acquitted 'in an eighteenth-century English court'. She further notes that Medea 'never even kills her children knowingly on the eighteenth-century English stage', 64. Ancient plays were altered to fit 'contemporary ideals of pre-marital modesty, conjugal affection and sanctified motherhood', 69.

301 Evident, too, in Hoffmann/Cherubini's Médée (I. vii), produced twenty-four years earlier.

302 Including her opening words to Kreusa, 'Medea! Ich bin's' (Med. Act I): see Comm. ad 907–10. Jason, too, engages in onomastic play: Comm. ad 164–7.

303 Reflected in the 'barbaric' costume and wild onstage movements of Medea in the recent operatic version of Grillparzer's play by Aribert Reimann—commissioned by the Vienna State Opera and directed by Marco Arturo Marelli in 2010.

305 See e.g. Die Ahnfrau (1816), Ein Bruderzwist in Habsburg (1848).

306 Der Gastfreund concludes with a self-consciously Senecan scene: Medea's vision of the Furies.

307 For a contrary view see Corti (1998), who sees Kreusa as 'insufferably patronizing', 145, with an 'efficacious use of sweet talk', 162.

308 Grillparzer may have been influenced by Klinger's Medea In Korinth (1787), which features a scene in which Medea's children try to protect Kreusa from their mother's rage.

309 The following list is selective. The catalogue of twentieth century performances of Medea in Hall, Macintosh, and Taplin (2000), which occupies thirty-four pages (241–74), comprises over 400 entries—and is incomplete.

311 See Comm. ad 55, 116–17, 164–7, 177–300, 197, 431–559, 447–50, 451–4, 879–80, 982–6.

312 See Comm. ad 907–10.

313 For discussion of Hughes' and Claus' adaptations, see Boyle (2011), cxiv–cxvi.

314 See Comm. ad 982–6, 1006–8, 1012–13.

315 See the epigraph to this book; also Comm. ad 833–9, 893–4, 907–10.

316 Harrison's libretto was commissioned by the New York Metropolitan Opera but the music by Jacob Druckman was never completed. The commission was withdrawn. The text may be found in T. Harrison (1986).

317 See Comm. ad 56–115, 116–17.

318 See Comm. ad 490–1.

319 In Harrison's plot Medea's fourteen children are killed by the Corinthians, but male infanticides like Hercules get off scot-free.

320 See e.g. Comm. ad 150–76, 991–4.

321 The quotations are from Scheib (2005b).

322 P. A. Campbell (2010), 179.

323 McDonald (1997). The modern focus on the victimization of Medea develops, of course, not only aspects of the treatments in Euripides and Seneca but also a similar focus on 'victimization' in the versions of Grillparzer, Legouvé, and others.

324 See Cavallaro (2010), 195–202.

325 Kerrigan (1996), 101.

326 Wolf's Medea was published in 1996, the English translation by J. Cullen in 1998. 'Operations of power' is Margaret Atwood's phrase in the introduction to the translation.

327 Of Wolf's eight chapters, two (1 and 4) begin with epigraphs from Seneca's Medea. Boggio's play cites passages from several Medeas, including that of Seneca, to illustrate the classical stereotype which her Medea rejects.

328 Seneca's Medea, translated by Henry Stead, directed by Helen Slaney, performed at the Oxford Playhouse in February 2011 with an ensemble of five women actors.

329 See e.g. Comm. ad 19–23, 24–6, 544–9, 879–1027, 907–10, 1012–13, 1026–7. Though it parades itself as an 'adaptation of Euripides' Medea' (Cleven et al., 2007, back cover), Enoch's play is deeply indebted to Seneca.

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