2005 Student Research Conference:
18th Annual Student Research Conference

Language & Literature

The Monster in the Bedroom: Xenophobia and Manipulation of Myth in Euripides' Medea
Courtney R. Wilson
Dr. Bridget Thomas and Dr. Clifton Kreps, Faculty Mentors

Exotic, devious, powerful, and deadly, the character of Medea as portrayed by Euripides in his play of the same name has remained a mesmerizing figure since the drama’s initial production in Athens in 431 BCE. However, before Euripides’ tragedy, Medea was depicted in myth as a positive character who tried to save her children’s lives. Evidence shows that this version of the myth and the characterization of Medea as a mistress of disarming speech and murderess of her own children were invented by Euripides. Why would Euripides choose to transform the character of a kind-hearted Asiatic earth-mother into a cruel barbarian sorceress? My analysis of the political atmosphere of Athens during the lifetime of Euripides (particularly the citizenship laws of 451 BCE), of Athenian prejudice against barbarians (especially Persians), of clues from Euripides’ personal life, and of the use of similar characterization techniques in Andromache, has led me to conclude that Euripides manipulated the myth of Medea in order to convince Athenian men not to marry barbarian women.

Keywords: Classics, Medea, Tragedy, Ancient Greece, Athens, Persians, Euripides


Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 52-2
Location: VH 1320
Time: 4:00

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