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PIDES

 

EURIPIDES MEDEA

 

EURIPIDES was born at the island of Salamis, whither his parents had

fled for refuge at the time of the Persian invasion. He died in 406

B.C., the same year as his senior HYPERLINK

"http://www.usefultrivia.com/biographies/sophocles_001.html" Sophocles

, just before the close of the Peloponnesian war. He lived the life of a

student and studied philosophy, as a youth, under Anaxagoras; and, in

later life, with HYPERLINK

"http://www.usefultrivia.com/biographies/socrates_001.html" Socrates .

He is the latest of the Greek tragedians, both the most Attic and the

most modern. He is saturated with the new skeptical spirit which was

beginning to question old faiths, old traditions, and old customs.

 

His intellectual activity, his subtle speculations, his wide democratic

sympathies give a special interest to his writings, though they have in

the past often diverted attention from the high artistic value of his

work. He has lately, in our own somewhat similar days, been restudied

with new results. He abandoned the principle of the older tragedians,

that all the interest and action should be concentrated in one character

and theme, as in the Prometheus, Agamemnon, or Oedipus; and in many

other respects he seems to break away from the canons of Greek tragic

art. He is carried away by political feeling against Sparta or Argos;

and he digresses into philosophical discussions. But the tenderness and

pathos of his best work, the overmastering passion in which the rules of

art are lost, the deep sympathy with every down-trodden or injured

thing, give him a title to Aristotle's description-- "the most tragic of

the poets."

 

He is said to have been deserted by his wife, with whom he was deeply in

love. This, perhaps, explains the contrast between his frequent

invective against women on the one hand, and, on the other, the

marvellous beauty and strength of his female characters.

 

Medea

 

Medea was a devotee of the goddess HYPERLINK

"http://www.pantheon.org/articles/h/hecate.html" Hecate , and one of

the great sorceresses of the ancient world. She was the daughter of King

HYPERLINK "http://www.pantheon.org/articles/a/aeetes.html" Aeetes of

Colchis, and the granddaughter of HYPERLINK

"http://www.pantheon.org/articles/h/helios.html" Helios , the sun god.

 

King Aeetes' most valuable possession was a golden ram's fleece. When

HYPERLINK "http://www.pantheon.org/articles/j/jason.html" Jason and

the crew of the HYPERLINK

"http://www.pantheon.org/articles/a/argo.html" Argo arrived at Colchis

seeking the HYPERLINK

"http://www.pantheon.org/articles/g/golden_fleece.html" Golden Fleece ,

Aeetes was unwilling to relinquish it and set Jason a series of

seemingly impossible tasks as the price of obtaining it. Medea fell in

love with Jason and agreed to use her magic to help him, in return for

Jason's promise to marry her.

 

Jason fled in the Argo after obtaining the golden fleece, taking Medea

and her younger brother, Absyrtis, with him. King Aeetes pursued them.

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