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on 28 December 2016
Purchased for my eldest son who is studying an OU Classics degree, and when asked about his thoughts, he was complementary about the book, stating it was laid out in a very easy to digest way, and made his tma submission (which he got 78% for) a lot easier than he anticipated. He was quite surprised how Euripides had written such a 'soap opera' play, when all the others seemed so political and serious.
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on 9 July 2011
This play is the archetype of all the others on the same subject. And the play is fairly clear on the character and the crimes of Medea.

First it is entirely located in Corinth when Jason is on the eve of marrying the daughter of Creon, king of Corinth. It is announced to her just before Creon comes and announces the further edict of his: she is banned with her two sons, and after her begging for some time, she is provided a twenty-four hour period before being expelled by force. This wedding is further argued by Jason as being a political calculation to ensure security and comfort to her and the sons.

She from the very start of the play positions herself in the role of the rejected wife though her marriage with Jason was based on an oath in front of the gods. She accuses Jason of breaking his oath and of committing what is perjury. From the very start she positions herself on the road to vengeance. She will hardly waver on and from that road.

But she reminds Jason of all the dirty acts she did for him: she betrayed her own father; she helped Jason vanquish the fire bulls, the soldiers that were growing in the field he had ploughed from some teeth of some dragon and finally helped steal the golden fleece while the dragon keeping it was kept asleep by Medea's magic; she killed her own brother, she dumped his body cut up into pieces into the ocean to slow down her father's chase of them; in Iolcus she fools Pelias' daughters into killing their father believing they could then both revive and rejuvenate him (Pelias was the cause of all the problems of Jason with the assassination of Jason's father that enabled Pelias to seize the throne).

So Jason is ungrateful.

Her vengeance will be in three episodes: first, after begging for forgiveness from Jason and accepting his wedding she will send her sons with presents for the wedding, a beautiful seamless gown and a flexible golden diadem. The target here is Creon's daughter who starts burning as soon as she puts the gown and the diadem on. The second target is Creon who tries to save his daughter and is caught up in the fire. The third target is Jason who is punished twice, first by being deprived of his new wife and then deprived of his two sons by theiir being assassinated by Medea.

Euripides though provides her with the necessary protection for her exile. She will be protected, under oath, by Aegeus, king of Athens, on the promise she will help him have children to succeed from him. She is working on a prophesy Aegeus got in Delphj from Apollo's oracle there. She moves into her vengeance only when she is sure to have this protection. The intervention of the Athenian king is to be considered as the result of the fact this play was ordered by Pericles and performed for the first time in Athens. But why did Medea believe Aegeus and his oath after the oath breaking episode with Jason?

She will escape from Corinth with the bodies of her sons on the chariot sent by Helios, her grandfather, drawn by two dragons. She will refuse Jason to have any contact with the bodies of her sons though they are his sons too and they have been killed in order to make him suffer.

I would like to insist on a few special elements.

First Medea when she is on the point of killing her sons hesitates and wavers between maternal love and vengeance. This hesitation is rather long but she finally decides to carry out her plan. On the other hand Jason only considers his sons as a second choice, a second level argument. He comes at the end to recuperate them more or less as if they were possessions that Medea, true enough, had entrusted to him before carrying out her vengeance. His paternal love is not negated and in fact is the main spring of Medea's vengeance. But it comes rather late in his reasoning. It is true too maternal love had come late in Medea's reasoning.

The second remark is about the chorus. It plays a very special role. Most of the time it is on the side of Medea, and it says so: "Now I understand your grief... Go ahead I won't tell." (285-287) But it often is an inner voice from Medea when she is slightly pulled upward either by some ethical consideration, or by the political and legal context, or by some religious consideration. It thus appears as a reflection on what Medea is doing and on how she feels. But this Chorus is not in any way an alter ego to Medea who would be able to argue with it. It is an elevated and dematerialized voice of Medea through an ethical, social or political filter. But the Chorus is deeply on her side.

It is explained by the fact that Medea espouses at the beginning strong feelings in favour of the liberation of women going as far as: "If they like pain and danger let them take a turn at bearing children and for every birth I'll fight three wars." (268-270) Finally Medea airs a strong resentment against the Greeks she accused of being narrowly hostile to foreigners they call barbarians. And that is the fundament of Jason's final confession and regret: "How wrong I was to bring a barbarian home." (1304) though she is identified as Colchidian and though it is not explained that since they come from what is today Georgia they are older in the Caucasus and Europe, and they are of the Turkic linguistic and cultural tradition. A lot more "barbarian" than just the next door neighbour. In other words Euripides espouses the Greek point of view and nothing else.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
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on 16 October 2012
Excellent play, although short, it is very powerful, and this version is very easy to read with useful notes for each page. Particularly useful if studying it for drama/english. I bought new, so in perfect condition.
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on 3 November 2014
Very easy to understand and helped me through my Classical Civilisations GCSE.
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Of all the Greek tragedies, Medea arguably has the most modern concerns. Despite its shocking conclusion - Medea's ob scene murder of her two children condoned by Helios, the Sun God - this play revolves around the refugee experience, the question of historical/mythological narrative viewpoint, and raises questions about the position of women in a phallocentric society.

Harrison's translation is fluent and treats the play as a play in a modern idiom. The notes are also very useful, both to the A-Level scholar and the interested play-goer.

So why not 5 stars? Despite the above, I don't feel it really moves on significantly from Vellacott's seminal 1976 translation - a little more idiomatic, but not as radical as Tom Paulin's, to which I HAVE given 5 stars. Having said that, if this is to be used for A-Level study, then the notes and activities make the Harrison the preferred version, whilst the Paulin makes for a more compelling production.
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on 6 January 2011
Euripides' Medea is one of the greatest works of Greek Tragedy. A challenging tale of a woman's exile and revenge, transgressing all the roles expected of her. This translation, however, does it little justice. All the subtleties of the original Greek are sacrificed for the sake of a vaguely performable translation, although having seen this translation performed on stage, I feel the actors could use more than a little help from the edition. There are notes on every page giving basic, possibly too basic, information and light analysis. The commentary appears to be from a modern drama perspective, over a classicists; there are few mentions of Euripides' other works or the historical context. I would recommend Vellocot's translation over this one, be it for study or performance.
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on 19 December 2014
Good, thanks!
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on 13 December 2014
Promptly delivered. Great film. Good price.
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