Medea

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Medea Lines 601-700 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Jason calls on the gods to witness that he is willing to help Medea and the children, that it is she who refuses his help and only making things worse for herself. Medea urges Jason to go back to his new bride's bed, adding that, with a god's help, his marriage might be celebrated with a funeral song. Jason exits.
Jason has the gall to invoke the gods and claim that it is Medea breaking natural law by not accepting his help. Medea's response warns Jason of her coming wrath in the face of his empty argument that she is making things worse for herself by refusing his help. Her conflation of marriage and funeral, sex and death, is a theme of tragedy that stretches into the modern era, and her statement that a god will help to create such a tragedy reconnects his actions with the breaking of natural law.
Themes
Truth vs. Rhetoric Theme Icon
The Roles of Men and Women Theme Icon
Duty Theme Icon
The Chorus begins the second choral ode, reflecting on the occurrences in the preceding exchange. The Chorus says that love out of proportion can overwhelm a man's virtue, but love in moderation is the gods' greatest blessing. It makes a prayer for moderation, and asks Aphrodite not to excite unruly passions. Then the Chorus members pray that they may never be exiles, insisting they would rather die than lose their country.
The Chorus reiterates the Nurse's almost Buddhist plea for moderation in all things, attributing all of Medea and Jason's woes to excesses of passion and emotion. Then the Chorus links these emotional extremes to the unstable condition of exile, suggesting that exile stirs passionate excess and disproportion in general.
Themes
Exile Theme Icon
In its ode, the Chorus insists that it witnesses the terrible suffering of exile first hand in Medea and wishes a thankless death on anyone who dishonors a person with a pure heart.
Again the Chorus notes the strife of exile and intimates that Medea's current strife has its root in her original exile. Death is considered an appropriate punishment for injustice.
Themes
Exile Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Law Theme Icon
Aegeus, the king of Athens, enters and wishes his friend, Medea, joy. She wishes him joy in return and questions him about his travels. Aegeus has just been to see the oracle of Phoebus to ask how he might beget children. Medea is surprised that at his age Aegeus is still childless. Aegeus, after some prompting, reveals the oracle's command that he "not unstop the wineskin's neck" until reaching his ancestral homeland. Medea asks him why, then, he has come to Corinth. Aegeus reveals he is on his way to see Pittheus, King of Troezen, to consult with him on the oracle's message.
Aegeus coincidental arrival at Medea's moment of greatest need was seen as a flaw in the play's construction by commentators as early as Aristotle. Aegeus' arrival is remarkably convenient. It is not plausibly established earlier in the play, and Medea has already claimed in her argument with Jason that she is utterly friendless—apparently this is not quite so. It seems strange, to a modern reader, that there is such anxiety about the incredibly rational concern about where Medea will take refuge after all her passionate fury up until now, but this just emphasizes the incredible importance of having a home in the world of ancient Greece.
Themes
The Roles of Men and Women Theme Icon
Duty Theme Icon
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Medea wishes Aegeus success. Then he notices her wan look and vexed condition. She recounts Jason's betrayals. Aegeus is shocked and outraged. He is especially sympathetic when she reveals that Jason has left her for the Princess. Then Medea tells him she has been banished. Aegeus calls it despicable, and Medea begs him by his beard to shelter her in Athens. She says she can makes potions that will cure his impotence.
Aegeus's inability to have children and Medea's promise to help him serve as a kind of preemptive, symbolic atonement for Medea's murdering her own children—she will gain refuge and a new life by the promise of helping Aegeus to bring children into the world, almost replacements for the ones she will have lost. At the same time, his desire to have children offers a deep contrast to her willingness to kill her own in order to punish Jason.
Themes
Exile Theme Icon
Duty Theme Icon