Medea

Medea Character Analysis

Medea is the daughter of king Aeetes of the island of Clochis and granddaughter of Helios, the sun god. When Jason arrived at Clochis on his ship the Argo in search of the Golden Fleece, Aphrodite made Medea fall in love with him. Medea used her almost magical, witch-like powers to help him harness fire breathing oxen and steal the Golden Fleece from where it was guarded by a dragon. As she and Jason escaped with the Fleece she then killed her own brother and tipped him overboard so those chasing her would have to stop to retrieve the body. In other words, Medea gave up her entire past and home to help and be with Jason. At the same time, Medea is a powerful woman who challenges the prejudices of the male-dominated societies that seem to have no place for her or her powers. She is passionate, vengeful, and unrelenting in her pursuit of justice. By the Greeks, she is considered wild, almost animal, and this opinion is substantiated (or, perhaps, forced upon her) when Jason's betrayal of her incites her to kill her own children to punish her cheating husband.

Medea Quotes in Medea

The Medea quotes below are all either spoken by Medea or refer to Medea. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Exile Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Cambridge University Press edition of Medea published in 1999.
Lines 1-100 Quotes

The people here are well disposed to [Medea],
An exile and Jasons's all obedient wife:
That's the best way for a woman to keep safe –
Not to cross her husband.
But now her deepest love is sick, all turns to hate.

Related Characters: The Nurse (speaker), Medea, Jason
Page Number: 11-15
Explanation and Analysis:

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Good servants share their masters' sufferings –
They touch our hearts. I find it so distressing,
I had to come out her to tell my mistress' woes
To the earth and sky.

Related Characters: The Nurse (speaker), Medea
Page Number: 47-50
Explanation and Analysis:

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I hear the first danger sign,
Her wailing. It is a cloud she will ignite
To flame as her fury grows.

Related Characters: The Nurse (speaker), Medea
Page Number: 97-99
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lines 101-200 Quotes

Tell us, Nurse. At the gate I heard [Medea]
Crying inside the house.
I don't like to see the family suffering.
I sympathize with them.

Related Characters: The Chorus (speaker), Medea, The Nurse
Page Number: 123-126
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lines 201-300 Quotes

There is no justice in the judgments that men make:
Before they know a man's inner self,
They hate at sight, though they've never been wronged.
A foreigner must take special care to conform to the state –
Even a citizen who is fool enough
To let his stubborn pride offend his fellow-citizens
Wins no praise from me.

Related Characters: Medea (speaker)
Page Number: 207-213
Explanation and Analysis:

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My husband has turned out to be the most despicable of men.
Of all the creatures that have life and reason
We women have the worst lot.

Related Characters: Medea (speaker), Jason
Page Number: 218-220
Explanation and Analysis:

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A woman, coming to new ways and laws,
Needs to be a clairvoyant – she can't find out at home,
What sort of man will share her bed.
If we work at it, and our husband is content
Beneath the marriage yoke,
Life can be enviable. If not, better to be dead.

Related Characters: Medea (speaker)
Page Number: 228-233
Explanation and Analysis:

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The fools! I would rather fight three times
In war, than go through childbirth once!

Related Characters: Medea (speaker)
Page Number: 240-241
Explanation and Analysis:

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Medea, scowling there with fury at your husband!
I have given orders that you should leave the country:
Take your two sons and go, into exile. No delay!

Related Characters: Creon (speaker), Medea, Jason
Page Number: 259-261
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lines 301-400 Quotes

You sound harmless, but in your heart
I'm terrified you're plotting some evil.
I trust you know even less than before.
A passionate woman—or a man, for that matter—
Is easier to guard against, than one who's clever,
And holds her tongue.

Related Characters: Creon (speaker), Medea
Page Number: 303-309
Explanation and Analysis:

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It's not my nature to be a tyrant.
My concern for others has often cost me dearly.
Now too, madam, I see I'm making a mistake,
But, still, I grant your request…

Related Characters: Creon (speaker), Medea
Page Number: 335-338
Explanation and Analysis:

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Do you think I would have fawned on Creon
Except to win some profit by my schemes?
I would not have spoken to him – nor touched him.
But he is such a fool that,
When he could have arrested all my plans
By banishing me, he has allowed me
To stay this one day, in which three of my enemies
I'll send to their death…

Related Characters: Medea (speaker), Creon
Page Number: 355-362
Explanation and Analysis:

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The direct way is best, the one at which
I am most skilled: I'll poison them.

Related Characters: Medea (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Poisoned Crown
Page Number: 372-373
Explanation and Analysis:

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…But we are women too:
We may not have the means to achieve nobility;
Our cleverness lies in crafting evil.

Related Characters: Medea (speaker)
Page Number: 396-398
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lines 401-500 Quotes

Consider yourself lucky that your punishment
Is merely exile…

Related Characters: Jason (speaker), Medea
Page Number: 433-434
Explanation and Analysis:

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You vile coward! Yes, I can call you that,
The worst name that I know for your unmanliness!

Related Characters: Medea (speaker), Jason
Page Number: 444-445
Explanation and Analysis:

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Zeus, you granted men sure signs to tell
When gold is counterfeit. But when we need to tell
Which men are false, why do our bodies bear no stamp
To show our worth?

Related Characters: Medea (speaker)
Page Number: 495-498
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lines 501-600 Quotes

As for your spiteful words about my marriage with the princess,
I'll show that what I've done is wise and prudent;
And I've acted out of love for you
And for my sons…

Related Characters: Jason (speaker), Medea, The Princess
Page Number: 524-527
Explanation and Analysis:

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Jason, you have put a fine gloss on your words.
But – I may not be wise to say this – I think
You've acted wrongly: you have betrayed your wife.

Related Characters: The Chorus (speaker), Medea, Jason
Page Number: 553-555
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lines 901-1000 Quotes

I'll send her gifts, the finest in the world:
A finely woven dress and crown of beaten gold.
The boys will take them.

Related Characters: Medea (speaker), The Children, The Princess
Related Symbols: The Poisoned Crown
Page Number: 916-918
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lines 1001-1100 Quotes

All for nothing tortured myself with toil and care,
And bore the cruel pains when you were born.
Once I placed great hopes in you, that you
Would care for my old age and yourselves
Shroud my corpse. That would make me envied.
Now that sweet thought is no more. Parted from you
I shall lead a grim and painful life.

Related Characters: Medea (speaker), The Children
Page Number: 1000-1006
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lines 1301-1400 Quotes

Hateful creature! O most detestable of women
To the gods and me and all the human race!
You could bring yourself to put to the sword
The children of your womb. You have taken my sons
and destroyed me.

Related Characters: Jason (speaker), Medea, The Children
Page Number: 1302-1306
Explanation and Analysis:

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No Greek woman
Could ever have brought herself to do that.
Yet I rejected them to marry you, a wife
Who brought me enmity and death,
A lioness, not human…

Related Characters: Jason (speaker), Medea
Page Number: 1318-1322
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Medea Character Timeline in Medea

The timeline below shows where the character Medea appears in Medea. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Lines 1-100
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The Roles of Men and Women Theme Icon
Outside the door to Medea's house in the city-state of Corinth, the Nurse laments that Jason's ship, the Argo, ever... (full context)
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If the Argo had not sailed and Medea had not tricked Pelias' daughters, then, the Nurse says, Medea would never have come to... (full context)
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The Nurse describes how Medea weeps for her homeland and everything she left behind to come with Jason who has... (full context)
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As the Nurse and the Tutor discuss Medea's grief, the Tutor lets it slip that he overheard something at the castle concerning Medea.... (full context)
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The Tutor advises the Nurse to keep quiet and hide the rumor from Medea, and the Nurse advises the Tutor to keep the children out of Medea's sight. Just... (full context)
Lines 101-200
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Offstage, Medea tells her sons that she is hated and that she wishes them dead because of... (full context)
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The Chorus asks the Nurse to tell them what's going on. The Nurse responds that Medea and Jason's family is finished and recounts Medea's grief and Jason's infidelity. Medea wails from... (full context)
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Meanwhile, Medea once more calls out from off stage, asks the goddesses Themis and Artemis to witness... (full context)
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...at a feast, she asks, if a feast is already pleasurable? She goes to get Medea. (full context)
Lines 201-300
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Medea enters at the door. She tells the Chorus of Corinthian women that she has come... (full context)
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If a woman can't make her husband content, Medea says, it is better for her to be dead. She argues that childbirth is more... (full context)
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...interrupts to say the ruler, Creon, is approaching. Creon arrives at the door and orders Medea into exile with her two sons. Medea asks Creon why he is banishing her, and... (full context)
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Medea tells Creon that he is acting based on her reputation as a clever and conniving... (full context)
Lines 301-400
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After her speech, Creon trusts Medea even less than before even though, he says, she sounds harmless. He is terrified she... (full context)
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Creon threatens to forcibly eject Medea with the help of his men, so Medea relents and begs instead a single day... (full context)
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The Chorus wonders where Medea will find refuge from her troubles. Medea admits that she is beset by host of... (full context)
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Medea wonders where she can go after the deed is done. Will anyone offer to protect... (full context)
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Medea prophesizes that it will be a bitter and painful wedding for Jason and the Princess.... (full context)
Lines 401-500
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...inspired women with lyric song. Time will tell more of women. Then the Chorus addresses Medea and recounts her journey from Clochis to Corinth, bemoaning her plight. To think that the... (full context)
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Jason enters. Medea and he converse in the area outside Medea's house. Jason scolds Medea for her temper,... (full context)
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Medea calls Jason a coward for his unmanliness. She says his coming to her is neither... (full context)
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Medea condemns Jason for taking another woman when he already has two sons. He has shirked... (full context)
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Medea says that all her friends are now her enemies because of the things she has... (full context)
Lines 501-600
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...saying that he is like a boat pilot steering himself over the tempest raised by Medea's foul tongue. He says that Medea did nothing for him, it was Aphrodite, goddess of... (full context)
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Medea's home country, Clochis, Jason argues, is savage and primitive (not Greek) and living in Greece... (full context)
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Jason now responds to Medea's spiteful words concerning his marriage to the Princess, arguing that what he did was wise... (full context)
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Jason accuses Medea of being blind to his wisdom because of her sexual jealousy. He says women only... (full context)
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Medea retorts that an unjust man who speaks well despite his injustice deserves of an even... (full context)
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Medea says that it is not her bitterness that spurred Jason to take a new wife... (full context)
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Medea and Jason argue about what Medea did to deserve exile. Jason says she called out... (full context)
Lines 601-700
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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... (full context)
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...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. (full context)
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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... (full context)
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Medea wishes Aegeus success. Then he notices her wan look and vexed condition. She recounts Jason's... (full context)
Lines 701-800
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Aegeus says he is keen to help Medea for the gods' and for the promise of children. He says that if Medea can... (full context)
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Aegeus compliments Medea on her foresight and gives her his oath on the gods she names, Earth and... (full context)
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In a long soliloquy, Medea swears by Zeus and Justice that she will triumph over her enemies. She acknowledges the... (full context)
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If the Princess takes the dress and crown and lets them touch her skin, Medea says, the Princess will die horribly—so will anyone who touches her and comes in contact... (full context)
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The Chorus says that because Medea shared her plan, it wants to help her, but says it can't reject the laws... (full context)
Lines 801-900
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...Chorus questions how such a sacred city could shelter a child-killer then begs and beseeches Medea not to kill her children. How can she kill her own sons and not weep?... (full context)
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Jason enters saying that, despite Medea's ill-will, he will listen to her. Medea deceitfully apologizes for what she said to him... (full context)
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Women, Medea says, are—she "won't say bad"—but they "are what they are." She asks his pardon for... (full context)
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Jason is glad that Medea has come around to his view and says he doesn't blame her, even excuses her... (full context)
Lines 901-1000
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Medea says she is concerned for the children because she gave birth to them. She realizes,... (full context)
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Medea tells Jason to send a maid (a member of the Chorus) to get the presents... (full context)
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Medea counters that gifts win over even the gods. They are even better at winning over... (full context)
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...that Jason blindly brings death upon his new wife and children, and that it shares Medea's grief. (full context)
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The Tutor enters and tells Medea that the children have been spared their banishment. Medea wails. The Tutor is perplexed and... (full context)
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The Tutor advises Medea to bear her misfortune lightly. She tells him that she will and orders him to... (full context)
Lines 1001-1100
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Once, Medea says, she placed great hopes in her children and thought that they would care for... (full context)
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Medea asks herself if she wants her enemies to laugh at her for losing her resolve... (full context)
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Following Medea's renewed commitment to her plan, there is a choral interlude, not a formal choral ode,... (full context)
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Medea addresses the Chorus members as friends and says that she sees the Messenger from the... (full context)
Lines 1101-1200
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The Messenger asks Medea if she is mad for celebrating news of Creon and the Princess's deaths—doesn't such news... (full context)
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...He died and now lies next to the Princess in the palace. The Messenger says Medea will determine for herself how to avoid punishment. (full context)
Lines 1201-1300
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Medea tells the Chorus she is resolved to kill the children and leave Corinth. She says... (full context)
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...its fifth choral ode. It asks Earth and Sun (Helios) to look down at what Medea is doing. She is Helios' granddaughter, so he should take special interest. It begs Helios... (full context)
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...asks if it should enter the house. The children cry for help. The Chorus calls Medea miserable and made of stone for killing her children. Only one woman that they know... (full context)
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Jason enters and questions the Chorus if Medea is still in the house. He says she will either have to hide beneath the... (full context)
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...servants to undo the bolts. He wants to see the bodies and take vengeance on Medea. Medea asks why they are rattling and battering the doors. She says if Jason wants... (full context)
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Medea appears in a flying chariot drawn by chimeras sent by Helios, her grandfather. The notes... (full context)
Lines 1301-1400
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Jason calls Medea the most detestable creature of all time. She has killed his children and destroyed him.... (full context)
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Medea says she would respond at greater length, but Zeus knows what she did for Jason... (full context)
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Jason says his infidelity would be a small matter to a sensible woman, but to Medea everything is disaster. Medea says that the gods know who caused this calamity. Jason retorts... (full context)
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Jason calls on avenging Furies and bloody Justice to destroy Medea. Medea asks what gods could listen to a man who breaks his oaths. They exchange... (full context)
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Jason calls on Zeus to witness how Medea, a child-murderer, is driving him away. He swears that he will call on the gods... (full context)