The Chorus begins its third choral ode, calling the Athenians children of the gods and their land holy. They say that the nine Muses created Harmony there and that Aphrodite sends young Loves to sit with Wit and helps create the Athenian's diverse arts. The 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? How will she keep her nerve?
The Chorus continues its vain plea that Medea reconsider her decision to kill her children. It contrasts the creativity associated with Athens (keep in mind that Euripides and all of the ancient playwrights—Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Aristophanes—were all Athenians) with Aegeus' unwitting promise to shelter a child-murderer.
Jason enters saying that, despite Medea's ill-will, he will listen to her. Medea deceitfully apologizes for what she said to him before and reminds him how they once showed each other kindness. She says that she has been berating herself while he was away because she has realized that his plan to marry the Princess was sensible and that he is doing what is right. She reflected, she says, and realized how stupid she was.
Jason falls for Medea's plot and returns to speak to her again. Medea is more than willing to employ deceitful rhetoric in her attempt to exact her vengeance on Jason. This suggests that rhetoric is a tool that can be employed for good and for ill and not something that is good or bad in and of itself.
Women, Medea says, are—she "won't say bad"—but they "are what they are." She asks his pardon for the way she acted and admits she was wrong. She calls the children out from the house and they enter through the door. She tells them to embrace Jason. She feigns fear that the children won't live long because of their impending exile. She weeps on one of the boys. The Chorus interrupts to say it too is weeping and hopes things don't get worse.
Medea is willing to disguise her attitude with Jason's prejudices (namely, that women are inferior to men) or, at least, to allow Jason to believe that she agrees with his prejudices in order to successfully execute her plot. Medea's stated fear that the children will come to harm in exile is ironic because both she and the audience know that she herself plans to harm them.
Jason is glad that Medea has come around to his view and says he doesn't blame her, even excuses her behavior based on her sex. He calls her "a sensible woman." He then tells his children he has made their future secure and that he thinks that one day they will be leading men in Corinth. Jason notices Medea weeping afresh and asks her why. She says she is thinking of the children. He says he will provide for them. She says she trusts him, that woman is "the weaker sex" and "born to tears" and he questions her again about why she is weeping over the boys.
Jason considers Medea a "sensible woman" because he believes she is now deferring to the better judgment of men. He confuses what is right with what he wishes to be right. Here, Medea may be genuinely weeping over what she believes she must do to her children rather than only acting—the play leaves it ambiguous whether she truly grieves over killing her children. Her explanation for her tears, however, is calculated to get the response from Jason that she wants.