Medea says she is concerned for the children because she gave birth to them. She realizes, she claims, that it is best for her to be banished, but that the boys should stay. Jason should beg Creon to let them. Jason says he will try to persuade Creon. Medea tells him to ask the Princess. He says he thinks it might work—she "is a woman." Medea says she will help Jason win her over by sending along gifts—a finely woven dress and crown of beaten gold—and suggests that the boys carry them.
Once again Medea mixes truth with her deceit—she does care for the children because she is their mother, but, because of her intention to kill them, she can't truly be worried about what will happen to them in exile. Medea plausibly suggests that the Princess will have a weak spot for Jason's children and contrives a way to get her poisoned gifts into the Princess's hands. Jason, meanwhile, looks down on the Princess as being just "a woman" in the same way he looks down on Medea.
Medea tells Jason to send a maid (a member of the Chorus) to get the presents and tell the children to take the gifts to the happy, royal bride. Jason calls Medea foolish for parting with the dress and crown, saying the castle isn't short on such objects. His new wife, he says, will care more about what he has to say then about valuables.
Perhaps Medea insists that the children should take the gifts to the Princess because no one will suspect them as the vehicle for Medea's treachery. Jason increases the dramatic tension by arguing against giving the princess any gifts—which would foil Medea's plans.
Medea counters that gifts win over even the gods. They are even better at winning over mortals, she says, because mortals are so greedy. She says to buy her children out of exile she would pay not just with gold, but with her life. Medea instructs the boys to go to the palace, kneel before their father's new wife and beg her to spare them from exile. Jason and the boys exit.
If gifts in the form of sacrifices can win over gods, Medea argues, then they are even more effective at winning over human beings. Medea's claim that she would die rather than let her sons go into exile may actually be true, if the children don't at least get a chance to beg for forgiveness from the sentence of exile, then her plans will be ruined. Medea uses rhetoric to say true things that still manage to hide the full truth.
The Chorus begins its fourth choral ode, singing that it has no more hope for the boys' lives. They are already walking to their deaths. The Princess will receive her doom, her death. She will put on the gifts and die. The Chorus sings that Jason blindly brings death upon his new wife and children, and that it shares Medea's grief.
The Chorus, like Euripides' audience, knows that what Medea plans will come to pass, all that remains to happen is for it to actually happen. Jason is stuck, unwitting, in a situation of dramatic irony, he doesn't know what Medea, the Chorus, and we, the audience, already know. He must wait and see.
The Tutor enters and tells Medea that the children have been spared their banishment. Medea wails. The Tutor is perplexed and Medea wails again. He questions her and she says his news "is what it is" and that she doesn't blame him. She says she can't help weeping. The gods and her own evil schemes have brought her plans to fruition. The Tutor tries to comfort Medea, saying that the boys will make sure she comes home one day. She says she'll bring others home before that.
The Tutor is perplexed to find that Medea weeps over what he thinks is good news—that the children will be spared from banishment, but Medea knows that this result means that the Princess is, more than likely, already dying and that, to her mind, she must kill her children. The Tutor wrongfully believes Medea is weeping because of her own coming exile.
The Tutor advises Medea to bear her misfortune lightly. She tells him that she will and orders him to go into the house and prepare for the children's usual needs. He exits into the house through the door. She addresses her absent children saying that, unlike their mother, they have a home. She, contrarily, will have to go to another land, an exile once more. She berates herself for her pride and says that she raised her boys for nothing.
Medea accepts the Tutor's advice to bear her misfortunes lightly but the Tutor doesn't realize that Medea's misfortune is not so much exile as the obligation she feels to murder her own children. Medea suggests that in death her children won't be exiles—they'll have a home in the afterlife—and that she won't truly have a home or rest until she joins them there.