Poetics

by

Aristotle

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Medea Character Analysis

Medea is a figure in Greek mythology and the main character in Euripides’s Medea. Medea murders her own children in revenge after her husband, Jason, runs off with a princess. Aristotle uses Medea and the murder of her children as an example of a “terrible and pitiable act” that produces pity and fear in the audience. Aristotle also refers to Medea as relying on “theatrical device,” as Medea escapes by way of a supernatural chariot after she murders her children, which Aristotle considers less artistic than a resolution that arises from plot.

Medea Quotes in Poetics

The Poetics 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:
Tragedy vs. Epic Poetry  Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Classics edition of Poetics published in 1997.
Chapter 8 Quotes

(Clearly, therefore, the resolutions of plots should also come about from the plot itself, and not by means of a theatrical device, as in the Medea, or the events concerned with the launching of the ships in the Iliad. A theatrical device may be used for things outside the play—whether prior events which are beyond human knowledge, or subsequent events which need prediction and narration since we grant that the gods can see everything. But there should be nothing irrational in the events themselves; or, failing that, it should be outside the play, as for example in Sophocles’s Oedipus.)

Related Characters: Aristotle (speaker), Medea , Euripides, Sophocles, Oedipus, Homer
Related Symbols: Oedipus Rex
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:
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Medea Character Timeline in Poetics

The timeline below shows where the character Medea appears in Poetics. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 7. The Best Kinds of Tragic Plot
Tragedy vs. Epic Poetry  Theme Icon
Fear, Pity, and Catharsis Theme Icon
...can come about with a character acting in full knowledge, such as Euripides’s portrayal of Medea killing her children. However, pitiable actions can also be performed in ignorance, as in Sophocles’s... (full context)