A Formal Comparison of Euripides' Medea and Seneca's Medea Essay

1589 WordsOct 3, 20087 Pages
Euripides’ Medea and Seneca’s Medea are the two surviving ancient tragedies of Medea. Both versions are drastically different and contrast in several aspects. Euripides portrays Medea as more human. She is the epitome of the oppressed housewife and only after her suffering is she capable of the crimes she committed. Seneca’s Medea is even more vengeful than Euripides’ and she is angry from the very beginning. Seneca’s version also portrays Medea as a vengeful sorceress whereas in Euripides’ version, though she is known to be a witch and have remarkable skill in poisons and potions, that aspect is not as crucial and significant as in Seneca’s Medea. The two poets offer contrasting depictions and characterizations of Medea, the most…show more content…
However, no one in the play except the Nurse thinks for a second that Medea could bring herself to murder her children. Medea even has an internal debate over whether she could bring herself to commit such a crime, showing once again that she is not completely in control of her emotions. In the end, she decides to go through with it rather than leave them “to the mockery of my enemies” (78). In the end, Medea appears in the sky in “a chariot drawn by dragons” (84). She has already killed the boys and she attributes their death to Jason’s “weakness” (86) and his “lustful heart and new marriage” (86). The play ends with Medea disappearing from view with the children. Seneca’s portrayal of Medea is exceptionally different. Medea’s story up to the present time is told from her own mouth, not that of the Nurse. The play opens with Medea praying to the gods to “give [her] control” (45) so that she may carry out her vengeance. Her rage and fury are present from the start. She tells herself to “bare your rage for fighting, and prepare yourself to kill, work to a frenzy” (46). She admits that she hopes “men will…pair [her] divorce with [her] wedding in well-matched rivalry” (46). Seneca’s Medea is more in control than Euripides’ Medea. Euripides’ Medea is very

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