Translating Medea’s Infanticide: A Reading of Euripides’ Medea
Abstract: The figure of Medea is indeed one of the most enigmatic and problematic characters of Greek mythology. In Euripides’ Medea, the problem becomes acute because it is not merely a vengeful character that the reader comes across, but a woman who in order to avenge her husband’s betrayal, chooses to kill her own children. And in traditional patriarchal society that is certainly not acceptable. In the recent past, Medea’s actions have presented her as a cruel hearted murderess, a passionate woman bent on revenge, a mortal woman emerging as a goddess through her actions, and even as one of the first feminists to have uttered vengeance against man’s unfair treatment of women. While this paper looks at all those interpretations, it also attempts to analyze and interpret the riddle of Medea from other perspectives. Drawing on the historical background of the Asian sorceress, this paper aims to present Medea as a lost voice of matriarchy that retaliates against the father’s rule that denies a mother to have any hold over her children. In the process, the woman may lose her most precious possessions, she may also be deemed as a monster, but she also just might regain her honor and esteem.
Keywords: Deus ex machina, Matriarchy, Infanticide, Rites of Atonement, Heroism
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Published in August 2019