The goal of this paper is to examine the traditions of mythic character of Medea, infamous for killing her children in the attempt to punish her unfaithful husband. I will examine the works of Euripides, Seneca, Geoffrey Chaucer and Christa Wolf in order to analyze the changing attitudes towards the themes of infanticide, barbarism, magical qualities and heroism as they relate to Medea. This study will include a look at the internal audience--the characters--and external audience--the public--to see how they responded to the different elements of the work at the time it was created. Chapter One examines Euripides' play Medea, written in 431 BC in Athens, and the creation of Medea as deliberate murderer of her children. Chapter Two deals with Seneca's Medea and his reaction to the writing of Euripides in 1st century A.D. Rome. In Chapter Three, Chaucer's The Legend of Good Women, written during the 14th century in England, takes away much of the individuality and perseverance that we see in Euripides' and Seneca's plays. In my final chapter, I explore Wolf's Medea, which was written in 20th century Germany, and which combines elements of many of the previous versions of Medea. Even though the material presented by these authors spans well over 2,000 years, they are all tied together by the character Medea and in the way that the texts interact with one another. The authors of each of these versions of Medea are aware of what previous authors did with the story before them. In their own versions, authors incorporate pieces of previous versions as a reaction or a conscious way of changing the story. As a result, the Medea story has the same character, similar events, but her story continues to shock audiences in new and unexpected ways.


Pandey, Nandini B.


Classical Studies


Classical Literature and Philology

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2011 Emma DeLooze