Revenge and mythopoiesis in Euripides' Medea

Marianne Hopman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


In the first stasimon of Medea, the chorus of Corinthian women exalts Medea's revenge as a palinode that will put an end to the misogynist tradition and bring them honor. This article analyzes Euripides' tragedy as a metapoetic reflection on Medea's voice, its relation to the earlier poetic tradition, its power and limitations, and its generic definition. While Medea's revenge metaphorically and symbolically unfolds as a revision of the Argo saga and thus undermines one of the most famous androcentric epics of the Greek song culture, I argue that mythical constraints ultimately prevent Medea from generating a new, gynocentric epic. Rather, the intertextuality of the final scenes increasingly departs from the Iliadic model and firmly anchors Medea's revenge in the tragic genre. Metapoetically, Medea's palinode thus defines tragedy, by contrast to epic, as a genre that is congenial to female voices but does not bring them kleos.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-183
Number of pages29
JournalTransactions of the American Philological Association
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Classics
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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