The highlights of Medea’s story are more or less well-known: sorceress, daughter of King Aeëtes of Colchis, niece of Circe, granddaughter of the sun god Helios, wife of hero Jason, whom she helped retrieving the Golden Fleece, fleeing then with him to Greece. Best known of course is Euripides’s play Medea, where Jason leaves Medea for the daughter of Creon, king of Corinth, and she avenges her husband’s betrayal with the younger woman by killing their own children, though I suggest to have a look at the Wikipedia voice, in which almost any variation and representation of the myth is taken into account, starting from Apollonius Rhodius’ Argonautica up to video games (!).
As for my painting, I only need to say a few more things. I see Medea simply as the depiction of a very intelligent and cultured woman, possessing the knowledge of many, many things. This, to my eye, truly causes her being feared and rejected everywhere from everyone, first of all by those men who are not able to confront themselves to her as well as to stand her ground.
About the quotation I choose, this time it’s from Lunga notte di Medea (Medea’s long night), a tragedy in two parts by Corrado Alvaro, premiered in 1949. On the little paper strip on the painting you can read Medea’s first line, saying to one of her young maids “Hai rughe tu? Diggià?” (“So you have wrinkles already?”). I liked very much the self-irony and the self-criticism of Alvaro’s figure, as well as the explanation he gives for Medea’s infanticide. This he wrote 1949 about his figure :
“Medea looked to me as an ancestor of many women who have suffered a racial persecution, and of many who, rejected by their own land, wander without passport from nation to nation, populating concentration and refugees camps. In my opinion, she kills her sons to not expose them to the tragedy of vagrancy, of persecution, of hunger : she estinguishes the seed of a social curse in some way to save them in a desperate outburst of mother’s love.”
(that means: not everything I read/saw about Medea, but only things that mattered to me and that I heartly suggest)
Corrado Alvaro, Lunga notte di Medea, free download here.
Hans Henny Jahnn, Medea, Reclam [first edition 1926].
Dea Loher, Manatthan Medea, Verlag der Autoren, 1999.
Pier Paolo Pasolini, Medea, 1969.
Lars von Trier, Medea, 1988.
Christa Wolf, Medea. Stimmen, DTV 1998.
And I wish I could have seen Aribert Reimann’s opera Medea, set in music 2010 after Grillparzer’s drama dated 1822.