Song sweeter than orpheus: Euripides Medea 542-544

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Abstract

In Euripides Medea, Jason expresses a preference for fame over riches or musical talent such as that which Orpheus possesses. Orpheus was well-known for the supernaturally persuasive qualities of his music, and as the play makes clear, Jasons rejection of Orpheus talents is not purely rhetorical-he lacks the persuasive skill of Orpheus, skill which he needs to reconcile Medea to his new marriage. Medea is persistently compared to things which Orpheus is able to influence through his song, such as rocks, lions, and bulls, highlighting Jasons failure to persuade where the mythical singer succeeds. Jason is, however, successful in persuading his new bride; as a lover rather than a husband, he possesses Orpheus abilities. The implied comparison between Jason and Orpheus foreshadows the death of Jasons Corinthian bride and Jasons downfall at the hands of a woman.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-27
Number of pages17
JournalMnemosyne
Volume68
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 20 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Euripides
  • Jason
  • magic
  • Medea
  • Orpheus
  • persuasion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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