- Euripides, "the inventor of soap opera"
and the main culprit in this affair. He started it by downgrading Jason, the Athenian
civic hero par exellence, the model of responsable political education,
the future prime minister. The judges of Athenian tragedy were obviously outraged
at what they saw as Euripides' sensationalism, and his defence (once again!) of
foreign women. He got the last prize at the competition in 431 BC, and was stone-walled
by the establishment. But, his Medea was (of course) an instant success in terms
of gossip, and hit the covers of all the current Novellas 2000 glossy magazines.
It became the most rewritten play in late antiquity.
-Apollonios of Rhodes, the Alexandrian author of the
"Argonautica", tells the whole story from A to Z, including his version
of the Medea affair, elaborating on all the gossip Euripides refers to: the travels,
the meeting with Medea, the transactions, the many betrayals, the scenes of jealousy,
etc. We meet a post-heroic Jason dealing quite successfully with his mission,
but falling into deep trouble with the Colchian princess, whose magical help he
accepts and without which he could not have succeeded.
- Seneca uses Euripides' Medea to build a massive negative
case for his ideology: "Stay away from erotic passion!". His is a stoic's
prosecution of Medea, and of women. His Medea is the ultimate negative queen of
the night flying off in a dragon-drawn chariot, to "where there are no Gods"
- certainly not Seneca's!
- Ovid's Medea is an enigma. In his Metamorphoses she
is the Queen of Witches, but unfortunately Ovid's only tragedy - Medea - has been
lost! A major Roman author is supposed to have said that he would give all of
Seneca's tragedies for Ovid's Medea...
- Valerius Flaccus is a little known Latin author who
wrote his version of the "Argonautica", exagerating Apollonius' Alexandrian
pastoral take. His Medea is an innocent and magical maiden, a kind of Lolita,
who charms the old dragon out of his wits.
- Christa Wolf turns the whole affair upside down: she
totally redeems Medea, pleading not guilty on all charges: no murder of her brother,
no boiling of Peleas, no burning of the new bride, no infanticide, no jealousy!
She opposes Seneca on all counts, and presents a contemporary feminist defence
- Heiner Müller's Medea accuses her sons of being hypocritical
little actors, before slitting their throats. Interestingly, both Müller and Christa
Wolf lived in East Germany, the former communist GDR. One gets the feeling that
Müller's Medea is a nihilistic allegory for the collapse of ideologies, while
Christa Wolf tries to salvage some dream scraps of an utopian matriarchal communism.
- Bill Clinton. From the onset of this project - well
before the revelations about Monica's blue dress, that can link up with Euripides'
lethal dress, (the wedding dress with which Medea burns Glauce, Jason's new fiancee)
- I declared that my idea of the contemporary Jason was Bill Clinton: not a hero
(à la Kennedy or Eisenhower), but a much more clever, efficacious and ambitious
politician, one who is truly concerned with dynamic social compromise. The Monica
Lewinsky affair seems not to have any of the mythological passion of Jason and
Medea, and Clinton, not unlike Jason, behaved like an immature teenager. But,
the scandal corrodes a civic model, it degrades a politician and with him the
notion and reality of politics.