Virgo, Coniunx, Mater:The Wrath of Seneca's Medea

Classical Antiquity 20 (2):197-220 (2001)

Abstract
Seneca's Medea carries out a plan of revenge that follows a retaliation mechanism inspired both by fury and by an established principle of reciprocity. This principle follows the rules, described in Seneca's De ira, of revenge aroused by anger. Medea had earlier been guilty of crimes against her own family, in order to assist Jason; she now maintains that she has fallen victim to the very same offenses. Therefore she now resolves to perpetrate similar crimes upon the husband who has decided to leave her. In retaliation for the loss of her father's kingdom, of her brother Absyrtus, and of her own virginity she now kills Creon and his daughter, as well as her own children. Medea can thus create a fictitious link between the parts of her identity that have been thrown into disarray by her separation from Jason. In fact, the crimes she commits as a wife, in order to get rid of Jason, are just the inexorable consequence of the crimes she had committed as a girl, in order to join him. The separation which thus comes about conforms to the rules of a normal Roman divorce: the wife leaves her husband's home as well as her children, but her dowry is returned to her. Towards the end of the tragedy, Medea goes so far as to say that she has retrieved the "dowry" of crimes she paid in order to become Jason's wife, since she has recovered her father's kingdom, her brother, and her virginity as well. This is no more than a wild illusion, but in considering its elaborate rhetorical form we gain an idea of the kind of balance which is the aim of Seneca's Medea as she accomplishes her revenge
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DOI 10.1525/ca.2001.20.2.197
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References found in this work BETA

Seneca.Charles Desmond Nuttall Costa - forthcoming - Classical Review.
Revenge in Attic and Later Tragedy. [REVIEW]Thalia Papadopoulou & A. P. Burnett - 2001 - Journal of Hellenic Studies 121:184-185.

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Seneca's Medea and De Ira: Justice and Revenge.Rodrigo Sebastián Braicovich - 2017 - Journal of Ancient Philosophy 11 (2):106.

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