“Medea” by the Ancient Greek Playwright Euripides and Aristotle

  1. What are Aristotle’s 3 unities?  Define each.  How does each show up in Medea?  The 3 unities of Aristotle are the three factors that he claims in his treatise of Poetics as to the rules to create true drama.   These 3 factors are the unity of action, which necessitates that the drama should have one major plot with hardly any subplots to maintain the focus of the story; unity of place which dictates that the whole story occur in one location as to not to distract the audience; and finally, the unity of time where the whole story should occur within 24 hours.  All of these are present in the play Medea.  In the play there is no other plot than the adultery of Jason and all action takes place in front of Medea’s house satisfying the first two conditions.  Moreover, from the realization of Jason’s crime to the point of Medea’s flight, all the action takes place within 24 hours.  This was made possible by Creon’s demand that Medea leaves Corinth within a day.
  2. What does Aristotle distinguish between pity and fear? Use 5 characters in Medea.   Fear in the play is represented by the nurse, the chorus and Creon.  The nurse from the onset felt fear for the children that she was caring for while Creon banished Medea from Corinth simply because he feared Medea’s powers and wrath.  Moreover, the Chorus constantly expressed their fear of Medea’s actions by pleading for Medea not to go through with her plan.   This is in contrast to the other exclamations of the Chorus that express pity (i.e. “for there is no misery that doth surpass the loss of fatherland”).  Another character that showed pity was Aegeus.  His pity for Medea was what brought him to give an oath to Medea to house her once she has been exiled.
  3. Define Aristotle’s Golden Mean. How does it show up in Medea?  Aristotle’s Golden Mean simply means the Middle ground between two extremes.    The middle ground in the play of Medea lies on the presence of the Chorus.  It is the Chorus who serves as the advisor as well as witness for the extreme actions of the characters in the play.  The Chorus presents the middle ground, the middle emotion, and the compromise.
  4. Give 3 reasons why Medea is angry with Jason.   Medea was angry because Jason committed adultery, Jason abandoned Medea after what Medea had done for Jason to get the Golden Fleece, and because Medea is left alone being a foreigner in Corinth as the marriage will make Jason and her sons citizens of Corinth.
  5. What is the name of Jason’s ship?  Argo.
  6. Whom did Medea kill or help kill before she came to Corinth?  Medea killed her own brother in Colchis.
  7. Why Medea is considered a foreigner?  Medea is considered a foreigner as she has no ties, friends or family, in Corinth.  Moreover, she was in Corinth as an exile, so it is not like other immigrants that go and decide to live in another land, in her case, she has no choice to live in Corinth, whether or not she was accepted, as she was running away from her land.  Finally, as she was a witch, she was not fully accepted in Corinth and was treated as an outsider.
  8. What does Medea ask from Creon? Why? Medea asks Creon if she can stay at least for a day.  This she asks under the pretense that she will make preparations for another abode for the sake of her sons but in actually she asked the day so that she could plan for her revenge.
  9. Why does Creon fear Medea?  Creon fears Medea because Medea is a known witch and he fears that because of the adultery that Jason committed with his daughter that Medea will find revenge on his daughter and himself.
  10. How do Creon and his daughter die?  Medea sent a wedding gift in the form of a gown filled with poison that will kill the wearer and those that touch it.  As the bride was dying wearing the gown, Creon held his daughter and thus died as well.
  11. Why does Medea not kill Jason?  Medea didn’t kill Jason because she believed that the best way to achieve revenge is to hurt him by taking away everything he held dear and important.
  12. What excuse does Jason give for marrying the princess?  According to Jason as exiles his sons have no future.  As the husband of the princess, his sons will now be connected to royalty and have a proper home not that as exiles and refugees.
  13. Who is addressed by this speech: O coward in every way, — that is what I call you.” Who speaks the lines?  This was spoken by Medea to Jason.
  14. Who offers to help Medea once she leaves Corinth? Aegeus offers to provide Medea a home in Athens once she leaves Corinth.
  15. What is Medea’s ultimate refusal to Jason?  Medea’s ultimate refusal was when she killed her own children.
  16. Where do the boys die in terms of staging of the play?  By whose hand?  Medea kills her own children inside their house so the audience doesn’t actually see the murder of the boys but the audience does hear the screams and shouts of the 2 boys.
  17. Who will die on day without distinction? Medea’s children.
  18. What is the irony of Medea’s statement “to suffer my children/to be slain by another hand less kindly to them…”?  This is ironic since Medea is their mother and as such she is the one that should protect her children but then she kills them.  She also believes that if she were the one to kill them that it would be done in a kinder way than any other.
  19. Who says: “The most terrible grief of all…?” What grief is referred to?  Jason says this statement as he mourns the fact that what he holds dear have all died – his new bride and his children.
  20. Who says: “Medea, you have done such a dreadful thing?  What thing is referred to?  Jason says this to Medea with reference to the killing of her own children.


  1. Euripides. “Medea.” Great Books of the Western World: Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes Vol. 5 Ed. Robert Maynard Hutchins. London: William Benton, 1952. 212-223.

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“Medea” by the Ancient Greek Playwright Euripides and Aristotle. (2016, Jun 30). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/what-are-aristotles-3-unities-define-each/