That Stupid Pelt

Helen King

  • Media: A Modern Retelling by Christa Wolf, translated by John Cullen
    Virago, 256 pp, £16.99, April 1998, ISBN 1 86049 480 3

Recent interpretations of Medea have tended to focus on issues of gender and race, portraying her either as a feminist challenging Jason’s misogyny, or as a freedom fighter on behalf of the oppressed Colchian immigrants in Corinth. In what remains the best-known version of her myth, the one created by Euripides in 431 BC, her actions turn out to be as violent and tyrannical as those of her oppressors, as she kills her own children in a quest for revenge. Modern productions have tried to provide a reading of the play that makes sense of her appalling crime.

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