One, Two, Many Medeas


  • Nadia Fusini



Has a woman like Medea ever existed? Will a woman like Medea ever exist? If such a woman has existed, were there to be such a woman, of what would her passionate energy be made? Love? Hate? Will it ever be possible in that mélange of drives intermediate between body and psyche – those impulses which according to Plato belong to the irrational sphere of the mind – and to extinguish which would mean severing the nerves of the psyche and cutting off the strings of the bow that assure the energy (cf. Plato, Republic 3.411b); will it ever be possible, in that mélange, to distinguish the drive of hate from that of love? Does Medea love? Yes, she does. She also hates. She moves from hate to love and back again as though on a Möbius strip. This essay follows Medea from her appearance in the tragedy of Euripides and on through Seneca to her reincarnation as Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth, to her final apparition as Maria Callas in Pasolini’s film in 1969. The argument being that Medea remains contemporary.

Keywords: Euripides; Seneca; Shakespeare; Lady Macbeth; Pasolini; Maria Callas