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Title: Virgo to virago : Medea in the silver age
Author: Corrigan, Kirsty Helen
ISNI:       0000 0004 2695 7388
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2010
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The infamous mythological figure of Medea appears in the extant texts of three Silver Age Latin authors: Ovid (principally in the epic Metamorphoses and elegiac epistles Heroides, but also minor references in his other elegiac poetry), Seneca (the tragedy Medea), and Valerius Flaccus (the epic Argonautica). Although each author approaches the character differently, similarities can be found in their treatments. Through a detailed character study of Medea in these texts we are able to discern that, as well as being a character full of ambiguities, she is always portrayed with some measure of sympathy. This varies according to context, both of genre and of the particular stage of her myth being depicted: a large span of Medea's life and actions is covered in these accounts, from innocent girl through to formidable sorceress. This sympathy occurs despite Medea being a notorious witch and murderess, whose wicked actions were an irresistible draw for the writers. This is especially remarkable since, in these works, she is a product of the Silver Age, and therefore these portrayals satisfy the gruesome and macabre taste of the period, for which Medea the sorceress was an especially suitable topic. This sympathetic view can, in part, be explained by the apparent admiration which the authors felt for her, although the favour of the age for rhetorical argument also contributes to this. Earlier predecessors also had important influences on these works: notably Euripides, Apollonius of Rhodes, and Virgil. There are elements of both victim and villain in these accounts, a typical ambiguous tension in her character, but Medea is foremost a remarkable figure deserving the attention she receives. Her fascination and appeal cannot be denied, since she emerges predominant in each account, eclipsing her counterpart hero Jason: therefore she should, perhaps, be considered the true hero of these texts.
Supervisor: Anderson, Graham ; Keaveney, Arthur Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: D51 Ancient History