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Title: A dissertation on Medea
Author: Gillies, M. M.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1924
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Abstract:
The number of subjects in connection with the Argonautice of Apollonius Rhodiva, on which a dissertation can profitably be written, is limited to a large extent by the various writirgs which have already appeared. Most of the problems of general application have already been fully discussed. Many writers, for instance, have dealt with the relation of the Argonautica to the Aeneid; mythology in particular has been fully dealt with by de la Ville de Mirmont. In the department of language also, there is little scope for original or profitable work. Peculiarities of grammar and vocabulary have been diaouased by the various editors of the poem, and in zany separate articles in the Classical Journals; and it did not seem to be an attractive or profitable occupation to enlarge on the manifest deficiencies of such works as Goodwin's curiously inaccurate list of words peculiar to the Argonautica. Even with regard to the figure of Medea, the ground has to a large extent already been worked over. Innumerable people have treated the subject from the romantic standpoint, and have discussed the relation of the Medea of Apollonius to the Medea of Euripides or to the Dido of Virgil. On such subjects, there is very little left to be said; and it would therefore have been pointless to add to the number of those who have already dealt with them. Especially with regard to the portrayal of Medea herself in the Argonautica, and to the literary value of the passages where Apollonius turns aside for the moment from the logcgraphers and is content to be a real poet, it would be little short of presumption_ to attempt to compete in any way with the chaarmirg and brilliant study of the Medea of Apollonius by Saint-Beuve. I have taken as the subject of this dissertation the treatment of Argonautio mythology, with reference particularly to the figure of Medea; I have endeavoured to treat it in connection with her development as a fioxe of Argonautio mythology frog the earliest period of the myth. I have discussed at some length various theories which have been put forward with regard to ber origin, which seemed to re to be entirely insupportable. Gruppe, for instance, sees in the original Medea a figure of Cretan extraction, quite dissociated from the legend of the Argonauts, whose original function was the slaying of Tales. I as well aware with what diffidence one should approach the question of Cretan influeríees on things Greek; but of such influence on this peculiarly Thessalian legend I can find no authentic trace whatever. Moreover, the location of Crete was so vaguely known even in definitely historical times, in spite of its earlier ascendancy, that any argument, whose essential postulate is a definitely eastern or definitely western location of this island, rests on the moat insecure foundations. It is by no means established that the Cretan adventureeither formed part of the original "Argonaut legend at all, or that it was originally an exploit of Medea at that. The problem of Talcs, and of his connection with Medea, has been almost completely shelved by Robert, who, having once assumed a Corinthian origin of his heroine, has given rather scant treatment to the other possibilities. guided by the very oonvinciirg reconstruction by Buslepp of the legend of Talcs, I have endeavoured to state the case against the theory of a Corinthian extraction of Medea; and I think that I am justified in claiming ny line of oppltion to be for the most pant original. The same applies to the section on Diomedeia. In addition to the influence of the Cretan figure of Medea, Gruupe maintains that a further effect on the growth of the legend in Greece proper was made by the legend of Diomedes, and his " Brautfahrt" in searoh of a conjectural partner Diomedeia. I have nowhere found this remarkable theory discussed, not even in Reacher and Pauly- Wissova. To my own mind, it is manifestly insupportable; and in the same sense as before, I may claim my own line of opposition to be original. With regard to the Corinthian Medea, I have been concerned to show that for the theory of Robert, that the Medea of the Argonautioa was originally a Corinthian figure, there is no support. At the same time, I have shown how the rival theory of Seeliger has completely disregarded the unwelcome features of the local Corinthian legends. I have endeavoured to show that their apparently opposite theatinies have their origin in the sane group of facts, and that they are not irreconcileable; I have found the means of reconciliation in an assumption, to which the evidence of the Corinthian legends points, of a figure existing in Corinth previously to the adoption of the Thessalian Medea, whose characteristics were such that the coalescence of the two figures, although the one was of ohthonian and the other of solar origin, was comparatively easy. The introduction of the foreign element, however, brought about the almost complete suppression of the autoehthonous figure, who has only managed to live on in a few fragmentary legends surviving in various scholia, where her identification with the great Medea does not seem to have been ailed in question by their authors. It is only on this assumption, as fas as I can see, that it is possible to explain certain features of the Corinthian legends. I am not aware, however, that the suggestion has previously been put forward. I have found myself oompletely unable to assent to the Robertian theory of the adoption into the Argonaut legend of a Coritnhian heroine, and of the originally western looation of Aea. It is only on the assumption of the absolute reverse - and it is no great assumption, as it is attested by the whole of Greek Argonautic literature as the belief of the Greeks themselves - that it was an originally Thessalien figure that was adopted by Corinth, that the later development and depredation of b°edea becomes intelligible. I as well aware that in this`. I have reverted to a considerable extent to what was believed by a previous generation of scholars; but it does seen to me that Robert has by no means proved his case. In the section which deals with the trials of Jason, I have endeavoured to establish the theory that in the original form of the legend, he had no more than a sir le trial to undergo. The question, which is at no time very clear, is further obsoured by the extraordinary duplioity of Robert, which I have there discussed. I have endeavoured to reconstruct in that connection the version of the Naupactia; it is not olear from the collection of the fragments in Kinkel, and it is further obscured by Robert. The conclusion that I have there reached is that the original legend told only of a single trial, and that that account survived in the Naupaotia. Mention is made in several places, particularly in connection with Talcs and absyrtus, of the suggestions of Professor Rose. These have reference to a paper of his, read some fifteen years ago before the Anthropological Society at Oxford, on " Anthropology and Folk -Lore in Apollonius Phodius." It is not published, but he had the great kindness to allow me to read the manuscript. Lt may perhaps seem from the references to it in this dissertation that I have mentioned it only to condemn it; but though I have not been able to assent to it in its entirety, there are several theories which I have found most suggestive. That is especially the case with the legend of Absyrtua -; I have nowáere e%e seen or heard of an explanation from the point of view which he adopts, of the curiously puzzling legend of Absyrtus; and his suggestions do certainly seem to illurinate sore points in it which, from the standpoint of purely literary investigation, are quite obscure. I have rot, however, gone into this point to any. great extent. In the third part, there is little that is actually original. It is meant to supplement the list of the Greek magicians who were discussed at the outset in connection with Medea, to spew the development of her patroness Eecate as the presiding deity of the magic art, and to illustrate the degradation_ of Medea which came about in connection with her general practice of magic, in the light of her degradation from the position of a helpful heroine, as is discussed. in the second part. In the fourth section, I have, of course, made considerable use of the various writings by Farrell on the subject of Purification. In certain small points, which I think I have made clear in the text, I have ventured, pith all due diffidence, to differ fros him. I have been particularly concerned to show that, in view of the period to which the poem is referring, Apollonius is perfectly correct, - perhaps more correct than he knew, - in attributing not to Apollo, but to Zeus hireself, the impulse to purificatory ritual. To a large extent, I have followed the article on "Purification" by Farrell in the Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics; but I venture to claim that I have done tore than rarely plagiarise from Farrell, and that ay own opinion will be found expresses on several Points, where a consideration of the evidence seers to re to point to a different conclusion than that which he has adopted. The object as a whole of this dissertation is to maintain the originally benefioent character of Medea, the originally easterly location of her home, and the absolute' impossibility of her Corinthian origin;- and, incidentally, the inseparability of the legend of Medea from that of the fleece. All this was believed, though on less evidence than we have at our disposal today, by a previous generation of scholars; but at the present day it has become the fashion to call in question any or all of the above statements. I do not think that I have done nothing more than serve up the Arguments of past generations in a new disguise.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.651493  DOI: Not available
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