Aristotle, a philosopher, scientist, spiritualist and passionate critic of the arts, spent many years studying human nature and its relevance to the stage. His rules of tragedy in fact made a deep imprint on the writing of tragic works, while he influenced the structure of theatre, with his analysis of human nature. Euripides 'Medea', a Greek tragedy written with partial adherence to the Aristotelian rules, explores the continuation of the ancient Greek tales surrounding the mythology of Medea, Princess of Colchis, and granddaughter of Helios, the sun god, with heartlessness to rival the infamous Circe. While the structure of this play undoubtedly perpetuates many of the Aristotelian rules, there are some dramatic structures which challenge its standing with relevance to Aristotle's guidelines, and the judgment of Medea as a dramatic success within the tragic genre.
With relevance to the most qualitative of the Aristotelian rules, that which dictates the necessity of continuing cathartic elements throughout the action, Medea is doubtlessly an epitome. Aristotle (Poetics 7.2) wrote that a fitting tragedy ?should, moreover, imitate actions which excite pity and fear, this being the distinctive mark of tragic imitation.?
These focus elements, of pity and fear are essentially what formulate the action within Medea, and in turn, reflect upon the characters creating a relevance to the audience, and the cathartic response for which Aristotle was so passionate. A key point within the text of Medea, which represents the perpetuation of these emotive elements, is when she is informed by Kreon, [Lord of Corinth] that she is to be exiled, as the following excerpt details.
MEDEA: Aiai. Utterly destroyed. Dead.
... middle of paper ...
... survived the bastardization which comes with any translation.
NURSE: If only the Argo hadn?t crashed through the waves
To distant and dangerous Colchis!
If only the pine trees on Pelion Mountain had never
been felled, for the heroes who went in pursuit of
the golden fleece for Pelias.
(Act 1, sc i. Lines 1-6
The speech is poetry in itself, and if such a verse can be created in translation, what beauty could be found in the original text.
If nothing else, this essay has proven the synthesis of Aristotelian and unconventional tragic elements, through the use of the tragic hero, the three unities and the support of a cathartic response from the audience. Also though, with disregard to many Aristotelian rules, to create perhaps not a dramatic success by Aristotle?s ideals, but undoubtedly an effective and challenging text which is Medea.