The Role of Chorus in Euripides' Medea

627 Words2 Pages

The Role of Chorus in Medea

In section 18 of the Poetics Aristotle criticizes Euripides for not allowing "the chorus to be one of the actors and to be a part of the whole and to share in the dramatic action, . . . as in Sophocles." Aristotle may be thinking of the embolima of Euripides' later plays (satirized also by Aristophanes), but he is certainly wrong about the Medea. Its choral odes are not only all intimately related to the action but are also essential for the meaning of the play, particularly because here, as elsewhere (e.g. Hecuba), Euripides forces us reevaluate his main protagonist in midstream and uses the chorus (in part) to indicate that change.

In her first speech Medea wins over the chorus by a plea to solidarity in the face of women's victimization by a male-dominated society, and this response by the chorus is an essential step in the poet's paradoxical task of winning sympathy and understanding for a mother who kills her children. But as that first speech itself indicates, Medea both is and is not a typical (Greek) woman: she is a foreig...

Open Document