ten years after Jason and the Argonauts completed
the quest of the golden fleece. Medea had been
the sorceress daughter of the king whoguarded
the fleece; she and Jason fell in love during the
quest and were married on their return to Greece.
Medea had done terrible things to help Jason. She
killed her brother, cut up hisbody and scattered
the parts on the ocean to delay her father’s
pursuing ship. She then tricked the daughters of
the Thessalian king Pelias—who had sent Jason
on the quest—into murdering him.Pelias’ son
Acastus assumed the throne and his vow of
vengeance drove the couple off to Corinth.
As a woman from the “barbaric” East, Medea was
never really accepted by the Greeks, andJason
fears both his social standing and the lingering
threat of Acastus. So Jason has been courting the
Corinthian princess Creusa, daughter of King
Creon, and now is about to leave Medea.The
play begins in Jason’s house the day before he is
to marry Creusa. Medea is cursing the situation:
Nvt. Siste furialem impetum,
alumna: vix te tacita defendit quies.
Me.Fortuna fortes metuit, ignavos premit.
Nvt. Tunc est probanda, si locum virtus habet. 160
Me. Numquam potest non esse virtuti locus.
Nvt. Spes nulla rebus monstratadflictis viam.
Me. Qui nil potest sperare, desperet nihil.
Nvt. Abiere Colchi, coniugis nulla est fides
nihilque superest opibus e tantis tibi.165
Me. Medea superest: hic mare et terras vides
ferrumque et ignes et deos et fulmina.
Nvt. Rex est timendus.
Me. Rex meus fuerat pater.
Nvt. Nonmetuis arma?
Me. Sint licet terra edita.