Seneca the Younger, Medea

LCL 62: 312-313

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Book 7 of the Metamorphoses, and had voiced Medea’s reproaches to the unfaithful Jason in Heroides 12. Each of these versions influences many turns of phrase and thought in Seneca’s drama, and we would surely find the same to be true of Ovid’s drama Medea, if it had survived. Odes 2 and 3 of Seneca’s play allude frequently to Horace’s Odes, and particularly to Ode 3 of Book 1, whose theme is similarly the transgressive nature of human seafaring.


Beyond the fact that the play unfolds in Corinth, the dramatic setting is fluid and indefinite, as often in Seneca. After Act One, whose setting is indeterminate, the events of lines 56 to 669 clearly occur in public space, which however is given only fleeting definition and redefinition.3 In Act Four the setting is gradually redefined, by Medea’s conducting of her ritual, as a more private space within or behind her house; the altar mentioned there would be represented by the stage altar in a theatrical production. Only at the end of the play does location become more

  • 3Lines 177 and 380 mention Creon’s palace and Medea’s house, respectively. These two lines are primarily entrance announcements, which also characterize the persons entering (Creon as peremptory, Medea as impetuous). They should probably not be amplified into anything as definite as a two-door set with Creon’s palace adjacent to Medea’s house. Indeed, at the beginning of Act Five it appears that Creon’s palace is some distance away.


specific and integral to the action, when Medea leaves the stage and climbs to the roof of her house.

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  • Costa, C. D. N. Seneca. Medea, Edited with Introduction and Commentary. Oxford, 1973.
  • Hine, H. M. Seneca, Medea, with an Introduction, Text, Translation and Commentary. Warminster, 2000.
  • Fyfe, H. “An Analysis of Seneca’s Medea.” In Boyle, Seneca Tragicus, 77–93.
  • Gill, C. “Two Monologues of Self-Division: Euripides, Medea 1021–80 and Seneca, Medea 893–977.” In Homo Viator: Classical Essays for J. Bramble, edited by P. Hardie and M. Whitby, 25–37. Bristol, 1987.
  • Henderson, J. “Poetic Technique and Rhetorical Amplification: Seneca Medea 579–669.” In Boyle, Seneca Tragicus, 94–113.
  • Henry, D., and E. Henry. “Loss of Identity: “Medea superest”? A Study of Seneca’s Medea.” C Phil. 62 (1967): 169–81.
  • Sanderson, J. L., and E. Zimmerman, eds. Medea: Myth and Dramatic Form. Five Plays by Euripides, Seneca,
DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.seneca_younger-medea.2018