I finished reading Medea yesterday, but completely forgot about writing this post until today, when we were seated in our lecture. Oops. Alas, better a bit late than not at all, and it was a bit of a surprising read.
I love pretty much all aspects of theater and so reading a play was easy for me to visualize. I found that the characters turned from men in masks in my head to just normal people, and with new dynamics of the characters personality the face and/or body would change for me. The maid who first came out looked small and hunched over, and as I continued to read the play the more hunched over and frail she appeared in my imagination. Other characters went through a similar metamorphosis. Medea became taller, with sharper features and brighter eyes, and Jason went from having a very composed look to his clothing and face, to looking torn apart and distressed. I had completely forgotten by the end of the play that they were supposed to be wearing masks, and found it interesting in today’s lecture to hear Caroline talk about the reasoning behind the masks.
To me, Medea started off as a character who felt hurt and betrayed by the man she loved. As the play continued, her reasoning of her actions made less and less sense to me. I find the fact that her hatred of Jason outweighed the love for her children difficult to comprehend because it is so intense. We hear of “a mother’s love” being incredibly strong, with tales of mother’s who would lay down their own lives to save that of their children. With Medea however, it’s almost as if she is bending to Jason saying that the father loves his children the most, and is trying to forget her own pain in order to cause him the *most* grief. I suppose she succeeded in adding insult to injury through their deaths, but it seems incredibly unnecessary to me. This has been an issue for me to think about after hearing of present day murders of the same circumstance.
Please excuse this late post, I only finished the book today and I wanted to be able to share my ideas of the complete epic. When I told my friends and family that I would be reading the Odyssey, the majority all cringed with fear and wished me luck. This reaction made me a bit intimidated at the thought of reading this epic. Thankfully, I have found this translation fairly comprehensible. My main difficulty with this epic is mostly due to the fact that it is a book, and has been challenging me to stay awake while reading it. This is not to degrade the eloquence with which each character is portrayed, or to disregard the startling images that have been conjured in my minds eye. This epic poem has been beautifully crafted, if not a bit long winded and tiring, and I can imagine listening to a bard reciting this tale would be far more thrilling and engaging.
The tale of Odysseus brings many provoking thoughts and emotions. The role of the gods and Zeus’ statement near the beginning of the epic has made me question fate and how much power a mortal has over their destiny. In fact, this role made the book difficult because there was no suspense. Each time a god or goddess declared a prophesy, you knew exactly what was going to to happen, and that even if a Odysseus appeared to be in mortal danger, you knew he would get out alive because the gods had said so. The moment that makes me question how much power a mortal has over his fate, is when Odysseus tells the Cyclops his name. Had he left with the Cyclops thinking Odysseus’ name was “nobody”, he could have sailed home without Poseidon’s wrath and anger, thus changing his fate drastically.
One aspect of the tale I found frustrating was Penelope’s apparent lack of will to take control over her situation, and the sexist ideals of the time. However, at the end of the epic I realized that she actually does hold power in two different scenarios. The first is with her suitors, when she leads them along for three years with the promise that at the end she will wed one of them. They have no idea that Penelope is deceiving them and keeping them at bay, and has therefore taken a small amount of power over them in an incredibly subtle and cunning way. The second instance is when she convinces the suitors to each bring her a valuable gift that they all believe will win her heart. She however has no intention of marrying any of them, and is actually taking their possessions to raise her own status and worth. Through these two instances, Penelope’s own cunning mind enables her to gain some personal power.
Looking back on this post, it doesn’t appear that I have enjoyed reading this epic. The honest answer is that I am happy that I have read it, and enjoy the thoughts that have come from reading it. In this moment however, these are my thoughts.
Hello all, this is me, Kailer. As you may have heard in our seminar, my given name is Serena, but I prefer Kailer and you can also just call me Kai. I’ve grown up with my hippy mother on a small island named Quadra where I’ve spent summers under the sky watching shooting stars, and swimming in the ocean among the fish and seals. I love to be outdoors, and have never quite grown out of climbing trees. I’ve come to UBC after 5 1/2 months of gallivanting around Europe with only my backpack, meeting bizarre and wonderful people. Now, I’m here to prove to myself that I can succeed in University, and to meet more bizarre and wonderful people.