Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Hans-Friedrich Mueller




French, Rome, Greece, character, adaptations, interpretations


This thesis explores the character of Medea among three different cultures: Euripides’ Medea (Classical Athens), Seneca’s Medea (Neronian Rome), and three adaptations spanning 19th to 21st century France. There are important ideological influences at play in the character of Medea within Greek and Roman contexts. In particular, a conflict between normative female identity in classical Athens versus heroic ideals and also normative female identity in Rome versus Stoic philosophical standards. This mythological character made bold statements in conflict with accepted norms of the time, making her a revolutionary figure, but also making her a model for her contemporaries. After the analysis of Medea in the context of these two different ancient societies, one may observe differences in more recent French versions of Medea. Beginning with early 19th century France, where Romanticism was the dominant artistic style, and moving to post World War II France, at the birth of existentialism, Medea transformed into completely different characters. Finally, a modern example from 21st century ballet creates yet another version of Medea. From ancient Greece and Rome to modern France, Medea represented different paradigms to different societies. She has been hated by most, but one cannot label her simply a monster. Instead, one must recognize the complexity of her character. Closer examination reveals that there may be as much to admire as condemn.

Included in

Classics Commons