Medea and Jason / Medea and Aeson / Medea and Pelias / The Flight of Medea / Theseus and Aegus / Minos / Cephalus / The Plague / The Myrmidons / Cephalus, Procris & Aurora
|Jason and Medea (1907)|
John William Waterhouse
|Medea Rejuvenating Aeson (1760)|
source Wikimedia Commons
Pretending that she has quarrelled with her husband, Medea arrives as a suppliant at the palace of Pelias, the old man weighed down with age. Hearing of Medea's success with Aeson, the daughters of Pelias beg her to perform her magic on their father. Medea mixes a concoction, using herbs that have no power, and convinces the daughters to slit their father's throat, yet while each want to be pious, none can bear the sight of their deed, and they cut blindly into the old man. Sitting up, he accuses them of murder, but Medea cuts short his accusations, throwing his flesh into the boiling vat.
|The Murder of Pelias by his Daughters (1878)|
George Moreau de Tours
source Wikimedia Commons
Escaping, the horrible witch flies across the lands in her dragon-pulled chariot, and we hear of many transformations. The flight of Medea takes her to Corinth where she kills Jason's new wife by burning her with poison, sets fire to his halls, kills her own children and just in time escapes Jason's vengeance. As Medea takes refuge in Athens, King Aegus, not only shelters the witch, but also marries her.
Theseus, the son of Aegus, arrives in Athens, and Medea attempts to poison him but, at the last moment, Aegus dashes the cup from his hands. Medea escapes and the people praise Theseus.
Intent on waging war with Athens for the killing of his son, King Minos sets out to gather allies by force or promise. With a number of states on his side, Minos speaks with King Aeacus of Oenopia, or Aegina, and his sons Telamon, Peleus and Phocus, but his grandson Aesopus regrets they cannot join him, as they have a treaty with Athens. Minos utters dire threats for their decision.
Cephalus arrives to enlist the aid of the Aeginians in their battle against Minos, stating that he is a threat to all Greece. Cephalus is pleased at their loyalty, but notes that there are many missing faces from his last visit to Aegina.
|The Plague (1898)|
In his despair, Aeacus called out to Jove, who heard his plea. In a dream, Aeacus saw an oak tree sway, dropping ants to the ground that began to take human shape. When he awoke, Telamon summoned him to a rank of humans whom Aeacus recognized, the Myrmidons, giving them that name because of their origin [ myrmex = ant ]. They are patient and zealous in their work, fine replacements for the plague-ridden island. But now all men gather to wait and marshal their troops.
|Cephalus & Procris (1580)|
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Ovid's pacing in these stories is often wonky. We have Medea getting Jason to promise marriage and running off with him, and then, whamo!, he's married to someone else and she's seeking sanctuary (or for someone else's life to ruin, we're not sure), burning halls, killing children, etc. There is no transition ..... nothing. I'm assuming it's because the people of Ovid's time would have been familiar with the stories and could mentally fill in the gaps themselves, but when you're a modern reader it can often leave you confused and searching frantically for information. It's a little bit jarring too, but I'm now accustomed to not being surprised at anything from Ovid.
|Cephalus & Aurora (1627-30)|
Winged-dragons ❥ younger
Old Aeson ❥ Young Aeson
Old ram ❥ lamb
Cycnus ❥ swan
Hyrie ❥ lake
Combe ❥ bird
King & Queen of Calaurea ❥ birds
Cephisus' grandson ❥ sea-calf
Son of Eumelus ❥ bird
Rain with mushrooms ❥ mortal bodies
Phene, old Periphas & Polypemon's daughter ❥ birds
Sciron's bones ❥ Scironian rocks
Ants ❥ Myrmidons (men)