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Medea:

Corinthian women, I have come out of my home,
do not find fault with me: for I know that many among mortals
are wise, some away from eyes,
others in doorways: and those away from gentle feet
acquire a bad name and idleness.
For justice lies not in the eyes of mortals,
whoever, no one having been harmed, hates on sight
before knowing wisely a man's heart.
And it is necessary that a foreigner approach the city very much:
I would not praise a townsman who, being presumptuous,
was by ignorance offensive to the citizens.
This unexpected thing which strikes upon me
destroys my soul. I am gone, and letting go the
grace of life I want to die, O friends.
For that in which the thinking well was everything to me,
turned out to be the worst among men: my husband.
Of all things which are filled with essence and have judgement,
we women are the most miserable creatures.

—Euripides, Medea 215-231, very awkwardly translated by me.


There is a certain poetic irony in sucking at one's major. But how great is that. I have come out of my home. Exeilthon domon. She is coming out of the home, her role, femininity. She is not planning on sticking around in this polis oikoumenos. She is not oikoumenos at all. She is a witch.

And incidentally I couldn't find a good translation for empsucha in line 230. Rex Warner translates panton d' hos' est' empsucha kai gnomen echei as "of all things which are living and can form a judgement." David Kovacs translates it "of all creatures [taking phuton from line 231 to supplement panton] that have breath and sensation." Although Kovacs' seems to embody the spirit of the Greek [it's not that I can't believe I wrote that, it's that I can't believe I honestly just thought it], I still don't entirely approve. According to Josh Katz, the linguistic derivation would mean "alive by virtue of breathing." He claims that psuche is one of those words that people write huge tomes about. And when I didn't believe him, he showed me one of them.

In any event, psuche is one of those intangible life forces. Soul, spirit, love, etcetera. The problem with all words describing intangible life forces is that they immediately acquire connotations, which ruin the intangible aspect. Soul ends up personified by the chronicle of good and evil, Spirit becomes just another appendage of the Trinity, and Love was singlehandedly corrupted by Mariah Carey. Here are the synonyms that I found: life, vitality, animation, consciousness, essence, mind, nature, character, substance, existence, entity, presence. I wanted empsucha to contrast with gnomen, knowledge. Nature vs. intellect. As Professor Katz put it—above and below the mouth. What we create for ourselves and what is simply there. Empsucha. Think ensouled. Filled to the rim with the divine, which is only another word for that which animates the otherwise inert. The verb "to animate" being a derivative of the Latin animus, meaning spirit. I did my best.

I am doing my JP on this passage. Here is my schedule of faculty meetings:

Here is the theme of my JP:
Even though Medea is separated from the Korinthiai gunaikes in almost every possible way (she is a foreigner, alone, an individual facing their collective, the granddaughter of the Sun god) the fact that they are all gunaikas is a bond overriding all others.

Korinthiai gunaikes. Here is an internal metaphor for the passage. First, how are we different. They are Corinthian, she is Colchian. Broton, among mortals. She is continually using that word. They are mortals. Justice lies not in the eyes of mortals. Ouden edikemenos. Here is a phrase that drives me crazy. It can't be expressed in English. And granted there are things in English that cannot be expressed in Greek, but look. Edikemenos is the same tense as hostis ("whoever") in line 220. No one having been harmed, but it simultaneously means that hostis is not harmed. There's a double action going on here. Ouden has been harmed, but ouden is simultaneous with hostis. "It is necessary that foreigners very much approach the city" (222). This relates back to line 217: "those who live away from quiet feet." It is unacceptable for a foreigner to live outside the collective polis, to render him or herself inaccessible to them. It is only those within the collective who may distance themselves from it without damage. Aha. And here it is. The crucial sentence. "Neither would I praise some [townsperson] who being [presumptuous] was offensive to the citizens by ill-manners." I am not Corinthian, I am not a mortal, I am reserved and I do not associate with others, I am a part of this society. I am in sympathy with the mores of your culture. Bang-o.

And then here comes the gunaikes. The Medea is a crackup to read. Because all the adjectives mean "wretched" and all the verbs mean "seduce, ruin, corrupt, kill, destroy."

My favorite verb is diaphtheiro.

Surprisingly, it means seduce, ruin, corrupt, kill, destroy