Myten om flyktningmoren – medeia fra Euripides til Stridsberg


  • Christine Hamm


Medea, flyktning, mor, Euripides, Wolf, Stridsberg


The classical myth of Medea, a migrant and mother who kills her children after having been left by her husband, is one of the most challenging stories in literary history. Over 2500 years, the myth has travelled from southern Europe to the north and inspired many writers. This contribution focuses on three versions: the original Greek tragedy by Euripides (431 B.C.E.), Christa Wolf's German novel Medea: Stimmen (1996) and Sara Stridsberg's Swedish play Medealand (2011). What are the similarities and differences in these versions? What role do formal devices play in interpreting the myth? In Euripides' play, Medea is betrayed, desperate and cruel. She kills her sons because she wants revenge, a motive which is commented on by other female actors and the chorus in the play. Christa Wolf depicts Medea as a strong and loyal character, but as such she is perceived as a threat to patriarchal society. When her sons are killed, the murder is blamed on her. Readers of Wolf's novel learn this through the use of formal devices such as interior monologues. In the latest text on the myth, produced by Stridsberg, Medea kills her sons as the result of a psychic breakdown. Finding herself in the situation of a refugee with no rights and in a country where she has nobody to talk to or ask for help, she feels she has no other choice. Her situation is explicitly commented on by other characters in the play, which is due to the dramatic text's epic structure.