“The Flowing Acheron: Medea to Jason”

"...but you didn't expect me to know of the blessings that accompany filicide, did you, husband?"

I have long been fascinated by the story of Medea’s wrath against Jason. Growing up, I imagined Jason to be like all of those other Greek heroes: strong, independent, and, to crib a word coined by one of my students, “takeactionish.” But a full reading of the myths surrounding Jason, the Argonauts, and Medea reveals that this is not the case; in fact, Jason is an absolute, irredeemable jerk. He embarks on the quest for the Golden Fleece innocently enough, but by the time he gets to Colchis, we see that he is a depressive loser who can rarely overcome his problems by himself. So, he falls into a dark period where he frequently sighs and bemoans his inability to complete his quest, to which Aphrodite responds by commanding her son, Eros, cause the King of Colchis’ daughter, Medea, to fall helplessly in love with the “hero.” Thus, Jason is able to overthrow the kingdom of Colchis, steel the Golden Fleece, and return home.

But what of Medea? She is a pawn in this whole affair — Aphrodite orders Medea’s helpless love for Jason simply so the Boy from Iolcus can accomplish his quest and feel good about himself for a while. And that’s not the worst of it: Jason, Medea, and the Argonauts finally settle down back in Greece, Jason ditches Medea (who by this time has given him two sons, two boys to carry on his family name — a very honorable thing for an ancient Greek man) for a hot young Corinthian princess, so that when the Corinthian king dies, he can step into his shoes. Thus, Medea is left in the cold just so Jason can assume some power. This is why we can [almost] excuse Medea’s act of vengeance: in retribution for Jason’s abusement, she slaughters her two sons by him, and then slaughters his new wife, too, so that he will never be able to continue his line. There is no better way to emasculate a Greek man than to take away his heirs — doing so robs them of their “immortality.” Without a doubt, it’s a horrible act, an inexusable act, but a story that will continue to fascinate us through eternity.

The following is my homage to that fascination.

***

You thought you were such a man,
You with your demi-god crew,
Your magicially-prowed ship,
Your immortal safekeeping,
And your fantastical loot;
And I — blinded by my youth —
I thought you were such a man.
You entranced me heartlessly
With you tales of exotic
Locales, with your battle scars,
With what I thought was your
Invulnerability.
You let me trace your body
With my naive fingertips,
And I let you trace inside
My impressionable mind
With your penetrating words.
You convinced me that my home
Was a heathen’s den, that my
Father and brothers were men
To hate and murder, which I
Did; I helped you pillage my
Home, my ill-fated Colchis,
And I helped you rape us of
Our single prized possession,
Our most sacred Golden Fleece,
Which you needed, it turns out,
To claim the throne of your Greek
Home; I should have known then that
Your all-too-masculine mind
Was poisoned by politics;
But Aphrodite allowed
My youth to veil the harsh truth,
And I followed you, became
An Argonaut myself, and
Loved you like a battered wife
Loves her abusive husband.
I gave you two handsome sons,
Two heirs to your poisonous
Line; I gave you undying
Fealty (until I killed
It with these hands), I gave you
Everything that I had;
And yet you sailed to other
Waters anyway, away
From the seas of our marriage
Bed, towards Corinthian seas,
Just to strenghten your precious
Political partnerships.
You poisoned my soul, you set
Me against my heritage,
Against my sacred homeland;
You propagandized my mind
And taught me the blessings that
Accompany patricide
And fratricide and all those
Other “cides”; but you didn’t
Expect me to know of the
Blessings that accompany
Filicide, did you, husband?
But how could you not expect
This? How could you forsake me,
A known witch, grand-daughter of
The Sun, an expect to live
Happily ever after?
I guess your balls have marred your
Judgment, just like all of those
Greek heroes whose hubris led
To their effeminate deaths,
Penetrated by women,
Or at least younger Greek men
Who wielded spiteful axes.
I won’t kill you — no, I won’t
Commit mariticide; but
I will happily leave you
To bathe in the blood of your
Newly-stoppered heritage.
Step into the Acheron
That flows from your slaughtered sons,
O husband: the water’s fine.

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2 responses to ““The Flowing Acheron: Medea to Jason”

  1. I have the urge to slap Jason on the back of his head and tell him to stop acting like an idiot.

  2. Can I offer another view? – that the young green-shoot Jason, still wet behind the ears, was robbed of his rightful throne and thus departed from his homeland to take his gap-year or twenty and return a man: a man now virile and worldy-wise and very attractive to a humble Medea, who may have had ambitions beyond her station; or even just wanted to spring from her rabbit-hole life into adventure with her heart-throb? Of course long years at sea would germinate a child or two but on returning home to claim his crown, a rural wench would not be fitting for a king. Yes, usurped by yon princess, who wouldn’t shed a bitter tear or three? But to cast her sons into Hades arms? She would have fared better to enjoy her alimony and seek a lover of her own! Then all could have lived happily ever after. (Maybe she lacked a more ingenious thought).

    The poem is good.

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