|Medea, the curse of Pelias 1, is the
princess, priestess, and witch, whom Jason brought to Hellas on his
return from Colchis.
Medea has been called daughter of Hecate; for she served this goddess as
her priestess, but otherwise her mother is said to be Idyia, one of the
Her father Aeetes, who had been king of Ephyraea (Corinth) before he
emigrated to Colchis, was brother of Pasiphae, the wife of King Minos 2
of Crete, and of the witch Circe. And while the latter lived in the
island of Aeaea in the Mediterranean, Aeetes ruled in the city of Aea in
Medea meets her destiny
The young princess met her destiny when the ARGONAUTS, searching for the
Golden Fleece, came to Aea; for then she fell in love with their
Now Jason had his own plan, which was to obtain the Golden Fleece; but,
as a matter of fact, the gods had their own, and this was to let him
bring Medea to Hellas so that she would become the curse of King Pelias
1 of Iolcus, the same man who sent Jason in his quest. For this king had
outraged Hera by killing a woman who had sought refuge at the goddess'
This is why Medea, on seeing Jason, was pierced by Love; and he in turn
was tempted by the invaluable help that the princess, putting her magic
powers and her courage at his service, was willing to provide. And in
exchange for them, he promised Medea to take her to Hellas and there
marry her and never dishonour her for want of kinsmen.
Medea helps her lover
From then on there was nothing that she would not do for the sake of the
handsome stranger, so that he, escaping all dangers and performing great
deeds, would become mighty and famous. Therefore, she betrayed her
country and her father, helping Jason to cope with the brazen-footed
bulls and the sown men, and leading him to the Golden Fleece, which was
guarded by a sleepless dragon, whom she lulled to sleep by art and
And when they left Colchis pursued by the fleet of Aeetes, she murdered
her own brother Apsyrtus, and having cut him limb from limb, cast the
pieces into the sea, so that Aeetes, gathering Apsyrtus' limbs, would
fall behind in the pursuit. And if she did not perform this terrible
deed, as others say, she nevertheless helped her lover to get rid of
Apsyrtus, sending him to the next world in one way or another. For there
are those who say that it was Jason who cut him into pieces, or even
that Apsyrtus was, with Medea's help, treacherously killed by Jason on
an island in the mouth of the river Ister (the Danube).
And when they came to Crete, she destroyed the warder of the island,
Talos 1, an invulnerable man of bronze, by drawing out a nail, so that
all the ichor [divine blood] gushed out and he died. Others say that she
first drove him mad with the aid of drugs, or else that she promised him
to make him immortal. Yet others assert that Philoctetes' father Poeas
shot him dead in the ankle.
The Colchians came after the ARGONAUTS and, among them, also King Styrus
of Albania, who at the time had come to Colchis to marry Medea. He
drowned during the pursuit, but the rest caught them up when they came
to Phaeacia (Corcyra), where King Alcinous received the fugitives and
protected them. When the Colchians demanded of Alcinous to give her up,
he answered that if she already knew Jason, he would give her to him,
but that if she were still a maid he would send her away to her father.
It was then that his wife, Queen Arete, anticipating matters, married
Medea to Jason in the cave of Macris, causing the Colchians to give up
Death of Pelias 1
On their retur to Hellas, Medea went to the palace of Pelias 1 and
persuaded his daughters to make mincemeat of their father and boil him,
promising to make him young again by her drugs. The naive daughters of
Pelias 1 did as the witch instructed, but since then no one heard
anything about Pelias 1, whose daughters, some say, emigrated to
Arcadia. One of them, Alcestis, was later married to Admetus 1, king of
Pherae in Thessaly.
On Pelias 1's death, his son Acastus, who succeeded his father as king
of Iolcus, expelled both Jason and Medea from the city.
Some say that Medea was indeed able to restore youth, and that she gave
Aeson, Jason's father, his youth back. But what he did with his regained
youth is unknown.
Jason changes his mind
Having been expelled from Iolcus, Jason and Medea settled in Corinth,
where they are said to have lived happily for ten years. But then Jason,
having grown weary of being married to a foreign sorceress, felt ready
for a younger and more representative wife.
New marriage leads to tragedy
He found her in Glauce 4, daughter of King Creon 3 of Corinth. But this
sort of humilitation and betrayal was more than Medea could bear, and
consequently she prevented the new marriage by causing the death of both
princess and king in one of the following ways:
Death of Jason's bride
Pretending that she had accepted her husband's decision, Medea sent to
Glauce 4, as a wedding present, a bridal robe steeped in poison, and
when the girl put it on, she caught fire. Creon 3 then, tried to rescued
his daughter, but died in the attempt.
Others say that the king fell upon her daughter's corpse and could not
separate from her, as his flesh was torn from his bones when he tried to
rise. And still others say that Glauce 4 died when she threw herself
into a well in the belief that its water would be a remedy against
It has also been told that when Medea saw that she, who had been Jason's
benefactress, was treated with scorn, with the help of poisonous drugs,
made a golden crown, and bade her sons give it as a gift to their
stepmother, who, having taken the gift, was burned to death along with
Jason and Creon 3.
Apparently, the whole palace was on fire, when these events took place.
Death of Jason and his children
But concerning the death of Jason it is also told that Medea foretold
that the wreckage of the Argo would fall upon Jason and kill him. And
others say that Jason killed himself, being unable to endure the loss of
both wife and children.
For on leaving Corinth after the murder of Creon 3 and Glauce 4, Medea
also killed her sons with Jason, Mermerus 1 and Pheres 2, being very
well remembered for this horrible murder too. But others have said that
her children were stoned to death by the Corinthians, having been
removed from the sancturay of Hera, where Medea, on her flight, had left
them for their protection.
Still others have said that Jason and Medea had a son and a daughter and
that these were Medeus and Eriopis 2.
Medea about to kill her children
Almost nothing of what has been told before is true
The relation of Medea to Corinth is sometimes described in a completely
Aeetes is said to have been king in the region of Corinth, and to have
left the kingdom to Bunus when he departed to Colchis. When Bunus died,
Epopeus 1 extended his own kingdom to include Corinth, and one of his
successors, Corinthus (after whom the land is named), became king. Upon
the death of Corinthus, they say, the Corinthians sent for Medea. It is
through her, they assert, that Jason was king in Corinth (for they do
not mention Creon 3).
The reason of their dispute, they say, was that Medea carried her
children to the sanctuary of Hera, where she concealed them, believing
this was the proper method to make them immortal. She realized that this
procedure did not work by the time Jason detected her, and he, unable to
forgive these manipulations, sailed away to Iolcus. For these reasons
Medea too departed, and handed over the kingdom to Sisyphus.
Medea in Athens and return to Colchis
Aegeus 1 weds Medea
In any case, Medea left Corinth and came to Athens, as some say, borne
by a chariot with winged dragons, the offspring of the TITANS's blood,
yoked to it. In this city, she was received by King Aegeus 1, who
protected her well, since in vain Hippotes 3, son of the Corinthian
king, claimed from the Athenians the person of Medea on account of her
murdering his father. Aegeus 1 married Medea and had a child by her,
himself ignoring that he already was the father of another child.
Medea lived peacefully in Athens until the arrival of Theseus, against
whom she plotted, fearing, with good reasons, that the newcomer, instead
of her own son by Aegeus 1, would inherit the throne. As the king
ignored that Theseus was his son, conceived years ago when he visited
Troezen, Medea could, at first, persuade her husband that this was a
dangerous young man. Aegeus 1 tried then to get rid of the stranger by
sending him against the Marathonian bull, which Theseus, however, either
mastered or killed. In face of this failure, Medea induced Aegeus 1 to
poison his son, but just before drinking, Theseus happened to show his
sword to Aegeus 1, and the latter, recognizing the weapon he had once
left in Troezen, prevented him from drinking by dashing the cup from his
This is how father and son knew who they were, and this was also the end
of Medea's sojourn in Hellas.
In her way back to Colchis
Some say that she returned to Colchis, and on her way she came to
Absoros where her brother Apsyrtus was buried, and that the people of
Absoros could not cope with the large amount of serpents that were all
around the place. So Medea gathered them up and put them in her
brother's tomb, where they still remain.
Death seems to follow her wherever she goes
On her return to Colchis, Medea found that King Aeetes had been deposed
by his brother Perses 3. To solve this inconvenience, she killed her
uncle and restored the kingdom to her father.
Intrigue in Caucasus
But some say that when her son Medus came to Colchis, he was put under
arrest by Perses 3, who had been warned by an oracle no to trust the
descendants of Aeetes. Realizing he was in his enemy's hands, and in
order to save his life, Medus said he was Hippotes 3, the son of the
Corinthian king Medea had murdered. So when Medea came back, pretending
she was a priestess of Artemis, she bade Perses 3 to deliver this
Hippotes 3, whom she thought had come to avenge his father, into her
hands so that she could kill her, but when he was delivered and she
discovered who this young man really was, she gave him a sword and Medus
killed Perses 3.
Famous names derived from these persons
It is said that the country Media was called after Medea's son Medus,
who is also called Medeus and considered to be the founder of Meda in
Ecbatana. They say that he died during a military campaign against the
Indians; but the death of Medea has never been reported. Some affirm,
however, that when she left Athens she came to the land called Aria, and
that she persuaded its inhabitants to be named after her Medes.