“Medea is exiled from not only the land but from her motherhood and spousal hood.”

I used to really have a fit if I saw “not only” but didn’t see “but also” in the same sentence. I don’t think I’ve mellowed over the years; I think I’ve just decided to fight fewer battles.

And since I’m not going to fight that one here, I have to confess I have a certain delighted admiration for this writer.

She’s right that Medea is utterly alone (except of course for that grandfather who shows up in the Chariot of the Sun in the nick of time). To win Jason she stole from the gods and from her country (enabling him by her magic and foresight to win the Golden Fleece), outraged and humiliated her father (King of Colchis), slew and dismembered her brother, and tricked the daughters of Pelias into killing their father (they thought they were making him young again). So she really couldn’t “go home again” after settling down in Corinth with Jason and bearing two children. As Euripedes shows, she’s a misfit in Corinth: wrong religion, wrong language, wrong relatives, and alas, not nearly as pretty or useful to the ambitious Jason as Glauce, daughter of King Creon of Corinth. Eager to be rid of the encumbrance Medea represented, Jason went ahead and married Glauce and had Medea exiled (planning to keep the children, though). She had twenty-four hours to leave town, more or less.

Exiled, you see, from the land, from her motherhood, and from her…what is the word? I’m so proud that my student sought a noun for the sake of the series of things Medea was exiled from. And I don’t blame her (the writer) for being at a loss for the right noun, either. After all, Medea wasn’t quite exiled from her husband, since he had moved on and also since he hadn’t been very attentive even before he decided to change wives (except, I guess, for making the two kids). In the same way she wasn’t exiled from her spouse, or even from her marriage. But she was exiled from the state of being somebody’s wife. “Spousal hood” is pretty resourceful. “Spousehood” is listed as a word in several online dictionaries, but not in my print Webster’s; and it probably wasn’t in my student’s lexicon. She just did her best. I like “spousalhood” partly because it has the same dactyllic rhythm of “motherhood” and a fluidity of sound much more pleasant than the spondee-with-a-huh-in-the-middle of “spousehood.” I’m not sure why she let “hood” break off on its own, since it was perfectly well attached in “motherhood.” It does emphasize the coinage. I’m sure my student didn’t have headwear in mind.

I kind of wish that instead of “the land” she had written “her neighborhood.” Not only from the neighborhood but from her motherhood and spousalhood. Has a je ne sais quoi about it, no?

For those who don’t have time to reread Euripedes or the other variants on this story: Medea sent the two kids to Glauce to present her with gifts: a gown and a crown. Glauce couldn’t wait to put them on, and when she did, the poison smeared inside them burned her alive, as it did Creon, who had rushed to her side and got some poison on him. Meanwhile, the boys had returned home to Mater, who killed them like little sacrifices rather than have them endure the shame of complicity in Glauce’s death. And then, with the soldiers of Corinth approaching, Medea hopped into the flying chariot of Helios, her grandfather, and flew the Corinthian coop.

As for Jason, that rotter, when he wandered melancholy and alone down to the harbor to look upon his good ship Argos and reminisce about past happiness, a piece of the Argos broke off (the figurehead, maybe) and hit him on the head—an inglorious ending for a fickle user and would-be hero.

I’ve gone into this story because I have another amazing sentence about it, and I’ll be presenting that shortly.

Meanwhile, please do enjoy the invention of “spousal hood,” child of necessity.

Medea sends the children with gifts for Glauce. Glauce will not live to enjoy spousal hood!Source: http://www.medea.org/medea-sending-gifts-to-king-creons-daughter-glauce/

Medea sends the children with gifts for Glauce. Glauce will not live to enjoy spousal hood!
Source: http://www.medea.org/medea-sending-gifts-to-king-creons-daughter-glauce/

 

 

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About RAB

Teacher of English writing and literature (college-level); academic-freedom activist; editor and copy editor; theater director, costumer, actress, playwright. View all posts by RAB

6 responses to ““Medea is exiled from not only the land but from her motherhood and spousal hood.”

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