“Her father, Creon, decides he will lie by her side…”

As promised, the other Medea horror.

In this version, my student makes King Creon out to be just about as selfless as Milton’s Adam, who accepts the apple from Eve and takes a bite so that whatever her fate may be, he will share it.

Creon really isn’t that kind of guy. He bosses Medea around and is quick to exile her, has no problem marrying his daughter to someone who’s already married, and is, like Creon of Thebes, full of himself. Euripedes certainly didn’t make him self-sacrificing or suffused with paternal love for Glauce.

But my student does:

“Her father, Creon, decides he will lie by her side and soak in the poison as well.”

My student conjures up a puddle of poison for Glauce to lie in (has it dripped down from gown and crown?), and then brings in Creon and stretches him out to share the bath—or to help her sop it up. Will he SOAK in the poison, or soak IN the poison? I’m not sure it matters much, except maybe to Creon. Can’t you just see him there, deciding to lie by her side? What alternatives does he consider before making his choice? “What shall I do, what shall I do?” he dithers; then, finally, “Ah! I will lie down and soak in the poison.” And is it sympathy that drives him, or jealousy? (“Why should she get all the attention?”)

In actuality, Creon does run to his screaming daughter and embrace her. But his intention is NOT to have his own flesh burned off upon contact with her poison-coated skin. Maybe he thinks he can save her; maybe he just wants to rock her and murmur “There, there.” But he doesn’t know that that one loving impulse is going to doom him to a horrible death. Ah well. Fate, the gods, and all that.

I’ve never liked either Creon much, and that may be why I don’t see the scene with the sympathy my student brings to it (or at least seems to bring to it).

I just wonder if Medea knew her poison would destroy so many of her enemies. She may be something of a monster, but to me she’s the aggrieved party, and a lot more sympathetic than any of those spoiled, self-centered Corinthians. I’m with her: “Let the whole house crash.”

Ah, excuse this bitter tone! It’s the middle of Finals!

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

4 responses to ““Her father, Creon, decides he will lie by her side…”

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