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D. Stuttard (ed.), Looking at Medea: Essays and a translation of Euripides’ tragedy

London and New York: Bloomsbury, 2014
Emeline Jouve
p. 203-204
Bibliographical reference

Review of D. Stuttard (ed.), Looking at Medea: Essays and a translation of Euripides’ tragedy, London and New York: Bloomsbury, 2014, 219 p.

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1"Euripides’ Medea is one of the most often read, studied and performed of all Greek tragedies": such an introduction of the great Greek classics by Bloomsbury, the publisher of Looking at Medea. Essays and a translation of Euripides’ tragedy raises great expectations. Is it possible, in 2014, to offer new significant insights into Euripides’ most discussed play? Founder of the theatre company Actors of Dionysus, editor or author of several books on Ancient Greek drama and translator, David Stuttard, and the twelve contributors to the collection do meet the challenge to provide their readers with compelling and original outlooks about the theatrical, historical and political qualities of the work. Both scholarly and didactic, Looking at Medea. Essays and a translation of Euripides’ tragedy reads as a companion to the play, that is a work which not only opens new horizons to Greek theatre specialists but which also guides non-specialists and students into the play. If Stuttard’s collection is an insightful contribution for academics, it is also likely to appeal to theatre practitioners who will appreciate the editor’s slightly revised translation of his 1996 version of Medea. Informed by David Stuttard’s theoretical expertise and his experience of the stage, the text is faithful to the original script whose oral texture is powerfully rendered into English.

2With his foreword and then his introduction, "Medea in Context," David Stuttard stresses the importance of the context to understand the issues at stake in Euripides’ text. The editor’s opening paper immerses the reader into the world of Greek drama before focusing on Euripides’ tragedy. This general introduction works as a threshold into the essays which follow and which deal with specific aspects of Medea. In "Murder in the Family—Medea and others," Former Professor of Classical Literature at the University of Oxford, Jasper Griffin, first looks at the myth of the murderess Medea and its literary avatars. Carmel McCallum-Barry, Lecturer in Classics at University College, Cork, follows in Professor Griffin’s footsteps and also offers a diachronic overview of the stories on Jason’s wife in her paper "Medea Before and (a little) After Euripides." Ioanna Karamanou, Assistant Professor in Greek Drama at the University of the Peloponnese, explores the notions of exile and otherness in Euripides’ tetralogy and investigates not only Medea but also the plays Philoctetes, Dictys and Theristae in "Otherness and Exile: Euripides’ Production of 431 BC." "Staging Medea" by Rosie Wyles, Lecturer in Greek language and Literature at King’s College, London, is a study of the staging of Euripides’ play "in the context of the other productions which (to use Marvin Carlon’s image) ‘haunted’ the Athenian stage and informed the audience’s interpretation of the performance" (Stuttard 47). In "The Nurse’s Tale," Ian Ruffen, Lecturer in Classics at the University of Glasgow, considers the audience’s interpretation and how it is shaped by focusing on the figure of the nurse. Moving from the female to the male realm, James Morwood, Emeritus Fellow of Wadham Colloge, Oxford, focuses on Jason and, in "Re-evaluating Jason," challenges Professor Judith Mossman’s views on the hero. "The Final Scene" by Richard Rutherford, Tutor in Greek and Latin Literature at Christ Church, Oxford, is a close analysis of what he calls Euripides’ "weirdly unorthodox ending" (Stuttard 97). "‘It Wouldn’t Happen Here … Could It? ‘"—Chorus and Collusion in Euripides’ Medea" is a study by Sophie Mills, Professor of Classics at the University of North Carolina, Asheville, of Medea’s speech to the chorus "on the unfair restriction regarding women" in relation to women’s place in historical fifth-century Athenian society (Stuttard 99). Hanna M. Roisman, Professor of Classics at Colby College, Maine, then centres on the theme of vengeance in "Medea’s Vengeance" and demonstrates to what extent Euripides’ tragedy "differs from most of the extant revenge plays" (Stuttard 112). In "Medea: Feminism or Misogyny?" Douglas Cairns, Professor of Classics at the University of Edinburgh, concentrates on the dramatization of marriages and the political outreach of this theme in the play. Adopting a political and religious approach, Edith Hall, Professor of Classics at King’s College, London then shifts the focus on the dramatization of the "Divine and Human in Euripides’s Medea" as the title of her chapter indicates. Eventually, in "Black Medeas," Bettine Van Zyl Smit, Associate Professor of Classics at the University of Nottingham, analyses 20th century staging’s which addressed the issue of race by depicting a black female protagonist.

3The participation of leading academics from Europe and the United States makes of Looking at Medea. Essays and a translation of Euripides’ Tragedy an influential international contribution to the study of Classics Literature. With his collection of essays and his beautiful and faithful translation, David Stuttard not only gently guides non-specialist readers into Euripides’ tragic play but also opens new perspectives to specialists of the field. The editor has thus faced the challenge to offer fresh original insights into one "of the most often read, studied and performed of all Greek tragedies."

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Bibliographical reference

Emeline Jouve, D. Stuttard (ed.), Looking at Medea: Essays and a translation of Euripides’ tragedyCaliban, 53 | 2015, 203-204.

Electronic reference

Emeline Jouve, D. Stuttard (ed.), Looking at Medea: Essays and a translation of Euripides’ tragedyCaliban [Online], 53 | 2015, Online since 24 August 2015, connection on 30 March 2023. URL:; DOI:

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About the author

Emeline Jouve

Université Champollion, Albi

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