MEDEA by Miranda Seymour


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The priestess/sorceress/murderess who spirited the Golden Fleece away for Jason now tells it like it was--in another of Seymour's fearless, True-Confession-style jogs through the Greek-Myth jungle of symbolism, ancient theological warfare, and tail-tale history. Like Seymour's Helen (The Goddess, 1979), Medea starts out as a feisty but innocent teenager who'd like to use her healing/harming ""powers""--charming snakes and entering interesting states of consciousness--for good. But her father, King Aetes, whose prime sport is roasting traders, lures Medea into becoming a priestess for Death-goddess Hecate. So off she goes for training on the island of sorceress Aunt Circe, ""a plump bare-footed lady in a large straw hat and not too clean linen robe"". . . who is really Medea's mother. Back home again in Colchis, Medea is a Hecate-hit, even routing invading Scythians with an army of black snakes. Then, however: Jason of Iolcus, handsome and ruthless, arrives on his mission impossible--to acquire Colchis' sacred Golden Fleece. And Medea falls in love, helping Jason to escape the roaster and win a dragon's tooth shell-game, then fleeing with him, the Fleece, and Aetes' infant son. Along the way Medea will carve up the child to halt Aetes; the pair will be married by Circe in her exotic island digs (""She's a little of an embarrassment as a mother""); in Iolus, Medea kills Jason's usurping uncle for him, but they're banished anyway--so it's off to Corinth, where Jason is encouraged to marry the king's daughter. Finally, then, Medea will fry the rival bride to death in a hand-loomed wedding gown, lose her two children (in this version) by mob stoning, flee to Athens to marry King Aegeus, and at last returns to Colchis to put her weak son Medus on the throne--who banishes her to death. A grandly grisly old yarn--which doesn't lose its grip even in Seymour's curious, anachronistic idiom.

Pub Date: May 3rd, 1982
Publisher: St. Martin's