Nonetheless, I expect the present volume to become a standard textbook and an obvious starting point for any students of the Medea figure.A brief survey of the twelve essays will demonstrate the scope and the quality of this project.As James Clauss reminds us in the preface, this excellent collection of twelve essays on Medea grew out of a panel organized by Sarah Johnston for the 1991 meeting of the American Philological Association in Chicago.
With foundations in antiquity centering primarily on male founders, the traditional roles for heroines in myth include "that of the eponymous nymph, who brings to life the metaphor of woman-as-landscape" (72), "that of the dynastic heroine, mother of a founder or of a line of local rulers" (73), and that of "the missing girl ... Often foundations are associated with a mother's heroic child, leaving little more than a footnote for heroines.
Although some foundation stories portray Medea in these traditional roles, other appearances "form a striking exception when seen against this backdrop....
"[S]he is a foreigner, who lives outside of the known world or comes to a city from outside; each time she enters a city where she dwells, she comes from a distant place, and when she leaves the city, she again goes to a distant place" (38).
Medea's representation as the other corresponds with Johnston's introductory remarks that, as "a geographical and cultural stranger ...
This collection of essays on Medea displays an amazing coherence for an endeavor of this kind, and paints a very coherent and complex picture of an influential mythological figure.
Most authors in this collection also make illuminating cross-references to the essays of their fellow contributors.
The fourth and final part, "Beyond the Euripidean Stage," features the influence of Euripides' Medea on ancient vase painting and the modern stage.
The editors should also be commended for compiling a very useful and extensive bibliography of almost all works cited in the papers, an index locorum, and a general index.
As with any well researched project on a literary theme, scholars as well as students ought to be very pleased with a most up-to-date publication such as this 1997 work.
My only point of criticism would be to note that a project taking such a comprehensive approach should be familiar with the work of Jacques Lacan, and that it would have been helpful if the editors had included a psychoanalytic investigation of Medea's passion.