Tragedy, Euripides, Melodrama: Hamartia, Medea, Liminality

Brian G. Caraher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines socio-historical dimensions and cultural and dramaturgic implications of the Greek playwright Euripides’ treatment of the myth of Medea. Euripides gives voice to victims of adventurism, aggression and betrayal in the name of ‘reason’ and the ‘state’ or ‘polity.’ Medea constitutes one of the most powerful mythic forces to which he gave such voice by melodramatizing the disturbing liminality of Greek tragedy’s perceived social and cultural order. The social polity is confronted by an apocalyptic shock to its order and its available modes of emotional, rational and social interpretation. Euripidean melodramas of horror dramatize the violation of rational categories and precipitate an abject liminality of the tragic vision of rational order. The dramaturgy of Euripides’ Medea is contrasted with the norms of Greek tragedy and examined in comparison with other adaptations — both ancient and contemporary — of the myth of Medea, in order to unfold the play’s transgression of a tragic vision of the social polity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-171
Number of pages29
JournalAmaltea: Journal of Myth Criticism
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013


  • Dramaturgy
  • Euripides
  • liminality
  • Medea
  • melodrama
  • preternatural powers
  • social polity
  • tragedy


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