The Medea
Audio Extracts from the Play
by Anthony Bowen & James Diggle

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As part of the rehearsal procedure, the cast's pronunciation of the ancient Greek must be perfected. To help with this, a rough guide has been recorded by experts Anthony Bowen and James Diggle. Some extracts from this guide are reproduced here. Note that these recordings are not intended to be entirely authoritative, as they are necessarily recorded under time pressure.

All material below is copyright © University of Cambridge 2007 and is distributed for educational use only. Redistribution is prohibited. Recorded in Cambridge on 17th April 2007 by Andrew Pontzen.

Lines 96 – 213 (Parodos)

The first appearance of Medea in the play; she is heard bewailing her fate from inside the palace at the beginning of the scene, giving the already anxious Nurse even greater cause for concern. Medea and the nurse use anapaestic metre (basic rhythm 'di-di-dum di-di-dum') interspersed with cries of anguish or pain. The chorus of Corinthian women enter, alerted by Medea's cries. The metre of the chorus varies between anapaests and dactyls and more complex lyrical metres. Much of this scene is intended to be sung, rather than spoken.

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Lines 364 – 409 (from 1st Episode)

Medea has just won a day's reprieve from Kreon. After his departure, she considers her revenge in this soliloquy. The metre is throughout iambic trimeter (basic rhythm di-dum di-dum) the most common spoken verse-form in tragedy.

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Lines 1002 – 1080 (5th Episode)

Medea's children are brought in to see her at the beginning of this scene. She is greatly moved by their presence but, after some debate with herself, sticks to her resolve. The iambic trimeter lines are interrupted at three occasions by cries of grief and pain.

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Lines 1251 – 1292 (6th Chorus)

The chorus, in extreme agitation, addresses the gods and try to come to terms with what is happening, as the cries of Medea's children are heard within. The chorus' lyrics (intended to be sung) feature heavy use of dochmiacs (rhythm 'di-dum-dum di-dum') which are generally reserved in tragedy for passages of emotional excitement. The children speak their lines and use the iambic trimeter.

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