We watched Pasolini's Medea last night. What a bummer. She didn't get away on a chariot drawn by a dragon in this version. He tried to make it all plausible and you know what? It isn't plausible. And in a very real way murdering your brother and then chopping him up into little pieces with an axe in a very small, confined chariot when you're a post-weight-loss Maria Callas is just as unrealistic as enchanting your bigamous husband's new wife's wedding present to set her and her father on fire. Fucking Italians, man. They have such psychologically interesting ideas about plausibility.
But it was interesting to see it, because Medea is interesting, and Maria Callas was so compelling playing her. So much Greek mythology seems to be about taming the cthonic, the Big Feminine, the woman religious figures that went about ritually sacrificing men before the macho Hellenes flattened everything. You read a spot of Robert Graves and it's all about the Eternal Feminine getting its comeuppance in verse . . . and then there's Medea, this murderous juggernaut who just keeps going and going, and benefits from a few dei ex machini in tight spots. Did she end up populating Iran with Medes? Did she just go home eventually? Too many stories in circulation. But there are no stories in circulation about her being held accountable by other people for her 'barbarism'.
And then there's Euripedes's play. I don't read it as feminist - it was classical Greece, for fuck's sake, you might as well have been a goatist - but it's very hard not to see it as some sort of emotional outlet for the monumentally oppressed women watching it - a reminder, 'if you chose to be absolutely ruthless, this is what you have the massive and frightening power to do, and the reason your life is as unfair as it is, is that you are not ruthless, you don't have to subject yourself to the horror of the loss of your family, so really, everything is okay . . .'