Medea is in Greek mythology the “Wise One,” a powerful witch who was the niece of the great witch Circe and a priestess of Hecate, the Goddess of witchcraft and Magic. Herodotus called medea the Great Goddess of the Aryan tribes of Parthia. Her magic, according to Pliny, controlled the Sun, moon and stars.
Medea aided Jason, the adventurer who set out to get the Golden Fleece in order to win a kingdom in Greece that was rightfully his but had been taken over by Pelias. The Golden Fleece was possessed by the king of Colchis in Asia minor. medea was his daughter. When Jason and his band of Argonauts appeared, medea fell madly in love with Jason and helped him win the Golden Fleece.
Medea’s father set what he thought was an impossible task for Jason: he could have the fleece if he yoked two bulls with bronze hooves and flaming breath, plowed a field and sowed it with dragon’s teeth. The teeth would spring immediately into an army of fierce warriors, all of whom had to be slain.
Medea prepared a magic oIntment that made Jason and his men invulnerable for a day. The task was accomplished. Then medea bewitched the serpent who guarded the Golden Fleece, and she and Jason stole it and, with the Argonauts, fled to Greece. To delay the pursuit of her father, Medea cut the throat of her brother and scattered pieces of his dismembered corpse after them. Jason promised to marry her.
In Greece, they discovered that Pelias had forced Jason’s father to kill himself, and Jason’s mother had died of grief. Once again, Jason turned to medea for witchcraft so that he could have revenge. medea Demonstrated her magical powers of rejuvenation by cutting up an old ram and boiling it while she recited incantations. A young lamb sprang up out of the CAuldron. medea convinced Pelias’ daughters to cut him up so that she could make him young again. This they did, but she vanished without saying the necessary magic words.
Jason and Medea were forced to go to Corinth in exile, where they had two sons. Then Jason fell in love with the daughter of the king of Corinth and married her. Betrayed and enraged, medea gave the princess a gift of a poisoned robe, and the girl burst into flames as soon as she put it on. medea killed her two sons and escaped in a dragon-drawn chariot. medea was made immortal by Hera, and in Elysium, the afterworld of heroes, she became the wife of Achilles.
Georgia by the Black Sea
In the epic myth of Jason and the Argonauts, Jason is presented as the hero who stole the Golden Fleece. Really Medea accomplished the task. She orchestrates their escape from Colchis with the fleece, too. If anyone is a hero in that story, it’s Medea and yet she’s more famous as a notorious villain, a mother accused of killing her sons, possibly to protect them but possibly to spite their father.
Greek mythology presents Medea as an enchantress, witch, priestess, and shaman. She is Circe’s niece and Hekate’s chief priestess. Medea is not Greek. She was a Georgian princess from Colchis, a place the Greeks then associated with the ends of the Earth. Her associations with witchcraft and herbalism were perceived as threatening, frightening and foreign.
Eventually, according to myth, Jason rejected Medea in favor of a proper Greek princess, Glauce of Corinth. This action is allegedly what stimulated Meda to murder her sons. Depending on the version of the myth, Medea either killed herself too, or she escaped in a chariot pulled by dragons, sent by Hekate or Hera.
Medea may be a villain elsewhere, but she is a goddess in Georgia, where people scoff at the notion that she would kill her children. One legend suggests that the boys escaped with Medea. Another says that she didn’t kill them—they were killed by Corinthians who perceived them as a threat to Jason’s future Greek children.
• Medea and her sons were venerated in Georgia.
• Her two young boys were venerated in Corinth but possibly as propitiation so that they wouldn’t harm their murderers.
Medea is a goddess of magic, witchcraft, and fertility. She is a healing goddess. In the legend of Jason and the Argonauts, Medea presides over the huge healing garden attached to the temple of Hekate. She may be a deified priestess. Medea comes from a family of deities including Circe, Helios, Pasiphae, and Hekate. Why shouldn’t she be a goddess, too?
• Italian myth suggests that when Medea fled Greece, she traveled to Italy where she became Angitia.
• Because Medea was the only mortal to effectively refuse Zeus’ advances, Hera honored her with immortality.
• Medea may be married to Achilles in the afterlife.
• Medea’s myth is preserved in Euripides’ play Medea, first produced in 431 BCE. Opera diva Maria Callas plays Medea in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 1969 film, Medea. She is also the subject of several operas.
• Medea is a maligned heroine in German author Christa Wolf’s 1998 novel, Medea.
Planetary object: Medea is the name of a large asteroid.
Georgian wine, flowers, herbs, perfume, incense, images of snakes
Achilles; Angitia; Circe; Helios; Hekate; Hera; Pasiphae; Zeus
Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.
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