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Medea; don’t believe the hype.

Medea Origin: 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. Don’t believe the hype; powerful women are often slandered in history as sluts and murderesses…. that’s likely the case here too.

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.

Animals: Snake, dragon

Planetary object: Medea is the name of a large asteroid.

Offerings: Georgian wine, flowers, herbs, perfume, incense, images of snakes