In the final antistrophe of the last stasimon in Euripides’ Medea (1282-92) the chorus offers its best historical comparison to Medea: the doomed mother Ino. Some scholars argue that this comparison is ineffective – that Ino serves as a poor exemplum for Medea. In the most common version of the myth, Athamas, Ino’s husband, is driven mad by Hera and shoots their son Learchus with an arrow. Ino, attempting to save their other son Melicertes from the same fate, takes him and jumps into the sea. Both are deified and become Leucothea and Palaemon, respectively. Mastronarde suggests that premeditated filicides such as those of Procne and Althaea would provide better exempla for Medea, and Boedeker even suggests the goddess Hera as a comparison. In this presentation I will seek to prove that the reference to Ino is more significant and draws parallels that can be understood by looking beyond the plots of the myths of both Ino and Medea to their historical ramifications: how they were connected both before and after Euripides wrote his Medea. Looking at both geographical and familial connections noted by ancient sources such as Pausanias, we see the full scope of the function of the Ino myth as an exemplum. Ultimately, the use of Ino provides both comparison and contrast to Medea’s situation, as well as the elements of history and family ties dating all the way back to the voyage of the Argo.
Emily Vinci, ’10 Council Bluffs, IA
Majors: Classical Studies, English
Sponsor: John Gruber-Miller