chapter  1
Medea and the Mind of the Murderer
ByEdith Hall
Pages 9

Relative to some other domestic crimes, the sociological and psychoanalytical bibliography on maternal filicide is small, reflecting the horror it arouses. However, the data, such as it is, paints a consistent picture and one which is startlingly similar to the image of the child-killing mother painted by Euripides in his tragedy Medea. Medea has even come to represent a symbol of resistance for women serving prison sentences for many more crimes than she ever herself committed. In the history of adaptations, from ancient Greece to the third millennium, the ambiguity inherent in the original Medea of Euripides has prompted numerous responses to Medea's criminal culpability or lack of it. If Medea were a classical Athenian male who could prove that she had murdered her spouse's lover at the moment their affair was discovered, then she would have been acquitted at least of that crime.