Lying Poets, Omitted Facts: More Alternative-Fact Medea

The Tragic Poets Omitted A Lot: Diodorus Siculus, 4.56

“On the whole, thanks to the tragedians’ eagerness for an embellished and different tale about Medeia to circulate, and since some wanted to ingratiate themselves with the Athenians, they claim that she took the son she had with Aigeus, Mêdos, to Kolkhos for safety. At the same time, Aietes—who had been violently expelled from power by his brother Perses—had repossessed his kingdom and Mêdos, Medeia’s son, killed Perses. Following this, once he gained control of a force, Mêdos attacked much of Asia below the Black Sea and came to dominate the region of Mêdia, named for him. But since we think it is unneeded and would take a long time to report all the stories people tell about Medeia, we will add the tales that were left out of the accounts of the Argonauts.”

Καθόλου δὲ διὰ τὴν τῶν τραγῳδῶν τερατείαν ποικίλη τις καὶ διάφορος ἱστορία περὶ Μηδείας ἐξενήνεκται, καί τινες χαρίζεσθαι βουλόμενοι τοῖς Ἀθηναίοις φασὶν αὐτὴν ἀναλαβοῦσαν τὸν ἐξ Αἰγέως Μῆδον εἰς Κόλχους διασωθῆναι· κατὰ δὲ τοῦτον τὸν χρόνον Αἰήτην ἐκ τῆς βασιλείας ὑπὸ τἀδελφοῦ Πέρσου βιαίως ἐκπεπτωκότα τὴν ἀρχὴν ἀνακτήσασθαι, Μήδου τοῦ Μηδείας ἀνελόντος τὸν Πέρσην· μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα δυνάμεως ἐγκρατῆ γενόμενον τὸν Μῆδον πολλὴν ἐπελθεῖν τῆς ὑπὲρ τὸν Πόντον Ἀσίας, καὶ κατασχεῖν τὴν ἀπ᾿ ἐκείνου Μηδίαν προσαγορευθεῖσαν. ἀλλὰ γὰρ τὸ πάσας τὰς ἀποφάσεις τῶν περὶ τῆς Μηδείας μυθολογησάντων ἀναγράφειν οὐκ ἀναγκαῖον ἄμα καὶ μακρὸν εἶναι κρίνοντες τὰ καταλειπόμενα τῆς περὶ τῶν Ἀργοναυτῶν ἱστορίας προσθήσομεν.


A Big Misunderstanding, Aristotle, Rhetoric 400b

“Another motif is to use something from mistakes made either to make an accusation or a defense. For example, in the Medeia of Karkinos, some accuse Medeia of killing her children because they had disappeared, at any rate. For Medeia made the mistake of sending her children away

Ἄλλος τόπος τὸ ἐκ τῶν ἁμαρτηθέντων κατηγορεῖν ἢ ἀπολογεῖσθαι, οἷον ἐν τῇ Καρκίνου Μηδείᾳ οἱ μὲν κατηγοροῦσιν ὅτι τοὺς παῖδας ἀπέκτεινεν, οὐ φαίνεσθαι γοῦν αὐτούς· ἥμαρτε γὰρ ἡ Μήδεια περὶ τὴν ἀποστολὴν τῶν παίδων.

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Corinthians Are Liars: Aelian ,Varia Historia 5.21

“One story alleges that the account about Medeia is false.  For it says that she didn’t kill her children but that the Korinthians did. They report that the tale about the woman from Kolkhis and the drama were created by Euripides at the behest of the Korinthians and that the falsehood supplanted the truth thanks to the poet’s skill. They also claim that even to this day the Korinthians perform rites for the children because of their crime just as if they were fulfilling a debt owed to them.”


Λέγει τις λόγος τὴν φήμην τὴν κατὰ τῆς Μηδείας ψευδῆ εἶναι· μὴ γὰρ αὐτὴν ἀποκτεῖναι τὰ τέκνα ἀλλὰ Κορινθίους. τὸ δὲ μυθολόγημα τοῦτο ὑπὲρ τῆς Κολχίδος καὶ τὸ δρᾶμα Εὐριπίδην φασὶ διαπλάσαι δεηθέντων Κορινθίων, καὶ ἐπικρατῆσαι τοῦ ἀληθοῦς τὸ ψεῦδος διὰ τὴν τοῦ ποιητοῦ ἀρετήν. ὑπὲρ δὲ τοῦ τολμήματός φασι τῶν παίδων μέχρι τοῦ νῦν ἐναγίζουσι τοῖς παισὶ Κορίνθιοι, οἱονεὶ δασμὸν τούτοις ἀποδιδόντες.

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