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Phedre hippolyte 1678 title page.JPG
Title page from the first edition of Phèdre et Hippolyte
Written by Pierre Corneille
Characters Médée
Créon (king of Corinth)
Setting Corinth

Médée is a dramatic tragedy in five acts written in alexandrine verse by Pierre Corneille in 1635.


The heroine of the play is the sorceress Médée. After Médée gives Jason twin boys, Jason leaves her for Creusa. Médée exacts her revenge on her husband by burning his new spouse and slitting the throats of her two children. The final act of the play ends with Médée's escape in a chariot pulled by two dragons. Jason's suicide is implied.

Médée (1635) in Pierre Corneille's career[edit]

Médée was Corneille's first tragedy. This tragedy was performed for the first time in 1635 by the Marais troupe, the rival of the hôtel de Bourgogne. During its installation at the Théâtre du Marais, the play's reception was lukewarm. Furthermore, the performances of Médée followed Corneille's expulsion from the prestigious group of five authors. The playwright no longer had the protection of Richelieu, who, resentful, greeted Corneille's first tragedy with disapproval. Médée was published in 1639, four years after it was first performed.

Seneca : both example and source of inspiration for Corneille[edit]

Corneille, inspired by the play by Seneca and by the play by Euripides, also brought numerous personal modifications to his interpretations.