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Models of Medea Myth’s Reception in Contemporary German Literature

Author: Cristina Grossu-Chiriac
Degree:doctor of philology
Speciality: 10.01.06 - World and Comparative Literature
Scientific adviser: Sergiu Pavlicenco
doctor habilitat, professor, Moldova State University
Scientific council:


The thesis was presented on the 15 March, 2007
Approved by NCAA on the 19 April, 2007


Adobe PDF document0.28 Mb / in romanian


CZU 821.112.2

Adobe PDF document 1.51 Mb / in romanian
188 pages


myth, Greek mythology, demythicization, euhemerismus, correction of the myth, variation, ancient model, actualizing model, fragmentary reception, thematology, feminism, matrifocal civilization, reception, reception models, subjective authenticity, bipolar thinking, xenophobia, East-West, scapegoat, collective violence, infanticide, rehabilitation, postmodernism


The present study investigates the interpretation of the ancient myths at the end of the 20th century – a theme of great topical interest for literary research – proceeding from the reception of Medea myth in German literature. It pursues, particularly, the identification of Medea myth and the evolution of its reception throughout the centuries – a myth having a high degree of attractiveness and, respectively, of up-to-dateness, which is still revalorized and interpreted anew in German-written literature. Accordingly, the work was conceived as a comparative view on the reception of Medea myth in German literature, since out of the European literatures, it happened to be open to Greek mythology most of all.

Firstly, there was paid much attention to the identification of this character, specifically of this myth, in the labyrinth of the ancient texts which approach it, the paper focusing, especially, on the pre-Euripidean versions of Medea myth, relevant for the understanding of some contemporary interpretations of the myth. Through the analysis of the old versions of the myth a new perspective on Medea myth in the famous Euripidean version was brought out. Secondly, approaching the reception of this complex myth in contemporary German literature, there was covered a gap existing in the Romanian investigation area which offers insufficient information about the evolution of this myth, about the works of Christa Wolf and nearly nothing about the German writers Dea Loher and Gerlind Reinshagen. Hence the priority was given to the most recent classifications of the models of myths’ reception in contemporary literature and the working out of a personal classification, partially inspired by M. Fuhrman’s theory. Chapters II and III of the thesis examine concrete recent examples of Medea myth reception in contemporary German literature of every model, in part.

In the last decades of the 20th century there was registered a strong tendency to rehabilitate Medea, which also became a standard figure of the feminist movement. The rehabilitation wave of Medea in German literature and, generally, in European literature, culminates with Christa Wolf’s Medea. Voices (1996), which succeeded “to correct” the Euripidean model, producing “the authentic” version of a myth, distorted and instrumentalized by the patriarchate. Rehabilitating this character from Greek mythology, Christa Wolf tackled the up-to-date problems of the unified Germany as well as of the European civilization in general, making actual again and discovering at the same time new aspects while approaching Medea myth such as the concern with intolerance, xenophobia and that with the creation of “scapegoats”