03 | a dissolution in corinth
Ten years had passed, since Jason and Medea had fled Iolcus. As much as her plan to get rid of Jason's uncle had worked, she hadn't thought of the consequences. His son, Acastus, had chased them out of Iolcus. It was only days after they'd discovered Pelias, lifeless and bloodied, with his daughters grieving over his body. Acastus had branded the couple as murderers, sentencing them to exile. No matter how many times Medea had insisted that it was not her doing that his father had died, it fell on deaf ears. Rumour had it that he had also sentenced his sisters. Medea, of course, held no sympathy. If the girls had more sense in those small heads of theirs, they wouldn't have fallen for her trap.
Eventually, after countless arguments and tiresome journeys, they finally settled in Corinth. It was a couple of weeks travel from Thessaly. They'd been forced to pass through Athens. Through the traveller's city of Megara. Lastly, they'd had to cross the Isthmus of Corinth, a small strip of land connecting Greece and a land known as the Peloponnese. An island that had been conquered and ruled by Pelops. A man whose own father had killed him, serving him to the gods. A man who, when sent back down to the land by the heavens, was granted an ivory shoulder by Demeter. It was a wonderful land; much nicer than Iolcus.
Amongst her travels she'd given birth to Thessalus. Once they had settled, Medea had also given Jason two more sons: Mermeros and Pheres. With Jason's treasure from his travels, she hadn't had to worry about how they'd live. She needn't worry about how they were going to afford the large home they were living in. Medea lived, relatively, worry free. Happiness had radiated through her. The children were spitting images of their father, and she couldn't have treasured them any more than she already did.
But as much as she loved her sons, and they her... it was her husband she had recently become concerned about. Life in Corinth hadn't been the smoothest. While Jason was renowned for his journey to Colchis – and the journey back spread like wildfire – he was also burdened by the events of Pelias' unexpected death. Acastus had taken the throne, and a king naming you a murderer was not one so easily removed. Medea had ignored the insult. She had been called far worse since they settled down in the city.
The women, at first, seemed to dislike her. They spoke in hushed tones, gawking at her. They scurried their children off away from her, separating her children too. Of course, her own little ones did not understand – and their nurse had tried to explain. It just became something they had become accustomed to. It enraged Medea and as much as she wanted to punish the gossiping gaggle of wives, Jason had convinced her otherwise. More blood on her – and more importantly his – hands wouldn't do anybody any good. Especially not for their young children.
Things had, eventually, calmed down. The women hadn't exactly accepted Medea as one of them – she held herself higher than gossiping and spreading false news – but they invited her round. They chatted to her, attempted to show her the life of a good wife. Unfortunately for them (and her dear husband), she was not going to tether herself to their ideals. Of course, she had provided Jason with healthy sons. Powerful sons. She also organised the household staff.
Although she did not invest her time in spinning and weaving, like the other wives. Instead, she had devoted her free to her magic. It was important that she kept up with her skills, experimenting with new potions. The nurse that Jason had bought looked after her sons, and sometimes the housework (Medea did not need half a dozen slaves running round, interrupting rituals). Jason had expected her to cover hersef head-to-toe when she left the house. "To avoid other men's gazes", he once claimed. Medea did not listen. She walked outside her house in whatever cloth she liked. As she'd told Jason, the men could gaze all they want but she would not allow herself to be touched by them. No. That was reserved for Jason, and only Jason.
Jason had often asked her to partake in public rituals and festivals. So she had. Some were interesting. On the other hand, some dulled her so badly she often found herself trying to keep awake under the afternoon sun. It was really the only times that Jason 'allowed' her to be outside. He would have preferred that she keep herself inside. She had always outrightly refused. Why should she have been refused the light of her grandfather? The beauty of the world outside her home? Jason should have known better.
Medea was under the impression that they were happily married. After all, she was not punished like the other wives. Never suffered an ugly mark like Eirene often wore on her cheek. Jason had never laid a hand on her – never even raised it. Sometimes though, she was sure that his fingers would twitch, his palm jerking upwards. But he'd never fully raised it. It was always words that he used. Medea had assumed that it happened to all the wives and husbands. It was just that Jason loved her too much to even lay a hand on her. (And that he had seen what she could do to those who threatened the ones she loved).
That soon changed though.
"What do you mean, you are marrying another?" Medea asked, trying to keep herself calm. The boys were in a nearby room, their tutor teaching them. While they were not ignorant to Medea and Jason's arguments, she did not want the boys to hear this one. Especially not when it concerned her lover – and their father – leaving them. "You cannot marry someone, when you are married to me!"
"Creon will dissolve it." Jason's bare shoulders shrugged. As if it was as simple as clicking his fingers. As if their marriage vows meant nothing. "It's not because I don't love you."
"You are marrying another woman, because you love me?" Medea asked incredulously. Her husband may not have been as clever as Hermes, but he was not a fool. She herself was nothing near a dim-witted fool, yet she felt as if she was being treated as one. Reasoned with like one. "You are to share a bed with another woman, because you love me?" Her voice rose, shoulders heaving. There was a dagger piercing her heart. She ignored the feeling of a splintering heart. Jason was not going to leave her. Not for another woman. She would have rather he died in battle, or died alongside his heroes, than abandon her.
"It is the best decision–,"
"The best?" A bitter, cruel laugh spat from her lips. "The best decision for who? For you?"
"You swore under Hera to love me. I sacrificed and gave offerings to Artemis, Hera and Aphrodite to ensure a prosperous marriage with strong children for you. You swore to Circe, that you would not abandon me!" Seething rage coiled under her skin. It burned her, just like the oxen would have done to Jason. But at the same time, it was cold. Icy, even. Her ears must have been deceiving her. The gods were playing a mighty trick on her.
"I am not abandoning you, Medea. I am doing this for our children, for you." Medea bit her tongue. She would let Jason give his explanation. Regardless, if it sounded empty. She had done so much for him over the past ten years, maybe he was telling her the truth? Her mind and heart told her otherwise. But this was Jason – the man she had married since the tender age of seventeen. The only man who had ever shared her heart and soul. "Creon has promised a large dowry; one that you and our sons can live on."
"Creon?" Her mind went into overdrive. "King Creon?" The king of Corinth had promised a dowry? Which could only mean... "You are marrying his daughter, Glauce?" Another princess. Another kingdom. And if he married Glauce that could only mean–
"Yes. Princess Glauce." Jason confirmed. "There is nothing to stop you from taking another husband."
It was enough for the final pieces of Medea's heart to shatter into an abyss. The man she had loved for over ten years was abandoning her for another kingdom. Leaving her behind in the dirt, as if she was another Greek woman. She was not. She had been the princess of Colchis. She was a powerful sorceress. And yet, none of that meant anything to him. Nor would it mean anything to another man, especially not one of these Greeks. To them, she was a foreigner who could not even keep a husband. What good would she be to them? Not that she wanted to marry someone else.
"Leave." Her voice was low, and she could hear the pathetic tremble in her own voice. This man, this stranger imitating her lover, would not see her tears. He was not worthy. "Get out!"
Quick slapping, that soon faded, indicated that Jason had left. Medea's legs gave way, and her knees smashed into the ground beneath her. It was only then, that she let out a heartbroken wail that even the gods themselves, could not ignore.
"The master has left her, for the young princess!" The nurse spoke in quiet tones. She was fearful that her mistress might have heard her. Since the departure of Jason, tension had been thick in the household. Before, she had been wary of the exotic woman parading round the house. Never had she seen a woman like her; with skin much darker than any she had seen, and a clever tongue... the nurse knew she couldn't risk stepping over any boundaries. But her mistress had never hurt her. With her master's departure... something changed inside her. "Have you been ignoring her screams, the vows she makes to the gods?"
The scream that had come from Medea rocked the household. Her own children had been petrified. It was only after she had released her anguish that she retired to her chambers. It had been days since she had left. Weeks that she had eaten a crumb of bread. Some of the women she had made acquaintances with had tried to come, reason with her. All had left disappointed, failing in their task. Medea was one woman who would not be swayed.
Sometimes, when the nurse would walk past her mistresses' room, she would hear her speaking to her walls about her own land and home. How she could never return, due to the horrendous deeds she had committed for her ex-lover. How she had betrayed her own family, for a mere stranger. And the man that she had once loved, now insulted her by marrying another. One who was not as great as she. One who was practically half her years.
If it was just those cries, the nurse wouldn't have been worried. The worst were the mad ravings about her own children. How she loathed them. How she couldn't stand the sight of them. The nurse had been forced to explain to her children the situation, how it was a decision the parents had both agreed upon. She couldn't bear to reveal the truth; that their father was leaving them behind for another. How their mother may have gone into a wild rage, brought by Dionysos, if she saw the sight of them.
"Ion, this is not the worst news. It is likely she will hear more that will send her into a fit." The tutor spoke. Ion turned to look at him.
"There is worse news?" Her mistress couldn't bare more! "Don't keep me in the dark. What is it?"
"I cannot say."
"Dorus, I am more than capable of keeping a secret." If Dorus had heard something, she had to know! The woman was like a Tuscan tiger. A Tuscan tiger, who seemed to no longer love the cubs she once gave life to.
That seemed to make Dorus' tongue waggle freely. "I was next to the holy fountain of Peirene, and I heard one of the old men say that the king means to banish the boys and Medea."
"The master would not let that happen! Those are his sons."
"Ion, you forget that he has a new love. A new wife. He is no friend to this house." Dorus' words were harsh, but rang with truth. Once their old master had married the princess, he had no need for his old sons, for his old lover. The princess was young, beautiful. She had only lived for fourteen years, and could bear Jason many more sons. All who would have a solid claim to the throne of Corinth, once he had passed into the underworld.
"Not once has she ever listened to our old master's words," Ion sighed, "I fear she won't listen to the king. And I fear for the royal family. Our mistress has promised harsh and vile deeds to fall upon King Creon's house."
The familiar sound of Medea, cursing Jason and his bride-to-be filled the house again. Praying to Themis, the goddess of oaths, that she would see her ex-lover and the princess ground to pieces for their wronging of her. For the brother she shamefully murdered. For her father and the city she was forced to desert.
And Ion could only hope that the storm she could feel in the air, would not come to pass.