Il mirabile nel mito di Medea: i draghi alati nelle fonti letterarie e iconografiche
Euripides’ Medea is the earliest preserved source which depicts Medea fleeing from Corinth on the chariot sent to her by the Sun. In post-Euripidean texts, the chariot is not the Sun’s traditional quadriga pulled by horses or oxen, but these are replaced by dragons. From this moment on, the “eccentric” element represented by the dragons becomes regular in the mythographical and literary tradition (from theatre to epic), both Greek and Latin. To the literary evidence were added the iconographical monuments that, from 400 B.C., represented the escape on the chariot pulled by dragons. This paper argues that the model for the vase-painters was a Medea tragedy composed by another poet. It is notable that a dragon is present from the beginning of Medea’s story, namely, the dragon who guards the Golden Fleece, and whom the Colchian princess overcomes thanks to her knowledge of poisonous herbs, magic spells and sleep charms. The dragon-motif, closely connected with the magic element, joins together the two extremities of the myth and character of Medea: Medea-the-princess, the young enchantress who is able to stop the course of the stars and to bewitch the dragon guardian of the Golden Fleece, and Medea-the-woman, the victim of a betrayal who seeks vengeance, the infanticide mother who flees on the magic chariot of the Sun pulled by winged dragons.