Medea is a princess of Colchis, and a priestess of the Dark Mother Hekate. Her family is under a cruel curse: those who bear children to Medea’s father will die, as her mother died when Medea was born. But Medea knows that she will be forever spared the pains of marriage and childbirth, as she is destined to serve Hekate as a virgin priestess, guarding the sacred Golden Fleece. Her vision of the future doesn’t include the handsome hero who will lead the Argonauts to pillage Colchis and change her life.
Nauplios is companion to Jason, a prince with a prophetic destiny. Growing to manhood under the wise tutelage of the centaurs, Nauplios hopes only to serve his prince, and perhaps to find love and happiness for himself somewhere along the way. As Jason and Nauplios test their courage in boar hunts, learn the ways of women, and hear the stories of their lineage from their tutor Cheiron, they must prepare themselves for the future battle to reclaim Jason’s throne.
Originally published in Australia, Medea is the first in Kerry Greenwood’s Delphic Women trilogy. Greenwood demonstrates an impressive grasp on the immense cast of characters of ancient mythology – a mastery she helps the reader to share through a detailed character list included at the front of the book. However, something about her vision of the classical world feels too familiar – the permeable boundary between history and fantasy that shifts almost page-to-page; the routine coming-of-age rituals of the boar hunt and the cult initiation; the clichéd reverence that never quite breaks through into a convincing representation of how the ancient Greeks would have thought about religion. As a devoted classicist, I enjoyed the rich world Greenwood created. But I found nothing new in this story.