3696 – Medea restores Aeson to life, etching 1685

Physical description:
Original etching on paper from 1685
Museum classification:
Images of Witchcraft
27.5 cm x 18 cm

An original copper engraving from the Bellissimum Ovidii theatrum, a sequence of pictures illustrating Metamorphoses of Ovid, published in 1685 and engraved by Johann Wilhelm Baur.

This shows Medea, the famous enchantress of antiquity, preparing King Aeson's body within a magic circle.  Aeson, father of Jason, had been killed by Jason's uncle Pelias whilst Jason was questing for the Golden Fleece.  Medea who had helped Jason recover the Fleece, revived Aeson by boiling his dismembered body in a cauldron with magical herbs.  This rejuvenation led Pelias' daughters into a costly error:  they too thought that they could restore their father's youth by cutting him up and boiling him from which he died a gruesome death.  The inhabitants drove both Jason and Medea out of the kingdom.

Jason and Medea settled in Corinth, but Jason sought a political marriage to the Corinthian King's daughter Glauce, who was burned alive by Medea via magic.  In some accounts, Medea also killed the children she bore with Jason.  Medea was offered protection by the King of Corinth via marriage, and she bore him a son, Medeius.  Medeius stood to be next in line to the Corinthian throne, but unbeknown to the King, he already had a son, Theseus.  Medea sought to destroy Theseus and when her attempt at poisoning him was unsuccessful, she fled to a region in Asia Minor whose inhabitants were known as Medes.

Paper, ink