Demotic power to the people: the triumph of dimotiki, the triumph of Medea

Bakogianni, Anastasia (2013). Demotic power to the people: the triumph of dimotiki, the triumph of Medea. In: Hardwick, Lorna and Harrison, Stephen eds. Classics in the Modern World: A Democratic Turn? Classical Presences. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 197–212.



This chapter discusses a 1997 revival of Euripides’ Medea by the National Theatre of Greece. This groundbreaking production used as its performance text a translation by George Himonas who championed the democratic idiom of demotike over the artificially constructed katharevousa. The accessibility of his chosen language was one of the many bold components that enhanced the stylized, but emotive performance style of the production. The pared down choice of language was attuned to the stark production values of this Medea that distanced its audience which had to rely on the familiarity of the language to balance the surrealism of the other components of the performance.

The director, Nikaiti Kondouri, chose Kariofillia Karambeti to play Medea. The contemporary Modern Greek audience knew Karambeti as the lead actress of a popular Greek television show in which she infamously killed her lover. The director’s choice of a popular actress to embody Euripides’ heroine marked a more popularizing tendency in Modern Greek revivals of ancient drama. This trend was also coupled with a willingness among actors and spectators to experiment with new techniques and approaches. This production offered spectators a truly democratic treatment of classical Greek tragedy on the Modern Greek stage.

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