This passage is from the very end of Medea and is thus very important to the play and its interpretation as a whole. This is a continuation of the confrontation between Jason and Medea, following Medea’s murder of the children and with their corpses laid upon her chariot. Medea has refused to let Jason bury the children. The children function as symbols of Medea and Jason’s marriage and future together, which have been terminated by Medea’s actions. Therefore this scene is a chance to present the final conflict between protagonist and antagonist in the form of an alternating series of single lines, known as stichomythia. This is a common device in Greek tragedy and in this passage it aids to convey the tension between the two character’s at the play’s climax, while also providing insight into the character’s feelings and separate points of view.
This scene is the ending of the third act of Antony and Cleopatra and follows their defeat at sea. Both Antony and Cleopatra have sent messages to Caesar. Antony has requested to live in Egypt, or if not to be left in peace to live as a private citizen in Athens. Cleopatra submits to Caesar’s will and requests only that her heirs may inherit the throne of Egypt. Caesar has rejected Antony’s request and promised Cleopatra “shall then have courtesy” if she betrays Antony and banishes him. Antony initially believes that Cleopatra is considering this, but when the two speak they reconfirm their love and intention to fight Caesar once more, which is where this passage begins.