As he began to speak and grabbed her right hand and asked her for help and promised to marry her, Medea replied with tears rolling down her face, “I know what I am about to do; ignorance of truth will not deceive me, but love.”

These words, from VII.8993, are from the first and most sophisticated soliloquy in the poem. In that eloquent, clear soliloquy, Medea analyzes her feelings and considers the ramifications of her actions. She concludes that she has two options: She can be faithful to her father and unfaithful to Jason, or she can help Jason and betray her father. Therefore, her decision to help Jason is also a deliberate and intentional betrayal of her father. She weeps because she fully understands what she is about to do. Because of her wisdom and self-knowledge, Medea seems far more sophisticated even than the gods, who lack insight into their feelings. Medea is the most formidable mortal woman in the poem, but Ovid portrays many women as remarkably intelligent and clear thinking. His mortal female characters are psychologically complex in ways that his male characters and his gods are not. In the next three books, four more women face similar conflicts between duty and love and discuss those conflicts in soliloquies (Scylla in VIII.4480, Byblis in IX.487516, Myrrha in X.320355, and Atalanta in X.611635). In a poem peopled with one-dimensional characters, these soliloquies offer rare insight into human psychology.