Comparison Between Medea And Satan
Both Medea and Satan are self-centered, static characters who are motivated by revenge for their recent loss, who use exploitation to achieve their goal, and who have a moment in their journey where they self-reflect. Medea and Satan are both centered around self-pity. For one, Medea cannot let go of the fact that Jason has taken another lover while she has kept her oaths. She makes this known many times. Instead of thinking of her children and their well-being, she is solely focused on hurting Jason in a way that mirrors how hurt she is.
Additionally, Satan reminisces on the fact that he was once glorious. He is adamant with the idea that if he is stuck in Hell then he will use all his power to bring humanity into Hell too. In looking at the motives for both characters, what fuels the two is their thirst for vengeance. Satan wants to retaliate against God for sending him to Hell whereas Medea wants to get back at Jason for being a poor husband. For Satan, whether it is waging another war against God or simply disrupting his plans, he has decided that he has the rest of his time to think of novel ways to get back at him.
In Medea’s case, she will not sulk and stand idly by while Jason lives this new life that he has created for himself. Even when it came time to kill her kids, she told herself that she had to forget they were hers for the moment and only after it was done could she mourn them. Nothing would hinder either of them from retaliating. Moving along to how they took advantage of those around them, Satan fulfills his goal by exploiting Eve’s innocence. He fools her into thinking that not eating from the Tree of Knowledge was a test of her independence from God and that he has gained power by eating the fruit himself. Medea, on the other hand, carries out her plan by exploiting her children. Her husband and his other lover had no reason to keep their guard up around the children so, Medea uses them to deliver the poisoned robe and garland. Even though they are set on their ways, they find a moment to reflect. Satan asks himself why he couldn’t give God the thanks he was asking for. God had already provided so much for Satan and all he had asked was that Satan express his gratitude.
Moreover, he reveals that it was his pride and desire to rule that got the best of him. For a moment, Medea reconsiders her initial plan and thinks about the possibility of taking her kids with her. However, being that they are static characters, we see that neither of them act on this thought and follow through with their initial plans.
Theme of Feminism in the Euripides’ Play Medea
Medea is arguably one of the first pieces of feminist literature. Written around 431 BCE, the playwright, Euripides was only awarded third place out of three at the annual Athenian Dionysia festival. However, Medea has since become an iconic example of female empowerment through the history of literature, and has become a staple in many educational programs worldwide. Euripides seems fascinated by the hypocrisy and discrimination within the Greek Athenian Gender-Sex system. Athens, was an infamous ancient city that prided itself on its advanced views on social justice issues for the time. They saw themselves as exceptionally free and more tolerant than the neighboring communities such as Sparta, Corinth, and Thebes. Despite these in-house beliefs, the city state of Athens was still exceptionally dependent on the oppression of slaves and women. Euripides uses Medea, to symbolically call out Greek Society on its hypocrisy with respect to their treatment of women.
Medea’s monologue to the Chorus illustrates the injustices that befell women of that current system:
Of all creatures that have breath and sensation, we women are the most unfortunate. First at an exorbitant price we must buy a husband and master of our bodies. [This misfortune is more painful than misfortune.] And the outcome of our life’s striving hangs on this, whether we take a bad or a good husband. For divorce is discreditable for women and it is not possible to refuse wedlock. And when a woman comes into the new customs and practices of her husband’s house, she must somehow divine, since she has not learned it at home, how she shall best deal with her husband. If after we have spent great efforts on these tasks our husbands live with us without resenting the marriage-yoke, our life is enviable. (lines 230-243).
Medea illuminates the struggle of the Athenian women and housewife of that time. For women, there was no escaping the oppression. Marriage was inevitable, divorce would destroy your reputation, and this created a stuck-in-between-a-rock-and-a-hard-place-situation for women.
The play sets Medea apart from the other female characters. The Chorus (composed of three other women) are externally split on the morality of Medea’s actions. They verbally condemn Medea’s actions, yet also pity Medea and her circumstances. Whereas internally, they appear to admire her and never physically interfere or interject upon Medea’s actions. The Chorus’s admiration of Medea creates the metaphor, that by committing such decisive actions, Medea is symbolically defying a patriarchal system that oppresses women. By cutting all ties of dependence to Jason, Medea symbolically cuts all dependence on a patriarchal male, giving her the appearance of being a powerful and fearless woman.
As the protagonist of the play, there is cause for Medea to be labeled as a tragic character, but she does not fit the criteria to be considered a heroine. Medea hamartia (flaw or error of judgement) comes when she kills her children just to spite her estranged husband. Killing your children is barbaric, and even though Ancient Greece was akin to barbarians and violence, the cold-blooded murder of your own offspring was still looked upon as shocking and unforgivable. Due to her kids’ deaths, Medea experiences a peripetiea and she changes. Pre-murder Medea was a hate filled yet powerless female lead that is still a part of a patriarchal society. Post-murder Medea became a powerful, independent, and fearless women who defies the Athenian social norms and patriarchal society. Medea also experiences hubris throughout the play. Her excessive pride is one of the driving forces behind her extreme actions. Her pride forces her to suffer through Jason’s actions and they are a reason why she felt so much pain.
Medea is a raw representation of the extremes that women in a patriarchal system can be pushed to. Euripides shows the difficulties that befall women, but he does not give us a simple cliché heroine. He gives us a real woman, who has suffered and become twisted by her suffering. Medea is less about female empowerment, but more a war between the sexes in which everyone emerges scarred.
A Mystic Hero Of Medea
Euripedes’ Medea is known for its antiheroine, the mystic and murderer, Medea. In the play, Medea infamously murders her previous husband’s, Jason’s, new wife and the two children that Jason fathered. However, Medea only has one reason for these murders: revenge on Jason and Creon for changing her into a refugee. Interestingly, she brings new life to Aegeus when he offers her a new life in his kingdom. Medea, therefore, reciprocates what the men in the play place on her. The perceptions of Medea as a foreigner and woman and sorceress greatly affect how the men in Euripedes’ Medea treat the titular character. When Jason rejects her and Creon exiles her, Medea is unwelcome because she is foreign and underestimated because she is a woman. Conversely, when Aegeus welcomes her into his kingdom, Medea is welcomed because she is a sorceress.
Before delving into how Jason rejects Medea, it is worth examining why he chose to reject her. In Medea, Jason strives to start a new life for himself and his sons as the future rulers of Corinth by allying himself with Creon through marriage to Creon’s daughter. However, he cannot be a future ruler of Corinth if the Corinthians do not perceive him as Corinthian. Consequently, Jason must distance himself from Colchis-born Medea, because xenophobic fear directed towards her could be redirected towards him. Medea’s existence is a threat to Jason’s rise to power.
Jason attempts to convince Medea to leave Corinth on her own accord through a series of false, albeit rational and kind, statements. However, he does not suspect that Medea would use this tactic against him. Jason knows Medea is an enchantress and a liar, but fails to recognize that she could be lying when she uses motherly affection as a disguise for her actual intentions. When Medea offers gifts to Jason’s new wife, he assumes that Medea had a change of heart; he rationalizes her change of heart because “it is…natural to the female sex to vent their spleen against a husband when he traffics in other marriages….” He does not suspect that the gifts are poisonous because she gives them to protect her children. Jason assumed that female, motherly instinct outweighs Medea’s constant rule of reciprocation. Furthermore, Jason assumed that Medea’s motherly instinct will keep his children safe, despite that the sons would be future heirs of Corinth if he married the princess.
Jason assumed incorrectly. Medea makes Jason pay for transgressions towards her because her foreignness by removing all ties that Jason could have to the crown and to a family. She murders his new wife and his children and his future.
Medea’s acts are cruel, but they are just. Jason, motivated by fear of being associated with a foreigner, committed the first act of cruelty. However, Jason could have gotten away with his xenophobic actions if he had questioned Medea’s actions; he failed to do this because Medea is a woman and therefore assumed incapable of causing harm to family. His fallacy offered a direct method for Medea to kill the princess and created a span of time for Medea to commit filicide. If Jason had chosen not to reject Medea because her foreignness, or if Jason had removed any chance Medea had to cause harm through earlier exile, incarceration, or death, Medea would not have been able to derail his future. His prejudices against Medea ironically result in his downfall and her success.
Corinthian King, Creon:
Similarly, Creon’s prejudices against Medea result in his own and his daughter’s death and her victory. He too attacks Medea because she is foreign and underestimates her because of her assumed maternal instinct. However, Creon’s xenophobic prejudices have a stronger effect on the play than Jason’s cautious distancing. Again, it is worth examining Creon’s intentions in the play to understand his xenophobia. Creon, King of Corinth, lacks a male heir. When Jason, a mighty hero, comes to Corinth, Creon sees a potential heir. The trouble is that Jason is foreign and married to a foreigner, and will therefore be perceived as a foreigner by the Corinthians. To combat these assumed assumptions, Creon chooses to exile Medea from Corinth.
Although the decision to remove Medea from Jason’s life is logical, the choice to exile reveals Creon’s xenophobic tendencies. Creon could have naturalized Medea to remove her foreignness or could have imprisoned or killed Medea to neutralize her as a threat forever. Instead, he chose to remove Medea from her new home, which essentially was a message to her that she did not belong in his or Jason’s kingdom. This exile looms over the play and gives Medea cause for revenge. Arguably, if Creon had not forced Medea to leave Corinth or had not forced Jason to marry his daughter so to become heir, the conflict in the play would not exist.
Creon’s decision to exile Medea was dangerous, and he was aware that Medea may seek her revenge. However, he makes the same mistake as Jason: Creon assumes Medea’s primary motivation is that of motherly instinct. He gives Medea a day to prepare her children for exile; in that day, Medea seizes the opportunity to kill her own children and Creon’s child. Creon, who witnesses his daughter’s death by poisoned and fiery garments, dies too when he throws himself on the flames as they consume her. The irony of his death is palpable. He exiled Medea so to grow his lineage through a male heir, but now he, his family, and his lineage is obliterated. Medea’s revenge is again fitting and complete.
Foreign King, Aegeus:
It may appear at this point that Medea is only a vehicle of revenge. However, her interactions with Aegeus prove that Medea is a vehicle of reciprocation, and not simply revenge. This is proven through Aegeus’ treatment of Medea.
Aegeus, similarly to Creon, has the same motivation: Aegeus wants a male heir. However, Aegeus and his wife are unable to conceive by themselves, so Aegeus needs the help of a sorceress. Consequently, when Aegeus meets with Medea, he does not scorn her for being foreign and nor does he ridicule her for being a woman. He values Medea because she is capable. Furthermore, he values Medea’s thoughts and inquiries about her well-being. When he learns of Medea’s exile, he offers her a home in his kingdom. Most interestingly, Aegeus is the only man the only person in Medea who the titular character does not attempt to deceive. Aegeus respects, befriends, and aids Medea, and therefore Medea reciprocates.
At the end of the play, Aegeus leaves with a promise from Medea that she will help him have a child, and Medea flies to her new and protected home in Aegeus’ kingdom. Although it is not stated in the play, myths state that Medea was true to her word. Aegeus and Medea have a child, Medus, and Aegeus is the adoptive father of another great hero, Theseus. Creon’s and Jason’s family may have been destroyed, but fair Aegeus’ lineage continues.
Although Medea undoubtedly committed horrific acts, she was not alone in their creation. Nor was she entirely a villain. She is an equalizer. What treatment she was given, she returned in kind.
Given that Medea follows the law of reciprocation, the true catalyst in the play is the unfair action placed towards her. If Jason or Creon had chosen to stop the xenophobic prejudice towards Medea, she would not have acted. Furthermore, if Jason and Creon had given Medea the credit she deserved as a sorceress and have refrained from devaluing her because of her womanhood, then they could have avoided Medea’s reciprocation. Trouble does not come only when Medea is valued, welcomed, and respected; instead, Medea brings good to the benefactor. Perhaps this is the hidden warning that Euripedes hoped would be discovered through Medea: regard each other at their full value. Otherwise, be prepared to face the potential consequences of transgressions and underestimations.
Medea’s Significance to Greek Theater, Euripides’ Innovation
Greek theatre, portrayed in Medea, emphasizes the characters and the plot through the structure of Greek theatre as well as bringing about a new moral and social portrayal of Greece. Originated in Athens around the 5th century BC, Greek theater, was performed in open air to honour the God Dionysus, God of ecstasy and wine. In a festival called “City Dionysia” tragedies and comedies were performed in the form of competition. Tragedies were those by which the themes of love, pride, loss, abuse of power and the relationships between men and gods were established. Whereas, Greek comedies were mainly satires that derided men in power for their pride and imprudence. Euripides, writer of Greek tragedies, was in competition with two other greek tragedians Sophocles and Aeschylus; Where Sophocles and Aeschylus followed the traditional form of Greek theatre, making the chorus the centre and showing great importance of the Gods and heroes, Euripides focused on the characters and satirizes Greek heroes.
“Medea” a play in which the protagonist is Medea, is a Greek tragedy written by Euripides. Themes of Love showcased by Medea’s love for Jason, pride by Medea’s reputation and urge for vengeance, abuse of power is shown by the murders done by Medea. However, “Medea” can also be considered a Greek comedy due to its portrayal of Jason, where he loses, due to his desire for power, not only his newly wedded wife, but also his offsprings. Euripides in contrast to Sophocles and Aeschylus, had blasphemous plays and was therefore not seen with much importance during his time. Moreover, he mocked the Athenian society of 431 BC by portraying a different role of women, one which is not encaged by marriage. For example, when Medea speaks “we women are the most wretched […] possessor of our body.” reflecting upon the dowry system of ancient Greece, and in contrast to the usual perspective of obedient women and men being the possessors, the verb “bought” represents that the one who purchases shall be the owner, i.e, the women who pay exorbitant amounts should be in power, and not vice versa. The dialogue uses possessive pronoun “our” to show the collective society and that women suffer the same miseries.
Greek theatre famous for its precise structure is made of prologue which serves as an introduction to the play, done by the ‘nurse’ and ‘tutor’ in “Medea” when they create an image of Medea, a scorned lover, for the viewers. Followed by the parados, which consists of the chorus that manifests the main idea of the play. In Medea the chorus opposes the idea of women’s inferiority, “For Phoebus[…]infamous than women.” highlighting the fact that the women in ancient greece whose emotions were ignored, now had a voice and men were “no less famous or infamous than women”. Furthermore, Euripides uses the phrase “time is old” in reference to his main idea of a modern Greek society. Then happens the first episode where the hero is first shown, this in “Medea” is when the transformation of her character takes place. Medea comes out cool and self possessed, whilst addressing the chorus “We women are the most wretched” she portrays herself not as a victim to her husband’s infidelity but showing that all women are victims. Furthermore she shows herself as a strong woman who seeks “revenge on Jason”, unlike the earlier helpless “poor Medea”. Thereafter, is the stamison, the crime committed by the protagonist is told here. This yet again shows Medea’s characterization who gets “double pleasure” from hearing of the death of Glauce and Creon from the Messenger. From a scorned wife Medea is transformed into a dominant woman through the use of her “skills”. The play ends with the exodus, the last thing said by the chorus, which concludes the play. In Medea the chorus sings “Many are the[…]of this story”, this shows that though Jason was the one who was going to become powerful, with a newly wedded and his pride at peak, is finished by Medea- left in misery without a wife, and childless. Additionally, Euripides is known for using “deus ex machina”, a plot device that introduces a character, mostly a God or Goddess, and abruptly that character provides a solution to the problem faced by the protagonist. For instance, in Medea Aegeus promises shelter to Medea because of which she successfully carries out her plan for revenge.
Euripides transforms Greek theatre and shows a totally different view of women in the Greek society. Alongside the Greek theatre’s structuralism, Euripides adds a new level intrigue and comedy in his plays while using also the deus ex machina. With the use of chorus and other characters present in the play, Greek theatre provides many different perspectives to view the protagonist. Thereafter, indulging the audience in the lives of the characters, making emphasis on the struggles of the protagonist and how they survive. Transforming the Greek theatre Euripides is successful in portraying lucidly different characters of Medea, making sure the spotlight is on the protagonist, who “wins” the fight through revenge, leaving Jason in desolation.
“Euripides – Ancient Greece – Classical Literature.” Euripides – Ancient Greece – Classical Literature. Web. 28 Oct. 2015.
“Greek Theater.” Greek Theater. Web. 28 Oct. 2015.
“Ancient Greek Theatre.” Greek Theatre. Web. 28 Oct. 2015.
“Learn About the Third of the Great Tragedians.” About.com Education. Web. 27 Oct. 2015.
The Question of Ethics in Medea
At first glance, the system of ethics presented by Euripides in his masterpiece Medea seems to parallel the systems found in several other tragedies of ancient Greek theatre. This system of helping friends and harming enemies, which recurs throughout many of tragedians’ works, attempts to rationalize the excessive violence and hostility (Blundell 1989). This system falls short in Medea, however, as Medea is forced to decide a course of action which both ways will harm her friends and help her enemies. Therefore, both Medea and Jason must be driven by an alternate motivation, which turns out to be a utilitarian position in which all that matters is personal success and happiness, regardless of consequences. These ethical overtones, however, contrast a great deal with Sophocles’ ethical standards portrayed in the Antigone. Through an examination and interpretation of the actions of principle characters from Medea and Antigone, it is brought to attention that Euripides finds Sophocles’ system inadequate.
Medea is in a situation where regardless of her actions, she and her friends will suffer and her enemies aided. If she kills her children she will harm her enemy Jason, but she will be forced to endure the pain of murdering her own offspring. Conversely, if she decides to not kill her children and go on living as Jason’s wife, she does not harm her enemies in any way and must endure the disgrace of Jason taking another wife. Medea recognizes the difficulty of her situation but decides that it is better to take action and bear the pain than to give in to her maternal desires, saying “Do I want to be laughed at for letting my enemies off scot-free?” (Medea 1049 – 1050).
Euripides puts Medea in a unique situation. Because of her circumstances, the traditional system of ethics applicable in most other plays falls apart. A more fundamental system of motivation – in this case, utilitarianism – is required. Medea must adopt the idea that the best course of action is the one that best advances her self-interest. She decides that avenging the shame Jason brought upon her by introducing a mistress into the home is more important than killing her children. Harming Jason is worth the price of murder.
Medea’s deed further subverts conventional ethics because she is a woman. In ancient Greek time, women were often thought of as second class citizens, needed only for procreation, raising of children, and tending to the man’s home. Because she breaks away from her expected role, some scholars, most notably Helene P. Foley, argue that through her action she becomes a man in all senses other than physical (2001). This drastic change is only possible through Medea’s adoption of a new set of ethical values.
Medea also displays a utilitarian stance when she formulates an agreement with Aigeus. She promises that in exchange for refuge in Athens, she will give Aigeus fertility. It may seem that she is doing this to help her friend, but really she is simply looking out for her own safety. The safe haven Aigeus provides allows Medea to murder her children and avoid retribution.
Jason employs a similar utilitarian system of ethics when he brings a new mistress, a daughter of Creon, into Medea’s house. By marrying Creon’s daughter, he secures a political and financial bond between his house and that of the king of Corinth. Jason’s actions explicitly depict a utilitarian viewpoint, as he consciously brings disgrace upon Medea to ensure his own security and his children’s financial well-being.
In contrast to Euripides, Sophocles illustrates Blundell’s ethical system of “helping friends and harming enemies” in his play Antigone. Both Antigone and Creon adhere to the system, though each hold allegiance to different area of their group – Creon to the state, and Antigone to her family. Antigone is so dedicated to helping her friends that she is prepared to die for them, saying to her sister “… you made the choice to live, and I to die” (Antigone 555). In this case, she is determined to help her dead brother Polyneices by honoring his dead body with a proper burial. In addition, when Antigone’s sister Ismene attempts to talk her out of defying Creon, Antigone fiercely resists, thinking that Ismene simply wants a share in the glory: “Don’t try to share this death with me. Don’t claim as yours a deed you did not touch. My own death will suffice” (Antigone 546-547). Antigone is simply remaining devout to her moral system.
Because Creon is more interested in political affairs than familial bonds, he views Polyneices as an enemy for rebelling and leading troops against Thebes. He states that the body of Polyneices will be left “unentombed, to be the food of birds and dogs, an outrage to behold” (Antigone 205-206). Creon, however, does honor Eteocles, the brother of Polyneices, with a proper burial because Eteocles died defending the city. Antigone, conversely, ignores their political affiliation and believes strongly that both men should be honored because they are her brothers.
While their opinions differ, however, Antigone and Creon share devotion to their ethical code. Antigone’s suicide illustrates that people dedicated to morality must be prepared to make sacrifices if their morals conflict with those in power. This moral code works in Sophocles because the concepts of friends and enemies, though not agreed upon, are clear and defined.
The reader’s understanding of characters’ ethical codes is essential when one attempts to interpret a play. For example, Foley argues that Medea makes the transition from woman to man to divine through her choices and actions (2001). It would be very difficult to make such a strong interpretation if the reader did not first understand the motivation that drove Medea.
Euripides disregards the moral code presented so clearly by Sophocles because the situation he depicts in Medea is too complicated to follow that code. The “helping friend and harming enemies” ethical code works well in clear-cut matters, but falls well short in situations in which helping friends will also help enemies, or vise-versa. By presenting a situation in which Sophocles’ ethics break down, Euripides argues that such a code cannot and should not be followed.
Blundell M. Helping Friends and Harming Enemies – A Study in Sophocles and Greek Ethics. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989.
Euripides. Medea. Trans. A.J. Podlecki. Newburyport: Focus Classical Publishing, 2004
Foley, H. Female Acts in Greek Tragedy. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001.
Sophocles. Antigone. Trans. Ruby Blondell. Newburyport: Focus Classical Publishing, 2002.
The Development of Medea’s Tragic Character
What lends tragic literature its proximity to human nature is that the border between being a tragic villain and a tragic hero is extremely thin.
A question that this statement will certainly bring up is whether there is such a thing as a hero or a villain or whether these terms are defined by the ideals of the society. Tragedies such as Macbeth or Oedipus Rex feature a character with heroic traits who falls victim to a personal flaw or an outside circumstance which finally pushes that character into becoming a villain. Macbeth’s greed and hunger for power are the causes for his descent into madness and villainy, and Oedipus falls victim to fate because of his pride and finally ends up tearing his eyes out and running into exile. A similar progression can also be followed in Euripides’ Medea. Medea is a play about a woman, Medea, who is betrayed by her husband, Jason, and expelled from the city. In an outburst of treacherous but cleverly planned rage, she avenges herself by first poisoning Jason’s new fiancé and then killing her own children, thus leaving Jason without distinction. Though Medea possesses certain traits of a victim and a heroine, it is impossible to identify her character as solely one of these. In order to fully comprehend her tragic character, one must instead view it as a combination of these traits and trace her development into a villain.
Medea’s position as a victim of fate is already defined by the first lines of the play, in which the nurse tells the tale of Medea and Jason so far. Medea had, through Hera’s influence, fallen in love with Jason and given up her home, killed her brother, and taken various risks upon her to save him and live with him in a foreign country (1-15). Throughout the play, Medea’s ill fate is recognized most clearly by her servants and fellow women. According to the nurse, Medea had gone through the entire adventure to retrieve the Golden Fleece and defied her household only to be deserted by him and left “slighted, and [crying] aloud on the Vows they had made to each other, […] [calling] upon the gods to witness what sort of return Jason has made to her love” (20 -24). But her situation only becomes worse when she is informed by Creon that he is going to force her into exile (270-274). After a long discussion in which Medea pleas to Creon and finally succeeds in getting permission to stay for one day, the chorus of Corinthian women remarks that “a god has thrown suffering upon [her] in waves of despair” (358-9). Here one can once again see that it is the fellow women who feel sorry for Medea and go beyond the prejudices against foreigners to recognize the terrible fate of which she has become a victim. One may assume that women were, in certain ways, oppressed in ancient Greek society and that they could thus relate to Medea’s problems.
It is the identification with Medea that leads the chorus to see her heroic traits and even admire her as an avenger for all women. In an attempt to soothe Medea’s sorrow, the chorus states that “God will be [her] friend in this” (156). This statement implies that the chorus believes her cause to be worthy of God’s support and thus a good cause. The chorus views Medea as a victim of ill fate and is naturally inclined to support her. Though this statement is made before the chorus finds out about Medea’s brutal scheme, it must be noted that the chorus reaffirms its support for Medea after she has revealed her plans. After a monologue in which Medea finally does reveal her plan and ponders about how to implement it, the chorus delivers an ode about the oppression of women: “Flow backward to your sources, sacred river, and let the world’s great order be reversed […] women are paid their due. No more shall evil-sounding fate be theirs” (407-413). In this ode, the chorus condemns the oppression of women and encourages Medea to pull through with her plan. It views this as a rare chance for women to avenge all the wrongs that men have done to them and to turn the hierarchy around, putting the men at the mercy of women. Medea acts as a kind of a revolutionary saviour to them. Another trait of Medea’s which may be considered heroic is the extent of her self-sacrifice for the sake of vengeance. The fact that she goes so far as to kill her own children for her cause proves her strength and determination. In an extensive monologue, Medea wavers but finally overcomes her feelings of love and sympathy and comes to the conclusion that she must kill her children (995-1053). This act theoretically puts Medea into the position of a martyr, who is willing to sacrifice more than just her life for her cause.
Practically, however, it is this last step that causes Medea to finally lose the support of the chorus. Though it may have supported the murder of Jason’s new fiancé as a means for revenge, the killing of Medea’s own children is morally intolerable. But Medea’s descent to a villain starts long before the murder of her children. Her reputation as a violent, ruthless woman at the beginning of the play is reaffirmed by the nurse’s foreshadowing statement that she “may even kill the king and the new-wedded groom” (42) and Creon’s fear that she is “a clever woman, versed in evil arts” (283), who “may injure [his] daughter mortally” (281). Medea’s evil intentions further become evident through her reaction to the news from a messenger that Creon and his daughter are dead. She replies that “those were the finest words [he has] spoken” (1101) and that “[he] will delight [her] twice as much if [he says] they died in agony” (1109-1110). Medea shows no sign of guilt, remorse, or pity. Instead, she listens intently while the messenger reports every detail of their agonizing deaths. Finally, the brutality of the means that Medea uses to get revenge suffices to classify her as a villain. The deaths of Creon and his daughter, as well as the murder of her children, which, though it occurs backstage, is still presented to the audience through the children’s cries “what can I do and how escape my mother’s hands?” (1237-1248). Are so horrible that even the chorus, who was on Medea’s side, can’t accept them: “O your heart must have been made of rock or steel, you who can kill with your own hand the fruit of your own womb” (1253-1255). With the murder of her children, Medea has reached the climax of her villainy.
So one can clearly trace the progression within the play of a victim with certain heroic traits who, because of her ill fate and her ruthlessness, becomes a villain. This progression, which greatly resembles the standard progression of tragedies such as Macbeth or Oedipus Rex, combines the traits of a victim and a hero and pursues the development of these traits into those of a villain. But the question about the definition of such terms as “hero” and “villain” still remains open. Certainly, in our contemporary society as well as in ancient Greek society, the murder of one’s children would be considered intolerable and condemned. But if one traces the development from a victim to a villain and takes the motives for such intolerable acts into consideration, the acts don’t become more tolerable but they do become more human. Also, certain traits, such as ruthlessness or willingness to self-sacrifice, can be considered as both heroic and negative. So are there really heroes and villains, or are we all just human?
The Means of Narration in Character’s Presentation
Despite her violent transgressions, Euripedes paints Medea as a victim from the start to the end of the play. Even Medea’s most violent act, the murder of her own children, is made complicated by Euripides’ appeal to the reader’s sympathy for her situation. Medea’s goal for revenge is permanently intertwined with the sympathetic presentation that Euripides shows at the start of the play. By introducing readers to Medea first as a victim, Euripides paves the way for a complex but indeterminate line of thought regarding the morality of her actions. Euripides ensures that the reader will question not only Medea’s gruesome revenge, but his or her induced sympathy for Medea as well. Euripides employs this manipulation by presenting Medea as victim to Jason’s cruelty and indifference. The reader’s response is complicated by the fact that, with respect to Euripides’ initial portrayal of Medea, her actions may sway towards justified.
By presenting readers first with the image of Medea suffering a great loss, her later plot for revenge is made less black and white. Euripides opens the play with a nurse lamenting Medea’s current morose state. Through this nurse’s monologue Medea is described as the once compassionate wife of Jason, who now suffers severely from his betrayal. Euripides immediately calls upon our sympathy when the nurse details both Medea’s love for Jason and her pain because of it: “Then my mistress/ Medea, never would have sailed away/ to the towers in the land of Iolcus/ her heart passionately in love with Jason” (9-12). Interestingly, Euripides doesn’t dispel the possible issues taken with Medea’s violence even in this introductory scene. In fact, he manages to present Medea’s past misconduct in the midst of his appeal to the reader’s sympathy. The nurse continues, “She’d never have convinced those women/ Pelias’ daughters, to kill their father/ and she’d not have come to live in Corinth/ with her husband and her children- well loved/ in exile by those whose land she’d moved to./ She gave all sorts of help to Jason” (13-18). In these lines Euripides provides an account of Medea’s cruelty juxtaposed with her compassion, devotion, and aid to Jason. Euripides paints an honest picture of Medea’s violence, but skillfully paints it aside the picture of her as a loving wife and mother. In this way, Euripides leaves the reader responsible for weighing Medea’s crimes against her suffering even at the play’s introduction.
The nurse compels the reader to weigh Medea’s suffering as more potent as she continues: “Their fine love’s grown sick, diseased, for Jason/ leaving his own children and my mistress/ is lying on a royal wedding bed” (22-24). These lines further the reader’s sympathy for Medea but also introduce Jason as the unjust cause of her suffering. Euripides employs Jason’s character as a stark contrast to the wounded Medea. The nurse describes Medea’s current state: “As for Medea/ that poor lady, in her disgrace, cries out/ repeating his oaths, recalling the great trust/ in that right hand with which he pledged his love/ She keeps calling to the gods to witness/ how Jason is repaying her favours” (26-31). As this lamentation continues, so does the description of the severity of Medea’s state. By describing Medea as disgraced and dishonored, Euripides also establishes a sense of injustice. Emphasis is placed on Medea’s anguish but more importantly on her betrayal. In addition, the lines read that Medea calls upon the gods for an explanation of the injustice of the situation. The described betrayal and Medea’s invocation to the gods make the need for retribution all the more pressing. Once Medea’s place as victim has been solidified, Euripides complicates the reader’s response further by developing Jason as the cruel source of her misery. Jason meets Medea with callous indifference: Now is not the first time I’ve observed/ how a harsh temper can make all things worse-/ impossibly so. It’s happened often” (524-526). Here Jason antagonizes Medea by disregarding her anger, an anger that was presented as justified at the start of the play. He continues, “Now you’re exiled for your stupid chatter./ Not that I care” (530-531). Jason continues to invalidate the hurt and betrayal that has left Medea so distraught. Since Euripides followed Medea’s hurt and betrayal with a compromising image of Jason, Medea’s thirst for vengeance simply becomes more and more justified.
The reader’s sympathy for Medea is brought into critical question when, at the play’s close, she kills her children and escapes with the help of the gods. Her final and most severe act of cruelty immediately creates a tension in readers. Euripides establishes Medea as deserving of our sympathy but grants her revenge in a most gruesome way. More importantly, her call to the gods for justice is seemingly answered when they help her flee at the play’s close. Euripides’ employment of sympathy, his characterization of Jason as uncaring, and Medea’s assistance from the gods would typically demonstrate that justice has been served. However, the sacrifice of Medea’s children undoubtedly strikes the reader as unforgivable. Euripides ultimately leaves the morality of Medea’s actions, as well as the intended moral compass for the play as a whole, up for debate.
Review of Culpability from Medea’s Vengeance and Jason’s Disloyalty as Described in Medea, A Play by Euripides
Medea’s revenge ultimately makes her far more guilty than Jason. Discuss.
Penned in a time of legend and antiquity, Euripides’ meditation on ‘where love was once deepest a cancer spreads’ elucidates the self-serving infidelity and untempered vengeance of both Jason and Medea, respectively. Initially painted as a victimized and desolate character, Medea’s inner disdain is the source of her poisoning those that do wrong by her, with her infanticide crime, exacting dread and turmoil on her ‘cruel husband.’ Indeed, Jason’s ‘mockery’ of Medea by seeking every opportunity for social advancement and thereby marrying Glauce results in a direct blow not only to Medea’s heart, but also to the entire house. Yet, even though Euripides skilfully forces the audience to accept Medea’s sympathies, the viewers, and readers, are still inclined to feel contempt to the actions of a ‘child murderer’ who has brought the ultimate suffering on so many. Therefore, despite Jason’s ‘criminal behaviour’, both the characters and the audience are seemingly shocked at the protagonist’s excessive displays of grief, which in turn, are the seeds of her dark force.
Voiced through the Nurse, Jason’s unfaithful decision of ‘marri[ying] the daughter of Creon’ leaves Medea in ruin, now an ‘exile’ and bearing a ‘heart transfixed by desire for Jason.’ Indeed, Jason, whose demise illustrates Euripides’ judgment of surrendering too much to the whims of ‘wisdom…and prudence’, is selfish, naive and overly rational, which is evidenced by when he ironically urges the children to “grow to manhood” – with the audience all but appalled. Furthermore, the self-deluded views and values of Jason: having a ‘famous name’, security and ‘money’ is the basis for his justification of his decisions. Jason ironically asserts that he has ‘acted like a true friend to [Medea] and to [his] children’ by prioritizing his family to ‘live comfortably.’ Thus, through Jason’s quarrels and self-justified actions, Euripides suggests that the ancient Greek values of order, equality and justice cannot be achieved, when individual motives, ideas and wishes are at the forefront of one’s judgment. Yet, Jason’s egotistical action of marrying into royal blood as a response to his fading reputation and to ensure ‘equal footing’ for his son’s, is, however, not uncommon in Greece within 431BC, as the playwright asserts that a large proportion of the Athenian audience would have understood that a man such as Jason must pursue the necessary methods to move upward in society’s hierarchy. Ultimately, Jason represents the upper echelon of what it means to be reasonable; the type who can vindicate his actions, whatever they may be, as meant for the benefit of all, while leaving emotion unchecked.
The ‘impassioned’ and ‘ungovernable’ soul of Medea is, principally, the driving force, which guides the protagonist to elicit dread on Jason and wreck havoc upon the royal house. Hence, Medea’s explication that ‘passion is the master of [her] reason’ attempts to catch the readers off guard to her having ‘special knowledge’ in which she utilizes to turn the ‘anger that weighs on her heart’ to ‘make corpses of her enemies.’ Therefore, one can marvel at Euripides’ sophisticated construction of Medea’ character; in one moment, she is ‘anguished’ and depicted as carrying the plight of martial betrayal and the other, a shrewd character – all too clear in her mind. Such a notion is further supported through Medea’s ironically ‘unheard of scheme’; for example, Medea ensures that King Aegeus receives her ‘in [Aegeus’s] country and at the hearth of [his] home’ before commencing her plan. Furthermore, the ‘anger of [Medea]’ that weighs heavily on her heart and ‘won’t die down until someone’s felt the force of her thunderbolt’ pierces her former counterpart Jason, whose helplessness and ignorance, as he continues to take Medea’s honeyed words at face value, the reason for his downfall. Here, Euripides is effectively employing his strategy of dramatic irony, where the audience is aware that Medea’s words that are seemingly sweet to Jason are actually laced with poison. Thus, Medea is an ‘enemy to be feared’, especially to Jason, as the strength it took to ‘plung a sword into [her] children’ was the strength and life robbed from Jason after sighting his dead children. Consequently, Medea’s cold-blooded revenge is the dreadful climax that the audience were simultaneously privy to and also dreading, with the ‘visible corpses of the children’ epitomizing Jason’s hollow and cursed fate at the claw’s of Medea’s rage.
From the outset of the play, Euripides evidences how the actions of characters are required to align in order for a tragedy to occur, with the initial sympathy of Medea’s sorrowful plight blinding the audience and thereby strategically positioning Medea on an unsuspecting platform to plan her gruesome act. It is through this notion that the former ‘barbarian’ and passion corrupted Medea – reinforced by the Nurse’s bewailing of the dire fate of her ‘mistress’ – utilizes both methodical and rational scheming for the demise of Jason and the royal house, and thereby seeks to exasperate the extent of her revenge. Clearly, such savageness and brutality undermines Euripides’ aim to put the audience, and prophetically a modern audience, in situations that cause a high degree of discomfort, and even horror, as a means to give pose more problems than the play has answers. That being said, the stage direction in which Medea ‘sinks… to her knees and seizes… Creon by the hand’ underscores her skillful manipulation of characters such as King Creon to execute her machinations, which not only leads to the ultimate revenge on Jason, a man cursed by his children’s ‘bloodshed’, but also paints a picture of Medea’s ability to steer her heart to withstand the pain. Primarily, Medea is instinctively resourceful in that she assesses and considers all her options before executing her inauspicious plan, making her vile act all the more unfathomable and problematic for Jason and the audience to grip.
As such, Euripides condemns both Jason’s infidelity and Medea’s mercilessness and radically provides; no hero, no villain, and, ultimately, no relief or resolve.
Yet, despite endorsing Medea to exact revenge on Jason, the audience are all but left to accept the depths of Medea’s outrage, with the degree of her internal hatred for Jason and the ability to carry out her repugnant crime, shocking readers.
Medea and the Vision of Euripides
Critics have noted that unlike his illustrious predecessors who also specialized in Greek tragedy, Euripides bears a far greater sensibility towards the marginalized sections of society such that many of his prominent characters are seen to be either women or people belonging to the ‘lower classes’. This was in stark contrast to Greek dramatic tradition, which mainly focused on men of noble birth and the divine immortals. Apart from other aspects, it is this realism of Euripides that makes his plays shine forth in retrospective analysis, attributing to them a timeless universal quality.In Euripides’ treatment of the legend of Medea, one finds subtle subversions of the patriarchal ethos of his time, which at the same time are balanced through his dramatic innovations for the purpose of tragic ambivalence. As Richard Rutherford claims in his preface to the play, “It is probable that Euripides was the first to make Medea kill her own children deliberately”, which of course is the vital conflict in the play. While it is made clear that Medea’s need for revenge as a wronged woman is completely warranted, Euripides introduces the question whether such a situation could justify any means to achieve vindication. Thus, the feminist assertion is brought in conflict with the basic notion of motherhood associated with the female gender, as Rutherford elaborates: “What kind of a woman, even in such circumstances, could bring herself to kill her own infant children?” To further highlight the tragic aspect, Euripides makes it more than evident that Medea is fully aware of the horror of her deeds and yet proceeds as she does, instead of mitigating her crime as an action executed in a moment of insanity.Through Medea, Euripides portrays a strong-willed woman who would go to any length to preserve her honour and extract due revenge in spite of all the odds stacked against her; as in her own words: “Wrong a woman in love and nothing on earth has a heart more murderous”. For being a woman living in a patriarchal society in a foreign country, alienated from her own land, spurned by her husband and then banished from her state of residence, Medea has no external resources or influence to help her in her cause. Apart from the promise of asylum from Aegeus and the initial public sympathy, it is clear that Medea must rely on her own wits to realize her purpose. It is no wonder then that at the start of the play she is found to be wallowing in the throes of despair, self-pity and anguish.Right from the start, Euripides employs a unique technique to assert the tragic situation of Medea, which is then echoed at various occasions later in the play. The nurse initiates the play with a vain lament of the past to emphasize the tragedy of the present, while conveying the basic premise at the same time: “If only it had never gone to the land of Colchis, the ship Argo”. For after all, if this wasn’t the case, the tragic instances would never have occurred. Apart from everything else, numerous murders would have been prevented at the hands of Medea, such as those of her brother, Pelias; and in the course of the play, the murders of Creon, his daughter, and Medea’s own sons. Therefore, even before Medea’s actual intent is declared in the play, it is implicitly understood that she is a dangerous woman, well versed in witchcraft and unafraid of killing people to serve her purpose; as the nurse states: “No one making an enemy of her will win an easy victory”Oaths were deemed of great significance in Greek tradition, and thus, Jason’s rejection of the marriage oath serves to further highlight the injustice meted out to Medea. As a result, until Medea finally declares her murderous intent, Euripides continues to provide a rationale for her rage and direct sympathy towards her through the perspectives of the other characters and her interactions with them, including the chorus of Corinthian women. For again, public sympathy was held to be quite important in Greek society owing to its democratic customs of debate (agon) and justice. In fact, it is keeping in mind this tradition that Medea finally regains her composure and appears in public to make her appeal, which is seen to be a passionate observation of the female plight in a patriarchal world with statements such as: “Of all creatures that have life and reason we women are the most miserable of specimens…we must buy a husband, taking a master to play the tyrant with our bodies”. It is this objective treatment of gender notions that marks the genius of Euripides in the play, and after all, it is heartening to realize that a man writing in the fifth century BCE could possess such a heightened sense of awareness.Furthermore, through the tutor’s statement: “Is he so different from the rest of mankind?” and at latter occasions, through the chorus such as in the lines 410-430, Euripides provides incisive commentary on the patriarchal hypocrisy that made adultery seem almost acceptable for men. This sentiment is again echoed in the first agon scene between Jason and Medea where Jason’s audacity in his reasoning by virtue of being born a man is more than evident. However, though the chorus could be seen as symbolic of female solidarity, as they boldly claim, “No more shall we women endure the burden of ill-repute”, in support of Medea’s retaliation, even they refuse to accept her eventual heinous decision, thus underlining the paradox regarding women and motherhood as discussed before.Coming to the declaration itself: “I shall kill my own children; no one shall take them from me…to suffer the mockery of my enemies is something I will not tolerate”, it is needless to say that these statements reflect Medea’s psychological turmoil; and in the subsequent dialogue between her and the chorus, Euripides defines the rationale behind Medea’s actions: “But to kill your very own children – will you have the heart for that, lady? Yes; it is by doing this that I shall hurt my husband most”. In these statements, one finds the deranged reasoning of a woman scorned, stemming from an egotism that is fixated upon the notions of justice and honour. However, in this mode of rhetoric, one might derive that there is some pragmatic thinking behind Medea’s murder of her children, for as a woman born in a man’s world, where would she have dragged her children along in exile? What fate would they meet, and despite Jason’s assurance, could she really trust the man who had already betrayed her once? “They must be killed; there is no other way. And since they must, I will take their life, I who gave them life.” This tragic sentiment reflects a certain heroism and courage on Medea’s part, which is then once more juxtaposed against the notion of motherhood in her heartbreaking vacillation in her soliloquy, until she finally realizes that she is a woman guided by passion and remarks on the fate of her children: “You have lost this world, thanks to your father”.Then in the messenger’s detailed description of Creon and his daughter’s deaths, there is a visible devilish delight that overcomes Medea, for the messenger’s graphic monologue provides a cathartic sense of vindication for her. After all, through these murders she ends up having her revenge both on Jason and Creon, the men who were to be blamed for her predicament. Though from this point onwards, the public sentiment starts to sway towards Jason, there is a strong argument voiced by Medea herself that it was easy to blame her for her conduct, simply because the others being objective commentators, weren’t in her shoes. Also, it might be interesting to note the irony that while the chorus of women call upon the Sun god to prevent the murder of the children, he instead sends his chariot to help Medea in her getaway. Should this be seen as a mere whim of the gods congruent with Greek legends as voiced by Homer or Hesiod, or could this be interpreted as a subtle indication that the gods too agreed with Medea’s sense of justice? Again, the ambivalence of Euripides makes it difficult to take a definite stance but then, therein, lies the mark of great literature.Finally, in the climax, it is evident that Medea has indeed made Jason suffer to the highest degree such that she even denies him the burial of their children, all “to cause you (Jason) pain”. However, in the end, it is both vain and unfair to question Euripides’ motives behind the play. While his sensitivity towards the position of women is amply clear, it is somewhat unreasonable to claim that he intends Medea’s behaviour to be seen as the ideal of feminist retaliation, simply by virtue of his choice of her mode of revenge. Rather, Euripides’ purpose seems to lie in highlighting the tragedy of human behaviour or an aspect of it, through the portrayal of the inner conflict of an individual and the social reactions to it, to comment on the notions of justice and revenge. With regard to a specific feminist voice, Euripides rather chooses to delve into objective logic while commenting upon the prevailing circumstances of his time, as voiced by the chorus:“The rolling ages have much to tell of our side, much, as well, of men’s”Therefore, instead of pinpointing and dissecting Euripides’ intent, Medea must be treated simply as an individual work of literature, which encompasses the trivialities of the human condition into a timeless framework.
Medea and Divinity
Euripides portrays his character, Medea, through a combination of sometimes contrasting traits. She is female in gender yet is largely responsible for the glory achieved by her husband and has achieved Kleos, an honor usually reserved for men. She is both powerless in her relationship to Jason, and powerful in her accomplishments and wit. She is a foreigner, yet, through her marriage to Jason, she is a Greek. Finally, she is both mortal, and because of her grandfather, the sun god Helios, immortal. This relationship to the gods is highly present in Medea. Throughout the play, Medea is often presented, both by herself and others, as the agent of divine will.Euripides uses storm imagery to connect Medea’s rage and revenge to the will of Zeus. As both the “Keeper of Oaths” (170) and the God of Thunder, Zeus becomes representative of Medea’s rage. Describing Medea’s ominous situation, the Nurse frets over “add[ing] new [sorrows] to old… even before the present sky has cleared” (78 79). This metaphor simultaneously forebodes the inevitable trouble that spawns from Jason’s actions, Medea’s own darkening will, and Zeus’s anger. Like rain from the stormy sky of the Nurse’s metaphor, Jason’s violation of his marriage contract with Medea brings down the wrath of Zeus. The Nurse continues to foretell Medea’s revenge, describing how Medea “soon will put lighting / in that cloud of her cries that is rising” (106 107). Medea’s revenge, like Zeus’ lightning is both direct and immediate. Given only the space of one day, Medea implements her supernatural knowledge of dark magic and potions to destroy all that Jason holds dear. Medea recognizes her own role as the executor of Zeus’ will. As both a sign of the intense agony of her situation, and a reference to the god whose will she believes to be on her side, Medea wishes that, like when Zeus asexually bore Athena from his forehead, lightning would “split [her] own head open” (144). Medea’s statement demonstrates the lack of sustainability of the present situation and hints at the future violence that will follow from the emotions Jason’s actions have stirred. As the drama of the play progresses and Medea’s anger grows, she persists in relating her actions to Zeus. In “full force of the storm of hate” (278) that Jason’s actions have conjured, Medea begins to plot the eventual revenge that she will take on Jason. Describing the rage of hatred she feels in terms of a storm creates an unavoidable causal relationship between Jason’s actions and the inevitably tragic outcome that serves to separate Medea from guilt for her actions of revenge.While Medea is often described in terms of Zeus imagery, Zeus’ actual role in Medea’s revenge remains uncertain. Perhaps as a means to separate the patriarchal deity from directly condoning Medea’s disturbing actions (the murder of royalty, the destruction of her husband, and the slaughter of her children), Euripides leaves Zeus’ role intentionally ambiguous. Through the barrage of Zeus imagery surrounding Medea and her rage, it seems that Medea feels confident in the father deity’s support. While Zeus seems one of the most obvious deities to pray to after Jason violates his marital commitments, Medea does not actually ask for his support. Instead, Medea prays to both Themis, “the goddess of Promises” (169), and Hecate, the goddess of dark magic, for help. As the play progresses, further uncertainty is cast over what part Zeus takes in Medea’s revenge. When the Nurse references Zeus as the god “whom we believe” (170) to be the Keeper of Oaths, Euripides makes us question whether it is Zeus or Medea who is actually enforcing Jason’s oath. Medea does not ignore the powerful god entirely. In response to Jason’s curse on Medea for her actions, Medea states “Long would be the answer which I might have made to / these words of yours, if Zeus the father did not know / How I have treated you and what you did to me” (1351-1353). Medea seems confident that she is an agent of Zeus’ will. However she receives the most obvious divine aid through other deities.Much of our perception of the relationship between Medea’s actions and the gods is built through tricks of speech. Euripides’ uses these tricks to make us question what role Medea takes in fulfilling the gods’ will. During a conversation with Medea, the Nurse notes that “God indeed, when in anger, brings / greater ruin to great men’s houses” (128 130). Medea proceeds to kill Creon, his daughter and her own children, thus doing the gods’ bidding by destroying the once great house of Creon and bringing about the fall of her husband, Jason, by wiping out all he holds dear. Medea often uses such tricks of speech to present herself as an instrument of gods’ will. Ambiguously referring to either her own marriage with Jason or Jason’s marriage to Creon’s daughter, Medea warns Jason that “perhaps with the help of God – / [he has made] the kind of marriage [that he] will regret” (625-626). Eventually Medea, through her elaborate punishment, insures that Jason eventually regrets both. Medea issues such statements to foreshadow as well as to justify her eventual actions as in line with the will of the gods. Ultimately, the prophecy rings true as Helios directly aids Medea by presenting her with a chariot pulled by dragons. Medea again suggests her own ability to fulfill the gods’ will during her interactions with King Aegeus. Distraught at his and his wife’s inability to produce children, Aegeus travels through Corinth from having discussed his problem with the oracle. Medea, distraught over Jason, runs into him and wishes that he “with God’s help” (714) be able to bear children. Once again, Medea promises to act as an agent of the gods’ will by promising “I will end your childlessness, and I will make you able / to beget children” (717-718) using drugs. In exchange, she asks for asylum in his country. Eager to rectify his problem and become a father, Aegeus promises to allow Medea to remain in his country “for the sake of the gods / and then for the birth of children” (720-721). Aegeus recognizes that aiding Medea would, in fact, be a virtue in the eyes of the gods. However he refuses to directly transport her from the country for fear that he may “incur blame from [his] friends” (730), showing that he recognizes that there may at times be a split between the will of the people and that of the gods. The Chorus also seems to recognize this divide between the will of people and that of divinity. Medea murders Creon and his daughter as well as her and Jason’s children in order to avenge the dishonor she has suffered through Jason’s marriage to Creon’s daughter. The Chorus attempts to dissuade her from murdering her children. However, when it becomes apparent that Medea is resolute on her course of action, the Chorus adamantly protests that if she is punished for her actions “divine / blood may be shed by men” (1256 1257). Medea, as the granddaughter of Helios, is beyond simply being an agent of the gods’ will of divine blood. For her blood to be spilt by mortal men would disturb the natural order.Euripides makes us question the extent to which Medea has been divinized. In a very real sense, she shares immortal blood with her grandfather Helios. But she seems to have aspirations of, beyond simply acting as an executor of the gods’ will, acting as a god herself. During much of the play, she attempts to position herself on equal planes with other gods. At one point, she refers to Hecate, the goddess of dark magic, as her “partner” (397). Hecate’s magic allows Medea to take revenge on Creon and his daughter by causing a dress Medea gives to Creon’s daughter to catch on fire. This method of poison involves not only the magic poison of Hecate but the fire of Medea’s grandfather, Helios. Towards the end of the play, Medea begins to blur the line between deity and mortal. Traditionally, the establishment of religious ceremonies is limited to gods. However, having murdered her children as a final blow to Jason, Medea honors her children by establishing “a holy feast and sacrifice” (1382). Medea’s powers are certainly supernatural. Not only has her grip on dark magic earned her Kleos in the eyes of the Greeks, but she also successfully foretells Jason’s death. Most likely appearing on stage in an area traditionally reserved for gods, Medea claims that Jason will die anticlimactically by being “struck on the head by a piece of Argo’s timber” (1387). Nonetheless, it remains unresolved to what extent Medea’s divine blood makes her godly. In any scenario, the gods’ support of Medea is eventually validated as the gods continue to aid her. Faced with the uncomfortable situation of being trapped in the land of Corinth after having murdered the king and his daughter, Medea is told fatalistically by Jason that in order to escape the “royal vengeance” (1298) she must “hide herself beneath the earth, / or raise herself on wings into the height of air” (1296-1297). In a final sign of support for Medea, Helios sends a chariot pulled by dragons for her to make her escape.