Medea And Athens: The Strongest Women Of 4th Century BC

Submitted By emtay18
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The Strongest Women of 4th Century BC Being a woman in 400 B.C. could not have been an easy task. Women were looked down upon. To be a wife and have children seemed to be the main calling for all women of the time. Through Medea and Helen, Euripides expresses his sympathetic views towards women. Medea is the strongest character in which Euripides clearly sympathizes with women. Euripides uses different characters throughout to pity with Medea, but also uses negativity towards Jason, who seems to be the person one would immediately want to sympathize with. Medea herself is used to show some of these views. As the tragedy begins, Medea is speaking to the Chorus, “We women are the most unfortunate creatures. /…For us to buy a husband and take for our bodies/ A master; for not to take one is even worse” (Medea 8). One of the largest predicaments for this time period is brought up immediately in the play. The struggle for women dominated by men by being forced to have a husband or looked down upon if they did not take one. This speaks great volumes in saying that Euripides sympathizes with women because it was not likely for a man to speak negative feelings towards that stigma when the men are who have the power. The Chorus of Corinthian Women also play a large role in expressing Euripides views on women. Saying, “This I will promise. You are in the right, Medea, /In paying your husband back” (Medea 9). Not many would believe that Medea is right in the predicament she is in when she has killed o many in her life to get to this point. The Chorus stands behind her throughout the entire play. Also, Aegeus, King of Athens, also feels bad for Medea later when he says, “your grief is understandable,” and he tells her that she can come to Greece for protection out of exile (Medea 23). It is thought that a woman of such hostile nature, that Jason makes Medea seem, would not have any friends. Aegeus is a minor character, yet speaks great volumes. For Medea to have the King of Athens be her friend, sympathize with her, and take her in, has great meaning. These major and minor characters in Medea clearly show Euripides pity towards women at the time. The negativity shown towards Jason throughout Medea also expresses sympathetical views towards women. As Medea kills at least four people, one would first think she is the root of these problems. However, Euripides does not paint the picture this way. Euripides uses Medea’s previous actions of saving Jason’s life as a way for Jason to take the blame for leaving her. When Jason and Medea first confront each other, Medea says, “I saved your life, and every Greek knows I saved it” (16). She did these actions out of love and passion rather than hate and evilness. Euripides also makes Jason to be a neglectful father in a sense. Jason was willing to give up his children and exile them with Medea. Medea says, “Now you would speak to them, now you would kiss them. / Then you rejected them” (Medea 46).