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Saturday, November 4, 2017

Medea, In Her Role as a Hero - Part I

In the Medea, written by the ancient Greek playwright Euripides (c. 480 – c. 406 BC), we are presented with a tragic account of the doom of a classic hero, Medea.

Medea is a complex hero, I would argue that her story is more complicated than that of any other hero in the classical lexicon, beginning with the fact that Medea is a woman

Medea is a female hero in the Hellenic world where women had no standing and were not allowed a role in public life. Medea is also a foreigner, an alien in the Hellenic culture that is characteristically xenophobic.

Despite her status as a woman and an outsider, Medea is a person of power.

Medea comes to the Greek city of Corinth as the wife of Jason, captain of the Argos and leader of the Argonauts. In her capacity as Jason’s wife she has status.

In her native country Medea is a princess of royal blood and divine descent. She is the daughter of Aeetes, king of Colchis, who is the son of Helios, the divine sun, and Perse (Mother of all Persia).

Medea is only one generation removed from her divine progenitor, she is the niece of Circe

In the narrative of Jason and the Argonauts, Medea is the prime mover of the action, all of the characteristics of the hero are personified in her. She is a person of bold determination

Medea carries those qualities forward into her own narrative. She does not shirk from her mission to seek justice, for herself and her family even as she takes dramatic action against the social conventions of the Hellenic world in order to receive the justice she is looking for and accomplish her ends.