Who Is Guilty? in Relation to Euripides Medea Essay
In Euripides’ Greek play “Medea”, Medea’s revenge ultimately makes her guilty of causing the tragedy, not Jason. This is because her crimes far outweigh those of Jason, she is aware of her actions and their consequences and Jason never intends to hurt anyone. The term “Medea’s revenge” refers to the murder of Creon, Glauce and Medea’s two sons in order to upset Jason. “Guilty” in this context refers to the person who is responsible for the tragedy of four deaths.
The murder of four human beings has always been a worse crime than adultery, yet this is how Medea retaliates. The saying “an eye for an eye” becomes more like “an eye for an eye, liver, intestines, heart and brain” according to Medea’s selfrighteous, arrogant pride. This stubborn pride is evident in many parts of the play, and Jason correctly identifies this when he claims that “in your stubborn pride you reject your dear ones and make your suffering worse” (ln 602-3). Medea’s selfish sense of honour is what causes the death of her sons, not Jason’s unfaithfulness.
This child-killing is probably the worst part of her crimes, as the boys are completely innocent and had no part in the argument between Medea and Jason. The shedding of kindred blood was an unacceptable crime in those times, and makes Medea’s revenge even worse. The background to the play explains that Medea has no objection to murdering when it suites her, as she has killed both her brother and Jason’s uncle Pelias. Although someone with such a cold heart will never feel it, she is guilty of causing the tragedy.
Medea is fully aware of her actions and what the repercussions will be. Her psychomachia (battle of the soul) demonstrates this, but her selfish emotions once again dominate and cause her to make an irrational decision to kill the children. An example of her understanding of the consequences is when she states that “I have the saddest road to travel” (ln 1036). By acknowledging the effects of her actions, Medea proves that she is not insane, but a deliberate killer. Medea chooses to put herself before her children, and this is far more selfish than Jason’s quest for royalty.
Whereas Jason marries Glauce for the sole purpose of consolidating his position in power, Medea’s actions are crafted to hurt people in order to mend her twisted sense of pride. It has always been Jason’s goal to become king, the position which is his birth right. In fact, Jason travelled halfway across the world and overcame many challenges just to do this. Seeing the lengths that he will go to for a chance at power, it is not surprising that he accepted a royal marriage when the opportunity presented itself.
Contrary to what Medea self-righteously convinces herself, Jason is not with Glauce because he’s “lusting for [his] newwon bride” (ln 604). Medea’s spiteful motives, however, are selfish and hurtful. Her murderous plan has no benefit to anyone but herself, and deliberately causes pain to innocent people. Medea is the one to blame for the tragedy of the play. Her revenge is planned to deliberately hurt others, and she is fully aware of the consequences. Jason, however, only hurts Medea accidentally in his quest to become a king.