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Sunday, September 13, 2020

Medea by Euripides Review


Medea is a tragic play written by Euripides in ancient Greece. The story centralized on the enacted revenge of the barbarian Witch Medea after being dumped by Jason of whom she aided in the quest to retrieve the Golden Fleece and achieve glory. As a tragedy, it explored morbid themes such as death, revenge, and anguish. It also depicted greatness and pride. However, the central theme is betrayal.

Medea, Euripides, Tragedy, Greek, Literature
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Betrayal of the Soul
Medea, Euripides, Tragedy, Greek, Literature
Image: Brewninate
Betrayal is an act that is innate; It neither bereft nor benefit a person but reflect only the fragility of the human soul in the natural world. This idea rationalizes the afflictive actions of Medea which led to the death of her children, King Creon, and his daughter. An impartial view as presented by Euripides was that each tragedy was orchestrated through the will of an unseen force ala Zeus. That alone expressed the abject of the design which emphasized the levity of being human in the absence of control.


Despite the antecedent of killings, Medea’s actions were completely and justifiably human albeit may seem self-servicing enough for the readers to empathize with Jason’s plight. Objectively, it is an abhorrent fact that exists because human beings feel. Each feeling is placated by the limitations of one’s control. Thus, the brashness that Medea had shown is solely instinctive to which the people ridiculed but is completely natural.

Betrayal of trust

Trust always goes both ways. To show trust means a person is anticipating for a similar response. But what if that trust is not answered with the same enthusiasm and commitment? The result is always betrayal. The play effectively illustrated how trust is not an easy thing to give but ironically, when given, is easily broken. Medea had shown blind trust to express her love for Jason which only fueled her grievance when it was not reciprocated. But love is not the definition of trust, trust happens when there is an agreement between both parties.

It can be easily argued that the actions of Medea toward love and trust is her own fault. However, one should perceive it in her own eyes. In real life, jealousy happens because one’s desire is met with rejection. Jealousy is the antecedent to a betrayal – betrayal of trust in oneself that expose vulnerabilities leading to unpleasant acts as is the case for Medea.

Medea, Euripides, Tragedy, Greek, Literature
Image: The Conversation
Betrayal of Nature

Given the nature of betrayal in the play, it is logical to reevaluate the basis of betrayal. As it turned out, betrayal is the result of collated experiences, amplified by the limitations of our control. As humans, we became responsive to the demands of time and space (nature) and this emanated in the form of art and literature. The depiction of the tragedy of Medea is the author’s acknowledgement of this status quo.


The reference to the theme ofbetrayal is littered throughout and was unfolding as readers progress in theplay. Jason upon knowing a way to advance his status through marriage with Princess Gauke betrays his promise of unconditional love to Medea. It just so happens that Medea betrayed her family and thus have no more home to come back to. She was also exiled by King Creon. Jason, however, offered Medea to become his mistress and arise the betrayal of dignity. She met the King of Athens of whom she did not disclosed her true intentions. She promised him a cure for his infertility and resulted to a betrayal of trust. The final betrayal is unknowingly directed to herself, specifically the betrayal of motherhood upon killing her progenies.

Written by Joshua Rodriguez, IFY Books

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