Medea (via fuckyeahgreatplays)
I’ve been reading so much scholarship on Medea as a hero-play lately, and Medea (the character) as a hero-figure. It’s fascinating to read - she’s obsessed with oaths and honor in the play, and her rage at Jason is not so much sexual jealousy as it is a heroic contempt for a man who betrayed his oath to her. Her pronouncement above, βαρεῖαν ἐχθροῖς καὶ φίλοισιν εὐμενῆ (harsh to enemies and kind-willed toward friends) is central to the Greek hero’s honor code.
She comes off as very Achilles-like (he lets many of the Greek soldiers die to get back at Agamemnon; Medea murders her sons to get back at Jason).
By that logic, Medea’s infanticide is actually a great sacrifice on her part to avenge her wounded honour - she follows the masculine hero-code to the letter and accomplishes her goal. And this means that the ending of the play is actually a happy ending; Medea is wholly triumphant over Jason and has succeeded in emotionally destroying him, which was what she set out to do. Her actions are approved by the gods, and she exits victorious to bury the bodies of her sons, leaving Jason without even a chance to attend the funeral.
If you can find it, read Elizabeth Brighton Bongie’s “Heroic Codes in the Medea of Eurpides,” because hot damn, those hero-codes.