"Medea", a play by the Greek playwright Euripides, explores the Greek-
barbarian dichotomy through the character of Medea, a princess from the
"barbarian", or non-Greek, land of Colchis. Throughout the play, it becomes
evident to the reader that Medea is no ordinary woman by Greek standards.
Central to the whole plot is Medea's barbarian origins and how they are related
to her actions. In this paper, I am attempting to answer questions such as how
Medea behaves like a female, how she acts heroically from a male point of view,
why she killed her children, if she could have achieved her goal without killing
them, if the murder was motivated by her barbarian origins, and how she deals
with the pain of killing her children.
As an introduction to the play, the status of women in Greek society
should be briefly discussed. In general, women had very few rights.
eyes of men, the main purposes of women in Greek society were to do housework
such as cooking and cleaning, and bear children. They could not vote, own
property, or choose a husband, and had to be represented by men in all legal
proceedings. In some ways, these Greek women were almost like slaves. There is
a definite relationship between this subordination of women and what transpires
in the play. Jason decides that he wants to divorce Medea and marry the
princess of Corinth, casting Medea aside as if they had never been married.
This sort of activity was acceptable by Greek standards, and shows the
subordinate status of the woman, who had no say in any matter like this.
Even though some of Medea's actions were not typical of the average
Greek woman, she still had attitudes and emotions common among women. For
instance, Medea speaks...