There are several elements that can outright describe and reflect Greek drama. The play “Medea” by Euripides is a mythical tragedy that was written in 431 BC. One common element in such plays that is also reflected through the drama is the presence of mythical gods. The story gives relevance to the sun god Helios and Zeus, who are common godly figures in Greek mythology. Additionally, the play reflects Greek drama through its scenes, where each scene is only made up of two people. This is a common trait in the early Greek tragedies. The presence of a chorus is also a reflector of Greek mythology through the play. The chorus adds on to the storyline through their reactions and lyrics as the play progresses.
It is important to note that the themes that the writer used can also be linked with other Greek dramas. For example, the theme of revenge is common among Greek plays. In the case of Medea, her revenge was aimed at her unfaithful husband, Jason. She manages to kill Jason’s soon-to-be wife and her father. To hurt him even more, she kills their two sons and takes their bodies with her to Athens. “I do not leave my children’s bodies with thee; I take them with me that I may bury them in Hera’s precinct. And for thee, who didst me all that evil, I prophesy an evil doom,” she notes in the play (Medea 58).
Additionally, the theme of passion is also clearly brought out. The main character, Medea orchestrates her revenge plan based on her passion for her husband. She believes that if she cannot have him, nobody else can. It is also her passion that forces her to kill her own children in an attempt to hurt her husband. Her husband’s despair is emphasized by the chorus who sing “What we did not expect the gods brought to bear / So have things gone, this whole experience through!” (Medea 62).
There are two main reasons why Medea does what she does in the play. The first is that she has been embarrassed by her husband’s infidelity. Medea is not the only woman to have suffered from the effects of adultery in Greek drama. However, the additional fact that her husband planned on marrying another woman, and making Medea his mistress, evoked feelings of vulnerability. Many Greek dramas have instances where the unfaithful spouse is forgiven or keeps a mistress. However, Medea’s case was different as her status was being lowered from the wife to mistress, and that of the mistress elevated to wife.
Secondly, Medea did what she did because she felt that her husband did not value what she had to offer and she had no choice but to make him pay for what he had done not only to her, but to their family. “Go on, play the bridegroom! Perhaps […] you’ve made a match you’ll one day have cause to lament,” (Medea 15). This warning was given when Medea was informed that her husband planned on leaving her to marry his mistress. The warning indicates that the lead character had thought about the best way to make her husband pay for both his unfaithfulness and his disrespect.
It is evidently that Medea’s actions were executed due to emotional pain from the betrayal she experienced. Despite this, what she did was wrong and immoral. Additionally, her actions enhance the stereotype that jilted women cannot control their emotions. One cannot argue that she acted in a moment of insanity as she had planned her revenge for a long time. Indeed, whereas she is portrayed as a strong woman, the fact that she also appears mentally unstable drives the mentioned stereotype. These few reasons alone make her actions highly condemnable.
Euripides. Medea: Dover Thrift Editions. Edited by Stanley Appelbaum, Courier Corporation, 2012.