Literary Criticism

by Euripides

Medea is the Greek play about a woman driven insane by her husband's infidelity. In revenge, she kills their two children, her husband's mistress and, finally, the husband.

Medea in Greek Culture and Human Nature[]

by User:LockeShocke

<This  ariticle is BULL $HIT> The wisest sage says, "All things in moderation." This was the backbone of Greek civilization and philosopy as well: "Nothing in excess." Eurypedes, to illustrate this point, wrote a play in which a woman's rampaging jealousy destroys her and her loved ones. The Greek play Medea is a tragic commentary warning against the horrors of excess in emotion. Its message relates to human nature and transcends any one time period.

The ancient Greeks were fascinated with the human's place in the universe and the perfect civilization. A concept they clung to religiously was a "happy mean:" moderation, homeostasis, balance. This was the way of life for them: compromise and the middle-ground in thoughts, actions, and beliefs. They ruled their world with reason, and understood that emotions must be kept in check at all times. Medea is a striking example of how emotions run amok cause havok in society, and spoke especially loudly to the ancient Greeks.

Throughout the play, Medea is jealousy incarnate. Her ponderance of revenge—in a logical fashion—must have been upsetting for its ancient Greek audience, for them to see their instrument of stability in society bent to her wicked, destructive will. "There are evils that cannot be conquered by other evils," one of the Chorus says, "patience remains." As the audience sides with the Chorus in their crusade for reason, they are shocked and overwhelmed to see Medea's anger overpowering even her principles of temperance.

Medea deals with the dark, inner workings of the human psyche. Customs, societies, and civilizations have changed since Eurypedes' times, but the human mind itself remains very much the same. All humans have felt jealousy, envy, anger, perhaps even bloodlust. For these reasons, the audience can relate to Medea and what she is feeling. The play, still today, stands of paramount importance and appeal, as a work condemning the evils of strong emotion over moderation and reason. Human beings, as long as they live, will be able to relate to Medea on some level, conscious or unconscious.

Medea was particularly effective as a commentary on emotions unbound when it was written at the time of the stately, philosophizing and moderation-preaching Greeks. Today, however, its message still warns us to stand steadfast against the siren-song of extreme emotions pulling us toward the rocks of instability and excess.