The Greek playwright, Euripides, is considered one of the three greatest tragedians of classical Athens; his individuality is tribute to the way he “pushes to the limits of what an audience can stand” . Such ideas are portrayed in one of his famous plays, Medea , a fascinating classic centered on the Greek goddess Medea. During his time, Euripides, a genius playwright, was unpopular since he defied the customary method of playwriting during the 430s B.C.E., he introduced a nihilistic and disturbing tragedy that is focused on women, slaves and persons from the lower class. Euripides’ mastery shines through as he guides the audience to sympathize with Medea even when she commits filicide, a seemingly horrendous act. He utilizes the Chorus, the Nurse, and the Children- all are which minor characters- to induce compassion for Medea, establish the development of her emotional state, and ascertain the importance of her dignity. Although these characters guide the audience towards similar concepts, they disagree on the slaughter of the children.
The Chorus in Medea consists of middle-aged Corinthian women who are present on stage throughout the entire act. In Medea, they defy their customary purpose of solely observing, and instead, they give their opinion on the events of the production and directly speak to the characters. Throughout the piece, they voice the audience’s thoughts, feelings, and questions, while elaborating on the consequences of the events.
The choral role in the play extends to the Nurse. In Medea, Euripides uses the Nurse to introduce her and give an introduction to the play. The Nurse is the first character on stage; subsequently, she starts off the play by giving the audience the information needed to get into its disposition and lay down the basis of the play. Before the viewers get to meet her in person, Euripides personalizes Medea through the Nurse; this technique is used to give more depth to her character, furthermore it prepares the audience for the oncoming events. Even though the Nurse is a slave while Medea is goddess, they are presented as close friends. This representation of a friendship, which crosses social boundaries, makes Medea seem fair and unbiased unlike most typical characters in this era, where the social clashes would present a problem.
Although the Children are not actively on stage, they still give us much insight into Medea’s character. Despite the children’s fundamental role in the play, they are rarely seen and have very few lines. This may be due to the fact that children are very hard to control on stage, in most cases they simply do not have the level of discipline required to act. Euripides makes up for this by manifesting the presence of the children by always referring to them through other characters.
All of these minor characters encourage sympathy from the audience. The Chorus portrays their compassion towards Medea as they say, “I heard her voice, I heard that unhappy woman from...