Revenge In The Odyssey And Medea A Side By Side Look Nyu/Ancient Lit Thematic Essay

2001 words - 9 pages

Nicholas Morris
Professor Karageorgos
CMP 2800 Essay 1 -- Revenge
24 October 2017
Revenge is a common theme in both Homer’s “The Odyssey,” and Euripides’ “Medea.” In both stories, the respective author’s create a plot, and tell a tale that requires the protagonists to exact revenge from their antagonists. In Euripides’ “Medea” the theme of revenge is introduced relatively early, as we see Medea looking to levy revenge on her former husband Jason for leaving her and wanting to marry another woman. We learn that Jason’s reasons for wanting to leave Medea are very self-centered, which is the main reason Medea decides to pursue punishment through revenge on her former husband. In “The Odyssey,” revenge also becomes the primary focus of the narration. The key difference between the two stories however, is revenge in “The Odyssey” comes through longer periods within the story. In “The Odyssey” Telemachus, who is Odysseus’ son, plans for a time when he and his father can punish the suitors of Odysseus’ wife Penelope for their greed, ultimately reclaiming their kingdom in Ithaca. Homer’s “The Odyssey” additionally features several other tales of revenge, however the reclaiming of Ithaca is the bulk of the plot.
The initial act of Jason selfishly leaving Medea for a younger woman to obtain a higher social status is a practice as old as time itself. The action is so common that it was performed in “Medea” as early as 431 BCE. To this day, we see the theme of one partner leaving another for social status (The inequality of relationships) played out in out popular culture in TV shows such as “Keeping Up With The Kardashian’s.” Just like in popular culture, the treatment Medea was subjected to leads her seek revenge.
“Medea” is just that, a story of revenge. With that revenge, comes a tale of crime and punishment. The story is introduced as Medea, the wife of Jason, totally committed to her husband and her two children. At this point, Medea has already given up everything she has to ensure that her husband is powerful. However, as powerful as he is, Jason decides to abandon his wife for a woman who will even further benefit his social standing. Medea is not only deeply hurt by this move, but she is angered, that after all she has done, her husband would choose to leave her for such trivial reasons. The stature of Jason’s reasoning is only amplified when he is left to continuously explain his reasoning for leaving his wife. At one point Jason tells Medea “this was the main reason, that we might live well, and not be short of anything… also that I might bring my children up worthy of my position" (Lines 547-551) In (Lines 581-585) Jason continues with, “it was not because of a women I made the royal allegiance in which I now live, but, as I said before, I wished to preserve you and breed a royal progeny to be brothers to the children I have now, a sure defense to us" Essentially, Jason defends leaving Medea as an altruistic act for the betterment of his...

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