Medea shows that seeking revenge undermines any hope of justice

Categories: Medea Tragedy

The brutal course of revenge which Medea exacts on Jason may suggest that in the pursuit of revenge, one render any prospect of attaining justice to be void. However in an indirect way, Medea’s course of revenge which implicates the lives of innocents, exerts a punishment on her. Ultimately, the fact that Medea is not directly subjected to a punishment for her extreme course of her revenge is attributable to her ancestry – she is the grand-daughter of the Sun-God. This nullifies any suggestion that seeking revenge overthrows the likelihood of justice, as Medea’s divine circumstances are an anomaly.

Thereby, this outcome of her ploy of revenge is not representative of the outcome which an identical course of revenge would yield for an ordinary citizen in Ancient Greece.

On a superficial and simplistic level, the success of Medea’s course of revenge suggests that justice has been attained, as we witness the rightful downfall of Jason. Jason’s betrayal of Medea in the form of his abandonment, results in the breaking of the oath he pledged to Medea and the Gods.

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Thus, in adherence to the notion of divine justice, that the Gods will exact justice on those who commit unnatural deeds, Jason deserves a calamitous punishment for the breaking of this oath to the Gods and Medea, who “never did him wrong”. Through achieving revenge on Jason in the most effective manner possible, via murdering their children and his wife, Medea inflicts this just punishment on Jason.

However, on a more profound level, Medea’s immoderate course of revenge instills within the audience a sense that her course of revenge has been essentially counter-productive to achieving true justice.

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In her pursuit of revenge, Medea murders her innocent children, indicating that she has committed an indisputably barbaric injustice, while seeking to exert justice on Jason. To a lesser extent, this also applies to Glauce and Creon. Although they have been involved in Jason’s abandonment of Medea through implicitly condoning it, Medea’s murder of these two is also unwarranted and unjustifiable. Yet, despite committing these gross injustices, the play concludes without any direct form of divine justice being exerted on Medea. To the contrary, Medea receives assistance in fleeing Corinth.

To a certain extent justice is indirectly inflicted on Medea for her excessive course of revenge, pertaining particularly to the murders of her children. It noticeable intensifies Medea’s plight, suggesting that a punishment is derived on Medea. Prior to committing these barbaric deeds, Medea recognises that they will cause her to “endure guilt, however horrible.” Medea’s desire for the continued presence of her children shows that she maintains a compassionate nature towards her children, affirming that Medea’s murder of her children will be to the detriment of her enduring quality of life. This is confirmed by Medea’s complete agreement with Jason’s view that the murders of their children cause Medea “to suffer too, my loss is yours [Medea’s] no less.

“Medea’s association with the gods by her ancestry, refutes the widespread applicability of the notion that revenge cannot succeed in terms of forming true justice. Medea is the grand-daughter of the Sun-God. This is shown most emphatically in the manner in which Medea murders Glauce. Medea perpetrates the murder of Glauce through engulfing her in flames. Similarly, she exhibits an affiliation with the god Zeus, and the god of the underworld, “Queen Hecate … my chosen accomplish.” This affiliation is pivotal to why a punishment is not directly exerted on Medea by the gods for the injustices she commits whilst perpetrating her ploy for revenge on Jason. Thus, informing us that for an ordinary citizen in Ancient Greece, such an unscathed outcome would not be possible. It forces us to realise that the outcome of Medea does not conclusively show that seeking revenge through immoderate means leads to a failure to achieve true justice.

In many ways, Medea’s departure from Corinth within a chariot provided by the Gods, despite the callous deeds she has committed in exacting revenge on Jason, suggests that the pursuit of revenge occurs at the expense of the formation of genuine justice. However, we must be cautious to accept this misguided suggestion, due to Medea’s rare circumstance of divine attributes, which enables her to be vindicated by the Gods for her merciless deeds perpetrated whilst exerting justice on Jason.

References:Euripides, Medea

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Medea shows that seeking revenge undermines any hope of justice. (2016, Jul 31). Retrieved from

Medea shows that seeking revenge undermines any hope of justice

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