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Medea - Men and Women in Ancient Greece

            In the play Medea, Euripides shows the major roles that men and women play in Greek society and questions the audience on whether Athenian society was strongly patriarchal. This play is not a man-versus-woman struggle with one side or the other as morally right. It is more of a disapproval of passion, revenge and arrogant pride. Euripides explores these ideas in his play.
             At the start of the play Medea Euripides gives Medea an opening speech to the chorus in which she reminds the audience of the powerless position of women in Greek society by referring to the women as "wretched creatures" and by stating that they do anything for their men. The chorus strengthen this unequal gender position by agreeing for Medea to get her revenge by saying "you will be right to exact vengeance from your husband". In Greek society women did not have the rights of citizens, married women were dependent on their husbands, restricted to cloistered domestic life and bound by obedience to their husbands. The double standard of sexual matters applied, with men free to take other sexual partners but women being punished severely for adultery. In the play Jason blames Medea for sexual jealously and questions why she is acting the way she is, even though Medea is not from Corinth she was still faithful and obedient to her husband but wasn't fully aware of the expectations of women and men which made her question Jason's "oaths" for his marriage. .
             Feminism is not the subject of the play but feminist issues are discovered in it. Plays preformed in Athens, by Euripides and other Greek playwrights, often featured female protagonist even though the roles of women were performed by males because females were not allowed to perform on stage due to the fact that they would be breaching their duties of a women. Euripides may have some sympathy for the plight of women in Athenian society but he certainly does not raise the female characters up as a perfect role model as he makes Medea out to be the protagonist but then later portrays her as ruthless, arrogant and capable of the horrific crime of filicide.

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