The question of ethics in medea
In the beginning, the system of ethics shown by Euripides in his work of genius Medea generally seems to parallel the systems present in several other tragedies of ancient Greek theatre. This system of supporting friends and harming enemies, which recurs throughout a lot of tragedians’ performs, attempts to rationalize the excessive violence and hatred (Blundell 1989). This system falls short in Medea, however , as Medea is forced to decide a course of action which in turn both techniques will injury her close friends and help her enemies. Therefore , both Medea and Jerrika must be motivated by another motivation, which usually turns out to be a utilitarian location in which all that matters is personal success and happiness, regardless of consequences. These kinds of ethical overtones, however , comparison a great deal with Sophocles’ honest standards pictured in the Antigone. Through an assessment and interpretation of the activities of basic principle characters via Medea and Antigone, it truly is brought to interest that Euripides finds Sophocles’ system insufficient.
Medea is in a scenario where irrespective of her activities, she and her close friends will suffer and her enemies aided. If perhaps she gets rid of her kids she will injury her enemy Jason, although she will be forced to endure the pain of murdering her own offspring. Conversely, in the event she makes a decision to not eliminate her kids and continue living while Jason’s partner, she does not harm her enemies in any respect and need to endure the disgrace of Jason currently taking another better half. Medea identifies the difficulty of her situation but makes a decision that it is far better to take action and bear the pain than to give in to her maternal desires, declaring “Do I want to be jeered at to get letting my personal enemies off scot-free? ” (Medea 1049 ” 1050).
Euripides puts Medea in a unique situation. Because of her conditions, the traditional approach to ethics suitable in most various other plays comes apart. A much more fundamental approach to motivation ” in this case, utilitarianism ” is required. Medea must adopt the idea that the best course of action is the one that ideal advances her self-interest. Your woman decides that avenging the shame Jerr brought upon her simply by introducing a mistress into the home is more important than killing her children. Damaging Jason will be worth the price of killing.
Medea’s deed further more subverts typical ethics because she is a female. In ancient Greek time, ladies were frequently thought of as second class people, needed simply for procreation, raising of children, and tending to the man’s residence. Because your woman breaks away from her expected role, a lot of scholars, most notably Helene G. Foley, believe through her action your woman becomes a gentleman in all sensory faculties other than physical (2001). This kind of drastic change is only possible through Medea’s adoption of a new group of ethical beliefs.
Medea also exhibits a functional stance once she formulates an agreement with Aigeus. The girl promises that in exchange pertaining to refuge in Athens, she is going to give Aigeus fertility. Given that that she’s doing this to aid her friend, but seriously she is simply looking out for her own basic safety. The safe place Aigeus delivers allows Medea to killing her children and avoid retribution.
Jason employs an identical utilitarian system of ethics when he brings a brand new mistress, a daughter of Creon, in Medea’s house. By marrying Creon’s girl, he secures a politics and economic bond among his home and that in the king of Corinth. Jason’s actions explicitly depict a utilitarian perspective, as he consciously brings disgrace upon Medea to ensure his own secureness and his kid’s financial wellbeing.
Unlike Euripides, Sophocles illustrates Blundell’s ethical approach to “helping close friends and damaging enemies” in the play Antigone. Both Antigone and Creon adhere to the machine, though each hold devotedness to different area of their group ” Creon to the point out, and Antigone to her family members. Antigone is so dedicated to aiding her good friends that she actually is prepared to die for them, saying to her sister “¦ you made the choice to live, and I to die” (Antigone 555). In this case, she actually is determined to aid her lifeless brother Polyneices by praising his dead body with a correct burial. Additionally , when Antigone’s sister Ismene attempts to her out of defying Creon, Antigone fiercely withstands, thinking that Ismene simply wishes a share in the glory: “Don’t make an effort to share this kind of death with me at night. Don’t assert as yours a action you did not touch. My very own death is going to suffice” (Antigone 546-547). Antigone is simply remaining devout with her moral program.
Because Creon is more interested in political affairs than familial a genuine, he opinions Polyneices as an enemy for rebelling and leading troops against Thebes. He states which the body of Polyneices will be left “unentombed, to be the meals of wild birds and pups, an invective to behold” (Antigone 205-206). Creon, nevertheless , does prize Eteocles, the brother of Polyneices, which has a proper funeral because Eteocles died defending the city. Antigone, conversely, neglects their personal affiliation and believes firmly that both men ought to be honored since they are her brothers.
Whilst their thoughts differ, however , Antigone and Creon talk about devotion for their ethical code. Antigone’s committing suicide illustrates that people dedicated to morality must be prepared to make surrender if their honnête conflict with those in power. This moral code works in Sophocles since the concepts of friends and enemies, nevertheless not decided, are crystal clear and defined.
The reader’s comprehension of characters’ honest codes is crucial when one particular attempts to interpret a play. For instance , Foley argues that Medea makes the transition from woman to man to divine through her choices and actions (2001). It would be extremely tough to make such a strong interpretation if the reader did not initial understand the motivation that went Medea.
Euripides disregards the moral code shown so obviously by Sophocles because the situation he describes in Medea is too challenging to follow that code. The “helping friend and damaging enemies” moral code works well in facile, undemanding, easy, basic, simple matters, but falls very well short in case of in which helping friends will likely help opponents, or vise-versa. By offering a situation by which Sophocles’ ethics break down, Euripides argues that such a code cannot and should not really be adopted.
Blundell M. Assisting Friends and Harming Adversaries ” A Study in Sophocles and Traditional Ethics. New York: Cambridge University or college Press, 1989.
Euripides. Medea. Trans. A. M. Podlecki. Newburyport: Focus Traditional Publishing, 2004
Foley, H. Female Acts in Greek Misfortune. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001.
Sophocles. Antigone. Trans. Ruby Blondell. Newburyport: Focus Time-honored Publishing, 2002.