Deviation from an Ethical Code in Euripides' Medea

At first glance, the system of ethics presented by Euripides in his masterpiece Medea seems to parallel the systems found in several other tragedies of ancient Greek theatre. This system of helping friends and harming enemies, which recurs throughout many of tragedians’ works, attempts to rationalize the excessive violence and hostility (Blundell 1989). This system falls short in Medea, however, as Medea is forced to decide a course of action which both ways will harm her friends and help her enemies. Therefore, both Medea and Jason must be driven by an alternate motivation, which turns out to be a utilitarian position in which all that matters is personal success and happiness, regardless of consequences. These ethical overtones, however, contrast a great deal with Sophocles’ ethical standards portrayed in the Antigone. Through an examination and interpretation of the actions of principle characters from Medea and Antigone, it is brought to attention that Euripides finds Sophocles’ system inadequate.

Medea is in a situation where regardless of her actions, she and her friends will suffer and her enemies aided. If she kills her children she will harm her enemy Jason, but she will be forced to endure the pain of murdering her...

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