Medea and Penelope - Strong Women in a Man's World

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Euripides and Homer are said to be two of the four cornerstones of ancient literary education. The former, Euripides, known as one of the great tragedians of classical Athens produced approximately ninety-two plays, but was rejected by most of his contemporaries during his lifetime. Euripides was the first of his time to portray a woman as a sympathetic character and a victim of society. Homer is known as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. His most famous works being the Iliad and the Odyssey. Both of these ancient authors used strong women in their works.

In Euripides Medea, the main character of the same name is a force to be

reckoned with. The play starts out just after the divorce of Jason and Medea. Jason has left Medea for a younger princess and Medea is the stereotypical woman scorned. The play takes an odd and slightly twisted change of pace when Medea plots revenge on Jason and kills the princess, her father, and her own two children. Conversely, in Homer's the Odyssey, Odysseus has been away for twenty years and longs to return home to his wife Penelope. While he has been away, Penelope has been faithfully awaiting the return of her husband, all the while diffusing the advances of possible suitors who want to take of the kingdom. With help from the Gods, Odysseus finally returns to Ithaca, and tests his wife before they reunite. On the surface the characters of Medea and Penelope may seem like they are completely different, they actually have more in common than most would think, and both played a major role in their time.

The character of Medea is truly that of the tragic hero. She has devoted her life to

Jason. She has committed horrible acts for and with Jason. All in the name of love. Medea's love knows no bounds. She would have done anything for Jason, and while he

may have loved her, he never felt that she was doing anything for him that he had not repaid or deserved. Upon speaking to Medea after the divorce, Jason says "You...
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