The Heroic Code

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Final Exam Essay
It is commonly noted that Medea and Achilles possess similarities in their rage. There are five major similarities. They both acknowledge the heroic code, they feel dishonored and unjustly slighted, they react with anger and rage causing them to turn down any advice, they’re referred as “wild beasts” and “savages,” and they sacrifice the lives of loved ones and friends to satisfy their need for revenge.

The heroic code is a hero that is willing to confront death. Both Achilles and Medea acknowledge this idea. Medea feels as if she is a hero because she killed the king and his daughter. A messenger tries to warn Medea to leave the city in a hurry because they know she was the murderer. In return, Medea replies, “The finest words you have spoken. Now and hereafter I shall count you among my benefactors and friends” (718: 1101 – 1102). Medea is not fazed by the anger of the city. She states, “How did they die? You will delight me twice as much again if you say they died in agony” (718: 1109 – 1110). Medea is delighted to hear that they have died and that she was the one that killed them. Medea is satisfied with herself and her actions. To her, she is the complete meaning of a hero. Achilles sees himself as the greatest of all the Achaeans. He states, “…Achilles, the best of the Achaeans” (130: 490). He sees himself as a great hero; a hero that looks out for his friends. Even the council says, “So you, Achilles – great godlike Achilles…” (160: 598 – 599). Achilles is known as a great war hero. He not only considers himself as one, but the whole city does as well. Achilles is the perfect example of the heroic code.

Medea and Achilles express the feeling of hurt and dishonor throughout their stories. Even though both characters experience this pain, they each have their own reasons as to why they feel this way. Medea, a princess from Colchis, uses her magic and falls in love with Jason. She left her city and everything behind to go back to Corinth with her new husband. They lived in the city, where they eventually had two kids. This marriage did not last much longer. The nurse expresses this when she says, “But now there’s hated everywhere. Love is diseased. For, deserting his own children and my mistress, Jason has taken a royal wife to his bed, the daughter of the ruler of this land, Kreon. And poor Medea is slighted, and cries aloud on the vows they made to each other” (695: 16 – 21). Jason not only abandons Medea, but his children as well. Medea feels dishonor by this because Jason his leaving her for the kings daughter. He shows no compassion or remorse for what he has done to Medea. By marrying the kings’ daughter, it allows Jason to become the new king. To Jason, that seems to be the only thing that matters. Medea expresses all her pain and anger for this man to the chorus. They feel as if she is going to seek revenge on Jason. While talking with the chorus, Kreon approaches the house. He states, “You, with that angry look, so set against you husband, Medea, I order you to leave my territories. An exile, and take along with you your two children, and not to waste time doing it. It is my decree, and I will see it done. I will not return home until you are cast from the boundaries of my land” (701: 269 – 274). Kreon is exiling Medea because he feels afraid that she might retaliate and kill his daughter or Jason. Medea feels so dishonored by this. Not only has she lost her husband, but now she has lost her only home for her and her kids. Achilles feels his dishonor after Agamemnon insults him. Agamemnon insults Achilles by taking away his war prize. Achilles states, “The man disgraces me, seizes and keeps my prize, he tears her away himself!” (129: 421 – 422). Achilles sees the selfishness that Agamemnon is portraying. As a result of Chrysies’ father wanting her back, Agamemnon in return had to take Briseis from Achilles. Achilles was so outraged by Agamemnon’s actions, that he called on a favor from...
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