Study Guide

Jason in Medea

By Euripides


Jason is kind of a jerk. If you took him on Oprah, he'd get a stern talking to. After years of marriage with Medea, he goes and marries somebody else: Glauke, daughter of Creon. When Medea gets mad about it, he acts like she's just being an overemotional woman, saying "You women are all the same" (62). He goes on to say, "What we poor males really need is a way of having babies on our own – no females, please. Then the world would be completely trouble free" (62).

By placing these choice sexist remarks in the mouth of Jason, Euripides creates a character who is symbolic of the intensely patriarchal Greek society. As is mentioned in Medea's "Character Analysis," this makes Medea's revenge against him larger than just the actions of a jealous woman. When Medea decimates Jason with her bloody actions, it's as if all chauvinistic males have been dealt a lethal blow.

Jason's insensitivity knows no bounds. Without the help of Medea's cunning and magic, Jason never would've gotten the Golden Fleece. He wouldn't be a legendary hero at all. Ironically, he wouldn't even be considered worthy of Creon's royal daughter. When Medea points out how much he owes her, he callously downplays her contribution, saying, "Your cleverness played a part" and "your service did no harm" (62). How does this guy take himself seriously? It boggles the mind that he could say this to a woman who gave up her family and homeland for the love of him.

His insensitivity is further shown when he tells Medea she should be grateful for having had the chance to live in Greece at all. He says to her, "You have a home in Hellas [Greece] instead of some barbarian land" (62). So, Medea is supposed to grateful to her noble Greek husband for having rescued her from her crude homeland? Medea was a princess of the wealthy kingdom of Colchis. She is the granddaughter of the Sun. We highly doubt she was living in a mud hut. Comments like this make Jason symbolic of Greek xenophobia (fear of foreigners) as well. Such prejudice against foreigners was widespread in Greek society.

OK, enough Jason bashing. He does have one justification for his second marriage which is almost credible. He tells Medea that "I was not […] tired of your attractions […] it was simply that I wanted above all to let us live in comfort, not be poor" (62). It was perfectly respectable for a Greek male to have more than one family. By marrying Glauke, Jason rescues both himself and Medea from poverty, and assures their sons a place in society. He never planned on Medea being banished; she would have stayed on as his concubine. He points out that she brought the banishment on herself by going on about how she was going to kill Creon and his daughter. This is true. Though this justification is hard for a modern audience to swallow, it would've made sense to ancient Athenians. Of course, the very fact that this sort of arrangement was commonplace speaks to the overall sexism of Greek society that Jason represents.

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