Comedic Violence in The Medea, The Oresteia, and Antigone

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Comedic Violence in The Medea, The Oresteia, and Antigone

Almost no Greek tragedy escapes the use of violence. The Medea, The Oresteia, Antigone, and other classic works of Grecian tragoidia all involve huge components of violence in many prominent places, and for all of these stories, violent action is an integral part of the play. Medea, especially, is a character worthy of note in this regard; her tumultuous life can be plotted accurately along a path of aggression and passionate fits, and her bloody history lends tension and ascendance to the cathartic events of the gripping Medea. In contrast to this turbulent streak of brutality in Grecian tragedy stands the world of Greek comedy. Violence in comedy is just as much a part of the plot as it is in tragedy; however, this superficial parallel ends the similarity between the two types of stories. Violence in a comedy has its own motives, its own consequences, and its own types of influence, and these differences accumulate to bring a whole new, non-tragic light to the ideas of violence and action in the overall storyline. Between Greek tragedy and comedy, every aspect of violence is different, and the ramifications of this disagreement are far-reaching.

A first comparison of violence between The Medea and Lysistrata leads to an important and ironic conclusion. In The Medea, violence is a pivotal component of the story's message. Medea herself is easily the most physically violent character in the story, and her methods in its plot resort to pain and death when there is conflict in need of resolution. Despite this, the actual tension in the story is not born of violence; rather, it is born of love and social strife. Jason, Medea's husband, is taking a n...

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...akes something a comedy and what makes something tragic.

Works Cited

Aeschylus the Oresteia trans. Robert Fagles, New York: Penguin Books, 1976.

Antigone by Sophocles. Translated by R. C. Jebb. no pag. http://classics.mit.edu/Sophocles/antigone.html

Euripedes. Medea, in Euripedes I. Ed. David Grene and Richmond Lattimore. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955.

Goldhill, S. Reading Greek Tragedy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986.

Heidegger, Martin. "The Ode on Man in Sophocles' Antigone." In Sophocles: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Thomas Woodard. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966.

Lucas, F.L. Euripides and His Influence. NY: Cooper Square, 1963.

McDermott, E A (1989) Euripides' Medea: The Incarnation of Disorder. Pennsylvania State University:USA

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