Women in Ancient Greece Essay

Women in Ancient Greece Essay

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Euripides, one of Ancient Greece’s most famous playwrights, could be considered as one of the earliest supporters of women’s rights. With plays such as Alcestis and Medea, he clearly puts an emphasis on the condition of women, and even integrates them in the Chorus of the latter play, a feat that was not often done in Ancient Greece. Throughout the years, it has been argued that the two central characters in each of those plays offer conflicting representations of women in those times, and I can safely say that I agree with that argument. I will expand on my view by pointing out an important similarity between Alcestis and Medea, followed by a key difference, and will finish it off by contrasting them with the Ancient Greek depiction of an “ideal woman.”
Firstly, even though my thesis states that I support the argument that Alcestis and Medea represent contrasting ideas of a woman, I am not unaware of any similarities. In fact, I have noted a significant one, which comes to show that in the end, they’re just human. This is the two women’s love for their children. In Alcestis’ case, even though she has agreed to take her husband’s place as the one who is supposed to die, her last thoughts are for her children. It is evident that she wants to be assured of her children’s well-being when she implores Admetus to “[not] remarry [and to] spare them a stepmother, and inferior replacement, filled with spite and anger, who would raise her hand against [his] children and [her’s]” (Alcestis 324-7). This way, Alcestis wants to make sure that a potential stepmother doesn’t “ruin utterly [her] hopes of marriage (Alcestis 337)” speaking about her daughter, while she has no fear for her male child because he “has his father, a great tower of st...


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... know, and does not cause commotion outside of her home. On the other hand, it is quite clear that Medea is far from the depiction of the “ideal” woman because of her vengeful spirit, her uproar causing ways, and the fact that she actually ended up hurting her children, regardless of the amount of pain or sorrow she went through beforehand, not to mention that she also killed her brother, according to many of the stories about her.
In sum, I think that Alcestis and Medea are two very different women in Ancient Greece. They might have their own reasons, but taking only what we are presented with, only Alcestis fits the mold of the “ideal” woman.


Works Cited

Euripides. Alcestis, Medea, Hippolytus. Diane Arnson Svarlien and Robin Mitchell-Boyask. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2007.
Powell, Barry. Classical Myth. 3rd ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2000.

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