Barbarian


The term "Barbarian" is Greek in origin. The Greeks originally levied
it at any races who were not of a Greek origin; especially those who threatened

Greek civilization and culture. Because most of these "strangers"
regularly assaulted Greek cities, the term "barbarian" gradually
evolved into a rude term: a person who was a sub-human, uncivilized, and
regularly practiced the most vile and inhuman acts imaginable. It is obvious
that a barbarian has not been considered as a member of society as well as a
woman in Ancient Greece. In many Greek tragedies that we have read women either
play a secondary role or absent at all. That is why it is so unusual to read a
tragedy where woman is a main character and not only that – a woman is a
foreigner, a barbarian. Euripides, however, was the first one who created the
play where he opposed a barbarian to someone "civilized"; he has his Medea
confront Jason. The civilized Jason is more barbaric in his emotional
callousness than the barbarian Medea, but by the end of the play she exacts a
barbaric penalty. The Nurse calls Medea a "strange woman." She is
anything but typical. Euripides admits from the outset that this is a bizarre
tale of an exceptional human being. Lest she may sharpen a sword an thrust to
the heart, Stealing into the palace where the bed is made, Or even kill the king
and the new-wedded groom, And thus bring a greater misfortune on herself. Two
great pains tear Medea: the betrayal of Jason and her betrayal of her country
and family. The two are interwoven and double her sorrow. Guilt, loneliness,
rejection, love, all war within her. Ah, I have suffered What should be wept for
bitterly. I hate you, Children of a hateful mother. I curse you And your father.

Let the whole house crash. Of course Medea is barbarian, she came from a
different country, she is violent and everyone knows that she posses the unique
and in somewhat supernatural power that can make people to do things her way.

These characteristics correspond to the definition of barbarian in the Ancient

Greece. On the other hand, we realize that the part of her power is her
intellect, which is not barbarians’ own distinctive feature. People, including
the king, are afraid of Medea. Creon: I am afraid of you, why should I dissemble
it? I believe their fear is based not only on the fact that she has a great
passion and able to do something terrible, but also on the fact that people
start to realize that a barbarian is a human who can think, who has emotions and
feelings and, moreover, who can take control over them. Another factor that
scares people is her being a woman. Medea’s voice is not only can be heard,
but also her speeches are manipulative. She is able to use any rhetoric speech
that appeals to the emotions of the people. Medea enrages a passion in them in
response to her own. Creon: You are a clever woman, versed in evil arts, And are
angry at having lost your husband’s love. Medea is smart, she is greatly aware
of being a "foreigner" and the Corinthians seem to echo that
awareness; she understands why she is not welcomed in the society, she realizes
that she has to leave, but her emotional pain makes her to do unthinkable. Pain
is often the source of anger and then violence. That progression is one of

Euripides' main themes. "Great people's tempers are terrible." The
greatness of the temper is one measure of the greatness of the person who is
angry. Medea’s passion causes human tragedy. Medea also understands that her
passion and anger is based on the betrayal. Jason did not keep his word, he has
broken the oath and this was unacceptable for Medea. Jason: Change your ideas of
what you want, and show more sense. Medea’s primitive passion is pitted
against the civilized demands of a Jason. He is empty inside, he has no
emotions, no passion; the only thing that he has is the desire. The desire to
stabilize his political position. He used Medea for his own good: she helped him
to escape and to survive. Right now it is the time for Jason to move on with his
life; he doesn’t need Medea any more. Moreover, in some way he thinks he
helped Medea and she should be thankful for that. Jason: In so far as you helped
me, you did well enough. But on this question of saving me, I can prove You have
certainly got from me more than you gave. Jason, as he thinks, lives by the law
instead of "the sweet will of force". But what is the law? Who has it been
written for? Ancient Greece. Jason is a perfect example of a representative of
this society. He even admits, that women are the unnecessary creatures. They are
needed only for producing children. Jason: It would be better far for men To
have got their children in some other way, and women Not to have existed. Then
life would have been good . Medea wants to make Jason suffer by making him
listen, but for Jason her argument is invalid. I think Medea is trying to prove
that the society, in which money and one’s political position are two things
that matter, will not have any future. There are some other things, such as
love, dedication and ability to keep your word, that are needed in the society
for its success. In this sense Medea’s ideas are more civilized than Jason’s
emotionless and a blind desire for a power. As I mentioned earlier, these

Medea’s ideas are not valid in the Greek society, so she plays her barbaric
game until the very end of the play. Lessons are learned and tables are turned.

The oppressor cannot oppress forever.