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When comparing Euripides' "Medea" and Aeschylus' "Agamemnon," it is clear that the portrayal of parental affection between the two protagonists, Jason and Agamemnon, varies. According to me, and as explained in Euripides' "Medea," men of Jason's social standing are free to do whatever they want to accomplish their goals. This ensures that such individuals could choose their own path to riches and honor for their families, as well as a better life for their children, without being constrained by society. However, as depicted by Jason's character, these types of men can lack morals. In Aeschylus’ case on “Agamemnon,” Agamemnon’s expression of paternal love is like a mirror that reflects the whole societal culture in ancient Greek. Agamemnon’s and any leaders’ lives were for the honor of the state. He even sacrificed his daughter for the honor of the city and was considered high in moral. The paternal love between Jason and his children and Agamemnon with his daughter seem to vary as shall be explained below. However, one common theme is that both Euripides’ “Medea” and Aeschylus’ “Agamemnon” stories proved that men attach importance to honor. The only difference is the nature and manner in which their actions depicted paternal love.
Role of Jason
In Euripides’ “Medea,” Jason is a civilized Greek and regarded as a hero while Medea, his wife, is seen as a barbarian. In the play, Jason is continually shown as an immoral man. He abandoned Medea and married his new bridge - the prince of Corinth, Glauce. According to the ancient law, all the power and authority belonged to the man (father). In this regard, I think that in Jason and Medea’s story, the household was male-centered, and the tragedy that befell the two was driven by Jason’s zeal to maintain the stability of the family and keep it wealthy and honorary. From the play, Jason said, “Also that I might bring my children up worthily... and all be happy.” (Line 562-565). This line shows that Jason thinks that a well-functioning ‘Oikos’ is a major factor for the family.
Following this argument, Jason believes that him, as the ‘Oikos’ should ensure his household’s happiness. Also, Jason considers motherhood as a role that was completely different from his responsibilities as a father. He states “That, if your life at night is good…Then life would have been good.” (Line 570-575) This shows that Jason considered his wife as not having a significant role since he was the one who provided everything to her. He states that he is doing charity. His relationship with his wife is like slave-master union.
In this case, Jason’s hubris also drove him to marry Glauce to improve his social standing and honor of the family. To him, wealth and honor would be more important than love and emotion for his children. In his words, he says “Also I might bring my children up worthily…” (Line 562). His love for his children is external instead of internal. The way outside people sees his life and polished appearance would be more important than the moral obligation to love his children inwardly.
Role of Agamemnon
In Aeschylus’ “Agamemnon,” Agamemnon is the king of Argos and comes out as the tragic hero. In the play in as much as he did not feature until the halfway, we can deduce from this chorus line, “The father prayed, called to his men to lift her” (line 231). According to the play, Agamemnon decided to sacrifice his daughter, Iphigenia to sail to Troy and also for his ambitions to win the war. As much as the action of sacrificing his daughter was heinous, we appreciate his struggle in a dilemma between paternal love and his honor. To sum up, he is not a person with cold blood, as a king who inherited from his father, it is his duty to stabilize the city-state.
In this play and plot, we can conclude from the chorus that while Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter, he should have felt morality instead of guilt. At the same time, he is the leader of the army and fighting for his brother and the honor of his country. He noted the following, “…sacrificed myself to achieve our goal.” In my opinion, Agamemnon concealed all his sadness in the dark of his heart and what he expressed is the pride and always hid his weak side. He, however, felt some guilt for sacrificing his daughter. His paternal love was preceded by honor for his country.
Also, as a king of the city-state, he is considered reliable and capable. He hence dedicated all his life for the honor and security of his city. However, he is unqualified as a husband and father. As mentioned before, the sacrifice of his daughter for the Troy war might be considered selfless and significant by others, but for the family, it is irresponsible, cruel and cold-blooded. Agamemnon also disrespected his wife, Clytemnestra. According to his words “I am a mortal, a man…without fear thrown in my path.” (Line 923). His pride led him to categorize his wife as a tool and not a partner.
Jason and Agamemnon, compare and contrast
In the comparison of Jason and Agamemnon, there is no doubt that both were considered as men of high stature and people who could go to great lengths to defend what they thought was right. Also, both of them believed in power and honor as the mark of human achievement. In search of these accomplishments and gains, Jason abandoned his wife Medea while Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter Iphigenia for the Troy war.
Following the above discussion, we see that the two characters indeed portrayed their paternal love differently. In Euripides’ Medea, Jason believed that as a father of his children, he was getting his role right. He considered raising his children as a man “worthy of his house.” Jason chose to chase honor and wealth for his family by marrying Princess Glauce, whom he did not love. The play proves that his marriage with Glauce is all about honor and wealth “An exile to marry the daughter…we might be live Well” (line 554-559). Jason believed that his children would have a better life while they may live with the new children together, and they would never lack.
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Agamemnon’s paternal love seem rather different. As discussed before, in as much as he hesitated, he still sacrificed his daughter, Iphigenia. Agamemnon was more concerned about the stability of his city-state and his honor and that the sacrifice of Iphigenia would be worthy if that goal were achieved. Compared with their paternal love, Agamemnon’s love would be the greater love and honor for his city-state than family, while Jason’s love focuses more on both his honor and the social standing of his family.
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