Antiquity and Applicability: Medea's Connection to Modern Social Issues

Faculty Sponsor

Allannah Karas


Arts and Sciences


Classics Department

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 5-3-2018


Too often Greek drama is regarded as significant only for artwork or entertainment, and its ability to shed light on or relate to modern day society is overlooked. Almost 2500 years later, society is still grappling with the very same social issues that reside at the center of the Medea, Euripides’ Greek tragedy. Medea herself is one of the most controversial fictional subjects to appear in a tragedy. On the spectrum from empowered woman ahead of her time to ruthless and irrational murderess, as the general population’s opinion on women has morphed throughout the years, so too has the image of Medea. When her husband and sponsor, Jason, leaves her for another woman she is faced with the reality of being dishonored, neglected, and exiled. She resorts to violence, escapes, and is in no way punished for her crimes, which involve the murder for four people, two of which were her own children. In this paper, I explain why she is considered one of the most shocking characters to ever be portrayed on stage and how her social status played a role in her limited options resulting in tragic decisions. Medea demonstrates how society’s opinion influences social status. This connection can be utilized to better understand the issues faced by immigrants or refugees seeking asylum. The character of Medea at her core provides insight into the frustrated mind of women in complex situations that are trapped by society’s expectations such as immigrants or war refugees.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Ever since a junior high mythology class, Taylor Nesselroad has been fascinated with ancient language, literature, and civilization. She continues this passion and is currently a freshman at Valparaiso University pursuing a Classical History degree and in Christ College. She is minoring in Chemistry and on the Pre-Medicine career track. After her graduation in 2021, she plans on attend medical school to become a dermatologist or plastic surgeon.

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