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English >> A Comparison of a Tragic Hero from Euripides’s Medea and Aeschylus’s Agamemnon
A Comparison of a Tragic Hero from Euripides’s Medea and Aeschylus’s Agamemnon
Tragic heroes from Greek tragedies almost always share similar characteristics.
Medea from Euripides’s play Medea and Clytemnestra from Aeschylus’s play
Agamemnon display and share traits common to a tragic hero. They both have a
flaw, hold a high rank or have an extraordinary ability, seek vengeance, and cause their
own downfall anothers suffering. All of these traits are displayed clearly in these
characters and are shown in the textual support.
Both Medea and Clytemnestra had detrimental flaws. Medea was a very
passionate women with a tendency to become easily angered. Her anger from being
wronged by Jason is shown when she wishes “…Jason and his bride/Ground to pieces in
their shattered palace/For the wrong they have declared to do…”(Euripides 6).
Clytemnestras flaw was that she could not see past her own grief, anger, and how her
husband had killed their daughter. Her anger and grief are displayed by her emotional
words, “Like a swan she wailed her last call for her loved one while she
drowned.”(Aeschylus). Both of their flaws were indeed tragic, but more to others than
Almost all characters from Greek tragedies have some sort of rank or ability,
Medea and Clytemnestra were no exception. Medea was not only a sorceress, but also a
respected citizen. Medea’s magic skills are portrayed in the play when she makes a
magical powder that is meant to kill the king daughter. Clytemnestra has no special
ability per say, but she had ruled Argos for ten years in her husbands absence. These
characters ranks and abilities were part of their conflict.
Medea and Clytemnestra both seek revenge for wrongs done to them by thier
husbands. Medea trys to make Jason’s life as miserable as possible for everything he did
to her. She kills the most important to him including his new wife and her father. She
even goes as far as to kill her own children to punish him. Her plan of revenge is laid out
as she says, “…I shall make corpses of three of my enemies, father and daughter, and my
own husband.”(Euripides 12). Clytemnestra seeks revenge on her husband because he
murdered their daughter as well as took a new wife. Clytemnestra’s revenge is very
secretive because she hopes to surprise her husband and catch him off guard. She
explains to Agamemnon the reason for her revenge, “For thy child’s absence then/Such
mine excuse, no wily afterthought…No drop is left to shed.”(Aeschylus 20). Their
vengeance lost its sweetness when it led to their own pain and suffering as well as their
After getting their revenge Medea and Clytemnestra become miserable and lead
to their own downfalls and the suffering of others. Medea’s life becomes miserable after
she kills her own children and when she realizes she will never know love again. She is
also devastated after being exiled from her home city. Her pain and suffering are made
known when she says, “But I…..but this is an unexpected blow which has befallen me and
has broken my heart.”(Euripides). Clytemnestra does not suffer herself in this play but
will later be killed by her son in a later play. Until then she is responsible of causing the
city and her son to suffer immensely.
These two characters are perfect examples of tragic heroes and their traits. Not
only are Medea and Clytemnestra perfect examples, but they are some of the best and
easily seen examples. They follow every step that is found in most Greek tragedies to
cause some sort of conflict and create the drama.
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