Courtney Borg Comparative Literature 201 October 3, 2011 Xenophobia Within Greek Tragedy Within Greek culture there

was a divide between the Greeks and the “others”- those who were considered different from what it meant to be Greek. It could be that they were foreign, exotic, feared, or unknown. They were the others. In many of the Greek tragedies there is an element of xenophobia, or a fear of people from other countries or cultures. This also led to the Greek belief that anyone who was not Greek must be barbaric. An example of the Greeks’ xenophobia can be seen in Eurpides’ play Medea, through the eyes of the protagonist Medea. The xenophobia is shown by the treatment of Medea by her husband Jason and by Creon-the King of Corinthian. When we are first introduced to Medea in the play by the Nurse, we are reminded that Medea is not from this land, but that she is exotic and far from her home. Medea is constantly reminded that she is not of the land of Corinth and that she has come from a barbarous land to a civilized one. Jason says to her, “Allow me, in the first place, to point out that you left a barbarous land to become a resident of Hellas (Euripides 33).” He is reminding her that she is not of this land and that she comes from a barbaric people. Jason may not have been xenophobic per se in saying this, but he is saying that she is better of in Corinth than she would have ever been back home with her family. This thinking automatically makes it seem as if Jason is saying that the Greeks are better than her people, that they are civilized, they have law while her people were barbaric. Another example of xenophobia within Medea is through Creon’s, king of Corinthian, treatment of the protagonist. At the very beginning, Medea is being forced into exile from Corinth by the king. While decreeing her to exile, Creon says that he fears Medea and what she might do to his daughter for marrying Jason. Although, at first his words seem more misogynistic than xenophobic as he tells her that she is a woman barred from Jason’s bed and hot-tempered, but he is exiling her because he does not want any “craft” of hers in his city. There is putting a division between he people and his people. Medea then cries of her thoughts turn to her home and her country, which is then when Creon says that he loves his country, too. Through his words, one could see it as him saying Creon is ridding his country of Medea to protect his people from her- the foreigner, the one that does not belong in Corinth. In conclusion, the tragedy Medea shows examples of xenophobia within Greek culture. The protagonist Medea was left by her husband for a Greek woman and is reminded by her husband, Jason, that she has come a to a more civilized land than her home country. She is also exiled from Corinth because of the king’s fear of her. He does not want to risk the life of his daughter while she is around. It is through these interactions that we see the xenophobia.

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