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How Important Is the Theme of Revenge in Greek Tragedy?

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The theme of Revenge is evident in most Greek Tragedy. However we can question whether the revenge is justified or not, which would define its importance. Also, Nemesis and Dike are often mistaken for each other and depending on what you judge the point to be, reflects its importance also.

Revenge is evident in the play Medea. It is present when Medea takes revenge on Glacue and Creon. She does this because she is jealous as Jason, her husband, has taken a new wife, Glauce. This anger's Medea so she sends a poisoned robe to Glauce and when she puts it on it sticks to her and burns her. Her father Creon tries to save her and also gets burnt. This shows its importance because it is an unacceptable example of revenge, as she took revenge for personal gain and not for justice.

Another example of Revenge in the play Medea is when Medea kills her children. She does this to hurt Jason as she wants revenge on him and she knows that this is what will hurt him the most. Its importance is shown through the fact that she kills something that means so much to her but she sacrifices her children in order to teach her husband a lesson. This is an example of one of the most extreme cases of revenge in Greek Tragedy showing its importance through it being extremely socially unacceptable.

In the Bacchae revenge is apparent in a different way; this is because it is revenge that is taken by a god. The revenge is because hubris is committed, which is when you are disrespectful to the gods. This happens a lot in the Bacchae, firstly, starting with Hera. A Theban woman named Semele had an affair with Zeus and fell pregnant with Dionysus. Hera made Semele ask Zeus to see him in his true form, however it was too strong for her and she was incinerated. This is the first example of Revenge and it is important because revenge is the theme that starts the play. It is also the theme that makes the story line, because without it we wouldn't have a reason for the rest of the events to follow.

In the Bacchae, revenge is also prominent when Dionysus has Pentheus killed. He does this because Pentheus was disrespectful to the gods. Pentheus did not go out to the mountains to worship Dionysus and because of his lack of respect he was punished. This shows the importance of revenge because it highlights how the gods should be feared and when they are not feared they take their revenge. Also revenge is important because it is a leading role in this play.

In Oedipus revenge is not a dominating role. Other roles such as; fate and hubris are more prominent themes. However it is evident when Jocasta and Oedipus ignore the prophecy given to them by Teiresias and they are then punished by Apollo as he is the god of prophecy. Although, you could argue that it was fate that Jocasta hangs herself and Oedipus becomes blind and an exile. Therefore revenge is not an important theme in the play Oedipus as there are more important themes prominent.




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