Why Does Medea Kill Her Sons Before Fleeing to Athens to Marry Aegeus?

Why does medea kill her sonsMedea decides to kill her sons after her ex-husband, Jason, abandons her to marry the princess of Corinth. However, that is not the only reason the sorceress murdered her biological sons.

So, why does Medea kill her sons?

Read on to discover the devastating truth behind Medea’s grim and murderous actions.

Why Does Medea Kill Her Sons?

Medea killed her sons for several reasons which are explored in the paragraphs below:

To Punish Her Ex-husband Jason

Medea murders her sons when she learns of her husband’s betrayal after he married Glauce, the princess of Corinth. Most literature enthusiasts classify her as a murderous mother for what she did to her sons but in reality, she had little choice.

Others also see her as a vengeful wife whose jealousy and wrath got the better of her. However, Medea had to struggle with the thought of killing her sons for a long time before deciding it was in her best interest and that of the children.

Another reason she kills her sons is to render Jason childless and without an heir to his property. In Greek culture, male children are a prized possession and property of the father.

So, by killing his children, Medea robs Jason of his pride and property and left him with no one to carry on his name. She punishes Jason by stripping him of a very important treasure that’ll bring him joy in his old age.

She Didn’t Trust Step-parents and Feared Revenge

Medea may also have been wary of how her children will be treated by their stepmother. In ancient Greek culture, especially during the time of Medea, there was a general distrust for stepmothers.

Aside from treating children from other marriages with disdain, stepmothers will want to assure the inheritance of their biological children. This was done by ensuring that all her stepchildren were killed so her biological children would inherit her husband’s properties.

Therefore, Medea may not trust Glauce to take good care of her sons, so she slays them to make sure they don’t suffer at the hands of another woman. In addition, Medea may have also felt that if she remarries, her children’s welfare won’t be better off since stepfathers have the same reputation as stepmothers during her era.

Another reason too is Medea had just killed the King of Corinth and her daughter and she feared retribution from the Corinthians. Thus, she doesn’t want her children to suffer barbaric deaths at the hands of the people of Corinth when they come back for their pound of flesh.

To Make Her Sons Immortal

Medea decides to make her sons immortalAccording to the version of the poet Eumelus, Medea doesn’t intend to kill her sons but does that by accident. Filled with grief, Medea decides the best action is to make her sons immortal by burying them deep in the temple of Hera.

Another poet, Creophylus, teaches that Medea is innocent of the death of her sons, rather it is the Corinthians who killed her children.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Does Medea Kill Her Sons in the Play?

In the play, it is apparent Medea murdered her children with a knife after she rushes offstage with it. The Chorus chases after her, determined to stop a mother from murdering her own offspring but they stopped in their tracks when they heard the screams of the children. Jason comes to confront Medea for killing Creon and Creusa only to meet the death of his children committed by their mother.

Who Promised Refuge to Medea?

Aegeus, King of Athens, promised refuge to Medea after she helped him restore his fertility by giving him some magical herbs. Aegeus swore an oath before the gods as a sign of his promise.

Medea Killing Her Sons Quote?

I will slay the children I have borne“, said Medea after she had conceived the idea of murdering her children to avenge her husband’s betrayal.

How Medea and Jason Met and Fell in Love?

Medea met Jason when he and his Argonauts (a group of soldiers loyal to him) arrived in the city Colchis for the golden fleece. The fleece was in the possession of the king of Colchis, Aeetes, who set three tasks for Jason to accomplish before releasing the fleece.

The first task involved yoking and plowing a field with the fire-breathing oxen also referred to as the Colchis Bulls. In the second task, Jason had to sow dragon teeth in the field he had just plowed with the bulls.

Then, he had to fight the warriors, also called Spartoi, that sprouted out of the dragon teeth he planted in the plowed field. After that, Jason had to fight the sleepless dragon before retrieving the golden fleece.

These tasks were impossible and Jason fell into a state of depression knowing full well that the chances of him dying before completing the tasks were high. Medea, who was the daughter of King Aetees, was convinced by the god Eros to help the hapless Jason.

How Did Jason Agree to Marry Medea?

Medea agreed to help Jason complete all the three tasks if only Jason would marry her. Jason agreed and Medea helped him overcome the Colchis bulls by giving him an ointment that insulated Jason from the fire of the bulls.

Once the bulls finished plowing the field, Jason sowed the teeth of a dragon in the field and out came warriors that he had to defeat. Medea advised him to throw a rock into the midst of the soldiers which would confuse them.

Jason threw the rock and it hit some soldiers; not knowing who threw the stone and blaming each other, the warriors began fighting among themselves. Eventually, they killed each other without Jason having to lift a finger.

To complete his final task, Medea handed a sleeping potion to Jason who sprayed it on the sleepless dragon and put it to sleep. Thus, Jason completed all three tasks and got hold of the golden fleece.

Jason and Medea then fled Colchis pursued by her father Aeetes. To stop her father’s pursuits, Medea killed her brother Aspsyrtus and buried parts of his body in different places. This forced Aeetes to stop and look for his son’s scattered corpse to bury giving Jason and Medea enough time to escape. The two lovers then made their way to Ioclus in Thessaly, home of Jason.

How Did Medea’s Story End?

There are several endings to the story of Medea. In one version, Medea committed filicide by accident and buried the children in the temple of Hera to make them immortal. In the popular version by Euripides, Medea murdered Glauce by gifting her a poisoned golden coronet and dress. This gift ended the life of both Glauce and her father Creon after which she killed her children and fled in a golden chariot to Athens.

She later returned to Colchis and discovered that her uncle, Perses, had overthrown her father King Aeetes. Medea then helped her father regain the throne by killing the usurper. According to the version of the historian Herodotus, Medea and her son, Medus, escaped Colchis to the land of the Aryans. There the Aryans renamed them Medes.

Does Medea Kill Herself?

Though Medea succeeds in murdering her sons, she doesn’t kill herself. She flees to Athens where she gets married to Aegeus, King of Athens. Their union produces a son named Medus, replacing the sons she had lost. However, her joy was short-lived when her stepson and rightful heir of the throne, Theseus, appears.

Medea tries to secure the throne for her son Medus by poisoning Theseus as she had done to others. This time she was unsuccessful as Aegeus knocked the poisoned drink from Theseus’s hands and embraces him.

Who Does Medea Kill?

Medea murdered her brother, Creon, Creusa, her sons, and Perses.

Why Does Medea Kill Her Sons?

To punish Jason for betraying her love by marrying Creusa the daughter of the Corinthian king, Creon.

How Does Medea Punish Jason?

By killing his children and robbing him of the continuation of his bloodline.


Medea killed her sonsThe story of Medea is a very interesting one that illustrates the pain of a scorned lover and mother.

Here is a recap of what we’ve discovered so far:

  • Though Medea committed filicide to punish Jason for abandoning her, she also did it to protect her children from mistreatment at the hands of their step-parents.
  • She also did it to make them immortal and to protect them from the angry mob of the Corinthians who would have brutally killed them.
  • It all started when Jason promised to marry Medea if she helped him retrieve the golden fleece to which Medea agreed.
  • However, Jason after some years abandoned Medea and married Creusa the daughter of Creon which upset Medea.
  • Medea, therefore, sought vengeance by murdering Creon and Creusa the later killed her children to make them immortal.

Though Medea murdered many people in the course of the play, it appears she was not killed but escaped to the land of the Aryans where she might have died of old age.

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