Medea

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Creon Character Analysis

Creon, son of Lycaethus, is the king of Corinth, the city-state where the events of Medea take place. He is a discerning judge of character, and accurately determines Medea's intentions, yet he does a poor job of applying his insight in service of justice. He enables Jason's crimes against his wife and then banishes Medea to protect Jason and himself from Medea's possible retribution for those crimes. He eventually dies entangled in the poisoned gown Medea gives to his daughter, the Princess.

Creon Quotes in Medea

The Medea quotes below are all either spoken by Creon or refer to Creon. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Exile Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Cambridge University Press edition of Medea published in 1999.
Lines 201-300 Quotes

Medea, scowling there with fury at your husband!
I have given orders that you should leave the country:
Take your two sons and go, into exile. No delay!

Related Characters: Creon (speaker), Medea, Jason
Page Number: 259-261
Explanation and Analysis:

Here we're introduced to Creon, who tells Medea that she's henceforth banished from the kingdom. It's interesting that Creon allows Medea to leave the kingdom with her children (the children she had with Jason). Jason seems to feel no love or affection for his own offspring--since he's divorcing Medea, he apparently believes that he has to say goodbye to his kids, as well.

Creon is an important character in the novel, because he embodies the corrupt authority of Corinthian (Greek) society. Creon shows no sympathy for Medea, despite the fact that he's destroying her life by banishing her, and through no fault of her own. In short, Creon's actions in this passage reinforce the harsh, selfish nature of patriarchal Corinthian society when it comes to foreigners and women--Creon is utterly unsympathetic to Medea or her children's feelings.

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Lines 301-400 Quotes

You sound harmless, but in your heart
I'm terrified you're plotting some evil.
I trust you know even less than before.
A passionate woman—or a man, for that matter—
Is easier to guard against, than one who's clever,
And holds her tongue.

Related Characters: Creon (speaker), Medea
Page Number: 303-309
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Creon shows himself to be a good judge of character, but not good enough. Creon knows full-well that Medea is dangerous: he's heard rumors that she's capable of magic and murder. Creon even recognizes that Medea is particularly dangerous because she's so adept at concealing her true feelings. As he says here, a subtle villain is much more dangerous than a passionate, angry one, because he or she is harder to spot.

Creon is smart enough to know that Medea is dangerous, and yet he doesn't understand the greater truth: Medea has been provoked into anger, thanks to Creon and Jason's actions. In other words, Creon is banishing Medea because he thinks she's a threat--but Medea wouldn't be a threat if Creon didn't banish her.

It's not my nature to be a tyrant.
My concern for others has often cost me dearly.
Now too, madam, I see I'm making a mistake,
But, still, I grant your request…

Related Characters: Creon (speaker), Medea
Page Number: 335-338
Explanation and Analysis:

Creon knows full-well that Medea is dangerous to him: he's heard rumors of what she's capable of, and recognizes that she could kill him without the slightest guilt. But even though Creon knows Medea is dangerous, he lets his sympathy (or perhaps fate itself) get in the way of politics: because he feels sorry for her, and she uses skillful, convincing language to sway him, her lets her stay in the kingdom for a little longer.

Setting aside the poetry and drama for a moment, Creon makes a huge tactical error: he provokes Medea, and then lets her stay close enough to hurt him. He effectively creates a dangerous enemy in Medea, then gives her help. Creon knows he's making a mistake, but he doesn't have the strength or willpower to do what must be done with Medea. In the end, as we'll see, his willpower is far weaker than that of Medea herself. Ironically, Euripides shows us that Medea, a woman, is far stronger and more forceful than a male king.

Do you think I would have fawned on Creon
Except to win some profit by my schemes?
I would not have spoken to him – nor touched him.
But he is such a fool that,
When he could have arrested all my plans
By banishing me, he has allowed me
To stay this one day, in which three of my enemies
I'll send to their death…

Related Characters: Medea (speaker), Creon
Page Number: 355-362
Explanation and Analysis:

Medea has just been granted the right to stay in Corinth for one more day. Creon had previously banished her, but he's reconsidered and allowed Medea to stick around a little longer. As Medea acknowledges here, Creon has made a colossal mistake. Creon has provoked Medea, then given Medea access to the resources of his kingdom.

The scene is darkly funny: Medea has just succeeded in convincing Creon to give her some more time in Corinth, and in response she makes fun of Creon for giving her more time in Corinth. Medea proves herself to be a far better strategist and politician than Creon. She knows how to deceive other people, giving herself the greatest advantage possible.

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Creon Character Timeline in Medea

The timeline below shows where the character Creon appears in Medea. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Lines 1-100
Exile Theme Icon
The Roles of Men and Women Theme Icon
Duty Theme Icon
...and Jason has betrayed her and his children by marrying the Princess, the daughter of Creon, the king of Corinth. Medea, meanwhile, according to the Nurse, has been possessed by powerful... (full context)
Exile Theme Icon
Truth vs. Rhetoric Theme Icon
Duty Theme Icon
...past the area where old men play dice, he says, he heard them say that Creon is going to exile Medea and her children. The Tutor says he doesn't know if... (full context)
Lines 201-300
Exile Theme Icon
Truth vs. Rhetoric Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Law Theme Icon
Duty Theme Icon
...he has done. The Chorus agrees to her request and interrupts to say the ruler, Creon, is approaching. Creon arrives at the door and orders Medea into exile with her two... (full context)
Exile Theme Icon
Truth vs. Rhetoric Theme Icon
The Roles of Men and Women Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Law Theme Icon
Medea tells Creon that he is acting based on her reputation as a clever and conniving woman and... (full context)
Lines 301-400
Exile Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Law Theme Icon
Duty Theme Icon
After her speech, Creon trusts Medea even less than before even though, he says, she sounds harmless. He is... (full context)
Exile Theme Icon
Truth vs. Rhetoric Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Law Theme Icon
Duty Theme Icon
Creon threatens to forcibly eject Medea with the help of his men, so Medea relents and... (full context)
Truth vs. Rhetoric Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Law Theme Icon
...admits that she is beset by host of problems but hints that the troubles of Creon, Jason, and the Princess are yet to come. She laughs at Creon and calls him... (full context)
The Roles of Men and Women Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Law Theme Icon
...spare none of her skill and go boldly into danger, and reminds herself that, unlike Creon and his family, she is of divine birth, the granddaughter of Helios, the sun god.... (full context)
Lines 501-600
Exile Theme Icon
Truth vs. Rhetoric Theme Icon
The Roles of Men and Women Theme Icon
Duty Theme Icon
...that what he did was wise and right. As an exile, the opportunity to marry Creon's daughter, the Princess, was the best thing Jason says he could have hoped for. It's... (full context)
Lines 901-1000
Exile Theme Icon
The Roles of Men and Women Theme Icon
...best for her to be banished, but that the boys should stay. Jason should beg Creon to let them. Jason says he will try to persuade Creon. Medea tells him to... (full context)
Lines 1001-1100
Justice and Natural Law Theme Icon
Duty Theme Icon
...she should escape. He tells her that the Princess is dead by her poison and Creon is dead from embracing her in her death throes. Medea calls it "wonderful news." (full context)
Lines 1101-1200
Exile Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Law Theme Icon
The Messenger asks Medea if she is mad for celebrating news of Creon and the Princess's deaths—doesn't such news frighten her? Medea says she will answer, but first... (full context)
The Roles of Men and Women Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Law Theme Icon
...her skin, she let out a deeper more shocked wail. Maids rushed to the king, Creon, and to Jason. People rushed all about the palace. The Princess said nothing for some... (full context)
Justice and Natural Law Theme Icon
Duty Theme Icon
...and gruesomely died. The servants, having seen her death, were afraid to touch her but Creon rushed in and threw himself on the Princess and prayed to die with her. When... (full context)
Lines 1201-1300
Exile Theme Icon
The Roles of Men and Women Theme Icon
Justice and Natural Law Theme Icon
...children, however, and is worried his new relatives might do something to them to avenge Creon and the Princess's murder. The Chorus pities Jason's ignorance. He thinks that the Chorus means... (full context)