The Instigator
amemoli
Pro (for)
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The Contender
amercado
Con (against)
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Is Medea guilty of infanticide?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/13/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,621 times Debate No: 28168
Debate Rounds (4)
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amemoli

Pro

Euripides" play, Medea, provoked arguments among philosophers as to how Medea"s inner conflict should be understood. I will be arguing that Medea is in fact guilty for committing infanticide.
Medea is shown going back and forth with her decision throughout the entire play. She does not want to kill her children because she truly does love them and want to be with them. However, she feels that the only way to seek revenge on her former lover, Jason, is to kill their children.
I believe that Medea can be found guilty for numerous reasons. For one, she actually follows through with killing her children. In the end, she murders her sons for the sole purpose of seeking revenge on Jason.
Secondly, she spent much time deliberating her options. She starts off with wanting to kill her children, and then decides it would be too difficult for her. She knows that a life without her children would be a life suffered. Medea claims, "without you I shall lead a life that is bitter and painful for me" (pg. 111). However, letting her anger take control, she settles on the decision to carry out the killings. The fact that Jason slighted her leads Medea to believe that murder is her best option. This was not a spur of the moment decision. Medea spent much time debating each option, knowing fully well what was wrong with killing her children.
Lastly, Medea knows that killing her children is the wrong thing to do. She states, "I know that what I am about to do is bad" (pg. 111). This quote alone can prove that Medea had knowledge that this was in fact a terrible choice. Medea knew exactly what she was doing and why it was wrong when she decided to kill her own children.
amercado

Con

Euripides' play Medea depicts a woman plotting revenge against her husband. She is deciding how to get back at him so that he will suffer the most severely. Medea knows the best way to get back at her husband is to kill their children. The passage we read shows her deliberating the positives and negatives for killing her children. Although it may seem that she is a rational person for being able to deliberate the positives and negatives, I will argue that no mentally healthy person would ever argue the positives and negatives about killing their children. I will also argue that the passage we are given does not show what Medea decides to after she is done deliberating. Medea is not guilty of committing infanticide by reason of insanity and because we are not given knowledge of what she ultimately decides to do.

Medea is not a healthy woman and thus cannot be held responsible for her accused actions. She is seen having an inner battle about what to do with her children. At one point in the play she states "then I who gave birth to them shall kill them." (pg. 111) This is not a logical conclusion to come to. Mothers are supposed to protect their children from harm, not kill them. She must be mentally sick and therefore cannot be held responsible for these charges brought against her.

She also is not shown in this text killing her children. At the end of the text Medea states "I know what I am about to do is bad." (Pg. 112) The key word in that sentence is about, she has not yet taken any action. The material given to form this debate is not enough to substantiate a guilty verdict for Medea. She can be proven innocent by reason of insanity and by lack of evidence of the crime.
Debate Round No. 1
amemoli

Pro

I would like to address both of your points regarding Euripides" play Medea. . First, I will argue against your accusation of Medea"s unstable mind. Next, I will prove that Medea does in fact follow through with killing her children. Both of these points will further prove my point that Medea is in fact guilty of committing infanticide.

I will begin by arguing against your point that Medea is not mentally stable. I agree that her decision to kill her children is not a logical one; however, this legally proves nothing about her mental health. I will have to argue that you have no place to make that call unless you are a medical professional. Only a doctor would be able to prove Medea is not guilty by reason of insanity. All a reader can determine is that Medea killed her own children to get revenge on Jason, and this is known to be wrong. Murder is illegal, and punishable by law. So, with the information we are given, all we know is that Medea broke the law and as a result, is guilty of her actions. For Medea to plead insanity, mental health professionals would have to look into this, therefore you do not qualify to make such a decision.

I will now argue that we are in fact given the knowledge of Medea"s final decision. Although the passage does not conclude with actual details of Medea killing her children, it is a known fact that she followed through with the infanticide. Medea debated killing her children throughout the entire passage. She actually concludes the passage with discussing how she knows what she is about to do is bad. She also is aware that the bad decision would cause her suffering, but her anger has overcome her and left her with no other choice. She states, "Why should I, in harming them to give their father pain, make myself suffer twice as much?" (pg. 111) Since she associated killing her children with a bad decision earlier in the passage, it is obvious that this "bad" decision she settles on in the end, is her committing infanticide. Even in the comments after the passage, it states, "She kills the king and his daughter by poison, and to punish Jason, kills their sons" (pg. 112). After going back and forth with the decision, Medea decided that the best way to get revenge on Jason was to kill their sons. Just because the passage does not discuss the gory details of the murders does not mean she did not do it. This play is about a woman who actually kills her children because she let her rage dominate her emotions.
amercado

Con

I will address both of your concerns dealing with my arguments to prove that Medea is not guilty of committing infanticide. First, I will continue to argue that she is a mentally sick woman. I also will argue that we are not given concrete evidence of what happens after this passage. Both of these points will support my argument that Medea is not guilty.

Medea is a not a mentally stable person. She proves this by debating with herself on whether or not to kill her children. I acknowledge that I am not a trained psychology professional, but her behavior and dialogue is evidence of instability. At one point she exclaims "They must certainly die," showing that she is not a rational person. (pg.111) No rational mother would ever say that her children must die. Your argument is that I do not have a degree in psychological disorders to certify this claim, however you do not either possess a degree to certify your claim that she is not mentally ill. Since neither of us are trained professionals, we must decipher her mental state through the evidence provided. Medea is seen going back and forth about killing her children and therefore more likely would support my argument that she is mentally unstable.

I will now continue to argue by proving that we are not given primary evidence of the murders. The passage that we are given simply shows a woman in anguish and struggle. I am aware that the comments section does explain other details of the plot, however one cannot prove guilt based of those claims. I understand that you are arguing that Medea killing the kids is "a known fact," but there is no concrete evidence from her dialogue to support these claims. Speculation and hearsay do not hold up in a court of law and therefore cannot prove her to be guilty of committing infanticide. I am aware that she concludes the passage by saying "I know what I am about to do is bad, but anger is the master of my plans," however this does not prove that she follows through and kills the children. In order to prove her to be guilty the jury has to be convinced that Medea committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, however it is very reasonable that Medea changes her mind shortly after this passage and decides not to kill the children. Also you argue that her use of the word "bad" implies that her decision at the end of the passage is to kill her children, however she believes that both alternatives are in fact bad and that is why this passage is full of such struggle.
Her mental state and lack of solid evidence prove that she is not guilty of committing infanticide.
Debate Round No. 2
amemoli

Pro

I will begin by reinforcing my argument against your claim that Medea is mentally unstable. The point is simply this: in order to declare someone mentally unstable, you need to have a medical license. You do not need a medical license for knowing what is right from wrong. You are correct that neither of us have a medical degree, so in my opinion, that puts us on even grounds for what is appropriate for us to be able to prove. What we know is that murder is illegal. You say that you think Medea is mentally unstable since she goes back and forth with the decision of killing her children. I actually think that this would hurt her case if she were to plead insanity. It would be one thing if she only spoke of her jealousy and rage the entire passage. However, when she realizes that murdering her children would be wrong, she seems to show some clarity. Medea claims, "My courage has gone, women, now, that I"ve seen the shining eyes of the children. I couldn"t do it. Goodbye to my former plans!" (pg. 111). Even if it was just for a moment, Medea was going to make the right decision, which shows she had to be at least somewhat lucid. Also, in the same sentence you state that you are not a "trained psychology professional" however, go on to claim that her "behavior and dialogue are evidence of instability". You have just admitted that you are not qualified to make such an accusation, but then continue to make one anyway. Now, I am not trying to argue that she was of stable mind since I am not able to prove this, I am just saying what she did was wrong, and ultimately illegal, proving my point that she is guilty of infanticide. Since neither of us can legally prove Medea to be mentally unstable, the argument should be completely tossed aside.

I will now further address your argument that we are not given evidence of any murders committed by Medea. This play is about a woman who kills her children. You say that because she doesn"t give the details of the murder, there is not enough evidence. However, it doesn"t need to be written down in that one story to be proven true. The book clearly states, "She kills the children, much as it devastates her to do so, because nothing less than this will punish Jason for what he has done" (pg. 112). Also, I believe your point in arguing against Medea"s instability was to excuse her from her crime. If you really believe that Medea did not actually kill her children, then why are you trying to prove that she is mentally unstable? You stated that she must be mentally sick since, "mothers are supposed to protect their children from harm, not kill them". So, right there you used the fact that she killed her children instead of protecting them as evidence of her mental instability. You cannot, in one statement, say that she is unstable because killing the children is illogical, and then argue that she actually didn"t kill her children in the next. I feel that you would have to retract at least one of your arguments so that the other makes more sense.
amercado

Con

I would like to address your rebuttals against my arguments that Medea is not guilty of committing infanticide. I will continue to argue that Medea is mentally unwell. I will also address your concerns about the storyline of the play. I will also explain what is truly meant by the line "mothers are supposed to protect their children from harm, not kill them."I will conclude explaining that my arguments are not in conflict, and that they do in fact compliment each other.


I agree with you when you state that we are on equal ground for what we are able to prove. I clearly explained in Round 2 that since we don't have training in that field, we must use the material given to come to a conclusion. The material we are given, depicts a woman deliberating about killing her children. To the average person this is evidence of an unstable person. At one point Medea states "I must go through with this," (pg. 111) meaning that she at that moment believes she must kill her children. Then she continues to exclaim "spare the children!" (Pg. 111) which shows a change in her mind. You explain that her being able to deliberate about it is evidence of her ability to reason, however a rational person would not have to deliberate about killing their children. Although this argument does not convince you at she is of an unstable mind, it at least must be a signal that she should be psychologically evaluated. This point should not be omitted from the argument, but taken as a reason that Medea should be evaluated by a professional to determine her true mental state.

I will continue by explaining we are not given enough evidence to convict her of a crime. I am aware that the comments section explains other details of the play, but secondary sources are enough enough to substantiate such a large claim. There needs to be evidence in the plot of Medea in order to convict her of the crime.

In Round 3 you argue that my argument "mothers are supposed to protect their children from harm, not kill them," shows that I am using the fact that she killed the children, however this is not the case. The line previously stated is from Round 1 in the debate. I was explaining the fact that she was deliberating about what to do at that point. I was explaining that her line of reasoning is irrational. In the line you quoted I am explaining that what is the typical case with motherhood, that mothers are supposed to protect their children from harm. I was merely explaining the role mothers play in general, not the specific case of Medea.

I will now conclude by explaining that my arguments are not in conflict. You discuss that if there is no evidence of a crime that therefore I should not need to argue that she is innocent by reason of insanity. This seemly problematic flaw in my argument actually shows the strength of my argument. They show that no matter what the case is that she is innocent. If there is not evidence of a crime then she is innocent. And if you continue to argue that there is a crime, she is innocent anyway due to her mental instability.
Debate Round No. 3
amemoli

Pro

I will begin this round by addressing your argument against Medea"s mental instability. I will then continue to show you that Medea killing her children is a known fact in this play. Overall, I will conclude my debate, proving that Medea is absolutely guilty of committing infanticide.

I would like to address your mental instability argument once again. You continue to say that you know we are on equal ground for what we are able to prove, yet you keep arguing that she is mentally unstable. Even in the last sentence of your previous argument you state, "She is innocent anyway due to her mental instability". This shows that while you say you understand that you are in no position to make this call, you continue to make it anyway. I understand you would like her to be psychologically evaluated by a professional; however this does nothing for your argument at the present time. Arguing that you think she is unstable is only showing your opinion of Medea. This alone, without the evaluation of a professional, is not enough to help you prove anything pertaining to Medea"s mental instability or her innocence.

I will now continue to prove that Medea did in fact kill her children. Medea states, "By the avenging furies down in Hades, I swear I"ll never leave these children for my enemies to insult and torture" (pg. 111). After going back and forth with her choices, murder is shown to be the decision she settles on. Since the comments section is not enough to help you understand that Medea is a murderer, I will further explain myself. This one page of material is merely a short passage taken from Eurpides" play, Medea. I understand that you believe this passage alone is not enough to convict Medea. However, as I have previously stated, Medea (the entire play) is based on a woman who is consumed by jealousy and anger. After making her final decision, Medea goes on to state, "Your life has been taken away by your father" (pg. 112). Medea seeks revenge on Jason in the most barbaric way possible; by killing her two children. I understand that you believe the last sentence only shows what she is about to do, however, this is not the end of the play, just an end to this chosen passage. The rest of the play shows the circumstances of the infanticide. This is, without a doubt, a play of a woman who feels so wronged by the man she loves, that she has no other choice but to punish him by actually killing their two children.

This concludes my debate. In this round I have proven that there is indeed evidence of Medea"s murders. And while you state, "she is innocent anyway due to her mental instability", since this debate does not include the evaluation of a mental professional, there is no proof to back this argument up, leaving it as merely an opinion. Throughout my arguments I have produced a strong enough argument to prove that Medea is absolutely guilty of infanticide.
amercado

Con

To conclude this debate I will reinforce my previous arguments to show that Medea is not guilty of committing infanticide. I will continue to address Medea's mental state. I will also argue that there is not enough evidence to convict her.


I understand that you are not comfortable with me labeling Medea as a mentally unstable woman. I have used several quotes from the passage that show that she is at least disturbed woman. There is concrete evidence that she is in some way an unstable person. She is debating whether or not to kill the children in order to seek revenge against her husband. She states "Do I want to make myself ridiculous, letting my enemies go unpunished?" (pg. 111) Killing your children to seek revenge is not a logical argument to form. Due to this I am arguing that she should be evaluated by a doctor to determine her mental state. Her exclamations in the passages should be taken seriously.



I will continue to argue that a "known fact" is not enough to convict someone of infanticide. There needs to be evidence in the passage to prove that she without a doubt killed the children to seek revenge against Jason. As I have said, all we are given is a passage that shows a woman that is in struggle with herself. At the end of the passage she yells to her children "Go away, go away! I can no longer look at you but I am overcome by my troubles." (Pg. 112) This shows that the children weren't even with her at the end of the passage which therefore makes the argument that she does kill them weaker. The conclusion of this passage does not lead to reader to fully believe that she is about to kill her children.


I have argued that Medea is not guilty of committing infanticide. Medea's mental state must be evaluated. There is also not enough evidence to convict her.
Debate Round No. 4
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