Through the play Medea, Euripides shows us the importance of keeping a promisegiven. At the beginning of the story, we see the play’s two opposing views ofpromise keeping represented by the Nurse and the Tutor. As she stands outside ofMedea’s house and laments the way Jason has slighted Medea by taking anotherwife, the Nurse speaks of the “eternal promise” Jason and Medea made to eachother on their wedding day (17-21). The Nurse wishes Jason were dead for the wayhe has abandoned his wife and children, so strongly does she feel vows shouldnot be broken (83). When the Tutor enters the scene, he expresses a much morecynical view regarding Jason’s decision to leave his wife.
He asks the nurse,”Have you only just discovered / That everyone loves himself more than hisneighbor? / Some have good reason, others get something out of it. / So Jasonneglects his children for the new bride” (85-88). The Tutor feels thatJason’s leaving Medea is only a part of life, as “Old ties give place to newones”. Jason “No longer has a feeling” for his family with Medea, so heleaves her to marry the princess who will bring him greater power (76-77). Medeais outraged that she sacrificed so much to help Jason, only to have him revokehis pledge to her for his own selfish gain.
She asks him whether he thinks thegods whose names he swore by have ceased to rule, thereby allowing him to breakhis promise to her. Medea vows to avenge her suffering by destroying Jason’snew family and his children. When Jason curses his wife for her murdering at theend of the play, she says to him, “What heavenly power lends an ear / To abreaker of oaths, a deceiver?” (1366-1367) In this way, Medea lays the blamefor all the evil she has done at the feet of Jason, for she never would havedone these things if he had not betrayed his promise to her. Euripide’sportrayal of Jason’s destruction as a direct result of the vow he broke is aclear warning against breaking the sanctity of a promise given.