1) First off, my personal take on the Illiad was that I considered Hector to be the most heroic figure, more so that Achilles. Where Hector lacked was only in strength to beat Achilles. I think Achilles was a character who could be seen as being able to identify with what was right or wrong with particular circumstances which were occurring around him. While I believe Achilles acted most often out of favor with the will of the gods, he also showed a sense of empathy toward his foe when he identified with Hector’s father who came to his camp to retrieve Hector’s body. This empathy manifested itself in the temporary armistice between the Trojans and the Greeks that followed so the Trojan’s could mourn in peace for Hector’s loss.
I don’t really see this sense of mercy (even if it be partial or temporary as in the case of Achilles) with Madea and her actions. Madea acted I believe with the utmost of haste toward Jason for his actions in leaving her for another wife. And I do not particularly blame her, for her only other option was to become effectively destitute with her children after Kreon banished her from Corinth. This was a very serious implication for Madea, who had already burned the bridge with her native people prior to marrying Jason and bearing his children. Left with no other option but to obtain a sense of justice, she acted as she did and obtained the added blow of poisoning Kreon along with Jason’s new wife.
The only thing that was questionable in my mind is whether or not it was necessary to murder her children as well. Perhaps out of ignorance I ask this question, but I wonder if it would have been acceptable at the time to bring her children with her to her destination where she was to wed Aigeus and bear his children? But the idea is apparently a moot one, as Madea apparently was motivated by just one thing; to squash out any perceived plan by Jason to unite Madea’s and Kreon’s people by way of noble borne siblings. I see Madea as a woman who suffered an incredibly difficult situation; one where she was not going to sit idly and take this sort of treatment. Madea acted the only way she could, and for being powerless to do anything about her situation, she acted in the only way she could conjure. From the perspective of her own native people whom she already betrayed, her actions I feel redeemed her. And from that perspective, I consider her actions heroic.
2) Job accepts Yahweh’s response from the storm in the same way Hector thought to run from the mortal power of Achilles in the opening portion of their battle. Yahweh challenged Job a number of times, stating as an affirmation of his power from the storm, “Is your [Job’s] arm as mighty as God’s? Does your voice thunder like His?” (147) To Yahweh’s displays of power all around Job, all Job could reply was “I see how little I am. I will not answer You. I am putting my hand to my lips: One time I spoke; I will not speak again: two times I spoke, and I will not go on.” Job later goes on after Yahweh issued his challenge of Job further, “I know that You are all-powerful, and that no plan is beyond You. ‘Who dares to speak hidden words with no sense?’ … I knew You, but only by rumor; my eye has beheld You today. I retract. I even take comfort for dust and ashes” (149-150).
The key take away from this exchange is not only Job’s humbling in front of God, but also the fact that he came to know God directly rather that what he knew or heard previously. Job was perhaps one of the few people in history that can make a legitimate claim to encounter God in matter of dialogue. For accepting his place in God’s way and recanting his position after being challenged and enlightened, Job was rewarded double what he had before. Job went on to live a very productive life. He was able to get over the loss of his kin as well, which was his only irreplaceable loss. This loss, while unfortunate, did not shatter his faith permanently after meeting God. For Job learned to accept whatever hand he is dealt in life without questioning or attempting to reason as to why. This is satisfying because it shows that faith can prove to be unshakeable at the whims of the “Accuser.”
Really nice and thorough answer to number one. I agree that Medea has a stone-coldness to her that we don’t see in the Illiad, and I appreciate your note that this may have quite a bit to do with what her lack of options in that time may have been.