Providing textual evidence, how does Euripides present a troubling paradox within the play Medea? The chorus of women claims that those who are childless are happier than those who are parents. However, without the pain of parenthood, we would cease to exist?

Euripides's tragic vision in Medea is that life itself is inescapably painful. It is, therefore, not a paradox that children bring pain to their parents, since the parents have also brought pain to the children. Even before she appears on stage, we hear Medea crying over the "cursed children of a hateful mother" and wishing death upon them.

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The chorus in Medea makes and elaborates upon the following observation:

And I claim that with human beings those with no experience of children, those who have never given birth, such people have far more happiness than those who have been parents. With those who have no children, because they never come to see whether their children grow up to be a blessing or a curse to men, their failure to have offspring keeps many troubles from them.

It is interesting that a chorus of women makes this case. The Greek word "dynast" means "man of power," and Jason is utterly destroyed by the fact that he is no longer a father at the end of the play. For men, a successful and meaningful life is dependent on having children and passing down one's heritage to them. A mother is supposed to have a much more emotional bond to her children, but it is this bond that Medea deliberately destroys in order to deprive Jason of what he values most.

The idea that we would not exist without parenthood is not necessarily in conflict with the notion that parenthood is painful. The tragic vision of Euripides clearly encompasses the notion that life itself is inescapably painful, so it is only fitting that parenthood should be so as well. This is demonstrated throughout the play, as Medea refers to the pain of her existence, which she describes in her first speech to the women of Corinth. Even before this, from within the house, we hear her cry:

The pain of this suffering—this intense pain. Am I not right to weep? Oh my children, cursed children of a hateful mother, may you die with your father, all his house, may it all perish, crash down in ruins.

The philosophers who have argued that bringing children into the world is a harm, and that it would be better for us never to have been born, have been strongly influenced by Greek tragedy. Schopenhauer himself, the most pessimistic of thinkers, acknowledged that the Greeks had anticipated his attitude to life.

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