Women have not always had power equal to men. When The Odyssey was composed, women’s roles were limited to childbirth and domestic duties. In The Odyssey, Homer foreshadowed how the perception and roles of women would change in the future. Odysseus, who is the main male character in the epic, strongly depended on the female characters. Homer gave women the roles of diverting, comforting, and assisting mortals throughout the story to show his readers that women are an important aspect to men’s lives.
First, the role of the dominating goddesses was to aid the mortals. For instance, Athena, the goddess of wisdom, helped release Odysseus from being held hostage by Calypso. Athena said, “Father Zeus, whose power is supreme, if the blessed gods really do want Odysseus to return to his home, we should send Hermes, our quicksilver herald, to the island of Ogygia without delay to tell the nymph of our firm resolve that long-suffering Odysseus gets to go home” (180; 88-94). Athena also assisted Odysseus by disguising him as an old beggar; “She wrinkled the skin all over his body so he looked like an old man, and then she turned his clothes into tattered rags, dirty and smoke-grimed, and cast about him a great deerskin cloak with the fur worn off” (333; 448-453). Athena knew Odysseus would have been slaughtered if he had barged into his house undisguised. Similarly, Athena provides aid for Telemachus. She tells him to “sail to Pylos and ask godly Nestor [if he knows anything about your father], then go over to Sparta and red-haired Menelaus” (185; 302-303). She sends him on this journey so he can get away from the suitors and pass time by while he longs for his father’s return home. Not only does Athena ...
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...ew the suitors would be suspicious of him if Penelope treated him with such high dignity since he was a suppliant. After all, Nausicaa and Penelope were able to make their guests experience an environment as comfortable as an old sweater.
All in all, I agree with the scholars’ stances. Homer composed a story in which women vastly contributed to the lives of the men in three distinct ways: the goddess, the temptress, and the hostess. All the women in this epic are unique to one another, but they all come together to create the picture of the ideal woman we all know today. Do women succor the men in their life today? Women can thank Homer for highlighting that men’s life without women would be very difficult. Whether it is birth, advice, or dilemmas, women escort men through life’s journey just as the women in The Odyssey escorted Odysseus on his journey to Ithaca.
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