The Iliad opens with the god Apollo casting a fatal plague through Agamemnon’s great army in response to the Agamemnon’s mistreatment of the priest Chryses. Chryses’s daughter Chryseis was seized by the Achaean army and claimed as Agamemnon’s prize after their successful attack on a Trojan city. In typical Greek hero fashion the Achaean military leader exhibits his power by threatening the elderly man and vowing to never return his daughter.
The king dismissed the priest with a brutal order /
ringing in his ears: “Never again, old man, /
let me catch sight of you by the hollow ships… /
The girl – I won’t give up the girl. Long before that,/
old age will overtake her in my house, in Argos, /
far from her fatherland, slaving back and forth /
at the loom, forced to share by bed! (Homer 1.28-30.33-36)
Chryseis was taken and claimed as property which becomes a common theme for the women in The Iliad. She never makes an active appearance in the scenes between ...
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... their loved ones. Their words may not have affected the physical actions of the male characters in the same way that Chryseis, Briseis and Helen’s did, however Homer did give them the chance to influence the ancient readers thinking about women and war. Mary Lefkowitz article “The Heroic Women of Greek Epic”, states that through these female characters Homer proves that “women not only understand what is happening in the male world of war but are perhaps better able to judge its consequences” (Lefkowitz 508). All of the women in Homer’s epic, both mortal and immortal, prove that the women of the period were not ignorant about the actions that were taking place around them. These women characters proved that even though they were seen as nothing more than property they still had the ability to tremendously affect the actions of their men and the great Trojan War.
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