Analysis Of Homer 's The Odyssey Essay

Analysis Of Homer 's The Odyssey Essay

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Although Homer’s The Odyssey is a tale of Odysseus’s heroic quest to return to Ithaca, the women in it play an equal, if not more important role. The saying “behind every great man is an even greater woman” rings true throughout The Odyssey. In Ancient Greek culture, one’s glory is based off of the geras they acquire; for men that glory included women. In Penelope, Odysseus found the perfect match, both intellectually and hospitably; she is clever, cunning and faithful. Penelope, along with other mortal and immortal women such as Athena, challenge the view of women during this time because Homer presented Penelope as a strong woman rather than the submissive character she is expected to be.
In Ancient Greece when a young woman is married off, it symbolised the passing of protection over her from her father to her husband (Hemingway). This protection, however, is taken from women during times of war until their anticipated return home. The same is true for Penelope, but unlike other women in Ithaca, she had to await the return of Odysseus ten years after the end of the Trojan War. Odysseus’s absence coupled with Telemachus’s age left Penelope without support and vulnerable to the persistent suitors. She is a very unassuming character, so she is able to use the cleverness that she possesses to keep the suitors at bay. Homer recognises her cleverness which is seen when he alludes to it through the use of the word “trickery” (Homer 2. 100) to describe the subsequent actions of Penelope. She is able to remain faithful to Odysseus because “every day she wove on the great loom – but every night by torchlight she unwove it” (Homer 2. 112-113) which allows her to stall the suitors. This is the first glimpse the reader gets of Penelope’s c...


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... tells Odysseus, “She is too wise, too clear-eyed, sees alternatives too well” (Homer 11. 519-520). The same assumptions can be made about Athena also; she is cunning and wise which Homer uses to show Athena to be a strong goddess.
Women are seen as second to men in the Ancient Greek society and are only permitted to act within certain restrictions. Although having to live within limitations, the mortal women of The Odyssey challenge the standards of the Homeric world in many different ways, good and bad. Penelope embodies the perfect woman and wife for the time while still being able to assert her strength when necessary. And in contrast, Clytemnestra went beyond the limits because of her actions. In the immortal realm, Athena pushes the limits, as do Kalypso and Circe, but she does so in a strategic way that allows her to maintain integrity befitting of a goddess.

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