A Woman's Place

700 Words3 Pages
The Iliad is a story of strong characters, brave heroism, raw human emotion and physical and emotional strife. From war prizes to goddesses, women play a large role in that story. From the opening of the seemingly male-oriented epic, women are at the center of the plot movement and motivation. The war between Greece and Troy originally starts over a woman, Helen. The wife of Menelaus and the promised prize to Paris for being the judge of a beauty contest for the goddesses, Helen is the nexus of the war. Being the source of the entire war gives her a very powerful role in the Iliad. Even though the story is not about the war it based around the war and at times the two are very intertwined. Not all women in the Iliad have power though, many are treated like objects and property. The balance between male and female roles in this poem is a fascinating point of interest. Women’s role in the setting of this Epic has a very large range. In the opening of the poem they have a more objective role. The story begins with the retelling of how the war started with Helen being stolen away like jewels from the home of Menelaus. Then the crisis escalates when at the start of the Iliad Agamemnon and Achilles fight over their prizes which are in fact people, Briseis and Chryseis. When Chryseis is decidedly surrendered back to her father, Agamemnon speaks of taking Briseis as his new prize. The word prize is thrown around more than the girls’ actual names, which denotes a property type aspect. Although the women take a goods role in the introduction of the story, they later gain the rights of emotion and representation beyond that of a mere object. Such as when Chryseis is returned to her father, she is then a daughter instead of just a thing. ... ... middle of paper ... ...as trying to convince Hector to stay inside the walls of Troy, any chance she had of that fell apart with Hector’s belief rested more in fate than his own wife. "Poor Andromache! Why does your heart sorrow so much for me? No man is going to hurl me to Hades, unless it is fated,..." (Lines 486-487) The women in these subdued rules may still have a subtle impact on the story, but it is much less notable than even the objective roles given to Briseis and Chryseis. In conclusion, the women of the Iliad have varied roles in the story's plotline. The different parts that vary from prizes to goddesses, and even have some roles tucked in between are the roles that define the women of the Iliad. Even though it is a violent, male-dominated war story, the women still play a large part in its invention as well as its progression, and their parts should not be overlooked.
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