The Role Of Women In Homer's Odyssey

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The women presented throughout The Odyssey provide a respectable representation of women in ancient Greece in general. There are several women introduced in The Odyssey, all of various backgrounds and social classes. The most notable women or type of women in this epic include goddesses, Penelope, and the housemaids and servants.
Athena and Calypso are the most significant goddesses presented in The Odyssey. While Athena embodies both feminine and not so feminine traits, Calypso embodies the sexual nature of women and the thought and feelings of sexualized women. Calypso, for example, sheds light on the double standards that exist between gods and goddesses: “Hard-hearted you are, you gods! You unrivaled lords of jealousy- scandalized when
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Calypso feels that her sexuality makes her susceptible to unfair treatment by the gods. This further proves the point that women were objectified, sexually and otherwise, in Greek culture. It is important to note that Odysseus’ relationship with most goddesses throughout The Odyssey involves the act of sex. Athena, on the other hand, personifies both feministic and non-feministic traits, although they are not necessarily masculine traits. This is quite strange, however, as most women are represented as solely feminine and completely inferior to men. Athena is the goddess of wisdom and war. According to Homer, in the Iliad, Athena is portrayed as a fierce and ruthless warrior, characteristics that women were not generally assigned during this time period. At the same time, Athena is illustrated as being emotional, acting on her emotions. She has a…show more content…
She is loyal, having waited for Odysseus for twenty years, not remarrying, though she thought he was gone for good. She also plays a much more active role in the marriage she has with Odysseus. Perhaps the most defining characteristics attributed to Penelope involve her role as a woman, in marriage and as a presumed “widow”. First, there seems to be a double standard, like described in Calypso’s case, between the loyalty of Penelope and the loyalty of Odysseus. Penelope is physically and emotionally loyal to Odysseus, while Odysseus is only emotionally loyal, meaning he has had sexual relations with other women within the twenty years he has been gone. During this time period in Greek culture, this was not frowned upon and was quite normal, suggesting that women were held to a different standard than men. In addition, as Penelope is presumed to be a widow, at least by the suitors, she is prized solely for her beauty. The suitors speak only of her beauty and none of her intelligence or of her personality or soul. This suggests that marriage was not always about love, and that women were judged and valued merely for their beauty. This idea further proves the act of sexualizing women during this
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