Women In Homer's Odyssey Essay

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THE WOMEN CHARACTERS IN HOMER 'S “ODYSSEY”

Homer 's Odyssey is certainly a primarily masculine story, an epic poem centered on the heroic deeds of a universal figure, Odysseus, who is seen returning from the Trojan War in the company of his male comrades. As with its companion work The Iliad, The Odyssey describes the man 's world of war, male camaraderie, and heroic struggle against natural and manmade forces. Seen in this context, the female characters of the epic are decidedly secondary; apart from the fact that Odysseus ' wife Penelope is the source and symbol of his longing to return home, the story does not seem to turn upon their decisions or deeds. At the same time, The Odyssey contains fascinating and perceptive portraits of women, and in a mythic sense, the most powerful figure in Odysseus ' world is his protecting goddess Athene, who tells mighty Zeus at the beginning of the poem, "...the heart in me is torn for the sake of wise Odysseus,/ unhappy man, who till far from his friends, is suffering/grief, on the sea-washed island, the navel of all the waters..." (Lattimore, 1967:28). The goddess of wisdom and cunning shields and sponsors Odysseus, who is lured by temptation, beguiled in sex, and guided to his homecoming by women characters who are, in their own way, as diverse and fully-imagined as the male characters in the poem.
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In addition, we will review briefly the general characterization of females, which in this poem ranges from misogynistic to worshipful. As we will see, Homer 's women encompass the whole range of human types, from queenly and chaste to lustful and
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