Women's Roles in Greek Society

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The Iliad uncovers the truth behind what Greeks believed to be the role of women in society. The Greek goddesses and the mortal women represent two sides that women had in society. The Greek goddesses held power over the war, whereas, the mortal women are there as prizes or timé. Aphrodite is the prime example of a goddess who held a lot of power, mainly by using manipulation, in the Trojan War. Helen represents the quintessential idea of a woman representing timé. These two portrayals of women in Greek society depict how people recognized women’s role in society, with Aphrodite representing a woman with power as a manipulative goddess and Helen representing a woman who was merely timé, a prize to be obtained.

Aphrodite expressed her power by manipulating a man to get what she wanted, which in turn caused the Trojan War. Aphrodite; although a woman, is seen as one of the “most powerful and fearful” of the gods which is displayed in her “sexual passion” (Tait 58). It is seen in her manipulation of Paris before the start of The Iliad. At Peleus and Thetis’ wedding, Eris threw a golden apple and told the gods to give it to the fairest of them all. No one wanted to choose between Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite; therefore, they called on Paris to choose. Aphrodite promised Helen, who was married to Menelaus, to Paris in marriage if he picked Aphrodite, and he did (Cook 279). Paris then kidnapped Helen while Menelaus was away. Aphrodite’s selfishness triggers a ten year siege of Troy by the Greeks in order to get Helen back. Aphrodite’s manipulation of Paris not only starts the war, but also determines Hera’s and

Athena’s loyalties to the Greeks (Kullman 3). Homer perceived women as sexual manipulators as is clearly displayed with th...

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