The Odyssey, an ancient Greek epic poem attributed to Homer, relates to Odysseus’s journey back to Ithaca.1 In the poem Odysseus has had some bad luck getting home, with some of the gods helping him and some hindering him; his journey towards home is a constant struggle. Throughout the epic Homer portrays diverse relationships in Odysseus’s journey. Odysseus experiences a lot of inconsistent emotions; a lot of this is attributed to the physical and mental hell he goes through on this remarkable voyage. This is an epic tale of a man’s heroic quest, from which women play an incredibly large role. Homer’s tale, The Odyssey revolves around Odysseus’s quest to return back to his wife, Penelope, so that he may be reunited with her and assume control over his palace, which has been overrun by suitors. His son, Telemachus attempts to regain authority in the presence of the many suitors but finds this difficult and embarks upon his own journey under the guidance of Athena and other deities. The main thrust of Homer’s The Odyssey centers upon the adventures of Homer as he endeavors to get back home, which he finally does. He overtakes the suitors through his cunning and the tale ends happily. Throughout the tale, there are quite limited presentations of women and many of them, if not servant girls or deities, are assigned to the narrow role of seductresses, mothers or some combination of both. Although women occupied an entirely different position in society compared to men, they too held a certain sphere of influence and power; they simply exerted it in ways that were distinct from men 's strategies. One can see just how women exerted their power and influence in The Odyssey and to what ends.
The role of a seductress is a prime examp...
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...tores the ideal Greek woman, but I prefer to believe that Homer, once again, was trying to show the manipulative nature of women as Penelope exhibits many of the great attributes that Odysseus, a man, possesses.
It is interesting to analyze the gender problematic in the Odyssey through the lens of the roles of women in this epic. This epic is dependant on the role of women. It is difficult to completely judge the beliefs about the gender roles in Greek culture based solely on the Odyssey. At times, the roles and actions of women in this poem show the male chauvinist view, that they are objects of beauty and have to succumb to manipulation and trickery to accomplish a goal. There are other times when a woman 's strength and intelligence come through. Homer uses this interplay to make the epic more interesting and develops an underlying theme of a battle of the sexes.
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