Essay on Role of Women in Homer's Odyssey

Essay on Role of Women in Homer's Odyssey

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The Role of Women in Homer's Odyssey


     "Homer's Odyssey is the product of a society in which men played the dominant role"(Pomeroy 22). Throughout history, women have retained a submissive role in society. For the longest time, society itself was organized and directed by men, and all of the most important enterprises were those that men implemented. Women participated in the affairs of the world only when they had the permission of the men who directed their lives.

            The literature of a of masculine society, of which Homer's Odyssey is an excellent example, aptly illustrates these social conventions. "The themes of Odyssey are of interest to men; warfare, hunting, the problems of the warrior and ruler, and so forth. Themes of interest to women, such as domestic affairs, are not considered in this literature, or these themes are dealt with only casually"(Graham 6). Keeping in mind this important attribute of epic poetry, which is the direct result of its social and intellectual environment, one cannot help noting the great difference between the Odyssey and all other epic poems.

No other literary work of this period, or of a similar cultural background, gives such a prominent position to women. No reader of the Odyssey can help having vivid memories of the poem's outstanding female characters. There are many women in the Odyssey and all of them contribute in mean-ingful ways to the development of the action. Furthermore, they are treated seriously and with respect by the poet, as if there were no difference between his attitude toward them and his feelings toward the chieftains for whom his epic was composed. Among the memorable women in the poem are Nausicaa, the innocent young maiden; Arete, the wise a...


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...though three thousand years later, there is still much women have yet to accomplish. Homer saw a ray of light for women in society. One that would not be matched for many centuries to come. Although asserting that women were in no means equal to men, Homer still saw the capability for the development of women in Greek society, even if the one women he developed most was not mortal.

Works Cited and Consulted:

Graham,  A. J. The Odyssey, History, and Women, 1995  pp. 3-16

Homer.  The Odyssey.  Trans.  Robert Fagles. New York: Penguin, 1996.

Pomeroy, Sarah B. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: Women in Classical Antiquity.  New York: Oxford UP. 1997

For a stronger opening, the student may wish to begin his or her essay with the following quote,

"Homer's Odyssey is the product of a society in which men played the dominant role"(Pomeroy 22).

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