The Women of Homer’s Odyssey Essay

The Women of Homer’s Odyssey Essay

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The Women of Homer’s Odyssey


    Homer’s Odyssey, by, is typically seen as a male dominated poem: the hero is male and the majority of the characters are male.  We follow the men on their attempt to return to Ithaca.  However, even though women are not the main characters, they are omnipresent through much of the story.  Women play a very important role in the movement of the story line: they all want to marry, help or hurt Odysseus.  During the course of his journey, Odysseus meets three different women who want him to be their husband: Circe, Calypso, Nausicca, and finally one woman who is his true wife: Penelope. Each of these women has a profound effect on Odysseus journey home.  Yet, even though these women are much more powerful than ordinary Greek women are they still carry some semblance of the "good female" in Greek society.

        Circe, though not the first female we meet in Odyssey, is the first woman Odysseus meets on his journey home from the Trojan War. She is no ordinary woman!  She is not kept separate from men outside of her oikos as proper women are supposed to be (Pomeroy 21).  Good Greek women are to be chaperoned by a male member of their oikos whenever they are in the presence of strange men. "The visitor to the Greek house would meet only the male members of the family; when strangers were in the house t...


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...r husband and they all attempt to accomplish this in different ways.  It is interesting to see that even though there are numerous men in the story the women seem to weld power over Odysseus' journey: holding him hostage or letting him go according to the various women.  The fact that all the women are depicted as slightly evil (save Penelope, of course) seems to give evidence to the fact that Greek men are wary of the power of unconfined, unchaperoned women.

Works Cited

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

Kebric, R.B. Greek People. 2nd ed. London: 1997.

Pomeroy, S.B. Families in Classical and Hellenistic Greece. New York: 1997.

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