Homer’s Iliad is undoubtedly focused on its male characters: Achilles, primarily, but also Hector and Agamemnon. Nevertheless, it seems that the most crucial characters in the epic are female. Homer uses the characters of Thetis, Andromache, and Helen as a basis for comparison to the male characters. Homer wants his audience to see and understand the folly of his male characters in choosing war over peace, aggression over kindness, and honor over family. While the behavior of these characters clearly speaks for itself, the contrasting attitudes and behaviors of the female characters proffer an alternative; in comparison, the reader can hardly fail to concur with Homer’s message that war, aggression, and honor are misplaced and self-defeating values.
The men of the Iliad are very emotional individuals; however, the emotions they express are consistently rage, pride, and jealousy. Achilles and Agamemnon jealously bicker over Briseis, a war prize that neither man particularly values. Agamemnon eventually returns her to Achilles with the admission that he never actually coupled with her; Achilles is less-than-enthused to have her back. Not only is Briseis, as a woman, regarded less as a human being as she is chattel, but the real issue dividing Agamemnon and Achilles is petty jealousy and pride. This is symptomatic of a general attitude among men that "might makes right," and the only priority is to exert a dominance over others whenever possible and at any cost. Achilles is willing to risk the lives of his compatriots and eventually forfeits his own life in pursuit of glory. Hector also loses his life and fails his family and country for glory despite having weighed the alternatives and con...
... middle of paper ...
... remembered for their great glory. Kindness, to them, is a weakness; yet ironically, it is their kindness for which they are remembered and mourned by those who loved them best. One role of the women of ancient Greece was mourning for the dead; the lamentations of the women in the Iliad are a role well fulfilled.
Works Cited and Consulted:
Calame, Claude. Choruses of Young Women in Ancient Greece : Their Morphology, Religious Role, and Social Fucntion. Trans. by Derek Collins and Jane Orion. 1997.
Sissa, Giulia. 1990. Greek Virginity. Trans. by Arthur Goldhammer. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Orig. pub. as Le corps virginal. 1987. 000: Librairie Philosophique J. Vrin.
Steiner, George, and Fagles, Robert, eds. Homer: A Collection of Critical Essays. Twentieth Century Views, ed. Maynard Mack. Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice Hall, 1962.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- The Role of Women in Odyssey and The Iliad The Iliad and Odyssey present different ideals of women, and the goddesses, who are presented as ideal women, differ between the two epics. The difference in roles is largely dependent on power, and relations to men, as well as sexual desirability and activity. The goddesses have a major role in both epics as Helpers of men. They have varied reasons for this. One is a maternal instinct. This is displayed in the literal mother-son relationships of Aphrodite and Aeneas, Thetis and Achilles, and the protective instinct that Athene displays in Book 3 of the Iliad when Pandarus arrow shot an arrow at Menelaus and she "took her stand in front and ward... [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]
3364 words (9.6 pages)
- The Iliad by Homer and the Women of Troy by Euripides are both Greek works of literature that look at the Trojan War from different perspectives. Book 6 of the Iliad illustrates that the ultimate glory is to fight for the city with no regard to the impact on the family. The Women of Troy focuses on the negatives that war causes, especially towards the soldier’s wives and children. Whereas the Iliad focuses on the battle itself and centers on the warriors, the Women of Troy focuses on the wrath the war brings upon the families left behind.... [tags: Iliad, Women of Troy, Homer, Euripides, Trojan War]
915 words (2.6 pages)
- There are different forms and examples of exemplary and classic literature which have been deemed as significant works that are highly esteemed worldwide. These examples of literature would awe the world with how much literary skill they entailed when they were composed and written: attention to details as to formation of characters, the most crafty of plots, the most eloquent speeches and lines, the most astounding of twists of scenes, and most of all, the most universal and meaningful of themes.... [tags: Honor, Homer, Iliad]
2018 words (5.8 pages)
- Iliad and Oedipus The role of women in society has been a matter of much debate and while the gender equal world of our time stresses upon equality for men and women, this was not the case in earlier ages. From Classical Antiquity to the early years of the 20th century, women were marginalized and treated as inferior to men, and their life was regulated by laws and norms and conventions stipulated by men. The works of Classical Greek philosophers and dramatists is testimony to the subjugation of women in those periods too, but it is also worth noting that women were integral to the action in Greek drama and thought, although they did not occupy as relevant a position in real society.... [tags: role of women in Greek drama & epic poetry]
899 words (2.6 pages)
- Women have held many different roles in society throughout human history. Since the beginning of time men have always been viewed as superior. In Homer’s Iliad, a perfect example of the suppressive role of women is shown. Women are treated as property and are used for the mere purpose of reproduction within the household. Paralyzed by their unfortunate circumstances, they were taken and given as if they were material belongings. In Homer's Iliad, women are seen and introduce as rewards to the male heroines and usually the greatest fighters.... [tags: women's role, human history, creek]
1217 words (3.5 pages)
- Femininity in Homer’s Iliad In Homer’s Iliad, predominant feminine presence inspires the events of the poem and the destinies of the men involved. This feminine presence is not a product of the actions and decisions of the women in the poem, but rather a conceptual, creative feminine force without which the poem and even human life would not exist. Homer personifies this presence in nature and maintains it through the voice of the Muse, his inspiration. There is a deeper essence of a feminine presence in the poem, however, which lies in the characteristics of life itself.... [tags: Iliad essays]
1888 words (5.4 pages)
- For the Greeks, Homer's Odyssey was much more than just an entertaining tale of gods, monsters, and men, it served as cultural paradigm from which every important role and relationship could be defined. This book, much more so than its counter part The Iliad, gives an eclectic view of the Achean's peacetime civilization. Through Odyssey, we gain an understanding of what is proper or improper in relationships between father and son, god and mortal, servant and master, guest and host, and--importantly--man and woman. Women play a vital role in the movement of this narrative. Unlike in The Iliad, where they are chiefly prizes to be won, bereft of identity, the women of Odyssey are unique... [tags: The Role of Women in The Odyssey]
1720 words (4.9 pages)
- 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.... [tags: Homer, Odyssey Essays]
936 words (2.7 pages)
- Divine Intervention is a “direct and obvious intervention by a god or goddess in the affairs of humans”. In various myths such as the Iliad, the Epic of Gilgamesh, and Herakles, divine intervention was called upon in order to restrain a hero’s destructive or too powerful forces. Although the divine intervention was used to impair different heroes, the purpose to constrain was the same in all the narratives. Homer’s The Iliad: Book XX features a battle between the Trojans and Achaians, shortly after Patroklus’ death (Lattimore Book XVI), where the gods must intervene in order to restrain Achilleus’ destructive nature that becomes amplified due to the grief and wrath as a result of the loss of... [tags: Literary Analysis, Homer]
1848 words (5.3 pages)
- Women have always been recognized for their strong influence on the actions of men. Because of his love for Delia, Samson told his secret of his power and ended up losing it. In Shakespeare's Macbeth, Lady Macbeth urged Macbeth to commit murder. More recently, Eleanor Roosevelt strongly influenced the decisions that Franklin D. Roosevelt made. Women of Homer's epic, The Iliad, were considered primary instigators of the Trojan war. The characteristics attributed to women in ancient Greek mythology may have been key to the outbreak of the war.... [tags: Role of Women in the Trojan War]
582 words (1.7 pages)