Role of Women in Greek Mythology

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The story of the Judgment of Paris is another example of the constant squabbling and dissonance of the Goddesses in Mount Olympus. Filled with jealousy and hatred to one another, Eris, the goddess of discord, starts the contest by fueling the goddesses’ enviousness with the apple. Aphrodite (Venus), Athena (Minerva), and Hera (Juno) conceiving that they are better than one another fights for the possession of the apple and the battle ended when Paris Alexandros gave the apple to Aphrodite in exchange for a prize. From the beginning of the story, the women’s role has been viewed negatively. Aphrodite, Athena and Hera although has commanding and authoritative divine functions, they are depicted as covetous women who would fight over who is the “fairest of them all.” The goddesses are portrayed as vain and narcissistic. And to put icing on the cake, a man (Paris Alexandros) is described by Ovid, Heroides 16. 51 ff is given the task “thou art the arbiter of beauty; put an end to the strivings of the goddesses; pronounce which one deserves for her beauty to vanquish the other.” The goddesses, with all their power and might are subjected to a male mortal’s ability to mediate.

Stasinus of Cyprus or Hegesias of Aegina, Cypria Fragment 1 (as summarized in Proclus, Chrestomathia) (trans. Eveyltn-white) 9greek epic C7th or 6th B.C.) describes Aphrodite upon presenting herself to Paris as a sensuous temptress laughter-loving resembling a giggling school-girl festooned with flowers as garlands and smelling sweet and delicious. All throughout the epic, the traditional role of a women is depicted as of that – a temptress who’s main function is the lure the men to do their will through sex and other means. According to Hesiod’s Theogeny, Aphrodite is merely a flirtatious girl, and a fitting companion to her lover, Ares who is athletic but not excessively bright (Harris, 197).

Women are treated as nothing but an object for pleasure and a prize to be won in wars and games as...
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