October 3, 2012
Role of Women in “The Odyssey”
“The Odyssey” by Homer is an epic poem about Odysseus’ return to his wife and son in Ithica after the Trojan War. Women play an exceptionally large role in this epic poem. Odysseus’s son, Telemachus attempts to gain authority in the presence of the suitors but it is difficult. Especially once he goes on his own journey under the guidance of Athena. Throughout the epic poem however, the women play their roles as mothers, servants, seductresses, some are a combination. These ones can be seen as women in power because they use these tools in order to control men. Mothers portrayed in this epic poem are seen as the givers of “pity and sorrow” rather than true supporters of their sons and husbands when in war. In most cases, these are women who need to be guided and supported by males, whether it be a son or a husband. An example of this would be when Telemachus ordered Penelope from the room, in order to show the suitors of his intention to claim to his father’s throne. Another example would be Anticlea, Odysseus’ mother. She committed suicide because she missed Odysseus and believed he was dead. Mothers need to look after, nurture, and protect their sons and husbands. I’d say Penelope is the most complex woman I have ever read about. She is both a mother and sometimes a seductress. She leads the suitors on and makes them wait. She is not ready to marry again. “It is your mother’s fault not ours, for she is a very artful woman. This three years past, and close on four, she has been driving us out of our minds, by encouraging each one of us, and sending him messages without meaning one word of what she says” (Book II). Penelope mourns her lost love, and at first is completely oblivious to the attention from the suitors. She reminds me of a Siren, (seen in book 11) always singing to encourage men but not intending to fulfill any promise of love or sex. Penelope is the perfect example of a woman in the...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document