The Role of Women in the Iliad

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The Role of Women in the Iliad
Anybody would agree that before, women had so little power that they were often used as objects. They were taken and given as if they were material belongings. In the Iliad, an epic written during the 8th century BC, women are treated as only property and producing material within the house rather than human beings. This is Homer’s way of saying that the attitude towards women in his time period is wrong and unjustified. While men worship gods and goddesses, they still treat women as lesser beings. Women were put in the story to have a meaning, whether their role is a prize of war or any other small roles. The men in the Iliad would be nothing without the women and absolutely nothing to fight over which is what the entire story is all about.

Many times in the story, women are often portrayed as “war prizes”. Consider for example the event of Chryseis and Briseis. The major conflict occurred about these two women since Chryseis needs to be return by Agamemnon to her father to stop the plague sent by Apollo. Agamemnon demands in exchange Briseis, Achilles’ war prize which angered Achilles. It is amazing how two women can control the outcome of such disagreement and can cause a fight between so many people without saying a word. Chryses, her father, brought a rich treasure to get back her daughter, because he loved her more than any other thing, he didn’t see his daughter as an object that could be bought or sold. Agamemnon on the other hand was angry with Chryses because he was a big cheese at that time and who is this old man to come and easily ask him to give them his woman. He then criticized Chryses with harsh words. He said, “Don’t let me ever catch you, old man, by these ships again, skulking around now or sneaking back later. The god's staff and ribbons won't save you next time. The girl is mine, and she'll be an old woman in Argos before I let her go, working the loom in my house and coming to my bed, far from her...
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