Women in Greek Mythology

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Women in Greek mythology

A myth is a legendary traditional story, usually concerning a hero or an event, and typically involving supernatural beings and events. Informally, the term is also used to describe false stories, due to the usual lack of determinable basis or fact in most myths, but the academic use of the word has nothing to do with truth or falsity. Myths are stories woven from the need of having models for behavior. They are sacred stories revolving around sacred events and sacred characters idealized perfectly to be the suitable role-models in the eyes of the society from which they spring, which makes myths a valuable resource for explaining how the human race came to what it is today. Ancient Greek society had very specific gender roles, where men were expected to be controlling and domineering, and women passive and obedient. It was believed that if women were busy in their domestic homes, then they will not turn to their evil nature in which men of that time strongly believed in. “From her is descended a great pain to mortal men” (Leftowitz and Fant, p25). In Homer’s Odyssey, one of the oldest and most fundamental works of literature to western canon, the importance of women in the poem’s plot lies in their roles as seductresses. When Odysseus' crew arrives on Circe's island, they are attracted to Circe's house because of the alluring voice of the beautiful but monstrous goddess. Homer describes her as "... singing in a sweet voice, as she fared to and fro before the great web imperishable, such as is the handiwork of goddesses, fine of woof and full of grace and splendor." (Homer, 850 BC)

But evil seductresses was not the only portrait of women offered by Greek Mythology. Penelope, the wife of the main character in the Odyssey, Odysseus, is a prime example of what an ideal wife was in Ancient Greek society. She has only one son by Odysseus, born just before Odysseus was called to fight in the Trojan War. Penelope remained faithful to...