Women in The Odyssey
After following an epic that revolved so completely around men, The Odyssey has quite a lot of female roles. True, the ancient Greeks had a better androgynous balance than other civilizations, and this is reflected very clearly in The Odyssey. Femininity has not only a bigger role in this epic, but it seems as though it is honored with its own unique power. This is shown in characters like Circe and Athena, but also subtextually in the many female weavers throughout the story. Overall, women and feminine power have a very influential role in the plot of the Odyssey. Let us begin with the obvious female powers in the immortal goddesses and nymphs. As far as the Olympian Gods, Athena is by far the most involved, regardless of gender. This is made very clear, for example, we see Telemachus preparing for his journey, “When they had made fast the running gear all along the black ship, then they set up the mixing bowls, filling them brimful with wine, and poured to the gods immortal and everlasting, but beyond all other gods they poured to Zeus’ gray-eyed daughter.” (2.430-433) Also, Calypso and Circe play the role of “Women as Temptress” which greatly hinders Odysseus’ journey. Circe especially has those powerful witch qualities that the uses specifically against the male gender. Luckily, however, she learns compassion for Odysseus and the crew in general. Thus she becomes not only kind but actually a very helpful component in the overall voyage. Calypso needed more convincing about releasing Odysseus, but afterwards she also became somewhat helpful. Other helpful supernatural women appear such as the water nymph, Ino, who saves Odysseus from drowning on his way to the Phaecians. Already we see a huge increase in female importance and their affect on the plot. One of the biggest reflections of ancient Greek culture is the amount of weaving done by the women. However, I think that the images of weaving in the Odyssey have little to do with...
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