Women of Odyssey

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Odysseus' values and character traits serve as a paradigm of the ideal Homeric Greek man. The "god-like Odysseus" is crafty, valiant, wise, and eloquent. He gains much of his knowledge through travel, the meeting of different cultures and peoples and learns from suffering and mistakes. He is an aristocrat and a warrior of all warriors. We first learn of many of these traits in Homer's Iliad. Agamemnon, the commander of the Greek army always calls on Odysseus for assignments that required someone cunning and brilliant. Agamemnon sends Odysseus to ask Achilles to return to the army and sends him with Diomedes into the Trojan camp to attain information. Odysseus has to be sly and quick so the Trojans do not catch him. Homer describes them as "two lions stalking through the carnage and the corpses."(Book X, Line 297) However, these traits and Odysseus' ability are constantly challenged by the temptation of women. In the Odyssey, myriad examples of such temptation reflect the importance of gender and the role of women. Odysseus' numerous interactions with women make this influence clear.

A prime example of the importance of the roles of women in the Odyssey is 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 went up and down a great design on a loom, immortal such as goddesses have, delicate and lovely and glorious in their work."(Book X, Line 221) Odysseus' men respond to this by calling onto her and entering her house. The men's desire for Circe allows the goddess to exploit their weaknesses, trick them and magically turn them into swine. Odysseus, only, with the help of a protective drug and advice provided by Hermes, goes to rescue his men from Circe's island. He follows Hermes' exact instructions and when the goddess attempts to strike him with her sword, he lunges at her....
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