Cultural Role of Women in the Odyssey

Topics: Odyssey, Odysseus, Greek mythology Pages: 3 (1040 words) Published: June 14, 2012

The cultural role of women in the Odyssey In Homer’s Odyssey the cultural relevance of a preferred woman’s role in society generally stands out in the roles of the female characters of Athena and Penelope simultaneously rejecting the negatively viewed characteristics of Calypso and Circe. The entire structure of Ancient Greek culture boasts its men in more superior roles than that of women. Greek society was largely built upon an idea that good women were only around to faithfully serve and support their husband and that it was very important not to stray from those essential traits. Athena is a very involved character from the beginning of the book when she wants to help Odysseus get back home to Ithaca. However, as fate would put it in book 22, Telemachus must become more of a man than he is at the beginning of our epic. Athena goes to visit Telemachus, disguised as a male mentor, lending more truth to the fact of a man’s advice being stronger than a woman’s counsel. Athena gets Telemachus thinking when she says, “Yet I tell you great Odysseus is not dead. He’s still alive, somewhere in this wide world, held captive, out at sea on a wave-washed island, and hard men, savages, somehow hold him back against his will.” (Homer ll 1.226-231). Further into her visit Telemachus’ spirits have raised enough to chase down the mystery of his father’s uncertainty. Before he leaves Ithaca Telemachus shows signs of stepping up from an adolescence stage to more of an adult with signs of speaking up to the suitors. This example was just the beginning of further steps Athena would take in her supportive assistance to improving Odysseus journey to get back home. Homer describes Calypso is merely a nymph that uses deception and deceitfulness to maintain possession over Odysseus in Book 4. As stated by Menelaus, “I saw him once on an island, weeping live warm tears in the nymph Calypso’s house-she holds him there by force,” (Homer ll 4.626-627) Odysseus has no choice but to...

Cited: Homer. "The Odyssey." Trans. Robert Fagles. The Longman Anthology of World Literature. Ed. Page DuBois, Sheldon Pollock, David L. Pike, David Damrosch, and Pauline Yu. 2nd ed. Vol. A. New York: Pearson Longman, 2009. 259-541. Print.
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