Odyssey And Woman Treatment Essay Research Paper

Odyssey And Woman Treatment Essay, Research Paper

The Treatment of Women by Men in Homer?s The Odyssey Women in Homer?s The

Odyssey are judged mainly by looks. If important men and gods consider a woman

beautiful, or if her son is a hero or important king the woman is successful.

The way women in The Odyssey are treated is based on appearance, the things men

want from them, and whether the woman has any power over men. During Odysseus?

journey to the underworld he sees the shades of many prominent women. We hear

about their beauty, their important sons, or their affairs with gods. We hear

nothing about these women?s accomplishments in their lifetime. Odysseus tells

how Antiope could ?boast a god for a lover,?(193) as could Tyro and many

other women. Epikaste was called ?that prize?(195) her own son unwittingly

married. Some women are known for the deeds of their sons, but never for a

heroic deed of their own, their personalities, who they are, and what they do

independent of males. It seems the only accomplishment women could achieve was

being beautiful. Theseus ?had no joy of?(195) the princess Ariadne because

she died before this was possible. Homer makes it sound as if Ariadne?s life

was useless because she did not give Theseus pleasure. The only woman we hear of

for a different reason is Klymene, and we only hear of her because she

?betrayed her lord for gold.?(195) This is the only time we hear of a woman

for something she did, and once we do, it is a negative remark. Penelope,

Odysseus? queen, is paid attention to only because of her position. Because

she has a kingdom, she has suitors crowding around her day and night. Being a

woman, Penelope has no control over what the suitors do and cannot get rid of

them. The suitors want her wealth and her kingdom. They do not respect her

enough to stop feeding on Odysseus? wealth; they feel she owes them something

because she won?t marry one of them. One of the suitors, Antinoos, tells

Telemakhos ?…but you should know the suitors are not to blame- it is your

own incomparably cunning mother.?(21) Even Telemakhos doesn?t respect his

mother as he should. When the song of a minstrel makes her sad and Penelope

requests him to stop playing, Telemakhos intervenes and says to her ?Mother,

why do you grudge our own dear minstrel joy of song, wherever his thought may

lead.? (12) If Telemakhos respected his mother he would have asked the

minstrel to cease playing the song that made her upset. Telemakhos has no use

for Penelope?s beauty or position; he regards her as someone who causes a

problem, but whom he must love anyway. Through Penelope Homer shows how an ideal

wife should feel toward her husband. Penelope remembers Odysseus as a great king

and husband even though he has been gone for twenty years. Odysseus thinks of

Penelope as his wife who, under all conditions, should be faithful to him no

matter how many times he has been unfaithful or how long he has been gone, and

Penelope fulfills this wish. Athena seems to be the most admired female in the

entire book. She is always spoken of respectfully and is remembered for her

heroic deeds. She is not degraded like the shades of the women Odysseus sees in

the underworld. Everyone worships her and speaks about her achievements with

awe; she is truly admired, not only because she is a goddess. Athena has control

over men that most women in the Odyssey do not. Women?s lives depend on what

men think of them. On the contrary, men?s lives depend on Athena?s opinion

of them. Unlike Athena most women are shown to be bad at heart or useless except

for man?s pleasure. Athena is ?Zeus? virgin daughter? and no one has

used her in that way. She is too important to be used as being enjoyment for

men; they depend on her for their own welfare. Men in The Odyssey only value

women who they can use for physical needs and wealth, such as the shades in the

underworld and Penelope, or women that can somehow hurt or punish them, such as

Athena. Homer shows us how men in The Odyssey consider women less important then

men. We rarely hear of women.


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