A Comparison Of Hera, Athena, And Aphrodite

2738 words - 11 pages

Mythology was very important to the men and women of ancient Greece. They worshipped the gods and goddesses, wrote poems about them, and based a great deal of art work off of them. The people of Greece looked to the gods and goddesses for help in all aspects of their lives; including health, agriculture, and war. Reading about Greek mythology can inform people about the society of Greece itself because the Greek gods were created by the people of Greece. Three main goddesses who were worshipped by the Greeks were Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite. These three goddesses represent three different types of women in Greek society. Sarah Pomeroy, author of Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves, believed that “the goddesses are archetypal images of human females, as envisioned by males” (8). Pomeroy understands the significance in the differences between Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite, and what those differences meant for the women of Greece who were required to follow three important rules. The first rule was for the women to live a life of domesticity and motherhood. This was very important to the men in the society. The women were the only ones able to bear children. Also, if they were forced to stay in the house, men could keep a greater control on their wives, and not have to worry about them having affairs. The second important trait was virginity until marriage. Its importance to the Greek culture lied in the fear of a woman’s power. The men of the society felt it best that a woman remained a virgin until she was married; however this same attribute was not required of a man. Their belief can be explained by this quote written by P. Walcot in the article “Greek Attitudes Towards Women: The Mythological Evidence”: “The Greeks believed women to be incapable of not exercising their sexual charms and that the results were catastrophic, irrespective of whether or not women set out to cause trouble deliberately or acted in a blissful ignorance of what they were doing” (39). Here the author explains that much of the reason why men of the society felt it necessary for the women to remain a virgin until marriage was because they were afraid of the sexual power that women had over men. For this reason girls were forced into marriage as soon as puberty hit; when they were able to understand and feel a sexual desire toward men (Walcot 39). The third and final trait that will be discussed is submission to men. In Greek culture, the men had all of the power. Women were supposed to stay at home while their husbands worked and had relations with other females. In this quote Walcot supports this idea: “Thus Greek wives were required to be totally faithful, whereas husbands might amuse themselves outside the home with those other than their wives” (39). This paper will explore these Greek goddesses and how they differ or are similar with three important traits of Greek women which were domesticity and motherhood, virginity until marriage, and submission to men.
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