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Appearance Of Women In Odyssey Essay

1574 words - 6 pages

Looking back on women in ancient civilizations we see a variety of different ways in which they have been regarded. In ancient Greece, women were mostly subservient to men; yet, in writing the Odyssey Homer gives us a slightly broader outlook on a woman's role in society. Not only does Homer expose his reader to human females as well as goddesses. In most ancient stories women are not crucial to the plot. In Homer's two works the Iliad and Odyssey there is a special importance put on the women; the stories would not be the same without them. Because of this importance on women and their roles the reader is encouraged to take a deeper look into the natural and super natural world that Homer presents. He has a tendency to describe women no just by their physical beauty, but also how they sound and act and in doing so the reader is able to see certain underlying qualities in the men.The Iliad is very much like the Odyssey in the way its women reflect on the men in the novel. Homer uses Andromache's appearance to show Hector as a person and build him up as a great man. Hector and his wife's relationship is shown by her approach, "Andromache came close to him with her tears falling, and took his hand and spoke to him" (Homer, Martin Hammond, trans., The Iliad (Penguin Books) verse 5:396). This description states that Hector had a close relationship with his wife. Homer lets the reader know that this tough army leader has a softer more human home life. One other important description is made and that is of the Agrive Helen. The elders note that, "...she is fearfully like the immortal goddess to look at" (Iliad, 3:151). In saying this they show understanding of Paris's decision to steal her away and yet, they understand why the Achaians want her back. It puts the whole war into perspective and justifies what these men are dying for, even though it may in the reader's eyes be slightly foolish.In the Odyssey Homer actually tells the reader very little about the physical appearance of the women. For example Homer describes Penelope very little. When she first appears in the novel Homer describes her as, "Penelope the Wise, tall in her beauty as Artemis or pale-gold Aphrodite, appeared from her high chamber and came down to throw her arms around her son" (Homer, Richard Lattimore, trans., The Odyssey of Homer (Harper Perennial) pg, 34). In this scene it is Penelope's beauty, as she shows herself to the suitors, that inevitably leads them to their deaths. The suitors want her for her beauty and Odysseus kills them because of that. The effect is that these men are only thinking about her beauty and they don't care about what could happen to them when Odysseus returns.Odysseus meets many women in The Odyssey and each of their appearances directly affects his journey. The first female obstacle that Odysseus and his crew encounter is Kirke. They land on her island while on their quest to finally reach Ithaca. Homer's brief description of her leads the reader to...

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