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Gender Roles In The Odyssey By Homer

1153 words - 5 pages

Early ages of Greece introduce the norms Homeric society, including the division of genders. Masculinity was portrayed as the better and bigger trait that was found in men because it depicted strength and authority. Femininity on the other hand was portrayed as frail and weak for their submission and compassion. It was the norm for women to answer to the men in charge who made all the decisions. The epic poem, “The Odyssey” written by Homer illustrates Telemachos and Penelope have a controlling male dominant relationship, symbolizing the ideal gender roles in Homeric society, where as an Odysseus’ encounter with Arete shows a controlling female dominant association, representing a ...view middle of the document...

As we read further into Homer’s epic poem there is a second scene in book 21 between Telemachos and Penelope where he sends her to her bedroom yet again. Telemachos decides that she should not be present in the bow and arrow competition, that only men should be allowed to handle those types of events. He defines the fact that he is in charge of the belongings of the house and the house is yet under his power but not his and Penelope’s unified power. As he claims to be categorized with the men he wants to certainly play the role of one which would include demands and receiving obedience from a woman. The repetition of Telemachos’ statements, sending Penelope off to her bedroom shows him holding power. Penelope’s bedroom symbolically represents her emptiness and since there is nothing for her in the bedroom it shows that Telemachos is taking away her power as he holds his steady. Repetition as well shows how Telemachos is emphasizing the tasks that Penelope as a woman should be doing during certain cases and that he as the only male left of their family should be in possession of the household’s power. Another scene in book 23 shows that Telemachos is clearly angry with Penelope when she does not embrace Odysseus on his return. He uses offensive language such as “harsh mother”, “hard heart”, and “spirit as stubborn” (23.97-100) to address Penelope. This was an implication that she was not acting as a woman of Homeric society should be acting. In this scene, Penelope is stepping outside the boundaries of a woman of that time period and she is scolded for doing so. This picture also depicts how men seem to side with other men as Telemachos sides with his father and not his mother who has been emotionally hurt a great deal. Instead of Telemachos telling his father that she is overwhelmed over the fact that her long lost husband is standing right in front of her, he chooses to expose her as a horrible person and put her down.
These multiple scenes can be contrasted to Odysseus’ encounter with the queen of the Phaiakians, Arete. Nausikaa’s instructions to her father, Alkinoos’ palace is very symbolic as to why the Homeric...

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