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How Female Characters In The Odyssey Are Important And Help The Story Progress

1268 words - 5 pages

Women are very important figures in Homer's The Odyssey. Athena and Penelope are the two primary examples. They help Odysseus in his travels in many ways through the story. They keep the reader interested so that they keep reading to find out what will happen next. Throughout the novel, they appear in many different forms.In this epic, several female characters had a profound effect on the plot. They wielded their influence through typically feminine skills and attributes: seduction, supernatural powers, intelligence, and beauty. Some of the women of The Odyssey influenced the actions of men, playing key roles in the epics, such as Athena, Penelope, Calypso, the Sirens, Helen, or Circe; all have been true, and in actuality, may be an entertaining interpretation of an actual Trojan War. Since the Trojan War supposedly started because of a dispute between the gods and mortals, the Trojan War probably started because of a reason other than the reason Homer gives. If Homer were a woman, then he would have directed his audience into believing that women were at a higher level than men were by use of his epics. Ultimately, Homer would be utilizing his feminine characteristics when telling his stories with underlying messages of feminine superiority or equality.As goddess of wisdom and battle, Athena naturally has a soft spot for the brave and wily Odysseus. She helps him out of many tough situations, including his shipwreck in Book 5 and the mismatched battle of Book 22. She does not merely impart sense and safety to her passive charge, however. She takes an interest in Odysseus for the talents he already has and actively demonstrates. Although she reassures Odysseus during the battle with the suitors, she does not become fully involved, preferring instead to watch Odysseus fight and prevail on his own.She also often helps Telemachus as when she sends him off to Pylos and Sparta to earn a name for himself but she has the most affection for Odysseus. Athena is confident, practical, clever, a master of disguises, and a great warrior, characteristics she finds reflected in Telemachus. Her role as goddess of the womanly arts gets very little attention in the Odyssey. Penelope works at the loom all the time but rarely sees Athena, and then usually only in dreams.In book I, Athena urged Telemachus to give up boyhood, act like a man, present his case to search for his father to the assembly, and take stronger steps to search for his father. After Telemachus presented his case to the assembly and no action was taken on his request for a ship to enable him to search for his father, Telemachus prayed to Athena for help. In response to his prayer, Athena appeared as Mentor and borrowed a ship and crew for Telemachus. Athena also helped Telemachus by appearing to Odysseus' enemies miss with their attacks and Athena gave Odysseus precise aim.Athena last and final help was when she interrupted the relatives of the suitors from attacking in revenge of the suitors...

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