Women have held many different roles in society throughout human history. Since the beginning of time men have always been viewed as superior. In Homer’s Iliad, a perfect example of the suppressive role of women is shown. Women are treated as property and are used for the mere purpose of reproduction within the household. Paralyzed by their unfortunate circumstances, they were taken and given as if they were material belongings. In Homer's Iliad, women are seen and introduce as rewards to the male heroines and usually the greatest fighters. They are depicted as being inferior to men both physically and intellectually. Throughout the epic poem, women play an important role that symbolizes their relative significance and the impact they have on the different interactions that take place. The action and drama that over whelms The Iliad belongs to that of a masculine world. The interaction between man and women in this epic is similar to that of child and a toy. The females, being, the toys of the poem are either praised and taken care of, as a prized toy would be, or just kept for the sake of enjoyment. There are not many mortal females in this epic, but very few do play important roles in the plot. The female gods, such as Helen, however, seem to be in more control than the males of the story. By comparing and contrasting the female mortals and divine female’s interactions in The Iliad, we can expand an initiative of what Homer considers the proper place for the females during the time of this Trojan War. Although Homer’s ideas seem antiquated today, they are entirely philosophical of his own historical era.
The Iliad begins with an argument between Achilles and Agamemnon over Briseis, who was considered a war prize. One of the many advances of the Greek army was the raiding of a Trojan allied town. They brought back the spoils and divided them equally among the warriors. Agamemnon is awarded with Chryseis as his prize, a child of a priest. Achilles is rewarded with a young maiden named Briseis. Both women are taken in against their will. Unfortunately for Agamemnon, Chryseis' father demanded for his daughter to be given back and with futile effort shown, he offers Agamemnon mounts of riches as a ransom. Agamemnon was not happy or satisfied with the offered compromise and just replied with unsympathetic words:
Never again, old man,
Let me catch sight of you by the hollow ships!
Not loitering now, not slinking back tomorrow.
The staff and the Wreaths of god will never save you then
The girl – I won’t give up the girl. Long before that,
Old age will overtake her in my house, in Argos,
Far from her fatherland, slaving back and forth
At the loom, forced to share my bed! (I, 29-36)
Agamemnon now sees that losing the prize he just won will put Achilles at an advantage over him. Achilles gets to keep Briseis and he loses the only thing he earned. He disrespects the priest, the father of his captive in the name of envy. He calls him...