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The Role Of Women In "The Iliad" By Homer.

1119 words - 4 pages

Throughout the ages, many people feel they have a statement to make, and make this statement through literature. Although at first glance, Homer's "Iliad" may not seem to be a criticism of society, underneath all the violence and deep storylines there is a message dying to get out. In the culture of the Iliad, mortal women are treated as property rather than human beings. While the gods attempt to treat the goddesses the same way, the goddesses are quick to assert themselves and claim equal power. This is Homer's way of saying that the attitude towards women in his time period is wrong and unjustified. While men worship goddesses, they still treat women as lesser beings.Many times throughout the epic women are treated as property, and often talked about as "prizes" of "gifts." This is shown from the beginning with Chryseis when Chryses, her father, brings "a rich treasure to ransom his daughter" (11) because rather than viewing her simply as property, he loves her more than all his treasure and riches. Agamemnon however views her as his prize and will not let her go because to him she does not mean anything more than that he was able to take her. He doesn't realize that to Chryses she is more than just property, she is his daughter and he has feelings for her. This of course leads to the biggest show of looking down on women in the whole book, which is of course the argument over Briseis in book one. When Agamemnon finally decides that for the greater good he will give back Chryseis he gets mad at those who tell him and takes Achilles' "prize" simply to disrespect him. He even states to Achilles that he is going to take Briseis himself "to show how much stronger I am than you are. Then others will take care not to stand up to me." (14) It is similar to a bully taking a little kid's toy on the playground, and the childishness of the men over the prizes is only continued when Achilles runs and cries to his Mother to get it back for him.Later on in the book, there are more examples of women being used almost as currency, such as when Agamemnon offers the many gifts to Achilles to try and get him to fight again. He attempts to buy Achilles' loyalty with gifts rather than apologizing and coming to better terms with Achilles. He is saying that he is still more powerful than Achilles and is paying him with land, kingdoms, property, and women. Agamemnon offers many different objects, including "seven women skillful in women's work, the most beautiful women in the world" (107) to attempt to buy Achilles into the battle. Even the placement of the words is interesting because during the long tirade of treasure offered to Achilles, the women are mentioned not at the end as if they are different than all the other treasure, or at the beginning as if they are the most important, but right after Agamemnon mentions the horses, which are described as "grand creatures which have won prizes in the race." (107) This is Homer's attempt to show a similarity to the...

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