The Status Of Women In Homer's Odyssey

2096 Words 9 Pages
Women in Greek literature tend to fall into two categories: sweet, gentle, passive beauties or dangerous, intelligent, powerful sorceresses. They are either the trophy or the villain -- at the very best, a female character may be a goddess, her powers being controlled by Zeus himself. Forget being the hero or ruler of a kingdom; a woman was to be either an obedient wife or a slightly-psychotic witch. With all these horrible labels women carried during this time, it’s ironic how Odysseus, constantly being praised for being a hero, had nothing -- no motivation, no help, no adventure -- without the help of a variety of different women. Odysseus was a Greek hero whose tales were spread to kingdoms throughout the land. Famous for outsmarting …show more content…
Yes, she is an important reason to why Odysseus wants to come home, and yes, her beauty adds drama to the story by attracting the mob of suitors -- and helps add to Telemachus’ coming of age story. However, all Penelope does in the epic poem is cry, get pushed around by her own son, and weave a burial shroud for Laertes, her very much alive father-in-law. She shows a great amount of cleverness, from stalling the suitors’ demand for her hand marriage with a promise she would never fulfill to devising a test to determine if the man she calls Odysseus is simply suitor in disguise before warmly welcoming him home. It’s a pity we do not get to see this intelligence work its way deeper into the poem’s plot. Penelope is the only reoccurring mortal woman we see in this epic poem, and not surprisingly, the character most limited with power. Sadly, the power she does receive -- having the privilege to chose her new husband, ‘running’ a kingdom by herself while her husband is away for twenty years -- is far greater than most women in ancient Greece would …show more content…
The lovely goddess kept Odysseus on her island, Ogygia, for seven years. He has been away from home for twenty years. Ten of those years were spent fighting, the other ten used for the long trip of Odysseus returning home. According to that math, Odysseus spent eight years fooling around on Circe’s and then Calypso 's islands while the monsters, losing men, and sailing/Poseidon 's wrath at sea (aka a majority of the adventures in the tellings of the Odyssey) account for only two. If he would have avoided those eight years with the goddesses, it’s likely the bloodbath of a battle against the suitors wouldn’t have accorded, or there would be less suitors who have not been waiting for years upon years. Though Odysseus appears to be a prisoner, Calypso, in my opinion, should not be treated like a monster. She gave him food, shelter, and … other things that Odysseus was given on Circe’s island. Thanks to her, Odysseus was able to lay low from the gods in safety until Athena convinced the gods to let the hero return home. Her reasons to keep the Greek hero are also selfish, though the stop at Ogygia is very important in Odysseus’ story. It challenges our protagonist to see if he loves Penelope enough to leave the island paradise, where he could live immortally, a goddess as his wife, plenty of food, and no more suffering Poseidon’s wrath at sea. In the end, when Calypso is ordered to

Related Documents