The Odyssey: The Roles Of Women In Homer's Odyssey

1286 Words 5 Pages
Throughout The Odyssey, Homer enlightens us in the tribulations Odysseus faces as he fights to return home to his loving wife and son. He uses his mind and cunning abilities to outwit the creatures he encounters along the way. As we follow his travels, he faces many different types of women. Including Athena-the protector, Penelope-the loving wife, and Calypso-the devastatingly beautiful goddess-nymph.. These women are all so different, yet all so alike as well. Homer illustrates the importance of women in The Odyssey by describing the roles in vivid detail of these different women and how each of them is treated in relation to the men of the epic. He shows us a goddess whose only goal is to protect a mortal, even though she must do so in …show more content…
The first woman that we are introduced to is Athena-the goddess of wisdom, and the protector of Odysseus. In book one, when the gods first meet to discuss what they should do about Odysseus’s struggles, Athena speaks up and says to Zeus, “Olympian Zeus, / have you no care for him in your lofty heart? / Did he never win your favor with sacrifices / burned beside the ships on the broad plain of Troy? / Why, Zeus, why so dead set against Odysseus?” (Lines 72-76). In these lines, Athena is pleading with Zeus to help Odysseus get home after all those years. We see clearly here the protective nature Athena shows in regard to Odysseus. Once the meeting of the gods is over, Athena makes a decision, “And down she swept from Olympus’ craggy peaks / and lit on Ithaca, standing tall at Odysseus’ gates, / the threshold of his court. Gripping her bronze spear, / she looked for all the world a stranger now, / like Mentes, lord of the Taphians.”(119-123). Athena has gone to Ithaca to speak with Telemachus, son of Odysseus, and convince him to set sail in hopes to find his father. Although …show more content…
Although she had not seen her husband in twenty years, she continued to wait for him to return home day in and day out. Penelope has many young suitors trying to seduce her into marriage, yet she remains entirely faithful to her husband, devising a cunning plan to keep the suitors at bay. “She set up a great loom in the royal halls / and she began to weave, and the weaving finespun, / the yarns endless, and she would lead us on: ‘Young men, / my suitors, now that King Odysseus is no more, / go slowly, keen as you are to marry me, until I can finish off this web. . . ” (102-107). In these lines, it seems as though Penelope has all but given up on Odysseus returning home and plans to remarry, however, she has another plan that involves remaining completely faithful. “So by day she’d weave at her great and growing web-- / by night, by the light of torches set beside her, / she would unravel all she’d done. Three whole years / she deceived us blind, seduced us with this scheme. . .” (115-118). The men in this epic, especially Odysseus, are marveled for their wondrous cunning abilities throughout The Odyssey, while the women are portrayed as “fragile”, needing their men to protect them. The knowledge Homer gives us of Penelope’s “great and growing web” illustrates that “fragile” Penelope has some cunning abilities of her own and is more than capable of protecting herself, to some extent. Her “web”

Related Documents