Mythological Women In Ancient Greece

714 Words 3 Pages
In every culture and time period, people are expected to adhere to certain expectations. For a woman, living in accordance with one’s cultural values often meant accepting societal mistreatment. Because most cultures have a system of mythology that includes women, in much of ancient literature, there is representation both of the actual role that women played, as well as the presence and role of mythical women in a specific culture. Through this juxtaposition , a discrepancy can be seen between how women were viewed in the abstract and how they were treated in reality. Mythological women are strong and clever, and often possess supernatural abilities; in short, they are given nearly the same literary respect as male characters. Real women, …show more content…
The goddesses held the same weight as the gods; moreover, their areas of influence often went beyond traditionally feminine pursuits and included the hunt, warfare and battle strategy, and victory. Regardless, real women within this culture lacked political and legal rights. The primary duty of a woman was to maintain the home under the control and protection of a husband, father, or other male authority figure. In the Odyssey, the female characters adhere to these roles. Athena, who oversees and supports Odysseus’ quest, was the goddess of wisdom, law, strategic warfare, and the arts. Athena was a fierce and independent warrior, said to be a “child of power [that could] break [...] long battle lines of fighters” (Homer 4). In contrast to the powerful figure of Athena, is Penelope, Odysseus’ wife. Penelope is not necessarily a weak character; there are instances where she exhibits great cunning. For example, she tells the suitors that she must finish her weaving before she remarries. But, because she believes that Odysseus is still alive, each night she undoes the weaving to postpone remarriage. Despite Penelope's mental prowess, there are immense expectations of her because she is a woman. Over the span of 20 years, the time that Odysseus is away, Penelope is expected not only to wait and be loyal to Odysseus, but also to maintain the household. Penelope is …show more content…
The Hindu religious structure, however, is complicated by the concept of reincarnation, the idea that a soul can be reborn into a new body. Deities were often born into mortal bodies, sometimes to fulfil a specific task, such as Vishnu being born as mortal Rama in order to kill Ravana in The Ramayana. Similarly to Greek culture, despite the presence of Female deities, women are limited culturally by expectation and duty. Hindus believe that strict adherence to one’s dharma (duty in life) will bring enlightenment. For a woman, living in accordance with one's dharma ment very explicitly being loyal and obedient to all male figures in her life. Sita, Rama’s wife, is expected to follow Rama into exile for 14 years because “[her] place is with [him]” (Valmiki 343). Furthermore, after she is kidnapped, she is expected to face trial by fire because another man touched her. Sita only survives because she is the “earthly form of heavenly Lakshmi” (Valmiki 355) and the other gods intervene. Sita, when seen as a human woman, is expected to die for loyalty to her husband, but as a goddess there is a sharp change in expectation. In The Ramayana, the dichotomy between powerful supernatural women and oppressed human woman is especially transparent because it appears within the same

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