Klytaimnestra In Homer's Odyssey

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The Role of Klytaimnestra’s Story in The Odyssey

Being a hero can mean many things, but nothing defines a hero more clearly than an antihero. So often, being a hero is defined by “doing good deeds”, but good deeds cannot be understood without their bad equivalents. Good could not possibly exist without evil, otherwise there would be no way to define it. That is the role that the story of Klytaimnestra fulfills in The Odyssey. The story is used to express the scope of Penelope’s loyalty to Odysseus, because faith like hers is rare. It clarifies the feat that Penelope accomplished, which makes her accomplishments almost equal to Odysseus’. Through the inclusion of Klytaimnestra, Homer portrays ideas of what women are, as a contrast to Penelope,
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Klytaimnestra acts spitefully and does not even have the fortitude to face her husband about the crimes she believes he committed. Penelope raises Telemakhos all by herself, and spends 4 years undoing her weaving each day in order to trick the suitors, though she grieves for her lost husband the entire time. Penelope’s ability to be independent despite her grief indicates her strength as a person, something that the ideal woman would surely need. Penelope is also able to hold a reputation, as even Agamemnon’s shade hears of her fortitude from the suitors in the Underworld. Agamemnon praises Odysseus’ choice of wife when he exclaims: “ The girl you brought home made a valiant wife!” (XXIV, 218). Agamemnon is pleased for Odysseus, that he is able to make a better choice in a woman than Agamemnon himself. Penelope’s courage makes her the ideal woman because a husband is able to trust a woman who is brave enough to stick up for herself, which makes trust a two-way street. If a woman is not courageous enough to stand up to her husband and is unable to do anything without another person involved, as Klytaimnestra is, she proves herself unreliable. The ideal woman needs courage to prove that she is independent and can function by

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