The Stereotypes Of Women In Homer's The Iliad

1006 Words 4 Pages
Throughout The Iliad, mortal women are portrayed as property of man in the male-centric epic. They are confined to outdated gender roles; mortal women have little or no control over their own destiny. However, the immortal world creates a platform for Homer to exemplify and examine women personas thorough the Olympian goddesses. The three main goddesses presented in The Iliad are Athena, Aphrodite, and Hera. During the Trojan War, Athena and Hera fight with the Achaeans, while Aphrodite favors the Trojans. The actions of the Goddesses during war illustrate the different characteristics women possess in the world of The Iliad. Each goddess embodies different stereotypes of women during the Bronze Age. These stereotypes are even seen in today’s …show more content…
As a wife, her duty is to remain faithful to her husband, even though Zeus is known for his countless affairs. Zeus’ philandering causes Hera to personify the negative stereotypes of women being needy, hostile, envious, and manipulative. In the beginning of The Iliad, Homer introduces Zeus frustration of Hera’s nagging. He feared “disaster” (I, 619) if Hera knew he was plotting with Thetis; but “Hera knew it all” (I, 644). However, during war Zeus looks to his wife for counsel. For example, when he is debating to save his son Sarpedon, Hera “urged [him]” (XVI, 528) to “leave Sarpedon there to die” (XVI, 535). “Zeus the father of men and gods complied at once” (XVI, 545). Regardless, Zeus still holds superior power over Hera. This forces Hera to advance in war by using her femininity and sexuality to manipulate Zeus. “Hera seduced great Zeus to lose himself in love [and sleep]” (XIV, 427-8) to advance the Achaeans in war. Her actions illustrate a negative implication that even powerful women are just sexually scheming creatures. Hera gains power through sex, manipulation, and nagging Zeus. Even though Hera appears to have power in the war, it ultimately stems from her marriage to Zeus, her femininity, and her cunning …show more content…
Athena exhibits many qualities that are glorified in male heroes. She is bestowed with wisdom and talent. This is exhibited by her calculated actions during war and her willingness to fight on the battleground. Aphrodite, on the other hand, is the stereotypically emotional female; she lets her emotions overtake rational thought. However, she still exerts her divine power over mortals. Hera appears to have power during the war, but it only comes from her relationship to Zeus. Hera is forced to use her sexuality, similar to Aphrodite, to advances the Greeks in the war, unlike Athena who uses her shrewd talent in battle. Hera’s power is somewhat of an illusion. In conclusion, Homer uses the goddesses in The Iliad to exemplify women stereotypes by their exploits during the Trojan War. The personas presented in the male-dominated epic are very complex and show that goddesses cannot fit into the single mold mortal women hold during The

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