The Roles of Women in the Odyssey

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The Role of Women in “The Odyssey” It seems if it weren’t for women in Homer’s The Odyssey all forms of empathy, love, war, or compassion wouldn’t exist. Although women held an entirely different position in society compared to men, they too held influence and power. “The Odyssey” revolves around Odysseus’ quest to return home to Ithaca and back to his wife Penelope, which has been overrun by suitors. Within the poem there are three basic types of women the goddess, the seductress, and the good hostess/wife. Each role adds a different element and is essential to the telling of the story. Mothers portrayed in this poem are seen as givers of “pity and sorrow” rather than true supporters of their sons and husbands when in war. “She is too wise, /too clear-eyed, sees alternatives too well, /Penelope, Ikarious daughter--/that young bride whom we left behind” (Homer 199 519-22). In this scene Odysseus sees the soul of Agamemnon in Hedes the underworld; Agamemnon was murdered by his own wife Clytemnestra. He tries to warn Odysseus, he says women are no longer faithful. Odysseus should keep certain things secret from his wife Penelope, even though he doesn’t believe Odysseus is in danger of being murdered by his own wife. In the Odyssey, Penelope, takes on the role of both a mother and sometimes a seductress. She led the suitors into making them believe that she would re-marry again, but Penelope is awaiting the return of her husband. An example of mothers in The Odyssey would be when Telemachus ordered Penelope from her room, to show the suitors of his intentions on claiming his father’s throne. Anticelia, Odysseus’ mother is another example; the scene with Anticleia in Hades is one of the most memorable in the poem. When he sees his mother, he learns that she died of anguish and grief. Odysseus attempts to embrace her three times, failing at every attempt as she
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