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Women in the Odyssey

A revision guide to the main female characters in the Odyssey.
by

Katherine Barker

on 19 April 2010

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Transcript of Women in the Odyssey

What is the role
of women
in the Odyssey? To make themselves look beautiful? Vanity of vanities: all is vanity! To attaract a husband? ...and then pretend to ignore him? “Now it is their unpleasant gossip I wish to avoid. I am afraid they might give me a bad name, for they are supercilious people, and I can well imagine one of the cruder ones saying after he had seen us: ‘Who is this tall and handsome stranger with Nausicaa? Where did she find him? Her future husband no doubt!...’”

Is marriage their chief aim? ...and the result? Children! A life of domesticity -
is this what epitomises
a good woman? While Menelaus was in the midst of his perplexity, Helen came down from her lofty perfumed room, looking like Artemis with her golden distaff. Adreste drew up for her an elegant chair; Alcippe brought a rug of the softest wool; and Phylo carried her silver work-basket... . It was full of fine-spun yarn, and the spindle with its dark wool was laid across it. Crce ushered the rest into her hall, gave them seats and chairs to sit on, and then prepared them a mixture of cheese, barley-meal, and yellow honey flavoured with Pramnian wine. By the end of the fourth day all his work was done, and on the fifth the goddess Calypso saw him off from the island. She bathed him first and dressed him in sweet smelling clothes.
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