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The Roles of Women in the Odyssey

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Nick Simpson

on 18 February 2015

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Transcript of The Roles of Women in the Odyssey

A blind man who wrote down the events of the Trojan War and the events afterward in the form of long epic poems. He was the author of The Iliad and
The Odyssey
, stories that had been passed down orally for many generations before him. He used this to write it down in two separate poems. It is suggested that he worked within the years 725 BC and 675 BC, giving us a 100-year period in which he would've written the poems. The years are debated amongst many scholars. (9) Some suggest that he was a singer and/or a storyteller. There may be more books written by him, but they have never been found. (10)
She is smart and wise, yet she is obsessed with Odysseus. She had the possibility of being the strongest female character, but she uses her talent throughout the story to save Odysseus over and over again. She seems to be obsessed with him, making her seem like a weaker and less independent character than she could have been. She also helped him a lot in
The Iliad
Works Consulted
http://www.intermediamfa.org/imd501/index.php?pg=blog&post_id=1070 (1)
http://www.articlemyriad.com/narrow-role-women-odyssey-homer/ (2)
http://www.rwaag.org/circe (3)
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/585846/Telegonus (4)
http://mossthetemptress.blogspot.com/ (5)
http://odyssey_08540.tripod.com/monsters.html (6)
http://www.stoa.org/diotima/essays/garrison_catalogue.shtml (7)
http://www.angelfire.com/ca3/ancientchix/ (8)
http://cerhas.uc.edu/troy/q402.html (9)
http://www.famousauthors.org/homer (10)
https://alamocate.wordpress.com/2013/10/18/the-odyssey-athena-continually-saves-a-grown-mans-ass/ (11)

Roles of Women
In the Odyssey
In the Odyssey, there are only a few types of women. There are:
Motherly Figures
Temptresses/Impure Women

The Odyssey and the Bechdel Test
The Bechdel test has three questions to it:
Are there at least two named women in the piece?
Do these women speak to each other?
Do they talk about a subject that does not involve a male? (1)
The Odyssey
has many female characters, including Athena, Penelope, and a whole slew of monsters.
The problem comes with the fact that no two women speak to each other about anything other than a man. (1)
Gender Roles
The Roles of Women in
The Odyssey

Motherly Figures
Penelope: She's the wife of Odysseus and mother to Telemachus. While Odysseus is at sea, Penelope is at home in despair, unwilling to turn away the suitors, but unwilling to be unfaithful to her husband. This makes her an unstable mess, seemingly due to the 'lack of a man'. This presents a negative feeling towards independent women, even if she is motherly. (2)
Temptresses/Impure Women
Sirens: They are monsters who sing a beautiful song to lure men to their deaths. (2)

Maids/Servicewomen: Many slept with suitors and were killed by Odysseus for their sexuality.

Circe: She is a beautiful witch who turns Odysseus' men to swine, eventually lets Odysseus and his men stay a year, and has his child, Telegonius. (3) and (4)

Calypso: She tries to make Odysseus wed her and stay on her island forever. She is a beautiful nymph.
Scylla: She has six heads and is known for killing shipmates. (6)

Charybdis: A giant whirlpool that sucks ships and men to their deaths. (6)

Sirens: They are monsters who sing a beautiful song to lure men to their deaths. (2)
Anticleia: Odysseus' mother who kills herself out of intense longing for Odysseus to return from the war. She is not independent of her son, Odysseus, much like Penelope isn't either. (7)
They were expected to be housewives
Taught to read
Married in their teenage years
Women were allowed to do religious jobs/ceremonies
Stayed with husbands
Either housewives, trophy wives/ maids, or concubines
Women were expected to be 'pure'
Expected to have children
Had the child in thei home
Lost their property when they got married
In divorce, men would keep the children
Married in their 30's
Divorced their wives
Exploited women
Chose their daughters' husbands
Controlled property
Citations: "The Bechdel Test And Classic Literature: By Frank Kovarik." - IMD501 Histories and Theories of Intermedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Feb. 2015. (1)
Smith, Nicole. "The Narrow Role of Women The Odyssey by Homer." Article Myriad. Article Myriad, 6 Dec. 2011. Web. 11 Feb. 2015. (2)
"CIRCE, THE GODDESS WITH POWERS OF WITCHCRAFT." N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2015. (3)
"Telegonus | Greek Mythology." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2015. (4)
"The Temptress." The Temptress. N.p., 12 Oct. 2008. Web. 12 Feb. 2015. (5)
"The Monsters." Monsters of the Odyssey. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2015. (6)
Garrson, Elise P. "Diotima." Diotima. N.p., Oct. 2000. Web. 12 Feb. 2015. (7)
Graham, Casey. "Ancient Greek Women in Athens." Ancient Greek Women in Athens. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2015. (8)
"Who Was Homer?" Who Was Homer? Universit"Homer." Famous Authors. Famous Authors, n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2015.y of Cincinnati, n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2015. (9)
"Homer." Famous Authors. Famous Authors, n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2015. (10)
"The Odyssey: Athena Continually Saves A Grown Man's Ass." Urbane Mythology. Urbane Mythology, 18 Oct. 2013. Web. 12 Feb. 2015. (11)
Athena watching Odysseus
Odysseus ignoring her
Overall, Homer's
The Odyssey
was very problematic and often sexist in the way that it presented women throughout the poem.
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