Gender Equality In The Odyssey

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Gender equality: as big a myth as the Greek gods themselves. Misogyny dates back to millenia ago, finding its place in society then as it does now. Ancient Greece literature is no exception, as Homer’s The Odyssey shows. Homer illustrates for readers how traditional gender roles limit women, evidenced by the numerous examples of inequality between men and women. While men are lauded for being strong, intelligent heroes, it seems that the only achievement women can accomplish is being beautiful. For instance, Penelope is never described as anything more than beautiful or loyal, as if those two traits that define her. Eurymakhos’ arrogance highlights this well, when he tells Telemakhos that the suitors will “share his long as [Penelope] delays and maddens [them]. It is a long, long time [they] have been waiting in rivalry for this…show more content…
Odysseus’ condemnation of his maids to death for adultery highlights this hypocrisy, as Odysseus willingly stays on Kirke’s island for an entire year committing adultery. Kirke tells Odysseus that “[they] shall mingle and make love upon [their] bed” (175), and Odysseus agrees. Upon returning to Ithaka, however, Odysseus not only neglects to share this with Penelope, but he sentences her maids to death for being disloyal to Penelope by sleeping with her suitors. Even Telemakhos takes part in their murder, telling the maids that he “[will] not give the clean death of a beast to trulls who [make] a mockery of [his] mother and of [him] too—[those] sluts, who lay with suitors” (424). Telemakhos’ words emphasize the vast gap between how men and women are treated—neither Odysseus’ crew nor Odysseus himself see anything unethical with his adultery, but women cannot possibly lose their chastity. It is this idea of purity, enforced throughout millennia, that limits women to doing only what they are
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