Greek Mythology is notoriously anti-female revolution. From Aeschylus’s depiction of Clytemnestra’s thirst for power to one’s own Euripides’ depiction of Medea’s rampage of revenge, Greek mythology is terrified of powerful women. The Bacchae by Euripides makes no exception and continues stifling female empowerment; however, Euripides adds his own unique spin on terrifying female depiction. Instead of just representing women in power as monsters to fear, he instead blames femininity as the culprit. He uses the Bacchae, Dionysus, and Pentheus as examples of the danger in accessing one’s own femininity.
In many societies today, individuals are led to believe that the concept of women possessing their own strength or independence is abnormal. As a result, women experience the world in a constrained way in comparison to men, even if they are in higher classes of society. However, these extensive aspects of females are contradicted in some ancient Greek literature. In the epic poem, The Odyssey, Homer portrays women as a vital and powerful force through the characters Penelope and Circe, who counter the normality of misogyny in Homer’s time. Penelope’s character displays how some women are able to exceed society’s standards and show strength and cleverness when it is necessary.
Women are weak, helpless, and have no real purpose other than to serve men and take care of children. . . or so they were perceived in history. In the Odyssey, one can see that Homer’s portrayal of women challenges the depiction of women during that time period. Throughout the book, many women intervened in Odysseus’ journey home to Ithaca, for better or for worse. One will see Penelope, Athena, Circe, and other women impact Odysseus’ expedition home. These women influenced the conditions of the journey by guiding Odysseus in different directions, and aiding him crucially. Their authority showed the idea behind an old proverb, which states, “Behind every great man there’s a great woman”. Throughout The Odyssey, the women exemplified their power during the course of Odysseus’ journey.
Known as an epic war poem, The Iliad delves into topics concerning masculinity, heroism, and bravery. Women play a modest but important role that forms the structure of the plot. Helen’s character aids in expanding Menelaus and Paris’ characters. Homer does not delve into the lives of women like he does with the men, speaking to the notion of inferiority between the sexes. Homer displays women as tangible items through male interactions with one another.
In the epic poem, The Odyssey, by Homer, there are many female characters who play the role of a villain. Calypso, Scylla, Charybdis, and the sirens are among the women with the largest, negative impacts on Odysseus’ journey home. Though some women, such as Athena, Eurycleia, and Penelope, are loyal to Odysseus throughout the poem. With such a wide range of female characters, they all contribute different things throughout the book, whether the impact of their actions is negative or positive. Regardless of the outcomes, Homer has quite a modern view of female representation in his poem.
World Literature Paper – Role of Athena and Penelope in The Odyssey Homer’s, The Odyssey is an epic which was written many years ago. At that time, in Ancient Greek society, the dominant role was played by men and the women were considered and given an inferior position. But The Odyssey was often considered a women’s epic because women played an important role. Women in The Odyssey are portrayed as powerful, wise and controlling because they ensure that the illusion of male success will go on - they speak as men through women.
What is worth mentioning in Sophocles’ play is that he not only showed the weak side of women but also the strong ones. For example, Ismene is the traditional role of women in ancient Greek—coward, fear of men power and feeble. For Ismene, "we must remember we were born women, not meant to strive with men" (Antigone). She even chose to die with Antigone while hearing her sentence, for she was afraid that she would be alone, she could not be able to fight against Creon, this men-dominant society. In contrast, her sister Antigone presents the “women power”.
In Ancient Greek Civilization, women were viewed as submissive. A man always controlled the women; that either being the Father or Husband. Women were forced to stay in the house and complete all household duties. Women were not even granted the right to attend assemblies, participate in politics, or even represent themselves in court. Having little to no overall power in your society can have a huge burden on Women but this can also fuel certain Women to strive to change the society they live in. Aristophanes Lysistrata and Homer’s Odyssey both show how women can thrive in their society and fight for what they believe in, even if that goes against the gender roles portrayed in Greek Civilization.
The treatment of women has been a topic all throughout history. Women would be treated as lesser beings compared to men. Back in 430 b.c when Oedipus Rex took place, women were not treated equally by men in power. An example of this is when King Laius died, Jocasta did not become the ruler. She had to wait for someone to marry her to have a new ruler. Jocasta wasn 't allowed to rule because she was a women and men thought she needed a husband to guide her. From reading Oedipus Rex, Jocasta would have been qualified to rule because she is smart and cares about the people. Back in the 1700’s when Candide took place, women were still treated unequally by men as well. An example of this is when the Baron would not allow Cunégondé to marry Candide.
Women have always been portrayed as the weaker sex compared to men. It has been demonstrated in history itself and throughout literary works. Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Homer’s The Odyssey, however, portray women to be more powerful than men, even when their society thought otherwise and underestimated them because of their gender. Lady Macbeth, The Three Witches, Queen Arête and Penelope demonstrate the astute, charming, and ambitious side of women that was overlooked by men when it came to having power and making decisions.
Aeneas is seen as a model of piety, but he is living in a sinful relationship with his mistress Dido, the queen of Carthage. In The Confessions, St. Augustine tells of his spiritual journey from his adolescence when he had no interest in virtue or Christianity
In “Gender and the Homeric Epic”, an article by Nancy Felson and Laura M. Slatkin, the gender roles of various characters in The Odyssey, an epic poem by Homer, are examined in the constraining and progressive lens Homer takes. The characters of the epic most explicitly analyzed are Odysseus and his wife, Penelope; in this article the authors show the traditional gender roles both adhere to, but also exhibit the ways in which the characters are able to reach across the restraining gender roles, without making this story entirely about gender. Through this article one can see that the constraining nature of gender roles seen in society, is not inherent in the society presented in The Odyssey, which describes an intrinsic fluidity which is seen in a plethora of characters. “Gender and the Homeric Epic” discusses the gender roles conceived throughout Homer’s story through the characters Homer and Penelope. Homer represents the masculine war hero, returning home with what should be glory and happiness.
Euripides created an unusual art work that left people mouth-opened. It was criticized and dissed during its time since the audience witnessed a very odd ending. The fact that Medea was really clever and powerful made it different as well. During those times, women had no role in the society. Women were just supposed to serve their husbands and take good care of the children. Euripides created a modern day woman who seeks justice and revenge with her cleverness and power. Medea acted as a feminine heroine who established that women can also be as strong as men.
Euripides’ The Trojan Women expresses the disbelief and hope of ancient Greek women during the Trojan war. The characterization and dialogue between Hecuba, Andromache, and Cassandra, shows the role of women in society during that time, as well as their different prerogatives towards the war and its consequences. Likewise, The Odyssey by Homer uses the main female character, Penelope, to convey the role of women and their opinions towards the social changes from the war. Both texts, collectively, use dialogue to develop hopeful and hopeless ideas within the women of ancient Greece.
However, these contrasts between their personal thinking built most of valuable points in Odysseus' epic journey, and making a more intense story. To some extent, these women are not foolish at all because at least they are successful at leading people to believe that waiting is meaningful. The whole story happened during the dark centuries of women in Greece, when their value was limited behind men. However The “Odyssey” gives an opportunity to horror their role, also rejecting all erroneous preconceptions about the woman. Penelope -- a typical woman who represents for an image of a devoted wife, a mother of family and she is also an image of how women was treated at Greece.