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.
Do you believe that the two sexes today are treated differently from one another? In the Odyssey, written by Homer, there is a constant comparison between the opposite sexes. Throughout this book, Odysseus struggles to get home to his submissive wife Penelope. He encounters challenges, one of which is beautiful tempting women who urge him to stay. Meanwhile, Penelope is in Ithaka busy dealing with the suitors who vie for her hand in marriage, tending to her loom, and directing her serving maids at work. In Homer’s epic poem, women, and goddesses are treated differently than men and gods when it comes to their freedom, expectations, and image.
Countless of these tearful songs have been written, describing the image of the woman behind a hero’s victory. In The “Odyssey”, Homer transforms the audience’s perspective about women significantly. All of them, whether beautiful woman or powerful goddesses, are occupied by sorrows. Especially, Penelope and Calypso--the two most influential women in both appearance and the complicated relationship with the guile hero. Although they have very different personalities and backgrounds--one is the queen of Ithaca, and the other is a magnificent goddess. However they are both caught in a same trouble--they expect too much from Odysseus, and they are striving for a hopeless purpose. They both undergo great sufferings, but neither of them is in control
The first time this theme reveals itself is while Antigone is consulting with Ismene about burying Polyneices, their brother who died, and was thought to have dishonored the family in Creon’s eyes. Due to these circumstances Polyneices was banned from being buried and from taking the journey of the afterlife to heaven. As Antigone tries to convince Ismene to help, she exclaims, “Creon is not strong enough to stand in my way.” She feels as though honoring her brother is worth dying for and that Creon can not “stand in her way.” When Creon hears of this startling news, he questions the ability of women to stand up to him in which he states, “Pride? In a slave?” At this point in time women are not seen as equals to men. Women are viewed as lower class, or “slaves”. So when Creon heard of Antigone’s actions, he is in disbelief and thinks her actions should be punished by death. In response to Creon ordering her to her death, she sneered, “Then I beg you: Kill me… I should have praise and honor for what I have done.” She has accepted consequences and is welcoming her fate of death. She is proud in the fact she buried her brother
Creon throughout the whole play shows a discrimination toward women, in the end he ends up undergoing a terrible downfall. In the play, Antigone is the protagonist who most of the sexism is appointed toward. Creon shows a lot of feminism toward Antigone not only because of her criminal action but also that the fact that she is a female. Creon goes on to send Antigone to a cell deep in the middle of the woods because she went against his law. The fact that she was a female and went against a man’s power makes it seem worse than it actually has to be, all she did was pay her respect to her brother because no one would. Him putting Antigone to death because she went against his power clearly shows his feminism towards women. This also shows that all males had full power over society, economy, and women, which isn’t fair. Antigone displays her feminist qualities when she goes against the most powerful male, the king Creon. Her going against him shows her disrespect for Creon, her doing this and speaking like a male figure shows her push for equality between the sexes. Antigone throughout the whole play pushed for equality but she never seemed to get what she wants. In the end her push for equality’s of gender, causes her to be sent to death by the male figure she
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. Women are looked at as inferior both mentally and physically to men. This is evident by the fact that women are given as sexual items, toys and trophies to men. Homer rarely empathizes the attractiveness of the heroic man. Beauty pertains to the goddesses and women. Homer infers that a woman’s importance lies in her looks while for men their importance lies in their heroism. Throughout The Iliad, Homer highlights the gender inequalities between Helen and her male counterparts Agamemnon, Achilles, and Paris.
Sophocles’ Antigone, is a classic Athenian Greek play that discusses questions about the importance of following the law when one does not agree with it, and whether divine laws or man-made laws have more importance in society. While these themes are worth exploring, another interesting aspect of the play is the cruel treatment and punishment of the title character, Antigone, by her uncle and future father-in-law Creon, the king of Thebes. Creon’s harsh punishment, a parallel to the treatment of women in Greek society, can be seen in many of the dialogues of the play.
Greek tragedies are known for their predictable endings and characters, whose character traits almost always stereotypically reflect those of the archetype they have been assigned. Sophocles’ play, Antigone, is no exception to this. Despite having been written around 441 B.C., his play does present newer controversial topics such as feminism in his play, along with more common themes such as integrity and loyalty. By establishing and associating Antigone’s character with heroic archetypes as the martyr and the tragic heroine, Sophocles could utilize her actions and characteristics as such roles to better demonstrate and convey his messages throughout his work.
The purpose of this essay is to investigate the women’s role in Classical Greece society and literature (5th/4th century b.C.).
The famous feminist, Gloria Steinem, once said,”Women are not going to be equal outside the home until men are equal in it.” This central idea of equality is relevant to the story Antigone by Sophocles. Considering the circumstances of the story, the minor character, Ismene, is conflicted with standing by the beliefs that men are overall rulers and powerful over women. Ismene’s emotions and mood fluctuates through the story in a horrible manner. To tragedy unto despair is a major theme in Sophocles most famous tragedy, Antigone.
Malala Yousafzai once said, “We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.” Identifying the value of free speech is made far easier when it is not respected. In patriarchal societies women are often ignored or written off as unimportant. Especially within the social structure of the warrior culture, the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of women are discredited. By becoming consciously aware of the lack of respect given to them, the women of Greece, Troy, and even Goddesses reclaim their power within a society actively damning them to be silent and weak. In The Iliad, by Homer, the characters Helen, Athena, and Hera assert that women may not have power, but by embracing the roles given to them, they are able to leverage their
He shows one woman, Antigone as the example of a responsible woman, and Ismene as that of a cowardly woman who fails to be. Based on textual evidence in dialogue, women have the ability to elect what direction to take, such as in the case of Ismene, she states that women are inferior and thus unable to make any sort of decision against men, in turn believing that they cannot take responsibility for actions; “We must remember that we two are women so not to fight with men…so I shall ask of them beneath the earth forgiveness, for in these things I am forced, and shall obey the men in power.” (Antigone 61-2, 65-7) She attempts to console Antigone by telling her she shall ask the Gods to forgive her for not attempting to bury her brother, by choosing not to act and not be forced to be responsible for anything, she is eventually spared from death but lives as a mere woman who is conscious of actions she is going to take but fails to provide a motive other than saving her life. In turn we see that later on, Sophocles writes her off as a character with no substance; she becomes miserable for not taking any responsibility nor having any morally righteous
Throughout history, women have been second fiddle to men. Females have been degraded, disrespected, and undermined; they’ve been ignored, silenced, and gone unheard. This gender inequality is present even in The Odyssey, though it includes many important female figures. Penelope, Calypso, Circe, and more are all crucial to the plot, and some even responsible for the happy ending, yet when inspected closely female stereotypes emerge. The majority of the women are presented as seductresses, the others as mothers, and almost all as fragile and dependent on men. Though the female characters played pivotal parts in The Odyssey, they also displayed the limited roles of women during Homer’s time.
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.
Sophocles play “Antigone” introduces a lot of debatable topics such as Human law vs Divine laws, pride, but most importantly the topic of woman’s movement for empowerment. Long before 442 B.C.E, women were belittled because of their gender however, after the birth of “Antigone” it demonstrated a strong outreach towards women and their roles in society ”Antigone, a woman who defines King Creon’s edict without any fear, doubts, or regrets. This courageous woman, the fruit of incest, has fascinated philosophers in the nineteenth century, inspired playwrights in the twentieth century, and intrigued feminist thinkers and activists for decades” (Söderbäck). Birth from a respected bloodline, Antigone doesn’t feel respected at all within her town, especially from her uncle Creon who became entitled as the King after Antigone’s blood