Essay Femininity in Homer’s Iliad

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Femininity in Homer’s Iliad

In Homer’s Iliad, predominant feminine presence inspires the events of the poem and the destinies of the men involved. This feminine presence is not a product of the actions and decisions of the women in the poem, but rather a conceptual, creative feminine force without which the poem and even human life would not exist. Homer personifies this presence in nature and maintains it through the voice of the Muse, his inspiration. There is a deeper essence of a feminine presence in the poem, however, which lies in the characteristics of life itself. It is the woman who gives birth to the heroes and therefore she is the first to bring her child to life and to put him on the road to death. This biological
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In Book One, the reader discovers that the Trojan War, the main focus of the poem, is in its ninth year. Out of ten years of battle, what did the Muse find so crucial about the ninth? At this point in the poem, the number is arguably insignificant, but its continuous reappearance suggests a natural connection to the length of human gestation. Beginning with the length of the Trojan War, the number nine reappears four more times within the central plot and most often the number is linked to a suffering that is resolved before the incident in question reaches its tenth unit. For example, Apollo sends “shameful plague” (1.97)* that spreads among the Achaians for nine days before resolution. There is one image in particular that not only makes use of the “nine” analogy but also relates directly to the mother/child relationship at hand. In Book Eighteen, Hephaestus describes how Hera chained him to a rock for nine years “for being lame” (18.397). This particular scenario is particularly significant because it pertains to Hera and Hephaestus as well Thetis and Achilleus. Hephaestus’ account of his own suffering is prologue to the visit of Thetis, who nursed him when he was in chains. Further, in Book Eighteen Thetis personifies the feminine presence as mother of the masculine

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