Essay on Gender in the Odyssey

1002 Words5 Pages
Odysseus' values and character traits serve as a paradigm of the ideal Homeric Greek man. The "god-like Odysseus" is crafty, valiant, wise, and eloquent. He gains much of his knowledge through travel, the meeting of different cultures and peoples and learns from suffering and mistakes. He is an aristocrat and a warrior of all warriors. We first learn of many of these traits in Homer's Iliad. Agamemnon, the commander of the Greek army always calls on Odysseus for assignments that required someone cunning and brilliant. Agamemnon sends Odysseus to ask Achilles to return to the army and sends him with Diomedes into the Trojan camp to attain information. Odysseus has to be sly and quick so the Trojans do not catch him. Homer describes…show more content…
He follows Hermes' exact instructions and when the goddess attempts to strike him with her sword, he lunges at her. Odysseus draws his sword and says, "Swear me a great oath that there is no other evil hurt you devise against me."(Homer, Book X, Line 344) Homer has Odysseus draw his sword at this moment; perhaps he aims to show how a woman's appeal and sexuality is a threat to male dominance. Such interactions between men and women add a certain dynamic to the epic and make it more interesting and easier for the reader to identify with the story. Although, Odysseus is very sly and resourceful, many times even he finds himself lost when he is in these types of situations with seductive women. Odysseus was so infatuated with Circe that he remained on her island for a year, completely forgetting about his "nostos" or homecoming, until his men convinced him to leave.

Another moment when we see the importance of gender to the project of the Odyssey is during Odysseus' seven-year stay with Kalypso on her island. When Odysseus relays the the story of Kalypso, he changes the story slightly to give the perception that he was held prisoner and lamented the entire time he was there. However, Homer gives us some insight when he says; "the nymph was no longer pleasing to him," (Book V, Line 153) which implies that at some point Odysseus did enjoy himself with the goddess on the island. Kalypso offered him immortality and a life of ease.
Get Access