Greek Epic Narrative : The Iliad, The Odyssey And The Argonautica

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Women in Greek Epic Narrative:
In the Iliad, the Odyssey and the Argonautica

Laurence Crooks

The Iliad, the Odyssey and the Arognautica would suffer without the depth of character created by their leading women. Each epic hosts a new and interesting woman who makes a place for herself in the complex narratives. Helen survives as a woman who knows her place, in history, the narrative, and the events leading up to the war and acknowledges all of these when other characters will now. Penelope compliments her clever husband and earns herself kleos though her own intelligence but seems ambivalent to the praise she is given. Medea creates a new place for herself, different than her peers by becoming her own fully formed character that can attract readers through her mentality and actions, as well as the sheer magnitude of her emotions. Each of these women have different tactics to earn their place but all have defining characteristics that allow them to stand out in their stories.

One of Helen’s defining characteristics in the Iliad’s narrative is her self-reflexivity. Unlike the other characters she understands her place as the cause of the war and as a character of myth, as demonstrated when she speaks with Hector, “[she and Paris], on whom Zeus set a vile destiny, so that hereafter/ we shall be made into things of song for the men of the future” (Iliad 6.357-358). Mihoko Suzuki says that Helen is displaying temporal perspective because she

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