The Iliad And The Odyssey

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In The Iliad and The Odyssey, Homer has different portrayals of the roles that women play in each epic. These differences are so striking that some readers have even argued that there is a possibility that a woman could have created The Odyssey, modeled after Homer’s Iliad. In The Iliad we see women represented as war prizes and slaves, vulnerabilities to men, and in positions of limited power. In The Odyssey however, we see women capturing men and keeping them as prizes, rising from a status of limited power to dominating their household, and breaking free of the constraints of the “typical” household woman stereotype. We even see them making their own decisions and challenging their husbands. By comparing and contrasting these epic women…show more content…
When she is taken, Achilleus’s first reaction is a bit surprising. He doesn’t fight, or cuss, or make any commotion. Instead he weeps. The reactions that both men have after they lose their women further drives Homer’s point of women being a weakness to powerful men. This and back and fourth bargaining of women further relates women to objects rather than as people. The men treat them more or less like sex slaves/mistresses and use them to establish their dominance. In The Iliad, Homer seems to have the view that women can be taken from their homelands and aren’t allowed to object. That’s just how war works. The next woman we see is Helen. Homer uses her character to represent women as a sort of evil. When the chiefs of the city see Helen they instantly begin to whisper amongst themselves.
Surely there is no blame on Trojans and strong-grieved Achaians if for long time they suffer hardship for a woman like this one.
Terrible is the likeness of her face to immortal goddesses.
Still, though she be such, let her go away in the ships, lest she be left behind, a grief to us and our children…
(Id. 3.156-160)
In this passage, I couldn’t help but think of the similarities between Helen and another mythological woman, Pandora. Both women are a beautiful evil. They both unleashed horrors and sorrows in their own way. Pandora unleashed them onto the world as a

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