The Odyssey Essay : The Roles Of Women In The Odyssey

1503 Words7 Pages
‘The Odyssey’, like other epic poems, is patriarchally centered. The poem is focused on “godlike” Odysseus and his laborious journey home (Homer __). In Ancient Greece, the time of Homer, women were commonly viewed as part of oikos headed by the male kyrios. They were expected to be submissive, domesticated, and viewed as their master’s property. This raises an important question in the context of this epic: are women only secondary characters that blindly follow the decisions of their male counterparts or do they have the ability to make their decisions freely? Homer, a forward thinker for his time, allowed the reader to make this judgement by including two paradoxical characters: Penelope and Calypso. Penelope, the “faithful” wife of Odysseus, spends most of her time crying and longing for her husband. She is compliant and passive, never making a decision without her husband (homer __). Calypso, on the other hand, takes her sexuality into her own hands. She traps Odysseus in Ogygia and attempts to force herself on him, showing that she does not follow the norms of being an obedient woman. Through the inclusion of Penelope and Calypso, Homer is able to address the view of women in typical epic poems by both accepting it and challenging it in order to redefine what is expected of epic tradition. In keeping with the idea that female characters play a supporting role in the story of a male protagonist, Homer makes a point to focus on Odysseus’ wife. Penelope is the model of
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