The Role of Women in Hesiod's Theogony and Works and Days Essay

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The role of women in Hesiod's Theogony and Works and Days is outstandingly subordinate. There are a number of times in Hesiod's text that despises women, being mortal, immortal, or flesh-eating monsters. The overall impression of women from Theogony and Works and Days, leads one to believe that Hesiod is a misogynist.

The very creation of women was set as a punishment to man because Prometheus, son of Iapetos, tried to trick Zeus into eating bones and then, with the tube of a fennel, steals fire to give to mankind. Zeus then proclaimed, "To set against the fire I shall give them an affliction in which they will all delight as they embrace their own misfortune." Out of Zeus' anger came Pandora, the first woman. Zeus ordered Hephaestus
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Another subject that Hesiod touches is marriage. In Works and Days, Hesiod provides narrative for an ideal marriage. He states thirty as the perfect age for men to wed, which might seem about right in present day but in Hesiod's time, the life expectancy was around fifty. He then writes, "Women should have four years of ripeness and be married in the fifth." He stresses to marry a virgin so she can be taught good ways. He explains, "For a man acquires nothing better than the good wife." Just when it seems as if Hesiod reveals his sensitive side he continues, "and nothing worse than the bad one, the foodskulk, who singes a man without a brand, strong though he be, and consigns him to premature old age." Foodskulk, which generally means one who hovers around looking for opportunities to get more food than her husband allows her, is Hesiod's description of a bad wife. Referring to Theogony, he states that the man who avoids marriage arrives at an old age with no one to look after him and distant relatives share out his living. The man who finds a good wife spends his life, "with bad competing against good." While the man who gets an awful wife lives with, "unrelenting pain in the heart and spirit, and is ill without a cure." Hesiod idea of marriage is more of a teaching process with the man assuming the dominant role and controlling his woman.

Hesiod also found ways of incorporating his misogyny into female monsters and goddesses that use