Treatment of Women in Ancient Literature Essay

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Women are constantly portrayed as tempting men by using their sexual charms. And so women who remained chaste were held in a higher esteem than those who highlighted their sexuality. Walcot writes, “The Greeks believed women to be incapable of not exercising their sexual charms and that the results were catastrophic, irrespective of whether or not women set out to cause trouble deliberately or acted in a blissful ignorance of what they were doing” (39). In Homeric tales we see the character Odysseus being held by Calypso and Circe due to their sexual appeal despite him journeying home to be reunited with his wife Penelope after twenty years. However, Penelope is portrayed as being chaste while she waits for her husband to return. This …show more content…
Medea’s strength is portrayed as her madness as she takes control and decides the fate of her enemies. She is a strong character and Euripides allows Medea to have a voice by allowing the audience to witness her break from the norm of what a woman of her time is expected to do. After giving up her family and former life to be with her husband, Jason, he decides to marry a younger princess while still married to Medea. Medea realizes that women are left to face the most miserable situations and says, “We women are the most unfortunate creatures” (229). Jason feels that Medea is to be grateful for what he is doing by marrying into royalty as it will afford all of them a better life. The representation of Medea by Euripides is powerful, manipulative, and extremely smart, yet because she is a woman she has limited social power.
She has no chance of being a hero because she acts out of hurt in her marriage and love turned to hate. She decides to murder the princess, her children, and leave Jason alone. The power Medea takes may be considered severe, yet she has made the decision not to be a silent wife who does what her husband tells her to do. David M. Schaps writes, “As Medea sees it-or at least as she presents it-her problems are all based in the fact that she is a woman. Because she is a woman she is powerless; because she is a woman she is peculiarly vulnerable in matters of love; because she is a woman she…