The Gender Roles In The Odyssey Oral Harvard University Ancient Studies / History

773 words - 4 pages

SACE Number: 610783X Ancient Studies Word Count: 807
Literature Epic Oral
It is believed that the Greek poet Homer is the legendary author of the Iliad and the Odyssey which are two epic poems that are the central works of ancient Greek literature. I will be arguing upon the division of genders in Homeric society between female and male and the power roles which they both adhere to. Although I will only be speaking about some aspects I will be discussing the key elements in depth
The differences in gender roles within the Odyssey is very clear on numerous occasions as it shapes the expectations of both gender roles throughout the entire epic. In book 1.337-344 the intention is clear about how women are expected to act and what they must fulfil in order to live up to society’s expectations in the Odyssey. As Penelope articulates that the music being played should be shut immediately, Telemachus demands “so mother, go back to your quarters. Tend to your own tasks, the distaff and the loom and keep the women working hard. As for giving orders, men will see to that but I most of all: I hold the reins of power in this house.” Whittaker suggests that through this request the reader understands the imbalance between female and male and this contrast highlights the features of Penelope compared to Telemachus. The most significant conclusion that can be drawn from this passage is the recognition that male and female roles were sharply defined and clearly distinguished so that certain activities were properly considered to be the business of men only, while others concerned only women. In this instance, Penelope accepts Telemachus’ rebuke which indicates that there was an absolute respect and Kleos (honour) for the division of gender roles.
In the twenty-first book, there is a similar situation. Penelope has arranged a contest with Odysseus’ bow in order to test the suitors. However, Telemachus prevents Penelope from being present at and watching the contest by again telling her that she should attend to her weaving and spinning since weaponry is the concern of men only (21.350-353). Later on, Penelope expresses her feeling of helplessness by comparing the suitors to hunters and herself to a trapped lion as the lion referenced that Penelope still considers herself noble.
Quote: “Her mind in torment, wheel...

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