Medea and Penelope - Strong Women in a Man's World Essay

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Euripides and Homer are said to be two of the four cornerstones of ancient literary education. The former, Euripides, known as one of the great tragedians of classical Athens produced approximately ninety-two plays, but was rejected by most of his contemporaries during his lifetime. Euripides was the first of his time to portray a woman as a sympathetic character and a victim of society. Homer is known as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. His most famous works being the Iliad and the Odyssey. Both of these ancient authors used strong women in their works. In Euripides Medea, the main character of the same name is a force to be

reckoned with. The play starts out just after the divorce of Jason and Medea. Jason has left Medea for
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Unlike Medea, she does not play as prominent of a role in the story, but her character is still hugely crucial to the story. She alone provided the motivation for Odysseus to return to Ithaca. Penelope waited faithfully for her husbands return for twenty years. She outsmarted many prospective suitors for three years by telling them all that she would choose a suitor to marry when she was finished with the burial shroud for Laertes, Odysseus's father. Unbeknownst to the prospective suitors, she undid part of her work each night, thus making it impossible for her to finish. Although she longs for her husbands return, she rebuffs those that come forth with sexual advances trying to win her favor in hopes of securing themselves the kingdom. This shows her cunning wit and devout faithfulness to her husband. Penelope is, without a doubt, a great hero of the Odyssey. Without her

unwavering faith and belief that her husband would return to her, Odysseus would not have had a home or kingdom to return to. When backed into the corner and all but forced into taking a suitor, Penelope devises yet another plan. "I set before you the great bow of King Odysseus now! The hand that can string this bow with greatest ease, that shoots an arrow clean through all twelve axes - his is the man I follow." [85-88, pg 522] Believing that no one but her long lost husband can string this bow,