The Odyssey - Gender Roles Essay

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The Odyssey is the product of a society in which the dominant role was played by men. In ancient Greece, just as in the whole of the ancient world, and in America and Western Europe until the last century, women occupied a subservient position. Society was organized and directed by men, and all of the most important enterprises were those which men arranged and implemented. Women were valued, but they participated in the affairs of the world only when they had the tacit or open approval and permission of the men who directed their lives. The literature of this sort of masculine society, of which the Iliad and Odyssey are examples, aptly illustrates these social conventions. The themes of these works are subjects which are of interest to …show more content…
It is interesting to notice, however, that the woman who is most worthy of respect and emulation is not a mortal. Homer seems to comment that no human being, limited as she was by the environment which he portrays, could de-velop herself in this fashion. His admiration for Athene is made even more evident by the fact that she, and not Penelope or one of the others, is the heroine of the poem and the sole companion and confidante of Odysseus. It is only in our modern world that women have been given the opportunity to fully utilize their talent and ability, in order to become equal and contributing members of so-ciety like Athene. Developing over a period of close to three thousand years, a woman’s role in society has only begun to emerge. Homer’s society, however so well developed it may have seemed, came much too early for anyone of his one day to appreciate its significance. The role of women in Homer’s society and in modern day society closely resemble each other, even though three thousand years later, there is still much women have yet to accomplish. Homer saw a ray of light for women in society. One that would not be matched for many centuries to come. Still asserting that women were in no means equal to that of men, Homer still saw the capability for the development of women in Greek society, even if the one women he developed