Women In The Odyssey

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In the long-enduring epic poem, The Odyssey, the main story is that of the hero Odysseus’ adventures on his twenty year voyage home. However, the poem also features very strong supporting female characters. The two women that will be highlighted both represent vastly different female tropes. Circe represents women as seductresses whereas Penelope, the wife of Odysseus, represents the ideal wife of ancient Greek society. In Greek mythology, Circe was regarded nymph (Book 11, 7) or more commonly as a witch. She was renowned for turning those who offended her into animals that she felt fitted their personalities. She would turn brave men into bears or lions or, as in the case of Odysseus’ men, a herd of swine. Circe uses her beauty and hospitality …show more content…
Even though is surrounded by suitors for approximately ten years, she remains true to her husband raises her son, Telemachus, to be a good ruler. Her much revered faithfulness aside, she proves herself to good match to her husband in terms of her intelligence. Because of her faithfulness only Odysseus would know the secret of her bed. She tests him by asking a servant to bring her “sturdy bedstead” (23. 198) for the stranger to sleep on. The stranger proves himself to be Odysseus since he knows that her bed is made from a rooted olive tree and can’t be moved out of her bedchamber: “Not a man on earth, not even at peak strength, would find it easy to prise it up and shift it,” (23.210-11). The character of Penelope is very integral to the overall story of The Odyssey, without her Odysseus would have lacked motivation to return home to Ithaca. Also, had she not been faithful to him the story would have lost the romance which, I believe, is the reason this epic appeals so much to modern readers and scholars alike. Conclusively, while The Odyssey features a heavily male starring cast, the women who are featured are strong and important in their own rights. The women serve as either and ideal, like the character of Penelope, for the “everyday woman” to aspire to, or, in the case of Circe, a foil as to what is the appropriate behavior for women. The contrast between these two characters is most evident since