Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Role of Genders in The Odyssey

How do the role of genders effect the book?


  1. The role of men and women in The Odyssey is evident and on numerous occasions Homer references the expectations of the two sexes. As beginning as book one, Homer makes it clear how women are expected to act and the jobs they must fulfill. When Penelope complains about the music being played, 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 well. As for giving orders, men will see to that, but I most of all: I hold the reins of power in this house” (89). Through this, the readers learns immensely about gender roles. First off, Telemachus demands that Penelope go back to working on her loom, suggesting that women have minimal power in society and mainly have household jobs. Then he tells her to keep the women working hard. Instead of saying servants, or maids, homer uses the word women, implying that they are the lowest on the totem pole. Finally, Telemachus suggests that men are superior to women by stating that they will distribute the commands. Another example of Homer indirectly stating the role of women is when Odysseus is in Phaeacia. When dinner is about to be served, Arete ordered, “Her serving women ‘set a great three legged cauldron over the fire-do it right away!” (205). This is another situation where Homer could have used servant, waiter, helper, or any word to inform the reader who Arete is talking too, but instead chooses to use the word “serving women.” This is not a coincidence as women are depicted as the cleaners and the servants in numerous occasions throughout this epic. My question is, were the roles of men and women as clearcut as Homer describes it, or is the role of sexes being over exaggerated throughout this epic? It is common for Homer to discuss ideals in society, not how it actually existed, so I am curious to hear about your perspective on these roles.

  2. The role of genders in the Odyssey is very straight forward, and has the normal gender stereotypes. Women are weak, men are strong, and women are made to serve men. An example of this is when ever a guest of the male gender enters a palace of some sort, he is bathed and clothed by women, then served by the palace's maids, but, another role of women is possession. Men would have wars over women. An example of this is when Helen recalls the battle of troy, she says "...Surely he is Telemachus! the boy who left a babe in arms at home when all you Achaeans fought at Troy, launvhing your headlong battles for my sake, what a shameless whore I was" (129). This shows how much of a role played in a mans life. He would wage a war for her love, but this also shows the power men have over women. The example Eric used on page 89 is a perfect one. Telemachus is a man, therefore, has control over his own mother. The hierarchy of genders is at a staggering amount. Overall, id day in this book, without women, there would be no conflict, love, or that much of a plot. Women play a major roll in the Odyssey, but it isn't shown right in front of your face. You have to read in between the lines to understand what I'm saying, if you don't, all u see is men taking advantage of women time and time again throughout the story.

  3. In the Odyssey the roles of genders is a main focal point. In most cases men are superior to women. Homer makes this known through telling the roles of the genders in the societies where either Telemachus or Odysseus traveled. Homer also shows the superiority of men to women through how the people act in their society. For example on page 183 when Odysseus is in the land of the Phaeacians Homer tells the roles of men and women “Just as Phaeacian men excel the world at sailing, driving their swift ships on the open seas, so the women excel at all the arts of weaving.” This shows that the women’s role is to weave and the men’s’ role is hard labor.
    There is a large power switch when Odysseus and his men are with Circe. Circe has the large amount of power in the beginning because she turns half of the men into pigs and the only way that she will turn them back is by Odysseus promising to sleep with her. Circe also holds power when she is forced to change the men back into humans. You would assume that she would lose her power but she twists the change to where the men were “younger than ever, taller by far, more handsome to the eye,” (pg 242). There is a power switch back to men being superior when Odysseus was not affected by Circe’s potion that changed a man’s shape and when Odysseus makes Circe change his men back before he will do anything at her palace.
    Another time when women are superior to men is when a woman is so beautiful that the men are captivated by her beauty and will do anything for her. This is shown when the men are first at Circe’s palace and is how she changes them into swine.
    In conclusion men are normally superior to women in the Odyssey but sometime the power is switched to women being superior to men. This is also shown through the gods because their main leader Zeus is male and the females or goddesses do not have as much influence on important matters.

  4. From what version of the Odyssey did you use this quote @etgiesler