Odyssey And Woman Treatment

The Treatment of Women by Men in Homerís The Odyssey Women in Homerís The

Odyssey are judged mainly by looks. If important men and gods consider a woman
beautiful, or if her son is a hero or important king the woman is successful.

The way women in The Odyssey are treated is based on appearance, the things men
want from them, and whether the woman has any power over men. During Odysseusí
journey to the underworld he sees the shades of many prominent women. We hear
about their beauty, their important sons, or their affairs with gods. We hear
nothing about these womenís accomplishments in their lifetime. Odysseus tells
how Antiope could "boast a god for a lover,"(193) as could Tyro and many
other women. Epikaste was called "that prize"(195) her own son unwittingly
married. Some women are known for the deeds of their sons, but never for a
heroic deed of their own, their personalities, who they are, and what they do
independent of males. It seems the only accomplishment women could achieve was
being beautiful. Theseus "had no joy of"(195) the princess Ariadne because
she died before this was possible. Homer makes it sound as if Ariadneís life
was useless because she did not give Theseus pleasure. The only woman we hear of
for a different reason is Klymene, and we only hear of her because she"betrayed her lord for gold."(195) This is the only time we hear of a woman
for something she did, and once we do, it is a negative remark. Penelope,

Odysseusí queen, is paid attention to only because of her position. Because
she has a kingdom, she has suitors crowding around her day and night. Being a
woman, Penelope has no control over what the suitors do and cannot get rid of
them. The suitors want her wealth and her kingdom. They do not respect her
enough to stop feeding on Odysseusí wealth; they feel she owes them something
because she wonít marry one of them. One of the suitors, Antinoos, tells

Telemakhos "...but you should know the suitors are not to blame- it is your
own incomparably cunning mother."(21) Even Telemakhos doesnít respect his
mother as he should. When the song of a minstrel makes her sad and Penelope
requests him to stop playing, Telemakhos intervenes and says to her "Mother,
why do you grudge our own dear minstrel joy of song, wherever his thought may
lead." (12) If Telemakhos respected his mother he would have asked the
minstrel to cease playing the song that made her upset. Telemakhos has no use
for Penelopeís beauty or position; he regards her as someone who causes a
problem, but whom he must love anyway. Through Penelope Homer shows how an ideal
wife should feel toward her husband. Penelope remembers Odysseus as a great king
and husband even though he has been gone for twenty years. Odysseus thinks of

Penelope as his wife who, under all conditions, should be faithful to him no
matter how many times he has been unfaithful or how long he has been gone, and

Penelope fulfills this wish. Athena seems to be the most admired female in the
entire book. She is always spoken of respectfully and is remembered for her
heroic deeds. She is not degraded like the shades of the women Odysseus sees in
the underworld. Everyone worships her and speaks about her achievements with
awe; she is truly admired, not only because she is a goddess. Athena has control
over men that most women in the Odyssey do not. Womenís lives depend on what
men think of them. On the contrary, menís lives depend on Athenaís opinion
of them. Unlike Athena most women are shown to be bad at heart or useless except
for manís pleasure. Athena is "Zeusí virgin daughter" and no one has
used her in that way. She is too important to be used as being enjoyment for
men; they depend on her for their own welfare. Men in The Odyssey only value
women who they can use for physical needs and wealth, such as the shades in the
underworld and Penelope, or women that can somehow hurt or punish them, such as

Athena. Homer shows us how men in The Odyssey consider women less important then
men. We rarely hear of women.