Athena's Role in the Odyssey
An English professor once wrote these words on the board: "Woman without her man is nothing." She then proceeded to ask her class to correctly punctuate the sentence. The males in the class wrote down: "Women, without her man, is nothing." While the females in the class wrote down: "Woman! Without her, man is nothing." This simple exercise displays the various perceptions that people have concerning the role of women in today's society. While the role of women in society is still unclear, the role of women in epic poems is evident. Women are almost nonexistent in most of the classic epic poems. One may ask why women were left out of these classic narratives. The answer is simple, at the time that these epics were written, women were not perceived as important members of society so they were excluded from epics. However, not every author felt this way.
Homer happened to include women in his epics; one being The Odyssey. The Odyssey includes many prominent female characters that Homer uses to represent different aspects of emotion. While most authors prefer to omit the presence of women in their epics, Homer opts to utilize the goddess Athena to portray strength.
In book 23, Athena shows pity for Odysseus and wants to help him return to Ithaca. However, it this passage is thoroughly analyzed another important idea is presented. Homer portrays Athena as a motherly figure. Every mortal mother worries about her child when he is away and wants her child to return home quickly and safely. Athena is essentially doing the same thing. She wants Odysseus to return home safely, and she is also concerned with his general well being. Homer carries this idea of motherly love throughout the epic. Since Athena is the...