In the Odessey, Homer has focused on the masculine characters as the most prominent. This is to be expected when one looks at the time period in which he lived, but there are some notable exceptions of some outstanding female characters. This does not mean that women were the focus of the story, they were not. What this means is that there were some surprisingly important female characters that played essential roles within the story. It comes as a surprise that during a time when women played such secondary roles in day to day life, Homer would choose to create such powerful characters as Athena, without whom Odysseus would have perished many times.
One example of Athena helping Odysseus throughout his journey back to Ithaca would be her plea to her father, Zeus where she states: Ã¢ÂÂ¦my own heart is broken for Odysseus, the master mind of war, so long a castaway upon an island in the running sea; Ã¢ÂÂ¦But such desire is in him merely to see the hearthsmoke leaping upward from his own island, that he longs to die.
Are you not moved by this, Lord of Olympos? Had you no pleasure from Odysseus' offerings beside the Argive ships, on Troy's wide seaboard? O Zeus, what do you hold against him now? Homer, very early in the epic, defines Athena as having a strong role in the story. I believe this passage is a very powerful point in the poem because it demonstrates strength in a female character. I think her question "What do you hold against him now?" proves how she will stand up to her father and challenges his authority as lord of the gods.
During Homer's lifetime, a woman's primary role was that of a mother and housewife. Men gave orders to women...