Role of Women in the Odyssey
By looking at Homer's Odyssey, we can begin to get an idea as to how the ancient Greeks regarded their women. Men treated them almost as though they were possessions and not people, and many times women had to resort to deception to accomplish their own goals and desires. By interpreting Homer's view of women, one can draw a bigger picture of the role of women in ancient Greek culture. In the Odyssey, we learn that women were placed on pedestal as beautiful creatures, but were often subordinate to men, had little input and involvement in government. The three types of women illustrated within the poem, the goddess, the seductress, and the good wife are all important roles in making Homer's Odyssey an epic.
Each of the three basic roles of women, the goddess, the seductress, and the good wife, adds a different essential element to the telling of the story.
The role of the goddess is one of a supernatural being, but more importantly one in a position to pity and help mortals. Athena, the goddess of wisdom, is the most important example of the role; in the very beginning of the story, she is seen making a plea for Odysseus' return home from war and assists him throughout his journeys in the first half of the book. She is the driving force behind Odysseus' return home. In books 1-4 she helps Telemachus, Odysseus' son, gather the courage to go out and find out the status of his father on his own in the path to becoming a man. Even Circe and Calypso help Odysseus tremendously with information and supplies. It is the role of the woman goddess and not the male god to pity and offer help to the suffering mortal.