The Characteristics of Greek Women in "The Odyssey" by Homer

Essay by rpmonkey80Junior High, 9th gradeB-, October 2007

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In Homer’s masterpiece, The Odyssey, women are depicted in a certain way. They each display some part of three characteristics: Loyalty, wisdom, and beauty. Two women that represent these three qualities are Penelope and Athena.

The Greeks value loyalty very high in women. You can tell throughout the book that it’s just fine for men to run off and be with whomever they please, but women must be loyal to their husbands. That is just the Greek culture. Right from the start, anyone can tell that Penelope is extremely loyal. As soon as her husband leaves for Troy, she never even sets eyes on another man, not for years, and is struck with grief every moment he is not with her. Then, when he finally does come home, she is the happiest she has ever been in the Odyssey. “The more [Penelope] spoke, the more a deep desire for tears welled up…he wept as he held the wife he loved, in his arms at last.

Joy…” (259-262.23). Even though everyone says that her beloved husband is dead, she refuses to believe it. And while he isn’t home yet, the suitors try to marry her – but she is firm in her position. She even expresses her loyalty verbally: “[my] pain [and] my tears have streaked [my bed], year in, year out, from the day Odysseus sailed away to see…Destroy…I hate to say its name!” (471-473.19) Penelope is always waiting for him to come home from Troy. She never stops believing in Odysseus. This proves she is loyal because if she wasn’t, she would have married a suitor years and years before Odysseus finally got home – and if she didn’t, then when Odysseus came disguised as a beggar, she wouldn’t have been nearly as interested.

Wisdom is also...