"Illiad": Role of Greek Women.

Essay by naturesclari06High School, 12th gradeA, November 2005

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Homer's "Iliad" is typically focused on its male characters: Achilles, primarily, but also Hector and Agamemnon. Even so, it seems that the most important characters in the epic are female. Athena and Hera are among the most powerful forces in the book. Ares, the god of war, must surrender to Athena on two occasions. Athena and Hera are more than just assertive and forceful. They are sly, quick-witted, and sharp-tongued. Using her womanly resources and a bit of deception, Hera manipulates her husband Zeus in many instances in the book.

Since mainly all of the most important characters in this book are women, Homer wants his audience to see and understand the downfall of the male characters in choosing combat over serenity, hostility over compassion, and nobility over family. The contrast of behaviors of the female characters offers an alternative during the course of the story. Many of the men in the Iliad show emotion however, the emotions they express are consistently rage, pride, and jealousy.

For example, Achilles and Agamemnon jealously bicker over Briseis, a war prize that neither man particularly holds as significance ending with Agamemnon eventually returning her to Achilles.

The feminine presence in the "Iliad" can be compared to a pregnant woman carrying a fetus in its final stages in the womb. For example, many of Homer's details refer to the units of nine, which traditionally also refers to the term a mother carries her baby. The appearance of the number throughout the book constantly reminds that this main feminine presence is nearing the end of the pregnancy and about to lose the Iliad, her child, to life.

Another main example of female predominance is in Book Eighteen. Thetis represents the feminine presence as the mother of Achilles. Her visit to...