The role of women in "The Iliad" by Homer.

Essay by nyfoleyHigh School, 12th gradeA+, February 2006

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Throughout the ages, many people feel they have a statement to make, and make this statement through literature. Although at first glance, Homer's "Iliad" may not seem to be a criticism of society, underneath all the violence and deep storylines there is a message dying to get out. In the culture of the Iliad, mortal women are treated as property rather than human beings. While the gods attempt to treat the goddesses the same way, the goddesses are quick to assert themselves and claim equal power. This is Homer's way of saying that the attitude towards women in his time period is wrong and unjustified. While men worship goddesses, they still treat women as lesser beings.

Many times throughout the epic women are treated as property, and often talked about as "prizes" of "gifts." This is shown from the beginning with Chryseis when Chryses, her father, brings "a rich treasure to ransom his daughter" (11) because rather than viewing her simply as property, he loves her more than all his treasure and riches.

Agamemnon however views her as his prize and will not let her go because to him she does not mean anything more than that he was able to take her. He doesn't realize that to Chryses she is more than just property, she is his daughter and he has feelings for her. This of course leads to the biggest show of looking down on women in the whole book, which is of course the argument over Briseis in book one. When Agamemnon finally decides that for the greater good he will give back Chryseis he gets mad at those who tell him and takes Achilles' "prize" simply to disrespect him. He even states to Achilles that he is going to take Briseis himself "to...