Does anyone know the roles of the wives of the lliad?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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For the most part, I think that the role of the wives in the Iliad is to explore the domestic realm and to expose the pull of the personal in the collision between desire and duty.  Homer's conception of tragedy as one that features protagonists in the midst of equally desirable, but ultimately incompatible courses of action is brought out in many of the women's roles in the Iliad. For example, Helen represents this end of desire in Paris' predicament.  His duty should be to not take the wife of Menelaus, but his desire is to leave with her.  She represents the element of desire in Paris' conflict between it and duty.  Andromache represents a similar end, but with much more empathy.  Her love for Hector and his affection for her represent the end of "philos" to family as opposed to his loyalty for Troy.  When he recognizes that he must fight Achilles, and most likely die in the process, his desire to want to stay with her and his son collides with what he sees as his duty.  Her countenance before he goes off to battle represents this collision, and how Hector is probably the figure riddled with the most amount of tragedy in Homer's work.  The presence of these women is to represent the tragic condition in which the warfighting male finds himself.

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