How are women portrayed in Homer's Iliad?
Women show the price of a warrior society on individual humans. They can't earn glory fighting, but they can reveal the ill effects of fighting.
Chryseis and Briseis, for example, becomes spoils of war. They are seized by Agamemnon and Achilles, raped, and made into these warrior's sex slaves. When Agamemnon loses Chyrseis, he takes Briseis, sending Achilles into a sulk so that he sits in his tent and refuses to fight. The feelings and humanity of these women, ripped from their families, passed between soldiers for what is essentially serial rape, and doubtless traumatized, never seems to be considered by the warrior heroes. This is shocking to modern sensibilities, and in recent years, some books have come out trying to tell the story from their point of view.
An important woman in the epic is Andromache. She typifies another category of women in the poem: the loyal, loving wife. After Achilles kills her entire family, Hector marries her, and they have a son named Astyanax. In one of...
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