Iliad Questions and Answers
by Homer

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How are the women portrayed in the Iliad of Homer?

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Megan Clauhs eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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One of the essential themes in the Iliad is fate and how much of it is in our control. For the women of the Iliad, much of their fate is beyond their control. Hecuba and Andromache represent dutiful wives whose path follows that of their husbands and children. Andromache begs Hector not to fight Achilles and leave her a widow, because without him, she has no path. When Hector and their son are both killed, Andromache becomes a slave to Achilles's son, marking the beginning of a new path with a new lord. Similarly, Hecuba loses her husband and many of her children; once the proud Queen of Troy, she is now reduced to a slave.

Chryseis and Briseis also serve to represent female passivity. They belong to their Greek captors: Agamemnon and Achilles. As soon as Chryseis is freed from Agamemnon and as soon as Achilles dies, they fade from the narrative.

Helen is similarly bound to the men in her life, but her narrative is interesting because it is not entirely clear how passive Helen really is....

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