What role do women play in the Odyssey

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

While our epic hero is male, his counterparts who hold far more power are female. Take Athena for example. The goddess of wisdom is by his side through his trials and tribulations, and she will stop at nothing to get Odysseus home safely. He trusts in her power and wisdom to fight monsters, go to the Underworld, and kill 100 suitors in his home.

Then there is Penelope. She is Odysseus' wife who is able to fend off the suitors for almost 20 years as she raises their son alone while waiting patiently and faithfully for her husband.

In both of these scenarios, we see the women doing the bidding for a man. This point leads to the other women in the story. Look at the devious and destructive monsters Odysseus must face--Scylla and Charybdis, the Sirens, Circe, and Calypso--all personified as women who aim to tempt, harm, and destroy Odysseus and his crew. However, their powers extended far beyond Odysseus' mortal soul.

It seems the role of women in the Odyssey and in Ancient Greece was to hold...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 1069 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team