Women in the ancient/medieval world: What is the role of women in iliad

How do their roles fit or not fit cultural norms?

Are we supposed to relate to them?

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We could relate to them in one sense in a very interesting view of women put forth by interpretation of when Achilles makes his laments.

“[Achilles] raised his hands in prayer to his immortal mother, "Mother," he cried, "you bore me doomed to live but for a little season; surely [Zeus], who thunders from Olympus, might have made that little glorious. It is not so. Agamemnon, son of Atreus, has done me dishonour, and has robbed me of my prize by force." (Homer, Butler. Book I)

After doing his part in battle, he was awarded a prize to emphasize his achievements of honor and glory that was later rescinded by King Agamemnon. That "prize" was the right to be mated with the (second) most beautiful woman of the conquered city. To put it bluntly, Briseis - the woman in question - was essentially an object and was given to him as his trophy.

More to support this notion of the objectification of women present in Homer's Iliad, Agamemnon's justification for taking away Briseis was the fact that the God Apollo had taken Chryseis away from him, who he viewed as his own righteous prize for his achievements gained from that same victorious campaign.


Works Cited: Homer, Samuel Butler. “The Iliad: By Homer, Translated by Samuel Butler.” Web. 2009.