The Odyssey

Look at the women we've seen so far. How are they characterized by the poet? In other words, how does it seem Ancient Greeks viewed their women or expected them to be like?(Penelope, Calypso, Alcinous' wife)


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Women as predatory

It is little wonder Odysseus fears Penelope's lapse into infidelity women are usually depicted, if anything, as sexual aggressors in The Odyssey. Kirke exemplifies this characteristic among the goddesses, turning the foolish men she so easily seduces into the pigs she believes them to be, while Kalypso imprisons Odysseus as her virtual sex-slave. The Seirenes, too, try to destroy passing sailors with their beautiful voices. The suitors even accuse Penelope of teasing them, a debatable point. But no woman receives as negative a portrait as Agamemnon's wife Kyltaimnestra; the story of her cuckoldry and murder of her husband frequently recurs as a parallel to Odysseus' anxieties about Penelope.


Book One:

Though Penelope is presented as a faithful wife, women in The Odyssey, such as Kalypso, are often fearsome and predatory, their wiles typically enhanced by their stunning beauty.

Book Two:

Athena's multiple visits also involve multiple disguises, and Penelope is also identified as being cunning. Though this should be a compliment, the suitors try to cast Penelope's cunning as deception, reinforcing the theme of women as predatory.