A Superior Wife And Mother

In Homer's epic The Iliad and Sophocles' play Oedipus the King, the characters Andromache and Jocasta are confronted with tragedy and strife. Andromache endures the loss of her beloved husband while Jocasta struggles with the fruition of an ancient prophecy that she will marry her son. By considering these characters' respective places in society and within their spousal relationships, their outlook, and their behavior, Homer's Andromache emerges as a more ideal wife and mother than Sophocles' Jocasta.

Before they enter into their present marriages, both Andromache and Jocasta are women of nobility. The daughter of King Eetion of Cilicia, Andromache is a princess marrying a prince who leads her "from her father's house with countless wedding gifts to win her heart" (22.554-5). Her marriage with Hector is socially acceptable, as she is previously unmarried and taken directly from her home, so she is respected by her country and by Hector's family, as seen when they comfort her after his death, "crowding round her now her husband's sisters and brother's wives supported her in their midst" (22.556-7). Unlike her Homeric counterpart, Jocasta has been married and has born a...

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