The Romance of Tristan

The Perception of Gender in the Literature of Ancient Greece and Middle Age College

Literature is one of the best ways to understand a culture. Through literature, in fact, it is possible to analyze the customs and traditions of a specific society and to comprehend its way of life. While the Homeric poems, for instance, offer a description of the life in Ancient Greece and an account of the social dynamics and religious beliefs of the Greeks, the tales on courtly love such as Le Morte D’Arthur and “The Tale of Dame Ragnell” present the values every Medieval knight would embody. However, not only do these texts present the way of life of a society, but they also offer a description of different gender roles and gender dynamics typical of these ages.

Gender roles in the Iliad and Odyssey, for instance, are strict and defined. While men are presented as valiant heroes who increase their value as they get older, women are divided in three main categories: goddesses, wives and daughters, and servants. Goddesses are extremely powerful and are even superior to men, who adore them and must obey to their orders. Wives and daughters are respected because of their husband and fathers’ role, but they cannot take part in public life, while servants are considered as nothing more than objects of men’s property. However, the...

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