Thread: Odysseus bow
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Old 04-17-2012, 10:26 AM
astorian astorian is offline
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: austin tx usa
Posts: 35,003
Originally Posted by Shodan View Post
Even when I first read The Odyssey, I was struck by the cruelty with which they treated women. Even the part I mentioned above, where Telemachus is becoming a man, the sign is that he orders his mother around.

And embedded in the whole homecoming part, after Odysseus has killed all the suitors, he calls out all the servant women who have been sexually involved with the suitors, and hangs them. As if they had a lot of choice about whether or not they were going to sleep with the suitors. They were slaves, for heaven's sake. But it is presented as part of the "purification" of the house after Odysseus kills the suitors. They have had sex with the suitors, and so they are sort of "spoiled" - not fit to remain as slaves in the newly restored household. And no one thinks twice about it.

And of course the whole Iliad is about who gets the princess, who has been captured in battle and is treated like another of the spoils, like good armor and bars of bronze and all that. Just another trophy to be passed around. Helen doesn't get that treatment, even though her leaving her husband starts the whole mess. She goes back to Menelaus and her excuse that she was enchanted by Aphrodite.

"Sing in me, o Muse, of the wrath of Achilles". They might have added "and what an asshole he, and everyone else, even the heroes, is towards anyone who isn't aristocracy".


With one notable exception: Hector, the Trojan enemy, is an affectionate husband, as well as a doting father, and he shows respect for women- even for Helen, whom he might (reasonably) blame for causing the whole bloody war.