The Role of Women in the Iliad

1594 words 7 pages
The role of Women in the Iliad

Throughout history, women have held many different roles in society. Men have traditionally been viewed as superior since the beginning of time. Homer's Iliad is an excellent example of the suppressive role of women at this time. Women were treated merely as property and were used for producing material within the household. Paralyzed by their unfortunate circumstances, they were taken and given as if they were material belongings. In Homer's Iliad, we conceive how women are introduced as suppliants to the masculine heroines. They are depicted as being inferior to men both physically and intellectually. Throughout the Iliad, women play a modest but important role that embodies their relative
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It's for you, dogface, for your precious pleasure— And Menelaus' honor— that we came here, A fact you don't have the decency even to mention! And now you're threatening to take away the prize That I sweated for and the Greeks gave me. [155-175]
Achilles was angry because he never complained about not getting prizes equal to Agamemnon. He felt as though Agamemnon took away his honor and pride. The war-like Achilles is at a disadvantage however, because Agamemnon is higher in command. Achilles did not feel as though he should have to give up Briseis because he is a great warrior and he earned her. This is a very demeaning and degrading position for Briseis. Not only was she a prize, but she was a prize for the runner-up. Although, the women in Homer's Iliad were at a disadvantage when it came to power, their role repeatedly impacted the outcome of the war. Helen, the wife of Menelaus and mistress of Paris, played an important role throughout the Iliad because she was the cause of the war. In Book 3, Paris agreed to duel with Menelaus for Helen and all of her goods. Although, Helen seemed to have more power then Chryseis and Briseis, she had no control over which man she would end up with. Helen appeared to be emotional because she missed the life she had with Menelaus.


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