The Odyssey Gender Roles


TheOdyssey Gender Roles

TheOdyssey is a Greek ancient poetic piece of art that mainly focuses onOdysseus. He was a hero of his time, probably god-like because of thenumerous victories he acquired from wars. The poem primarilyconcentrates on Odysseus’ journey home after the fall of Troy(“Therole gender in the Odyssey,” n.d.). As depicted in the poem, it takes Odysseus ten years to get toIthaca, his home after another decade of hustle involved in theTrojan War. During the time he is away, his family assumes he hasdied, and they relentlessly have to take up and fill his void all bythemselves. Apparently, of all the survivors of the Trojan War, onlyOdysseus does not get home (“Therole gender in the Odyssey,” n.d.).He is held captive by the god of sea, Poseidon, for having offendedthe god. Notably, the Odyssey depicts the different gender roleswhich turn out to be distinct, with particular roles exclusively forthe man and others for the woman.

Themale characters often view the female as probably fun or sex toys tothem. This ancient Greek fraternity gives the man chance andpermission to sleep with as many nymphs as he comes across but thewoman is tied to only one man and is expected to be faithful(“Analysisof major characters,” n.d.).The fact that Odysseus sleeps with a couple of women on his journeyhome and his wife, Penelope is faithful at home waiting for himdespite the many suitors that approach her proves this argument. Theauthor also portrays women as inferior and probably the subjects tothe men. They have their role restricted to childbearing and lookingafter homes while the men perform more sophisticated outdooractivities like taking part in wars. Also, the male views the femaleas inferior beings with minimal power in the society. The wayTelemachus, Odysseus’ son, orders Penelope, her mother to go backto working on her loom, depicts this. Furthermore, he tells her tokeep the women (servants) working (“Analysisof major characters,” n.d.).On the contrary, the female view the male characters as theirsuperiors as they hold the utmost authority in the house. It isevident when Telemachus tells Penelope that as to giving orders, menwill see to that but above all, he (Telemachus) held the reins ofpower in the house. It is also prestigious for a woman to have a manwith her. The fact that Kalypso is so much desperate to have Odysseusstay with her, even by using tricks and excuses proves this point.

Themajor male characters in the Odyssey are Odysseus and Telemachus, hisson. The author portrays Odyssey as a hero, who suffers in the searchof his way back home after the Trojan War, apparently for failing tooffer sufficient sacrifice to Poseidon. He meets a couple of othercharacters among them Kalypso as he tries to make it home (“Analysisof major characters,” n.d.).Telemachus, on the other hand, is mostly high tempered and above all,very courageous as he stands in the way of suitors who are after hismother due to his father’s absence. The major female characters, onthe other hand, are Penelope, Telemachus’ mom and Odysseus’ wife,and Athena, the daughter of Zeus (“Analysisof major characters,” n.d.).Penelope is faithful to her husband and Athena, who is also thegoddess of wisdom, is mostly helpful. Basing on these characters, anideal Greek woman is one who is faithful, hardworking and kind whilethe man should be brave and commanding.

Ina nutshell, the Odyssey depicts the ancient Greek society as avintage one with gender parity applying all over (“Analysisof major characters,” n.d.).Both the men and women had their distinct roles to play in thesociety. However, some women such as Athena stood out as they mostlyhelped men accomplish their heroic fetes.


Therole of gender in the Odyssey. (2011, May 1). Retrieved from

Analysisof major characters. (2013, March 5). Retrieved from