ROLE OF WOMEN IN THE ILIAD

From the beginning up until now, men and women have not had equal rights. Men are considered as the stronger and more intelligent gender while women are seen as the weaker and emotional gender, kept at home to limit their chances to commit adultery and chances of paternity of any heirs.

The same case for wars, wars are known to be a male practice because men are believed to be bigger, stronger and brave. In a male-dominated war, women are involved though their roles however small vary significantly from the male roles. During wars, women are used to causing wars, show how powerful particular men are, or even excuse wars. They are viewed as the cause of Trojan war and the cause of the conflicts between Agamemnon and Achilles. Women are considered as objects to be used by men to fulfil their sexual needs and to perform nurturing roles. For this reason, Agamemnon refuses to release Chryseis despite her father paying for ther release because by doing so, he would lose a nice possession that gives him honor among men. When he gives Chryseis back, he does so like it is just a simple business transaction. In the Iliad, women play a small but very significant role in bringing balance to the wars.

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Homer’s Iliad makes it clear that wars require the presence of women for them to make sense. Through gender roles, women were seen as objects that were answerable to the males without questioning. They were to keep quiet and obey as the men gave the orders most of which reaped off the little dignity they had. Women were stolen or traded among men and treated as objects to be gifted to fellow men as wars prize. Women were regarded as trophies that men were given after winning a good fight. Briseis and chryseis are examples of women who were gifted to men in the Iliad. Briseis was gifted to warrior Achillies while chryseis went to Agamemnon. They were again traded among men but they had no right to refuse because women were considered as a price that can be won rather than human beings. Helen was stolen from Menelaus and this resulted in the Trojan War, this shows that however insignificant role these women played the only constant is that their presence was impactful in the wars.

Women again played the role of manipulating men and influencing the direction a war is to take. In Iliad, women had the ability to control men and gods by using sex to get men to give them what they wanted. Men are known to be weak when it comes to refusing female advances especially if it will quench their lustful desires. Knowing this weakness, the women in Iliad manipulate men using sex to get to achieve an end. The god Zeus is tricked by the goddess Hera so that he can get the war to go in her favour. She uses her womanly charms to seduce Zeus into giving her what she wants and Zeus easily buys into this deception.

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Even when women portray powerful roles like the goddess Hera mostly it is just to show an idea about the men around them. Through women, men were labelled either weak or brave and to prove a point a warrior had to win a woman and these increased the respect the other warriors would have for him. This would motivate men in turn fuelling the wars between them. When Helen is stolen from Menelaus, the Spartans go to war in an attempt to get Helen back. She plays a significant role in determining the direction the war will take.

Although some women can be considered as powerful in Iliad because of the influence they had on men, their husbands or the wars, they were still very lowly regarded. The women and goddesses who were married to the powerful and respectable men and gods were not respected as wives. The women were to answer and obey the men while performing the roles of nurturing and taking care of everyone else’s needs first.

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