Motherhood is the Most Important Role of the Ancient Greek Woman
- Pages: 7
- Word count: 1508
- Category: Bravery
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In this paper, I will argue that women in the ancient Greek society are regarded as objects, through motherly and wife duties and lack a voice on personal issues influencing their lives in other ways that do not involve contributing to the pride, ego, and masculinity of males.
- The women of the ancient Greek society are often presented, discussed and treated as objects.
- Motherhood was the most important role of a woman in society.
- Women are also depicted as sexual manipulators.
- Men are portrayed as agencies for duty, honor, and bravery.
- Conclusion of Argument: Women are figurines of trade while men are supreme and dominant in the society.
The Iliad is an epic poem telling the story of raging anger and its human toll. The poem recounts the events of the last years of the Trojan War. On the other hand, Hecuba takes place just after the Trojan War as the Greeks are on their way back home from war. Both texts give a wealth of information about ancient Greek society as they shed a light on gender roles in society. The Iliad portrays a patriarchal society where mortal women lack say. Most of them have no control over the decisions that promote their well-being. In this paper, I will argue that women in the ancient Greek society are regarded as objects, through motherly and wife duties and lack a voice on personal issues influencing their lives in other ways that do not involve contributing to the pride, ego, and masculinity of males.
(AP1) The women of the ancient Greek society are often presented, discussed and treated as objects. Throughout the poem, women lack major roles. Most of the female mortals are placed in certain positions without their conscious. They turn out to be the causes of war and sources of grief between men in society. The very first woman to be depicted in such a manner in The Iliad is Helen. Helen is the cause of the entire Trojan War. Another instance in which women are revealed as figurines is when they are traded with or stolen from the world of men. Apart from Helen, Briseis and Chryseis are also revealed as objects. Paris steals Helen and the Spartans go to war against the Trojans with the hope of winning Helen back. In the Spartan camp, Briseis and Chrysies are also viewed as objects because they become war prizes to be given after war. Both are captured as objects with Briseis given to Achilles and Chryseis to Agamemnon the head of the Spartan army in the course of events Agamemnon is forced to give up Chryseis so as to appease the god Apollo. Agamemnon states “Find me than some prize that shall be my own, lest I only among the Argives go without since that were unfitting…” (Illiad 32) In exchange for Chrysies, Agamemnon is given Briseis who earlier on belonged to Achilles. Similarly, in Hecuba, the ghost Achilles demands that the queen gives up her daughter Polyxena. This type of display for women reveals that they do not have the same rights as men in the Greece culture.
(AP2) Motherhood was the most important role of a woman in society. Homer reveals this by illuminating the true nature of the ancient wife-husband relationship. When Hector returns from war and meets his wife, Andromache, holding their baby watching him from the city walls. She urges Hector to be defensive in battle, but he claims he cannot and he has to fight from the front. This meant death and would risk the enslavement of Andromache together with their son. Hector says to his wife “You go home now and attend to your work, the loom and the spindle, and tell the waiting-women to get on with theirs. War is men’s business; and this war will be the business of every man in Ilium, myself above all” (Illiad 115). The point in this is that the place of women in the society at that time was at home. In Hecuba, similarly, regardless of being the queen, the most important role of Hecuba is being a mother to her daughter Polyxena and her sons.
(AP3) Women are also depicted as sexual manipulators. This is a notion that has existed since the old age. Women are viewed as beings who can use sex to get what they want from men. In The Iliad, women are presented as manipulators who use sex to get anything they want from men. An example is Hera who manipulates her husband Zeus for the Trojan War to turn out in her favor. Zeus finds out the intentions of Hera and refers to her as a mischief-making trickster. He says “I would remind you of this that you may learn to leave off being so deceitful, and discover how much you are likely to gain by the embraces out of which you have come here to trick me.” (Illiad 78). Homer is revealing the role of women in the society to be tricking men into getting whatever they want. Through the relationship between Zeus and Hera, Homer reveals men and women into the stereotypical gender roles with the woman being deceptive and deceitful and the man helpless to women’s sexual tricks.
(AP 4) Men are portrayed as agencies for duty, honor, and bravery. The Iliad revolves around the masculine war culture and its importance since it is what the society expected. The ongoing Trojan Wars are not the center of the plot but also reveal the role of a man in the ancient Greek society. Men who shun the warrior culture or did not fully engage in it were criticized. Being a coward or declining the opportunity to fully engage in war was one of the worst ways any male in the society would go against what the society defines as masculinity. In Greek society, there was no greater glory that would come to a man than if he died in battle or in a noble cause. In particular, Homer reveals this through Hector who says that he has to fight at the front of the battle. Yet he knew to be at the front meant death for him. In another succinct statement by Diomedes, he rallies fellow warriors in preparation for battle. Diomedes says, “I know only cowards depart from battle. A real warrior stands his ground whether he is hit or hits another” (Illiad, 118). In many ways, this statement reveals that the role of a man in a society was to be defensive of his homeland. In Hecuba, similarly, a man’s greatest position was to defend his country. This is revealed through Polymestor who does everything in his power including killing the sons of Queen Hecuba and capturing her daughter during the Trojan War.
[Conclusion of the Argument] Women are figurines of trade. They have been used as objects of trade at war for their counterparts to get the glory. As discussed in the essay women like Helena, Chryseis and Briseis are given out as prizes of exchange or rather trade during the Trojan War. Yet the glory of this victory does not go to the women but to men who had been out in battle. Similarly, Polyxena is exchanged at the expense of the city of Troy by his mother. Men, on the other hand, are depicted to have the duty of honor and bravery towards their society. They are supposed to engage fully in battle. This is revealed through characters like Hector who go to war and fight at the front. The most important role of women is that of being a mother. They are expected to tend to their homes and children. Andromache, Hector’s wife gets back home to continue with her duties and raise her daughter. Also, Hecuba is motherly as she feels very bad when her son and daughter are killed. The motherly affection leads her to avenge her children’s death.
[Conclusion of paper] The Iliad and Euripides’s Hecuba, are poems relating to the adventures surrounding the Trojan War. The Iliad details a short time towards the end of the war while Hecuba deals with ten years later when the Greeks are returning home from war. The acts of both reveal manly acts taken with great adversity. The male is supreme in both poems. Yet still, women play an important and common role at the time of the Trojan War. Women are included in a number of roles. Surprisingly those roles revolve around their feminity, sexuality and societal expectations. These roles vary from being a caretaker, an object for exchange in battlefields, and a manipulator. Men, on the other hand, have their roles revolving around their masculinity. The role of men and women in both texts is to reveal how society depicts them. Through Homer and Euripides, it can be inferred that the ancient Greek society contemporary had similar conceptions about gender roles in society.