arg - Hargrave \ Kaytlyn Hargrave Dr. Kimberly Bell ENG264H...

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Hargrave Kaytlyn Hargrave Dr. Kimberly Bell ENG264H December 9, 2010 The Ideal Greek Woman and Marriage In epic, the hero represents characteristics that the culture holds in high esteem. Because Odysseus is the hero of Homer’s Odyssey, he represents qualities of the ideal Archaic Greek man as he is successful as a farmer, a king, and a soldier. His many epithets make it clear that he is skilled in many ways, but Odysseus is much more than just a master mariner and solder. He is also husband to Penelope. One can assume that the ideal Greek man’s partner in marriage should be the ideal Greek woman. Penelope’s ideality is shown through her faithfulness to Odysseus and cleverness as she holds the suitors at bay while waiting for her husband to return; it is emphasized by the love that Odysseus has for her as twice he chooses returning home to her over spending a life of luxury and love-making with a goddess. By bringing Penelope to the forefront of the story, Homer gives his audience a picture of what the ideal Greek woman is and because she is married to Odysseus, Homer can then give an example of an ideal marriage in which man and woman are well matched. Penelope often seems sad and hopeless. Her situation is best described by Betine Zyl Smit who writes, “Penelope is the one who waits in Ithaca for Odysseus…She weeps lonely tears, but nothing induces her to betray her husband and to neglect her duties, not even under pressure from the suitors does she contemplate infidelity” (394). Penelope awaits Odysseus’s return for twenty years with no news indicating if he has even
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Hargrave j survived the war. For four years, she is surrounded by eighty-eight suitors constantly trying to win her hand in marriage and yet she never succumbs. She remains loyal to her husband and never commits adultery. Beyond that, she never stops yearning for him. Her devotion to him is so complete that for years she spends her nights weeping because of their separation. Her days are spent longing for his return. She questions every traveler that enters her home, hoping to learn if Odysseus lives and where he may be. The fact that she does this even after so many years shows that she is completely devoted to Odysseus and refuses to accept that he may be dead. Penelope’s faithfulness is often highlighted as she is held in comparison to Agamemnon’s wife, the traitorous Klytaimnestra. The situations of these two women during the Trojan War are strikingly similar, so much so that it is obvious the two characters are meant to foil each other. Both women are the wives of powerful men that fought in the Trojan War, and both have sons coming into manhood without the presence of a father. However, Klytaimnestra has an adulterous affair, failing in her duty to
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This note was uploaded on 06/06/2011 for the course ENG 265 taught by Professor Courtney during the Fall '08 term at Sam Houston State University.

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arg - Hargrave \ Kaytlyn Hargrave Dr. Kimberly Bell ENG264H...

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