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The Role of Women in Greek Mythology

Autor:   •  May 16, 2018  •  1,674 Words (7 Pages)  •  197 Views

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should have been a possibility for mankind to engender children from some other source…” (Euripides 95). Again, it is shown that women can be more trouble than they’re worth.

However, Medea is smart, which is why she succeeds with her plans. Although she is not the picture of the good Greek woman, she knows what that picture looks like. She apologizes to Jason to win his trust back, telling him: “we… I do not say we’re evil, but we are just what we are… women.” (Euripides 110). Even Penelope, the role model of how one should be, cries frequently. This part of their nature is something that is acceptable, but only when it is acknowledged that they are being insensible. Medea plays Jason beautifully, and he concedes to her, saying: “it is only natural for females to be jealous… These are the actions of a woman who is sensible” (Euripides 111). He has forgiven her for overstepping her bounds as a female, because she owned up to her misdoings. The story of Medea combines every element of how women are evil or pure into one story, and when these themes are repeated throughout stories it becomes clear what the role of the woman was.

Finally, another example of a “perfect woman” is Alcestis. The only things said about her are glowing, and this is because: “…how could any woman show that she loves her husband more than herself better than by consent to die for him?” (Euripides 24). Alcestis is loving and loyal, like Penelope. She is selfless and has a perfect reputation, and perhaps most importantly, she is rational. She knows that the king cannot die, and she steps up to her duty to prevent that from happening.

Having Alcestis and Penelope as examples of how to be, and Medea as the opposite, the role of women in ancient Greece becomes more clear. Women are by no means unappreciated- they are, however, expected to stay within a certain set of rules. It is the women who wander that cause men like Hippolytus and Jason to moan over the evil and cruel existence of women. As for the women themselves, most of them know the standards they must uphold, but it is a matter of circumstance and personality that may cause them to fail. Perhaps even their own fatal flaw, like Antigone’s self-righteousness, that blinds them from what should matter. It seems that this straying is very rarely acceptable, although some characters did admire Antigone for her rebelliousness. Family was undoubtedly important to the Greeks, so perhaps the gray area of which is more important allowed more sympathy for her.

These plays, that show over and over the folly of women, could have meant many things to the Greeks. They were probably an example of how to act, just like most stories were. They also could have been an outlet for men to deal with their frustrations about women. However, it does not seem that they were meant to hate women or put them down- put them in their place, certainly, but not to be particularly cruel. As in the cases of Penelope and Alcestis, there are frequently women who are highly praised for their virtues and wisdom. Just as men are judged through mythology for their heroism or their flaws, women, too, are judged on their character through the insight of these plays.

Works Cited

Sophocles, David Grene, Richmond Lattimore, Robert Fitzgerald, Elizabeth Wyckoff, Sophocles, Sophocles, and Sophocles. "Anitgone." Sophocles I. Chicago: U of Chicago, 1954. N. pag. Print.

Euripides, David Grene, Richmond Lattimore, Rex Warner, and 0. Gladstone. "Alcestis. Medea. Hippolytus." Euripides I: Alcestis; The Medea; The Heracleidae; Hippolytus. Chicago: U of Chicago, 1955. N. pag. Print.

Homer, and Richmond Lattimore. The Odyssey of Homer. New York: Harper & Row, 1967. Print.


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