The Odessey

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Tenzin Metok 50194195
UGC 111
Prof. Lang
Section G
08-15-2015
The Portrayal of Patriarchy in The Odyssey
Patriarchy is a form of society in which males are the head of the family. Men
control all the government, economy and culture. Women were always looked as
inferior to men, bound by the chains of males and obliged to respect them. The
archaeological sources such as literature of bygone days gives us information about
how patriarchy was generally practiced in their daily life. One such literature that can
be seen today is The Odyssey by Homer written around (1100-800 B.C.E.), before the
growth of Sparta. The Odyssey displays the strong patriarchal system practices during
Odysseus’ kingship in Ithaca. Different types of women are shown throughout the story
based on how they were treated; some of the women are Penelope, Odysseus's wife,
Athena the goddess, and other slave women who work in the palace. The book also
portrayed how Telemachus, son of Odysseus, overrules his mother and how suitors are
controlling everything during the absence of the king.
The author of The Odyssey has provided us with many examples to deepen our
understanding of how women were treated during early days. One such example that
depicts the women of a patriarchal society is how Penelope was treated during Odysseus’
absence. Since Odysseus hadn’t returned from the war for long time, the people and
suitors of Ithaca believe that he was dead. But his loyal and faithful wife Penelope
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believed that he would return soon. As a loyal wife of Odysseus, she protects the
kingdom and raises her son during his absence. As the time passes by, Penelope is treated
badly and given little respect in the palace. Her suitors in the palace were trying to win
Penelope and take advantage of Odysseus’s absence instead of respecting and supporting
her. Since Penelope was a woman, she cannot press down the suitors; she has to face this
trouble every day while waiting for her husband. In her conversation with Eurymachus,
Penelope says “If he could return and devote himself to me, my good name would indeed
be embellished and enhanced. But I am left to my misery” (Homer 245). By her words, it
clearly shows us that, Penelope, even though being noble class woman during that time,
yet she cannot do anything without the support from her husband. We can tell from this
example that even the women of nobility and higher society do not hold much power. Not
only in The Odyssey, but we can also see that in the movie “Gladiators”. When Marcus
becomes the king by assassinating his father, he did not offer authority to his sister. He
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