Feminism and the Classics: Apollo and Dionyses, 1974, page 5

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In the area of literature itself, extensive female imagery has
puzzled Classicists from Homer onward. The Odyssey, for example, is
an enormous tapestry in which women figure predominantly. Even here,
however, the woman remembered, although her role is brief, is Penelope,
the paragon of wifely virtue and loyalty. In this.regard her only
counterpart in the Odyssey is the old and faithful dog Argos who clings
to life just long enough to see his master's return. The rest and the
bulk of the Odyssey concerns itself with dynamic, strong, and aggressive
women and goddesses. Athena initiates Odysseus‘ return. Circe, Calypso,

Ino, Nausicaa and Arete also play aggressive roles and share in common‘

_an immediate power over Odysseus’ fate. "By contrast, the men of the

' Odyssey are for the most part passive and not in control of their destiny.

Odysseus himself is on the receiving end; Hermes does not initiate action,
but carries out Athena's plan; Telemachus is a child; Laertes is too old
to be of assistance; the suitors are brittle caricatures; and even
Poseidon spends most of the time removed from the action in.the far
corners of Aethiopia. If, as some have suggested, the story of Odysseus
is the story of the progression from the Heroic Age to a more representa-
tive (feminist) society, then the extensive female imagery of the Odyssey
may be the vehicle through which this is expressed. ;
In Certainly.even the tragedians mirrored contemporary conflicts andl
societal changes by conflicts in the cosmos or mythic situations. Thus,‘

Aeschylds in the Oresteia portrays a cosmic split that is basically malel

female,.e.g., Zeus and Apollo vs. the older female deities, Earth, Night

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