Roles of Women in “The Odyssey” by Homer

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The Odyssey was written at a time when men played a key role in society. During this period of civilization, men controlled society. Women, on the other hand, were identified to hold inferior positions in the community compared to men.

Women had no opportunity to comment on the daily activities of the society. It was left for men to dictate what was to be done, and women would follow. However, according to Greek society, women were valued but were not given responsibility roles and could not make decisions. It is on this point that Homer puts women into roles that had not been expected in society. This paper discusses the role of women as seductive beings in The Odyssey.


The significant role of women in the story is seduction. This can be seen in the episode when Odysseus and his men come to Circe’s Island and get attracted by the goddess’s enchanting voice.

Although the goddess was rather dangerous and treacherous, Odysseus and his men lost their prudence and could not resist her when she invited them into the house for a feast. The story shows that the voice of the goddess was sweet and lovely. It attracted men to visit her in her house. Men desired to be with Circe, which allowed the goddess to take advantage of their weakness to keep them under her subjection (Homer 211).

She was able to trick the men, and through magical power, she was able to turn them into swine. From this information, Circe has been used to portray the power of women in manipulating men. Men fell for the sweet and lovely voice of the monster. Women, in this epic, play seductive roles, where men are attracted by the singing of a monster which seduces them to admire the goddess (Homer line 221).

The singing seduced men to admire the goddess and made them forget about the danger that lay ahead of them. It shows the power of women in influencing men. Although men are shown to be strong in society, a little persuasion from a woman can make him change his mind. The goddess was able to trick men because of her lovely and sweet singing.

Odysseus makes the goddess swear that he did not have an evil intention against him. This reflects how an appeal by a woman can make a man lose his dominance in society. Although Odysseus had been warned of the seductive intentions of the goddess on the island, he still fell for her. He remained on the island for a year forgetting about his homecoming.

Therefore, the goddess seduced him to stay on the island and forget that his wife was waiting for him back home. Lack of desire for his wife, which would have made him go back home, was created by the goddess through her seductive ways. She influenced Odyssey’s disregard for his family back home. This is a clear indication that women are portrayed as seductive creatures in The Odyssey.

In the history of human civilization, women were shown as weak vessels in society. Decision making was left to men. Women were not given any responsibility in society. However, the author gives them roles that manipulate men, hence portraying them as seductive. It makes society open its eyes so as to see the power of women in society. Their sexuality is a power of influence that denies even the mightiest of men his dominance.

The story indicates that Odyssey lived with Kalypso on her island for seven years. According to Homer (line153), the persona indicates that the nymph was no longer pleasing to him. It suggests that Odyssey had spent enough time with the goddess and did not want her anymore. The story indicates that when Odyssey wanted to return home, the goddess convinced him to stay with her. The process of being convinced by Kalypso shows seductress roles of women in the story. Women having control over men with the power of their sexuality describes a change of the guard in society.

Those who were seen as weak and inferior have turned into powerful and superior characters in the story. Another item of seduction is shown through Penelope, who has been identified as a faithful woman to her husband (Homer 109). Her husband is seen having affairs with other women. However, Penelope waits for her husband, even when other suitors are asking for her hand in marriage. She shows her manipulative skills when she tricks men who want to marry her in several incidents knowing well that she was not ready to marry any of them.


Women have been shown as objects of beauty that use manipulation and trickery to get what they want from men and society. The author portrays them as making use of their intelligence and female strength to achieve their desired goals. It is indeed true that the author of The Odyssey depicts all female characters in the epic as seductive creatures in society.

Works Cited

Homer. The Odyssey, Volume 1 Boston, MA: Osgod Publishers, 1871. Print.