The Role of Penelope, Klytaimnestra and Kalypso in the Epic The Odyssey by Homer

Category: Poetry
Last Updated: 26 Jun 2023
Pages: 3 Views: 64

Does one ever stop and realize the role of women in our current life and how sometimes we force double standards on women without even noticing. Its not the fact that we are ignorant but it's a thing of the past that we have been doing subconsciously since before history was being recorded. In Homers epic The Odyssey, Penelope, Klytaimnestra and Kalypso are viewed in different ways that test's their ability to stay perfect while in tough life situations. Men react differently to how the women view act and speak and it affects their future within the book.

Even though most of the women in the Odyssey are unfaithful and untrustworthy there are a couple that are not only faithful, but cunning as well. The main example of a woman in the odyssey who isn't only cunning but also faithful is Penelope. She is so praised as a woman because she fits the standards that society puts against her.

Penelope is cunning because she does her best to keep tricking the suitors and holding off choosing a suitor because she has faith that her husband was still alive. When Antinoos explains Penelope's deceitful trick to the rest of the suitors, he claims: "She has her great loom standing in the hall... every day she wove on the great loom - but every night by torchlight she unwove it" (2.22.100-119). This clearly shows how even though she knew it could get her in trouble she did it to stay faithful and not fall into the same trap most other women in the Odyssey do. Penelope is also cunning and demonstrates it when she asks Eurykleia to move the bed that Odysseus built: "Make up his bed for him/built with his own hands" (23.435.200-210).

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This is cunning not only because she is testing the memory of Odysseus but also seeing if it is indeed him. The fact that rather than simply asking Odysseus if it was really him she challenged him with something that only he would know proves she is more than smart and isn't just believing everything she see's. Penelope being faithful waited for her husband to return from his great voyage, but in most cases it doesn't happen that way. Unfaithfulness is the first great step in following the wrong path.

When a woman chooses to be unfaithful towards her husband she doesn't just lose the respect of that man but his and her friends as well, and she ends up falling into the category that most other women do, unfaithful, and just like the rest. Klytaimnestra attempts to remain faithful while her husband is away at war but she soon loses the fight with morals and gives in to the lust: "Then came the fated hour she gave in" (3.23.290).

Even though she attempted to remain loyal to Agamemnon, Klytaimnestra ended up falling in the same bottomless pit of a trap that untrustworthy cheating wives fall into: "Orestes killed the snake who killed his father/he gave his hateful mother and her soft man a tomb together" (3.44.330-340). Fate took vengeance upon the death of Agamemnon in the disguise of Orestes and he killed both Klytaimnestra and the man who killed her once loving husband, Aegisthus. Just like all other situations in which the women don't remain faithful, Klytaimnestra lost things which got progressively worse, first her husband, then her fame, and in time her life by the hand of her own son. Another category women can fall into is overruling and tricky.

When one is trapped on an island with a woman who has held you captive as her pet the only basic chance of survival is if the gods come down and save you themselves. Kalypso is powerful to the point where she is convinced if she wants something, she will have it. Kalypso convinced gods and mortals in such a way it seemed almost as if she was nice and had no problem giving her guests whatever they asked for: "Now tell me what request you have in mind/ I desire to do it, if I can" (5.83. 90-100).

Kalypso is being nice to Hermes only because of two reasons, the first being he hasn't yet asked for Odysseus and secondly because she is being conniving and is interested in what has situation has brought upon the visit of a fellow immortal. As time goes on the once warm voiced Kalypso comes to realize why Hermes has visited and she isn't pleased: "Oh you vile gods, in jealousy supernal!" (5.84.124-125). She is becoming enraged by the fact that the gods want Odysseus back and she is blaming it on the gods "jealousy". This seems to be almost Ironic because she if purely throwing a fit because of jealousy of the gods and how they get away with most everything they do. If not sent through Zeus Kalypso.

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The Role of Penelope, Klytaimnestra and Kalypso in the Epic The Odyssey by Homer. (2023, Jun 26). Retrieved from

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