The following sample essay on “Homeric Lady”. Modern women are frustrated by being forced to choose between being an Athena an intellectual, asexual career woman or an Aphrodite a frivolous sex object or a respectable wife-mother like Hera shows that the Greek goddesses continue to be archetype of female existence.
In order to be an actor in the immense production of the Iliad the Homeric lady may carve out her own place within this narrative. She is by nature an orator despite this limited role she is very creative in her ways of rebellion.
Each female in the Iliad may be driven by different desires and thus find their unique way to impower themselves in this patriarchal society. Yet there can be found a common thread in their need to rebel namely that of a mothers, wifes and daughters voice within the framework of patriarchy. How successful they may be remains to be seen. Here, one will take a look at the three divine ladies of Athena, Aphrodite and Hera.
These three strong ladies achieve some form of empowerment in the male dominated world of the Iliad and these can be compared. In the movement and subsequent reaction to these women trying to break out of their boxes are observable. First, one has Hera which is a rather aggressive and direct attack from the role of the wife. Then one has Aphrodite and Athena who accepts their role and the idea of patriarchy to achieve power. Thus, every maiden finds their way to rebel against their stronger male counterparts.
Further, some of these rebellions are certainly more liberating than others. In short, not all avenues to influence are equally effective. When identifying authentic evocation of equality and achieving such can be theorized as consisting of three main components: (I) it should endow the female with enough power to achieve her power, (II) it should be rebellious against a construct that does not allow the feminine a real voice, and (III) it should remain constant to the principles of the matriarch without capitulating to the desires or definitions of male hegemony.
Firstly, in Olympus Mrs Hera reigns Queen and overall in the Greek pantheon. On the surface Hera is no more than a chess piece whose is merely chosen to thoroughly dislike the Trojans simply due to the fact that she is deemed less fanciable in the infamous account of Paris Judgment. She may be the Queen of the divine yet mythologically she is rather complex and paradoxical since she is the goddess of lawful marriage and legitimate childbirth. Thus, she constitutes her own subordination. The paradox of the Great Goddess plays well into patriarchy and her subordination to Zeus, her husband, is revealed in the persecution of lo by Hera herself. The Priestess of Hera whom Zeus has disguised as a cow and thus she gets the name ox-eyed. Further, she is the only one who dares to stand up to Zeus, the epidemy of patriarchal dominance. Hera wishes to wipe out Troy from the map as to say this great fortress should be reduced to nothing but ashes. Her destructive nature can be traced all the way back to her origins in what is now seen as a dissident feminine mythology. When Zeus stands in her way, she uses certain techniques such as seduction and deceit to get what she wishes, the best example of this is when she borrows Aphrodites girdle to stop Zeus from interfering in the battle. She is most often depicted as malicious, irrational and power-hungry. In contrast, to how she is depicted in later myths she has a powerful origin as a powerful pre-Olympic deity.
Hesiod details the divine progression from female-dominated generations, characterised by natural, earthy emotional qualities, to the superior and rational monarchy of Olympian Zeus. Whether this corresponds to a historical change in Greek religion from emphasis on the worship of female divinities to that of male divinities is unclear.
In the quotation above one sees that at some point in history the Greek changed their worship of female deities to their male counterparts where Zeus is the most prominent. This change puts the ox-eyed Hera in a weaker position than that of the powerful former earth-goddess and thus a victim of patriarchy. Mr O`Brien suggests that Homers Hera rises out of the ashes of an early embodiment of matriarchal chaos. Out from this one can conclude that Hera has close connections to the creation of new life and the general creativeness of feminine mythos. Despite this connection her marriage to Zeus put her in such a position that she cannot obtain any power in the universe. As stated by Mrs Mary Daly: As patriarchy became the dominant societal structure, a common means of legitimisation of this transition from gynocentric society was forcible marriage of the Triple Goddess. Here, it is seen that through marriage males can obtain power and thus we have the dynamic of the ruler and the ruled.Building upon this a marriage should also provide a common understand and comfort which is not the case in this marriage. Further, Hera`s sudden loss of power combined with her move down in rank leads not only to rebellion but also to her fury. Yet, this righteous fury mixed with her helplessness against the tyrant Zeus is more laughable than heroic:
Crucially, this Hera has no power to smite. However, artfully she and Sleep tame Zeus, her machinations never passage cosmic ruin. They amuse, not frighten. Zeus may be outmanoeuvred, but he has the power to smite as once before he subdued Typhon and her. This nurse of monsters has lost her bite.
Hera may have a hunger power but her inability to obtain this combined with her forced compliance with patriarchy makes her out to be merely a shell of what she once may have been. Mrs Hera is not the only goddess we encounter, in this great narrative, with great cosmic powers. These goddesses also have an inner discussion with their former selves and how to present the primal Great Mother. According to Jean Shinoda Bolen, a feminist psychologist:
The Great Mother Goddess became fragmented into many lesser goddesses, each receiving attributes that had once belonged to her.
This simply suggests that what once was have only been cut down to something lesser. One can see Aphrodite and Athena as significant examples of this Great Mother. They seem to be a somewhat satisfactory model for the woman who wishes to stand up the patriarch.
Secondly, Aphrodite who is the embodiment of sexual attraction and deep affection originally this was the powerful force of creation. In the patriarchal framework of Greek myth, she is reduced to nothing more than a flirt or a mistress. Despite her youthful appearance, Aphrodite is an ancient mighty deity who is associated with the waters of life due to her birth from sea foam. Yet, more interesting is her union with Ares which show the intriguing dynamics of love and war. Whenever, Aphrodite wishes to get something, she much like Helen uses her beauty and sense of sexuality to roll men around her finger. Yet, this sense of allure and pure sexuality also makes her an easy target for objectification. In the framework of the Iliad Aphrodite works through her marionets of Helen and even Hera herself. This marionet show is in full swing when she uses Helen to get information out of the Trojans.
Surely there is no blame on Trojans and strong-grieved Achaeans / if for long time they suffer hardship for a woman like this one.
Out from this we can gather that these elders are simply fascinated by her immense grace, elegance and danger. Indeed, they cannot blame Paris for taking this bribe from Aphrodite. In the same fashion Aphrodite helps Hera to seduce her husband by lending her girdle to her. To summarise, Aphrodite has carved out a place for herself in this world controlled by men by not only providing her own figure but also that of others.
Thirdly, there is Athena who is the incarnation of wisdom of the Great Goddess since she was born from Zeus head this makes the great combination of the male archetype with the softness of the female. She also finds her own place within the world of men. At first her approach seems to be quite respectable. She is one of the greatest war goddesses in the Iliad, second only to Zeus himself, thus she has placed herself far above her brother Ares, who represents her male counterpart. While the lovely Aphrodite may have a great past as a matriarchal warrior goddess, despite this mighty history it is completely erased by her connection with the patriarch and thus her strength is purely derived from the patriarch himself rather than playing on her feminine nature. She has thus become more masculine in her appearance and manner, and thus being described as a lady driven by reasoning and intellect. Therefore, one may argue that she has lost her sense of the feminine by trading it for masculine brutality. Upon this one may suggest that she has neglected her roots in the feminine and more extremely her origin as a maternal figure.
To summarise, one can observe that Great Goddess has represented various realistic reactions of women to being imprisoned in a society ruled by brutes. Yet, their wish to liberate or at least empower has been slightly in vain. In present day society we still see women struggling to find their place in a world at large that is still dominated by males.
The fact that modern women are frustrated by being forced to choose between being an Athena an intellectual, asexual career woman or an Aphrodite a frivolous sex object or a respectable wife-mother like Hera shows that the Greek goddesses continue to be archetype of female existence.
Here one sees that Mrs Pomeroy draws parallels between the modern and the ancient world by the use of the Great Goddess or at least the fragments of her. If these were the only position women, mortal or divine, could take in the community the life of the women in the Iliad would be absolutely nothing to write home about.