Paper Title

[2.3] The Legacy of Wifely Transgression in Homer’s Odyssey

Location

AE 263

Start Date

January 2020

End Date

January 2020

Disciplines

Classical Literature and Philology | History | Philosophy | Political Science

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

In greek myth many of the mortal wives violate the patriarchal structures imposed on them to some varying degree of success or disaster. Clytemnestra, the wife of king Agamemnon, cheated on her husband and then killed him upon his return from the Trojan war – placing her in the category of a ‘bad wife.’ Clytemnestra’s demise reflects the consequences of stepping outside the roles assigned to women, one who brought disaster to their husband by their excise of autonomy. Yet Clytemnestra stands in stark opposition to Penelope, the wife of Odysseus. Penelope uses her autonomy to stay within the typical social roles of a good greek wife. Even though Penelope does not act like Clytemnestra, the consequences of Clytemnestra’s action damage the reputation of Penelope and of all women. If Clytemnestra represents the ‘bad wife’ who attempts to destroy the greek patriarchal culture, then Penelope stands as the good wife who upholds it. This paper will analyze how the legacy of Clytemnestra’s social transgression influenced the perception of Penelope in Homer’s Odyssey. In the work Homer draws comparisons between Penelope and Clytemnestra as representation of the opposite spectrums of autonomy in heroic women. This tension over the fear of patriarchal violation between Clytemnestra and Penelope in the Odyssey tells us about the larger fear of autonomous women in early greek society.

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Jan 17th, 4:00 PM Jan 17th, 5:15 PM

[2.3] The Legacy of Wifely Transgression in Homer’s Odyssey

AE 263

In greek myth many of the mortal wives violate the patriarchal structures imposed on them to some varying degree of success or disaster. Clytemnestra, the wife of king Agamemnon, cheated on her husband and then killed him upon his return from the Trojan war – placing her in the category of a ‘bad wife.’ Clytemnestra’s demise reflects the consequences of stepping outside the roles assigned to women, one who brought disaster to their husband by their excise of autonomy. Yet Clytemnestra stands in stark opposition to Penelope, the wife of Odysseus. Penelope uses her autonomy to stay within the typical social roles of a good greek wife. Even though Penelope does not act like Clytemnestra, the consequences of Clytemnestra’s action damage the reputation of Penelope and of all women. If Clytemnestra represents the ‘bad wife’ who attempts to destroy the greek patriarchal culture, then Penelope stands as the good wife who upholds it. This paper will analyze how the legacy of Clytemnestra’s social transgression influenced the perception of Penelope in Homer’s Odyssey. In the work Homer draws comparisons between Penelope and Clytemnestra as representation of the opposite spectrums of autonomy in heroic women. This tension over the fear of patriarchal violation between Clytemnestra and Penelope in the Odyssey tells us about the larger fear of autonomous women in early greek society.