Was the Odyssey written by a woman?

  • Created by: Katherine
  • Created on: 04-02-21 00:50
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  • Samuel Butler Authoress of the Odyssey
    • Who was Homer?
      • Traditional interpretation - old, blind poet from Chios - always depicted as bearded in art (shows wisdom)
      • Iliad and the Odyssey both definitely oral tradition
      • analysist interpretation
        • too many inconsistencies
          • how can Eurycleia recognise Odysseus if he is disguised?
            • however is dealing with myth handed down - compare to Aeschylus' Electra
          • Odysseus eats dinner three times within one day
          • ages are highly inconsistent esp Neoptolemus (born just before the war yet already an adult? son of Achilles but only about a decade younger than him?)
          • Question of Penelope - book 19 & 23 are inconsistent
      • unitarian interpretation
        • all masterpieces are written by single individuals
        • consistent characterisation and epithets
    • The argument in favour
      • The women have power over the men - Penelope, Arete, Nausicaa, Helen, Eurycleia, Circe, Calypso
      • Men are caricatured - Polyphemus, Telemachus, Menelaus, the Suitors, Poseidon
      • In literature most powerful women are also evil (Medea, Clytemnestra, Lady Macbeth); most good women are meek and submissive (endless examples - Lavinia, Polyxena, Dickens' women (e.g. Lucie from A Tale of Two Cities)
        • Female literature - Elizabeth Bennet, Jo March - breaks that trend
          • Tess of the D'Urbevilles?
      • Difference from the Iliad
    • Counter-argument
      • Treatment of infidelity - very much male gaze
      • Odysseus is not caricatured
      • Melantho, hanging of the maids as punishment for being ***** (Rieu does use this word) and Penelope's failure to intervene
      • Iliad is a story of war - Odyssey a story of weird foreign islands and how strange non-Greeks are
        • Compare to Herodotus and his depiction of Persian women - powerful women presented as exotic, not a good thing
      • part when Circe begs for mercy and asks Odysseus to sleep with her; part when Penelope begs for mercy


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