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Role of Men versus Women in Greek Mythology Discussion

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Classical Literature and Mythology
Discussion #3
Discuss the role of men versus women in Greek mythology. Use at least two
examples from the Greek mythology chapters to write about - a hero and a heroine.
Were women and men equal in Greek mythology? Why or why not? Write at least
two paragraphs.
The roles of men and women in Greek mythology are interesting to look at when seeing
how they can affect the Greek myths as a whole. It is clear in Classical Mythology how much of
a dichotomy there was between the men and women in the stories. Each gender had specific
roles and each gender was treated very differently, even heroes and heroines. The following
discussion will assess the differences between the roles of men and women in Greek mythology
as well as analyze how men and women were treated differently and whether or not either gender
was treated equally or not.
The male gender in Greek mythology was portrayed in a positive light. This positive light
was typically shown through male heroes. Male heroes were typically pulled in two directions.
They were either pulled “toward the fulfillment of their godlike capacity to excel on one hand,
and toward the expression of their instinctive savagery or violence on the other” (Harris and
Platzner 275). Male heroes are described as having roles that involve protecting society and they
typically bestow great bravery and courage to defend against societal enemies. Male heroes also
“embody the ideal of the warrior that most young boys would aspire to emulate” (Harris and
Platzner 309). Women had a completely different set of roles in Greek mythology, and not
necessarily good ones. Compared to men, “women [were] rarely held up as models for young
girls, `and even more rarely for the same qualities of strength and courage that the male heroes
displayed. Nor do the heroines often go on quests or engage in combat with monsters or gods”
(309). There were many different roles for heroine women, including mother or wife, helper-
maiden, hero-impersonator, victorious heroine, and “bride of death” (Harris and Platzner 322).
Women were undermined in Greek culture and mythology. They were seen as beautiful
distractions to heroes and hidden were their malicious intentions on the inside. Often in the
Greek myths, females were the undoing of a hero’s set journey and objectives. “In Greek
mythology, as in Greek mythology, the male clearly is the norm” (Harris and Platzner 313). Even
Hesiod describes the “’damnable race of women’ as if they are less than fully human artificial
creatures, attractive on the outside but serving to undermine the world of men” (313). It is clear
from these distinctions between men and women that women were not seen as equals to men, as
seen through how Hesiod saw women.
One hero described in Classical Mythology is Perseus, who seems to go against the
typical view and roles of Greek men and women. Instead of women having a role of being his
undoing, Perseus has women in his life that instead help him on his quests and assist him in
achieving success: “Whereas other heroes often have difficulties in their encounters with women,
whether human or divine, Perseus performs all if his exploits either with the aid of or on behalf
of women” (Harris and Platzner 282). Apart from this, Perseus also “derives his power directly
from females, who give him magical weapons” (Harris and Platzner 286).

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Classical Literature and Mythology Discussion #3 Discuss the role of men versus women in Greek mythology. Use at least two examples from the Greek mythology chapters to write about - a hero and a heroine. Were women and men equal in Greek mythology? Why or why not? Write at least two paragraphs. The roles of men and women in Greek mythology are interesting to look at when seeing how they can affect the Greek myths as a whole. It is clear in Classical Mythology how much of a dichotomy there was between the men and women in the stories. Each gender had specific roles and each gender was treated ...
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