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2. The World of Women in Homer
About this Lecture
In this module, we think about the lives and experience of women as they are depicted in the Iliad and Odyssey. In particular, we think about: (i) how the textual history of Iliad and Odyssey extends the ‘historical context’ of the poem across several centuries; (ii) the different words used for women in Homeric Greek (e.g. parthenos, korē, gunē, etc.) and what they might imply about the role of women in the Iliad and Odyssey; (iii) the importance of women as possessions to be exchanged between men, especially in times of war; (iv) the dependence of women on men – their fathers, husbands – even their sons; (v) the importance of women to the family, especially in terms of childbirth; and (vi) the importance of women in funerary ritual, and especially the (public) lament over the body of a slain hero.
In this course, Dr Emily Hauser (University of Exeter) explores the status and role of women in the Iliad and the Odyssey. In the first module, we think about why women matter in Homer, and the difficulty of recovering the experience of ancient women from the literary and archaeological record. In the second module, we think about the lives and experience of women as they are presented in the Homeric epics – including the centrality of marriage and childbirth, their dependence on their male relatives, and the behaviours expected of them in public and in private. In the third module, we think about the role of Helen in the Iliad, before turning in the fourth module to the role of Helen in the Odyssey. Finally, in the fifth module, we turn the role of Odysseus’ wife, Penelope, in the Odyssey.
Note: Translations of Homer are taken from Richmond Lattimore's Iliad of Homer (1951) and Odyssey of Homer (1967), unless otherwise specified.
Dr Emily Hauser is Senior Lecturer in Classics and Ancient History at the University of Exeter, and the author of an acclaimed trilogy of novels reworking the women of Greek myth, including For the Most Beautiful (2016, Penguin Random House). She has written articles on gender in Homer, women poets in antiquity and their reception in contemporary women’s writing; she also co-edited Reading Poetry, Writing Genre: English Poetry and Literary Criticism in Dialogue with Classical Scholarship (2018, Bloomsbury). Her latest books are Ancient Love Stories (2023, Bonnier) and How Women Became Poets: A Gender History of Greek Literature (2023, Princeton).
Cite this Lecture
Hauser, E. (2019, December 02). Homer: Women - The World of Women in Homer [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/homer-women/the-world-of-women-in-homer
Hauser, E. "Homer: Women – The World of Women in Homer ." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 02 Dec 2019, https://www.massolit.io/courses/homer-women/the-world-of-women-in-homer