Gender Equality

A review of Homer’s The Iliad, illustrating the theme of gender equality.

This paper analyzes that attitude of society towards woman at the time that The Iliad was written. It shows how Homer echoes his culture’s conception of women as being quite necessary in the lives of men, but always essentially insubstantial in their own right. Men look upon women as their property. Women are valuable, beautiful, desirable, and useful, but owned. Women do not seek nor expect gender equality.
“As shown by the Athens reform laws of 600-500 B.C. women in this society have no status as persons or citizens. These laws don’t even mention women. Four categories of male citizens are defined and the laws require men to teach their sons a trade, but women, being totally subjected to men are not legally recognized.

Outside the purview of The Iliad, we have the evidence of the female poet Sappho to confirm how Greek women value love above all and to reveal the strong power desire has over females:
my tongue broken, a delicate fire runs under my skin,my eyes see nothing, my ears roar,
cold sweat rushes down me,

Sappho also describes poetically how Helen slavishly leaves the best man of all to run away with Paris, leaving behind her beloved children and her parents to be with the man she loves. Sappho describes precisely the extreme difference in attitude between males and females.”