How does an immortal/mortal man treat their women? Their enemies women? | Academics 2016

(This is my first draft, any feedback is very much appreciated.)

The relationship between men and women are varied, depending on the culture, era and even upbringing. Some view women as the lesser sex, insisting on their dominance and authority. There are of course, men who see women as equals, with the same power and capabilities they have. In this essay, I would like to discuss how, in Iliad, immortal or mortal man treat their women and their enemies' women, detailing an argument that is as old as time itself.

The Iliad starts out with a fight between Achilles and Agamemnon over a girl, which leads to a break in their friendship and Achilles's desertion of the Greeks. Throughout the Iliad, the male and female interaction are few, but notable. In Book 1, we see how the captured women are treated -- as nothing more but prizes that can be traded or passed between two masters. Chryseis, being the daughter of a priest, was saved this fate by having Apollo on her side, but in return, we witnessed Briseis taking her place as Agamemnon's war prize. Do take note of how Achilles reacts to this as well; although he is unwilling, he gives up Briseis, nit because he wanted to protect her or because he values her, but because it would be a blow to his ego to surrender and pay for a sin he didn't commit. In the same book, we also see the relationship of male immortals with female immortals, particularly Zeus and Hera. While it is not blatantly mentioned, we can deduce that they are, in a way, husband and wife. This is supported by the other gods and goddesses referring to them and father and mother. Their relationship seems to be rocky at most, with Hera being a jealous and suspicious woman, and Zeus being dismissive and dominating. It comes to a point that Zeus had to threaten Hera and remind him of how much greater his power is over her. The said claim is supported by Hephaestus's statement too.

Going into Book 3, we encounter Menelaus, Helen and Paris. Menelaus, King of Sparta and rightful husband to Helen, goes to war against Troy, a city that has taken the Greek nearly ten years to subdue. The war is to recover Helen from Paris who has stolen her from Sparta. This is where we are shown either men's attitude towards Helen, their beloved. Menelaus steps up to fight for her, while Paris retreats in fear of Menelaus' righteous wrath. A good question to ask here is this; does Helen's Greek citizenship and bloodline determine who fights for her? Menelaus being Greek as well, is all out with the effort to recover her while Paris of Troy shows doubt and willingness to even face the opposing man for her. Is this a pattern we shall begin to see all throughout the poem? Protect our women and possessions at all costs while leave the enemies' women out in the open, treat them as slaves, as things?

We also see a bit of Zeus' affection for Hera, when we see Paris' escape with the help of Aphrodite. Zeus sends Athena to start the war again, because Hera will not settle for a mere truce. Hera wants Troy burned to the ground and Zeus, in a way grants her request.In the next books the war continue to gather intensity, so much so that the gods interfere and even take part in the war. Particularly in Book 5, we see a father-daughter relationship between Zeus and Aphrodite when the latter is wounded. Zeus warns Aphrodite not to engage in warfare, as she is after all, not a warrior god.

Book 6 features one of the fiercest Trojan heroes, Hector in a completely different light away from the war scene. He turns into an affectionate husband and father, meeting his wife and son, Andromache and Astyanax on top on the Scaean Gates. Judging from his wife's reaction with his insistence of returning to war, we can glimpse and perhaps assume that they have a mutual loving relationship. The setting of their meeting also gives us a minute hint of how important this relationship is. The Scaean Gates is the entrance of Troy, overlooking the carnage. Andromache requests that Hector retreat from battle and just live peacefully as a family, but Hector declines the request, causing Andromache to mourn for a death yet to happen.

The next installment introduces us to the desperation of both parties to end the war, with the Trojans proposing to the Greeks; an offer that ultimately, shows Helen not as a person but as a commodity that can be traded or replaced with war prizes. This further supports the idea that the enemies' women are not people -- rather, they are possessions that can be pawned, raped or maybe even murdered.

In Book 8, we are privileged enough to be shown how soft a goddess' heart can be, and how fierce a god's warning is. Hera and Athena want to aid the Greeks, but unlike previous occasions, Zeus does not permit them to interfere. We can interpret this an Zeus being a god, and not as a partner or father. With Zeus's ultimatum as well, it supports Zeus' shift of roles -- he is showing Hera and Athena that although we have a relationship, I am still your master. The two goddesses silent agreement seals the deal even more.

With these details, I believe I can safely deduce that the treatment of women, whether by mortal or immortal men will greatly depend on which side the woman is on. Be on the same side and I will treat you as my equal, or if not, provide you protection and have a care for you. Be on the opposing side and you are no more than a prize, something I can show and throw away if I tire of you.

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