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Femme Fatale as Portrayed in Homer’s “The Odyssey”

There are a lot of stereotypes for women. Most of these associations are negatively direct towards them. One example of such stereotype is the notion that women are an inferior group as compared to men. With this kind of stereotype, interaction between men and women are being affected. Women’s status in the society is also being affected. This notion also triggers abuse against women as well as their rights. In the past, women are being seen today according to this stereotype. However, it seems that these negative stereotypes are being erased today.

Women are now being perceived with equal abilities and rights of men. They are no longer associated only to beauty and weakness. Instead, they are being seen as women who possess both beauty and power. By possessing both beauty and power, women could be totally dangerous, thus the idea of femme fatale was created. This is the unique ability of women to use their beauty in gaining power, most especially to men who got attracted by their charm. In the end, these women bring danger and misfortunes to those bewitched by their beauty.

Such kind of women was portrayed by the Greek tragedy writer Homer in his work entitled “The Odyssey”. With the use of the characters of Circe, Siren, and Calypso, Homer was able to project perfect examples of femme fatale. In the story of “The Odyssey”, Odysseus, the main character was in his voyage back to his homeland after the Trojan War. In this specific war, Odysseus had blinded one of the eyes of Polyphemus. He is one of the sons of Poseidon, the god of sea. Because of the misfortune of his son, Poseidon wanted to get revenge.

He interfered the voyage of Odysseus knowing that the latter travels by sea. Because of these, Odysseus spent nineteen years wandering as a refugee. During these years, Odysseus met several women that are considered as femme fatale. First on the list of these women is Circe. In the book, Homer described her as a beautiful sea witch. Odysseus, together with his crew, was washed ashore into Circe’s island, Aeaea. Circe immediately interacted with them, giving them wine, food, and shelter. When she saw Odysseus, Circe immediately wanted the latter to be with her.

She encouraged Odysseus and his crew not to return to their homes and wives. When they hesitated, Circe transformed the crew into swine. Although Circe was a witch, she is not portrayed as an ugly, old woman that is commonly associated to the word ‘witch’. In fact, Circe possesses so much beauty and charm. She lives in the middle of the forest exposed in the wildlife. Because of her great charm, she could as well enchant wild animals in the forest. This same charm led Odysseus into Circe’s arms. Odysseus finally gave in to Circe’s request.

He lived with her in her island for a year. There, Odysseus spent the days having erotic interactions with Circe. However, after a year, Odysseus’s crew demanded for their return to Ithaca and so Odysseus left Circe. After leaving Circe’s island, Odysseus happened to encounter the Siren. These beautiful and enchanting women also use their charm to attract men. Specifically, the Siren uses their beautiful voices so as to attract men. Their beautiful voices hypnotize men, instructing them to come with them under the sea.

As a return, these men will eventually die right after they followed the Siren. In the case of “The Odyssey”, Odysseus was able to pass under the spell of the Siren. But still, the power of the Siren relies with their physical beauty. Finally, Calypso was the woman who held Odysseus for the longest time. For seven years, Odysseus lived with her in her island, Ogygia. What did Calypso do in order to hold Odysseus for such a long time? In the Greek epic, Calypso was described by Homer as “a nymph, immortal and most beautiful, who craved Odysseus for her own.

” Although beautiful, people were afraid to go in Calypso’s island because of the humor that all men who attempts to be in that island could not return to their wives anymore. When Odysseus was washed ashore to Calypso’s island, the beautiful nymph immediately fell for him. It was the beauty and charm of Calypso that enchanted the epic hero. But aside from this, the very accommodating attitude of Calypso led Odysseus to live with her for such a long time. Calypso has spoiled Odysseus very much, offering him everything a man could need. Calypso even offered him immortality.

With these temptations, Calypso was truly a powerful deity. However, when Odysseus did not comply with her request of staying with her, Calypso became violent. They even came to a point of fighting. It was only when Hermes arrived and ordered Calypso to release Odysseus that the issue resolved. Based on these three characters of Homer, we could conclude that women were able to gain power over men when they possess irresistible beauty and charm. Odysseus got trapped with Circe, the Siren, and Calypso because of their incomparable beauty.

With this, it can also be concluded that one of the most powerful assets of women is their beauty. However, it should be noted that the three mentioned women got their strength not because they completely want to gain power. From the book, we could say that what drives them to use their charm over men is love. Circe, for example, wants Odysseus very much and so she became selfish from giving him his freedom. The same thing happens with Calypso. She deeply wants to keep Odysseus for the rest of her life, insensitive of Odysseus’ feelings. From this, Circe and Calypso got their power.

Works Cited

Clayton, Barbara. A Penelopean Poetics: Reweaving the Feminine in Homer’s Odyssey. US: Lexington Books, 2004 Homer. The Odyssey. Translated by Jack McDevitt. US: Ace Books, 2006. Johnson, Claudia Durst. Understanding The Odyssey. US: Greenwood Publishing Company, 2003 Rhoades, Roxanne. The Roles of Women in The Odyssey. 4 November 2004. Retrieved on 9 July 2008. http://www. associatedcontent. com/article/12677/the_roles_of_women_in_the_odyssey. html Homer’s Women: Why did it take Odysseus 19 Years to Get Home from Troy? Retrieved on 10 July 2008. http://www. sexualfables. com/homers_women. php

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