Final Exam Question

In the epilogue to Women in Greek Myth, Mary Lefkowitz writes the following:

The myths portray with sympathy the life of young women and their fear of marriage and the separation from their own families that it will bring. But at the same time, myth portrays marriage and motherhood, with all the difficulties they involve, as the conditions most women desire, and in which women can be best respected by society and happiest in themselves. On occasion, myths show women advising male rulers and even taking over some of their responsibilities; when faced with serious moral decisions, these women take courageous action, even at the cost of their own lives, and win admiration. But other myths warn of women's ability to deceive men and betray their trust, particularly in the effect of sexual passion on their minds. What the myths themselves seem not to describe, at any time or place, is the possibility of true independence for women, apart from their families or society as a whole. There are in myth no successful communities of women apart from men, or conditions in which women continuously dominated over the other members of society.

To what extent to you agree or disagree with Lefkowitz' description of women in Greek myth? In your answer you must cite numerous examples of women in myth from course readings to support your statements. You should address at least the following topics discussed by Lefkowitz: Amazons, the powers of the primeval goddesses, heroic women in Greek epic, chosen women, seduction and rape, women without men, influential women, and misogyny. Readings to which you should make direct reference in your answer include: Hesiod, Sappho, Simonides, the Homeric Hymns to Aprhodite and Demeter, Euripides' Hippolytus, Bacchae, and Alcestis, Sophocles' Antigone, and Aeschylus' Oresteia (Agamemnon, Libation Bearers, and Eumenides).