Final Exam Question
In the epilogue to Women in Greek Myth, Mary Lefkowitz writes
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,