Sorry ladies. You’re not gonna like this one.
You know those women in the Odyssey? The ones who pop up everywhere? They’re not just women
in this poem. They’re seductresses. I hardly expected a poem by an ancient Greek
to be a shining example of feminism. But I also didn’t expect him to turn almost all
his female characters into seductresses—and then to make seductresses into a motif. Let’s check out the roster, shall we? There’s Circe, the witch-goddess, who turns
half of Odysseus’ crew into swine, and whose trickery Odysseus escapes only because the
god Hermes helps him out. There’s the nymph, Kalypso, who ensnares Odysseus
and prevents him from returning home until the gods intervene. And there are the sirens with their achingly
beautiful songs, songs which nearly make Odysseus forget his main purpose—you know, his homecoming. Even Odysseus’s wife, Penelope, uses her feminine
wiles to get what she wants. She holds off the suitors by convincing them she has a weaving
project to finish. And though she weaves all day, she unravels what she’s done each night. In every example of this motif, it’s the woman’s
irresistible charms that lead either to a man’s downfall, or, in the case of Odysseus,
yet another delay.