Arjun Guha Classical Literature 1
Women in Greek Society
The myths of the ancient Greeks are considered to be some of the greatest literary achievements of western culture. These tales allow us to look into the greatest minds of the ancient world. Myths help us comprehend what Greek society was truly like, by allowing us to understand the principles upon which it was built. The depiction of women in Greek mythology tells us much about the social status of women, and the treatment women received on behalf of their male counterparts.
Although Cupid and Psyche is a happier myth compared to The Quest of the Golden Fleece, it still contains many gender stereotypes. These gender stereotypes help us better understand the place of women in ancient Greece. As demonstrated in this myth, the main role of a wife in Greek society is to serve as the caretaker. Once Psyche and Cupid are formally wed, Venus no longer worries about mortals neglecting her because of Psyche’s beauty. She does not worry because she knows Psyche would not have the time to go down to earth now that she had an obligation as a mother. According to this myth, it would appear that being a hero or savior is only a job reserved for the men. Just as the damsel in distress Psyche is about to pass away due to a deadly languor, the masculine hero cupid dramatically saves her from death at the last second. Although Cupid scolds Psyche for her curiosity, he does not realize that he caused this frightening chain of events. As a woman, Psyche felt pressured to remain beautiful in front of her husband. “She knew quite as well as Venus did that her looks were not improved by what she had gone through, and always in her mind was the though that she would suddenly meet Cupid!” (Hamilton 104) This need to maintain her beauty resulted in her opening the box, and this allowed the frightening...
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