homer tnOn the evening of 1st February, girls in the LV and LVI Greek sets and in the LVI Classical Civilisation set listened in by Zoom to a lecture on Women in The Odyssey given by Emily Hauser of Exeter University.

Emily considered the traditional view of women in a patriarchal world where Homer's Epics are written by men for men and how traditionally there is evidence that women were silenced and told to get on with women's work. Speech and words were for men only. The words were delivered by male characters and male bards. Women had to look after the oikos or home and were expected to keep quiet.

This was contrasted with the importance of women in developing the plot and the inherent themes of the Odyssey, such as goddess vs mortal, war vs peace, non-Greek vs Greek and faithful vs treacherous wives. At times women are given a voice, for example the sirens, or Circe's singing, or when Helen tells her own story in Book 4. This is striking as it is unusual. In modern times there have been so many novels retelling these stories from the female perspective precisely because it is intriguing to think what they might have thought and said if only they had had the chance. Emily's own works of For the Most Beautiful, and For the Winner, along with books by Madeleine Millar, Pat Barker, Natalie Haynes and Margaret Attwood are all recommended for anyone interested in looking at traditional literature from the female perspective.

Mrs Elizabeth Rothwell, Head of Classics