Homophrosyne and women in the Iliad
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From its outset, the Iliad stitches women into the fabric of its story with purpose. How women relate to men is of paramount concern to the poem from the theft of Briseis in Bk. 1 to the closing laments of Bk. 24. Yet studies of men and women’s relationships have largely focused on relative positions of power or on the separation between male and female worlds. This study of male-female relationships of the Iliad takes its inspiration from Odysseus’ exhortation to Nausicaa in Odyssey 6. There the hero endorses ὁμοφροσύνη (“like-mindedness”) between a man and woman as an ideal for a successful relationship and well-maintained household. At its core, Odysseus’ recommendation calls for harmony between two people’s minds and thoughts; however, it does not provide a prescription for how that harmony may be achieved. This dissertation examines how Iliadic women interact with their men and discovers an array of relationships exhibiting what may be called a form of ὁμοφροσύνη, even amid disagreement and strain in a time of stress. In the Iliad, male-female relationships at their best are marked by a way of listening and communicating that helps to absorb or move past conflict and division, that expresses shared understanding, and that seeks out some form of resolution, even if that resolution proves ultimately impermanent. Since each pairing of characters is unique, so too is the manner in which characters attempt or express harmony with their partners. This like-mindedness (ὁμοφροσύνη), however, is not guaranteed to last, or even be present, nor does the poem give it the same compass in every pair. Sometimes we are shown a potential for ὁμοφροσύνη that does not or will not fully actualize, and sometimes we are made privy to the resonance or echoes of a past like-mindedness that is now in crisis. The chapters of this dissertation are arranged by the Iliad’s four central women. Chapter 1 discusses Hekabe’s interactions with Priam and Hector. Chapter 2 investigates Helen’s relationships with Priam, Paris, and Hector. Chapter 3 considers Andromache’s complex relationship with Hector. And Chapter 4 looks at Briseis’ relationships with Achilles and Patroclus.