During the Trojan War, women faced a lot of difficulties. In this paper, we pay attention to the effects of the war on the life of women. This essay compares the image of the women in the literary works and art. It examines the Iliad and the Trojan Women as well as such paintings as Andromache and Astyanax and The Trojan Women Setting Fire to Their Fleet. It is important to assess the role of women during the time of war.
Euripides’ Trojan Women is a part of a trilogy of the plays that describe the Trojan War. Euripides’ work is based not on the epics of Troy, but the Iliad of Homer. In his Trojan Women, Euripides gives an interpretation of Homer's Iliad. Someone may argue that the Iliad focuses on males; however, it is only partially true. It is not just a story of the war and the violence of men; it is also a story of women as well. However, the emphasis of the Iliad lies on males. From time to time, Homer draws his attention to the women. Opposed to Homer, Euripides places women in the centre of the book.
Women play an essential role in Troy. The authors describe them as the wives and mothers who were waiting for their husbands and sons from the war. They clearly depict such Trojan women as Andromache and Hecuba. Unfortunately, the women could not change their destiny; they suffered the fate of the passive victims of war. The women were less lucky than men. The males had the possibility to fight against the enemy; however, the women could easily become the victims of the enemies.
Female characters from the Iliad appear in Euripides’ Trojan Women and show what happened to them. After the deaths of their husbands, the Trojan women had no other choice but to become the property of the winners. For example, Andromache predicted her fate after Hector’s death.
In his Iliad, Homer depicted the war as the end of the world.The destruction of Troy affected the bitter destiny of the women characters of Homer’s work.
Homer portrays Hecuba in a distinctive manner. First of all, he associates the woman with suffering. For example, the scene in which she saw that Achilles killed her son Hector is impressive. Hecuba became a slave with the shaved head. However, it is not the end, just the bedinning of suffering. The image of Cassandra is also interesting; being raped, she became Agamemnon’s concubine.
The Iliad as well as Trojan Women is interesting when speaking about such themes as war and women. In the Iliad, Homer depicted the war truly as it was indeed. He neither increased nor diminished the impact of the war. The women had various roles in terms of war. They were victims, trophies, and slaves for the enemies. Sometimes, they were the partners and friends of their husbands. Anyway, they were the sufferers. Sometimes, the women needed to fight and protect their homes and be the witnesses of many deaths.
Speaking about the Iliad, it is important to summarize the role of the women in Homer’s poem. Firstly, the women were responsible for the reproduction as it was their initial and essenmtial ability to give the birth to children who would be useful for the society. Secondly, the females were the profitable commodity for the males. Sadly, but in his poem, Homer depicted women as the prizes or trophies. The women were good at some production such as the needlecraft or weaving. The women also keep the memory of the male's success; they were like the shadows of their men. For example, Hector once said Andromache that some day the people would see her crying and notice that she was the wife of Hektor, the mighty fighter of the Trojans, breaker of the horses. It shows the readers once again how much pain the women carried (Maureen 289).
Euripides dramatizes the consequences of the war in the Trojan Women. In their monologues and dialogues, the women ironize the advantages of the war. For example, Cassandra interprets the Greek victory in a new manner. Greek victory means defeat, while Trojan one win means the loss. The Greeks won at too great cost. The main achievement was to make Troy outstanding and glorious. If the Greeks had not ruined Troy, Hector would not be famous. As Hecuba noticed at the end, in case the gods had not destroyed it, all the Trojans would have disappeared in darkness (Euripides 137).
Hecuba might express some tiny optimism at the end; she could believe that there was something good in the war, that it brought the fame and magnificence to Troy. However, all of Hecuba's hopes for Troy’s glory and the life in Athens, Astyanax's future, and Helen's punishment soon disappeared.Andromache bitterly and truly claimed that there remained only one femalerole: to be a valuable prize.
In regard to the females’ roles in the Trojan Women, Euripides does not speak about the women’s abilities to give birth and produce the goods. The author points out that the women became slaves; that is why their task was to serve somebody. Hecuba and Andromache were not Trojans all the time. Previously, they belonged to their father's home. The only exception was Helen. She was the Spartan woman. She accepted Menelaus to her society. Euripides neglects Hecuba and Andromache's abilities to produce and reproduce. According to Euripides, the women lost their abilities to memorize their husbands as well. After the Greek victory, they are just the slaves, isolated and destroyed. Like in Cassandra's case, they become the commodity, just the prize for the winners (Euripides 158).
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Not only Hower and Euripides’ literary works are interesting in terms of the Trojan War and its consequences but also some other pieces of art that portray this event. It is interesting to compare the different images of the Trojan women in literature and art. As for me, they seem similar in all pieces of art.