In, "The Odyssey," Homer includes many female characters, which orchestrate key roles in the epic poem. Athena had Odysseus' back throughout his journeys and offers him assistance when he needs it most; Calypso and the Sirens attempt to taunt and entrap Odysseus and distract him from his goals; and Penelope is a clever and cunning woman who represents Odysseus' entire journey and what he is fighting for. Female figures play an important role in The Odyssey and reflect a complex, broad view of womanhood on Homer's part.
Athena always has Odysseus' back. When Zeus questions Odysseus, she asks, "Are you not moved by this, Lord of Olympus? Had you no pleasure from Odysseus' offerings beside the Argive ships, on Troy's wide seaboard? O Zeus, what do you hold against him now?" (Book 1, Lines 1-4) Athena attempts to protect Odysseus from the many dangers he faces, such as the wrath of Poseidon, which he receives after he taunts the Cyclops. Even when he does not know it, Athena is watching over him. "While over him Athena showered sleep that his distress should end, and soon, soon. In quiet sleep, she sealed his cherished eyes," (Book 5, Lines 91-93). When Odysseus returns to Ithaca, he has to fight off all of the suitors to get to Penelope and take back his home. Athena disguises him as an old beggar to help him get past the suitors and when he gets to Penelope, she turns Odysseus back into himself and even makes him more handsome. Athena is just one example of the power women had over Odysseus during his journey home.
On the island of Ogygia, Calypso entraps Odysseus for seven years by seducing him with love and affection. When the gods intervene and tell Calypso that Odysseus must leave, she attempts to lure and distract him by offering him marriage to her and immortality, "If you could see it all, before you go-all the adversity you face at sea-you would stay here, and guard this house, and be immortal-though you wanted her forever, that bride for whom you pine each day.