In Greece during the time The Odyssey took place, around 500 B. they believed in a patriarchal society, when in reality it was really matriarchal. The role that women play in the epic poem is one of power over men. The ascribed rule, that prevailed saying that women led Greek society, that was so dominant during the time that Homer wrote this epic poem is also a central focus throughout The Odyssey.
In The Odyssey, there are four types of women: the good hostess, the goddess, the temptress, and the concubine. A prime example of a good hostess would be Penelope. She is not sure whether or not Odysseus is coming home. "If he returned, if he were here to care for me, I might be, I might be happily renowned"(Book 19:135). Penelope yearns for the day when Odysseus will return from his journey, however, Penelope has a predicament. Suitors have taken over her house and they want her to choose one of them to be her husband. In addition, they have taken advantage of her and her son, Telemachus", hospitality. "She wept for Odysseus, her husband till Athena cast sweet sleep upon her eyes"(Book 19:645).
Another example of a good hostess would be Nausicaa. She is the daughter of generous King Alcinous. She tells her maids "here's an unlucky wanderer strayed our way and we must tend him well. Every stranger and beggar comes from Zeus, and whatever scrap we give him he"ll be glad to get. Give our guest some food and drink and take him into the river, wherever you find some shelter from the wind"(Book 6:218). Nausicaa befriended Odysseus while he was there. She helped him out when she did not really have to. "The white-armed princess thought of one last thing. Folding the clothes, she packed them into her painted wagon"(Book 6:277). She was also taken with him because she wanted Odysseus to go with her into town to "see my wise father's palace, where I promise you, you"ll meet al the best Paeacians"(Book 6:282).