In reading Homer's The Odyssey, in order to answer the question of how Homer portrays the women in this epic, we must first determine exactly what the roles of women were and discover Homer's portrayal of them. By drawing conclusions from the text about the views of women held by the author, a bigger picture of the role of women in ancient Greek culture can be drawn. In The Odyssey we learn that women were placed on pedestals, as beautiful creatures, but were often subordinate to men, meaning they had little input and involvement in government, and often had to resort to deceit and trickery to get what they wanted.
The glorification of the appearances of women is well illustrated by the way that Athena speaks of the esteem the people hold for Arete, when speaking to Odysseus in Phaeacia. "No lady in the world, no other mistress if a man's household, is honored as our mistress is, and loved, by her own children, by Alcinous, and by the people. When she walks the town murmur and gaze, as though she were a goddess. No grace or wisdom fails in her; indeed just men in quarrels come to her for equity" (Homer p.274). They think this highly of her, and yet, she is a subordinate of Alcinous. Arete is a very powerful woman. She is as powerful as the king, yet he gives orders to Arete, calling her "Lady" (Homer p.292), but commanding her to bring things to make ready for the departure of Odysseus. .
Like Arete, who is said to look like a god, many other beautiful and high-born women are compared to the gods. " Penelope the Wise, tall in her beauty as Artemis or pale-gold Aphrodite, appeared from her high chamber and came down to throw her arms around her son" (Homer p.318).This adds to the glorification of women in The Odyssey. The beautiful Nausicaa is also hailed as a goddess. "Daughter of great Alkinoos, Nausicaa, may Zeus the lord of thunder, Hera's consort; grant me daybreak again in my own country! But there and all my days until I die may I invoke you as I would a goddess, princess, to whom I owe my life" (Homer p.