Every year by spring break, I have at least one school subject that needs catching up on.
The subject this year is Classical Literature. Basically all I need to do is finish the Phaedo by Plato, read a couple of Greek tragedies, and begin Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra by Shakespeare. There are several reasons why I am so behind. I think they’re fairly good reasons. One of the main reasons is that I am really good at guessing on tests and getting a fine score. Let’s be clear: I did not cheat on any of the tests.
I didn’t get behind because I don’t like reading Classical Literature. I do, which is why I’m catching up on it. But there is one main thing that I don’t like about it: the portrayal of women of Ancient Greece.
When I condensed The Iliad and Odyssey, I talked about how the men thought that they owned women. The whole Iliad story happens because Achilleus and Agamemnon were fighting over a girl. Even Odysseus, who is probably the nicest Greek, isn’t pure.
When he was returning home, he had affairs with a whole bunch of women. It took him 20 years to get home and all that time Penelope, his wife, remained faithful, even though it was very, very, very hard. Everyone pressured her into getting married again, but she waited for Odysseus. When he finally came home, he told her all about everything that had happened to him. Did Penelope disgustedly say, “And I waited 20 miserable years for you! I wish I had gotten married again when everyone thought you were dead!”? No, she did not. She said, “Oh! you are so manly and popular. I am the luckiest woman alive to still have you as my husband!” Penelope is the epitome of the perfect woman in Ancient Greece.
I personally like Klytemnestra better. She was Agamemnon’s wife. Before Agamemnon went to Troy, he sacrificed his daughter to have fair winds. He tricked her by saying that she could get married to one of the Greek heroes. She was all dressed up for her wedding day and then was killed by her father. Obviously, Klytemnestra was very angry that her daughter was dead. When Agamemnon came home, he expected to be welcomed as a hero. He came to Klytemnestra all happy and introduced her to his new girlfriend. I do believe that Agamemnon may have been the dumbest jerk in all of antiquity. He survived 10 years of battle but was killed in a bathtub by his wife. I say it served him right! At least Klytemnestra had a sense of justice! She avenged her daughter and her honor and everyone else Agamemnon had been a jerk to, and that was quite a lot of people. This is her:
Ok, she’s not exactly a role model. But if she were a man in Ancient Greece, she would have been celebrated as someone with a great sense of honor and justice. She would have been a hero… like Agamemnon. I know this as a fact because when her son murders her to avenge his father, he is celebrated for getting rid of the worst woman in Ancient Greece.
I am so happy that I do not live then.
Anyway, it’s about time I got back to catching up with school before spring break is over. I hope you have been inspired to read Classical literature.
And if you are not, I don’t really blame you.