My study focuses on the twelve handmaidens in Book 22 of Homer’s Odyssey. The purpose of my study is to understand the enigma behind the slaughter of the handmaidens, and how their lack of justice represents the treatment towards women in ancient Greece. Women were seen as property, belonging to the household controlled by her husband or master. Under this system women did not have the right to choose, so girls had to remain virgins until they were married. If the girl had been seduced or assaulted before her transition to womanhood, she would have failed the system and be punished with death. Some maidens will be transformed into nature or monsters, and others will die by hanging. By cutting off a woman’s voice or transforming her in a wild thing is a tool of oppression used in Greek mythology. I pose that the execution scene in the Odyssey has a deep rooted meaning in its history of female oppression.


Rhyan, Dianna


Classical Studies


Ancient History, Greek and Roman through Late Antiquity | Classical Literature and Philology | Fiction | Poetry

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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