Here I accept the view of Chamberlain, 1984, that prohairesis entails
a process of choosing a course of action and sustaining commitment to that
course of action. Perception (aisthēsis), reason (dianoia or nous), and desire
(orexis) play roles in the process.
At Politics 1.5 1260a21-24 Aristotle says that the sŋphrosynē of men
and women differs, and that women need courage only for obedience.
For a recent discussion of the legal position of Attic women, see Just, 1991.
Melanippe's speech seems to have contained a knowledge of science
and philosophy inappropriate for a woman ( Poetics 15.8-9, 1454a). Apparently Aristotle disapproves of behavior in a tragic character that he would
have disapproved and/or found to lack verisimilitude in a real woman.
I address these issues in tragedy in a forthcoming paper.
One exception, addressed later in this chapter, is that Penelope does
not have any moral soliloquies. See Russo, 1968, 280-94 on the way that the Odyssey's typical scenes of deliberation depart in certain respects from those
in the Iliad; in particular, decisions in the Odyssey are only exceptionally
resolved by divine intervention.
See, e.g., 16.73 and 19.524 of Penelope, 9.299-306 and 20.9-13 of Odysseus.
See further Schein, Chapter 2, this volume.
It is also said that Odysseus left Mentor to oversee his oikos (2.226),
but Mentor has apparently not exercised whatever authority he may have in
this circumstance. As the assembly in Book 2 makes clear, the community is
in general helpless to oppose the Suitors.
For a discussion, see Katz, 1991, on both Klytaimestra and Helen.
Adkins, 1960, 37, remarks that aretē in Homeric women is defined
by men and entails the "quiet" or cooperative virtues. Because they are not
called on to defend the household, they do not need competitive virtues. "As
a result, Homeric women may be effectively censured for actions which
Homeric heroes have a strong claim to be allowed to perform." The women
of the Odyssey are self-conscious about such public opinion. Nausikaa seeks
to compromise between her social obligations to the shipwrecked Odysseus
and her reputation; she would chastise an unwed girl who consorted with
men (6.286). Public opinion is a factor in Penelope's decision concerning
remarriage (16.75; 19.527), and the people criticize her when they think she
has chosen to do so (23.149-51).