The society develops, progresses in all spheres of activity, however, at the same time, produces certain behaviors and related stereotypes, corresponding to a popular worldview. Gender relations during each cultural epoch formed an appropriate worldview, producing and perpetuating gender stereotypes, using feminine and masculine personality characteristics. So, antiquity formed a patriarchal worldview, which is still relevant to the present day, however, the democratic tendencies in the modern society have led to the emergence of gender studies, which help the society to overcome certain gender conventions and stereotypes that prevalent in the minds of the society for centuries. Therefore antiquity is an important step in the formation of gender relations and of gender stereotypes in the society as a whole.
Considering the Homeric epic we can talk about the basic notions in his world of gender characteristics, namely, that the power is the prerogative of the male and female gender is an image of a woman as a mother, a keeper of the family hearth. But on the other hand, men and women in The Iliad used to try on and take the gender roles of each other. An echo of the Archaic in Homeric epic can assume the fact of Hera’s constant desire to rule and to dominate. Definitely she did not win such disputes, because of the rapid establishment of patriarchal attitudes. We can say that such qualities as courage, determination, strength, that usually considered being masculine, may be inherent to a woman.
Another character is Athena. She is a goddess of warfare and courage. She is depicted as an androgynous and has qualities more of a man than a woman: “Athena merged in the Trojan columns like a fighter, like Antenor’s son the rugged spearman Laodocus” (Fagles, p 148) Athena's masculinity might be considered as an honorable trait of character as Homer compares her to a powerful man-warrior.
The character in whom feminine traits prevail is Paris. Initially he is portrayed as a timid, weak and handsome boy, who does not fit into the socially-established male concept. From all the presents that the goddesses Hera, Athena and Aphrodite offered him – the power over a country, the victories and military glory – he chooses a woman. Also he finds an easier way to get Helena – he steals her instead of fighting for her as a man and a warrior.
Homer., Robert Fagles, and Bernard MacGregor Walker Knox. The Iliad. New York: Penguin Books, 1991. Print.