The Secrets of the Odyssey (4): A Tribute to Penelope




While Odysseus, cursed by Poseidon, cannot find his way home and lives through a series of fantastical adventures, his wife Penelope is experiencing a deep wound of longing and despair. She is left to run the kingdom of Ithaca alone. At times she gives way to despair but she has an enormous ability to pull herself together and stay sober and level-headed amidst all the chaos and disarray of the suitors taking over her kingdom. The three epithets that Homer uses to describe her most frequently are “urbane”, “mentally present” and “thoughtful” or “wise.” While Odysseus sinks deeper and deeper into the inner world of his fantasy, she remains his anchor, a constant, a beacon, the safe harbor he hopes to reach one day.


Anthony Frederick Sandys, “Penelope”

Her name is hard to trace back etymologically, but apparently, and very significantly, it is connected with aquatic birds (species of…

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About Donna Mitchell-Moniak

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