Wednesday 6 May 2015


         In Greek mythology, Penelope was described as the daughter of Icarius of Sparta and the nymph Periboea and wife of the hero Odysseus. They had one son, Telemachus.

                                                                               When Helen was to be married, many suitors came from the whole of Greek, wishing to win her hand, and among them came Odysseus. King Tyndareus of Sparta, Helen's stepfather, feared then that the preference of one suitor might provoke the enmity of the others, and so Odysseus promised him that, if Tyndareus would help him to win the hand of  Helen's cousin Penelope, he would suggest a way by which there would be no dispute among the suitors. When Tyndareus agreed, promising to help him, Odysseus told him to exact an oath from all the suitors of Helen that they would defend the favoured bridegroom against any wrong that might be done him in respect of his marriage. So when Menelaus won the hand of Helen, all accepted it in virtue of the oath, and thus Odysseus married Penelope, who was the prize of such a wise advice.
                     According to some versions, Odysseus won Penelope in a foot-race for her wooers, organized by Icarius. Icarius gave his daughter in marriage to Odysseus, and  tried to make Odysseus settle in Lacedaemon. However, Odysseus refused, and he could not persuade Penelope either. So when the newly-weds set forth to Ithaca, the king followed the chariot begging her to stay. Odysseus ordered Penelope either to come with him willingly, or else go back with her father to Lacedaemon, if she preferred to do so.  Penelope did not reply, but instead covered her face with a veil, and by that sign they both understood that she wished to depart with her husband.
Odysseus and Penelope

                                                                       Odysseus, who was the king of Ithaca and the husband of a loving queen, not wishing to waste his life in wars and fights, decided to feign madness instead of honouring the oath of Tyndareus, and thereby join the alliance that was determined to sail against Troy in order to demand, either by persuasion or by force, the restoration of Helen and the property.
                                   Odysseus pretended to be crazy, put on a cap and yoked a horse and an ox to the plow. But Palamedes, who had come to Ithaca with Nestor and Menelaus in order to remind the king of his oath, snatched little Telemachus from Penelope's bosom or  from the cradle, and put him in front of the plow, forcing Odysseus to give up his pretence. In some versions, Palamedes threatened the child with his own sword, but in any case Odysseus was outwitted and had to join the alliance. However, clever Palamedes later paid with his own death for having spoiled Odysseus' sweet home life.
                          Penelope and Odysseus had spent together about a decade when the Trojan War broke up and Odysseus left. The war itself lasted ten years, but when it was over and nothing was known of him, a group of scoundrels known as the suitors of Penelope came to the palace wishing to marry the queen.
Penelope and the suitors.......

Penelope fooled them several years, declaring that she would marry one of them once she had completed the shroud of Laertes (father of Odysseus). However, Penelope had no intention of ever finishing her work, and so what she wove during the day, she unravelled by night. Until one of her maids reveals the secret, she unravels the piece that she has woven by day so that she will not have to give up hope for the return of her beloved husband and remarry.
Penelope and the suitors.......

So, realizing that they had been fooled by her in the course of several years, the suitors of Penelope decided that for as long as she maintained her attitude, they would continue to feast in the palace at the palace's expenses. Otherwise they used to amuse themselves in a free and easy way outside the palace with quoits and javelin-throwing, a nice and entertaining activity which they could consent to interrupt when supper was ready. Their banquets were prepared by slaughtering sheep, goats, hogs, and heifers from Odysseus' herd. And since banquets and music go together, there was always someone playing the lyre.

                             When Penelope's son Telemachus sailed to Pylos and Sparta in order to meet Nestor and Menelaus, with the hope of having news of his father.  The suitors of Penelope planned to slay Telemachus on his homeward way. However, Telemachus escaped the suitors of Penelope plot.
                                                  When Odysseus return, looking as a distressful beggar, limping along with the aid of his staff, Odysseus came to the palace, where only his old dog recognized him, dying immediately after having seen his master in the twentieth year.  Penelope sent for the beggar; for such a stranger who seemed to have traveled far, she thought, might have heard of her husband. And not recognizing Odysseus, but being impressed by the stranger, she told him the whole story of her misery, how she had fooled the suitors with the web, how they loaded her with reproaches on discovering her trick, and how now she would be forced by time and circumstances to take the sad step of marrying one of the scoundrels.
Odysseus and Penelope

Odysseus- the beggar  not wishing Penelope to know his identity yet, fabricated a tale about how he had met Odysseus, giving proof, through many details, of his truthfulness. Penelope ordered the maids to wash the visitor's feet, spread a bed for him, and the next morning give him a bath and rub him with oil, so that he would be ready to eat breakfast with Telemachus in the palace's hall. Euryclia, the nurse of both Odysseus and Telemachus, was appointed to wash the visitor's feet. Odysseus had an old scar just above the knee, and when the old woman passed her hands over the scar, she recognized the feel of it at once, and knew that this stranger was indeed Odysseus. However, he ordered her to keep silent.
Odysseus and Euryclia

           Penelope and Odysseus son,Telemachus, actually desired Penelope to remarry, for otherwise the suitors would eat up his estate. Penelope proposed a trial of strength, and that she was prepared to marry whichever among the suitors proved the best at stringing the bow and shooting an arrow.
Odysseus kills the suitors....

                                   Penelope delivered to her suitors the bow of Odysseus, saying that she would marry him who bent the bow. And when none of them could bend it, Odysseus took it and shot down the suitors during a great battle in the hall of the palace. This is how Odysseus, won his wife for a second time while she slept in her chamber upstairs.When the massacre was completed, Euryclia, following Odysseus' instructions, woke up Penelope with incredible words:

"Wake up, Penelope, dear child, and see a sight you have longed for all these many days. Odysseus has come home … and he has killed the rogues who turned his whole house inside out, ate up his wealth, and oppressed his son." 
Penelope and Euryclia

                    Penelope, thus taken out of her sleep, thought that her old servant had lost her brains, or that some god had performed the killing. But Euryclia told her about the scar, and nothing else could Penelope do but go downstairs and see with her own eyes what had happened by meeting her son Telemachus, the dead suitors, and the man who had killed them.

This was not what Telemachus had expected. For he had imagined that his mother would sit at his father's side, asking questions and talking. For after all, he reasoned, here was the absent husband back, and there was so much to say and to know. And that is why he reproached his mother, telling her that her heart was harder than flint. But Penelope replied:

"My child, the heart in my breast is lost in wonder … I cannot find a word to say to him; I cannot ask him anything at all; I cannot even look him in the face. But if it really is Odysseus home again, we two shall surely recognize each other, and in an even better way; for there are tokens between us which only we two know and no one else has heard of."

Such a token was their own bed, which Odysseus himself had constructed, a detail only known by them. And now he described how he had built it, bringing to memory the olive tree, thick as a pillar, which grew inside the court. For round this tree he built the room, and lopping all the twigs off, he trimmed the stem and used it as a basis for the bed itself. Then he finished it off with an inlay of gold, silver and ivory, and fixed a set of purple ox-hide straps across the frame.When Odysseus had described all these details for Penelope. It was then that Penelope, seeing the complete fidelity of the description, burst into tears, and running up to Odysseus, threw her arms round his neck and kissed him.
Odysseus and Penelope

    In Greek mythology, Penelope had been associated with marital faithfulness. But according to one version, Penelope was seduced by Antinous, the greatest scoundrel among the suitors. In one version, Penelope was not seduced by Antinous, but instead by the more gentle suitor Amphinomus, who was known to enjoy Penelope's special approval for being an intelligent man and behaving correctly. According to one version, (perhaps in error) Penelope was seduced by the god Hermes and became the mothe og the god Pan.
                                    Later, when Odysseus was accidentally killed by Telegonus, his own son by the witch Circe. After Odysseus' death, Penelope was made immortal by Circe. In some version, Telegonus returns to his mother’s island with Penelope, whom he marries, and Telemachus, who marries Circe. Telegonus and Penelope have one son, Italus.

                            In Greek mythology, Penelope (or Penelopeia) was described as the tree nymph, of Mt Cyllene in Arkadia, southern Greece. Hermes fell in love with Penelope and seduced her. 
Penelope.....tree nymph.......

In some versions,by Hermes  she became the mother of Pan. Penelope is related to the nymphs Sose and Thymbris, who are both named as the mother of Pan in  different versions in Greek mythology.


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