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The Strong Character of Penelope in Homer’s Odyssey

The Strong Character of Penelope in Homer’s Odyssey

Homer’s Odyssey is a story of the homecoming of Odysseus after the Trojan War. Odysseus left his wife, Penelope, and their young son, Telemachos, almost twenty years before the telling of this story to fight in the Trojan War. His absence places Penelope in a rather precarious position. Faced with many different circumstances, both good and bad, Penelope is on her own to decide the path she wishes to take. Depending on her decisions, the situations could either be filled with wonderful opportunities or perilous dangers. The strong character of Penelope is revealed by her decisions.

While Odysseus is away from home, Penelope finds herself playing the role of dutiful wife coupled with the conflicting role of single mother trying to run a household. As a dutiful wife, Penelope is faithful to Odysseus although she is plagued by suitors who are all eager to marry her. She waits patiently, albeit sadly, for Odysseus to return while successfully keeping her suitors at bay. There is nothing that she would like more than for her husband to return safely to her and so she yearns for his return. “Since the unforgettable sorrow comes to me, beyond others, / so dear a head do I long for whenever I am reminded / of my husband, whose fame goes wide through Hellas and midmost Argos (Odyssey 1.342-344).” Since Telemachos was so young when Odysseus went off to war, he is not even sure that Odysseus is his father. It is up to Penelope, in her mother role, to dispel this doubt from Telemachos’ mind. He states, “my mother says indeed I am his. I for my part / do not know (Odyssey 1.215-216).”

Penelope is in great danger of losing control of the household, a position she t…

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…owing for the success of her scheme to delay them. Penelope is able to use her wisdom to turn her potentially perilous situation into one filled with numerous advantages and opportunities for her.

Works Cited and Consulted

Diana Buitron-Oliver and Beth Cohen, “Female Representations and Interpreting the Odyssey,” by Seth Schein, pp. 17-27.

Hexter, Ralph. A Guide to The Odyssey: A Commentary on the English Translation of Robert Fitzgerald. New York: Random House, 1993.

Homer. The Odyssey. Trans. Robert Fitzgerald. New York: Random House, 1990.

Lillian Doherty, Siren Songs: Gender, Audiences, and Narrators in the Odyssey (Ann Arbor 1995), esp. chapter 1.

Marilyn Arthur Katz, Penelope’s Renown: Meaning and Indeterminacy in the Odyssey (Princeton 1991).

Nancy Felson-Rubin, Regarding Penelope: From Courtship to Poetics (Princeton 1994).

The Heros – Odysseus, Jason and Aeneas

A Comparison of the Heroes, Odysseus, Jason and Aeneas

Odysseus is unique among epic heroes in that his strength comes not from inhuman powers or exceptional physical ability, but mainly from his mind. Odysseus, regularly uses cunning, guile, and superiority of intellect to overcome obstacles. In this paper I will compare Odysseus to other epic heroes, both in terms of character and in terms of responses to crises, comparing his reactions with those of other heroes placed in similar situations.

The first hero I will compare him to is Jason, who had a similar adventure. His adventure was made to claim a throne that was rightfully his, just like Odysseus’ adventure to get home to Ithaca and regain his throne. They both faced many perils on the sea, and both persevered to reach the end of the journey and gain the throne.

Jason’s uncle Pelias had usurped the throne of Iolchus (much as Penelope’s suitors threatened to do), which Jason had a legitimate claim to. Pelias wanted to get rid of him, but dared not to kill him outright. So, he agreed to abdicate the throne if Jason would journey and get the golden fleece, which was at a temple in Colchis (on the Black Sea). Pelias expected the voyage to be fatal, for it had danger at every step. However, Jason called for and received an impressive roster of heroes to aid him on his journey.

Jason set out for, and made it safely to, Colchis. Once there, he was received by the resident king,

Aeetes. Aeetes was used to getting visitors who had come for the fleece, and had devised a test for getting

rid of them. He had a standing challenge to give up the fleece to anyone who could tame two fire-breathing

bulls and then use them to plow a field with dragon’s teeth.

Jason was confounded by how to pass this trial and was saved at the last moment by Aeetes’

daughter Medea, who gave him a potion of wild herbs that would protect him from the fire. With the help,

Jason easily tamed the bulls, and began to sow the field, but noticed that where he had put the teeth, soldiers

were springing up from the ground. Jason hid from them, but then came up with a plan for getting rid of

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