The Odyssey: Book 1 lines 328-336

N.B.: I’ve been doing a three-week training course which barely leaves me time to eat and sleep apart from work. So, I’ve not been blogging as much as I’d like lately. There’s another week to go in the course, although at the end of it other things may also interfere with blogging for a while.


Penelope, by Leandro Bassano (1575-85); Oil on...

Image via Wikipedia


Continuing with the blog proper, at this point in the Odyssey, Telemachus and Athena/Mentes have together formed a plan. Now we see Penelope for the first time who comes downstairs accompanied by one of her female servants, i.e., a hand-maiden. Even before Penelope herself is named, her father Icarius is referred to. The importance here lies not only in the story of how Odysseus, king of Ithaca, came to marry Penelope who was daughter of Icarius then king of Sparta. The reference to her father emphasizes the importance of family in Greek society. Even today, one will most often be asked not “Who are you?” using the nominative interrogative pronoun τίς but with the genitive interrogative pronoun τίνος; in a essence, “Whose are you?” meaning what family is one from. Penelope is both a queen and a princess, and we see her descending literally and figuratively to deal with the suitors’ debauchery. These wanton drunkards despoiling her household are the very men who deign to try to force a marriage on Penelope. We as the audience are immediately reminded of her rank and we see her becoming manner. At the same time we are reminded that the bard, who is the royal herald, has not maintained his rank and dignity. Without deigning to bother with the uncouth suitors, Penelope addresses her herald in the speech which follows this section.

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