Ancient World Now: The Odyssey

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Aaahhh, Penelope….. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Odysseus’s wife is one of the most memorable female characters in all of ancient story. This was one patient lass—she waited twenty years for her husband to return to her! Now that is faith. Penelope was hounded by suitors for years. Everyone was quite sure that Odysseus had been killed in the battle at Troy and that his lovely wife should take a new husband. Lone women surely can’t take care of themselves—and of course, she had all that property—a kingdom! Let’s get her married off to someone new. To keep these rascals at bay, she said she’d take a new husband when she finished weaving this burial shroud for her father-in-law, Laertes (no relation to Ophelia’s bro). Clever lass that she was, she’d weave by day and when the drunken suitors would nod off, she’d unravel at night. Dumb guys! You can see why Odysseus would choose her for a mate.

Here is John William Waterhouse’s painting of Penelope.  Waterhouse was at the tail-end of the Pre-Raphaelite school of painting, which focused on themes from the classical and Arthurian world….and some Shakespeare stuff, too. Edwardian. Victorian. You may know his painting of Proserpina (Persephone to the Greeks) with the pomegranate. Lots of rich details, deep colors, and dolorous looks! Fabulous!

Enjoy our first installment of The Odyssey!

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