In The Odyssey, How Did Penelope Keep Her Suitors Waiting?


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In Homer's tales of "The Iliad" and "the Odyssey," Penelope's husband, the Greek hero Odysseus, is away for nearly twenty years, first fighting the Trojan s and then finding his way home. In the meantime their son, Telemachus, has grown up and Penelope herself has been endlessly besieged by men who want to marry her and take over the kingdom, Ithaca. To keep them at bay, she devises a plan; she tells the suitors that she will choose a husband from among them as soon as she has finished weaving a shroud for her dead father. All day she sits weaving while the suitors sit around her drinking and quarrelling; and every night she secretly unpicks the shroud and has to start again. This fools the suitors for years, until Odysseus comes home. At first Penelope doesn't recognise him, he is so changed, but eventually he convinces her and, with the help of Telemachus, manages to kill all of the suitors.

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