Penelope's Condition In The Odyssey

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In lines 295-298 in Book Eighteen of the Odyssey, Penelope is speaking to Erymachus, admitting to him that sharing her bed with him, or any other one of the suitors, would give her heartache. Her bed is the only thing she’s been able to protect for the past twenty years while the suitors destroyed all else. Penelope refuses to share her bed with any of the unwanted men because the bed is the essence of her marriage to Odysseus. Penelope, the cunning wife, protects the bed, so that when Odysseus arrives home, it will be a place for them to tell stories and rekindle their connection. In the course of the twenty years that Odysseus is gone, the suitors devour Penelope’s livelihood, without any guilt or recompense. The vile suitors take over her home, pick off the livestock without any sacrifice, and drink all the wine. They even plan to kill her only son, but are unsuccessful due to the fact that Athena intercedes and protects him. The only power that remains with Penelope is that she has the…show more content…
The curse began when Helen, Menelaus’s wife was kidnapped and taken there, and Menelaus called Odysseus to duty. In Odysseus’s pursuit to help a relationship and gain kleos, he puts his own marriage in jeopardy. Odysseus’s parting allows the suitors to come into his home, causing Penelope’s well-being to be lost. The last element of her curse would be a “hateful marriage” to one of the suitors, because sharing her bed with someone she hates would be a violation of the homophrosyne that she and Odysseus had shared, which is what her happiness relies on. Her curse will be broken on the occasion that Odysseus arrives home and destroys the suitors, but the bed has to be there for him. His homecoming journey must end with him sharing the bed with his wife, which couldn't happen unless Penelope had faithfully guarded it against the contemptible suitors for the entire time Odysseus had been

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