Odysseus Arrives Home to Penelope in Greek Mythology

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odysseus-and-penelopeAt this point, the goddess Athena, who is the goddess of wisdom, was reluctant to help Odysseus get home. However, his journey was so fraught with difficulty that Hermes eventually persuaded her to give Odysseus aid. Hermes took pity on Odysseus when he found him washed up on the shore of an island that was completely unknown to him.

It is at this time that Athena revealed that the island Odysseus washed up on was actually Ithaca, where Odysseus was actually from and where Penelope was waiting for her husband to come home. Although Penelope never really gave up hope that her husband was still alive, everyone else was convinced otherwise. Penelope even had many suitors, all of whom were local princes, who wanted to be the one to take her “deceased” husband’s place. Telamachus, Odysseus and Penelope’s son, was away from the castle looking for Odysseus so he was unable to keep the suitors in check.

Athena persuaded Odysseus to go to the castle, but not as himself. She wanted Odysseus to show up disguised as a beggar. The suitors don’t recognize him as Odysseus and instead taunt him as a beggar. They push him to the ground, call him names, and kick him while he’s down. The beggar version of Odysseus persuades Penelope to hold a contest where the winner will become Penelope’s husband.

Later on, Penelope and Telamachus, who has returned from his journey saying he never found his father, tend the beggar’s wounds. They both don’t realize that it was really Odysseus whose wounds they were tending. Athena and Hermes determine that the competition will consist of stringing Odysseus’s bow and shooting an arrow through the head of twelve axes.

In the hall, Penelope offers the bow to all the suitors and tells them of the parameters of the contest. No one is capable stringing the bow, which means that no one was able to fire it. Meanwhile, Telamachus had secretly removed all the suitors’ weapons so when they realized that the contest was “impossible,” they were unable to fight. The suitors determined that it was impossible.

To prove them right or wrong, Penelope told the beggar version of Odysseus to try to string the bow and shoot the arrow through the heads of the twelve axes. Everyone gasped in surprise as he strung the bow successfully. He fired the arrow through the head of all the axes with ease after that. Successful at “winning” the competition, he revealed his true identity. Stripped of their weapons, the suitors were powerful to defend themselves against Odysseus, who was angry that they tried to marry his wife behind his back.


Wikipedia – Odysseus

Wikipedia – Penelope

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This post was written by Greek Boston

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