Penelope's Plight

on Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Odysseus has been gone for eighteen years now. My brave, strong husband, off to fight in the ten-year-long war, promising to return to our newly born son and me as soon as he could. It has been eight years since the end of the war, with no word from Odysseus. Everyone has said he must be dead, but I hold out hope, both for myself, and for my son.

Poor Telemachus was only a baby when his father went to fight the Trojans. Growing up without a father was hard enough for him, and then the war ended and the other men came home, and what were people to think? I hid Telemachus away from the vicious words of some of the citizens of Ithaca as best I could, but I know in my heart that he heard anyway.

And then the Suitors started pouring in. I wanted none of it, but I hardly told them so, and they wouldn’t have listened regardless. So I made up a story about weaving a shroud, and how after I had finished, only then would I engage their courtship. Unbeknownst to them, however, each night I unwound the work I’d done that day.

That is what my life became, day after day, weaving and unweaving, avoiding the Suitors and caring for young Telemachus. But alas, Telemachus is a man now, as I can tell from the broadness of his stature and the forceful gravity of his words. It is times like this that I wish he were still a child.

And now he is off on his own, searching for his long-lost father. I will not deny that I fear for him. I shan’t know what to do if I lose my son as well as my husband – and to the same fate! Eurycleia tells me that there is a hand of a god in the matter, so I shall stay strong in Telemachus’s absence. But heed my words: I may be alone save for my servants, but may the immortal gods have mercy on any of my so-called ‘Suitors’ if they try to seduce me in his absence. My husband is alive, and he will return to me – as will my son.

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