Episode Seven: I Am Woman (Part Two)
The wait is over! Part 2 of our Penelope episode is here! We left you last week with an introduction to the far-too-good-for-him-smash-the-patriarchy-don’t-take-no-bullshit-stay-out-of-my-larder Queen of Ithaca, fighter of Suitors, keeper of households, and skilled AF weaver, wife of Odysseus.
This week there will be more fawning, as we delve into the TRICKS of Penelope. Yes, you may think that Odysseus is the master trickster, but she MORE THAN matches his tricksiness and we’re here for it.
Picture this: Odysseus has been away for 20 years now. Penelope (currently ruling her household ... *the patriarchy gasps*) is resisting the pressure to remarry. And yes, there’s the whole “oh isn’t she just the perfect wife, ever loyal to Odysseus of many trials”. Sure. But let’s be honest, there’s more to this than faithfulness. Penelope is desperately holding onto her power, her identity, her independence and – for all she knows – her safety.
So, she survives. OH, she survives.
Fending off the greedy, luring Suitors who are quite literally eating her out of house and home, she devises trick after scheme to hold onto the life she has built in Odysseus’ absence. You may have heard of the shroud (especially if you listened to Part One of this episode... and if you didn’t... good luck to ya). But there’s more. She organises her own **RIGGED** suitor competition, she squeezes so many gifts out of the Suitors that even Homer gets bored of listing them, and she manages to trick the tricksy Odysseus himself. TASTE OF YOUR OWN MEDICINE, EH?
Seriously, she’s so good EVEN ODYSSEUS is impressed at one point.
Oh, and guys, we go off on a serious tangent about Cicero in this episode. Not that sorry though. Enjoy.
Listen to this week’s episode here. Our features come from the great Margaret Atwood’s Penelopeiad.
References (click here for our summaries of the ancient sources)
· Homer’s Odyssey, c. 850 BCE