Episode Six: I Am Woman (Part One)
Today is a big day for Myth Dynamite! Not only does it mark a return to regular programming, but we’re bringing you a deep dive into one of the smartest, savviest, and most beloved (by us here at MD) mythological women – PENELOPE OF SPARTA (yes, she’s also of Sparta!). If you’ve listened to our Helen episode from Season Two, you’ll know how much we live for this fact.
Sadly, she’s now mostly become a footnote in Odysseus’ fantastical and supernatural return home – or appendage as we say in this week’s episode. There’s a clever joke in there somewhere, and it’s probably one Penelope would have made. After millenia of crushing patriarchal shaping of her story, we’re here to tell you that Penelope is so much more than the loyal wife who sits at a loom, stares at the window and sighs whilst waiting for Odysseus’ return.
Speaking of the patriarchy, Penelope herself couldn’t be more aware of her own societal constraints. In this episode you’ll hear just how she leans into those expectations, subverting them so she can avoid the bother of remarrying before Odysseus hopefully returns.
There’s honestly so much to say about her that we had to give her two episodes to do her justice! We’re going to be giving you context, etymology, and who exactly Penelope is. We’ll explore how a short-legged dolt (please direct any complaints to Margaret Atwood) made a devil of a deal for Penelope’s hand in marriage, and how she manipulates ancient ideas of womanhood to her own end. That’s queen behaviour that is, literally.
Then we’ll be leaving you on tenterhooks. You lovely people will have to wait two whole weeks to find out the rest of Penelope’s story. In the immortal words of Harry Styles – “That’s called edging!”. You’re welcome!
Listen to this week's episode here.
References (click here for our summaries of the ancient sources):
· Homer, Odyssey, c. 850 BCE
· Pausanias, Descriptions of Greece, 2nd Century CE
* Note, when Odysseus pretends to have lost his mind to avoid the Trojan War, it was Palamedes and not Diomedes who went to Ithaca to reveal the truth.