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So he [Noëmon] spoke, and they were amazed at heart; they had not thought he had gone to Pylos, the city of Neleus, but that he was somewhere near, on his lands, among the flocks, or else with the swineherd. (4.638-640)
Telemachos: 1 The suitors: 0
(Penelope:) ‘Hear me, dear friends. The Olympian has given me sorrows beyond all others who were born and brought up together with me for first I lost a husband with the heart of a lion and who among the Danaans surpassed in all virtues, and great, whose fame goes wide through Hellas and midmost Argos; and now again the stormwinds have caught away my beloved son, without trace, from the halls, and I never heard when he left me. Hard-hearted, not one out of all of you then remembered to wake me out of my bed, though your minds knew all clearly, when he went out and away to board the hollow black ship. For if I had heard that he was considering this journey, then he would have had to stay, though hastening to his voyage, or he would have had to leave me dead in the halls.’ (4.722-735)
Penelope essentially says she would have let her son sail only over her dead body. She is angered not only by his absence, but by the deception that hid his departure from her. Moms will be moms.
[Athene] drifted in like a breath of wind to where the girl slept, and came and stood above her head and spoke a word to her, likening herself to the daughter of Dymas, famed for seafaring, a girl of the same age, in whom her fancy delighted. (6.20-23)
One good reason for the gods to disguise themselves is that suddenly appearing in the middle of a human's bedroom could really freak that human out. Sure, Athene's probably not bad. But if Zeus appears in your bedroom? That is seriously bad news. Especially if you're a young, nubile woman. (And, let's face it: if Zeus is appearing in your bedroom, you're almost certainly a young, nubile woman.)