The Odyssey Penelope Quotes Page 3
This is an uncharacteristic moment of weakness for the usually patient Penelope.
(Penelope:) ‘So I wish that they who have their homes on Olympos would make me vanish, or sweet-haired Artemis strike me, so that I could meet the Odysseus I long for, even under the hateful earth, and not have to please the mind of an inferior husband. Yet the evil is endurable, when one cries through the days, with heart constantly troubled, yet still is taken by sleep in the nights; for sleep is oblivion of all things, both good and evil, when it has shrouded the eyelids. But now the god has sent the evil dreams thronging upon me. For on this very night there was one who lay by me, like him as he was when he went with the army, so that my own heart was happy. I thought it was no dream, but a waking vision.’ (20.79-90)
(Penelope:) 'But tell Autonoë and Hippodameia to come, so that they can stand at my side in the great hall. I will not go alone among men. I think that immodest.' (18.182-184)
Women can live up to their principles by being good hostesses, but most of their honorable actions seem to consist in not doing: not remarrying, not killing their husbands, not appearing in front of a crowd of men. Sounds pretty dull, if you ask us.
(Penelope:) 'Human beings live for only a short time, and when a man is harsh himself, and his mind knows harsh thoughts, all men pray that sufferings will befall him hereafter while he lives; and when he is dead all men make fun of him. But when a man is blameless himself, and his thoughts are blameless, the friends he has entertained carry his fame widely to all mankind, and many are they who call him excellent.' (19.328-334)
What's the point of living a totally dull, blameless life? Everyone will say nice things about you. Okay, so it's not exactly champagne and limo rides, but "fame"—what people said about you—was super important to the Greeks. Having a good reputation was just as important as it was to any 13-year-old.