Friday, June 23, 2017

"Reely" Infatuated with Penelope

This is my entry in the Reel Infatuation Blogathon hosted by Font and Frock and Silver Screenings.

I decided to take a different tack from my usual output of movie reviews for this blogathon.  Mainly because, as I intimated to Maedez on her original Reel Infatuation Blogathon post, I find it extremely hard to separate the character from the actor or actress playing the character.  So in essence I would have been tempted to focus on the actress in the film, rather than focusing on the character she portrayed.  So it is a bit easier to keep with the theme by choosing a literary character, one whom, although I saw a TV miniseries of "The Odyssey" in the late 90's, it has been so long that I had even forgotten who played the character.  (It was Greta Scacchi, but I had to look that up or I would not have remembered...)

The Odyssey by Homer

A bit of background for those of you who have not read (or don't remember reading) either The Iliad or The Odyssey.  In The Iliad, which basically only covers events towards the end of the Trojan War, we are told of the heroic efforts of a handful of heroes and their epic battles.  In the process, although it is not actually a part of the plot, we are informed why the Greeks and the Trojans went to war.  (Paris, a prince of Troy, kidnapped Helen, the wife of Menelaus).  The movie Troy from 2004 covers a lot of the story (although the movie did take more than a few privileges wit the story).

Odysseus, the king of Ithaca, was one of the heroes of the Trojan War, and it is his story (and that of his wife, Penelope) that encompasses The Odyssey.  While the rest of the heroes from the Greek army made it home, Odysseus is condemned to wander aimlessly, hampered by his crew and by various demons and demigods from reaching his home in Ithaca.

On the home front, being that, at the start of the story, it has been many years since the rest of Odysseus'  comrades-in-arms have made it to their own homes, Penelope, who is still a beauty in her own right, is being pressured by everyone to declare Odysseus dead and move on.  You should know in this day and age and at this place in time a woman was not the liberated being she is today.  Penelope could not really be Queen of Ithaca without having a King at her side.

Sure, there are many stories of Queens who ruled in history, some even in the same remote part of ancient history, but these were mostly barbarian tribes.  Cultured and educated societies still prospered under a male-dominated ideal of a man was King, and the Queen only ruled by his side.

Penelope has a steadfast love for Odysseus.  (It was not, in other words, a marriage of convenience or an arranged marriage, something that was, and still is not so uncommon in royal marriages).  Penelope remained loyal to Odysseus and delayed any action to declare him dead for many years.  Finally, because the greedy suitors who clamored for Odysseus' wealth (and his beautiful wife) would not give up, Penelope stated that she would marry one of them and declare Odysseus to have been taken by the gods.

But she had one final trick up her sleeve.  She said that this was all contingent on the completion of a burial shroud for her beloved husband.  She would only marry after this ritual was complete.  So for days and months on end she worked at weaving a burial shroud.  But at night, while everyone was asleep, she would spend time undoing the weave, prolonging the completion of the weaving job.  This had the effect of making the ritual last for several years.  Not coincidentally, enough time for Odysseus to reappear on the horizon.

Penelope is an inspiration for all woman who want to stay faithful despite the trials poured on them.  To always believe that things will turn out right in the end.  (And, since I am a man, I find it a great thing she stayed faithful to her husband.  Love conquers all.)

The story of Penelope inspired the name I gave my cat.  Although I call her "Pennie" for short, her full name is Ms. Penelope Weaver.  She got that name because, I live alone, but whenever I finally do get home from work, she is always waiting by he door to greet me.

Hope you enjoyed this brief departure from the movie theme.



  1. Fantastic post! I thoroughly enjoy reading it.
    The Iliad and The Odyssey are absolutely wonderful. Have a good weekend.

    1. She, Penelope, is an inspiration. Plus I've always liked the name. Thanks for reading.

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed the brief departure from the movie theme. The steadfast and clever Penelope is a worthy character and an even worthier namesake for a cat. (Our cats are all named with the greatest of care and thought.)

    1. The naming of cats is a difficult isn't just one of your holiday games... :-) Thanks for reading.

  3. I admit I've avoided reading both The Iliad and The Odyssey, but now that I've read your essay, I'm not sure why that is. In fact, I just did a quick online search, and now I HAVE to know what happens with the archery contest!

    You've turned me into a Penelope fan. What a smarty pants, and how great her love must have been for Odysseus!

    Thank you for joining the blogathon and for this introduction to a fascinating literary character. :)

    1. My Western Civ professor assigned us The Odyssey in its verse form. I don't recommend that unless you are gung-ho about reading it. There are novelized versions, but be sure to avoid any geared towards children. You'll get a condensed version and that would really suck... Thanks for reading.

  4. One of my favorite stories. Thank you for adding your very enjoyable post🙂

  5. Ah, I love your cat's name! Penelope was certainly a very wise woman in mythology, and I was very inspired by her cleverness when I read The Odyssey.

    1. I find myself often inspired by literary characters. Some people thing English Lit. i(and classical lit. )s boring and a waste of time, but I find it enjoyable.


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