Love’s Restless Fear: Penelope’s story

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The Eclectic Light Company

Epics tell the adventures of their heroes as they triumph over the forces of evil. Heroes are almost exclusively male, and their epic is narrated from a strongly male point of view. Of the three greatest epics to emerge from classical Greece and Rome – Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, and Virgil’s Aeneid – the latter two describe protracted journeys across the ancient Mediterranean.

The Odyssey details the adventures of its hero Odysseus, as he travels back from the ruins of Troy to his wife and family in Ithaca. Although it both opens and closes in Odysseus’ home on Ithaca, the overwhelming majority of its 12,110 lines of verse detail the travels and travails of Odysseus and, to a much lesser extent, his son Telemachus.

When Odysseus left Ithaca for the Trojan War, he left behind a young wife, Penelope, and their young son, Telemachus. It took a further seven hundred…

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