The Odyssey


Describe Penelope and Athena from The Odyssey.

Asked by
Last updated by jill d #170087
Answers 1
Add Yours
Best Answer


The beautiful wife of Odysseus, Penelope has always given critics difficulty. Does she refrain from expelling the suitors only because she fears their retribution, as she claims, or does she in some ways enjoy the attention? Though she weeps for Odysseus nightly, she does not even force the suitors to act with proper decorum.

However, her faithfulness to her husband does remain steadfast, and she even shares his proclivity for trickery, promising to remarry once she has finished weaving a shroud for Laertes, but unraveling it each night (the suitors catch on after a few years). Penelope is also fiercely protective of Telemakhos, and speaks out against the suitors when she hears of their plans to murder him. After Odysseus' disguised arrival, Penelope's loyalty to her husband is more evident, as is her sadness over his presumed death.


Daughter of Zeus and goddess of wisdom and battle (and of the womanly arts, though this is barely touched upon), Athena is Odysseus' most powerful ally. Frequently appearing throughout The Odyssey in disguise, she offers instructions, encouragement, and magical protection to Odysseus and Telemakhos, whom she grooms in the ways of a prince. Yet she also tests Odysseus at times; when he is disguised as a beggar, she provokes the suitors to abuse him to see, ostensibly, if Odysseus will give in to temptation and fight back. She also does not intervene in the climactic battle until the end, once Odysseus has proven his mettle.