The Odyssey

Penelope’s Mythos and Wingless Words in The Odyssey College

Penelope of The Odyssey is a widely disputed and studied character. She is often understood as unique to Greek mythology in her rejection of the stereotypical femininity that is apparent in most other female characters, like Nausicaa of The Odyssey. Penelope’s authority is what sets her apart from typical feminine characters. She is able to wield power while also exhibiting feminine virtues: submission and peacefulness. Penelope’s strength is shown by her unwavering tendency to use her voice to perform mythos, “a speech-act indicating authority,” with and against male characters in The Odyssey (Morgan 17). Some scholars have come to associate Penelope with a version of feminism due to her confidence in performing mythos. On the contrary Penelope’s authority as a speaker is not only affected by, but dependent on the two most prominent men in her life. Her husband, Odysseus in his departure from Ithaca, grants Penelope authority over the city essentially enforcing her ability to perform mythos. However her son Telemachus, due to his maturation, in most cases, makes her words “wingless” and consequently her authority insignificant (Thomson 1). When words are “winged” they “fly straight to the comprehension of the listener”...

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