The Odyssey Rewrite: Penelope's Perspective | Teen Ink

The Odyssey Rewrite: Penelope's Perspective

July 21, 2021
By Huda SILVER, Jamaica, New York
Huda SILVER, Jamaica, New York
7 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we're curious … and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." (Walt Disney)


 Penelope's Perspective

By Muse, daughter of Zeus, the king of Gods, let me tell the tale of Odysseus’ return to his family, to his home, and most importantly to me, his wife.

Telemachus, my son, was the first to lay eyes upon the stranger as he entered our home, full to the brim with suitors here to ask for my hand in marriage. Telemachus, like the gentleman he is, leads her inside and tells her to speak of her needs after she has eaten. Of course, at that time, he didn’t realize this was Athena since she was disguised, gripping her bronze bow she looked for all the world like a stranger now, like Mentes, lord of the Taphians. He led her to the sitting area, where he forced her into a chair, made her comfortable, and allowed her to interact with the other guests, the disgusting suitors. As I looked over my son, I realized how he had grown so much over the years. In fact, his resemblance with Odysseus is impeccable and it kills me to think of how finely Telemachus grew up to be without his father.


Odysseus. That name sends a knife through my heart. I’ve missed my husband so much over the years. He never came home after he left all those years ago for that blasted Trojan War. Many think him dead now, leaving me behind to be scraped up by these unsuitable suitors. I, for one, never lost my trust in him. I know that somewhere out there, Odysseus is alive and well and is struggling to come back home, but he will find a way. These suitors think they have a proper chance of marrying me or my father saying yes to their proposals. They are merely after my property and do not love me, and besides, my love for Odysseus runs deeply through these seas ruled by Poseidon. I watch quietly, in disgust, as the suitors laid their hands on all the goods my servants bless them with. All of the fine wine and exquisite food inhaled within a matter of minutes. They tell tales, sing songs, and laugh their hearts away like the swines they are, thinking they will get away with all the fortune my son and I hold. 

“Tell me, oh strange guest. Who are you and why have you come by here? What brought you here? What is your business in these areas?” asked Telemachus.

Her eyes glinting, goddess Athena answered, “Let me tell you my whole story, kind sir, and not leave out a part of it at all. I am Mentes, son of Anchialus and the lord of the Taphians. I am here on a business trip selling old wine and bronze to foreign ports. Our ships have sailed in from Rithron Cove, beneath Mount Nion’s woods. I was friends with your father, Odysseus for quite some time. Let it be known that if he were here, he would have been proud to see you grow up like this. He was known for his bravery and kindness, something you have inherited from him I see. Of course, I am not here to boast about how well I knew your father. Rather, I would like to share with you some rather important information I received the other night, with blessings from all the Gods. Odysseus is much alive. He is being held by an aged woman that blesses him with food and all his needs, and seduces him when he’s at his best. I know you scoff at my words, he has been gone for long and it is unlikely he is alive but let me bless you with this information as the Gods have blessed me. He’s still alive, somewhere in this wide world, held captive, out at sea on a wave-washed island, and he is being held captive and is facing hardships due to certain savages. Don’t scoff at my words, son of Odysseus, for this is based upon a prophecy, a sight that the Gods have sent to me.” 


My eyes glistened as I heard this. My Odysseus, my beloved husband, the father to my beautiful, now grown, son is alive! What a blessing from Zeus and all the Gods above! I must remember to give my offerings to the Gods soon. 

And young Telemachus cautiously replied, “Let me humor you, my friend. I have grown up being told by my mother and countless of others that I am my father’s son. Everyone jumps to this conclusion as soon as they land their eyes upon me. Am I happy to be his son? Of course I am happy to be the son of a man that was never around to care or provide for me or my mother, despite the fact that he was more than willing to be my mother’s lover. But yes, I am the son of Odysseus.” 

“You are in denial but is it because of your sorrow due to his absence or your hatred for that, I know not but know that he is still alive and is trying to return. And, please,” the clear-eyed goddess reassured him, “enlighten me, for the sake of the Gods, your mother is a woman of high stature. Why do you have these pigs in your house, feasting off of your fortune when she deserves no less than Odysseus? These suitors are hardly deserving of such fine beauty and grace.” 

At this, I put my head down in shame. It is because of me that these suitors are here and because of me these suitors will not leave. Suddenly, I hear and understand the song that Phemius is singing. It reminds me so much of Odysseus.

 “Phemius! Stop! Stop at once, I beg you! You know so many other songs and yet you sing one that only results in me remembering my heart ache. Odysseus, I yearn for him now, stop this and sing one to entertain these men, but do not remind me of my loss!” 

At this Telemachus rises and tells me, his own mother, “Do not! Do not blame Phemius, my father, or anyone in this room— Zeus is to blame. Zeus burdens those he chooses to burden. Why fault the Bard for singing a song that reminds you of Odysseus.?  Have courage, mother. Listen to this song but do not always be sorrowful.  Odysseus was not the only one to be lost in this war, do not mourn him as if he were the only one Return to your quarters, Mother, and tend to your womanly duties, as it is your job. I will tend to my job as leader of this family and household for I hold the reins of power here,” 

I merely nod at his words and silently retreat back to my quarters, all the while thinking over the words of Athena. My husband was very much alive and struggling to come back home. I hear the laughter and cheer of the suitors in the sitting area and it drives me insane. Who do these suitors think they are, trying to claim me and my property as their property? I hide my grin as I realized that their plans would never work since I will not marry anyone until I finish weaving that shroud for my father-in-law's funeral, one that I have been consistently “working” on, as others think. What they don’t realize is that I have been unwrapping it every night so it does not finish, at least, not until Odysseus returns. Oh, Odysseus, where are you? Telemachus has grown into such a fine young man, but he needs to know his father. Please Zeus, I pray to you, keep Odysseus safe and bring him back home.

The author's comments:

This piece is a short re-write of The Odyssey by Homer, through the perspective of Penelope, the wife of Odysseus. Writing this was interesting because it allowed me to explore the string of emotions that Penelope must have experienced throughout the absence of her beloved husband that she stayed faithful to despite the excessive amount of suitors that were interested in her. 

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