Departmental Papers (Classical Studies)

Document Type

Book Chapter

Date of this Version


Publication Source

Epic and Epoch: Essays on the Interpretation and History of a Genre

Start Page


Last Page



One consequence of the recent infusion of newer critical approaches into the study of classical literature has been a boom in studies devoted to the figure of Penelope in the Odyssey. While certain problems concerning Penelope's portrayal have always been part of the agenda for Homeric scholarship, the emergence of feminist criticism and an intensified concern with the act of interpretation have focused more and more attention on a female character who occupies a surprisingly central role in the largely male dominated genre of heroic epic and whose presentation is marked by contradictions and uncertainties that demand interpretive intervention. The question of how to read the character of Penelope has become a focal point for a series of larger issues: In what ways is a female character who comes to us mediated through the poetry of a distant and patriarchal era to be seen as representative of female experience? How should we account for textual mysteries such as those surrounding Penelope, and how can we incorporate them into our understanding of the work?

Copyright/Permission Statement

Posted with permission from Texas Tech University Press.

Included in

Classics Commons



Date Posted: 30 January 2017