Penelope and her loom

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Diane
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Penelope and her loom

Post by Diane » Mon Aug 15, 2005 6:53 pm

I am moving this to its own thread because it appears that someone besides me is actually interested. I was using it as the reason I seem to have decided to learn Greek on my own.

I posted in part:
"But I have to tell you about Greek looms.

"What got me into this is that I am a weaver and absolutely must be able to read the Penelope stuff in the original because translators have clearly never seen a loom. Plus Homer was definitely not a technical writer. Dr. Elizabeth Barber, weaver and Linguistic Anthropologist at Occidental in Los Angeles, is my hero. She has a book out with a chapter on what Penelope was actually doing, with all the Greek words for weaving and where they came from, and with her translation of the passage. I gotta be able to do this myself. "


and then Eureka posted:
"What was she doing?"

Homer is a man. Homer is a poet. Homer is most definitely not a technical writer. Homer is most definitely not a weaver.

I remember when my big brother brought the story home from school and we all debated it. I was not in school yet, but I was already a confident knitter. All the women in my family do needlework.

The story made no sense to the women in my family the way my brother told it. No way could she have been unweaving and reweaving for years, someone would have told. Plus she would have gone blind. Plus she had to run an enormous household in the daytime, she has to sleep sometime.

Dr. Barber is a weaver. She also specializes in Ancient Greek linguistics. She knows how long it takes to do things.

The book I am talking about here is Prehistoric Textiles: The Development of Cloth in the Neolithic and Bronze Ages, with Special Reference to the Aegean. by E. J. W. Barber

Getting ready to weave takes much longer than the actual weaving. Just preparing what will become thread takes a long time, and then spinning it takes even longer. Warping and dressing the loom is a major undertaking and takes a long time and several people. Once all this is done plain weaving goes pretty fast. Homer of course ignores all this, probably doesn't know it. He never even says whether she was weaving linen or wool.

Linen is hard to dye, wool takes dye really good. Weaving a plain linen shroud would go fast. Of course part of preparing linen thread involves rotting it, so one translator's line that she is afraid her thread will spoil is really funny.

So Dr. Barber believes that Penelope was probably weaving a wool tapestry shroud with pictures in it, because the whole thing should take her just about three years. This would mean that she was about to finish when she figured out that this was not a good idea and started stalling by unweaving. Maybe did this for a week. Which would make sense to my grandmother, who never believed that in a large household of women that they all were loyal to Penelope.

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Post by PhilipF » Mon Aug 15, 2005 7:24 pm

Hello Diane
Your mention of Penelope and weaving reminded me of a lecture I read some time ago here;

http://math.albany.edu:8000/~rn774/fall96/trag.html

The second part (which I have slightly edited ), is about the symbolism of weaving in Greek Tragedy , I found the ideas very striking when I came across it , what do you think ?

GREEK TRAGEDY: AESCHYLUS, WEAVING AND BIRTH Lecture by
Prof. Ricardo Nirenberg
"....the word "text" itself originally meant something woven. When we write, we weave; when we read, we weave and unweave. We also weave plots. These three tragedies can be read as dramas of weaving, where we must understand the word "weave" as a complex and extremely rich metaphor. In the remainder of this lecture I'll try to justify this. Among the Greeks, as among many other ancient cultures, women were weavers; indeed, a possible but not certain etymology of our word "wife" derives it from "weaver": a wife was originally a weaver. In the Iliad, when the Trojan hero Hector bids good-bye to his wife, his main fear is that she will end up weaving, as a slave, at some Greek loom. Odysseus' wife, Penelope, was famous for her trick of keeping her suitors waiting while she wove a shroud for her father-in-law during the day and unwove it at night. Both Hector's and Odysseus' wives were good weavers, good wives. Clytemnestra, instead, was the evil weaver, and this not only in a metaphorical sense, because she wove an evil plot to kill her husband, but, in the literal, non-metaphorical sense, because she wove evil fabrics: the long blood-red or crimson silk drape on which Agamemnon is made to walk was dyed with the color extracted from a shell-fish coming from Phoenicia, and was extremely expensive;
The evil weaver is explicitly likened to the patient spider: Clytemnestra has waited ten years to trap her husband in her fatal web, to envelop him in that crimson robe; when the old men of the chorus see Agamemnon's corpse at his wife's feet, they lament (twice!) that "the king has been caught in a spider's web." Aeschylus uses six different Greek words to refer to webs and nets (something lost in translation), and nets and webs and spiders are an obsession running through the three plays. Try to count how many times they appear--my guess is at least thirty. Electra, on the other hand, is a good weaver, a good girl; one of the tokens by which she recognizes her brother is that he's wearing the garment she has woven for him. Notice that bad weavers are selfish, while good weavers always weave for the benefit of others (mostly men): in the Odyssey too Penelope was weaving a shroud for her father-in-law, and Athena, whom the Greeks considered the master of all weavers, used to weave wonderful lies and deceptions for the benefit of her protégé Odysseus.

Horror of the spider, of the selfish, fatal weaver in the dark, is ever present in our three dramas. This horror is sometimes made explicit, sometimes not. So far we have talked about two main senses of the word "weave": the literal sense of weaving fabrics, webs or nets, and the metaphorical sense of weaving texts, stories, plots, plans, lies, deceptions, etc. But there is still another metaphorical sense of the word "weave" which becomes a main theme only in the last of the three plays, when the god Apollo gives a lecture to the jury on how we, human beings, are conceived and born. We have seen that our word "text" comes from the Latin word for "weaving": so does our word "tissue". And tissue is our technical name for the substance of our bodies, for the basis of our identity, for our flesh.

Technology changes things so much that old ways and views of life become almost unintelligible for us: in our age of big factories and mechanical looms, we are well past the age of woman's exclusive role as weaver of clothes. But until science finds a new technique, our tissues, our human identity, will be woven in the darkness of a woman's womb. Apollo was a solar god, a god of light, and he couldn't tolerate that mysterious weaving in the dark. The hard fact that our human identity is shaped where no one can see what's going on, where, as we now know, the mother's moods, the mother's food and drink, the mother's thoughts, maybe even the mother's intestinal gas, affect the way the neurons of the fetus are wired and therefore its whole identity--for Apollo this hard fact was an outrage. Only for Apollo? Think about it: shouldn't this fact be an outrage, too, for any technological mind, anyone bent on quality control?

So in the third play, the Eumenides, while defending Orestes, who had killed his own mother, Apollo makes an amazing statement: The mother is not the true parent of the child, the father is. The womb is just the place where the totally formed child--formed by the father--receives protection and nourishment until it's born. To prove it, the god of light and logic points to Athena, who, the Greeks believed, had been born motherless, directly out of Zeus' head, full grown. And of course, it is Athena, the goddess of wisdom whose statue graces our library, the virgin, the master weaver who did not need a mother, she's the one who, near the end of The Eumenides, casts the deciding vote in favor of Orestes.

I could spend several hours telling you about the horror that philosophical reason, abstract thought--the lógos, as the Greeks called it--has always felt for the dark and patient weaving of the tissue of our bodies in our mother's womb. I will restrict myself to Plotinus, the main thinker of the school called Neo-Platonism. Plotinus (AD 205-270) was the last great Greek philosopher, and his work is important to us not only in itself but also because it deeply influenced Saint Augustine and, through him, all later Christian thought. For Plotinus, matter is the root of all evil, and form is the vehicle of all good. We can see why: reason, science, logic, deal only with form and can deal with nothing else. For example, when modern physics speaks of atoms, electrons and so on, it really speaks of the quantitative, mathematical laws governing their motions: these laws are nothing but form, numerical or geometrical form. As regards our human identity, long before Plotinus, Aristotle had taught that the mother provides the matter and the father contributes the form of the child's body. Now, for Plotinus, matter is usually not entirely evil because most of the time it has some form impressed on it (thus, this piece of chalk is not just matter, it has a roughly cylindrical form impressed on it). But sometimes matter can be thoroughly formless, and thus thoroughly evil--this, however, is hard if not impossible to imagine or visualize: where can we get matter with no form at all, purely chaotic? Plotinus gives (as far as I know) only one example: menstrual blood. The womb is the place of chaos. Thus you see: from at least Aeschylus to Plotinus, running like a thread through the entire flourishing of Greek thought, there is this horror of the womb and the horror of evil weavers in the dark. "

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Post by Diane » Mon Aug 15, 2005 7:47 pm

I think this guy is seriously strange and I definitely would not ever be alone with him. That is one of the creepyist things I have ever read. The fact that you could post it makes me very nervous about you.

He is most definitely not a weaver.

Men seem to think that weaving is so unimportant that they can take the thing and twist it to mean anything they want and no one will care. After all, it is just something that women do. And we know that women are evil dangerous creatures who we must kill quickly before they defile us.

That article is enough to turn me off of men for life, or at least male classicists.

How could you possibly imagine that a woman would want to read that?

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Post by annis » Mon Aug 15, 2005 8:43 pm

Diane, this sort of free-wheeling free association is typical of a certain kind of literary criticism currently popular. The author of the article shouldn't be taken as personally endorsing the horrible, pop-psychologized views of the Greeks he presents, but rather he sees himself as laying out their sins for all to see.

This sort of thing is why I study the classics well outside the Academe.
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;

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Re: Penelope and her loom

Post by annis » Mon Aug 15, 2005 8:48 pm

Diane wrote:Which would make sense to my grandmother, who never believed that in a large household of women that they all were loyal to Penelope.
They were not. We just read the first weaving passage in the Odyssey reading group, and Antinoos says "but when the fourth year came and the time (to finish) arrived, then one of the women, who knew well (what she was doing), told us and we discovered her undoing her shining work" (Od.2.107-109).
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;

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Post by CanadianGirl » Mon Aug 15, 2005 10:09 pm

Diane: I'm glad you introduced such a great topic-I have watched weavers a few times & it's fascinating! I think your reason for wanting to learn Greek is excellent-with the great texts (such as the Odyssey) there really is something for everybody. And of course once you get your foot in the door, there are lots more fascinating Greek texts. If you have access to a good college library, there are some great new books exploring Penelope's role in the Odyssey-of course, you can also find a lot of stuff on the Net. There is one thing, easy to find, that you might want to read: Do a Google search for "The Loom & the Weaver" at Storyspace. It's not actually about weaving, but it gives a good summary of how different (male) translators view Penelope. Regards, Paige (CanadianGirl).

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Post by Lucus Eques » Mon Aug 15, 2005 10:46 pm

Diane wrote:How could you possibly imagine that a woman would want to read that?
I have to agree with Annis; I'm certain neither the professor nor Philip meant to condone this Greek mysogynism, as he explains it to us. That they were mystogynistic, of course, is self-evident, and the professor is simply making note of that.

The Greeks weren't all bad, though, and certainly had lots and lots of neat ideas and associations — and one of them appears to be this delightful concept that written texts are woven. Indeed, much as the thread in the loom, these very lines of text which I'm typing now weave back and forth across the page, forming the tapestry of my post. I find the thought extremely poetic, magical, and worthy of the women weavers of history who have clothed and ornamented all of civilization.
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Post by Diane » Mon Aug 15, 2005 11:48 pm

Tapestry weaving does not go back and forth. It is more like embroidry.

I absolutely am not talking about metaphors here. I am talking about machinery.

If I have to read stuff written by people who sound like serial killers to me in order bo learn to read Homer I don't want to learn Greek.

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Post by Bert » Tue Aug 16, 2005 1:05 am

Diane wrote: Tapestry weaving does not go back and forth. It is more like embroidry.
Some kinds of weaving goes back and forth though right? (But then again, maybe I'm wrong. After all, I am one of those despicable males who thinks that weaving is unimportant because women...Hold on a minute, I don't think that at all. You had me brain-washed. :wink: )
Diane wrote: I absolutely am not talking about metaphors here. I am talking about machinery.

If I have to read stuff written by people who sound like serial killers to me in order bo learn to read Homer I don't want to learn Greek.
I am not sure where you found something 'serial killer like' , but you don't have to read it to learn to read Homer.
It doesn't matter what you want to learn, there will always be something that you want to ignore.
Just don't let it distract you from your purpose.

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Post by Kasper » Tue Aug 16, 2005 1:31 am

Diane wrote: If I have to read stuff written by people who sound like serial killers to me in order bo learn to read Homer I don't want to learn Greek.

You might be hard pressed to find something to read in Ancient Greek that's not about serial killers, matricide, patricide, incest, rape, war, adultery, etc.
“Cum ego verbo utar,” Humpty Dumpty dixit voce contempta, “indicat illud quod optem – nec plus nec minus.”
“Est tamen rogatio” dixit Alice, “an efficere verba tot res indicare possis.”
“Rogatio est, “Humpty Dumpty responsit, “quae fiat magister – id cunctum est.”

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Post by Lucus Eques » Tue Aug 16, 2005 1:45 am

Diane wrote:Tapestry weaving does not go back and forth. It is more like embroidry.
Awesome. Though in my defense, I was speaking very metaphorically.
I absolutely am not talking about metaphors here. I am talking about machinery.
... great! Indeed, the wonders of weaving would not be possible without the machinery, which is of course the topic of the thread you started.
I, however, am talking about metaphors, specially about that metaphor regarding the association of text with textiles. I think it would be quite a boon for me or anyone interested in the classics to learn the art of weaving and all the mechanical specifics (I love engineering and science), but my comment was not in reference to any technical aspects of the art.
If I have to read stuff written by people who sound like serial killers to me in order bo learn to read Homer I don't want to learn Greek.
If I may make a comment, Diane, purely as a fellow member of this forum, perhaps you're taking some of the commentary in your thread too personally. I believe Philip brought up that professor's speech as a matter of tagential interest:
Hello Diane
Your mention of Penelope and weaving reminded me of a lecture I read some time ago here
And thereby began a subtopic within the thread on more metaphorical subjects related to weaving. It can definitely be annoying when a thread gets off-topic, but in defense of the subtopic, I believe it to be a discussion of tremendous interest. Indeed, I find Prof. Nirenberg's analysis of Greek psychology and literature (two subjects which have always been interwoven, if you forgive the pun) to be both fascinating, and also rather accurate. Perhaps it offends you to think of the Greeks, a culture well admired and immitated the world over, as being "twisted," if you will, or anything less than perfect or ideal in the way they thought. However, the bitter truth with all cultures is that, no matter how immitable and honorable a society may be, there will always be faults, and our duty as historians, and in this case classicists, is to separate the good from the bad, assuming the virtue into our own lives, while leaving the vice to history.
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Re: Penelope and her loom

Post by Democritus » Tue Aug 16, 2005 4:13 am

Diane wrote:"What got me into this is that I am a weaver and absolutely must be able to read the Penelope stuff in the original because translators have clearly never seen a loom. Plus Homer was definitely not a technical writer.
Keep in mind that the book is fiction. Unless you actually do think that Athena walked the Earth in the guise of an old man.
Diane wrote:She has a book out with a chapter on what Penelope was actually doing,
Penelope wasn't actually doing anything, because there was no Penelope. Homer was free to have his characters weave in whatever way he pleased. He was not bound by the way real weavers weave.
Diane wrote:I was not in school yet, but I was already a confident knitter. All the women in my family do needlework. The story made no sense to the women in my family the way my brother told it. No way could she have been unweaving and reweaving for years, someone would have told. Plus she would have gone blind. Plus she had to run an enormous household in the daytime, she has to sleep sometime.
Did you get to the part about the Cyclops? :) How believable do you find that part of the story?
Diane wrote:Which would make sense to my grandmother, who never believed that in a large household of women that they all were loyal to Penelope.
In the Odyssey, one of the women ratted Penelope out. So it looks like Homer and your grandmother were in agreement about at least one thing. :)

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Post by Democritus » Tue Aug 16, 2005 5:42 am

Diane wrote:Men seem to think that weaving is so unimportant that they can take the thing and twist it to mean anything they want and no one will care. After all, it is just something that women do. And we know that women are evil dangerous creatures who we must kill quickly before they defile us.
This is a wild generalization you are making about men, and I don't like it. It's sexist.

"Men" don't "seem to think" anything -- no one can claim anything about a gender or indeed any group of people in this way. It's invalid on its face. Totally unfair. Didn't you learn anything, from the feminist movement? Didn't you know that it's precisely this kind of generalization which was supposed to be the problem?

You may have been sound asleep for the past few decades, you seem not to have noticed that it is not women, but men who are consistently being demonized and portrayed as dangerous. Wake up. Read a newspaper, turn on the TV.
Diane wrote:That article is enough to turn me off of men for life, or at least male classicists.
You are in an awful big hurry to be turned off of men. This is your problem, not any of ours. Good riddance. I don't want anything to do with you, either.

I don't have any opinion about that article -- don't agree, don't disagree, don't much care -- but I didn't see anything particularly creepy about it. But even if it is creepy, I don't see any reason to draw any broad conclusions about "classicists" or "male classicists" or "classicists with blond hair" or "classicists who have big feet" or any group of people. There is no call to make judgements about broad groups of people.

Read the article more carefully. Nothing in that article painted weavers, or women, or any other group, in a bad light. I don't even see much sexism in that article, on the contrary, I see a lot more sexism in your responses. The article distinguished between good weavers and bad weavers. As I say, I don't particularly agree or disagree with the article.... but your strong reaction to it is telling. You saw in that article what you wanted to see, something a lot darker than what is really there.

The "serial killer" is not in that article. He's in your head.

Diane wrote:How could you possibly imagine that a woman would want to read that?
I think women can make up their own minds about what they want to read, and their interests may not match yours. Women don't all think alike. I certainly do not take you to be a spokesperson for women. There are already plenty of women here and they can each speak for themselves. I can imagine a woman reading whatever she darn well pleases.

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Post by chad » Tue Aug 16, 2005 5:50 am

Hi Diane, I can't say whether it's accurate or not, but you might like to read this analysis of a Latin poem I remember which talks about weaving:

http://community.middlebury.edu/~harris ... e3.12.html

One of my personal interests is in the craft of ancient jewellery: I just bought for my girlfriend a necklace of 2,300 year old glass beads from Hellenistic Syria (I asked the antiquities dealer to modify it so that it can be worn) and a hammered gold imperial roman earring to use as a pendant. Stuff like this brings you closer to the ancients I think. :)

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Post by psilord » Tue Aug 16, 2005 7:09 am

chad wrote:One of my personal interests is in the craft of ancient jewellery... [snip]
I ended up with the knowledge of how to crochet and knit and am pretty passable at it. I would imagine weaving would be pretty cool, but due to my long hours at the computer and speed metal guitar, my wrists would implode at the repetiveness. I can only crochet a couple of hours (with 15 minute breaks now and then) before the stiffness warns me to stop...

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Post by Diane » Tue Aug 16, 2005 8:25 pm

I leave you to God.

I ask that He protect all females from you.

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Post by Yhevhe » Tue Aug 16, 2005 10:55 pm

chad wrote:One of my personal interests is in the craft of ancient jewellery: I just bought for my girlfriend a necklace of 2,300 year old glass beads from Hellenistic Syria (I asked the antiquities dealer to modify it so that it can be worn) and a hammered gold imperial roman earring to use as a pendant
That is one of the things that would make me feel bad. I always like to see ancient things in museums, locked in their crystal box. But I guess there are a lot of jewellery from those times to worry that much. Still, I wouldn't give anyone that kind of things. :)
Diane wrote:I ask that He protect all females from you.
Oh Diane, have you seen that much discrimination in your life towards women? If so, I share your sadness, or anger, towards the people that do that. But I also find that you are generalizing a little bit. It's not good. It's like saying that all Muslims are terrorist, or all U.S.A people are selfish, or all Spaniards are rude.

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Post by Bert » Tue Aug 16, 2005 11:43 pm

Yhevhe wrote: It's like saying that all Muslims are terrorist, or all U.S.A people are selfish, or all Spaniards are rude.
Or all Dutch people are stingy :)

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Post by Lucus Eques » Wed Aug 17, 2005 12:29 am

Bert wrote:
Yhevhe wrote: It's like saying that all Muslims are terrorist, or all U.S.A people are selfish, or all Spaniards are rude.
Or all Dutch people are stingy :)
Peter Griffin of Family Guy wrote: Yeah, which is more than we got from those those freeloading Canadians.

[awkward pause]

... Canada sucks.
:-P
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Post by bellum paxque » Wed Aug 17, 2005 1:34 pm

I didn't ever really expect to see the illustrious Peter Griffin of Family Guy quoted on this forum. But I suppose we should thank you, Luce, for administering the proper and definitive answer for any question on biases and stereotypes.

David

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Post by Yhevhe » Thu Aug 18, 2005 3:28 pm

Hmm, keeping with the weaving mechanics... can't one just weave a little bit, and when nobody's seeing, unweave it a little bit, and so on? I think that if you did a lot of weaving and suddenly next morning all is considerable undone, everyone would notice it.

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Post by antianira » Fri Aug 19, 2005 2:20 pm

I had a nice post written out the other day, must have clicked the wrong button because it never showed up, or else its lost in posting netherworld...



I remember in college a number of professors (not just in classics but other arts as well) directing every little thing into fear/envy of women/birth etc. Perhaps there was an academic 'womb-envy' movement I wasn't aware of. I don't get the creepy or 'serial-killer' aspect of it though. There were a few good points. "weaving" is a rich metaphor. I am surprised he left out the story of arachne, the 'evil-weaver with an attitude' (turned into a spider by athena for declaring her weaving skills superior to athena's)

But you don't need to understand/listen to him or others to read Homer. That is the beauty of learning the original language. The poet's thoughts/ideas/art aren't filtered through anyone else's opinion and we are able to form our very own thoughts about it.


I always understood penelope and her loom as a metaphor, she is doing what she can to remain a good wife until her man comes home. Using the loom (like a good ancient wife) - which also belongs to Athene, who is oddysseus' protector. Maybe it doesn't accurately reflect the mechanics of weaving. It is most probable that Homer never sat down and learned the craft. but poetry was never meant to be taken literally.

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Post by PhilipF » Fri Aug 19, 2005 2:54 pm

antianira wrote:
I always understood penelope and her loom as a metaphor, she is doing what she can to remain a good wife until her man comes home. Using the loom (like a good ancient wife) - which also belongs to Athene, who is oddysseus' protector.
Penelope is perhaps a more complex figure than that of a' good little wife '. According to Apollodorus she later incestuously married Odysseus' son Telegonus . Herodotus and Apollodorus both report that the goat-God Pan was her son . Some say the father was Hermes others that he was fathered by all her lovers collectively ! Even in Homer she is depicted as encouraging them on occasion.
Servius records a tradition that she gave birth to Pan while Odysseus was away and that he was so horrifed by the sight of the monstrous child that he resumed his travels .
The mythographers also record tales that she was driven out or even killed by Odysseus on his return precisely because of her adultery with the suitors .

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Post by Democritus » Sat Aug 20, 2005 4:59 pm

The story of Penelope and her loom just strikes me as funny. When I read this, I imagine the Greek audience sniggering about it.

The idea of Pelenelope weaving during the day and then unweaving at night -- for three years -- is silly. But the premise of this is even sillier.

Even if Pelenlope is lying to the suitors, still, the suitors are purported to believe (temporarily) the following: That Penelope is (1) willing to marry one of them, but (2) before marrying, she has to weave a shroud, for another man, who is not her husband, and who is not yet dead. She is, supposedly, not in principle opposed to a marriage, but wants to wait years... until her weaving is finished. That is silly on its face. Can't she get one of the house slaves to help her? Can't she marry first and then continue the weaving? Why not, exactly? She will put off a marriage for years because of this?

I may be out on a limb here, but I think this story is meant to be a joke, and it is at the suitors' expense. My reaction is, "Who the heck would believe this excuse??" The joke is that the suitors were taken in for three years by this transparently false excuse. I think it's an extension of their moral ineptitude, extended out to plain, undifferentiated ineptitude.

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Yhevhe
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Post by Yhevhe » Sat Aug 20, 2005 6:00 pm

Democritus wrote:Can't she get one of the house slaves to help her? Can't she marry first and then continue the weaving? Why not, exactly? She will put off a marriage for years because of this?

"Who the heck would believe this excuse??"
I'm pretty ignorant of Greek culture and society, but maybe it has to do with those. Maybe she can't get married first because then all responsibility she had with her ex-husband's family would be broken, and for now she's the only one responsible for the old man.

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Post by PhilipF » Sat Aug 20, 2005 6:32 pm

There is a famous article on the symbolism of weaving in Greek literature from a feminist perspective

http://www.english.ucsb.edu/faculty/ayl ... ienst.html

'The Voice of the Shuttle is Ours' by Patricia Klindienst


This is her view of Penelope ;

"Philomela's weaving is the new, third term in what Greek culture often presents us as two models of the woman weaver, the false twins: virtuous Penelope, continually weaving and unraveling a shroud, and vicious Helen, weaving a tapestry depicting the heroics of the men engaged in the war they claim to fight over her body. But in either case the woman's weaving serves as sign for the male poet's prestigious activity of spinning his yarns, of weaving the text of the Trojan War. For their weaving to end, Homer's text/song must end. Both women weave because the structure of marriage is suspended. They will stop weaving when they are reunited with their proper spouses, when the war ends."

I would not recommend this article to anyone who is offended by violent imagery . Though it is not by a male-classicist-serial-killer but an eminent feminist it is much more extreme in its imagery than Prof . Nirenburg is.

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Post by Bert » Sat Aug 20, 2005 7:05 pm

PhilipF wrote:There is a famous article on the symbolism of weaving in Greek literature from a feminist perspective
After what I heard about male classisist serial killing perverts, I don't think I dare to read this one. :?

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Post by antianira » Mon Aug 22, 2005 3:45 pm

Penelope is perhaps a more complex figure than that of a' good little wife '. According to Apollodorus she later incestuously married Odysseus' son Telegonus . Herodotus and Apollodorus both report that the goat-God Pan was her son . Some say the father was Hermes others that he was fathered by all her lovers collectively ! Even in Homer she is depicted as encouraging them on occasion.

I wasn't familiar with this side of the story. I just love how there are so many different sides to the myths, depending on who you read.

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Scholars and Weavers

Post by PhilipF » Thu Aug 25, 2005 12:42 pm

Scholars and Weavers .

I came across this passage while reading Goethe's Faust;

(Mephistopheles dressed in scholar's robes deliberately bamboozles a naive student with mock sophistry.)

"The web of thought ,I'd have you know
is like a weavers masterpiece
swift darts the shuttle to and fro
unseen the threads unnumbered flow
one treadle governs many a thread
and at a stroke a thousand yarns are wed
and then forward scholars step to show
and prove to you it must be so
to weave a proof that things begin
without doubt from an origin....
this method everywhere the scholars clutch
as weavers though ,they don't amount to much."

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