The Penelopiad

The skills for winners to write history

Just as the old proverb goes,“History is written by winners” - The Penelopiad introduction. It is true that the primary history resource we have today is mostly uncompleted and biased. This is no more evident than in the two stories The Penelopiad and The Odyssey. In The Penelopiad, Penelope does the same effort — treats herself as the winner and glorifies her achievements by telling the truth through her version. However, the Odyssey — who also respects himself as the winner — demonstrates an absolutely different drama by using his prospective. Yet, no matter how huge the difference is, they both just intend to decorate themselves. The tricks they played are as follow.

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Firstly, from the aspect of Penelope, Suitors stains her loyalty to her husband and family. Suitors forces her to choose one of them as her new husband unless they will ruin the palace. Moreover, the reason for the act was just for money and power. So, in order to protect the country and herself, Penelope played a trick by weaving an “endless” shroud for her father-in-law. This project will never be finished because Penelope would undo what she has accomplished so that the “shroud never got any bigger”(line 113). However, in The Odyssey, they illustrate their sincere love to Penelope and blame her as a heartbreaker. The scheme she settled was the way for her to make fun which hurts them hardly. Despite the shocking difference between the two stories, it is easy for us to see and understand that both Penelope and the Suitors want their story to be believed. If their story is believed, then they are free of any fault.

Secondly, Penelope tries to purify her maids,which is not only for her sorry to those innocent girls, but also wants to show her followers’ loyalty. In the Penelope, she explains the reason for why the maid told the truth was the maid just slips some words away by accident, she even thinks it was her fault since she doesn’t state all the plan clearly to the, as she mentioned in the book, “I’m sure it was an accident” “the fact that my secret was betrayed was, strictly specking, my own fault”(line 992 – 993) Nevertheless, the Odyssey shows that “One of her women, in on the queen’s secret, told the truth”. (book 2, line 26)It seems like the maid mean to tell the truth to Suitors and betray the Penelope. Obviously, in order to build herself as a successful leader and winner, disloyalty couldn’t exist in her society. Even if one of her maids made a mistake, she would take responsibility for it, which only makes her a stronger leader.

Stands on the Penelope, the Odyssey lights on their sinful desire by using holy expression as a winner. Penelope waves a shroud for her father-in-law for prolonging the time to make a decision. Since it was extremely devotional, Suitors couldn’t disturb it. Like what she said, “no one could oppose my task, it was so extremely pious”(line 986). However, they were urgent. Thus, they polished the old king as a god who didn’t need a shroud at all, thus, Penelope can stop her work. In contrast, what Penelope thinks is Suitors would hasten the death pace of the old king, instead of sending great respect. Certainly, the Odyssey is trying to clean every dirty spots, turn them to be saintly.

In conclusion, what I learned from those two books is the skill of “winners” to write history, rather than the facts. To be more precise, the history is just the hymn for the person who wrote them. Moreover, the pure fact about ancient history is barely existed.

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