Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2011


Classical Literature and Philology


John Vlahos's bold and confident assertion that Penelope recognizes Odysseus well before book 23 will be controversial among readers who follow the party line established by the literal-minded Eustathius. Once we accept the likelihood, however, provided by evidence quite clear once it is pointed out, that the narrator is not as blatant and upfront as we generally assume, Vlahos's case becomes quite plausible. In fact, the traditional view that Penelope is clueless until she performs the bed-trick starts to sound rather naïve and does not do justice to Homer's talent for indirection and subtlety. The argument for early recognition makes better sense of the final third of the epic than the usual assumption of her ignorance.


DOI: 10.1353/lit.2011.0019