The Penelopiad: Do you think Penelope is a reliable narrator?
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But, as came up in another thread, she stands on some shaky ground from time to time.
E: "Only the twelve, my lady, who assisted,
Know that the Suitors you have not resisted."
P: "Point out those maids as feckless and disloyal..."
After all, Penelope's a match for Odysseus in the art of deception.
Stem: Is Penelope telling the 100% truth?
With a side of rationalization.
But that is my truth ;-)
BTW, hanging is a more ignominous death than having your head sliced off.
. The whole thing about the maids servicing the suitors to get info for Penelope seems a little contrived. She couldn't stop them from eating her out of house and home, but she somehow could have stopped them from sleeping with her maids? That's contradicted directly by the Iliad text. To both Homer and Atwood she appears to be not well in control of the forces buffeting her. The implication to me is that Odysseus needs a good story about how great his wife did in his absence, but women, no matter how capable, are seen as basically helpless. The behavior of the maids is a metaphor for the never mentioned but presumed infidelity of Penelope, and their slaughter is her punishment for that infidelity.
Stem: Does any narrator tell the 100% truth?
That supposition would seem to argue post hoc ergo propter hoc . . .
The question isn't so much What is Penelope's truth? as it is Does Penelope a) knowingly lie, b) knowingly conceal elements of her story for the purpose of deception, or c) is she oblivious to important elements of the larger story? Given the "testimony" of the chorus, I think we should definitely conclude that Penelope is unreliable. Whether she is a deceiver or just clueless because of her class role is another question, and one which is not fully provable.
(I've been reading an account of Baseball's Creation Myth that includes mention of Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain's career as a journalist . . . as you might imagine, he loved to "invent the truth" . . . that doesn't change the value of the stories.)