I've been pondering my lack of knowledge around history and myths lately. After all, the education system is just not what it used to be! Children are not taught Latin as due course, nor was I learned in the history of ancient civilisations. And my awareness of Greek mythology is sorely lacking. So I've been visiting the library and uncovering sleeping gems.
Recently I've been reading a modern tale of Odysseus and Penelope. Odysseus leaves his wife to fight in a battle to return Helen to her husband. But he does not return. As Penelope is an intelligent woman, she becomes prosperous in his absence. And that is when the suitors come knocking. All 120 or so of them want her hand (but mainly her riches and kingdom) in marriage. In order to dissuade them and remain faithful to her husband, she weaves a shroud and promises to marry the most valiant suitor when the shroud is completed. But each night it is unwoven, and thus never grows...
Dear Penelope was not beautiful, she did not insight wars or have hundreds of men die in her honour as her cousin Helen of Troy did. Rather she was known for her wits and her persistent faithfulness to her husband. And for her craft skills. Here is her take on the matter..
The teaching of crafts to girls has fallen out of fashion now, I understand, but luckily it had not in my day. It's always an advantage to have something to do with your hands. That way, if someone makes an inappropriate remark, you can pretend you haven't heard it. Then you don't have to answer. The Penelopiad, Margaret Atwood.