"the talk of Penelope to the return of the wandering Odysseus"

Penelope and Odysseus by Francesco Primaticcio, painted in 1563
Public DomainPenelope and Odysseus by Francesco Primaticcio, painted in 1563

The wife of Odysseus in Homer’s Odyssey, Penelope is often held up as a symbol of fidelity, as she remains faithful to Odysseus throughout his twenty-year absence during and after the Trojan War.

She is courted by numerous suitors, each of whom she puts off with cunning tricks.  She claims to be weaving a funeral shroud for Odysseus’s father and says that she will take a new husband when she finishes it – but each night she unpicks the work of the day, delaying the matter by three years – hence Conrad’s remark that Winnie has “done no weaving”.

The Odyssey on Book Drum