Many details in the narrative and dialogue of the Odyssey depict a Penelope who is oblivious to, or at least unsure of, Odysseus's identity until he has successfully passed her test of the marriage bed in book 23. But several other details depict a Penelope who seems to have at least a premonition, if not actual knowledge, of Odysseus's identity much earlier in the tale. This tension in our inherited text of the Odyssey has been variously explained for some two millennia. I favor an explanation based on an approach that I call "neoanalysis with an oral twist." In short, it assumes that lying behind the particular instantiation of the return tale that we know as Homer's Odyssey there existed various other versions of the tale in which the plot developed somewhat differently: in which, for example, Penelope recognized Odysseus much earlier in the narrative and colluded with him in the destruction of the suitors. These other versions lingered in the mind of the poet, as well as of his audience, during the composition and performance of the Odyssey and have therefore left vestiges in our surviving text.


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pp. 101-117
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