Weaving stories about Homer’s Penelope

Ref: C2228611

While Helen of Troy has attracted notoriety and provided a model of the adulteress and notional cause of the Trojan War in Homer, Penelope has come to stand for the opposite: the faithful wife who uses her domestic prowess at weaving to fend off her suitors while she waits for her husband Odysseus to return. But other authors, ancient and modern, have drawn a more active, critical Penelope. In this course we will look at both ancient and modern versions of Penelope in literature, including those found in Homer’s Odyssey, Ovid’s Heroides, Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad and Natalie Haynes’ A Thousand Ships.

Course aim

An introduction to Homer’s Penelope and her changing representation in ancient and modern literature.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Learn about Penelope in ancient myth
  • Consider her representation in various literary texts
  • Examine changes in the way she has been represented in literature
  • Discuss reasons why her representation has been revised and reshaped for different times

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

No previous knowledge is assumed. You will get more from the course if you read the whole book discussed each week, but short extracts will be downloadable from Canvas. Links to further reading will be provided for those who wish to extend their learning. A pen & paper may be handy for notes.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

Weaving stories about Homer’s Penelope

Is this course right for me? Request more information

This course is not available for online enrolment.


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2021
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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