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What is the importance of Odysseus's bed in Homer's Odyssey?

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mangomax1 | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted December 14, 2011 at 11:46 AM via web

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What is the importance of Odysseus's bed in Homer's Odyssey?

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noahvox2 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted December 14, 2011 at 1:05 PM (Answer #1)

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By the time Homer's audience encounters Odyssey 23, Odysseus has revealed his identity to his son, his servants, and the suitors, the latter of whom he has slaughtered while his wife Penelope was asleep upstairs. When Odysseus reveals himself to his wife, she does not immediately accept this revelation. She wants to test her husband first and she does so by claiming that she has moved his bed. Odysseus reacts with angry astonishment because he himself had built the bed in such a way that only an almost superhuman effort could move the bed. As soon as Odysseus reveals the secret of how he had made the bed, Penelope

ran to Odysseus, flung her arms about his neck, and kissing his face cried: ‘Odysseus, don’t be angry with me, you who in everything were always the most understanding of men. (A.S. Kline translation).

I like to compare Homer's Odyssey to the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Like Goldilocks, Odysseus tries many different foods, many different chairs, and many different beds (Calypso's, Circe's, even beds of leaves). Only on Ithaca, his native land, does he find the bed that is just right, and that is the bed that he shares with his lawful wife Penelope.



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krys97 | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted December 16, 2011 at 7:42 AM (Answer #2)

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oddyseus had built that bed himself and he carved a tree as the base, then he basicaly built the whole house around his bed. so in order to move it, it would ruin the bed. so penelope uses this information to see if he really was odysseus because only they knew about the bed

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englishguru4 | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted May 28, 2013 at 4:33 AM (Answer #3)

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The bed allows Penelope to determine without a doubt whether the man who claims to be Odysseus is truly Odysseus. She tells her maid to move the bed for Odysseus in order to make it outside her sleeping chambers. Upon this request, Odysseus becomes upset and explains how this can't be done because he specifically built the bed around the olive tree and it cannot be moved. Upon this explanation Penelope then knows this is her true Odysseus.

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