What significant themes of The Odyssey are echoed in Odysseus' meetings with his mother Anticleia in the House of Death.

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The section in the House of Death is interesting in the way it places importance yet again on women and their role in helping Odysseus to return home, but also how the theme of loyalty is stressed, which is a very important part of the whole text. In characters such as Circe and Athena, Odysseus in many ways is shown to be dependent upon women for the success of his journey, and this is something that is stressed in this particular episode, where somehow he must gain the approval of the Phoenician Queen in order to return home. In the conversation he has with his mother, Odysseus asks her about Penelope and in particular whether she is still waiting for him:

Tell me again what my wife intends doing, and in what mind she is; does she live with my son and guard my estate securely, or has she made the best match she could and married again?

What makes this question even more interesting is that Odysseus has spoken to the shade of Agamemnon, who was killed by his wife when he returned from Troy to his homeland. There is an interesting parallel set up, and Odysseus is keen to work out whether he might face a similar fate, or whether Penelope, unlike Clytemnestra, has stayed loyal to her husband during his long period of absence. Therefore what this scene in the House of the Dead highlights is the importance of the role of women in this text and the way that Odysseus is so many times dependent on them for his safe arrival back at Ithaca, and also the theme of loyalty that is highlighted through his questioning about Penelope.

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