Why is Book 23 of the Odyssey called “Penelope’s Book” and what is Eurycleia’s role in this book?
Book 23 is the next to last book of Homer's Odyssey. In Book 22, Odysseus kills Penelope's suitors and in Book 23 Eurycleia, Penelope's maidservant, awakens Penelope, who has been sound asleep while more than 100 men were slaughtered in her house.
Eurycleia's role in this book is to serve as a messenger. She awakens her mistress and tells her about what has happened. She tells Penelope about Odysseus' triumph over the suitors, but Penelope is skeptical.
Penelope controls much of the action throughout the rest of this book as she is re-united with her husband. Not only is Penelope skeptical about Eurycleia's news at first, but she is also unsure about whether the man who stands before her, after an absence of twenty years, is really her husband.
Penelope, however, tricks Odysseus into revealing the secret of how their bed was constructed, which proved to Penelope that Odysseus had, in fact, returned home:
"Now you have told me the true secret of our marriage bed, that no other mortal knew but you and I and a single maidservant" (A.S. Kline translation).
Thus, for these reasons, we may justifiably call Odyssey 23 "Penelope's Book."
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