Questions about Homer mushroom into enormous bibliographies that attest to the stature of the man and the artist. Questions about the origins in oral poetry and the redaction of these monumental Greek epics rival the revolutionary discoveries of the higher criticism of the Bible. My theme is a small question for Homeric studies but a large question for studies in the Odyssey: when, how, and why does Penelope recognize Odysseus? The meaning of her several crucial actions in Bks. 18-23 of the Odyssey will depend upon how this question is resolved. To oversimplify: If she knew the beggar was Odysseus, the bow contest could be their conspiracy; if she did not know, the contest could be the tragic collapse of her persevering faithfulness on the very eve of her husband's return.



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