The Penelopiad

Eurycleia Character Analysis

Eurycleia is Odysseus's former nurse and a servant in his household. Eurycleia is entirely devoted to Odysseus and always thinks she knows what's best for him. This annoys Penelope, who finds Eurycleia controlling and condescending. Still, Eurycleia is loyal servant and one of the few people who takes the time to show Penelope the ropes when she arrives at Ithaca. Eurycleia also helps Penelope deliver Telemachus and nurses him with care. Eurycleia is the one who points out Penelope’s favorite Maids to Odysseus to be killed at the end of the book.

Eurycleia Quotes in The Penelopiad

The The Penelopiad quotes below are all either spoken by Eurycleia or refer to Eurycleia. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Storytelling, Textual Authority, and Falsehoods Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Canongate Books edition of The Penelopiad published in 2006.
Chapter 9 Quotes

I ought to have thanked her for it, with my heart as well as my lips…Whether to cover the mouth when you laugh, on what occasions to wear a veil, how much of the face it should conceal, how often to order a bath—Eurycleia was an expert on all such matters.

Related Characters: Penelope (speaker), Eurycleia
Page Number: 61
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 23 Quotes

‘Only twelve,’ she faltered. ‘The impertinent ones. The ones who’d been rude… They were notorious whores.’
‘The ones who’d been raped,’ I said. ‘The youngest. The most beautiful.’ My eyes and ears among the Suitors, I did not add. My helpers during the long nights of the shroud. My snow-white geese. My thrushes, my doves.

Related Characters: Penelope (speaker), Eurycleia (speaker), The Twelve Maids
Related Symbols: The Maids’ Deaths , Water
Page Number: 159-160
Explanation and Analysis:
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Eurycleia Character Timeline in The Penelopiad

The timeline below shows where the character Eurycleia appears in The Penelopiad. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 9: The Trusted Cackle-Hen
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Odysseus’s former nurse, Eurycleia, gave Penelope even more trouble. She had been in the household for a long time... (full context)
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Penelope avoided Anticleia and stayed with Eurycleia, who, although condescending, was friendly. She told Penelope all about the local nobility and professed... (full context)
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Still, Eurycleia was somewhat kind to her, and encouraging as Penelope was trying to get pregnant. She... (full context)
Chapter 11: Helen Ruins My Life
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...looking at her. Eventually Penelope stopped trying, and spent her time instead caring for Telemachus. Eurycleia, though, would only rarely let Penelope be in charge of him, instead taking Telemachus out... (full context)
Chapter 12: Waiting
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Anticleia died during Odysseus’s absence, blaming Penelope for everything. Eurycleia and Laertes aged. Laertes turned toward a farming life, and Penelope thinks that he had... (full context)
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...extremely alone. She cried herself to sleep and prayed to the gods for her husband. Eurycleia tried to sooth her with drinks and baths. While she comforted her, Eurycleia would recite... (full context)
Chapter 14: The Suitors Stuff Their Faces
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...could cry too and console her, which Penelope thinks was a “relief to their nerves.” Eurycleia seemed to especially like this gossip, because she was trying to ensure that Penelope would... (full context)
Chapter 15: The Shroud
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...spy on the Suitors while keeping them company. Only Penelope and the maids, and not Eurycleia, knew the Maids’ instructions, which Penelope states was a mistake. (full context)
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...of them felt guilty, and the ones who were raped needed to be cared for. Eurycleia would bathe the girls and rub them with olive oil at Penelope’s request, although she... (full context)
Chapter 16: Bad Dreams
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...Maids wailed too. Penelope chastised the Maids for not telling her about Telemachus’s departure until Eurycleia confessed to being the only one to help him. Eurycleia told Penelope that she and... (full context)
Chapter 18: News of Helen
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...thought that she wished she had taught him better table manners—every time she had tried, Eurycleia had stopped her, saying there was time for that later. Penelope regretted that Telemachus had... (full context)
Chapter 19: Yelp of Joy
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...he refused because he did not want to be ridiculed by them. Then Penelope told Eurycleia to wash his feet, and she did so, not suspecting that it was Odysseus. When... (full context)
Chapter 21: The Chorus Line: The Perils of Penelope, A Drama
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Next, Eurycleia, played by a maid, informs Penelope that Odysseus is back, and that she identified him... (full context)
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Penelope then sends her lover down some hidden stairs and asks Eurycleia to make her look decent. Eurycleia tells her that the only people who know about... (full context)
Chapter 23: Odysseus and Telemachus Snuff the Maids
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Penelope slept through Suitors’ killings in the women’s quarters, probably because Eurycleia drugged her drink. Eurycleia later described the events to Penelope, telling her how Odysseus, disguised... (full context)
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...the kill all of the Suitors with the help of Telemachus and two herdsmen. Meanwhile, Eurycleia and the other women listened at the door of the women’s quarters. Odysseus then summoned... (full context)
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...a ship’s rope. Then Telemachus and Odysseus hacked up a goatherd who had betrayed him. Eurycleia thought that this would make an example for anyone else thinking about treason. When she... (full context)
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...most beautiful Maids. Penelope did not reveal that these were also her spies and confidantes. Eurycleia said that it would not have been proper to have such mouthy and untrustworthy girls... (full context)
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Penelope wonders if another explanation might be that Eurycleia knew of her Maids’ assignments and wanted to kill the Maids to maintain her privileged... (full context)
Chapter 25: Heart of Flint
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...so unlike the clean, well-dressed man she knew. When Odysseus returned clean, Penelope then ordered Eurycleia to move the bed in Odysseus’s room, the one with the bedpost still in the... (full context)