The Penelopiad

The Suitors Character Analysis

The Suitors are the swarms of men who come to beg for Penelope’s hand in marriage after Odysseus’s departure. The Suitors are generally much younger than Penelope. They profess to be in love with her, and to think she is beautiful and charming. However, behind Penelope’s back, the Suitors talk about how Penelope is old and ugly, and they admit to only pursuing Penelope for her considerable dowry. The Suitors feast every day at Ithaca, eating away at Odysseus’s fortune and Telemachus’s inheritance. They recklessly disregard the property and they rape and seduce Penelope’s Maids. When Odysseus returns to Ithaca, he and Telemachus kill all of the Suitors.

The Suitors Quotes in The Penelopiad

The The Penelopiad quotes below are all either spoken by The Suitors or refer to The Suitors. 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 15 Quotes

It was not unusual for the guests in a large household or palace to sleep with the maids. To provide a lively night’s entertainment was considered part of a good host’s hospitality, and such a host would magnanimously offer his guests their pick of the girls—but it was most irregular for the servants to be used in this way without the permission of the master of the house. Such an act amounted to thievery.

Related Characters: Penelope (speaker), The Suitors, The Twelve Maids
Page Number: 116
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 19 Quotes

I then related a dream of mine. It concerned my flock of lovely white geese, geese of which I was very fond. I dreamt that they were happily pecking around the yard when a huge eagle with a crooked beak swooped down and killed them all, whereupon I wept and wept.

Related Characters: Penelope (speaker), Odysseus, The Suitors, The Twelve Maids
Related Symbols: The Maids’ Deaths
Page Number: 139
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Chapter 20 Quotes

The more outrageous versions have it that I slept with all of the Suitors, one after another—over a hundred of them—and then gave birth to the Great God Pan. Who could believe such a monstrous tale? Some songs aren’t worth the breath expended on them.

Related Characters: Penelope (speaker), The Suitors, Pan
Page Number: 144
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 21 Quotes

Let us just say: There is another story.
Or several, as befits the goddess Rumour…
Word has it that Penelope the Prissy
Was—when it came to sex— no shrinking sissy!
Some said…that each and every brisk contender
By turns did have the fortune to upend her,
By which promiscuous acts the goat-god Pan
Was then conceived, or so the fable ran.
The truth, dear auditors, is seldom certain—
But let us take a peek behind the curtain!

Related Characters: The Twelve Maids (speaker), Penelope , The Suitors, Pan
Page Number: 147-148
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. DLorem ipLorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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The Suitors Character Timeline in The Penelopiad

The timeline below shows where the character The Suitors appears in The Penelopiad. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: The Chorus Line: A Rope-Jumping Rhyme
Storytelling, Textual Authority, and Falsehoods Theme Icon
...a spear. The Maids say that they cleaned the blood of their dead lovers (the Suitors) before being hanged. They reiterate that their deaths were not fair and accuse Odysseus of... (full context)
Chapter 14: The Suitors Stuff Their Faces
Storytelling, Textual Authority, and Falsehoods Theme Icon
Class, Womanhood, and Violence Theme Icon
Christianity vs. Greek Religion Theme Icon
...own corpse, with an arrow in his neck. According to Penelope, Antinous was the first Suitor that Odysseus shot when he returned to Ithaca, and Antinous turned into a corpse to... (full context)
Class, Womanhood, and Violence Theme Icon
...and then says that, now that they are friends, he can tell her why the Suitors risked their lives through their behavior towards her and Odysseus, despite warnings from Prophets and... (full context)
Class, Womanhood, and Violence Theme Icon
...two “brats,” and Penelope asks again about his real motive. Antinous tells her that the Suitors wanted her treasure and her kingdom, since widows are supposed to be lusty and she... (full context)
Class, Womanhood, and Violence Theme Icon
According to Penelope, the Suitors did not show up directly after Odysseus left. For the first ten years of Odysseus’s... (full context)
Storytelling, Textual Authority, and Falsehoods Theme Icon
Class, Womanhood, and Violence Theme Icon
The Suitors said that they would continue to feast off of Odysseus’s estate until Penelope chose one... (full context)
Storytelling, Textual Authority, and Falsehoods Theme Icon
Class, Womanhood, and Violence Theme Icon
After the feast, Penelope’s Maids would tell Penelope the nasty things the Suitors had said behind her back, calling her an “old bitch,” comparing her unfavorably to Helen,... (full context)
Class, Womanhood, and Violence Theme Icon
Antiquity, Modernity, and Progress for Women Theme Icon
Penelope could do nothing to stop the Suitors, since they did not respond to her pleas or her threats. Telemachus was too young... (full context)
Chapter 15: The Shroud
Class, Womanhood, and Violence Theme Icon
Meanwhile, if Penelope married one of the Suitors, the man would then be able to order Telemachus about. Penelope imagines that the best... (full context)
Christianity vs. Greek Religion Theme Icon
Penelope reminded the Suitors that an oracle foretold Odysseus’s return, but the Suitors countered that prophecies are always ambiguous.... (full context)
Storytelling, Textual Authority, and Falsehoods Theme Icon
Class, Womanhood, and Violence Theme Icon
...and said she was weaving a shroud for Laertes and she would not select a Suitor until she finished her work. Laertes did not like this idea, thinking it would prompt... (full context)
Class, Womanhood, and Violence Theme Icon
...the betrayal was her own fault, since she told the women to spy on the Suitors while keeping them company. Only Penelope and the maids, and not Eurycleia, knew the Maids’... (full context)
Class, Womanhood, and Violence Theme Icon
Antiquity, Modernity, and Progress for Women Theme Icon
Because she told them to spend time with the Suitors, several of the Maids were raped and others fell in love with the Suitors. Penelope... (full context)
Class, Womanhood, and Violence Theme Icon
Meanwhile, Penelope continued to tell the Maids to pretend to be in love with the Suitors so that the Suitors would confide in them and the Maids could tell Penelope their... (full context)
Class, Womanhood, and Violence Theme Icon
...they did eventually find out the trick that Penelope had played with the shroud, the Suitors broke into Penelope’s room and caught her undoing the weaving. (full context)
Chapter 16: Bad Dreams
Class, Womanhood, and Violence Theme Icon
...still did not return and Telemachus began ordering his mother around. He started challenging the Suitors, which made Penelope concerned that he would be killed. Eventually, Telemachus secretly left in a... (full context)
Storytelling, Textual Authority, and Falsehoods Theme Icon
Class, Womanhood, and Violence Theme Icon
In the Odyssey, a herald named Medon warns Penelope of the Suitors’ intention to kill Telemachus. Penelope here sets the record straight, saying that she knew about... (full context)
Chapter 18: News of Helen
Class, Womanhood, and Violence Theme Icon
Penelope resumes her narrative, relaying how Telemachus avoided the Suitors’ ambush and reached home safely. Penelope welcomed Telemachus, and then yelled at him for leaving... (full context)
Class, Womanhood, and Violence Theme Icon
Antiquity, Modernity, and Progress for Women Theme Icon
...He then blamed Penelope for letting so much of his inheritance be consumed by the Suitors. Telemachus defended his choice to get new of his father, and insisted that his father... (full context)
Chapter 19: Yelp of Joy
Class, Womanhood, and Violence Theme Icon
...since he wanted to figure out what was going on at the palace with the Suitors before announcing his arrival. If he had walked in and ordered them all out, Penelope... (full context)
Storytelling, Textual Authority, and Falsehoods Theme Icon
...the Maids Odysseus’s true identity, so they continued to unwittingly insult the family to the Suitors in front of him. Melantho of the Pretty Cheeks was especially harsh. Penelope decided to... (full context)
Storytelling, Textual Authority, and Falsehoods Theme Icon
...the beggar for advice, saying that she planned to take Odysseus’s bow and challenge the Suitors to a shooting competition, with herself as the prize, in order to bring the ordeal... (full context)
Storytelling, Textual Authority, and Falsehoods Theme Icon
Class, Womanhood, and Violence Theme Icon
Antiquity, Modernity, and Progress for Women Theme Icon
Christianity vs. Greek Religion Theme Icon
...to weep. Odysseus interpreted the dream for her, saying that the geese must be the Suitors, and that one would kill the others. He ignored the eagle’s crooked beak and the... (full context)
Chapter 20: Slanderous Gossip
Storytelling, Textual Authority, and Falsehoods Theme Icon
...Penelope slept with one suitor that was particularly polite. Penelope admits that she led the Suitors on and made promises to them, but asserts that this was all part of her... (full context)
Storytelling, Textual Authority, and Falsehoods Theme Icon
Class, Womanhood, and Violence Theme Icon
Antiquity, Modernity, and Progress for Women Theme Icon
Christianity vs. Greek Religion Theme Icon
...of the wildest stories that Penelope heard was that she slept with all of the Suitors and then gave birth to the god Pan. Penelope wonders who would believe such nonsense.... (full context)
Class, Womanhood, and Violence Theme Icon
...Penelope did not punish the Twelve Maids, Penelope must have been having sex with the Suitors herself. Penelope, however, has already explained that. (full context)
Storytelling, Textual Authority, and Falsehoods Theme Icon
Class, Womanhood, and Violence Theme Icon
...his identity. This is why he locked Penelope in her room while he killed the Suitors. Penelope insists that Odysseus would not have wanted to expose her to such sights. She... (full context)
Chapter 21: The Chorus Line: The Perils of Penelope, A Drama
Storytelling, Textual Authority, and Falsehoods Theme Icon
Class, Womanhood, and Violence Theme Icon
Christianity vs. Greek Religion Theme Icon
...by saying that there is “another story” in which Penelope was purportedly sleeping with various Suitors, and using her tears to distract from her deeds. According to these tales, Penelope conceived... (full context)
Storytelling, Textual Authority, and Falsehoods Theme Icon
Class, Womanhood, and Violence Theme Icon
Antiquity, Modernity, and Progress for Women Theme Icon
...decent. Eurycleia tells her that the only people who know about her affairs with the Suitors are her twelve trusted Maids, and she tells Penelope that they must be silenced or... (full context)
Chapter 23: Odysseus and Telemachus Snuff the Maids
Storytelling, Textual Authority, and Falsehoods Theme Icon
Penelope slept through Suitors’ killings in the women’s quarters, probably because Eurycleia drugged her drink. Eurycleia later described the... (full context)
Class, Womanhood, and Violence Theme Icon
Then Odysseus shot Antinous in the throat and went on the kill all of the Suitors with the help of Telemachus and two herdsmen. Meanwhile, Eurycleia and the other women listened... (full context)
Chapter 25: Heart of Flint
Storytelling, Textual Authority, and Falsehoods Theme Icon
Class, Womanhood, and Violence Theme Icon
This chapter returns to Penelope’s first-person narrative as she describes her feelings after the Suitors and the Maids were murdered. Penelope had pretended not to believe that it was Odysseus... (full context)
Storytelling, Textual Authority, and Falsehoods Theme Icon
Class, Womanhood, and Violence Theme Icon
...order to deceive his way out of bad situations. Penelope then told Odysseus about the Suitors and her fake weaving project. Odysseus told Penelope how much he missed her, and Penelope... (full context)
Storytelling, Textual Authority, and Falsehoods Theme Icon
Soon after Odysseus returned home, he left again to attempt to purify himself after the Suitors’ murders and pacify Poseidon, and thereby satisfy a prophecy he heard while traveling. Penelope calls... (full context)
Chapter 26: The Chorus Line: The Trial of Odysseus, as Videotaped by the Maids
Storytelling, Textual Authority, and Falsehoods Theme Icon
Antiquity, Modernity, and Progress for Women Theme Icon
...The chapter opens with Odysseus’s defense attorney asserting Odysseus’s innocence in the murders of the Suitors and the Maids. The Attorney suggests that it was justified for Odysseus to kill the... (full context)
Class, Womanhood, and Violence Theme Icon
Antiquity, Modernity, and Progress for Women Theme Icon
Apparently, the prosecutor finds Odysseus’s reaction to have been an overreaction, especially since the Suitors offered to compensate him for his losses. However, the defense attorney notes that the men... (full context)
Storytelling, Textual Authority, and Falsehoods Theme Icon
Class, Womanhood, and Violence Theme Icon
Antiquity, Modernity, and Progress for Women Theme Icon
...states that they, the “best-looking” and “most beddable” Maids, had sex without permission with the Suitors. The judge leafs through the Odyssey, saying that they need to consult it since it... (full context)
Storytelling, Textual Authority, and Falsehoods Theme Icon
Class, Womanhood, and Violence Theme Icon
Antiquity, Modernity, and Progress for Women Theme Icon
Christianity vs. Greek Religion Theme Icon
...that, whether the maids consented or not, they would be forced to sleep with the Suitors. However, the judge concedes that Odysseus’s times “were not our times” and that standards of... (full context)