Penelope, Clytemnestra and the challenges of military homecomings (Dr Emma Bridges, Institute of Classical Studies)

5:00pm - 6:00pm / Tuesday 19th March 2019 / Venue: Seminar Room 10, Rendall Building
Type: Seminar / Category: Department / Series: Classics and Ancient History Seminar Series
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This paper will examine one aspect of the relationship of mythical warriors’ wives with their husbands: the reunion process which takes place after a soldier returns from war. It will ask whether we can gain fresh insight into the ancient representations of Penelope and Clytemnestra – one famed for her fidelity, the other notorious for her betrayal of her absent husband – if we compare their stories with the experiences of ‘military spouses’ in contemporary society. While Book 23 of the Odyssey might be seen to present in microcosm many of the elements of the reunion process – encompassing Penelope’s disbelief, denial, suspicion and eventual joy – experienced by those in a military marriage today, by contrast, the traditions relating to Clytemnestra and Agamemnon act as a grotesque distortion of a successful homecoming.