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The Scar of Odysseus

Not a man on earth, not even at peak strength,

Would find it easy to prise it up and shift it, no,

A great sign, a hallmark lies in its construction.

I know, I built it myself—no one else…

There’s our secret sign, I tell you, our life story!

Does the bed, my lady, still stand planted firm>

I don’t know—or has someone chopped away

That olive-trunk and hauled our bedstead off?

This is the real sign Penelope has been waiting for to know Odysseus is her husband. She dissolves into tears with weak knees at his reaction to her request to move the bed because she knows he knows that is the one solemn vow and unbreakable oath between them. As she says after her initial emotion subsides “But now, since you have revealed such overwhelming proof-- / the secret signs of our bed, which no one’s ever seen / but you and I and a single handmaid, Actoris, / the servant my father gave me when I came, / who kept the doors of our room you built so well… / you’ve conquered my heard, my hard heart at last!” (Kass et al. 354).

While The Odyssey is a combination of pagan and Christian elements, we can see many Christian elements in this passage from the homecoming of Odysseus and the reunion of the married couple. We can especially see the Christian elements when it comes to aspects like the sacredness of the marriage bed and vows of chastity and the quality of covetousness. The suitors who have camped out in Odysseus’ house, ate his food, drank his wine and tried to woo his wife are portrayed as the lowest form of creatures. As the nurse tells Penelope “He’s come home, just as I tell you!… / …so he could pay those vipers back in kind!” (Kass et al. 348). If we look to the English NIV Bible, we see that there are many verses devoted to the ills of coveting. As noted in Exodus 20:17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidserv...

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The Scar of Odysseus. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 02:50, September 21, 2017, from
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