What qualities should a confident person have
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Penelope's father was Icarus, the son of Daedalus. The oracle had proclaimed during pregnancy: "Periboea has shame, the glory of women under the heart." Icarus interpreted this oracle to mean that it would bring shame to bring up the child. It got the name Arnäa, which means something like 'I refuse'. Icarus put the child in a basin and put it in the sea. But the sea was very calm. The child's crying called the birds to bring him food and gently guide him to shore. The birds that saved the child were called penelopes. When Icarus saw this, he decided to raise the child and named the girl Penelope.
According to another tradition, Nauplius wanted to avenge his son's death on her. He threw her off a rock into the sea, but the Penelopes saved her.
Her name means something like a weaver of the finest work. The name expresses that someone is busy with a delicate robe and throws the weft.
Icarus let the applicants for the marriage with Penelope run a race. Odysseus won the race and wanted to take Penelope with him to Itaka. However, Icarus could not part with his daughter, there were long disputes between father and son-in-law. Odysseus finally asked Penelope herself whether she wanted to go with him or stay with her father. She covered her head and said nothing. Icarus interpreted this in such a way that she wanted to go but did not dare to say this. So he let her go with Odysseus.
They lived on Ithaca, but soon Odysseus had to go to war in Troy. He didn't go willingly. He even tried to pretend to be crazy. He sowed salt in the fields and plowed the salt under the ground. However, when the Greek commanders put his son Telemachus in front of the plow, Odysseus stopped and followed the order. He stayed away from home for 20 years. During this time there were numerous interested parties in Ithaca who all wanted to marry Penelope (= free) and become king of Ithaca. The information on the number of suitors varies from 30 to 108 to 300. They lived in the palace and let themselves be at the expense of the lonely queen. They played a kind of bocce ball; whoever could throw his stone closest to the main stone had the greatest claims on Penelope.
Odysseus was not reported dead, however, and so the game went on. Penelope invented all sorts of excuses to postpone the decision - but the suitors pressed all the more to marry. At last Penelope promised to consent to the marriage if she was allowed to complete a robe for Laertes. This request was granted to her. After all, by name she was already the weaver of the finest work. However, at night Penelope loosened the threads that she had woven during the day. In this way she could hold off the suitors for three years. A maid betrayed her, and she had to finish the robe against her will.
Now she had to resort to a new trick. Odysseus came home just at this time, recognized by no one except his nurse Eurycleia and the old swineherd Eumaius. Telemachus, Odysseus' son, was initiated into the plan to regain control of Ithaca.
Penelope conferred with the stranger whether it was advisable to show her husband's bow to the suitors. The handling of the bow is extremely difficult. Whoever can draw the bow is allowed to marry her. The stranger encouraged her in this endeavor, and there was renewed competition.
Nobody could draw a bow. Finally, the stranger was allowed to try his luck. Odysseus drew his bow and suddenly pointed the weapon at the assembled company. The first arrow hit the next best unsuspecting suitor. Telemachos actively helped with the merciless accounting. All suitors were killed. Odysseus became king of Ithaca again.
However, Penelope's doubts about the stranger's identity had not yet been completely eliminated. She remained skeptical and put him to the test. She asked him about the best kept marital secret between Odysseus and Penelope. Only when the stranger was able to prove that he knew the secret of their common marriage bed did Penelope finally have the certainty that her husband had returned home. He was the only person besides her to know that the entire marriage bed had been carved into the trunk of a mighty olive tree. Penelope's wait was over - she was finally able to live together again with her husband.
Penelope is confident in that she has not sold herself below her value and successfully fends off all attacks on her position. She defends her dignity as an autonomous ruler and does not reveal her position. She also tests her husband before submitting to his rule.
However, she also knows weaknesses: She has trouble making decisions. Even at the courtship she hadn't been able to spontaneously decide in favor of Odysseus. This weakness in decision-making protects them from hasty judgments, wrong conclusions and rash action.
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