Marget Attwood, who wrote 'The Handmaid's Tale', has turned her attention to Penelope. The review of her novel in the Christian Science Monitor suggests that Classics teachers would enjoy this book, but that it must be kept from students at all costs.
This is not because of delicacy, but because it will stop them passing their exams. Bitter experience has taught me that putting interesting, perhaps heretical, theories in front of the average pupil will lead him/her to accept the wild theory as gospel, and he/she will trot it out in an exam.
Theories aired in this book include this, about the twelve maids hanged by Odysseus for sleeping with the suitors:
One of their poems suggests that faithful Penelope wasn't sleeping by herself all those years, and that the maids had to be silenced or Odysseus would have killed her, too. One of Atwood's most interesting theories posits that Penelope had set up a matriarchal society, ruled by herself and 12 priestesses, which Odysseus overthrew.
And here's another that might lose your pupils marks:
“Odysseus had been in a fight with a giant, one-eyed Cyclops, said some; no, it was only a one-eyed tavern keeper … and the fight was over nonpayment of the bill.”
Se what I mean?
Thanks to David Meadows and 'Explorator' for putting me on to this book.