Odysseus, King of the island of Ithaca in the Ionian Sea, had gone to the Trojan War nineteen years before. Even his wife and son thought he was dead.
WHEN Odysseus, King of Ithaca, had not returned from the Trojan War even after nineteen years, his nobles, feasting in his palace and neglecting his kingdom, thought only of marrying his grieving ‘widow’, Penelope, and taking his crown.
It was Athene who brought Odysseus home, disguised as a beggar. But Penelope did not recognise him, and reluctantly resolved to marry one of the selfish suitors.
Prompted by the goddess, Penelope organised a contest of sporting strength and skill - to string Odysseus’s great bow, and shoot an arrow through twelve axe-heads - with herself as the prize.
Of course, the beggar won the contest; and now revealed in all his wrath, Odysseus immediately took bloody revenge on his faithless nobles.
Penelope remained unconvinced until, that night, the ‘beggar’ confided to her the secret only one man knew: how their marriage-bed was carved from an olive tree still rooted in the earth.
And kindly Athene delayed the sunrise, till their tears were dry.