Polk County Middle School students in Jeanne Ferran’s English Language Arts class spent time in April reading The Odyssey by Homer.
In the story, Penelope’s weaving plays a major role. She is harassed by suitors who, insisting that Odysseus must be dead, want to marry her. Penelope takes to her loom, claiming that before she can choose a husband she must first weave a burial shroud for Laertes, her father-in-law. She labors all day at the shroud, only to unravel her work by torchlight each night.
For three years, she tricks the suitors with her loom. They wanted her to forget Odysseus and remarry, but Penelope is a weaver of remembrance, and her tapestry bought time for her husband’s return. Penelope was crafty and clever, perhaps more so than any other woman in the story. Penelope’s loom was a tool of death, but only for the wicked suitors who ate up the wealth of Odysseus and sought to steal his wife.
To gain a better understanding of Penelope and have fun in the process, students made cup weaving craft under the instruction of Jen Pace Dickenson and Amelia Hill from Polk County Public Libraries.