PENELOPE, in Greek legend, wife of Odysseus, daughter of Icarius and the nymph Periboea. During the long absence of her husband after the fall of Troy many chieftains of Ithaca and the islands round about became her suitors; and, to rid herself of the importunities of the wooers, she bade them wait till she had woven a winding-sheet for old Laertes, the father of Odysseus. But every night she undid the piece which she had woven by day. This she did for three years, till her maids revealed the secret. She was relieved by the arrival of Odysseus, who returned after an absence of twenty years, and slew the wooers. The character of Penelope is less favourable in late writers than in the Homeric story. During her husband's absence she is said to have become the mother of Pan by Hermes, and Odysseus, on his return, repudiated her as unfaithful (Herodotus ii. 145 and schol.). She thereupon withdrew to Sparta and thence to Mantineia, where she died and where her tomb was shown. According to another account she married Telegonus the son of Odysseus and Circe, after he had killed his father, and dwelt with him in the island of Aeala or in the Islands of the Blest (Hyginus, Feb. 127).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)