penelope

Cultural Dictionary
Penelope [(puh-nel-uh-pee)]

The wife of Odysseus in classical mythology. Penelope remained true to her husband for the ten years he spent fighting in the Trojan War and for the ten years it took him to return from Troy, even though she was harassed by men who wanted to marry her. She promised to choose a suitor after she had finished weaving a shroud for her father-in-law, but every night she unraveled what she had woven during the day. After three years, her trick was discovered, but she still managed to put her suitors off until Odysseus returned and killed them.

Note: Penelope is an image of fidelity and devotion.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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