John William Waterhouse (1849-1917)
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Penelope and the Suitors
While her husband, Ulysees, was
absent fighting in the Trojan War, Penelope waited faithfully for him in Ithaca.
When he failed to return at the end of the war she was plagued by persistent
suitors and, even though she remained aloof, the local noblemen could not be
discouraged. Desperate to avoid re-marriage, she conceived the idea of
postponing her decision until she had completed weaving a piece of tapestry
intended as a shroud for Laertes, Ulysees' father. Every night she unravelled
the work she had done during the day thereby prolonging her labour until the
return of Ulysees finally delivered her from the suitors.
In this painting a young woman is charming the fish in the water below her with music from her lyre.