Odysseus, Penelope and the olive-tree bed of Odyssey 23

Myth Reading Group

Thursday 21 June

12.00-1.30pm in Room NTC.2.06

Dr Emma Bridges (Institute of Classical Studies, London)

We are delighted to welcome Dr Emma Bridges (Public Engagement Fellow at the Institute of Classical Studies) to the Centre for Myth Studies. Emma will continue our discussion of Trees & Forests with a session on the olive-tree bed in the Odyssey.

In this session of the Myth Reading Group, we will begin by considering a scene from Book 23 of Homer’s Odyssey, focusing on the bed which was carved by Odysseus from an olive tree. The tree is a key element of the narrative of Penelope and Odysseus’ reunion after the hero’s return to Ithaca and has symbolic status both at the centre of his household and in the poem as a whole.

We will also consider two poetic receptions of this scene, Jehanne Dubrow’s ‘The Rooted Bed’, from her poetic collection Stateside (Northwestern University Press, 2010), and Kim Lasky’s ‘The Bed That is a Tree’ (published originally in Agenda magazine in 2011).

The text of Odyssey 23.172-232 will be taken from Emily Wilson’s 2017 translation published by Norton.

For artwork related to the olive-tree bed [brought to our attention by Dr Isabella Streffen], see Geraldine Pilgrim‘s 2007 installation, Dreams of a Winter Night, commissioned by English Heritage as part of the Picture House Exhibition at Belsay Hall, Northumberland, & her latest installation: Their Most Obedient Servant (2018) [at Harewood House, Yorkshire, until 2 September 2018].



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