Penelope’s Bedroom

This is the first post in our occasional series on famous and noteworthy bedrooms.


Odysseus (Ulysses in latin) was the King of Ithaca, a very small and thoroughly barren island in the Ionian Sea. Odysseus was known throughout of Greece for his intelligence and his cunning. He was married to Penelope a strong and faithful woman, definitely a match for her more famous husband.

When the Trojans abducted Helena and the greek-trojan war began, Odysseus was recruited in the greek expedition against his will. But then he fought valiantly for ten years alongside the other greek kings and warriors to bring down the walls of Troy. Homer’s Iliad is of course the superb narration of those events. In it Homer credits Odysseus with conceiving the stratagem of the horse which would so bitterly deceit the trojans and eventually bring an end to the war and to the defeat and sack of Troy.

After the fall, those gods who had rooted for Troy were out to seek revenge (as you might expect) and found that Odysseus was the perfect target for their malignancy. They made it very very hard for him to get back home to Ithaca. Through many travails, a long voyage which took him across the best part of the eastern mediterranean and marvelous encounters, it took him a whole ten years to complete the journey. Homer’s Odyssey is the account of those long years.

When Odysseus finally arrives in Ithaca he has been gone for the best part of twenty years, ten years for the war and then another ten years to complete his journey back. Very uncertain of what he might find on the island and in his household he comes ashore in disguise and takes a look around. His kingdom is in disarray. 

“Penelope Waiting” by Sassan Tabatabai

His wife Penelope is still waiting for him and has not remarried, but a group of aggressive and voracious suitors are urging her to decide, while staying at the palace, feasting night and day and depleting the riches of the island. Odysseus at first is recognized by no one. Then by his old and dying dog, Argus. Then by the housekeeper when she is ritually washing his feet and recognizes an old scar on the former king’s leg. She is sworn to secrecy at the peril of her life.

When Penelope finally gives in to the suitors and declares that she will marry whoever can string Odysseus’s old rigid bow and shoot an arrow through the shaft of twelve axes, all her suitors try their luck in vain and finally give up.

Finally also the disguised Odysseus asks to have a try and is derided by all. But he has the strength to arm the bow and the skill to complete the shot. He wins the contest, reveals himself as the rightful king and promptly proceeds to kill all the suitors.

Penelope's Bedroom - Midsummer

Penelope is now engaged to marry this man, but deep inside she is still uncertain of his identity. When together they enter the wedding chamber she orders her maid to move the bed. Odysseus immediately protests that this cannot be done.

The nuptial bed had been carved by him a long time ago from the gigantic trunk of an olive tree. The roots still run into the soil, the bed cannot be moved, the whole palace has been built around that unmovable bed.

Penelope'a Bedroom - Midsummer

Only Odysseus and Penelope know this very private secret of their bedroom. Penelope now recognizes her long-lost husband and the king and queen of Ithaca are finally reunited.

Thankfully Midsummer-Milano beds can be moved, but like Odysseus and Penelope’s wedding bed they are designed and built to form the center piece of your house.


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