In Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

's Odyssey
The Odyssey is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer. It is, in part, a sequel to the Iliad, the other work ascribed to Homer. The poem is fundamental to the modern Western canon, and is the second—the Iliad being the first—extant work of Western literature...

, Penelope (icon ; ) is the faithful wife of Odysseus
Odysseus or Ulysses was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Iliad and other works in the Epic Cycle....

, who keeps her suitors
Suitors of Penelope
The suitors of Penelope, also known as the Proci, are one of the main subjects of Homer's Odyssey. Penelope's husband, Odysseus, king of Ithaca, goes off to fight in the 10-year Trojan war. While most survivors return relatively soon, it takes Odysseus another ten years to return home, and in this...

 at bay in his long absence and is eventually reunited with him.

Her name has traditionally been associated with marital faithfulness, and so it was with the Greeks and Romans, but some recent feminist readings offer a more ambiguous interpretation.
The origin of her name is believed by some like Robert S. P. Beekes
Robert S. P. Beekes
Robert Stephen Paul Beekes is Emeritus Professor of Comparative Indo-European Linguistics at the University of Leiden and the author of many books about Proto-Indo-European, the reconstructed parent language of most of the European languages and of the languages of Central Asia and India...

 to be Pre-Greek and related to pēnelops (πηνέλοψ) or *pēnelōps (*πηνέλωψ), gloss
A gloss is a brief notation of the meaning of a word or wording in a text. It may be in the language of the text, or in the reader's language if that is different....

ed by Hesychius
Hesychius of Alexandria
Hesychius of Alexandria , a grammarian who flourished probably in the 5th century CE, compiled the richest lexicon of unusual and obscure Greek words that has survived...

 as "some kind of bird" (today arbitrarily identified with the Eurasian Wigeon, to which Linnaeus gave the binomial Anas penelope), where -elōps (-έλωψ) is a common pre-Greek suffix for predatory animals; however, the semantic relation between the proper name and the gloss is not clear.