I have actually read it long ago, but having recently watched again an old Hallmark movie from the 1990s, I wanted to comment on it. Though the movie simplifies it somewhat and omits certain details, it's still gets the gist of it correctly, as far as I can remember (I feel too lazy to be bothered to read a Wiki article on the topic:))
The Odyssey is cool on so many levels. It's the greatest story of married love ever told. The wife who keeps faith with her husband for 20 years. The husband who strays and falls for seductresses but in the end returns back to her to grow old together. Feminists must hate it, after all, Penelope does nothing much besides staying home and weaving (in the movie she works at an olive press though), running the household and raising her son while Odysseus goes out into the world, fights, travels, has adventures and meets beautiful women.
As all really great stories, it has a literal and a figurative meaning. Penelope is a woman which every man dreams of. One he can trust implicitly. One which will stay true to him even when he strays. One which will keep her chastity and her heart intact, waiting for him for years while he is out there slaying dragons. One which will raise his children well even in the absence of their father and keep the home fires burning. Frailty thy name is woman is not applicable to her.
It also shows where the real danger lies for a man: Odysseus survives the perils of war and other dangers only to be kept prisoner by scheming women, one of whom is famous for actually turning men into pigs! No, it's positively politically incorrect, for not only it upholds a double standard (men's honour is courage, women's honour is chastity) but also shows that there are two types of females: one which you take home to Mother and...all the others.
Now when you think how the Trojan War actually started and compare Helen to Penelope, you'll see how much misery a woman can bring into the world when she breaks her marriage vows. Again, something which we'd rather not dwell upon in our enlightened times. I guess nowadays some folks would wonder why did Helen's husband (whose name escapes me at the moment, was it Menelaus?) begin a war for her? Beautiful though she was, there were undoubtedly other women available to him, too. Some would probably accuse him of "oneitis".
I will admit, for a long time I couldn't really comprehend it myself, and neither why Odysseus slaughtered all the men seeking Penelope's hand but finally it dawned on me.
Helen was Menelaus's wife. She belonged to him. She was his queen and not some slave girl. Paris not only violated the sacred laws of hospitality but stretched his hand to something which as far as Menelaus was concerned, was his and his only; and yes, it did constitute a casus belli.
In the same manner, the men seeking to marry Penelope were invaders, who tried to steal something which didn't rightfully belong to them. In the movie, Odysseus accuses them of trying to steal his world, something he and his ancestors before him built, fought and toiled for. There is only one punishment fit for such a crime. There is somewhere in it a lesson for modern men, too. If you are not prepared to fight for what is yours, you will surely lose it as this world is a ruthless place...