Athena once more appeals
to Zeus for assistance on behalf of Odysseus. Zeus sends Hermês
to order Kalypso to send Odysseus home, but Kalypso responds angrily, enumerating
past alliances between goddesses and mortals that were frowned upon by
the gods, and says that she has no means by which to "send" Odysseus home.
Hermês departs with a warning for her to be obedient or risk Zeus'
Kalypso tells Odysseus to build a raft, but he is hesitant, thinking her plan is some sort of trap. They feast and rest, and the next day Odysseus begins construction of a boat. After five days of work, Kalypso sends Odysseus on his way.
For seventeen days, he sails before he sees the shore of Skhería, but Poseidon sends a terrible storm to blow him off course and destroy his boat. Leukothea (Ino), a nereid, saves Odysseus with her veil and tells him to swim to Skhería. Odysseus does not trust her but eventually lets go of the boat's wreckage.
Meanwhile, Athena confronts Poseidon and calms the winds, allowing Odysseus to drift safely for three days until he reaches a dangerous rocky shore, to which, with Athena's help, he swims and where he collapses in sleep.
Athena enters the palace
of Alkínoös, the Phaiákian ruler, and in a dream
directs Nausikaa, Alkínoös' daughter, to the river to
do the laundry. The next day Nausikaa takes the mule cart to the
washing pools where she and her maids wash and cavort until they are startled
by Odysseus' naked emergence from the bushes. The maids, terrorized,
disperse, but Nausikaa stays. Odysseus eloquently begs her for help,
and she responds by identifying herself and promising aid.
Odysseus bathes and dresses and, with the help of Athena, completely transforms his appearance. He then eats and goes back with Nausikaa to the walls of Skhería, where, on her advice, he waits a while, praying to Athena that he will be received with "love and mercy."
Some time after Nausikaa's
return to the palace, Odysseus enters the gates and is enveloped by a fog.
Athena, disguised as a small girl, comes to him and leads him to the mansion
of Alkínoös so that he will not be spurned by the citizens,
who do not welcome strangers.
Odysseus marvels at the palace, enters the gates still enveloped in Athena's cloud, and makes his way to Arêtê and Alkínoös, where the cloud dissipates. He pleads with Arêtê for assistance in his passage home. Alkínoös offers to Odysseus a seat of honor formerly occupied by his favorite son, Laódamas, and provides food and drink and proclaims that the following day will be dedicated to merrymaking and festival to honor the guest before they help him find his way home. Alkínoös speculates that perhaps Odysseus is a god in disguise, but Odysseus assures the company of his mortality.
Arêtê recognizes that Odysseus wears clothing made by her own hands and questions his identity. He answers that he had been imprisoned on Ogygia for eight years before Kalypso released him, that he sailed for seventeen days before he saw Skhería, and that he slept for a day before Nausikaa and her maids awoke him and Nausikaa helped him by giving him food and clothing. Alkínoös replies that Nausikaa should have brought him home with her, but Odysseus defends the princess, saying that he chose not to follow her into the palace. Alkínoös offers Odysseus Nausikaa's hand in marriage if he will stay, but if he must go, no man will detain him. Alkínoös promises ships and seamen to see Odysseus home.
Athena, disguised as Alkínoös'
crier, calls the Phaiákian citizens to assembly to learn about Odysseus.
Alkínoös addresses the assembly and calls for the young men
to provide the means to see the stranger home and for the rest of the citizenry
to join in festival. He bades Demódokos, the minstrel,
to sing, whereupon the minstrel sings the tale of Odysseus and Akhilleus,
which moves the hero to tears. Alkínoös calls for participation
in Olympian games, in which Laódamas distinguishes himself.
Odysseus is invited by Laódamas to join the games but declines until he is insulted by Seareach. Odysseus challenges any man except his host, Laódamas, but Alkínoös calls for peace and a demonstration of his people's skill at dance and song. Demódokos strikes a harp and the dancers dance to the song of Arês and Aphroditê's loveplay and Hephaistos' revenge.
The Phaiákians then shower Odysseus with gifts and feast while Demódokos sings of the Trojan horse, again moving Odysseus to tears. Alkínoös calls for Odysseus to make his identity known.
Go to the synopsis of Books 9-11
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