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Book 7 Notes from The Odyssey

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The Odyssey Book 7

Nausicaa rides home and goes to her own room as Odysseus walks into the city and to the palace. Athena covers him in a fog so that no one will hinder him and she comes to him in the form of a small girl holding a jug. Odysseus speaks to her:

"Little one, could you take me to the house
of that Alkinous, king among these people?
You see, I am a poor old stranger here;
my home is far away; here there is no one
known to me, in countryside or city."
Book 7, lines 25-9

She tells him that many people do not trust stranger so he must be quiet and she guides him to the palace which was built by a son of Poseidon. Alcinous is Poseidon's grandson and his brother died young leaving only a daughter Arete who was married to Alcinous. She is wise and merciful. Odysseus goes into the palace filled with gold and silver with enough rooms for fifty maids-in-waiting. There is an orchard on both sides with tender fruits of all kinds. Beyond is a vineyard and many sorts of vegetables. Odysseus, hardened by the sea, is amazed by all of this and just stares. He enters the house and throws himself at the knees of Arete pleading that she give him passage to his fatherland. Everyone is silent after he speaks. An old man speaks first and tells Alcinous to give courtesy to the guest and offer him food and shelter. Alcinous heeds his advice and his eldest son yields his own seat at the table to Odysseus.

After he has eaten, Alcinous speaks and asks that the elders gather in the morning to discuss the stranger and how he may get home quickly. Odysseus tells him that he is not going to harm them and asks for a little more food because he is so hungry and has suffered for a long time. Everyone accepts this request and Odysseus continues to eat alongside the King and Queen. Arete asks him who he is and how he came to the island and where he got clothing. He tells, briefly, of the island of Calypso and the drowning of his shipmates. After many years he was allowed to leave and was struck by a terrible storm on the sea. He recounts what happened in the thicket and how he rose to the sound of Nausicaa and her servants who helped him. He explains that he came into the city after them. Alcinous replies:

"Friend, my child's good judgment failed in this-
not to have brought you in her company home.
Once you approached her, you became her charge."
Book 7, lines 321-3

Odysseus tells him that he wouldn't have walked with the girls anyway. Alcinous says that if he wishes he may marry Nausicaa and become his son-in-law, but if he doesn't, he will lend him a ship to get home. Odysseus is overjoyed and prays to Zeus that everything may be done in this way. A maid leads him to his bed and he goes to sleep.

Topic Tracking: Guests and Hosts 5
Topic Tracking: Disguise and Deceit 5

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