In Homer's Odyssey, how does the goddess Athena act like a protector to Odysseus along his journey back home to Ithaca?
Throughout Homer's Odyssey, Athene, goddess of wisdom, war, and weaving, serves as a protector for Odysseus.
In Odyssey 6, in particular, Athene helps Odysseus by causing Princess Nausicaa to have a dream that sends her down to the shore to wash clothes, a task that leads Nausicaa to discover Odysseus, who has just been shipwrecked there. In this dream, Athene appears as "Dymas's daughter, a girl of similar age to Nausicaa" (A.S. Kline translation).
Later, in Odyssey 7, when Odysseus follows Nausicaa into town, Athene protects him by preventing anyone from seeing him until he reaches the palace where Nausicaa lives:
Athene, showing her kindness, veiled him in dense mist, so that none of the brave Phaeacians meeting him, would challenge him, or ask who he was.
We also see Athene protecting Odysseus in his battle against the suitors. In Odyssey 22, Athene takes on the form of Mentor and provides Odysseus with inspirational words. After encouraging him, Athene takes on "the form of a swallow, and flew up to perch on the roof beam of the smoke-darkened hall." From that vantage point, Athene deflects several spears that were thrown at Odysseus.