How does Odysseus' conversation with Athena in Book 13 of "The Odyssey" reveal her motive for helping him?
In many ways, Athena admires Odysseus for his lack of emotion. She believes that he is worthy because he is a calculating soldier, who must examine each situation before just rushing in. She feels that she must watch over him, not only because these are admirable traits, but because his shrewdness leads him to be almost too cautious. He struggles to trust that he is actually at home, for instance. This is what Athena says in response:
“You are always taking something of that sort in your head,” replied Athena, “and that is why I cannot desert you in your afflictions; you are so plausible, shrewd and shifty. Anyone but yourself on returning from so long a voyage would at once have gone home to see his wife and children, but you do not seem to care about asking after them ..."
Athena also reveals why she has not revealed herself to him. She explains that, because Poseidon was on the war path, she herself had to be subtle in providing help to Odysseus, so as not to enrage the sea god further.