What is Nausikaa and the handmaiden's reaction to Odysseus appearance?odyssey, book 6, explanation of their reactions to his appearance

1 Answer | Add Yours

noahvox2's profile pic

noahvox2 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

After departing from Calypso's island, Odysseus' raft is struck by a Poseidon-caused storm, which causes the hero to have to swim for his life. With help from a sea nymph, Odysseus manages to come ashore in the land of the Phaeacians. Unfortunately, he is completely naked. He is too tired to care, though, so he covers himself with leaves and falls asleep.

The next morning, he is awakened by the sound of young women. Princess Nausikaa and some of her maidservants have come down to the shore to do laundry. While they were waiting for the clothes to dry,

Odysseus emerged from the bushes, breaking a leafy branch from the thicket with his strong right hand, with which to hide his manhood. (Odyssey 6; A.S. Kline translation)

Upon the sight of this half-naked man, Nausikaa's maidservants are so terrified "that they fled in fear, at random, over the sand spits."

The princess, however, "stood her ground, since Athene inspired her, and drove the fear from her body."

Thus, thanks to inspiration from a goddess, Nausikaa is not frightened. It is curious, though, that a virgin goddess, Athene, does not cause a virgin mortal, Nausikaa, to run away at the sight of a naked man.

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,915 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question