Odysseus spends many years on Calypso's island in Homer's epic The Odyssey. However, the Olympian gods show mercy on Odysseus and decide that he will return home to his beloved island of Ithaca. Therefore, Hermes is sent to tell Calypso she must release Odysseus. She tells Odysseus he must build raft in order to sail home, which he completes in four days. After sailing for eighteen days, he sees the island of Phaecia, home to King Alcinous. However, Poseidon has not yet let go of his anger toward Odysseus for blinding his son Polyphemus and creates a storm that destroy Odysseus' raft. The resourceful and determined Odysseus swims for two days and nights until he reaches the shore of Phaecia. It is to King Alcinous and his kingdom that Odysseus will share his story, recounting all that happened to him in hs effort to get home after leaving Troy and fighting in the Trojan War. Odysseus' retelling of his story starts with Book 9 and concludes with Book 12.
Odysseus washes up on the shore of Scheria, the home of the Phaeacians.
He (Zeus) spoke, and said to Hermes, his dear son: “Hermes, do thou now, seeing that thou art at other times our messenger, declare to the fair-tressed nymph our fixed resolve, even the return of Odysseus of the steadfast heart, that he may return with guidance neither of gods nor of mortal men, but that on a stoutly-bound raft, suffering woes, he may come on the twentieth day to deep-soiled Scheria, the land of the Phaeacians, who are near of kin to the gods.
After Odysseus finally reaches shore, he finds shelter under two bushes and covers himself with leaves. The goddess Athena then casts a spell over him, and he lapses into a deep sleep. When he awakes, he sees the Princess Nausicaa, daughter of King Alcinous, washing her clothes by the stream. The princess is with her maids, and Odysseus is charmed by her beauty. Incidentally, the princess is the one Athena has chosen to lead Odysseus to the city of the Phaeacians.
After bathing in the river, Odysseus is ready to follow Princess Nausicaa into the city. She tells him that she will lead him into the city, but he must find her father's palace himself. The princess explains that, if she is seen with Odysseus, gossip will spread among the local men that she has chosen a husband from afar for herself. As she doesn't wish to be the subject of malicious gossip, she advises Odysseus to make his way to the palace by himself. She placates Odysseus by telling him that her father's palace will not be difficult to find, as it is unlike any of the other surrounding buildings.
Princess Nausicaa also advises Odysseus to bypass the king once he enters the palace. Instead, Odysseus must approach the queen; it is she whose good graces he must win if he is to have any hope of seeing his homeland again.