What is the kingdom of Phaeacia like in Homer's Odyssey?

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noahvox2 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Books 5-8 of Homer's Odyssey, especially, we hear a lot about the kingdom of Phaeacia, the place where Odysseus comes ashore after having his raft wrecked by Poseidon. In many respects, Phaeacia must have seemed like Odysseus' native land of Ithaca before he left for the Trojan War.

Phaeacia is ruled by the happy couple Alcinous and Arete, who must have reminded Odysseus of the way he and Penelope were before his departure for war. Like Odysseus and Penelope, King Alcinous and Queen Arete of Phaeacia rule live on an island of sea-faring folk.

Alcinous and Arete were a very hospitable couple, as undoubtedly Odysseus and Penelope were. Unlike on Ithaca, though, Queen Arete seems to have more power than Penelope, since her daughter Nausicaa tells Odysseus to supplicate her mother rather than her father.

Eventually, we also discover that like Odysseus, the Phaeacians had incurred the wrath of the sea-god Poseidon. Because the Phaeacians help Odysseus, Poseidon punishes them:

Now though, I intend to strike the Phaeacians fine ship as she returns from her voyage on the misty deep, to warn them to stop transporting strangers. And I’ll ring their city with a vast mountain chain. (A.S. Kline translation)