Why does Nausicaa bring Odysseus to the palace in The Odyssey?
In Book VI of The Odyssey, Nausicaa, daughter of King Alcinous of the Phaeacians, is well-versed in hospitality and the sacred guest-host relationship of the Greeks, known as Xenia. The custom demands that a host welcome a guest without even asking his identity, and the host must even give a gift before the stranger leaves. Therefore, she honors the stranger's needs to be fed, bathed, clothed, and returned home as soon as possible.
She says to her gentlewomen:
So this man
is some poor wanderer who’s just come here.
We must look after him, for every stranger,
every beggar, comes from Zeus, and any gift,
even something small, is to be cherished.
So, my girls, give this stranger food and drink.
Then bathe him in the river, in a place
where there’s some shelter from the wind.
After Odysseus has bestowed thanks to her, she tells him to go to the palace to see the greatest of her people, her father, the king:
Get up now, stranger, and go to the city.
I’ll take you to my wise father’s house,
where, I tell you, you will get to meet
all the finest of Phaeacians.
Nausicaa warns the stranger not to be deterred by the nastier men of the town, who may taunt him for trying to enter the palace walls. Once inside, she knows that her father will welcome the stranger with as much hospitality as she has. Little does she know that the stranger is the greatest mortal alive, Odysseus, who will honor the great king with perhaps the greatest tale ever told.