The Odyssey by Homer

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Book 7 Summary and Analysis

Nausikaa returns to the palace, where a maid prepares her a meal. Odysseus himself eventually heads toward the city and is greeted by Athene, who is disguised as a young girl. Athene offers to guide Odysseus to the palace of Alcinoös. In order to avoid rude inquiry, she forms a magical mist around Odysseus which renders him invisible to his surroundings. Leading him to the palace, Athene tells Odysseus that he will be accepted by the Phaeaceans if he is able to win the favor of the queen, Arete, whose people love her well. Athene then departs from Scheria, and journeys to Athens.

Odysseus admires Alcinoös’ splendid palace, which is worked in finely wrought gold and silver both within and without. There is an orchard outside the courtyard which contains all manner of fruit as well as a vineyard; the fruit stays in season all year round. Entering the palace, Odysseus heads straight for Arete. He grasps her knees in supplication, and as he does so, the mist departs from him. The Phaeaceans are startled by his sudden appearance, but they are impressed by his speech requesting conveyance home.

Alcinoös allows Odysseus to join in their feasting, after which he promises the stranger the use of his magic ships, which can reach any worldly destination and return in a single day. Arete notices the Phaeacean clothing worn by Odysseus, and questions him accordingly. The long-suffering hero sums up for them his shipwreck on Calypso’s isle, his seven years’ detainment there, his calamitous voyage to Scheria, and finally his warm reception by Nausikaa, who lent him the clothing. Alcinoös hints at a marriage between Odysseus and his daughter, who has scorned all other suitors. Odysseus, however, clearly displays his desire to return home. Arete has her servants prepare a bed for Odysseus, and the weary adventurer retires for the evening.

Discussion and Analysis
In Book VII, we see the epitome of a motif that runs throughout the Odyssey : the relationship of host to guest. We saw the kind treatment Telemachus bestowed on Athene when she was disguised as Mentes as well as the great hospitality extended to Telemachus by both Nestor and Menelaus. Now it is Odysseus himself who comes as a stranger to a...

(The entire section is 782 words.)