Study Guide

Arete in The Odyssey

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Queen of the Phaiakians, wife to Alkinoös, and mother to Nausikaa. She's apparently the one who calls the shots in the marriage, since Nausikaa advises Odysseus to get on her good side: "Go on past [Alkinoös] and then with your arms embrace our mother's knees … for if she has thoughts in her mind that are friendly to you, then there is hope that you can see your own people" (6.310-315).

But Arete is too smart for Nausikaa' tricks: she figures out from Odysseus' clothing that Nausikaa has already helped him. No wonder her name means "excellence."

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