Study Guide

The Odyssey Book 13

By Homer

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Book 13

  • Alkinoös, moved by Odysseus' harrowing tale, promises that each Phaiakian man will give him a gift to build up wealth for his return to Ithaka.
  • They feast all the next day while Alkinoös' men prepare the ships. Odysseus is impatient to leave.
  • Alkinoös' men row him to Ithaka during the night as Odysseus sleeps on the ship, and we're kind of surprised he actually made it home this time.
  • They land on a rocky grotto, unload the still sleeping Odysseus, and leave him on the shore with all his treasure.
  • Up in the clouds, or wherever it is that gods hang out, Poseidon sees Odysseus in Ithaka and approaches Zeus angrily. He wants Odysseus to suffer—more! Mwah-hah-hah.
  • Zeus tells him that he is a god and therefore may take his revenge against a mortal any time he wants.
  • So Poseidon finds the Phaiakians' returning ship, which is almost back to its homeland, and turns it into stone. Where it promptly sinks.
  • He'd like to throw up some mountains around their city as well, but Zeus says that would be overkill.
  • Alkinoös, seeing this happen, remembers the prophecy we heard in Book VIII (that his ship would be turned to stone and mountains thrown up around his island if his people were nice to strangers) and promptly whacks himself on the forehead.
  • Meanwhile, Athene, up to her old tricks again, conjures a grey mist to hide Odysseus while he sleeps.
  • When he wakes, Odysseus doesn't recognize his home and has no idea where he is. He thinks the Phaiakians have deceived him.
  • After he counts his treasure and realizes none of it is stolen, Athene tarts herself as a shepherd and approaches him.

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  • They have a little exchange, and Odysseus makes up an elaborate story about being a hunted man from Crete who fought in the Trojan War and just escaped a ship of pirates.
  • Athene, highly amused, reveals her true form and has a hearty laugh. Then she comments that Odysseus is indeed a master liar. Which is a compliment. We think.
  • We learn that Odysseus thought himself abandoned by the goddess after the Trojan War, but is pleased to discover that she's been the one following him around and putting protective clouds over him.
  • Athene reaffirms that this land is Ithaka. She lifts the protective cloud so he can see clearly that this is indeed his beloved homeland.
  • They stash the treasure safely in the grotto and start planning revenge.
  • Athene tells Odysseus she will disguise him as a beggar, because she is the master of disguises and no one likes to look too closely at beggars anyway. She orders him to go see his swineherd in the forest while she flies to Sparta to call Telemachos home.

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