Study Guide

The Odyssey Book 7

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Book 7

  • Nausikaa arrives at home, while Athene disguises Odysseus in a cloud of sea mist so nobody can see him as he wanders the city.
  • It's sure convenient to have a god(dess) on your side.
  • Because she can't help pretending to be other people, Athene comes to Odysseus in the form of a child.
  • Odysseus asks the adorable little girl for directions to the palace, and she leads him there.
  • Along the way, she tells him all about the land and the ruling family. (This is a very informed child. Think Hermione, but immortal and in disguise.)
  • Here's the 411: the Queen's name is Arete and the King's Alkinoös (not to be confused with the icky suitor Antinoös).
  • Also, we are reminded that the Queen is calling the shots, so she's the one to talk up once Odysseus gets to the palace. Which is apparently just as stunning as Menelaos' palace that we saw back in Book IV.
  • Athene/the suspiciously knowledgeable little girl takes Odysseus directly to Queen Arete. Odysseus, who is really good at following directions, falls and hugs her knees.
  • At that moment, his protective mist cloud disappears and everyone sees him.
  • Stunned silence.
  • Odysseus makes his plea.
  • More stunned silence.
  • Then, the King's oracle nervously clears his throat. All eyes turn to him, and he scolds the King for not showing this beggar some hospitality.
  • This breaks the ice and everyone rushes to serve Odysseus. Alkinoös even makes one of the princes give up his seat for Odysseus and declares that tomorrow will be a feast in honor of this guest.
  • That is quite a welcome for an oddly-clothed stranger.
  • After much eating and fuss, Alkinoös gets around to asking of Odysseus the question that's on everyone's mind: "Hey, any chance you're a god?"
  • Odysseus assures everyone that no, he isn't, but can he have a ship so he can go home.
  • Everyone is all, "Sure!"
  • The Queen, however, is busy looking at Odysseus' clothes, which appear suspiciously similar to the ones she had made for her daughter Nausikaa.
  • So she asks Odysseus as politely as one can ask, "Hey, big strange man; what are you doing wearing my daughter's clothes?"
  • Odysseus realizes that his story better not include the virginal princess taking off her clothes at any point. So he says something along the lines of, "Well, that's a long story."
  • Except that isn't going to cut it, so he launches into the quick and dirty, starting with Kalypso and ending with Nausikaa, without revealing who he is.
  • Everyone is moved by his words.
  • Very moved. King Alkinoös offers up Nausikaa's hand in marriage. Squee!
  • But it's cool. If Odysseus doesn't want to marry the princess, the King will make sure his men row him wherever he wants to go.
  • Odysseus decides to go home.
  • Bed time for all.

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