Book Seven

Odysseus waited in the grove as instructed and then entered the city of the Phaeacians. When he asked directions to the palace, it was Athena in the form of a little girl who showed him the way.

Odysseus stopped on the threshhold, dazzled. The very walls of the interior were covered in shining bronze and trimmed with lapis lazuli.

The king and his courtiers were banqueting in this splendor, but Athena wrapped Odysseus in a mist so that he passed by unseen. Straight up to the queen he went and wrapped his huge arms around her knees.

"Blessings upon you and this company," he said, "if you but grant my plea -- safe passage to my homeland." With this he rose and sat down again in the ashes of the fire.

"A supplicant with honorable intentions, humbled in the ashes!" exclaimed a wise counselor to the king. "My lord, this will not do."

At which King Alcinous himself arose and took Odysseus by the hand, raising him to his feet. Next to the king's throne sat his eldest son, who now moved aside. Odysseus was guided to this place of honor.

"Tomorrow shall be a holiday," declared the king. "And when we have made sacrifice to the gods and entertained our visitor, we will give thought to speeding his journey home.

"Who knows, he might even be a god, although in the past the gods haven't bothered with disguise in visiting our realm. They've always appeared to us in all their glory, since we are their kin."

Odysseus assured him that he was no god, but a mortal man, and a hungry one at that. When the other guests had left, the queen asked him how it came to be that he was wearing clothes that she herself had trimmed.

Odysseus related the events since his departure from Calypso's island, sparing no detail but one. He described how he had approached the princess and her maids by the river, and how Nausicaa had kindly given him clothing. But he said that it had been his own idea to enter town separately.

That night he slept on a deep pile of rugs beneath clean sheets and fleeces.

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queen Queen Arete (a-REE-tee) was a granddaughter of Poseidon, the God of the Sea. She had married her father's brother.

A sea-god.

Alcinous (al-SIN-oh-us)

Book number: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13 - 14 - 15 - 16 - 17 - 18 - 19 - 20 - 21 - 22 - 23 - 24