Friday, November 14, 2008

The Odyssey, Bk 6: The Princess and the Stranger

The Odyssey So there he lay at rest, the storm-tossed great Odysseus

Athena prepares the field by sending a dream to the princess of the land where Odysseus landed.

The princess and her girls wake Odysseus and he emerges with leaves covering the naughty bits. This doesn't stop Athena from making him all alluring. Odysseus plans his approach.

Should he fling his arms around her knees, the young beauty,
plead for help, or stand back, plead with a winning word,
beg her to lead him to the town and lend him clothing?
This was the better way, he thought. Plead now
with a subtle, winning word and stand well back... (156-160)
Odysseus isn't known as the wily charming one for nothing. Although he retreated to another area while he bathed for their modesty, I think Homer left out the part about their secretly looking on anyway. There seems to be a lot of wink-wink going on here.

Athena does her best to make him a heartbreaker:
Zeus's daughter Athena made him taller to all eyes,
his build more massive now, and down from his brow
she ran his curls like thick yacinth clusters
full of blooms. As a master craftsman washes
gold over beaten silver...
so she lavished splendor... (253-257, 260)
The princess asks that he follow later; she doesn't wish to invite catcalls. Seamen are this rough and salty all times and places aren't they?
But I shrink from all our sea-dogs' nasty gossip.
Some old salt might mock us behind our backs-- (299-300)
She mustn't compromise her virtue.

While he waits Odysseus prays for mercy and love from the Phaeacian people.
So he prayed and Athena heard his prayer
but would not yet appear to him undisguised.
She stood in awe of her Father's brother, lord of the sea (361-363)
So Athena's still trying to keep her scheming secret.

1 comment:

Murasaki said...

Would O be such a heartbreaker if Athena didn't augment his looks? All these feasting scenes are making me hungry...