Odysseus and Nausicaa

So far Odysseus was sleeping, buried in a pile of dry leaves, the goddess Athena-Pallas went to town Phaeacians. There she entered the king's palace Alcinous and, assuming the image of a sailor's daughter Dimanta, appeared to the sleeping princess Nausicaa. The goddess began to reproach Nausicaa for not caring about clothes. Athena reminded the young princess that her wedding day is not far away, she should prepare clean clothes for her relatives and those who will lead her to the groom's house. The goddess Nausicaa hurried to go with the slaves rather to the seashore to the reservoirs to wash clothes. Having said this, the goddess left Nausicaa and ascended to the bright Olympus.

Odysseus and Nausicaa
Odysseus and Nausicaa.
(painting by V. A. Serov)

At dawn Nausicaa awoke. She was struck by the dream she had seen. She immediately went to her parents. She found her mother Aretu near the hearth. Surrounded by maids, she was spinning purple yarn. Nausicaa met her father at the door - he was going to the council of the Phaeacian elders. Nausicaa approached her father and began to ask him to give her a cart pulled by mules so that she could go to the river to wash her clothes.

- We have gathered a lot of unclean clothes, - Nausicaa said, - I'm going to wash it. After all, you must shine with the purity of your clothes in the council of elders, and your young sons want to attend the dances of the Phaeacian maidens in clean clothes. I take care of the clothes alone.

That's what Nausicaa said, but she didn't say a word about the marriage she wanted with all her heart. She was ashamed to mention him. But Alkinoy understood the secret thought of his daughter and, smiling tenderly at her, ordered the slaves to prepare a cart with a basket and harness the mules into it. Nausicaa hastily gathered. Queen Aretha gave her food and wine so that her daughter and the slaves could satisfy their hunger after work. She also gave them a golden vessel with fragrant oil for anointing the body after bathing.

Nausicaa and her slaves went merrily to the seashore. Arriving at the reservoirs, they washed their clothes in them, rinsed them out and spread them out to dry on the sandy seashore. After finishing their work, the young virgins washed in the river and anointed the body with fragrant oil. Then, after eating, they began to frolic on the bank of the river, having fun playing ball. It was then that Pallas Athena came up with how to wake up Odysseus. Nausicaa threw a ball at her friends, and Athena, invisible to the virgins, poisoned him with a mighty hand, and he fell into the sea. All the maidens shouted loudly. Odysseus woke up from this cry. He did not know what to decide: should he come out of his hiding place or not? Finally, he came out to the maidens, covering his body with branches. Odysseus looked terrible, covered with sea mud and algae. The maidens were frightened and fled in all directions. Nausicaa was the only one left, she was inspired by the goddess Athena. Odysseus did not dare to approach the beautiful maiden. He began to beg her from afar to help him, saying:

Odysseus and Nausicaa
Odysseus and Nausicaa. To the left is Odysseus, in front of him is Athena, next to her is Nausicaa, behind her are the maids.
(Drawing on a vase.)

- Oh, beautiful maiden, I stretch out my hands to you with supplication. You are equal to the goddess in beauty Artemis. Aren't you a goddess? If you are a mortal, then how happy are your parents, having such a daughter! Your beauty reminded me of a slender palm tree, which I once marveled at on Delos at the altar of God Apollo. Have pity, beautiful maiden, on me! For twenty days I rode on a stormy sea. Give me at least some piece of cloth to cover my nakedness! May the immortal gods fulfill all your wishes for this help! May they reward you with a happy marriage!

"Stranger," Nausicaa replied to Odysseus, "I see from your words that you are not a simple man and that the gods have rewarded you with wisdom. But Zeus sends both happiness and misfortune to both noble and non-noble. Bear with patience what Zeus has sent you. Here with us you won't need anything. I'll show you the way to the city. I am the daughter of Alcinous, lord of the Phaeacians.

Nausicaa called her slaves together, ordered them to give Odysseus clean clothes and feed him. Odysseus bathed in the river, anointed his body with fragrant oil and dressed the clothes given to him. Athena endowed Odysseus with such beauty that when Odysseus sat down on the seashore, Nausicaa even wondered if one of the gods had appeared on earth. A beautiful princess would gladly choose such a husband for herself. The slaves gave Odysseus food and wine, and he satisfied the hunger that tormented him.

Meanwhile, everything was already ready to return to the city. Nausicaa invited Odysseus to follow her. She asked him only one thing - that he should not enter the city with her and her slaves, but wait at the city gate, in the garden of Alcinous, near the grove dedicated to the goddess Athena, and let her return to the palace alone. The princess was afraid that the Phaeacians would slander her when they saw her with a beautiful stranger, and say whether she had chosen him as her bridegroom. In addition, Nausicaa advised Odysseus, when he enters the palace, first of all to fall at the feet of Queen Aretha and beg her for help, since she, like a goddess, is revered by all the people for her great wisdom. Saying this, Nausicaa drove the mules towards the city. The slaves and Odysseus followed her. The princess kept the mules running so that Odysseus and the slaves could keep up with her.