The Odyssey: Book 7

Helpful Revision Cards about Book 7 of The Odyssey by Homer.  Useful for those studying Classical Civilisations in particular Ancient Greece.

Opening paragraph: the dismissal of Nausicaa

Nausicaa is dismissed in the opening paragraph with emotional detachment. This is shown through the play by play list of what she does when she arrives. It is all fact with no emotion. 'Unharnessed the mules', 'carried the clothes indoors' etc. Homer also says 'her brothers, looking like immortals' which shows us how the Phaeacians are people to be respected. It also shows the effect of first impressions which is foreshadowing when Odysseus makes his plea to King Alcinous' wife Arte. Homer goes into detail about Eurymedusa, Nausicaa's nursemaid and now serving women. This could be seen as Odysseus' loyalty to his own servants, going into detail over a seemingly insignificant character shows how he is pining for home. However it could also show Homer's attachment to the lower classes which tells us something about his heritage.

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Lines 15-45

Opens with Odysseus beginning another journey 'Then Odysseus started for the town.'  The significance of this is that it provides evidence for the repeated use of the phrase 'the much-enduring Odysseus'.  'Then' especially helps build this as it shows how Odysseus is not just facing one challenge but many.

Athene says she is 'concerned for his welfare' suggesting favouritsm.  It also reduces the idea that Odysseus is a self made hero but that the Gods (mostly Athene) favour him and make his journey all though long and ardous as easy as they can.  Of course this excludes Poseidon who still holds Odyseeus responsible for the blinding of his son the cyclops, Polyphemus (book 9).  Athene then helps Odysseus in several ways.  She diguises herself as a young girl to guide him to the place-this is an example of how Athene is guiding Odysseus in his journey home to Ithica- and she 'envoloped him in thick mist'.  The mist is a metaphor for Athene protecting Odysseus.

Line 36-  'Odysseus followed in the steps of the godess'.  This shows how easy it is being made for Odyseus yet at the same time how honoured he is to be following a godess.

Lines 37-45- Odysseus admires the Phaecians ships.  This shows ultimately what he wants from the Phaecians and his dry admiration shows his longing for home.  'Odysseus marvelled at the harbours with their trim ships...presenting a wondeful sight'.

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Lines 46-64

Athene gives Odysseus advice so he can earn the King and Queen's favour and help.  

Summary of what she says:

They reach the palce

Upon entering the palace you will find the princes however earning their favour is difficult and only a bold man can do so. The first person you will find is the Queen, Aretes.

Family history of Aretes: she is of the same family as Alcinous the King.  Distantly related to Poseidon.

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Lines 65-78

Desription of Arete, King Alcinous' wife.

Arete is described as the perfect women.  This is shown throught the list of her fine qualities and how she is given 'such honour that no other woman recieves who keeps house under her husband's eye in the world today'.  The image of Penelope, Odyesseus' wife is also put into the readers mind at this point and a comparison between the dishevelled home in Ithica and this peaceful palce is made.  

Other peoples opinion of her is that she is like a 'godess'.  This is said to be thought by her sons, husband and people of the city.  The collective opinion of her makes the opinion seem truthful rather than exagerated.  

She is also thought to be a 'wise woman'.  This is interesting as women at this time were not viewed because of their mental abilities but because of their home keeping/child bearing skills.

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Lines 78-133

Incredibly in depth and positive description of King Alcinous' home.  

Imagery of fruit growing 'to perfection'.  Odysseus' life is soon to be retuned.

Colour purple used associated with royalty.

More praise for the skills with ships.

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Lines 134-135

Repetition of the 'much endouring Odysseus' is now coupled with 'good' reinforces the idea that this is a conclusive moment-make or break-and is crucial in taking the next step forward in his journey.

Homer portrays the Phaecians as people worthy of Odysseus' attention as he speaks o how they 'pour thir last cup' to the 'keen eyed Giant slayer Hermes'.  It also leads to the idea that xenia will be executed properly under this household and so Odysseus' cause has hope.

As Odysseus reaches Alcinous and Arete, Athene makes the magic mist 'roll away' which creates the idea of a revalation pershap foreshadowing when Odysseus reveals himself to the Suitors.

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Lines 136-152,

Odysseus makes his plea to Arete.  This plea is a report of his sufferings to gain the respect of Arete and in return gain Alcinous' help.

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