The Odyssey

By Homer

Books 5-8: Odysseus among the Phaeacians

Book V: Odysseus leaves Calypso

There is a second council of the gods, effectively marking out a new tetrad in the poem. Here Hermes is ordered by Zeus to tell Calypso to release Odysseus. Consequently, Odysseus builds a raft, which Calypso stocks with provisions, and sets sail for Scheria, which is 20 days journey away. Unfortunately, on the eighteenth day, Poseidon, who has just returned from his feasting with the Ethiopians, sees him on his voyage. Still enraged, he sends down a huge storm upon the hero, which destroys his boat and nearly drowns him. It is only with great difficulty that he lands on the island and builds a makeshift shelter for the night.

Book VI: Odysseus and the Phaeacians

The next morning, Odysseus awakes to the sound of young women playing and washing their clothes nearby. He covers his naked body with a leafy branch, and approaches them. He speaks with one of them, Nausicaa, who happens to be the daughter of the king of the Phaeacians. She directs him to the royal palace, and advises him to seek the clemency of her mother, Arete (whose name means literally "She who is prayed to").

Book VII: Odysseus in the palace of Alcinous

Athena, in disguise, speaks to Odysseus and covers him in a divine mist so that he might come to no harm in the city of the Phaeacians. Homer here has a long description of the royal palace and its environs. The hero enters the palace and petitions Arete. She and Alcinous, her husband, entertain him and agree to help him get home. Arete asks him of his previous travels, and he tells her of his journey from Ogygia to Scheria. He then goes to bed.

Book VIII: The Assembly, Feast and Games on Scheria

The Phaeacians hold an assembly, in which it is decided to help Odysseus get back home by sea. At the ensuing feast, the bard Demodocus sings of Odysseus at Troy, but the new stranger (i.e. Odysseus) cannot bear to listen to it. Games are then held, in which Odysseus reluctantly, but brilliantly competes, easily winning the discus competition. Demodocus sings again, this time about the love affair between Ares and Aphrodite and Hephaestus' revenge. Dancing follows, then Odysseus is given gifts by the locals. Then Demodocus sings his final song, this time about the Wooden Horse. Odysseus is in tears at being reminded of this episode of his life, which prompts Alcinous to explain his identity.