Phaeacians in The Odyssey Phaeacia

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  • Books 7–8

The Odyssey


by:
Homer

1

2

Books 7–8

Summary: Book 7

On his way to the palace of Alcinous, the king of the
Phaeacians, Odysseus is stopped by a young girl who is Athena in
disguise. She offers to guide him to the king’s house and shrouds
him in a protective mist that keeps the Phaeacians, a kind but somewhat
xenophobic people, from harassing him. She also advises him to direct
his plea for help to Arete, the wise and strong queen who will know how
to get him home. Once Athena has delivered Odysseus to the palace,
she departs from Scheria to her beloved city of Athens.

Odysseus finds the palace residents holding a festival
in honor of Poseidon. He is struck by the splendor of the palace
and the king’s opulence. As soon as he sees the queen, he throws
himself at her feet, and the mist about him dissipates. At first,
the king wonders if this wayward traveler might be a god, but without
revealing his identity, Odysseus puts the king’s suspicions to rest
by declaring that he is indeed a mortal. He then explains his predicament,
and the king and queen gladly promise to see him off the next day
in a Phaeacian ship.

Later that evening, when the king and queen are alone
with Odysseus, the wise Arete recognizes the clothes that he is
wearing as ones that she herself had made for her daughter
Nausicaa. Suspicious, she interrogates Odysseus further. While still
withholding his name, Odysseus responds by recounting the story
of his journey from Calypso’s island and his encounter with Nausicaa
that morning, which involved her giving him a set of clothes to
wear. To absolve the princess for not accompanying him to the palace,
Odysseus claims that it was his idea to come alone. Alcinous is
so impressed with his visitor that he offers Odysseus his daughter’s
hand in marriage.

Summary: Book 8

The next day, Alcinous calls an assembly of his Phaeacian
counselors. Athena, back from Athens, ensures attendance by spreading word
that the topic of discussion will be the godlike visitor who recently
appeared on the island. At the assembly, Alcinous proposes providing
a ship for his visitor so that the man can return to his homeland.
The measure is approved, and Alcinous invites the counselors to
his palace for a feast and celebration of games in honor of his
guest. There, a blind bard named Demodocus sings of the quarrel
between Odysseus and Achilles at Troy. Everyone listens with pleasure
except Odysseus, who weeps at the painful memories that the story
recalls. The king notices Odysseus’s grief and ends the feast so
that the games can begin.

The games include the standard lineup of boxing, wrestling,
racing, and throwing of the discus. At one point, Odysseus is asked
to participate. Still overcome by his many hardships, he declines.
One of the young athletes, Broadsea, then insults him, which goads
his pride to action. Odysseus easily wins the discus toss and then
challenges the Phaeacian athletes to any other form of competition
they choose. The discussion becomes heated, but Alcinous diffuses
the situation by insisting that Odysseus join them in another feast,
at which the Phaeacian youth entertain him and prove their preeminence
in song and dance. Demodocus performs again, this time a light song
about a tryst between Ares and Aphrodite. Afterward, Alcinous and
each of the young Phaeacian men, including Broadsea, give Odysseus
gifts to take with him on his journey home.

At dinner that night, Odysseus asks Demodocus to sing
of the Trojan horse and the sack of Troy, but as he listens to the
accomplished minstrel he again breaks down. King Alcinous again
notices and stops the music. He asks Odysseus at last to tell him
who he is, where he is from, and where he is going.

Take the Books 7-8 Quick Quiz

1

2


Previous

Books 5–6
Next

Book 9

More Help

  • Character List

    CHARACTERS
  • Odysseus: Character Analysis

    CHARACTERS
  • Plot Analysis

    MAIN IDEAS
  • What makes Odysseus “the man of twists and turns”?

    MAIN IDEAS
  • Quotes by Theme

    QUOTES
  • Themes

    MAIN IDEAS
  • Review Quiz

    FURTHER STUDY

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An Easier Way to Study Hard

Bartleby Woman on Laptop
Sponsored
Bartleby Logo

  • Home

  • Literature

  • The Odyssey

  • Books 7–8

The Odyssey


by:
Homer

1

2

Books 7–8

Summary: Book 7

On his way to the palace of Alcinous, the king of the
Phaeacians, Odysseus is stopped by a young girl who is Athena in
disguise. She offers to guide him to the king’s house and shrouds
him in a protective mist that keeps the Phaeacians, a kind but somewhat
xenophobic people, from harassing him. She also advises him to direct
his plea for help to Arete, the wise and strong queen who will know how
to get him home. Once Athena has delivered Odysseus to the palace,
she departs from Scheria to her beloved city of Athens.

Odysseus finds the palace residents holding a festival
in honor of Poseidon. He is struck by the splendor of the palace
and the king’s opulence. As soon as he sees the queen, he throws
himself at her feet, and the mist about him dissipates. At first,
the king wonders if this wayward traveler might be a god, but without
revealing his identity, Odysseus puts the king’s suspicions to rest
by declaring that he is indeed a mortal. He then explains his predicament,
and the king and queen gladly promise to see him off the next day
in a Phaeacian ship.

Later that evening, when the king and queen are alone
with Odysseus, the wise Arete recognizes the clothes that he is
wearing as ones that she herself had made for her daughter
Nausicaa. Suspicious, she interrogates Odysseus further. While still
withholding his name, Odysseus responds by recounting the story
of his journey from Calypso’s island and his encounter with Nausicaa
that morning, which involved her giving him a set of clothes to
wear. To absolve the princess for not accompanying him to the palace,
Odysseus claims that it was his idea to come alone. Alcinous is
so impressed with his visitor that he offers Odysseus his daughter’s
hand in marriage.

Summary: Book 8

The next day, Alcinous calls an assembly of his Phaeacian
counselors. Athena, back from Athens, ensures attendance by spreading word
that the topic of discussion will be the godlike visitor who recently
appeared on the island. At the assembly, Alcinous proposes providing
a ship for his visitor so that the man can return to his homeland.
The measure is approved, and Alcinous invites the counselors to
his palace for a feast and celebration of games in honor of his
guest. There, a blind bard named Demodocus sings of the quarrel
between Odysseus and Achilles at Troy. Everyone listens with pleasure
except Odysseus, who weeps at the painful memories that the story
recalls. The king notices Odysseus’s grief and ends the feast so
that the games can begin.

The games include the standard lineup of boxing, wrestling,
racing, and throwing of the discus. At one point, Odysseus is asked
to participate. Still overcome by his many hardships, he declines.
One of the young athletes, Broadsea, then insults him, which goads
his pride to action. Odysseus easily wins the discus toss and then
challenges the Phaeacian athletes to any other form of competition
they choose. The discussion becomes heated, but Alcinous diffuses
the situation by insisting that Odysseus join them in another feast,
at which the Phaeacian youth entertain him and prove their preeminence
in song and dance. Demodocus performs again, this time a light song
about a tryst between Ares and Aphrodite. Afterward, Alcinous and
each of the young Phaeacian men, including Broadsea, give Odysseus
gifts to take with him on his journey home.

At dinner that night, Odysseus asks Demodocus to sing
of the Trojan horse and the sack of Troy, but as he listens to the
accomplished minstrel he again breaks down. King Alcinous again
notices and stops the music. He asks Odysseus at last to tell him
who he is, where he is from, and where he is going.

Take the Books 7-8 Quick Quiz

1

2


Previous

Books 5–6
Next

Book 9

More Help

  • Character List

    CHARACTERS
  • Odysseus: Character Analysis

    CHARACTERS
  • Plot Analysis

    MAIN IDEAS
  • What makes Odysseus “the man of twists and turns”?

    MAIN IDEAS
  • Quotes by Theme

    QUOTES
  • Themes

    MAIN IDEAS
  • Review Quiz

    FURTHER STUDY

From the SparkNotes Blog

Every Book on Your English Syllabus, Summed Up in Marvel Quotes
By

Elodie

Every Harry Potter Character, Summed Up in a Single Sentence
By

Elodie and Chelsea Dagger

Snapchats from Every Literary Movement
By

Elodie

7 Fictional Characters Whose Names Give Away the Story
By

Elodie

Shakespeare Couples, Ranked from Most to Least Dysfunctional
By

Taylor Noles