Ancient World Now: The Odyssey

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Today you meet Nausicaa, “of the white-arms”. One of my favorites. Referred to as “discreet”, you can see why. This young princess is down by the seashore playing ball & washing clothes, when her handmaids find a naked man washed up on the shore! Yikes! Her ladies try to stop her from going down to see what all the ruckus was about, but she insists—because she is Nausicaa, who knows her own mind. She treats him like any other stranger they might meet along the road, is absolutely unruffled and unmoved, and gets him a tunic & some refreshments from their mule cart. What a queen she will be!

In fact, it is known that Sophocles wrote a play about her. But, alas, as so many things from the ancient world, it is lost…..

I love Homer’s passages about this girl. This one in particular, when Odysseus first sees her and cannot tell whether she is mortal or goddess: “I have never with these eyes seen anything like you, neither man nor woman. Wonder takes me as I look on you. Yet in Delos once I saw such a thing, by Apollo’s altar. I saw the stalk of a young palm shooting up…And as, when I looked upon that tree, my heart admired it long, since such a tree had never yet sprung from the earth, so now, lady, I admire you and wonder, and am terribly afraid to clasp you by the knees.”
From Richmond Lattimore’s translation.

Enjoy the second installment of The Odyssey!

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