In the Odyssey, there is a scene in which Odysseus reaches the land of the Phaeacians. While he sleeps, the goddess Athena (who, incidentally, favored the hero Odysseus and acted as his divine protector) visits the young princess of this land, Nausicaa. This moment is beautifully described in the Odyssey:
"...on this night the goddess, grey-eyed Athena,
entered the palace of Alcinous
to make sure of Odysseus' voyage home.
She took her way to a painted bedchamber
where a young girl lay fast asleep - so fine
in mould and feature that she seemed a goddess -
the daughter of Alcinous, Nausicaa.
One either side, as Graces might have slept,
her maids were sleeping. The bright doors were shut,
but like a sudden stir of wind, Athena
moved to the bedside of the girl, and grew
visible as the shipman Dymas' daughter,
a girl the princess' age, and her dear friend."
Athena, in the disguise of a young girl, tells Nausicaa to assist her maids in the washing of clothing the next morning. Nausicaa complies. While she and her companions are at the river, they engage in a game of ball, the noise of which rouses the hero Odysseus from his slumber. All of the other girls are terrified by the sight of the hero - all except the noble Nausicaa. Nausicaa demonstrates her bravery (no doubt bolstered by the goddess Athena) and offers Odysseus food and clothing. Ultimately, the beauty and charm of the princess represent another of the many temptations that Odysseus encounters on his long journey home
Nausicaa in Art
Gallery | for pictures and information about Nausicaa in art, visit the Mythography gallery!
Who's Who in Classical Mythology