The Odyssey


Books 5 to 8

Book 5 Summary

On Mount Olympus, Athena meets with the other gods—all except Poseidon—to make another appeal on behalf of Odysseus. Zeus finally dispatches Hermes to inform Calypso that she must release Odysseus from her island. Meanwhile, Athena plans to aid Telemachus in surviving the suitors’ ambush. Hermes puts on his winged sandals and flies to Calypso’s island. Calypso cannot refuse the order from Zeus, but she angrily points out that male gods are permitted to take mortal lovers while female gods are not. On the island, Odysseus spends his days weeping for his lost home and longing for his wife. At first he does not trust that Calypso really means to release him, but she convinces him of her sincerity. For five days she helps him prepare for his journey and then Odysseus sails off, alone.

Odysseus sails without incident for 18 days. Then, just as he approaches Scheria, the island of the Phaeacians, Poseidon sees him. The sea god is angry that the other gods are helping Odysseus. He summons a terrible storm which wrecks Odysseus’s boat and nearly kills him. With a little help from Athena and the goddess Ino, Odysseus manages to get to the island. Battered, naked and miserable, the hero falls asleep in a pile of leaves.

Book 6 Summary

Athena disguises herself as a dear friend of the beautiful Phaeacian princess, Nausicaa, and tells the princess to wash her clothes in the river. While the shipwrecked Odysseus sleeps close by, Nausicaa and her handmaids wash their clothes and themselves in the river. When Odysseus awakens, he appeals to the women for clothing and assistance but does not reveal his identity. The princess is impressed with his courtesy and handsomeness, so she gives him clothing and food. She then tells him how to find her parents’ palace, and advises him that his best hope for assistance lies in winning over Queen Arete by falling at her feet. Odysseus prays to Athena that the Phaeacians will receive him with kindness and the goddess hears his prayer,...

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Essays About The Odyssey