Odyssey Funmaries #5: Nausicaa (Book VI)


The events of this next book play out like an eighties sitcom.

Odysseus washes up on the Phaeacian shore after Poseidon tries to kill him with another storm. He’s also butt-naked, that’s how strong the storm was.

While Odysseus recovers on the shore, Athena goes to Nausicaa, the young daughter of the Phaeacian king, Alcinous. Athena is of course in disguise, this time as one of Nausicaa’s girlfriends. And as girlfriends do, she teases mercilessly. While Nausicaa is still in bed, disguised Athena makes fun of Nausicaa’s dirty laundry, and says she’ll never get married with linens like those.

Low blow, Athena. Taking advantage of adolescent gullibility and soiled linen-sensitivities.

This of course makes young Nausicaa really self-conscious and she begs her dad the next morning to go to the shore to wash up. She takes two friends.

While they’re washing, butt-naked, brine-encrusted, and starving Odysseus sees them. Classy guy that he is, he

crept out of the bushes,

Stripping off with his massive hands a leafy branch

from the tangled olive growth to shield his body,

hide is private parts. [6.139-143]

First, “private parts”? Is Big Bird translating this thing?

Second, for a man of reputed inventiveness, is a branch seriously the best this guy could do for clothes? Couldn’t weave a grass skirt, man of twists and turns?

The girls freak out and run, but for Nausicaa. She stands still b/c “Athena planted courage within her heart.” Whatever.

Odysseus lays it on thick with compliments, which must have been pretty sweet to hear, especially after getting an ear load about her linens. Although Odysseus has no such intentions, too focussed on survival and all, he unintentionally smites the little girl’s heart.

Thus smitten, she agrees to help Odysseus, giving him clothes and directions to dad King Alcinous’ palace. She said she would take him on her chariot, but what would the neighbors say?

The assistance Nausicaa provides Odysseus on the beach is paralleled in Ulysses, along with the dramatically different consciousnesses (i.e., old resourceful dude and impressionable sentimental girl).

Nausicaa directs him to enter the palace and grasp her mother’s knees and beg for help. I hope the queen’s sitting down!

Countdown to Bloomsday…

We read page 1 of Ulysses in 14 days!

If you think funmaries are fun,  just wait for the joy in Joyce!


6 Responses

  1. Remember that time in college when you were butt-naked and brine-encrusted?

    Actually, I can’t recall a time when you weren’t!

  2. I’m on medication for that!

  3. Dear Odysseus, ‘Raider of Cities’, ‘Man of Twists & Turns’:

    I want to thank you for agreeing to take me home from the Battle of Troy. As you know, I lost my ride on the way there and I was stuck. I am damn glad we won. It was a good war. ‘Mission Accomplished.’ That wooden horse was a great idea. Really boffo.
    But I do have some concerns about the trip home, thus far.
    I guess the first would be the fact that the Battle of Troy was ten years ago. I had assumed maybe a week or two tops, and we would be back in the agora, sucking down some Ouzo. I had no idea you were going to piss off Poseidon and we would be stuck, sailing around for a decade. We have been attacked by a monstrous Cyclops. Lost many a man steering between the dreaded Scylla and Char,- er, – that other thing. I was with a crew of men that were turned into swine. Literally. Into pigs. (And I know you did not know this but one of our oarsmen, Flavius Josephus, is actually Yosef Ben Matityahu – the whole pig thing really threw a wrench in his religious practices.)
    I hate to disturb you with this letter. I hate to do this, that is, because you are most likely reading it in the arms of some immortal goddess as you try to decide what sexual position will most please our finicky gods tonight. Or perhaps you are stranded – naked! – with a beautiful virgin – naked! – nymph and her beautiful – naked! – attendants. Are they rubbing you down with oil right now? Gosh! Please don’t get my letter greasy! Are you sure you had enough time with beautiful Circe back there on Pig Island? Sure you didn’t need another year before we set sail to whatever island holds a horrible, monstrous man-eating beast (for us) and a lithe, sexy piece of goddess-tail (for you)?
    Did I mention the trip down to Hell?



  4. And what exactly is going on with the image link behind “impressionable sentimental girl”?

    Do you not think I have ample material with which to retaliate?

    For shame.

  5. I know I play with fire. And I know I don’t play very well with it. But the flames are so irresistible.

    But, what’s wrong with being an impressionable sentimental girl? It apparently beats being one of Odysseus’ sailors.

    Oh Eurylocus, you were probably eaten by a giant.

  6. […] recapping of what has transpired since butt-naked, brine-encrusted Ulysses got creative with an olive […]

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