'Some day thou wilt marry, Nausicaa,' she
said, land it is time for thee to wash all
the fair raiment that is one day to be
thine. Tomorrow thou must ask the king, thy
father, for mules and for a wagon, and drive
from the city to a place where all the rich
clothing may be washed and dried.'
When morning came Nausicaa remembered her
dream, and went to tell her father.
Her mother was sitting spinning yarn of
sea-purple stain, and her father was just
going to a council meeting.
'Father, dear,' said the princess, 'couldst
thou lend me a high wagon with strong
wheels, that I may take all my fair linen to
the river to wash. All yours, too, I shall
take, so that thou shalt go to the council
in linen that is snowy clean, and I know
that my five brothers will also be glad if I
wash their fine clothing for them.'
This she said, for she felt too shy to tell
her father what Athene had said about her
But the king knew well why she asked. 'I do
not grudge thee mules, nor anything else, my
child,' he said. 'Go, bid the servants
prepare a wagon.'
The servants quickly got ready the finest
wagon that the king had, and harnessed the
best of the mules. And Nausicaa's mother
filled a basket with all the dainties that
she knew her daughter liked best, so that
Nausicaa and her maidens might feast
together. The fine clothes were piled into
the wagon, the basket of food was placed
carefully beside them, and Nausicaa climbed
in, took the whip and shining reins, and
touched the mules. Then with clatter of
hoofs they started.
When they were come to the beautiful, clear
river, amongst whose reeds Odysseus had
knelt the day before, they unharnessed the
mules and drove them along the banks of the
river to graze where the clover grew rich
and fragrant. Then they washed the clothes,
working hard and well, and spread them out
to dry on the clean pebbles down by the
Then they bathed, and when they had bathed
they took their midday meal by the bank of
the rippling river.
When they had finished, the sun had not yet
dried the clothes, so Nausicaa and her
maidens began to play ball. As they played
they sang a song that the girls of that land
would always sing as they threw the ball to
one another. All the maidens were fair, but
Nausicaa of the white arms was the fairest
From hand to hand they threw the ball,
growing always the merrier, until, when it
was nearly time for them to gather the
clothes together and go home, Nausicaa threw
it very hard to one of the others. The girl
missed the catch. The ball flew into the
river, and, as it was swept away to the sea,
the princess and all her maidens screamed
Their cries awoke Odysseus, as he lay asleep
in his bed of leaves.
'I must be near the houses of men,' he said;
'those are the cries of girls at play.'
With that he crept out from the shelter of
He had no clothes, for he had thrown them
all into the sea before he began his
terrible swim for life. But he broke off
some leafy branches and held them round him,
and walked down to where Nausicaa and her
Like a wild man of the woods he looked, and
when they saw him coming the girls shrieked
and ran away. Some of them hid behind the
rocks on the shore, and some ran out to the
spits of yellow sand that jutted into the
But although his face was marred with the
sea-foam that had crusted on it, and he
looked a terrible, fierce, great creature,
Nausicaa was too brave to run away.
Shaking she stood there, and watched him as
he came forward, and stood still a little
Then Odysseus spoke to her, gently and
kindly, that he might take away her fear.
He told her of his shipwreck, and begged her
to show him the way to the town, and give
him some old garment, or any old wrap in
which she had brought the linen, so that he
might have something besides leaves with
which to cover himself.
I have never seen any maiden half so
beautiful as thou art,' he said. 'Have pity
on me, and may the gods grant thee all thy
Then said Nausicaa: 'Thou seemest no evil
man, stranger, and I will gladly give thee
clothing and show thee the way to the town.
This is the land of the Phaeacians, and my
father is the king.'
To her maidens then she called
'Why do ye run away at the sight of a man?
Dost thou take him for an enemy? He is only
a poor shipwrecked man. Come, give him food
and drink, and fetch him clothing.'
The maidens came back from their
hiding-places, and fetched some of the
garments of Nausicaa's brothers which they
had brought to wash, and laid them beside
Odysseus gratefully took the clothes away,
and went off to the river. There he plunged
into the clear water, and washed the salt
crust from off his face and limbs and body,
and the crusted foam from his hair. Then he
put on the beautiful garments that belonged
to one of the princes, and walked down to
the shore where Nausicaa and her maidens
So tall and handsome and strong did Odysseus
look, with his hair curling like hyacinth
flowers around his head, that Nausicaa said
to her maidens: 'This man, who seemed to us
so dreadful so short a time ago, now looks
like a god. I would that my husband, if ever
I have one, should be as he.'
Then she and her maidens brought him food
and wine, and he ate hungrily, for it was
many days since he had eaten.
When he had finished, they packed the linen
into the wagon, and yoked the mules, and
Nausicaa climbed into her place.
'So long as we are passing through the
fields,' she said to Odysseus, 'follow
behind with my maidens, and I will lead the
way. But when we come near the town with its
high walls and towers, and harbours full of
ships, the rough sailors will stare and say,
"Hath Nausicaa gone to find herself a
husband because she scorns the men of
Phaeacia who would wed her? Hath she picked
up a ship-wrecked stranger, or is this one
of the gods who has come to make her his
wife?" Therefore come not with us, I pray
thee, for the sailors to jest at. There is a
fair poplar grove near the city, with a
meadow lying round it. Sit there until thou
thinkest that we have had time to reach the
palace. Then seek the palace any child can
show thee the way and when thou art come to
the outer court pass quickly into the room
where my mother sits. Thou wilt find her
weaving yarn of sea-purple stain by the
light of the fire. She will be leaning her
head back against a pillar, and her maidens
will be standing round her. My father's
throne is close to hers, but pass him by,
and cast thyself at my mother's knees. If
she feels kindly towards thee and is sorry
for thee, then my father is sure to help
thee to get safely back to thine own land.'
Then Nausicaa smote her mules with the whip,
and they trotted quickly off, and soon left
behind them the silver river with its
whispering reeds, and the beach with its
Odysseus and the maidens followed the wagon,
and just as the sun was setting they reached
the poplar grove in the meadow.
There Odysseus stayed until Nausicaa should
have had time to reach the palace. When she
got there, she stopped at the gateway, and
her brothers came out and lifted down the
linen, and unharnessed the mules. Nausicaa
went up to her room, and her old nurse
kindled a fire for her and got ready her
When Odysseus thought it was time to follow,
he went to the city. He marvelled at the
great walls and at the many gallant ships in
the harbours. But when he reached the king's
palace, he wondered still more. Its walls
were of brass, so that from without, when
the doors stood open, it looked as if the
sun or moon were shining within. A frieze of
blue ran round the walls. All the doors were
made of gold, the doorposts were of silver,
the thresholds of brass, and the hook of the
door was of gold. In the halls were golden
figures of animals, and of men who held in
their hands lighted torches. Outside the
courtyard was a great garden filled with
blossoming pear-trees and pomegranates, and
apple-trees with shining fruit, and figs,
and olives. All the year round there was
fruit in that garden. There were grapes in
blossom, and grapes purple and ready to eat,
and there were great masses of snowy
pear-blossom, and pink apple-blossom, and
golden ripe pears, and rosy apples.
At all of those wonders Odysseus stood and
gazed, but it was not for long; for he
hastened through the halls to where the
queen sat in the firelight, spinning her
purple yarn. He fell at her knees, and
silence came on all those in the room when
they looked at him, so brave and so handsome
did he seem.
'Through many and great troubles have I come
hither, queen,' said he; 'speed, I pray you,
my parting right quickly, that I may come to
mine own country. Too long have I suffered
great sorrows far away from my own friends.'
Then he sat down amongst the ashes by the
fire, and for a little space no one spoke.
At last a wise old courtier said to the
king: 'Truly it is not right that this
stranger should sit in the ashes by the
fire. Bid him arise, and give him meat and
At this the king took Odysseus by the hand
and asked him to rise. He made one of his
sons give up his silver inlaid chair, and
bade his servants fetch a silver basin and a
golden ewer that Odysseus might wash his
hands. All kinds of dainties to eat and
drink he also made them fetch, and the lords
and the courtiers who were there feasted
along with Odysseus, until it was time for
them to go to their own homes.
Before they went the king promised Odysseus
a safe convoy back to his own land.
When he was left alone with the king and
queen, the queen said to him: 'Tell us who
thou art. I myself made the clothing that
thou wearest. From whence didst thou get
Then Odysseus told her of his imprisonment
in the island of Calypso, of his escape, of
the terrible storm that shattered his raft,
and of how at length he reached the shore
and met with Nausicaa.
'It was wrong of my daughter not to bring
thee to the palace when she came with her
maids,' said the king.
But Odysseus told him why it was that
Nausicaa had bade him stay behind.
'Be not vexed with this blameless maiden,'
he said. 'Truly she is the sweetest and the
fairest maid I ever saw.'
Then Odysseus went to the bed that the
servants had prepared for him. They had
spread fair purple blankets over it, and
when it was ready they stood beside it with
their torches blazing, golden and red.
'Up now, stranger, get thee to sleep,' said
they. 'Thy bed is made.'
Sleep was very sweet to Odysseus that night
as he lay in the soft bed with warm blankets
over him. He was no longer tossed and beaten
by angry seas, no longer wet and cold and
hungry. The roar of furious waves did not
beat in his ears, for all was still in the
great halls where the flickering firelight
played on the frieze of blue, and turned the
brass walls into gold.
Next day the king gave a great entertainment
for Odysseus. There were boxing and
wrestling and leaping and running, and in
all of these the brothers of Nausicaa were
better than all others who tried.
But when they came to throw the weight, and
begged Odysseus to try, he cast a stone
heavier than all the others, far beyond
where the Phaeacians had thrown.
That night there was feasting in the royal
halls, and the king's minstrels played and
sang songs of the taking of Troy, and of the
bravery of the great Odysseus. And Odysseus
listened until his heart could bear no more,
and tears trickled down his cheeks. Only the
king saw him weep. He wondered much why
Odysseus wept, and at last he asked him.
So Odysseus told the king his name, and the
whole story of his adventures since he had
sailed away from Troyland.
Then the king and queen and their courtiers
gave rich gifts to Odysseus. A beautiful
silver-studded sword was the king's gift to
Nausicaa gave him nothing, but she stood and
gazed at him in his purple robes and felt
more sure than ever that he was the
handsomest and the greatest hero she had
'Farewell, stranger,' she said to him when
the hour came for her to go to bed, for she
knew she would not see him on the morrow.
'Farewell, stranger. Sometimes-think of me
when thou art in thine own land.'
Then said Odysseus: 'All the days of my life
I shall remember thee, Nausicaa, for thou
hast given me my life.'
Next day a company of the Phaeacians went
down to a ship that lay by the seashore, and
with them went Odysseus. They carried the
treasures that had been given to him and put
them on board, and spread a rug on the deck
for him. There Odysseus lay down, and as
soon as the splash of the oars in the water
and the rush and gush of the water from the
bow of the boat told him that the ship was
sailing speedily to his dear land of Ithaca,
he fell into a sound sleep. Onward went the
ship, so swiftly that not even a hawk flying
after its prey could have kept pace with
her. When the bright morning stars arose,
they were close to Ithaca. The sailors
quickly ran their vessel ashore and gently
carried the sleeping Odysseus, wrapped round
in his rug of bright purple, to where a
great olive-tree bent its grey leaves over
the sand. They laid him under the tree, put
his treasures beside him, and left him,
still heavy with slumber. Then they climbed
into their ship and sailed away.
While Odysseus slept the goddess Athene shed
a thick mist round him. When he awoke, the
sheltering heavens, the long paths, and the
trees in bloom all looked strange to him
when seen through the greyness of the mist.
'Woe is me!' he groaned. 'The Phaeacians
promised to bring me to Ithaca, but they
have brought me to a land of strangers, who
will surely attack me and steal my
But while he was wondering what he should
do, the goddess Athene came to him. She was
tall and fair and noble to look upon, and
she smiled upon Odysseus with her kind grey
Under the olive-tree she sat down beside
him, and told him all that had happened in
Ithaca while he was away, and all that he
must do to win back his kingdom and his
The Legend and Myth about Nausicaa and Odysseus
The Myth of Nausicaa and Odysseus
The story of Nausicaa and Odysseus is featured in the book
entitled 'The Odyssey' by Jeanie Lang published
in London in 1920 by T.C. And E.C.Jack.