"Odysseus considered whether he should throw his arms round the beautiful girl’s knees and beg for help"
Nausicaa, Frederick Leighton (1878)
Public DomainNausicaa, Frederick Leighton (1878) - Credit: Wikimedia Commons
By throwing his arms around Nausicaa’s knees, Odysseus would have been supplicating her. Supplication was a means of begging someone for help or mercy, and was considered so important by the ancient Greeks that suppliants were said to be sacred to Zeus. By clasping the legs or knees, the suppliant physically lowered himself, symbolic of throwing himself at another’s mercy. To refuse the suppliant without good cause was to anger the gods.