Page 76. " blessed with beauty by the Graces "

The Three Graces,
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeThe Three Graces, - Credit: Mak Thorpe/Wikimedia Commons
The Graces were (usually three) goddesses of charm, grace and beauty.

Page 79. " 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.
Page 80. " there is nothing better or finer than when two people of one heart and mind keep house as man and wife, a grief to their enemies and a joy to their friends, and their reputation spreads far and wide. "

Domestic scene: a slave presents a baby to its mother, red-figure lekythos, ca.470-60 BC
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeDomestic scene: a slave presents a baby to its mother, red-figure lekythos, ca.470-60 BC - Credit: Marsyas/Wikimedia Commons
This is an important sentiment as it is the main theme of The Odyssey. These are the values in life that Homer is instructing his audience to hold dear: partnership, family, friends, and a good reputation. The Odyssey is a moral poem designed to teach its audience certain lessons, and as a result is a very different sort of epic to The Iliad. It is more concerned with living a harmonious and good life than with war and battles.

Page 83. " associated with men before being properly married "

In ancient Greece, unmarried girls were not supposed to interact with men outside their own family. It would also most likely be frowned upon for unsupervised women to associate with strange men, whatever their marital status.

Page 85. " she had been brought by ship from Aperaea years ago and selected as a prize for Alcinous "

Drawing of a Greek Slave, Hiram Power
Public DomainDrawing of a Greek Slave, Hiram Power - Credit: Wikimedia Commons
The ancient Greeks used, bought and traded slaves. They saw this as a perfectly normal and acceptable way of life. Many of the servile characters mentioned in The Odyssey are in fact slaves.

Page 86. " Her name is Arete "

 Arete is a Greek word meaning ‘virtue.’ Queen Arete holds so much power and influence among her people because she is the epitome of a good, virtuous woman.

Page 87. " and came to Marathon and the broad streets of Athens, where she entered the great palace of Erectheus. "
The Erectheion, Athens
Public DomainThe Erectheion, Athens - Credit: LevineDS/Wikimedia Commons

Athene was the patron goddess of the city of Athens. Marathon is a district near Athens. Although it was the site of a famous battle, this was long after Homer’s time. Erectheus was a mythical king of Athens who was offered cult alongside Poseidon and Athene in the Erectheion temple (which is still standing today).

Page 87. " Now Odysseus approached Alcinous’ splendid dwelling. "

A Mycenaean Palace
Creative Commons AttributionA Mycenaean Palace - Credit: Ken Russell Salvador/Wikimedia Commons
There follows a long description of the awe-inspiring palace of Alcinous. Mycenaean society was based around palaces; they were the administrative centres of the community. At the heart of the palace was its throne-room or megaron. The palaces described in The Odyssey are probably based on these Mycenaean structures. Click here for more ideas of what a palace and its megaron may have looked like.

Page 95. " summon our divine bard, Demodocus "

Homer elevates bards throughout The Odyssey, and so promotes himself by association. His description of Demodocus as a blind bard loved by the Muses perhaps reflects his own identity.

Page 96. " The prophecy that Phoebus Apollo had made to him in sacred Pytho "
The temple of Apollo at Delphi
GNU Free Documentation LicenseThe temple of Apollo at Delphi - Credit: Ifernyen/Wikimedia Commons

Pytho refers to the serpent of Delphi, who protected the site believed to be at the centre of the earth, and was one of Apollo’s enemies. Apollo slew the monster and claimed her shrine, Delphi, as his own. Delphi was one of the main oracles in ancient Greece, a place where people could go to receive prophecies from the god Apollo via his priestess.

Page 97. " The squire hung Demodocus’ tuneful lyre on its peg "
Muse playing a lyre, white-ground lekythos, 440-30 BC
Public DomainMuse playing a lyre, white-ground lekythos, 440-30 BC - Credit: Bibi Saint-Pol/Wikimedia Commons

The lyre is an ancient stringed instrument.


Page 100. " So forward now, my champion dancers, and show us your steps "
Samothraki Choral Dancers
GNU Free Documentation LicenseSamothraki Choral Dancers - Credit: Marsyas/Wikimedia Commons

Although no-one can be sure exactly what ancient Greek dancing looked like, ancient texts and art have given historians some clues. Find out more here.

 It is likely that influences of ancient Greek dancing still remain in Greek dances today.

Below is an experiment involving Greek dance performed to a reading of Homer in the original Greek. Listen for the rhythm of the verse; this is dactylic hexameter, the meter in which ancient epics were composed.