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.
" 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. "
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.
" 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.
" she had been brought by ship from Aperaea years ago and selected as a prize for Alcinous "
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).
" Now Odysseus approached Alcinous’ splendid dwelling. "
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.
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.
" The squire hung Demodocus’ tuneful lyre on its peg "
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.