Part 3. Athens

Chapter 8. Arete and Nausicaa

{338|341} §3.1 Odyssey 3 brings together two figures, Nestor and Athena, whose functions are related in the story of Odysseus’s return: Nestor is the “homebringer” who ten years earlier failed to bring Odysseus back from Troy; Athena is the goddess who has now undertaken to free Odysseus from Calypso’s island and bring about his long delayed return home. The shift from Nestor to Athena in Odysseus’s story is a shift from the human to the divine, and Odyssey 3 dramatizes this; Athena is disguised as the mortal Mentor when she and Telemachus meet the mortal Nestor, but in reality she is herself, a goddess. The shift from human to divine dominates the story in the latter part of Odyssey 3, where Nestor, once he recognizes Athena, acknowledges her superior power through prayers, a wine offering, and an elaborate ox sacrifice.

§3.2 In Odyssey 7 Athena, disguised as a Phaeacian maiden, guides Odysseus to the Phaeacian royal palace, telling him of the Phaeacian king and queen whom he is about to meet. Her speech reveals that the king has a hidden identity beneath the surface of the poem: his genealogy makes him a second Nestor, a “homebringer” who will succeed where Nestor failed. But the king’s hidden identity raises a question about the queen, who is part of the same genealogy: she alone corresponds to nothing in Nestor’s genealogy. There is a striking imbalance here. Athena presents the queen as more important for Odysseus than the king: she mentions the queen first, and she says that Odysseus will meet her first when he enters the palace; she goes on to describe the great respect in which the queen is held by all, including the king; she ends by repeating what the Phaeacian princess has already told Odysseus, that his hopes for a homecoming depend on the favor of the {341|342} Phaeacian queen. [1] Given the relative importance of king and queen in this speech it does not make sense that we learn who the king is at a deeper level, but not the queen; if the king has a hidden identity, so too must the queen. The speech in fact makes the queen an enigma. [2]

§3.3 In Scheria Athena is fully in charge of events; she has been duly authorized by Zeus, who, before he sends Hermes to free Odysseus, foreshadows the entire Phaeacian episode, proclaiming that Odysseus will build a raft and reach Scheria in twenty days, that the Phaeacians will honor him like a god {342|343} and send him on his way with greater treasure than he would have brought from Troy, and that he will again reach home (Odyssey 5.33–42). The Phaeacians are like performers in a play of which this is the synopsis, and which Athena stage-manages. She goes to work at the beginning of Book 6, arriving in Scheria and entering the bedchamber of the princess Nausicaa, who is the first of the Phaeacians to take center stage; Athena appears to Nausicaa in a dream disguised as a friend, a maiden like herself, and Nausicaa is set in motion by this dream as soon as she awakens. Later, when Odysseus approaches the Phaeacian city, Athena appears again disguised as a Phaeacian maiden, and this time tells Odysseus about Arete and Alcinous, drawing special attention to Arete.

§3.4 Athena introduces both Nausicaa and Arete, and after each introduction she quits the stage, as it were, leaving it free for the princess and the queen. There is a close parallel between the two introductions, for in both cases when Athena departs she leaves Scheria altogether and goes to a particular destination, which is different in each case. In Book 6, having instructed the sleeping Nausicaa, Athena leaves Scheria for Olympus, the home of the gods, which is described in all its remote splendor (Odyssey 6.41–47):

ἡ μὲν ἄρ' ὣς εἰποῦσ' ἀπέβη γλαυκῶπις Ἀθήνη
Οὔλυμπόνδ', ὅθι φασὶ θεῶν ἕδος ἀσφαλὲς αἰεὶ
ἔμμεναι· οὔτ' ἀνέμοισι τινάσσεται οὔτε ποτ' ὄμβρῳ
δεύεται οὔτε χιὼν ἐπιπίλναται, ἀλλὰ μάλ' αἴθρη
πέπταται ἀννέφελος, λευκὴ δ' ἐπιδέδρομεν αἴγλη·
τῷ ἔνι τέρπονται μάκαρες θεοὶ ἤματα πάντα.
ἔνθ' ἀπέβη γλαυκῶπις, ἐπεὶ διεπέφραδε κούρῃ.

So speaking grey-eyed Athena departed
for Olympus, where they say the steadfast seat of the gods
is; it is not disturbed by winds and it is never made wet by rain
and snow doesn’t come near it, but a clear sky
stretches out without clouds, and a white radiance is shed upon it.
In it the blessed gods live at their ease forever.
There the grey-eyed one went when she had instructed the maiden.

In Book 7, having drawn Odysseus’s particular attention to the Phaeacian queen as he approaches the Phaeacian palace, Athena leaves Scheria and flies to Marathon and Athens and enters the strong house of Erechtheus (Odyssey 7.78–81): {343|344}

ὣς ἄρα φωνήσασ' ἀπέβη γλαυκῶπις Ἀθήνη
πόντον ἐπ' ἀτρύγετον, λίπε δὲ Σχερίην ἐρατεινήν,
ἵκετο δ' ἐς Μαραθῶνα καὶ εὐρυάγυιαν Ἀθήνην,
δῦνε δ' Ἐρεχθῆος πυκινὸν δόμον.

So spoke grey-eyed Athena, and she departed
across the barren sea and left lovely Scheria,
and she came to Marathon and Athens with the wide ways
and entered the strong house of Erechtheus.

§3.5 Athena’s two departures from Scheria work together; they correlate with the two characters that she introduces. At least her first departure does this. In her first departure Athena flies to Olympus and takes her place in her father’s household; this destination is appropriate to Nausicaa, a daughter in her father’s household, and a koúrē, “maiden” (Odyssey 6.47), like Athena herself. [3] Athena’s second destination is the palace of the Athenian king Erechtheus on the Acropolis of Athens; why she goes there we are not told: Athena simply disappears into the palace and we are left to speculate. [4] The only certainty is that the palace of Erechtheus is the sacred site of the city goddess of Athens; on this site Athena Poliás had her temple from time immemorial (i.e. from the Bronze Age) and on this site her temple long remained. [5] {344|345} We know much less about who the goddess actually was who inhabited this temple in the Homeric era. The only direct evidence for her is our passage in Odyssey 7. Is it possible that, just as Athena’s first destination is appropriate to Nausicaa, a maiden, Athena’s second destination is appropriate to Arete, a married woman, and that Athena herself is a different figure in Erechtheus’s palace than she is on Olympus? We are led to think so by a further striking parallelism in the text of Odyssey 7, for no sooner does Athena disappear into the palace of Erechtheus than Odysseus sets out for the palace of Alcinous, inside which, as he has just heard, Arete awaits; the transition from one palace to the other occurs in mid-line (Odyssey 7.81–82):

δῦνε δ' Ἐρεχθῆος πυκινὸν δόμον. αὐτὰρ Ὀδυσσεὺς
Ἀλκινόου πρὸς δώματ' ἴε κλυτά.

She entered the strong house of Erechtheus. But Odysseus
went on to the famous house of Alcinous.

The two palaces look like they are meant to be equivalent, and so too the female figures inside them. [6] {345|346}

§3.6 At the end of Athena’s speech to Odysseus as she guides him to the Phaeacian palace Arete is an enigma. What is her hidden identity? I suggest that her hidden identity is Athena Polias, the city goddess of Athens. If this is so, Athena, who has revealed Alcinous’s hidden identity by what she says, immediately goes on to reveal Arete’s hidden identity by what she does. [7] The result is that Alcinous and Arete together reflect Nestor and Athena together, and this makes perfect sense from the standpoint of Odysseus’s nóstos: as dramatized in Odyssey 3 Nestor and Athena are the two figures who matter in Odysseus’s nóstos, and Athena matters more than Nestor. This configuration, I suggest, is recreated in the Phaeacian royal couple, but whereas Alcinous is changed from a negative to a positive figure, Arete simply retains the preeminent position to which her hidden identity entitles her. Recreating Athena and Nestor, who are on different planes in Odyssey 3, as a royal couple dwelling in the same palace is admittedly a bold stroke; what mediates between the two situations is the relationship between Erechtheus and Athena Polias in Athens, which is itself a large question, and one to which I will return.

§3.7 Athena’s two departures from Scheria are parallel, and as in other cases where there is a deliberate pairing of this kind, the more significant moment is the second. [8] Attention is drawn to Athena’s second departure by the mere fact of repetition, and this attention has a definite purpose if Athena’s second destination answers a question that has just been raised. Athena’s first departure is also significant, but more in hindsight. At the beginning of Book 6 we are learning about the Phaeacians for the first time, and we note that Athena’s first destination is appropriate to the princess Nausicaa, but we do not ask why. We will come back to Nausicaa, who for now is just Nausicaa; it is enough to say that if Athena the city goddess of Athens is the hidden identity of the Phaeacian queen, there is no reason why Athena the Olympian goddess {346|347} cannot be the hidden identity of the Phaeacian princess. If we consider Athena’s two departures at a more basic level, and ask why Athena so pointedly leaves Scheria on two occasions, the answer is not just that Athena as the stage manager needs to get out of the way of the actors; it is that two of the actors are in some sense the same person as Athena, and she therefore cannot appear with them in the same place at the same time. [9]

§3.8 The harder question that confronts us is not Nausicaa, but Arete. Is it true that the Phaeacian queen reflects Athena Polias, the city goddess of Athens? If so, what became of this goddess in the post-Homeric era? These are complex questions, and they have far-reaching implications. Arete is the wife of Alcinous and the mother of his children. There has long been a debate about the nature of Athena Polias and her relationship to Erechtheus. The dominant view is that of Martin Nilsson, who rejected the idea of a marriage bond between Erechtheus and Athena Polias, and instead imagined a Mycenaean war goddess living on the Acropolis in the palace of a representative Mycenaean king, namely Erechtheus. Athena’s status as a virgin, which is her essential characteristic according to this view, is thus not violated. [10] {347|348} But it is far from clear that Athena’s nature and origins were as unified as this view presupposes. There is in fact explicit evidence that Athena was worshipped as a mother goddess in at least one city, namely Elis in the northwest Peloponnesus, which had a cult of Athena Mḗtēr. [11] This of course does not mean that Athena Polias in Athens was a mother goddess, only that she may have been.

§3.9 To assess what Athena Polias and Erechtheus as a pair represented in early Athens an old story in Herodotus 5.82–88 should be taken into account. Once, when their crops failed, the Epidaurians asked the Athenians for sacred olive trees to cut and make into images of the pair of goddesses Auxesia (“increase”) and Damia, as Delphi had instructed them to do. Delphi had specified that the images be made from olive wood, and the Epidaurians had turned to Athens as having the most sacred or perhaps the only olive trees at that time. The Athenians agreed to this request on the condition that the Epidaurians would thereafter bring yearly sacrifices to Athena Polias and Erechtheus. [12] When we consider why the Epidaurians wanted to make the images of their two goddesses from sacred Athenian olive wood, it is surely of significance that the old image of Athena Polias herself was made from sacred Athenian olive wood. [13] This suggests that the nature of the two Epidaurian goddesses in basic ways resembled that of Athena Polias. As for the two goddesses, they were not only concerned with the success of crops, as Herodotus implies; they were also goddesses of childbirth, inasmuch as the images that the Epidaurians made of them represented them on their knees {348|349} in the act of giving birth. [14] This again does not mean that Athena was necessarily a mother goddess herself. [15] Nevertheless, when we consider Athena Polias and Erechtheus as the recipients of annual sacrifices in compensation for the images of two goddesses of childbirth, there is reason to think that they themselves were not unconcerned with procreation. [16] {349|350}

§3.10 For the nature of Athena Polias in Athens we will follow where the text of Odyssey 7 leads, from her temple on the Acropolis to the Phaeacian palace and the Phaeacian queen. But just as Alcinous both is and is not Nestor, so Arete both is and is not Athena Polias. She is also herself, the queen of the Phaeacians, just as Alcinous is also himself, the king of the Phaeacians. At the end of the story Arete can only be herself, for the Phaeacians, as we have seen, are left to an uncertain future, and Athena can have no part in that. In his farewell speech to Arete, as he leaves the palace for the waiting Phaeacian ship, Odysseus explicitly recognizes that the Phaeacian queen is indeed a mortal (Odyssey 13.59–62):

χαῖρέ μοι, ὦ βασίλεια, διαμπερές, εἰς ὅ κε γῆρας
ἔλθῃ καὶ θάνατος, τά τ' ἐπ' ἀνθρώποισι πέλονται.
αὐτὰρ ἐγὼ νέομαι· σὺ δὲ τέρπεο τῷδ' ἐνὶ οἴκῳ
παισί τε καὶ λαοῖσι καὶ Ἀλκινόῳ βασιλῆϊ.

May you fare well always, O queen, until old age
and death come, which are the condition of men.
I will return home; but in this house may you rejoice
in your children and people and in Alcinous the king.

This is the last act in the shadow-play of Arete’s identity, and it ensures that nothing of Athena is left behind with her when she and the other Phaeacians return to the doubtful existence from which they came. It is not this last act, but the first act that matters for Arete’s identity as Athena Polias, and this act is played out as soon as Odysseus enters the Phaeacian palace, covered in mist, and clasps Arete’s knees. Arete’s role is to be supplicated, and this role is built {350|351} around her identification with Athena Polias. The very first moment is also the most highly charged moment, for the stranger Odysseus has appeared out of nowhere grasping Arete’s knees, and we have twice been told that his appeal for a nóstos depends entirely on his winning favor with her. The scene is electric with anticipation, and it is nothing short of stunning that Arete makes no response. We have already noted that Alcinous also makes no immediate response, and we have found good reason for that in an inherited tension that has to do with an old quarrel between Odysseus and Nestor. But Alcinous was not appealed to directly by Odysseus, and, prodded by the aged retainer Ekheneos, he also reacts to Odysseus's presence well before Arete does. Arete’s behavior has seemed inexplicable. [17] What we must realize, following clues in the text, is that Odysseus has in effect grasped the knees of Athena Polias, whose ancient image stood in the palace of Erechtheus. [18] Arete at this moment has become that image, and that is why she sits in total silence. Arete eventually breaks her silence and when she does the illusion that she is Athena Polias has already begun to dissipate. Her identification with Athena Polias is never as strong again once she speaks. [19] In the end, as we have seen, the illusion is dispelled totally.

§3.11 Arete’s name is well suited to her role. A verbal adjective from aráomai, “to pray,” the name Ἀρήτη (masculine Ἄρητος) means “prayed for,” as of a late-born child long “prayed for” by its parents. [20] This meaning fits Arete, who was the only child of her father Rhexenor, who is now dead. But {351|352} the name also suggests the meaning “prayed to,” and this fits Arete’s real role, which is to be supplicated by Odysseus. [21] The name is a perfect combination of overt and suggested meanings, corresponding to the queen’s overt and hidden roles.

§3.12 Let us pursue the idea that when Odysseus grasps Arete’s knees, she has in effect become Athena Polias. This idea has implications for what the ancient image of Athena Polias, which is nowhere described for us, actually was. For at the moment of supplication Arete is represented as sitting at the hearth, holding the distaff, and spinning. Nausicaa has already told Odysseus that this is how he will find her (Odyssey 6.303–307): [22]

ἀλλ' ὁπότ' ἄν σε δόμοι κεκύθωσι καὶ αὐλή,
ὦκα μάλα μεγάροιο διελθέμεν, ὄφρ' ἂν ἵκηαι
μητέρ' ἐμήν· ἡ δ' ἧσται ἐπ' ἐσχάρῃ ἐν πυρὸς αὐγῇ,
ἠλάκατα στρωφῶσ' ἁλιπόρφυρα, θαῦμα ἰδέσθαι,
κίονι κεκλιμένη.

But when the house and courtyard enclose you,
cross the hall quickly until you reach
my mother; she sits at the hearth in the light of the fire, {352|353}
spinning sea-purple wool from a distaff, a wonder to see,
leaning against a column.

Arete is described in exactly these terms at her first appearance in the poem as well: when Nausicaa awakens from the dream sent by Athena and goes to see her father and mother, she finds her mother sitting by the hearth with women servants, holding the distaff and spinning (Odyssey 6.52–53):

ἡ μὲν ἐπ' ἐσχάρῃ ἧστο σὺν ἀμφιπόλοισι γυναιξίν,
ἠλάκατα στρωφῶσ' ἁλιπόρφυρα.

She sat at the hearth with her serving women,
spinning sea-purple wool from a distaff.

Thus the scene has already been set twice before Odysseus enters the Phaeacian palace, and there is no need to describe it a third time. We already have in mind the figure whose knees Odysseus grasps when he makes his supplication. If Arete is meant to represent Athena Polias in this scene, Arete’s pose, described twice in identical terms, must be that of Athena Polias.

§3.13 When Pausanias saw the statue of Athena Polias in the second century AD he called it the holiest object in Athens but did not describe it. He only repeated what was commonly said about it, that it fell from heaven. [23] In the popular imagination the image was evidently as old as the city of Athens itself. [24] Apart from the fact that it was made of olive wood nothing is known {353|354} directly about the actual image. Inscriptions of annual temple inventories for a thirty-year period in the fourth century BC list the valuable (golden) accessories of the image; they refer to the image itself simply as hē theós, “the goddess.” The accessories, in particular a golden aegis and a golden gorgoneion, were meant to depict a warlike goddess, [25] and it is clear that these ornaments had belonged to the goddess for a period of time, probably since the sixth century. [26] It was then that the Athena Polias seems to have been {354|355} turned into a war goddess. The image itself was doubtless much older, but how old we do not know. It played a central part in traditions about the Cylonian conspiracy of about 630 BC: the conspirators took refuge at Athena’s image but were executed on the order of the Alcmaeonid Megacles, whose sacrilege put him and his family under a lasting curse. [27] There is no reason to think that the image of Athena in this story is not the same as the one called “the goddess” in the fourth-century inventories and seen centuries later by Pausanias. My assumption is that the image existed earlier still, during the Homeric era, and that when Athena enters the “strong house of Erechtheus” in Odyssey 7 the Homeric audience would imagine her as entering and animating this very image. Iliad 6 offers a parallel for such a full-size seated image of Athena Polias in the Homeric era: Hecabe and the other Trojan women go to Athena’s temple on the citadel (ἐν πόλει ἄκρῃ, Iliad 6.297), and Theano, the priestess, places their offering, a péplos, on Athena’s knees (Iliad 6.302–303):

ἣ δ' ἄρα πέπλον ἑλοῦσα Θεανὼ καλλιπάρῃος
θῆκεν Ἀθηναίης ἐπὶ γούνασιν ἠϋκόμοιο.

Taking the robe fair-cheeked Theano
placed it on the knees of beautiful-haired Athena. [28] {355|356}

§3.14 What the image of Athena Polias on the Acropolis of Athens looked like has been the subject of much speculation but has yet to be determined. One thing is clear: it was a unique object in the Greek world. It was very likely of a different order from other images, including those of Athena Polias in Troy and other cities. The question of what this image was should be approached with an open mind. The fourth-century inventories reveal one very important thing about the image itself: it held a golden libation bowl (phiálē) in its hand. This means that its right hand was extended. [29] But the right hand cannot originally have held a phiálē, for this statue-type, a god offering a libation, does not occur until the late sixth or early fifth century. [30] It is likely, therefore, that the phiálē was added to the Athena Polias about 500 BC. [31] Why was the right hand {356|357} extended originally? In representations of women spinning, the right hand is extended to spin wool drawn from a distaff, which is held at a higher level by the left hand; the pose is seen in this example: [32] {357|358}

Hippota Nestor: Figure 1-th

The image of Athena Polias, which held a phiálē in its right hand, was recognized as such by August Frickenhaus in four artistic representations of a seated goddess holding a phiálē; in all four representations the left hand is raised higher than the right hand as it is in the spinning woman, but instead of a distaff the left hand holds a spear or a helmet; the pose, which is virtually the same as for the spinning woman, is seen in this example: [33] {358|359}

Hippota Nestor: Figure 2-th

All four examples adduced by Frickenhaus belong to the end of the sixth or beginning of the fifth century. [34] If these are indeed representations of the Athena Polias, the position of the two hands seems exactly right for spinning wool. [35] There is good reason to think that this is what the Athena Polias was originally represented as doing.

§3.15 The Ionian city of Erythrai had a cult image of Athena Polias from the second half of the sixth century which held a distaff in each hand. [36] This {359|360} evidence, unusual because of the second distaff, should remove all doubt that a distaff could also have been held by the Athena Polias in Athens. [37] The figure in Erythrai was seated, as I believe the figure in Athens was. [38] My reason for {360|361} thinking this, beyond what others have argued, is Arete, who is seated by the hearth in the firelight, leaning against a column. [39] {361|362}

§3.16 The firelight by which Arete spins, a fixed element in her description (ἐν πυρὸς αὐγῇ, Odyssey 6.305), also corresponds to the Athena Polias. Next to the goddess’s image on the Acropolis a perpetual fire burned, which in the classical period and later was contained in an elaborate lamp (lúkhnos) [40] , but which earlier could have been provided by a hearth. Perpetual fire is the essential element here, and from a Greek standpoint perpetual fire could be provided by either a hearth or a lamp. [41] The temple of Apollo at Delphi also had a perpetual fire, but it was placed on a hearth. [42] Plutarch, addressing the sacred nature of fire in connection with the Roman cult of Vesta, refers to the perpetual fires in the temples of Athena in Athens and of Apollo in Delphi in exactly the same terms without distinction. [43] There were also perpetual fires {362|363} in Greek town halls, where a hearth would perhaps seem more natural than a lamp, and indeed the prytaneia in Athens and Olympia had their perpetual fires on a hearth. [44] But lamps also served the purpose: a lamp in the town hall of Tarentum seems always to have been lit, and Theocritus attests the expression “lamp in the prytaneion” (λύχνιον ἐν πρυτανείῳ) as proverbial for sleeplessness. [45]

§3.17 Significant changes undeniably took place with respect to the Athena Polias if what was once a figure who spun wool by a hearth became a partially armed goddess seated by a lamp. I do not suppose that the lamp made by the Athenian craftsman Callimachus in the late fifth century BC was the first such lamp to appear at Athena’s side. The hearth probably became a lamp when the aegis and gorgoneion were added to the image itself, perhaps as early as the early sixth century. The change to a lamp, I think, was reflected in what may be regarded as the sixth-century Athenian version of the Odyssey, which featured the new lamp in one prominent passage, in which Odysseus and Telemachus remove weapons from the hall of the suitors in Odysseus’s palace and Athena lights their way with a golden lamp (Odyssey 19.31–43):

τὼ δ' ἄρ' ἀναΐξαντ' Ὀδυσεὺς καὶ φαίδιμος υἱὸς
ἐσφόρεον κόρυθάς τε καὶ ἀσπίδας ὀμφαλοέσσας
ἔγχεά τ' ὀξυόεντα· πάροιθε δὲ Παλλὰς Ἀθήνη
χρύσεον λύχνον ἔχουσα φάος περικαλλὲς ἐποίει. {363|364}
δὴ τότε Τηλέμαχος προσεφώνεεν ὃν πατέρ' αἶψα·
“ὦ πάτερ, ἦ μέγα θαῦμα τόδ' ὀφθαλμοῖσιν ὁρῶμαι·
ἔμπης μοι τοῖχοι μεγάρων καλαί τε μεσόδμαι
εἰλάτιναί τε δοκοὶ καὶ κίονες ὑψόσ' ἔχοντες
φαίνοντ' ὀφθαλμοῖσ' ὡς εἰ πυρὸς αἰθομένοιο.
ἦ μάλα τις θεὸς ἔνδον, οἳ οὐρανὸν εὐρὺν ἔχουσι.”
τὸν δ' ἀπαμειβόμενος προσέφη πολύμητις Ὀδυσσεύς·
“σίγα καὶ κατὰ σὸν νόον ἴσχανε μηδ' ἐρέεινε·
αὕτη τοι δίκη ἐστὶ θεῶν, οἳ Ὄλυμπον ἔχουσιν.”

Springing to their feet the two of them, Odysseus and his shining son,
carried in the helmets and bossed shields
and sharp spears. In front of them Pallas Athena
held a golden lamp and made a beautiful light.
Right then Telemachus quickly addressed his father:
“Father, I see a great wonder here with my eyes;
the walls of the rooms and the beautiful column-bases
and the fir roof-beams and the columns reaching high overhead
appear to my eyes as if a fire were burning.
Surely some god is within, one of those inhabiting the wide sky.”
Answering him very wily Odysseus said:
“Be still and keep it in your mind and do not ask about it:
this indeed is the way of the gods who live on Olympus.”

This passage shows how well a lamp suits a war goddess, and this may be the passage’s real point if the goddess in it is the newly transformed Athena Polias of the Athenian Acropolis. [46] {364|365}

§3.18 We will return to changes that were made with respect to Athena Polias after the Homeric period, but our concern now is with the Homeric period itself. When Odysseus finishes his appeal to Arete and the rest of the Phaeacians, he sits in the ashes next to the hearth and the fire (Odyssey 7.153–154):

ὣς εἰπὼν κατ' ἄρ' ἕζετ' ἐπ' ἐσχάρῃ ἐν κονίῃσι
πὰρ πυρί.

So speaking he sat down by the hearth in the ashes
near the fire.

The scene of a suppliant seated in the ashes was presumably a familiar one in the temple of Athena Polias. Someone had to raise such a suppliant from the ashes in what amounted to a guarantee of protection on the goddess’s behalf; Alcinous does this with Odysseus when prodded by Ekheneos (Odyssey 7.167–169):

αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ τό γ' ἄκουσ' ἱερὸν μένος Ἀλκινόοιο,
χειρὸς ἑλὼν Ὀδυσῆα δαΐφρονα ποικιλομήτην
ὦρσεν ἀπ' ἐσχαρόφιν καὶ ἐπὶ θρόνου εἷσε φαεινοῦ.

But when Alcinous, with sacred power, heard this,
he took the hand of wise Odysseus, with inventive mind,
and raised him from the hearth and sat him on the shining chair.

The goddess herself in her temple would of course apparently do nothing during such an act, and that is what Arete does, apparently nothing. It is precisely by doing nothing that she becomes the goddess in this tableau.

§3.19 While Arete’s silence and apparent lack of reaction are the crucial elements in her identification with the image of Athena Polias, other details help to reinforce her identification with the goddess in a more general way. The real Athena, disguised as a young girl, tells Odysseus that Arete’s people regard her and greet her like a goddess when she walks through the city (Odyssey 7.69–72):

ὣς κείνη περὶ κῆρι τετίμηταί τε καὶ ἔστιν
ἔκ τε φίλων παίδων ἔκ τ' αὐτοῦ Ἀλκινόοιο
καὶ λαῶν, οἵ μίν ῥα θεὸν ὣς εἰσορόωντες
δειδέχαται μύθοισιν, ὅτε στείχῃσ' ἀνὰ ἄστυ. {365|366}

Thus is she held in honor and loved from the heart
by her dear children and by Alcinous himself
and by her people, who look on her as a god
and greet her with words whenever she walks through the city.

Being compared to a god is not unique to Arete (Alcinous himself is compared to an immortal when he sits next to her and drinks wine, Odyssey 6.309), but the comparison seems to have further point in this context, in which the final phrase ὅτε στείχῃσ' ἀνὰ ἄστυ suggests not any god in general, but the city goddess in particular, and thus prepares for the identification with Athena Polias. [47]

§3.20 Both times that Arete is described in terms that on my interpretation match the image of Athena Polias maidservants are also present. Their activity is not described, only that the queen sits with them (ἡ μὲν ἐπ' ἐσχάρῃ ἧστο σὺν ἀμφιπόλοισι γυναιξίν, Odyssey 6.52), or that they sit behind her (δμῳαὶ δέ οἱ εἵατ' ὄπισθεν, Odyssey 6.307) as she spins by the fire. But a separate passage is devoted to these maidservants in the description of Alcinous’s {366|367} palace before Odysseus enters it. There are fifty of them and their tasks include grinding corn, weaving, and spinning (Odyssey 7.103–107):

πεντήκοντα δέ οἱ δμῳαὶ κατὰ δῶμα γυναῖκες
αἱ μὲν ἀλετρεύουσι μύλῃσ' ἔπι μήλοπα καρπόν,
αἱ δ' ἱστοὺς ὑφόωσι καὶ ἠλάκατα στρωφῶσιν
ἥμεναι, οἱά τε φύλλα μακεδνῆς αἰγείροιο·
καιρουσσέων δ' ὀθονέων ἀπολείβεται ὑγρὸν ἔλαιον.

In his palace are fifty servant women,
some of whom grind yellow grain on millstones,
and others weave fabric and spin wool,
seated like the leaves of a tall poplar;
liquid oil runs from the close-woven cloth.

The passage continues, saying that just as the Phaeacian men excel at seafaring, the women excel at weaving, for Athena has given them, beyond others, knowledge of beautiful crafts and good wits (Odyssey 7.108–111):

ὅσσον Φαίηκες περὶ πάντων ἴδριες ἀνδρῶν
νῆα θοὴν ἐνὶ πόντῳ ἐλαυνέμεν, ὣς δὲ γυναῖκες
ἱστὸν τεχνῆσσαι· περὶ γάρ σφισι δῶκεν Ἀθήνη
ἔργα τ' ἐπίστασθαι περικαλλέα καὶ φρένας ἐσθλάς.

As much as the Phaeacian men are skillful beyond all others
at driving a swift ship on the sea, so the women are
skillful at weaving; for Athena granted them beyond others
understanding of beautiful works and good wits.

It is possible that this entire passage is part of a later rhapsodic expansion, as the description of Alcinous’s palace has been taken to be.quot;> [48] But Athena was the {367|368} goddess of crafts, especially women’s crafts, and the word érga in the last line is the basis of her later cult title, Athena Ergánē. [49] The passage makes weaving, which is the special virtue of the Phaeacian women, the gift of Athena. But it is really Arete whom they emulate in this domain, as is indicated by the two descriptions of her spinning by firelight, in which the maidservants are very much her extension. In the end, of course, this comes back to Athena herself if Arete plays the part of Athena Polias. [50] Whatever the passage’s origin, the {368|369} particular virtues of the Phaeacian men on the one hand and the Phaeacian women on the other hand reflect the essential natures of the Phaeacian king and queen, and, in the case of the queen, point to the source of her true identity.

§3.21 The mention of Athena in this passage, while significant for the goddess later called Athena Ergánē, is incidental to the story of the Phaeacian episode. Athena herself, however, is not incidental to this story; she manages the episode from beginning to end. [51] Besides her two primary interventions, when she appears to Nausicaa in a dream and to Odysseus on his way to the Phaeacian palace, she makes a minor appearance when she takes on the likeness of a youth to mark the stone hurled by Odysseus in the Phaeacians’ games. Twice more Athena directs events from behind the scenes: she contrives to have the shouts of Nausicaa’s companions waken Odysseus when their ball lands in the river (Odyssey 6.112–113), and she gives Nausicaa courage to hold her ground when Odysseus first appears and her companions all flee (Odyssey 6.139–140).

§3.22 Athena’s central place in the Phaeacian episode is highlighted at a central point in the narrative, after Nausicaa has rescued Odysseus and brought him part way to town but before he continues on his way toward the palace to meet the king and queen. Nausicaa does not want him to go all the way into town with her, fearing the comments of the townspeople. She asks him to stop at Athena’s sacred grove long enough for her to reach home (Odyssey 6.291–296):

δήεις ἀγλαὸν ἄλσος Ἀθήνης ἄγχι κελεύθου
αἰγείρων, ἐν δὲ κρήνη νάει, ἀμφὶ δὲ λειμών· {369|370}
ἔνθα δὲ πατρὸς ἐμοῦ τέμενος τεθαλυῖά τ' ἀλῳή,
τόσσον ἀπὸ πτόλιος, ὅσσον τε γέγωνε βοήσας.
ἔνθα καθεζόμενος μεῖναι χρόνον, εἰς ὅ κεν ἡμεῖς
ἄστυδε ἔλθωμεν καὶ ἱκώμεθα δώματα πατρός.

Near the path you will find Athena’s splendid grove
of poplar trees, and in it a spring flows, and a meadow surrounds it;
there is my father’s preserve and flourishing orchard,
as far from the city as a man can be heard by shouting.
Sit there and wait for a time, until we
come to the city and reach my father’s house.

Nausicaa goes on to tell Odysseus that he need only ask for her father’s palace when he reaches town, for even a child can point it out; she ends her speech by telling him to bypass her father and supplicate her mother once he is inside the palace in order to gain his return home (Odyssey 6.297–315). Odysseus follows behind Nausicaa’s wagon with the maidservants, and he stops at Athena’s grove just at sunset; as he sits in Athena’s sanctuary he prays to the goddess to make him welcome to the Phaeacians (Odyssey 6.321–327):

δύσετό τ' ἠέλιος, καὶ τοὶ κλυτὸν ἄλσος ἵκοντο
ἱρὸν Ἀθηναίης, ἵν' ἄρ' ἕζετο δῖος Ὀδυσσεύς.
αὐτίκ' ἔπειτ' ἠρᾶτο Διὸς κούρῃ μεγάλοιο·
“κλῦθί μοι, αἰγιόχοιο Διὸς τέκος, Ἀτρυτώνη·
νῦν δή πέρ μευ ἄκουσον, ἐπεὶ πάρος οὔ ποτ' ἄκουσας
ῥαιομένου, ὅτε μ' ἔρραιε κλυτὸς ἐννοσίγαιος.
δός μ' ἐς Φαίηκας φίλον ἐλθεῖν ἠδ' ἐλεεινόν.”

The sun set, and they came to the famed grove
sacred to Athena, where shining Odysseus sat down.
Then at once he prayed to the daughter of great Zeus:
“Hear me, child of aegis-holder Zeus, Atrytone;
hear me now indeed, since you never heard me earlier
when I was dashed, when the famed earthshaker dashed me.
Grant that I come dear and pitied to the Phaeacians.”

In his prayer Odysseus chides Athena for not hearing his earlier prayer, when Poseidon dashed his raft. Athena did more then to save Odysseus than he {370|371} knows, [52] but that is the point: Odysseus does not know what Athena is doing for him even now, because she does not appear to him openly. That aspect of her role is motivated by Poseidon’s hostility toward Odysseus, for it is out of respect for Poseidon that Athena stays out of sight. Book 6 ends with this explanation of Athena’s behavior (Odyssey 6.328–331):

ὣς ἔφατ' εὐχόμενος, τοῦ δ' ἔκλυε Παλλὰς Ἀθήνη·
αὐτῷ δ' οὔ πω φαίνετ' ἐναντίη· αἴδετο γάρ ῥα
πατροκασίγνητον· ὁ δ' ἐπιζαφελῶς μενέαινεν
ἀντιθέῳ Ὀδυσῆϊ πάρος ἣν γαῖαν ἱκέσθαι.

So he spoke praying, and Pallas Athena heard him;
but she still did not appear to him face to face, for she respected
her father’s brother; he raged furiously
against godlike Odysseus before he reached his land.

§3.23 Since Athena does not want to appear openly to Odysseus, she appears in disguise. Her appearance as a young maiden, which follows shortly, is thus well motivated by Odysseus’s prayer and by her own wish not to offend Poseidon. But this is only part of the story. Odysseus’s prayer to Athena, which she does not want to answer openly, also looks forward to his supplication of Arete, who is about to play the part of Athena. The narrative actually seems to signal Arete’s impending entrance on stage when Odysseus addresses his prayer to Athena, and the verb that introduces his prayer is ἠρᾶτο, “he prayed” (Odyssey 6.323):

αὐτίκ' ἔπειτ' ἠρᾶτο Διὸς κούρῃ μεγάλοιο.

Then at once he prayed to the daughter of great Zeus.

After Odysseus’s prayer and the passage about Athena’s need to remain out of sight at the end of Book 6, Book 7 opens by repeating the verb ἠρᾶτο of Odysseus’s just completed prayer (Odyssey 7.1):

ὣς ὁ μὲν ἔνθ' ἠρᾶτο πολύτλας δῖος Ὀδυσσεύς.

So much-enduring shining Odysseus prayed there.

The verb ἠρᾶτο has the same root as the name Ἀρήτη, “she who is prayed to,” and it is striking that the verb is used twice of Odysseus’s prayer shortly {371|372} before the name is revealed to him by Athena in disguise (Odyssey 7.54). [53] There is more than one hidden identity here. Odysseus has uttered a prayer to Athena, which she answers, but only in disguise, by introducing Arete, who is about to take Athena’s place. This is a complex situation, and it is carefully managed so that the two figures, Athena and Arete, do not interfere with each other. Indeed Athena, as soon as she has told Odysseus about Arete, removes herself from the scene by flying to Athens, leaving center stage to the figure that she has just introduced. Thus it is not only respect for Poseidon that keeps Athena from appearing openly to Odysseus. The hidden identity of Arete simply would not work if it had to compete with the presence of Athena in her own persona. [54]

§3.24 Odysseus’s prayer to Athena in her sacred grove comes at a central point in the story: Nausicaa has played her part and attention now shifts to Arete. I have focused first on Arete, arguing that she represents Athena as a mother goddess; but Athena is also of course a virgin goddess, and both sides of her seem to be represented by the Phaeacians. [55] We must now turn to Nausicaa, who is the first to be introduced by Athena herself. When Odysseus reaches shore in Phaeacia and falls asleep, Athena contrives to have Nausicaa find him there and bring him part way to town. In the dream in which she appears to Nausicaa she tells the princess that she must go and do her washing in the morning for her wedding is near: already the best of the Phaeacians woo her, and she will not long remain a virgin. Athena then leaves Scheria and goes to Olympus, and just as her second departure identifies her as Athena the city goddess of Athens, her first departure identifies her as Athena the Olympian. The parallel between Athena’s two departures from Scheria is, as already seen, clearly marked, and the significance of the {372|373} second departure for the hidden identity of Arete suggests a parallel significance for her first departure. After Athena’s disappearance into the palace of Erechtheus in Athens the focus shifts back to Scheria, and to the palace of Alcinous, where Arete awaits; so too after Athena’s departure to Olympus, the focus shifts back to Scheria, and to Nausicaa. The description of Athena’s departure to Olympus ends with the word koúrē in reference to Nausicaa, and this word equally describes Athena’s status on Olympus (Odyssey 6.47–49):

ἔνθ' ἀπέβη γλαυκῶπις, ἐπεὶ διεπέφραδε κούρῃ.
αὐτίκα δ' Ἠὼς ἦλθεν ἐΰθρονος, ἥ μιν ἔγειρε
Ναυσικάαν εὔπεπλον.

There the grey-eyed one went when she had instructed the maiden.
At once beautiful-throned Dawn came, who awakened her,
beautiful-robed Nausicaa. [56] {373|374}

§3.25 We have considered the parallels that link the introductions of Nausicaa and Arete in the Phaeacian episode, namely the fact that Athena herself introduces each of them, and the further fact that Athena flies to a particular destination after each of them has been introduced. There is another parallel between Arete and Nausicaa themselves, and it is, dramatically, the most striking. Arete’s role is to be supplicated by Odysseus, and we have seen that the actual moment of her supplication is filled with dramatic tension: we do not know how Odysseus’s appeal will be received, but we have been told that all depends on its success. The silence that follows his appeal raises the level of tension higher still. Only one other moment in the Phaeacian episode compares with this in intensity, namely when Odysseus supplicates Nausicaa. The stakes are no less high, for Odysseus has just burst nearly naked onto a group of maidens not long from their baths in the river. Although he covers himself with a branch, the scene is sexually charged, and the narrative exploits this fully; first there is a wild beast simile, and then there is an ambiguous verb meíxesthai, which could refer to sexual intercourse, but in the situation does not (Odyssey 6.127–136): [57]

ὣς εἰπὼν θάμνων ὑπεδύσετο δῖος Ὀδυσσεύς,
ἐκ πυκινῆς δ' ὕλης πτόρθον κλάσε χειρὶ παχείῃ
φύλλων, ὡς ῥύσαιτο περὶ χροῒ μήδεα φωτός.
βῆ δ' ἴμεν ὥς τε λέων ὀρεσίτροφος, ἀλκὶ πεποιθώς,
ὅς τ' εἶσ' ὑόμενος καὶ ἀήμενος, ἐν δέ οἱ ὄσσε
δαίεται· αὐτὰρ ὁ βουσὶ μετέρχεται ἢ ὀΐεσσιν
ἠὲ μετ' ἀγροτέρας ἐλάφους· κέλεται δέ ἑ γαστὴρ
μήλων πειρήσοντα καὶ ἐς πυκινὸν δόμον ἐλθεῖν·
ὣς Ὀδυσεὺς κούρῃσιν ἐϋπλοκάμοισιν ἔμελλε
μείξεσθαι, γυμνός περ ἐών· χρειὼ γὰρ ἵκανε. {374|375}

So speaking shining Odysseus came out from under the thicket,
and with his stout hand he broke a spray of leaves
from the dense wood to cover the genitals on his body.
He went like a lion bred in the mountains, trusting in its might,
which goes forth beaten by rain and wind, and the eyes in it
burn; and it goes among the cattle or sheep,
or after wild deer; and its stomach commands it,
after it has made trial of the sheep, even to enter the strong house;
so Odysseus was about to mix with the beautiful-haired maidens,
naked as he was; for need had come.

The threat that Odysseus poses is of course clear, given his wild appearance. The other maidens all flee, but Nausicaa holds her ground, for Athena gives her courage (Odyssey 6.137–141):

σμερδαλέος δ' αὐτῇσι φάνη κεκακωμένος ἅλμῃ,
τρέσσαν δ' ἄλλυδις ἄλλη ἐπ' ἠϊόνας προὐχούσας.
οἴη δ' Ἀλκινόου θυγάτηρ μένε· τῇ γὰρ Ἀθήνη
θάρσος ἐνὶ φρεσὶ θῆκε καὶ ἐκ δέος εἵλετο γυίων.
στῆ δ' ἄντα σχομένη.

Disfigured by the salt sea he was a frightful sight for them to see,
and they fled in all directions to the jutting banks.
Only the daughter of Alcinous stayed; for Athena
put courage in her heart and took fear from her limbs.
She stood face to face holding her ground.

Nausicaa’s courage is decisive in resolving the situation, but Odysseus must still supplicate this young maiden, and in this sexually charged encounter it will not do to grasp her knees. Thus he decides to keep his distance while supplicating her, and his first words to her, gounoûmaí se, “I grasp your knees,” are meant only symbolically (Odyssey 6.145–149):

ὣς ἄρα οἱ φρονέοντι δοάσσατο κέρδιον εἶναι,
λίσσεσθαι ἐπέεσσιν ἀποσταδὰ μειλιχίοισι,
μή οἱ γοῦνα λαβόντι χολώσαιτο φρένα κούρη.
αὐτίκα μειλίχιον καὶ κερδαλέον φάτο μῦθον·
γουνοῦμαί σε, ἄνασσα· θεός νύ τις ἦ βροτός ἐσσι;” {375|376}

It seemed more cunning to him thus as he thought about it,
to supplicate from a distance with gentle words,
so that the maiden would not be angry in her heart with him for grasping her knees;
right away he spoke a gentle and cunning word:
“I grasp your knees, my lady; tell me, are you a god or a mortal?”

§3.26 Nausicaa has the heart of a warrior in this encounter: she holds her ground in the face of the obvious danger, and there is no question that she is ready to defend her maidenhood should the need arise. [58] It would not be far different if Athena’s own maidenhood were threatened. Nausicaa most takes on her hidden identity as Athena the virgin warrior when she holds her ground and Odysseus wisely decides to keep his distance and supplicate her from afar. The parallel with Arete is again complete, for it is at the moment of supplication that each of these figures most closely realizes a different aspect of the goddess Athena, one the mother goddess, the other the virgin goddess.

§3.27 Nausicaa is twice compared to Artemis, the virgin hunter goddess. How do such overt comparisons fit with a hidden identity as Athena, the virgin warrior goddess? The key point is that Nausicaa’s hidden identity is after all hidden, and it therefore cannot be the subject of overt comparisons. An overt comparison, moreover, means that one thing is not another, that two things are similar but remain distinct. How is Nausicaa similar to Artemis? She is a virgin, as we know from the start about this Phaeacian princess. But the comparison with Artemis suggests that she is also more than a virgin princess, that she is also, in terms of her hidden identity, a virgin goddess.

§3.28 I repeat that when Nausicaa stands her ground while all the other maidens flee, she most realizes her hidden identity as the warrior goddess Athena. I do not think that this point is undermined by the fact that Athena herself gives Nausicaa the courage to stand her ground. On the contrary I think that Athena’s action establishes the point most clearly, for Nausicaa gets what is quintessentially Athena’s, her warrior’s heart (thársos, Odyssey 6.140), directly from Athena herself. [59] Certainly the two figures remain {376|377} distinct, but this is different from the overt comparisons with Artemis. In terms of Nausicaa’s hidden identity the two figures are one because they have the same warrior’s courage.

§3.29 In the first line of his supplication to Nausicaa Odysseus asks whether she is a god or a mortal. This is already a half step back from the full realization of Nausicaa’s hidden identity. Next Odysseus speculates that if she is a goddess she must be Artemis because of her tall stature (Odyssey 6.149–152): [60]

γουνοῦμαί σε, ἄνασσα· θεός νύ τις ἦ βροτός ἐσσι;
εἰ μέν τις θεός ἐσσι, τοὶ οὐρανὸν εὐρὺν ἔχουσιν,
Ἀρτέμιδί σε ἐγώ γε, Διὸς κούρῃ μεγάλοιο,
εἶδός τε μέγεθός τε φυήν τ' ἄγχιστα ἐΐσκω.

I grasp your knees, my lady; tell me, are you a god or a mortal?
If you are one of the gods who inhabit the wide sky,
I think that you most resemble Artemis, daughter of great Zeus,
in beauty and stature and build.

Nausicaa was already compared with Artemis because of her tall stature before Odysseus awoke and burst upon the scene, as Nausicaa danced and played with her companions (Odyssey 6.102–109):

οἵη δ' Ἄρτεμις εἶσι κατ' οὔρεα ἰοχέαιρα,
ἢ κατὰ Τηΰγετον περιμήκετον ἢ Ἐρύμανθον,
τερπομένη κάπροισι καὶ ὠκείῃσ' ἐλάφοισι·
τῇ δέ θ' ἅμα Νύμφαι, κοῦραι Διὸς αἰγιόχοιο,
ἀγρονόμοι παίζουσι· γέγηθε δέ τε φρένα Λητώ·
πασάων δ' ὑπὲρ ἥ γε κάρη ἔχει ἠδὲ μέτωπα, {377|378}
ῥεῖά τ' ἀριγνώτη πέλεται, καλαὶ δέ τε πᾶσαι·
ὣς ἥ γ' ἀμφιπόλοισι μετέπρεπε παρθένος ἀδμής.

Like arrow-shooting Artemis, who goes forth on the mountains,
either on Taygetos or soaring Erymanthos,
delighting in boars and swift deer;
and field-haunting Nymphs, daughters of aegis-holder Zeus,
play with her; and Leto rejoices in her heart;
and above all the others she holds her head and brow
and is easy to recognize, but all are beautiful;
so the untamed maiden stood out among her servants.

It is between the two comparisons with Artemis that Nausicaa’s true hidden identity manifests itself when she stands her ground and hears Odysseus’s appeal. Odysseus then takes us a step back from this hidden identity by asking whether she is a goddess or a mortal, and by comparing her with Artemis if she is a goddess. [61] He then takes us a further step back from the identification by naming exactly what Nausicaa is on the surface of the story, a mortal maiden, a great blessing to her parents and brothers, but especially to her future husband (Odyssey 6.153–159):

εἰ δέ τίς ἐσσι βροτῶν, οἳ ἐπὶ χθονὶ ναιετάουσι,
τρὶς μάκαρες μὲν σοί γε πατὴρ καὶ πότνια μήτηρ,
τρὶς μάκαρες δὲ κασίγνητοι· μάλα πού σφισι θυμὸς
αἰὲν ἐϋφροσύνῃσιν ἰαίνεται εἵνεκα σεῖο,
λευσσόντων τοιόνδε θάλος χορὸν εἰσοιχνεῦσαν. {378|379}
κεῖνος δ' αὖ περὶ κῆρι μακάρτατος ἔξοχον ἄλλων,
ὅς κέ σ' ἐέδνοισι βρίσας οἶκόνδ' ἀγάγηται.

But if you are one of mortals who live on earth,
your father and revered mother are thrice-blest,
and your brothers are thrice-blest; surely their heart
is always warmed with gladness because of you
when they see such a blossoming shoot entering the dance.
But he is most blessed of all in his heart,
whoever, laden with wedding gifts, leads you home.

The process of stepping back from the full impact of Nausicaa’s hidden identity after the moment of its greatest realization is comparable to the similar process that we saw in the case of Arete, except that here the process takes place more quickly. So that something of the full impact remains in the end a final grace note is added when Odysseus compares Nausicaa to the sacred palm tree of Apollo on Delos (Odyssey 6.160–169): [62]

οὐ γάρ πω τοιοῦτον ἴδον βροτὸν ὀφθαλμοῖσιν,
οὔτ' ἄνδρ' οὔτε γυναῖκα· σέβας μ' ἔχει εἰσορόωντα.
Δήλῳ δή ποτε τοῖον Ἀπόλλωνος παρὰ βωμῷ
φοίνικος νέον ἔρνος ἀνερχόμενον ἐνόησα·
ἦλθον γὰρ καὶ κεῖσε, πολὺς δέ μοι ἕσπετο λαός,
τὴν ὁδόν, ᾗ δὴ μέλλεν ἐμοὶ κακὰ κήδε' ἔσεσθαι·
ὣς δ' αὔτως καὶ κεῖνο ἰδὼν ἐτεθήπεα θυμῷ,
δήν, ἐπεὶ οὔ πω τοῖον ἀνήλυθεν ἐκ δόρυ γαίης,
ὡς σέ, γύναι, ἄγαμαί τε τέθηπά τε, δείδια δ' αἰνῶς
γούνων ἅψασθαι· χαλεπὸν δέ με πένθος ἱκάνει.

For I have never yet seen such a mortal with my eyes,
either man or woman; awe holds me as I look at you.
Once on Delos, by the altar of Apollo, I saw such a one,
a young sapling of a palm tree rising up; {379|380}
for I went there, and many warriors followed me,
on that journey that was to be my great sorrow;
and just as, when I saw it, I was struck with wonder in my heart
for a long time, for such a shaft had never before risen from the earth,
so, my lady, I am now struck with wonder and awe, and I am terribly afraid
to grasp your knees; but hard grief has come to me.

Nausicaa’s remarkable stature is again presumably the immediate point of comparison, but an association with the virgin goddess Artemis is also still present through the mention of Delos and Apollo. [63] The association, however, is now one step further removed. With this somewhat mysterious tree comparison the issue of Nausicaa’s hidden identity comes to rest, having been gradually distanced from its real point.

§3.30 There is a final parallel between Nausicaa and Arete in their respective hidden identities. Both are given a farewell by Odysseus before he leaves for home. We have already considered Odysseus’s farewell to Arete, in which he acknowledges her mortality and thus distinguishes her from Athena Polias, whom she has so powerfully evoked. The farewell to Nausicaa comes earlier, and it, on the other hand, reminds us that she too has played an aspect of the goddess. It is when Odysseus has finished his bath and joined the banqueters for a long night of story-telling that Nausicaa, admiring him, asks that he remember her when he returns home. With Nausicaa’s admiration, and her recognition that he will soon leave, the potential sexual relationship between them, which so powerfully informed their first encounter, and remained alive when Alcinous openly wished for a husband like Odysseus for his daughter, is addressed for the last time. Nausicaa reminds Odysseus that it was she who first saved him, and Odysseus responds that, if only he {380|381} reaches home, he will forever pray to her like a goddess, for she did indeed bring him back to life (Odyssey 8.464–468):

Ναυσικάα, θύγατερ μεγαλήτορος Ἀλκινόοιο,
οὕτω νῦν Ζεὺς θείη, ἐρίγδουπος πόσις Ἥρης,
οἴκαδέ τ' ἐλθέμεναι καὶ νόστιμον ἦμαρ ἰδέσθαι·
τῶ κέν τοι καὶ κεῖθι θεῷ ὣς εὐχετοῴμην
αἰεὶ ἤματα πάντα· σὺ γάρ μ' ἐβιώσαο, κούρη.

Nausicaa, daughter of great-hearted Alcinous,
may Zeus, the loud-thundering husband of Hera, now so arrange it
that I reach home and see the day of my return;
if so I would pray to you as a god even there
always and forever; for you brought me back to life, maiden.

The last word, koúrē, “maiden,” is the key word. To Odysseus (and to us) Nausicaa will forever be a maiden, to whom Odysseus will always pray. Athena is again evoked, for Nausicaa’s role has indeed been to play the goddess who, in the overall context of the Odyssey, brings Odysseus back to life. But the phrase “I will pray to you like a god (θεῷ ὥς),” also implies that Nausicaa is not a god, but a mortal. Again the parallel with Arete, whom the townspeople honor “like a god (θεὸν ὥς)” when she walks through the city (Odyssey 7.71), is complete. But whereas for Arete the key phrase comes first, when her part in the shadow-play of hidden identities is introduced, for Nausicaa the phrase comes last, when her part is over. [64] {381|382}

§3.31 The one aspect of Nausicaa that seems to conflict with her hidden identity as Athena the virgin goddess is her impending marriage. But we should note at once that there is no specific bridegroom for this marriage, and that only Odysseus, whose destiny is elsewhere, is singled out as a bridegroom whom Alcinous would have wished for his daughter. To be sure Athena tells Nausicaa in her dream that she will not long remain a virgin, for the best young men among the Phaeacians already woo her (Odyssey 6.33–35):

οὔ τοι ἔτι δὴν παρθένος ἔσσεαι·
ἤδη γάρ σε μνῶνται ἀριστῆες κατὰ δῆμον
πάντων Φαιήκων, ὅθι τοι γένος ἐστὶ καὶ αὐτῇ.

You will not still be a maiden for long;
for already you are wooed by the best in the land
among all the Phaeacians, where your own family is.

But the real purpose of this dream is not to prepare Nausicaa for marriage but to send her out to meet Odysseus. Elsewhere as well Nausicaa’s marriage is treated ambiguously at best. Odysseus, in his supplication of Nausicaa, says that she will be a great blessing to whoever marries her (Odyssey 6.158–159):

κεῖνος δ' αὖ περὶ κῆρι μακάρτατος ἔξοχον ἄλλων,
ὅς κέ σ' ἐέδνοισι βρίσας οἶκόνδ' ἀγάγηται.

But he is most blessed of all in his heart,
whoever, laden with wedding gifts, leads you home.

But such a marriage will take place only if Nausicaa is in fact a mortal, and not a goddess, and Odysseus’s speech has perfectly balanced the two possibilities. The subject of Nausicaa’s Phaeacian suitors returns once more when she warns Odysseus not to be seen with her on the way into town. The Phaeacians’ jealous reaction to Odysseus, as Nausicaa imagines it, again focuses attention on Odysseus and leaves the Phaeacians themselves rather out of account as suitors of Nausicaa (Odyssey 6.275–284):

καί νύ τις ὧδ' εἴπῃσι κακώτερος ἀντιβολήσας·
“τίς δ' ὅδε Ναυσικάᾳ ἕπεται καλός τε μέγας τε
ξεῖνος; ποῦ δέ μιν εὗρε; πόσις νύ οἱ ἔσσεται αὐτῇ.
ἦ τινά που πλαγχθέντα κομίσσατο ἧς ἀπὸ νηὸς
ἀνδρῶν τηλεδαπῶν, ἐπεὶ οὔ τινες ἐγγύθεν εἰσίν· {382|383}
ἤ τίς οἱ εὐξαμένῃ πολυάρητος θεὸς ἦλθεν
οὐρανόθεν καταβάς, ἕξει δέ μιν ἤματα πάντα.
βέλτερον, εἰ καὐτή περ ἐποιχομένη πόσιν εὗρεν
ἄλλοθεν· ἦ γὰρ τούσδε γ' ἀτιμάζει κατὰ δῆμον
Φαίηκας, τοί μιν μνῶνται πολέες τε καὶ ἐσθλοί.”

And some lowly man meeting us might speak thus:
“Who is this large handsome stranger who follows Nausicaa?
Where did she find him? Surely he will be her husband.
Either she rescued a lost wanderer from his ship,
one of men from far away, since there are none nearby;
or some god, much prayed for, came in answer to her prayer,
descending from the sky, and she will have him forever.
It is better if she herself has gone and found a husband
from elsewhere; for she indeed despises those here,
the many noble Phaeacians who woo her.”

Finally Alcinous offers his daughter to Odysseus, even though he knows that Odysseus will not stay and marry her (Odyssey 7.311–316):

αἲ γάρ, Ζεῦ τε πάτερ καὶ Ἀθηναίη καὶ Ἄπολλον,
τοῖος ἐών, οἷός ἐσσι, τά τε φρονέων ἅ τ' ἐγώ περ,
παῖδά τ' ἐμὴν ἐχέμεν καὶ ἐμὸς γαμβρὸς καλέεσθαι,
αὖθι μένων· οἶκον δέ κ' ἐγὼ καὶ κτήματα δοίην,
εἴ κ' ἐθέλων γε μένοις· ἀέκοντα δέ σ' οὔ τις ἐρύξει
Φαιήκων· μὴ τοῦτο φίλον Διὶ πατρὶ γένοιτο.

I wish, father Zeus and Athena and Apollo,
that someone who is as you are, and thinks as I do,
would have my daughter and be called my son-in-law,
staying here; I would give a house and possessions
if you willingly remained; but if you are unwilling no one will hold you back
among the Phaeacians; this would not be dear to father Zeus.

Despite talk of an impending marriage, Nausicaa is in essence the virgin to whom Odysseus does not make love when they first meet, and whom he will likewise not stay to marry. As far as the story of the Odyssey is concerned, {383|384} Nausicaa is in the end left frozen in time, always on the point of marriage, never attaining to it.

§3.32 But a problem still remains. Even if Nausicaa does not realize her marriage, she intends to realize it, and this is not the attitude that we associate with the virgin goddess Athena. Nausicaa goes out and meets Odysseus because she has been told in her dream that her marriage is near and that she must have clean clothes for herself and for her husband; this is Athena’s message when, disguised as Nausicaa’s friend, she first appears in her dream (Odyssey 6.25–28):

Ναυσικάα, τί νύ σ' ὧδε μεθήμονα γείνατο μήτηρ;
εἵματα μέν τοι κεῖται ἀκηδέα σιγαλόεντα,
σοὶ δὲ γάμος σχεδόν ἐστιν, ἵνα χρὴ καλὰ μὲν αὐτὴν
ἕννυσθαι, τὰ δὲ τοῖσι παρασχεῖν, οἵ κέ σ' ἄγωνται.

Nausicaa, how is it your mother bore you to be so careless?
Shining clothes lie neglected by you,
and your wedding is near, where you will have to wear
beautiful clothes yourself and provide them to those who take you in marriage.

Nausicaa, when she awakens, acts to bring about what has been foretold to her in these lines. [65] She disguises her real purpose when she asks her father for a wagon to carry the wash, speaking only of her care to provide him and her five brothers with clean clothes (Odyssey 6.57–65). But after her speech the poet tells us her real motive, and her father too does not fail to perceive it, namely her impending marriage (Odyssey 6.66–67):

ὣς ἔφατ'· αἴδετο γὰρ θαλερὸν γάμον ἐξονομῆναι
πατρὶ φίλῳ· ὁ δὲ πάντα νόει….

So she spoke; for she was ashamed to name her own ripening marriage out loud
to her dear father; but he perceived it all….

§3.33 Nausicaa’s impending marriage, insofar as it is the motive for her washing expedition, is a secret imparted directly to her by Athena which {384|385} she shares with no one else. Athena herself had a widespread festival called the Plynteria, the washing festival, whose real purpose is also shrouded in mystery. In Athens, where the festival concerned the only old cult of Athena, namely that of Athena Polias, the rites themselves were termed ἀπόρρητα, “not to be spoken of.” [66] We know only details of these rites, which included removing the péplos from the statue and returning it again, presumably washed. [67]

§3.34 For the relevance of Athena’s festival, the Plynteria, to Nausicaa’s washing expedition in the Odyssey, we should by no means limit ourselves to the Athenian version of the festival. Nausicaa herself does not relate exclusively to the Athenian city goddess (that is Arete’s role), but to the Olympian daughter of Zeus. To the latter figure other local versions of the Plynteria may be relevant, and these were apparently widespread. In Attica itself distinct versions of the festival, celebrated at different times from the Athenian {385|386} festival, are attested for the demes Erchia and Thorikos. [68] In addition a month Plynterion, named for the festival, is attested on the Ionian islands of Chios, Paros, Ios, and Thasos. [69] Martin Nilsson pointed out that what we know of the Athenian festival, which amounts to little more than aspects of temple cleaning, does not account for the widespread occurrence of the festival, which therefore probably had a wider meaning originally. [70] Nausicaa, who does the wash in preparation for her own marriage, clearly points toward this wider meaning. The verb associated with the name Pluntḗria, namely plúnō, “wash (clothes),” is the one used of Nausicaa’s task, and from its first occurrence in this context the verb is associated with marriage and loss of virginity. Athena, disguised as Nausicaa’s friend, says in her dream that she will accompany her to do the wash so that she may get herself ready as quickly as possible, for she will not long remain a virgin (Odyssey 6.31–33):

ἀλλ' ἴομεν πλυνέουσαι ἅμ' ἠόϊ φαινομένηφι·
καί τοι ἐγὼ συνέριθος ἅμ' ἕψομαι, ὄφρα τάχιστα
ἐντύνεαι, ἐπεὶ οὔ τοι ἔτι δὴν παρθένος ἔσσεαι.

But let us go to do the wash as soon as dawn appears;
and I will come with you as helper, so that you most quickly
may prepare yourself, since not for long will you still be a maiden. [71] {386|387}

Related to the verb plúnō is the noun plunoí, “washing places,” which is also found in Athena’s speech; the washing places are Nausicaa’s destination, which Athena says are better reached by wagon than on foot since they are far from the city (Odyssey 6.39–40):

καὶ δὲ σοὶ ὧδ' αὐτῇ πολὺ κάλλιον ἠὲ πόδεσσιν
ἔρχεσθαι· πολλὸν γὰρ ἄπο πλυνοί εἰσι πόληος.

And that way is much better for you than to go
on foot; for the washing places are far from the city. [72]

§3.35 At the festival of the Plynteria Athena’s péplos, it may be inferred, was the object “washed,” and this too seems to be alluded to in Nausicaa’s dream. It is not so much that Athena in the dream includes péploi among the items to be washed, along with girdles and bed covers. [73] More significant, because more specific, is the epithet eǘpeplos, “having a beautiful robe,” that is applied to Nausicaa herself as soon as she awakens from her dream (Odyssey 6.48–49):

αὐτίκα δ' Ἠὼς ἦλθεν ἐΰθρονος, ἥ μιν ἔγειρε
Ναυσικάαν ἐΰπεπλον. {387|388}

At once beautiful-throned Dawn came, who awakened her,
beautiful-robed Nausicaa. [74]

We have seen that when Athena leaves Nausicaa’s dream and goes to Olympus, she thereby identifies Nausicaa with the Olympian aspect of herself. When Nausicaa awakens from this dream and attention is immediately drawn to her péplos, this would seem to allude to Athena’s own widespread festival, the Plynteria. [75]

§3.36 If the Plynteria were preliminary to a marriage and a loss of virginity, as Nausicaa’s dream suggests that they were, this must be the real point of the sexually charged initial encounter between the naked Odysseus and the virgin Nausicaa, who is still engaged in her own clothes-washing expedition when they meet. The narrative, as we have seen, plays with the possibility that this encounter could have been both sexual and violent. In another myth having to do with the Plynteria a rape actually occurs: Auge, the priestess of Athena Alea in Tegea, was, according to the local version of her myth, raped by Heracles while she was engaged in washing the goddess’s robe. [76] {388|389}

§3.37 Nausicaa on the one hand and Auge on the other hand reveal that the Plynteria had to do with a “marriage,” but what did this marriage have to do with Athena? Auge, whose “marriage” is fully realized, is not Athena herself but Athena’s priestess. [77] Nausicaa, who is meant to be Athena herself, remains a virgin in her encounter with Odysseus, although she is destined to {389|390} have a marriage outside the framework of the story. Does either figure indicate that it was Athena herself whose marriage was at stake in the Plynteria? Perhaps both do, but it is Nausicaa who contributes something new to the question. The key here is that one and the same figure, Athena, is both a virgin and a mother insofar as she is represented by both Nausicaa and Arete: it is the same goddess Athena who goes both to Olympus, to set the stage for Nausicaa, and to Athens, to set the stage for Arete. These two figures, on the other hand, can only be one thing or the other, and that is why there are two of them: Nausicaa is the virgin and Arete the mother. Athena changes from one figure to the other, and that change is what the Plynteria are meant to herald. We are not privy to Athena’s “marriage,” but a marriage there must be if she changes from a virgin goddess to a mother goddess. Among the Phaeacians we see the result of the marriage in Arete, who is married to Alcinous, and we see the preparation for the marriage in the washing of Nausicaa’s péplos. In Athena’s case the marriage heralded by the Plynteria may have been to different figures in different places if the festival was as widespread as it seems. Only in Athens can we identify who this figure was, namely Erechtheus. It is worth repeating that there was only one old cult of Athena in Athens, that of Athena Polias, and it was to this goddess that the festival of the Plynteria belonged. If this festival was preliminary to the marriage of a virgin goddess, we can only conclude that the same statue that represented the mother goddess also represented a virgin goddess. [78] The festival of the Plynteria must have originated as the preparation for an annually repeated marriage of Athena and Erechtheus. I see no other way to interpret the Phaeacian evidence if Nausicaa’s washing expedition alludes to the festival of the Plynteria. [79] {390|391}

§3.38 Athena is doubly represented among the Phaeacians, as both virgin war goddess and as mother goddess. She is associated with different places, Olympus and Athens, and with different male figures, her father Zeus and her male consort Erechtheus, in the parallel passages that establish her double representation; the parallelism between these two passages is the single greatest argument for the hidden identity of the Phaeacian princess on the one hand and of the Phaeacian queen on the other hand. Our primary concern is with the queen. Athena the mother goddess did not survive in Athens after the Homeric period, and Arete’s hidden identity in the Odyssey lost its relevance as a result: Odyssey 7.80–81, in which Athena enters the strong house of Erechtheus, no longer conveyed what these lines are meant to convey. The changes that took place with respect to Athena and Erechtheus in post-Homeric Athens must next be considered in detail in order to complete the historical picture here proposed. {391|393}


[ back ] 1. Athena begins with the queen (δέσποιναν μὲν πρῶτα κιχήσεαι ἐν μεγάροισιν, “you will come upon the mistress first in the halls,” Odyssey 7.54), and ends with her (Odyssey 7.75–77):

εἴ κέν τοι κείνη γε φίλα φρονέῃσ' ἐνὶ θυμῷ,
ἐλπωρή τοι ἔπειτα φίλους ἰδέειν καὶ ἱκέσθαι
οἶκον ἐς ὑψόροφον καὶ σὴν ἐς πατρίδα γαῖαν.

If she should be kindly disposed to you in her heart,
then there is hope for you to see your dear ones and to reach
your high-roofed house and your fatherland.

Nausicaa earlier told Odysseus to bypass the king and supplicate the queen (Odyssey 6.310–311): τὸν παραμειψάμενος μητρὸς περὶ γούνασι χεῖρας / βάλλειν ἡμετέρης, ἵνα νόστιμον ἦμαρ ἴδηαι, “pass by him and throw your hands around the knees of my mother so that you may see your day of return.”

[ back ] 2. Athena introduces the Phaeacian genealogy as if to explain the queen; having told Odysseus that he will encounter the queen first in the palace Athena gives her name and says that she has the same progenitors as the king (Odyssey 7.54–55): Ἀρήτη δ' ὄνομ' ἐστὶν ἐπώνυμον, ἐκ δὲ τοκήων / τῶν αὐτῶν, οἵ περ τέκον Ἀλκίνοον βασιλῆα. The genealogy follows, in the course of which it becomes clearer with each new generation that this is actually Nestor’s genealogy in disguise. A climax is reached in Odyssey 7.63, which says that Nausithoos had two sons, Rhexenor and Alcinous, for this line, as we have seen, contains the core of Nestor’s twin myth, which is never presented in such overt terms of Nestor himself. It is precisely at this moment of maximum clarity that the genealogy becomes an enigma. Rhexenor, who by his name alone, “breaker of men,” re-embodies the essential nature of Nestor’s warrior brother Periklymenos, immediately loses all correspondence to Nestor and his family by being father to Arete, whom Alcinous marries when his brother dies. Clarity and enigma are in fact totally intertwined at the end of the genealogy, where Alcinous’s warrior brother is the subject of an expansion (Odyssey 7.64–66):

τὸν μὲν ἄκουρον ἐόντα βάλ' ἀργυρότοξος Ἀπόλλων
νυμφίον, ἐν μεγάρῳ μίαν οἴην παῖδα λιπόντα,
Ἀρήτην. τὴν δ' Ἀλκίνοος ποιήσατ' ἄκοιτιν.

The one silver-bowed Apollo shot while he was a bridegroom
without any sons, leaving only a daughter in his hall,
Arete, whom Alcinous made his wife.

The fact that Rhexenor died reflects Nestor’s twin myth, but the fact that he fathered Arete does not; the fact that Alcinous took his brother’s place with respect to Arete cuts both ways (cf. §2.115 above).

[ back ] 3. As Zeus’s daughter Athena has the epithet koúrē Diós, which is all but exclusively hers (see n3.56 below).

[ back ] 4. It is striking that Athena, having traveled to Athens, simply vanishes once she arrives. Hainsworth ad loc. (Heubeck et al. 1988) comments on the contrast with Aphrodite’s withdrawal to Paphos in Odyssey 8.362–366, where the goddess is shown reveling in her cult:

ἡ δ' ἄρα Κύπρον ἵκανε φιλομμειδὴς Ἀφροδίτη,
ἐς Πάφον, ἔνθα τέ οἱ τέμενος βωμός τε θυήεις.
ἔνθα δέ μιν Χάριτες λοῦσαν καὶ χρῖσαν ἐλαίῳ,
ἀμβρότῳ, οἷα θεοὺς ἐπενήνοθεν αἰὲν ἐόντας,
ἀμφὶ δὲ εἵματα ἕσσαν ἐπήρατα, θαῦμα ἰδέσθαι.

Smile-loving Aphrodite came to Cyprus,
to Paphos, where her precinct and fragrant altar are.
There the Graces bathed her and annointed her with ambrosial
oil, such as glistens on the skin of the gods who are forever,
and clothed her with lovely garments, a wonder to see.

[ back ] 5. The pólis, “city,” to which Athena’s epithet poliás refers is what later became known as the akrópolis, or “high city”; Pausanias 1.26.6 has the cult title Athena Polias in mind when he refers to Athena’s old image as follows: Ἀθηνᾶς ἄγαλμα ἐν τῇ νῦν ἀκροπόλει, τότε δὲ ὀνομαζομένῃ πόλει, “the image of Athena on what is now the acropolis, but then was called the pólis (city)” (cf. n3.23 below). Other cities besides Athens had cults of Athena Polias (several in Ionia did; cf. Lenschau 1944:225), but the connection between the goddess and the city named for her (not the reverse; cf. Nilsson 1967:434) was of a special order; in Odyssey 7.80, where the city’s name occurs in the singular form Ἀθήνην, and is therefore identical with the name of the goddess, the identification between city and goddess is particularly strong. Presumably there was once a similar relationship between the nymph named Mukḗnē in Odyssey 2.120 and the city named Mukḗnē in Iliad 4.52, Odyssey 3.304, etc.; the plurals Mukē̂nai and Athē̂nai are “elliptic” in origin, similar to the “elliptic” duals discussed in n1.119 and n1.132 above; see Nagy 1997:167–177. The exceptional position of Athena Polias in Athens has something to do with the unusual continuity of early Athenian history. Polignac 1995:86, referring to “the historical peculiarity of Athens, which the violent upheavals of the end of the Helladic period did not affect with such intensity as other regions of Greece,” continues as follows: “In Athens, the palace monarchy, although possibly weakened by those upheavals, was not swept away but probably found itself caught in a general movement of recession that undermined its authority little by little. That increasingly tenuous continuity would account for the exceptional importance, in the city of Athens, of the only acropolis where a truly poliad deity really did take over from the last vestiges of a disintegrating royal house.”

[ back ] 6. The parallel between the two palaces is noted by Nagy 1997:173. The male figures inside the two palaces are equally at issue; the worship of Athena Polias was closely connected with the worship of Erechtheus, who shared the same sacred space on the Acropolis. But what the relationship was between the goddess and the primordial king is as open to question as the nature of Athena Polias in Athens in the Homeric era; the two questions are in fact intimately related. Odyssey 7.81–82 is again our only primary evidence, and this passage suggests that the pairs Athena/Erechtheus and Arete/Alcinous are equivalent. The only other Homeric evidence for Athena and Erechtheus as a pair is the Athenian entry to the Catalogue of Ships (Iliad 2.546–551), but this passage in my view (and in the view of others) reflects later circumstances than does Odyssey 7.78–81 (see §3.86–§3.89 below).

[ back ] 7. If the purpose of her trip to Athens is this, it explains why she simply vanishes into the palace; we see inside this palace by following Odysseus into the Phaeacian palace.

[ back ] 8. Examples of this are the repeated word kasígnētos, “brother,” in Odyssey 8 (see §2.129–§2.130 above) and the two parts of the catalogue of heroines in Odyssey 11. The correspondence in such cases is, figuratively speaking, a rhyme, which immediately calls attention to itself, and which thereby invites reflection and interpretation. Leonard Muellner’s analysis of the succession myth in Hesiod’s Theogony (Muellner 1996:52–93) provides an interesting comparison for this phenomenon: Muellner shows that key concepts in the succession myth such as basileús “king” and mē̂tis “cunning” are first exemplified in action but are named only when they recur (“a concept is namable upon its recurrence, as against its first instance,” Muellner 1996:71; the concept of “king” is discussed pp. 67–68, 71, 91n93; mē̂tis is discussed pp. 71, 80; cf. also pp. 94–95). Muellner, who develops an approach to myth used by the anthropologist P.-Y. Jacopin and based on the idea of “metonymy,” calls the principle defined above “metonymic nominalism” (Muellner 1996:71). I see an analogy with the cases that concern us insofar as naming implies meaning, and meaning is established by recurrence.

[ back ] 9. Anthony Snodgrass, when I outlined my argument about Athena in relation to the Phaeacian queen, suggested the interesting parallel of mystery novels in which the question arises why two people are never seen together, and the answer is that they are in fact the same person. The exception in the Odyssey is that Athena appears together with the sleeping Nausicaa; one might say that the Phaeacian shadow-play does not begin until Nausicaa awakens. Nausicaa and Arete are themselves kept separate from each other in the Odyssey (Nausicaa’s interaction is all with her father) and this, I think, is for a related reason (cf. also n3.19 below).

[ back ] 10. Nilsson 1967:443: “The juxtaposition of Athena and Erechtheus on the Acropolis is to be understood quite differently…than as a matrimonial bond. Erechtheus became the representative of the Mycenaean king, in whose house the city goddess dwells” (“Das Nebeneinander von Athena und Erechtheus auf der Akropolis ist ganz anders zu verstehen…als eheliche Verbindung. Erechtheus ist zum Vertreter des mykenischen Fürsten geworden, in dessen Haus die Burggöttin wohnt”). For the war goddess, see Nilsson 1921:16 (and elsewhere later), arguing that the Mycenaeans adopted the palace goddess of the Minoans, but changed her into a war goddess, and that this explains the strange fact that the Greeks had a war goddess in the first place. In Nilsson’s view the palace goddess was the personal protectress of the king, whose protection passed from father to son. The Homeric Athena continues in this role insofar as her protection of Odysseus extends to his son Telemachus and her protection of Diomedes is inherited from his father Tydeus (Iliad 5.800–808). Nilsson contrasts Zeus, who protects the institution of kingship rather than the person of the king, and whose protection is therefore not inherited. Athena shows signs of her origins as a palace goddess in the second half of the Odyssey, where she openly supports Odysseus, his son, and his father in their homeland, and where her bird epiphany in the rafters of the palace before the battle with the suitors seems to take us back to Minoan times. There is no doubt that Athena relates to her favorites as a war goddess (as when she mounts Diomedes’ chariot and rides beside him in Iliad 5) but this does not answer the question about Athena Polias in Athens.

[ back ] 11. Pausanias 5.3.2, who preserves the aítion for this cult title: once when Elis was bereft of young men the women prayed to Athena to conceive immediately upon having sexual relations with their husbands, and when their prayer was answered they founded a temple of Athena Mḗtēr (τῶν δὲ Ἠλείων αἱ γυναῖκες, ἅτε τῶν ἐν ἡλικίᾳ σφίσιν ἠρημωμένης τῆς χώρας, εὔξασθαι τῇ Ἀθηνᾷ λέγονται κυῆσαι παραυτίκα, ἐπειδὰν μιχθῶσι τοῖς ἀνδράσι· καὶ ἥ τε εὐχή σφισιν ἐτελέσθη καὶ Ἀθηνᾶς ἱερὸν ἐπίκλησιν Μητρὸς ἱδρύσαντο). Unlike Farnell, who minimizes the evidence of the Elean cult (Farnell 1896, vol. 1, 303), Nilsson insists on giving it full weight (Nilsson 1967:443); Nilsson is particularly impressed by the aítion for the title Μήτηρ. Nilsson’s conclusion nonetheless does not differ significantly from Farnell’s.

[ back ] 12. οἱ δὲ ἐπὶ τοῖσδε δώσειν ἔφασαν ἐπ' ᾧ ἀπάξουσι ἔτεος ἑκάστου τῇ Ἀθηναίῃ τε τῇ Πολιάδι ἱρὰ καὶ τῷ Ἐρεχθέϊ (Herodotus 5.82.3).

[ back ] 13. Scholia to Demosthenes 22.13: [ἄγαλμα] ἐξ ἀρχῆς γενόμενον ἐξ ἐλαίας, ὅπερ ἐκαλεῖτο πολιάδος Ἀθηνᾶς, “[the image] made from the beginning from an olive tree, which was called that of Athena Polias”; Athenagoras Legatio pro Christianis 17.4: τὸ τῆς Ἀθηνᾶς [εἴδωλον]…τὸ ἀπὸ τῆς ἐλαίας τὸ παλαιόν, “the [idol] of Athena…the one from the olive tree, the old one.” Other writers confirm that the image was of wood: “Apollodorus” 3.14.6 (xóanon); Plutarch Moralia fr. 158 Sandbach (xúlinon); cf. Frazer 1913 on Pausanias 1.26.6.

[ back ] 14. Herodotus reveals this detail when he tells the subsequent history of the images, after the Aeginetans stole them from the Epidaurians. The Aeginetans, the images’ new owners, refused to continue the Epidaurians’ practice of sending yearly sacrifices to Athens in compensation for the sacred olive wood, and the Athenians sent an unsuccessful party to Aegina to remove the images. As the Aeginetans told the story, when the Athenians began to haul the images from their bases, the images fell to their knees as if in supplication and remained like that ever after: ἐς γούνατα γάρ σφι αὐτὰ πεσεῖν, καὶ τὸν ἀπὸ τούτου χρόνον διατελέειν οὕτω ἔχοντα (Herodotus 5.86.3). Although Herodotus seems unaware of it, these are goddesses of childbirth, as parallel examples of their pose show (cf. Dümmler RE ‘Auxesia’ 2617). In Tegea Αὔγη ἐν γόνασι, “Auge on her knees,” was an eponym of Eileithyia, the goddess of childbirth (it is clear from the aetiological myth that Auge, the mother of Telephos, was the original goddess of childbirth in Tegea: it was said that, while being led away on her father’s orders to be drowned, she fell to her knees and gave birth—πεσεῖν τε ἐς γόνατα καὶ οὕτω τεκεῖν—at the temple of Eileithyia in the agora, in which her cult image was still to be seen in Pausanias’s day [8.48.7]). In the Homeric Hymn to Apollo Leto is similarly described in the act of giving birth to Apollo: ἀμφὶ δὲ φοίνικι βάλε πήχεε, γοῦνα δ' ἔρεισε / λειμῶνι μαλακῷ, “throwing her arms around the palm tree she propped her knees on the soft meadow” (Homeric Hymn to Apollo 117–118). In Rome goddesses of childbirth called the Nixae (Ovid Metamorphoses 9.294, cf. von Basiner 1905:619n1 for the form) or Di Nixi were represented on their knees (Festus 174–177: nixi di appellantur tria signa in Capitolio ante cellar Minervae genibus nixa, velut praesidentes parientium nixibus, “Di Nixi is the name given to three statues in the Capitolium in front of the temple of Minerva propped [nixa] on their knees, as if keeping watch over the travail [nixūs] of those giving birth”; they were brought to Rome after the defeat of Antiochus according to some, after the defeat of Corinth according to others).

[ back ] 15. We can be sure that Athena’s image, little as we know of it, did not represent her in the act of giving birth (cf. §3.13 below). Like Damia and Auxesia, Athena Polias was concerned with the success of crops, as certain old festivals show, for example the Procharisteria: in this festival, which took place when the grain sprouted at the end of winter, Athena was offered a sacrifice in which all the leading magistrates took part (Suda s.v.). The old agrarian significance of Athena is particularly clear here as Deubner 1932:17 notes (the festival became associated with Kore’s return from the underworld after the Athenian reception of the Eleusinian cult; cf. Deubner 1932:17 with nn2 and 3 on Lycurgus 7, fr. 1 a-b Conomis). As Herodotus tells the story of the Epidaurians, their problem was a crop failure so that no more than an interest in the success of crops is strictly implied for Athena (or for Damia and Auxesia). This, I think, is too narrow a view (see n3.16 below).

[ back ] 16. In Herodotus’s account a crop failure motivates the Epidaurians to found a new cult to the two goddesses (Ἐπιδαυρίοισι ἡ γῆ καρπὸν οὐδένα ἀνεδίδου, Herodotus 5.82.1), and once the Epidaurians have made and set up the new images the crops return (ἀγάλματα ἐκ τῶν ἐλαιέων τουτέων ποιησάμενοι ἱδρύσαντο· καὶ ἥ τε γῆ σφι ἔφερε, Herodotus 5.82.3). But the fact that the images represented the goddesses in the act of childbirth suggests that the Epidaurians faced a more general crisis of fertility involving human reproduction too (famine and childbirth failure are in fact closely related). The omission of this aspect of the story in Herodotus is consistent with the fact that he no longer seems aware that these were goddesses of childbirth; this aspect of the story had simply been forgotten. The events narrated by Herodotus, while they are probably legendary in part and are difficult to date, clearly belonged to an early period. The context for the earliest events, the establishment of the cult of Damia and Auxesia in Epidaurus and the negotiation between Epidaurus and Athens for the olive trees, may have been the Calaurian Amphictyony. The war between Athens and Aegina that followed the termination of the sacrifices to Athena Polias and Erechtheus (Herodotus 5.85–88) probably took place in the seventh century BC, but in any case not later than the early sixth century BC. The chronology of the events narrated by Herodotus and the nature and extent of cults of Damia and Auxesia more generally are considered in EN3.1. The annual sacrifices to Athena Polias and Erechtheus were perhaps still offered by the Epidaurians in the Homeric era, in the late eighth and early seventh centuries BC, and this possibility puts Odyssey 7.80–81, the only Homeric text to feature the two Athenian figures at their old cult site (for Iliad 2.546–551 cf. n3.6 above), in an interesting light. For the festival at which Athena Polias and Erechtheus received such sacrifices (an uncertain matter for so early a period) see §3.81 below; cf. also n3.197 below.

[ back ] 17. Cf. Hainsworth in Heubeck et al. 1988, vol. 1, 316–317, who identifies and discusses two major unanswered questions regarding Arete’s role: Why is the importance of her role so emphasized in advance when in the event she actually does very little? Why does she remain silent for so long after Odysseus’s direct appeal to her? Both questions, I think, are answered by her hidden identity.

[ back ] 18. For the location of Athena’s ancient image, which must never have changed, see §3.48–§3.51 below. The statement in the text above is, I think, accurate, but it is not the same as the orthodox view, namely that Athena’s image (and shrine) were in the Erechtheum; in contrast to Athena’s shrine and image the shrine of Erechtheus did not, I think, remain fixed in one location (see §3.52–§3.54 below).

[ back ] 19. When she finally breaks her silence 84 lines after Odysseus’s appeal to her (Odyssey 7.237–239) it is to ask him pointedly who he is, for she recognizes the clothes given to him by Nausicaa. Before that Arete’s only presence in the poem, apart from her introduction by the disguised Athena, is as a static figure who sits and spins, and who must be supplicated by Odysseus. In this she contrasts sharply with Alcinous, who interacts vividly with Nausicaa before her laundry expedition; Arete, on the other hand, does not come to life in the poem until she finally addresses Odysseus.

[ back ] 20. This sense is clear from the compound adjective πολυάρητος, “much prayed for,” as in Odyssey 19.403–404, where Odysseus is called πολυάρητος to his grandfather Autolykos when Eurykleia bids Autolykos name Odysseus at his birth:

Αὐτόλυκ', αὐτὸς νῦν ὄνομ' εὕρεο, ὅττι κε θεῖο
παιδὸς παιδὶ φίλῳ· πολυάρητος δέ τοί ἐστι.

Autolykos, now you yourself find a name that you would give
to your child’s dear child; he is much prayed for by you.

In Homeric Hymn to Demeter 220 Metaneira uses the adjective of her son Demophon with an even more explicit indication of its meaning: τὸν ὀψίγονον καὶ ἄελπτον / ὤπασαν ἀθάνατοι, πολυάρητος δέ μοί ἐστιν, “whom the gods have given, late born and unexpected, and he is much prayed for by me.” The masculine name Ἄρητος occurs of two figures in Homer: a Trojan (Iliad 17.494 and 535) and a son of Nestor (Odyssey 3.414 and 440). Feminine Ἀρήτη occurs in Hipponax of a figure who was apparently a courtesan (frs. 20.2, 22.2, 23.1, 24 Degani); the name is probably a conceit modeled on the Phaeacian queen (cf. Hawkins 2004:223).

[ back ] 21. For this suggested meaning of the name see Stanford 1959 on Odyssey 7.54; cf. also Hainsworth (Heubeck et al. 1988) ad loc. Another instance of the adjective πολυάρητος shows how the meanings “prayed for” and “prayed to” might be combined in the poet’s mind. In Odyssey 6 Nausicaa tells Odysseus not to let the Phaeacians see him with her lest they say that he is her intended husband, either a wandering mortal, or else “some god has come πολυάρητος in answer to her prayers, descending from the sky”: ἤ τίς οἱ εὐξαμένῃ πολυάρητος θεὸς ἦλθεν / οὐρανόθεν καταβάς (Odyssey 6.280–281). Since the reference is to a god it is not clear whether the meaning is simply “much prayed for,” or there may also be a suggestion of the meaning “much prayed to.” The same ambiguity seems to surround the name Arete, depending on whether she is thought of as Athena’s double or simply herself. It seems significant that the ambiguous verse just quoted occurs not long before Arete, and her name, are first introduced.

[ back ] 22. The phrase ἠλάκατα στρωφῶσ’, “spinning the distaff wool,” implies holding the distaff (ἠλακάτη) in one hand and spinning with the other hand.

[ back ] 23. Pausanias says that the image was much older than the legendary synoecism of Theseus, in which the Attic demes were united into one state; he connects what was said about the image’s divine origin with this high antiquity: τὸ δὲ ἁγιώτατον ἐν κοινῷ πολλοῖς πρότερον νομισθὲν ἔτεσιν <ἢ> συνῆλθον ἀπὸ τῶν δήμων ἐστὶν Ἀθηνᾶς ἄγαλμα ἐν τῇ νῦν ἀκροπόλει, τότε δὲ ὀνομαζομένῃ πόλει· φήμη δὲ ἐς αὐτὸ ἔχει πεσεῖν ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, “The object considered holiest by all many years before they formed a union from the demes is the image of Athena on what is now the acropolis, but then was called the pólis (city); a legend regarding it has it that it fell from the sky” (Pausanias 1.26.6).

[ back ] 24. Plutarch Moralia fr. 158 Sandbach says that the image was set up “by the autochthons”; for other references to the image’s antiquity cf. Kroll 1982:72–73. From the legend that the image fell from the sky some have inferred that it was little more than an aniconic slab of wood (Kroll 1982:73–75; Robertson 1996:29; cf. Shapiro 1989:25). That such an inference cannot be made is shown by traditions for the palladion of Troy, which was famously said to have fallen from the sky when Troy was founded (diipetḗs/diopetḗs is the adjective regularly used of it, as in Clement of Alexandria Protrepticus 4.47.6: τὸ διοπετὲς καλούμενον, “the so-called ‘sky-fallen’ [image]”), but which was also believed to represent an armed Athena; cf. “Apollodorus” 3.12.3, who calls the image diipetés and says that it held a spear in its right hand and a distaff and spindle in its left hand. The image of Artemis in Ephesus was also called τὸ διοπετές (Acts of the Apostles 19.35); the image of this exotic mother goddess is unlikely to have been aniconic.

[ back ] 25. The locus classicus for the aegis and gorgoneion (here part of the aegis) is Iliad 5.733–742, where Athena takes off her péplos, which she herself made, and puts on the khitṓn and aigís, which she borrows from her father, “aegis-holder Zeus”:

αὐτὰρ Ἀθηναίη κούρη Διὸς αἰγιόχοιο
πέπλον μὲν κατέχευεν ἑανὸν πατρὸς ἐπ' οὔδει
ποικίλον, ὅν ῥ' αὐτὴ ποιήσατο καὶ κάμε χερσίν·
ἣ δὲ χιτῶν' ἐνδῦσα Διὸς νεφεληγερέταο
τεύχεσιν ἐς πόλεμον θωρήσσετο δακρυόεντα.
ἀμφὶ δ' ἄρ' ὤμοισιν βάλετ' αἰγίδα θυσσανόεσσαν
δεινήν, ἣν περὶ μὲν πάντῃ Φόβος ἐστεφάνωται,
ἐν δ' Ἔρις, ἐν δ' Ἀλκή, ἐν δὲ κρυόεσσα Ἰωκή,
ἐν δέ τε Γοργείη κεφαλὴ δεινοῖο πελώρου
δεινή τε σμερδνή τε, Διὸς τέρας αἰγιόχοιο.

But Athena, daughter of aegis-holder Zeus,
let slip to her father’s floor her supple robe
of many colors, which she herself had made and worked by hand;
she put on the tunic of cloud-gatherer Zeus
and armed herself with weapons for tear-bringing war.
On her shoulders she put the tasseled aegis,
terrifying, around which Panic was set on every side,
and in it was Strife, and Resistance, and chilling Pursuit,
and the dread monster’s Gorgon-head,
dreadful and fearful, the emblem of aegis-holder Zeus.

[ back ] 26. The inventories are of the arkhaîos neṓs (“old temple”) from about 370–340 BC. There is virtually no variation in the ornaments of Athena Polias over the thirty-year period, and this suggests that the items had been in place for some time already (cf. Frickenhaus 1908:20, who contrasts cult images of Artemis Brauronia on which the ornaments were frequently changed in this period). The golden aegis, which played a role in the festival of the Gamelia (the priestess of Athena visited newlyweds with it) probably did not originate later than the sixth century BC. The golden gorgoneion figures in a story about the evacuation of Athens in 480 BC (Plutarch Themistocles 10.4); even though the story was probably fabricated by the Atthidographer Kleidemos (Jacoby, commentary on Kleidemos FGrHist 323 F 21; McInerney 1994:35; cf. Frost 1980:120–121), it still perhaps indicates that the gorgoneion existed at the time. Cf. Ridgway 1992:124: “It would seem as if a relatively neutral wooden image…was gradually transformed by the Athenians through the addition of attributes into a more ‘typical’ Athena with war-like connotations…. Since the gorgoneion may have existed by ca. 480, so would the aegis, implying that the transformation had already taken place within the sixth century. The reorganization of the Panathenaic festival, in ca. 566, may provide a suitable date for these additions to the statue.” Cf. also Casson 1921:330, 332.

[ back ] 27. There were conflicting stories as to whether or not the conspirators had already left Athena’s protection when they were executed; in the pro-Alcmaeonid version reported by Plutarch Solon 12.1 the conspirators attempted to keep contact with the image by means of a thread as they left the Acropolis, but the thread broke near the temple of the Erinyes and the conspirators were thereby delivered up to their just fate. It may be noted that Thucydides, in an account that seems to correct Herodotus on a point (cf. Gomme on Thucydides 1.126.8), says that the conspirators fled to Athena’s altar, not to her image (καθίζουσιν ἐπὶ τὸν βωμόν, Thucydides 1.126.10; cf. ἵζετο πρὸς τὸ ἄγαλμα, Herodotus 5.71.1). For the question of whether a temple of Athena existed at the time of the Cylonian conspiracy see Herington 1955:22n4, with a reference to Judeich 1931:262n2.

[ back ] 28. This episode (Iliad 6.264–312) also offers insight into how the relation between the goddess and her image may have been perceived, for the two are not at all distinguished: the Trojan priestess lays the robe on Athena’s knees and supplicates her, but Athena shakes her head in rejection (ἀνάνευε δὲ Παλλὰς Ἀθήνη, Iliad 6.311); cf. Donohue 1988:23–24 and 41n99. Although this episode is sometimes attributed to an Athenian poet because a péplos was offered to Athena at the Panathenaia (so Lorimer 1950:442–449), I think that the opposite is more likely to be the case, i.e. that the Athenian ritual was influenced by Homer (cf. n3.244 below).

[ back ] 29. The type has been studied by Eckstein-Wolf 1952 and Simon 1953; for the phiálē see Luschey RE Supplement 7 ‘Phiale’ 1030; Patton 1992 is a comparative study of the phenomenon of libations by gods. The evidence for the image of Athena Polias is the phrase φιάλη χρυσῆ ἣν ἐν τῇ χειρὶ ἔχει, “a gold phiale that she holds in her hand,” in the inventories (IG II2 1424a lines 365–366 [371/70 BC]; cf. IG II2 1425 line 312 [368/7 BC] and IG II2 1424 line 16 [374/3 BC]; cf. Harris 1995:209 no. 20).

[ back ] 30. Luschey RE Supplement 7 ‘Phiale’ 1030 dates the type to the beginning of the fifth century; so too Eckstein-Wolf 1952 and Simon 1953. Apollo is the god most often represented with a phiálē: Simon discusses a particular type of the group Leto, Apollo, and Artemis, which in the sixth century focuses on Apollo’s kithara, but in the early fifth century focuses on a new element in Apollo’s hand, a phiálē (Simon 1953:19). Since the studies in the early 1950s of Luschey, Eckstein-Wolf, and Simon new finds have reopened the question of the earliest date of the Apollo type. A bronze koûros found in Piraeus in 1959 and identified as Apollo apparently held a bow in the left hand and a phiálē in the right hand: the statue has been taken as an Archaic sixth-century piece, of the decade 530–520 BC, but it is more likely to be a late archaizing piece; for a detailed analysis of this still controversial piece, see Fuchs 1999:18–21, who dates it to c. 90 BC; cf. also Mattusch 1996:138–140, Palagia 1997:180–185, and Hemingway 2004:13, 21 (for additional bibliography see Fuchs 1999:10 and Lambrinudakis et al. LIMC ‘Apollo’ no. 432). A few bronze statuettes of koûroi dated to the late sixth century seem to have held a bow in the left hand and a phiálē in the right hand, and may represent Apollo: LIMC ‘Apollo’ no. 431 (525–500 BC), no. 433 (c. 510 BC), no. 434, with bow intact (c. 500 BC). A bronze statuette dated to the first half of the sixth century is conjectured to have held a phiálē in the right hand (LIMC ‘Apollo’ no. 430, Settis 1971:57), but such an early date would be truly exceptional for the type (Fuchs 1999:19 argues that even in the 520s a phiálē in the hand of the “Piraeus Apollo” would be “exeptionell”; see Fuchs 1999:19n139 for references). The question of why gods received the phiálē as an attribute in the late sixth or early fifth century does not directly concern us, but I note with interest Simon’s argument that Apollo functioned as a priest, and as an intermediary between his father Zeus and men (Simon 1953:25). Did Athena Polias, in her new guise, likewise mediate between her people and her father Zeus? The connection between Athena as a war goddess and Zeus as her father in sixth/fifth-century Athens is discussed §3.42–§3.47 below. With respect to the golden phiálē of Athena Polias, it is worth noting that it is a valuable adornment like the other golden adornments recorded in the fourth-century inventories; it is no more part of the original statue than they are.

[ back ] 31. Eckstein-Wolf 1952:65; so also Frickenhaus 1908:23 (end of the sixth century). Eckstein-Wolf points out that artistic representations which seem to relate to the Athena Polias are not shown holding a phiálē until after the type (“spendende Götter”) had already appeared on other vase paintings. See n3. 33 below for artistic representations that seem to relate directly to the Athena Polias.

[ back ] 32. Figure 1, a seated girl spinning, is a reconstruction of a terracotta plaque from the Athenian Acropolis, c. 500 BC. The reconstruction, after Le Lasseur 1919:104, figure 48, is based on two fragmentary copies from the same mold, Acropolis Museum nos. 1329 (new numbering 13054) and 1330 (new numbering 13055). In no. 1329 the right hand and spindle are still intact; in no. 1330 the raised position of the left arm is still evident despite loss of most of the arm, including the left hand and distaff. Photographs of the fragments of both plaques are in the print volume, Plates 1 and 2; photograph of no. 1329 is in Hutton 1897, plate VII, no. 1, and of no. 1330 in Ridgway 1992:139, figure 92. The same position of the two hands, with a distaff in the left hand and a spindle below the right hand, appears consistently in examples of spinning women in Greek art. I cite the following three examples. Plate 4 of the print volume (Plate I here) is a frontal view of a seated woman, spinning, on a fifth-century Attic red-figure cup attributed to the Euaion Painter, c. 475–425 BC. A profile view of a seated woman, spinning, is seen on an Attic red-figure hydria by a painter close to the Clio Painter, c. 475–425 (London, British Museum, E215; photograph in the print volume, Plate 3; Leader 1997:687, figure 1). Female wool workers engaged in various parts of the wool working process are seen on an Attic black-figure lekythos attributed to the Amasis Painter, c. 575–525 BC (New York, Metropolitan Museum, no. 31.11.10; photograph and rollout drawing in Keuls 1983:215, figure 14.11 a–c; partial rollout drawing in print volume, Plate 5). In this example the woman spinning is shown standing; three other women, one seated and two standing, are shown “drawing a roving,” the step prior to spinning in the wool working process. The position of the hands of the women drawing a roving is the same as for the woman spinning. For demonstrations of the ancient wool working process see Edmunds, Jones, and Nagy 2004.

[ back ] 33. Frickenhaus 1908. The first example, Figure 2, is a reconstruction of a terracotta plaque from the Athenian Acropolis, c. 500 BC (same provenience as for Figure 1). This reconstruction, after Le Lasseur 1919:98, figure 47, is again based on two fragmentary copies from the same mold, Acropolis Museum nos. 1337 (new numbering 13056) and 1338 (new numbering 13057). In no. 1337 the phiálē in the figure’s right hand is still intact; in no. 1338 the raised left hand appears to have held a spear, which must have been painted in (cf. Hutton 1897:307, 310); in Figure 2 the spear has been added to Le Lasseur’s reconstruction. Photographs of both plaques are in the print volume, Plates 6 and 7; photograph of no. 1337 is in Casson 1921:419, and of no. 1338 in Hutton 1997, plate VII no. 2, Casson 1921:420, and Ridgway 1992:139, figure 93. The photograph in Frickenhaus 1908 (plate following p. 20, no. 1) is a composite of both plaques. For the identification as Athena Polias (there is no distinctive attribute in the image itself) see Hutton 1897:310–311 and Frickenhaus 1908:21. The other three examples adduced by Frickenhaus are the following: Plate 8 in the print volume (Plate II here) is a drawing of an Attic black-figure kalpis by the Nikoxenos Painter, c. 500 BC, which was once on the art market in Rome, and is now lost. For the identification as Athena Polias with phiálē note the altar, the sacrificial bull, and the priestess in front of what must be a seated goddess. The next example is an Attic white-ground lekythos, attributed to the Athena Painter, c. 500-450 BC (Athens, National Museum, no. 1138; photograph in the print volume, Plate 9; Frickenhaus 1908, plate following p. 22; LIMC ‘Athena’ no. 579, plate p. 761; Shapiro 1989, plate 10 d-e). For the identification as Athena Polias with phiálē note the altar and the two owls flanking the seated goddess; for two other examples of the same subject by the same painter see Shapiro 1989:31n102 and plate 11 a-b. Shapiro points out that the owl perched on Athena’s shield indicates that a cult statue rather than an epiphany of Athena is represented. The last example is seen in the fragments of an Attic red-figure column crater signed by Myson, c. 500–450 BC (Athens, National Museum, Acropolis Collection, no. 2.806; photograph and drawing of reconstructed fragments in print volume, Plates 10 and 11; photograph in LIMC ‘Athena’ no. 578a, plate p. 761; drawing in Verbanck-Piérard 1988:225, figure 1). The left arm appears slightly less elevated in this example than in the other examples. In front of the goddess is a sacrificial scene (“Opferscene”, Frickenhaus 1908:21); a separate (but related?) fragment of the vase shows an altar (see drawing in print volume, Plate 11; Verbanck-Piérard 1988:225, figure 1). In this example, and in the Attic white-ground lekythos (Athens, National Museum, no. 1138), the helmet worn by Athena is the artist’s free invention, unrelated to the image of Athena Polias; see Frickenhaus 1908:21. The goddess’s left hand holds a helmet on the Attic black-figure kalpis (Plate II), and a spear in the three other examples; on the Attic black-figure kalpis a spear leans against the goddess’s shoulder.

[ back ] 34. Frickenhaus 1908:22; cf. Eckstein-Wolf 1952:65.

[ back ] 35. Compare the examples cited in n3.32 and n3.33 above. The correspondence between Figures 1 and 2 in the text above is especially clear. Hutton 1897:310, who published these line drawings, drew attention to “the obvious connexion” between them, but had no reason to pursue the connection further. It is interesting that the hands are again in the same position on a series of Athenian coins which Kroll 1982:70–72 refers to the image of Athena Polias; on these coins the figure is standing (Kroll thinks that the Athena Polias also was standing) and the left hand holds an owl. The fourth-century inventories of Athena’s ornaments include a golden owl, which has no other obvious place to go on the Athena Polias. But there are problems in referring the coins to Athena Polias: the fourth-century inventories include a golden crown (stephánē) of the goddess, whereas the coins show a helmeted figure; I, for my part, do not believe that the Athena Polias was standing. If the position of the two hands on the coins nevertheless refers to the Athena Polias, it would appear that the old distaff held in the left hand was replaced by a succession of items: first perhaps a spear (as in Figure 2 above, and in print volume Plates 9 and 10–11); then perhaps a helmet (as in Plate II); then by the time of the fourth-century inventories a golden owl.

[ back ] 36. It was the work of the sculptor Endoios, Pausanias 7.5.9: ἔστι δὲ ἐν Ἐρυθραῖς καὶ Ἀθηνᾶς Πολιάδος ναὸς καὶ ἄγαλμα ξύλου μεγέθει μέγα καθήμενόν τε ἐπὶ θρόνου καὶ ἠλακάτην ἐν ἑκατέρᾳ τῶν χειρῶν ἔχει καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς κεφαλῆς πόλον· τοῦτο <Ἐνδοίου> τέχνην καὶ ἄλλοις ἐτεκμαιρόμεθα εἶναι καὶ ἐς τὴν ἐργασίαν ὁρῶντες ἔνδον τοῦ ἀγάλματος, κτλ., “There is also in Erythrai a temple of Athena Polias and a wooden image of her of large size and seated on a throne, and she has a distaff in each of her hands and a polos on her head; that this is Endoios’s craftsmanship we could tell by other things, but especially by observing the work inside the image,” etc. The working life of Endoios is dated c. 540–500 BC by Raubitschek 1949:495. Images of Athena with distaff are not common in art. On a terracotta relief in Syracuse dated to the last quarter of the fifth century BC Athena holds a distaff in her left hand (right arm is missing; Demargne LIMC ‘Athena’ no. 54; Keuls 1985:251, figure 229). On Hellenistic coins from Asia Minor (LIMC ‘Athena’ no. 58) Athena Ilias (named on no. 58a) holds a distaff in her left hand and a spear in her right hand. Other possible examples (LIMC ‘Athena’ nos. 43, 45, 46) are all uncertain: no. 43 is the terracotta relief of a seated young girl spinning represented in Figure 1 in §3.14 above and discussed in n3.32 above; no. 46 is a terracotta statuette of Athena of c. 500 BC with extended right hand (left arm, which may have held a distaff, is missing). No certain example of Athena with distaff survives from Attica (cf. Keuls:1985:250).

[ back ] 37. Relevant also are loomweights discussed by Barber 1992:106: “A tangible indicator of the close tie between Athena and weaving comes in a number of loomweights from the Greek colonies in Italy. On these weights Athena herself appears in the form of an owl, her sacred bird, spinning wool from a wool basket in front of her. The owl is shown with a pair of human arms and hands (in addition to the expected wings and feet) to do the work, as on a late fifth-century weight from Tarentum” (photograph p. 107); as noted on p. 151 (where a lower date of c. 300 BC is given for the object) the owl also holds a distaff. Wuilleumier 1939:439 classes this object with various others as having a commercial purpose; Herdejürgen 1971:73–74 identifies the objects in question as tags for goods rather than as loomweights.

[ back ] 38. A seated Athena Polias is argued by Frickenhaus 1908:24 and is accepted by Nilsson 1967:436n4; cf. also Fehrle 1910:199, following Frickenhaus. In arguing for a standing figure Kroll 1982:67 relies on two pieces of indirect literary evidence. The Christian writer Athenagoras (Legatio pro Christianis 17.4; cf. n3.13 above) refers to a “seated” statue of Athena on the Acropolis by the sculptor Endoios; Kroll takes the description “seated” of this statue as meant to contrast with the Athena Polias, which Athenagoras also apparently attributed to Endoios. But the reason that Athenagoras calls the first statue “seated” is that he borrows the entire description of the statue, including the seated pose, from Pausanias 1.26.4 (see Snodgrass 2003); no inference can therefore be drawn for the pose of the Athena Polias. The evidence of Athenagoras is discussed further in EN3.2. The other piece of literary evidence adduced by Kroll to show that the statue of Athena Polias was standing is the failure of Strabo to mention the statue when, in a discussion of the seated pose of the Athena Polias in Troy, he says that “many ancient wooden statues of Athena are seen to be seated, such as those in Phocaea, Massilia, Rome, Chios, and several other places” (Strabo 13.1.41). The absence of the Athena Polias in Athens from this list is rather striking, but to explain it perhaps it is enough to note with Herington 1955:24n1 that Strabo’s list is “a very haphazard one, and does not claim to be complete.” But it also seems significant that Strabo does not mention the image of Athena Polias even when he describes Athena’s old temple on the Acropolis, although he mentions a lamp known to have been next to it (see n3.40 below); the image of Athena Polias apparently impressed Strabo considerably less than Pausanias, and this may account for its omission in the list of 13.1.41.

[ back ] 39. The text does not make clear whether she is seated on a chair or on the ground; the latter perhaps seems inconsistent with her status as queen. For Alcinous, who sits next to Arete drinking wine like a god, a thrónos is explicitly mentioned by Nausicaa (Odyssey 6.305–309):

ἡ δ' ἧσται ἐπ' ἐσχάρῃ ἐν πυρὸς αὐγῇ,
ἠλάκατα στρωφῶσ' ἁλιπόρφυρα, θαῦμα ἰδέσθαι,
κίονι κεκλιμένη· δμῳαὶ δέ οἱ εἵατ' ὄπισθεν.
ἔνθα δὲ πατρὸς ἐμοῖο θρόνος ποτικέκλιται αὐτῇ,
τῷ ὅ γε οἰνοποτάζει ἐφήμενος ἀθάνατος ὥς.

She sits at the hearth in the light of the fire,
spinning sea-purple wool from a distaff, a wonder to see,
leaning against a column; her serving-women sit behind her.
And there leaning next to her (?) is my father’s throne,
on which he sits and drinks wine like an immortal.

For the translation of the phrase ποτικέκλιται αὐτῇ, in which αὐτῇ may refer to the column or to Arete, or perhaps, by brachylogy, to Arete’s chair, see Stanford 1959 ad loc. and cf. Cunliffe 1924 s.v. προσκλίνω. How a seated wooden figure, if it was very old, would have been constructed, is not clear. Ridgway 1977:23–25 (= 1993:27–28) imagines that in working with wood it would have been expedient to piece a statue together from several parts, and that this explains a similar technique in later (mid-seventh century on) stone statuary (cf. Donohue 1988:213 and 230). Ridgway’s speculation about early wooden statuary envisions standing rather than seated figures (Ridgway 1977:37, quoted by Donohue 1988:193): “Large-scale wooden statuary seems to have existed even in prehistoric times and was probably made during the Eighth and Seventh centuries. Presumably ill-shaped at first, it eventually became anthropomorphic but colossal in that the lower part was column-like or shown as if tightly enveloped in a garment. Since religion was probably dominated by female deities, such renderings were highly appropriate for female figures” (in Ridgway’s 1993 edition, p. 41, the first two sentences are modified as follows: “Sizable wooden statuary seems to have existed even in prehistoric times and was probably made during the Eighth and Seventh centuries, especially for cult images, which could be adorned with real jewelry and clothing. Some of them may have been ‘colossal’ in that the lower part was columnlike or shown as if tightly enveloped in a garment”). Ancient theories of the origin of Greek statuary posited aniconic images to begin with, and this has influenced modern conceptions, but less so now than formerly. As Donohue 230 states: “It is not likely that any study undertaken today of the origin of Greek sculpture would adopt an approach modelled on that of the literary sources, treating Greek statuary as an undifferentiated production traceable to simple beginnings ex nihilo.” Rather, aniconism and the figural representation of the gods are different phenomena, which can coexist (cf. Donohue 226; Donohue 229–230 cites among others for this view Deonna 1930, vol. 1, 53–56, who “rejected neat schemes of logical developments from primitive forms; believing instead in the completeness of Greek figural vision from the earliest times, he attempted to trace the technical progress in the rendering of the fully realized human form”).

[ back ] 40. Strabo 9.1.16 mentions the lamp as the very hallmark of Athena’s old temple: he begins his brief description of the Acropolis by saying that it (the Acropolis) is Athena’s sacred space (τὸ τῆς Ἀθηνᾶς ἱερὸν), and that it comprises “both the old temple of the Polias, in which is the inextinguishable lamp (ὅ τε ἀρχαῖος νεὼς ὁ τῆς Πολιάδος ἐν ᾧ ὁ ἄσβεστος λύχνος) and the Parthenon, which Ictinus made, in which is Pheidias’s ivory statue, the Athena.” (As noted above, for Strabo the image of Athena Polias, in contrast to the statue by Pheidias, does not merit mention, and this makes it less surprising that he omits it from a list of seated Athenas in 13.1.41; cf. n3.38 above.) Pausanias, who calls the old wooden image the holiest object in Athens and says that according to legend it fell from heaven, mentions the lamp immediately after it; he says that he will not comment on the truth of the legend about the origin of the image, but he knows who made the lamp, namely Callimachus, and he goes on to give details about it. The lamp is dated by its maker, who was active in the last third of the fifth century (cf. Gross Der Kleine Pauly ‘Kallimachos 5’). The lamp was lit night and day, and was fed with oil but once a year on the same day. In order to draw the smoke off from the lamp a bronze palm tree reaching to the roof was used. Although Pausanias credits Callimachus with technical innovations, he does not put him in the first rank of artists.

[ back ] 41. Frazer 1913 on Pausanias 8.53.9, “the Common Hearth of the Arcadians,” collects the evidence.

[ back ] 42. There are many references to the hearth in Apollo’s temple at Delphi, especially in tragedy. For the location of the hearth inside the temple, see especially Diodorus Siculus 16.56.7, an account of how the Phocians in 347/6 BC, having heard that a great treasure of gold and silver was buried inside the temple, set about digging up the ground around the tripod and hearth (ἑστία) until they were frightened off by an earthquake. It was also at this ἑστία that Neoptolemos was supposed to have been slain by the priest of Apollo (Pausanias 10.24.4). For the perpetual fire on this hearth, see e.g. Aeschylus Libation Bearers 1036–1037, where Orestes, haunted by furies, declares his intention to set out for Apollo’s temple at Delphi (μεσόμφαλόν θ' ἵδρυμα, Λοξίου πέδον) and “the firelight called undying” (πυρός τε φέγγος ἄφθιτον κεκλημένον).

[ back ] 43. Plutarch Numa 9.5 speculates that Numa entrusted the perpetual fire in Rome to the Vestal Virgins because fire and vigins are either both pure or both barren, and to support the connection with barrenness, he notes that “wherever in Greece a perpetual fire is kept, as at Delphi and Athens, it is committed to the charge, not of virgins, but of widows past the age of marriage.” To support the connection with purity, Plutarch Numa 9.6 notes that when perpetual fires are allowed to go out they must not be kindled again from other fire, but directly from the rays of the sun, and his two examples are occasions when the same two fires, in Athens and in Delphi, went out.

[ back ] 44. Pollux twice refers to the hearth in Athens: εἰσὶ δ' ἐν αὐτῇ [the Acropolis] πρυτανεῖον καὶ ἑστία τῆς πόλεως, “there are on it [sc. the Acropolis] the prytaneion and the hearth of the city” (Pollux 9.40); [ἑστία] ἡ ἐν πρυτανείῳ, ἐφ' ἧς τὸ πῦρ τὸ ἄσβεστον ἀνάπτεται, “[the hearth] in the prytaneion, on which the inextinguishable fire is lit” (Pollux 1.7). Pausanias 5.15.9 describes the hearth in Olympia: [τῷ πρυτανείῳ] ἔνθα σφίσιν ἡ ἑστία…. ἔστι δὲ ἡ ἑστία τέφρας…πεποιημένη, καὶ ἐπ' αὐτῆς πῦρ ἀνὰ πᾶσάν τε ἡμέραν καὶ ἐν πάσῃ νυκτὶ ὡσαύτως καίεται, “[the prytaneion] where their hearth is…. The hearth is made of ash, and on it a fire burns every day and likewise every night.”

[ back ] 45. In Theocritus this is the second of two proverbial expressions for sleeplessness (21.36–37): ἀλλ' ὄνος ἐν ῥάμνῳ τό τε λύχνιον ἐν πρυτανείῳ· / φαντὶ γὰρ ἀγρυπνίαν τάδ' ἔχειν, “an ass in thorns and the lamp in the prytaneion; for they say that these things have sleeplessness”; λύχνιον may here be a lampstand (= λυχνεῖον, so LSJ), but this does not change the point. Dionysius II, tyrant of Syracuse, dedicated an elaborate lampstand (λυχνεῖον) in the prytaneion of Tarentum (Athenaeus 15.700d citing Euphorion), which Frazer takes to be another example of perpetual fire (Frazer 1913 on Pausanias 8.53.9). The lampstand had the capacity “to burn lamps” for every day in the year (λυχνεῖον δυνάμενον καίειν τοσούτους λύχνους ὅσος ὁ τῶν ἡμερῶν ἐστιν ἀριθμὸς εἰς τὸν ἐνιαυτόν). Frazer assumes that this contrivance could burn for a year without being fed, a more plausible interpretation than to think that 365 lamps were lit simultaneously.

[ back ] 46. Cook 1995 makes this passage the cornerstone of his argument that the Odyssey as a whole was first composed in sixth-century Athens. While I disagree with so broad a conclusion, and instead place the formative phase of the Homeric poems a century and a half earlier in Ionia, I think that Cook is right to connect this passage with the lamp of Athena in her temple on the Acropolis. What parts of the poems originated in sixth-century Athens (I include this passage as well as the expansion of the catalogue of heroines in Odyssey 11) is an open question; another possible example is briefly considered in EN3.3. For further discussion of Athena’s lamp in Homer and on the Acropolis see Parisinou 2000: 5–8 (Homer) and 20–31 (the Acropolis). For a date in the early sixth century BC for the transformation of the image of Athena Polias into a warrior goddess cf. n3.26 above and n3.111 below.

[ back ] 47. The phrase θεὸν ὥς, “like a god,” in Odyssey 7.71 does not identify Arete as a god, but compares her to one, just as the phrase ἀθάνατος ὥς, “like an immortal,” in Odyssey 6.309 does not identify Alcinous as an immortal, but compares him to one (cf. the phrase θεοῦ δ’ ὥς δῆμος ἄκουεν, “the people listen to him like a god,” in Odyssey 7.11, also said of Alcinous). Comparisons of mortals to immortals are not at all unusual in Homer: the accusative phrase θεὸν ὥς occurs nine times (including Odyssey 7.71); the nominative phrase θεὸς ὥς occurs six times (five times in the phrase θεὸς δ’ ὥς τίετο δήμῳ, “he is honored like a god by the people”); constructions with the dative θεῷ occur ten times (cf. n3.64 below); the phrase ἰσόθεος φώς, “a man equal to a god,” occurs 14 times. Two verses in particular resemble the comparison of Arete to a god in Odyssey 7.71–72: in Odyssey 8 Odysseus says to Euryalos that the people regard a man who commands respect in the assembly by his words as a god when he walks through the city (ἐρχόμενον δ' ἀνὰ ἄστυ θεὸν ὣς εἰσορόωσιν, Odyssey 8.173); in Iliad 22 Hecabe, lamenting Hector, recalls what help (ὄνειαρ) he was in the city (κατὰ πτόλιν) to the men and women of Troy, “who greeted you like a god” (οἵ σε θεὸν ὣς / δειδέχατ', Iliad 22.433–435). The comparison of Arete to a god is clearly within the limits of what can be said about a mortal, but at the same time more seems suggested. This is like the phrase θαῦμα ἰδέσθαι, “a wonder to behold,” which follows the description of Arete as seated by the hearth spinning wool (ἡ δ' ἧσται ἐπ' ἐσχάρῃ ἐν πυρὸς αὐγῇ, / ἠλάκατα στρωφῶσ' ἁλιπόρφυρα, θαῦμα ἰδέσθαι, Odyssey 6.305–306). The phrase θαῦμα ἰδέσθαι focuses attention on something extraordinary, but not necessarily godlike. The word θαῦμα is normally used of objects and situations, rarely of people; if we exclude the Cyclops in Odyssey 9.190 (a special case), it is used of only one person besides Arete: Neleus’s daughter Pero is called a θαῦμα βροτοῖσι in the context of her wooing by all her neighbors, Odyssey 11.287, and here the context gives the phrase its point (cf. n2.137 above). When Arete is called a θαῦμα ἰδέσθαι in lines that describe her in terms of the image of Athena Polias, it is worth bearing in mind other wondrous objects that get the phrase, such as the clothes in which the Charites clothe Aphrodite after her bath in Paphos, Odyssey 8.366 (see n3.4 above), or the tripods of Hephaistos which move on their own into and out of divine assembly, Iliad 18.377.

[ back ] 48. Hainsworth (Heubeck et al. 1988) on Odyssey 7.81–132: “This elaborate passage invites the suspicion of rhapsodic reworking.” West 2000:485–487 proposes that the passage was shifted from a different context by one of the Homeric poets using written texts. I agree with Hainsworth that parts of the passage may be “post-Homeric” (cf. n2.16 above), but I have no specific reason for such a judgment. The description of Alcinous’s palace delays Odysseus’s entrance into the palace and his encounter with Athena’s substitute Arete, but this does not weaken the identification of Arete with Athena; that identification is firmly established when, in the space of two lines, Athena enters the palace of Erechtheus in Athens and Odysseus heads for the palace of Alcinous in Scheria (Odyssey 7.81–82). We know where Odysseus is going and why, and a narrative retardation devoted to the wonders of the Phaeacian palace does not change that.

[ back ] 49. Athena occurs as the goddess of crafts (érga) in both Homer and Hesiod. In the Odyssey the daughters of Pandareos are said to have received gifts from Hera, Artemis, and Athena; Athena’s gift was to teach them érga, “crafts” (ἔργα δ' Ἀθηναίη δέδαε κλυτὰ ἐργάζεσθαι, Odyssey 20.72). In Hesiod’s Works and Days, when Pandora is created, Zeus instructs Athena to teach her érga, “crafts,” particularly weaving (αὐτὰρ Ἀθήνην / ἔργα διδασκῆσαι, πολυδαίδαλον ἱστὸν ὑφαίνειν, Works and Days 63–64). Here and elsewhere Athena is particularly associated with the production of clothing; in Homer she is said to have made her own péplos (πέπλον… / ποικίλον, ὅν ῥ' αὐτὴ ποιήσατο καὶ κάμε χερσίν, Iliad 5.734–735; cf. n3.25 above). In Hesiod Theogony 573–575 her contribution to Pandora is to adorn her in “shining raiment” (κόσμησε θεὰ γλαυκῶπις Ἀθήνη / ἀργυφέῃ ἐσθῆτι), including a wondrous veil (κατὰ κρῆθεν δὲ καλύπτρην / δαιδαλέην χείρεσσι κατέσχεθε, θαῦμα ἰδέσθαι). Arete has exactly the same concern for clothing in the Odyssey; she first breaks her silence after Odysseus’s supplication when she recognizes his clothes, which she and her maidservants made (Odyssey 7.233–235):

τοῖσιν δ' Ἀρήτη λευκώλενος ἤρχετο μύθων·
ἔγνω γὰρ φᾶρός τε χιτῶνά τε εἵματ' ἰδοῦσα
καλά, τά ῥ' αὐτὴ τεῦξε σὺν ἀμφιπόλοισι γυναιξί.

White-armed Arete began to speak to them,
for she saw and recognized the beautiful clothes, the cloak and tunic,
which she herself had made with her serving women.

Thus Arete, whose silence has marked her out as Athena, breaks her silence in a context that maintains or is at least consistent with this hidden identity. Cf. Barber 1992 for Athena’s close connection with weaving. Barber 1992:105–106 cites the Arachne myth, first told in extant sources by Ovid Metamorphoses 6.5–145, but pictured on a Corinthian jug of c. 600 BC; see Weinberg and Weinberg 1956.

[ back ] 50. Arete shows that Athena Poliás, the city goddess of Athens, and Athena Ergánē are closely related figures; for the original unity of Athena Poliás and Athena Ergánē see Hutton 1897:308, and cf. Le Lasseur 1919:102–103. It is worth noting that Pausanias 1.24.3, to prove that the Athenians paid more attention to religious matters than others, says that it was the Athenians who “first gave Athena the name Ergánē” (πρῶτοι μὲν γὰρ Ἀθηνᾶν ἐπωνόμασαν Ἐργάνην). Nilsson, with his understanding of Athena Poliás as a warrior goddess, cannot explain Athena Ergánē any more than he can Athena Mḗtēr. His explanation of both is that Athena is female, and as such she was invoked by women in connection with their typical concerns: “I would sooner believe that [in Elis] women, who in their concerns, especially their desire for children, turned to a long list of goddesses simply because they were female and they felt united with them by the bond of sex, also once turned to Athena. This is the only way to explain how Athena became the guardian of female technical skills” (“Eher würde ich glauben, dass die Frauen, die sich in ihren Angelegenheiten, und zwar besonders in ihrem Verlangen nach Kindern, an eine lange Reihe von Göttinnen wandten, nur weil diese Frauen waren und sie sich mit ihnen durch das Band des Geschlechts vereint fühlten, sich auch einmal an die Göttin Athena wandten. Nur so kann erklärt werden, dass Athena zur Beschützerin der weiblichen Kunstfertigkeit geworden ist,” Nilsson 1967:444; cf. n3.11 above).

[ back ] 51. Athena later says as much to Odysseus when she reveals herself openly to him in Ithaca (Odyssey 13.299–302):

οὐδὲ σύ γ' ἔγνως
Παλλάδ' Ἀθηναίην, κούρην Διός, ἥ τέ τοι αἰεὶ
ἐν πάντεσσι πόνοισι παρίσταμαι ἠδὲ φυλάσσω,
καὶ δέ σε Φαιήκεσσι φίλον πάντεσσιν ἔθηκα.

You did not recognize
Pallas Athena, Zeus’s daughter, who always
stands by you and protects you in all your toils,
and who made you dear to all the Phaeacians.

[ back ] 52. Odyssey 5.426–427.

[ back ] 53. The form ἠρᾶτο, which occurs a total of thirteen times in Homer, occurs seven times of prayers to Athena: four times in the Iliad (5.114, 6.304, 10.277, 10.283) and three times in the Odyssey (the two verses quoted above and Odyssey 4.761). The two occurrences of the verb that do not concern Athena in the Odyssey are ironic: Athena, in disguise, prays to Poseidon, and Telemachus, following her example, does so as well (Odyssey 3.62 and 64); the four occurrences that do not concern Athena in the Iliad follow no pattern: a prayer each to Apollo (Iliad 1.35), the gods (θεοῖσι, Iliad 9.567), Spercheios (Iliad 23.149), and the winds (Iliad 23.194). Although I have not considered other forms of this verb, I note that in Iliad 17.568 Athena rejoices because Menelaus “prayed,” ἠρήσατο, to her first of all the gods. It is the form ἠρᾶτο that particularly echoes the name Ἀρήτη, and that therefore seems pointedly used to anticipate Arete’s appearance in Odyssey 7. The other times that ἠρᾶτο is used of prayers to Athena in Homer reinforce this connection.

[ back ] 54. Cf. §3.7 above.

[ back ] 55. It is fitting that two figures rather than one represent Athena inasmuch as one figure would not be able to sustain the weight of the part. I think of the musical play of Igor Stravinsky called The Flood, in which two bass voices together sing the part of God.

[ back ] 56. On Olympus Athena is Zeus’s daughter. The phrase koúrē Diós, “daughter of Zeus,” is used 17 of 20 times of Athena in Homer; she is also called Diòs thugátēr, “daughter of Zeus,” eight times in Homer, but this phrase is used more often of Aphrodite. The one time that the word koúrē is used by itself of Athena Zeus is mentioned in the same line: εὐξάμενος κούρῃ γλαυκώπιδι καὶ Διὶ πατρί, “praying to the grey-eyed maiden and to [her] father Zeus” (Odyssey 24.518), and three lines later the full phrase Diòs koúrē occurs: εὐξάμενος δ' ἄρ' ἔπειτα Διὸς κούρῃ μεγάλοιο, “praying then to great Zeus’s daughter” (Odyssey 24.521). Used by itself the word koúrē means not “daughter,” but “maiden”; this meaning too fits Athena, as in Odyssey 24.518, quoted above. In the Phaeacian episode the word koúrē in the meaning “maiden” is repeatedly used of Nausicaa (ten times in Odyssey 6, once in Odyssey 7, and once in Odyssey 8). It is in fact the first word used of Nausicaa in the poem, when Athena enters her bed chamber (Odyssey 6.15–16):

βῆ δ' ἴμεν ἐς θάλαμον πολυδαίδαλον, ᾧ ἔνι κούρη
κοιμᾶτ' ἀθανάτῃσι φυὴν καὶ εἶδος ὁμοίη.

She went into the much decorated chamber, in which the maiden
slept, like the immortal goddesses in build and beauty.

It is also the last word used of Nausicaa in the poem, at the end of Odysseus’s farewell speech to her, after he credits her with bringing him back to life (Odyssey 8.464–468; cf. §3.30 below):

Ναυσικάα, θύγατερ μεγαλήτορος Ἀλκινόοιο,
οὕτω νῦν Ζεὺς θείη, ἐρίγδουπος πόσις Ἥρης,
οἴκαδέ τ' ἐλθέμεναι καὶ νόστιμον ἦμαρ ἰδέσθαι·
τῶ κέν τοι καὶ κεῖθι θεῷ ὣς εὐχετοῴμην
αἰεὶ ἤματα πάντα· σὺ γάρ μ' ἐβιώσαο, κούρη.

Nausicaa, daughter of great-hearted Alcinous,
may Zeus, the loud-thundering husband of Hera, now so arrange it
that I go home and see the day of my return;
if so I would pray to you as a god even there
always and forever; for you brought me back to life, maiden.

[ back ] 57. In the phrase meíxesthai gumnós per eṓn the particle per is concessive (“although”), but per can also be intensive (“since”). There is thus a double ambiguity: “he was about to mingle with them although he was naked” is the intended primary meaning; “he was about to have intercourse with them since he was naked” is a possible secondary meaning. For the threat of sexual violence in this episode see Karakantza 2003, with bibliography; the author explains the non-violent outcome in this case by a “strange reversal of the societal code, that puts the man in an inferior position and the maiden in self-confident control” (p. 10; cf. p. 20). Nausicaa’s “self-confident control,” which is anomalous according to this analysis, calls for an explanation, and for this I would look behind Nausicaa to Athena. For bridal imagery in the encounter between Nausicaa and Odysseus cf. also Segal 1994:23n13 with bibliography.

[ back ] 58. Note that Odysseus fears her anger (mḗkholṓsaito, Odyssey 6.147).

[ back ] 59. For Athena’s own thársos cf. Iliad 21.395, where Ares calls her thársos áēton ékhousa, “having fierce boldness.” Athena often puts thársos into the hearts of her favorites: Diomedes (Iliad 5.2), Menelaus (Iliad 17.570), Telemachus (Odyssey 1.321, 3.76); the daímōn who inspires thársos in Odysseus in the Cyclops’s cave (Odyssey 9.381) is not named, but this too suggests Athena; in Odyssey 14.216 Odysseus, in his lying tale to Eumaios, says that Ares and Athena once both gave him thársos. When Athena puts thársos into her favorites this of course does not give them a hidden identity. What is different about Nausicaa is that she is female like Athena; traditional epic means are here used to a special end and with a special meaning (the comparison of Arete to a god is similar in this respect; cf. n3.47 above).

[ back ] 60. Artemis was characterized especially by her tall stature (mē̂kos); this was the gift that she gave to the daughters of Pandareos according to Odyssey 20.71 (μῆκος δ' ἔπορ' Ἄρτεμις ἁγνή; cf. n3.49 above). In Homeric Hymn to Apollo 197–199 Artemis is conspicuous among other goddesses in the dance on Olympus (τῇσι μὲν οὔτ' αἰσχρὴ μεταμέλπεται οὔτ' ἐλάχεια, / ἀλλὰ μάλα μεγάλη τε ἰδεῖν καὶ εἶδος ἀγητὴ, “not ugly or small she dances among them, / but very big to look on and wondrous in beauty”); scenes like this may have made Artemis a typical comparison for girls who led the dance (cf. Segal 1994:23 and Calame 1977:90–92), and this would certainly have been a factor in the comparison of Nausicaa with Artemis.

[ back ] 61. In the two passages comparing Nausicaa to Artemis note that in one the nymphs in Artemis’s retinue are called koûrai Diós (Odyssey 6.105) and in the other Artemis herself is called Diòs koúrē (Odyssey 6.151); Diòs koúrē is Athena’s characteristic epithet (see n3.56 above), and Nausicaa’s hidden identity with Athena is the real point in both passages. Nausicaa’s resemblance to Artemis does not preclude her resemblance to Athena; Nausicaa is compared to “goddesses” in general for her stature and appearance when Athena first comes to her bedchamber and appears to her in a dream (Odyssey 6.15–16):

βῆ δ' ἴμεν ἐς θάλαμον πολυδαίδαλον, ᾧ ἔνι κούρη
κοιμᾶτ' ἀθανάτῃσι φυὴν καὶ εἶδος ὁμοίη.

She went into the much decorated chamber, in which the maiden
slept, like the immortal goddesses in build and beauty.

The plural athanátēisi, “immortal goddesses,” opens the question, to be returned to later in the story, as to which goddess in particular Nausicaa is meant to represent.

[ back ] 62. The plant comparison is first introduced in Odyssey 6.157, where Nausicaa is called a thálos, “shoot”; the poet, speaking as Odysseus, clearly already has in mind that he is about to compare Nausicaa to an érnos, a “sapling,” in Odyssey 6.163. The sacred palm tree is doubtless the one that Leto grasped when she bore Apollo on Delos (Homeric Hymn to Apollo 117; cf. n3.14 above).

[ back ] 63. Leto gave birth to Artemis on Ortygia, which is distinguished from Delos in Homeric Hymn to Apollo 16, but is identified with Delos in later sources (Apollonius of Rhodes 1.419, Callimachus Hymns 4.40, etc.). Ortygia is mentioned in Odyssey 15.404, where it has been identified both with Delos and with Syracuse by modern commentators. Strabo 10.5.5 identifies Ortygia with Rheneia, suitably close to Delos to be the birthplace of Apollo’s twin. Such proximity is perhaps the point of the comparison of Nausicaa to Apollo’s sacred tree on Delos: the tree is related to, but separate from, the goddess Artemis and her place of birth. Palm trees are associated with Artemis herself in art, especially in scenes of erotic pursuit leading to sexual consummation; cf. Karakantza 2003:14, following Sourvinou-Inwood 1985 and 1987:141, 144–145. The comparison of Nausicaa to Apollo’s palm tree thus continues to suggest Artemis even when Artemis is no longer directly at issue.

[ back ] 64. Cf. n3.47 above. The line at Odyssey 8.467 occurs again at Odyssey 15.181, where Telemachus tells Helen that he will pray to her like a god if Zeus accomplishes what she has just foretold about Odysseus. There are nine other comparisons of humans to gods in Homer that entail use of the dative θεῷ: Achilles says of Hector that the Trojans prayed to him like a god (θεῷ ὣς εὐχετόωντο, Iliad 22.394); Odysseus is said to have been cared for like a god by Calypso (κομιδή γε θεῷ ὣς ἔμπεδος ἦεν, Odyssey 8.453); Odysseus calls on Athena, disguised as a mortal, to save him and his possessions, saying that he prays to her like a god (εὔχομαι ὥς τε θεῷ καί σευ φίλα γούναθ' ἱκάνω, Odyssey 13.231). There are three examples of the phrase θεῷ ἐναλίγκιος: the herald Talthybios is called “like a god in voice” (θεῷ ἐναλίγκιος αὐδὴν, Iliad 19.250); Telemachus and Menelaus are called “like a god in person” (θεῷ ἐναλίγκιος ἄντην, Odyssey 2.5 and 4.310). Finally there are two verses with ἶσος and θεῷ: Phoenix says to Achilles that the Achaeans will honor him like a god (ἶσον γάρ σε θεῷ τίσουσιν Ἀχαιοί, Iliad 9.603); Telemachus says that the Ithacans regard Eurymachus like a god (ἶσα θεῷ Ἰθακήσιοι εἰσορόωσι, Odyssey 15.520).

[ back ] 65. In the event Nausicaa does indeed wash clothes for herself, as the dream has instructed her, but it is Odysseus rather than a future husband who also receives clean clothes from her.

[ back ] 66. In 408 BC Alcibiades returned to Athens on the day of the Plynteria, regarded as among the unluckiest days in the year, and two sources, Xenophon and Plutarch, give information about the festival’s rites in connection with this ill-omened event. Plutarch Alcibiades 34.1 says that the rites, which he calls ἀπόρρητα, “not to be spoken of,” were performed by the Praxiergidai, who removed the ornaments from the statue of Athena and veiled it (ᾗ γὰρ ἡμέρᾳ κατέπλευσεν, ἐδρᾶτο τὰ Πλυντήρια τῇ θεῷ. δρῶσι δὲ τὰ ὄργια Πραξιεργίδαι Θαργηλιῶνος ἕκτῃ φθίνοντος ἀπόρρητα, τόν τε κόσμον ἀφελόντες καὶ τὸ ἕδος κατακαλύψαντες. ὅθεν ἐν ταῖς μάλιστα τῶν ἀποφράδων τὴν ἡμέραν ταύτην ἄπρακτον Ἀθηναῖοι νομίζουσιν, “On the day on which he sailed back the Plynteria were being celebrated for the goddess; the Praxiergidai celebrate these rites on the sixth day of the end of the month of Thargelion, removing the ornaments and covering the statue. Because of this the Athenians consider this day to be among the unluckiest and unsuitable for business”). Xenophon Hellenica 1.4.12 also speaks of the statue’s being veiled and of the care taken not to conduct important business on this day ([Alcibiades] κατέπλευσεν εἰς τὸν Πειραιᾶ ἡμέρᾳ ᾗ Πλυντήρια ἦγεν ἡ πόλις, τοῦ ἕδους κατακεκαλυμμένου τῆς Ἀθηνᾶς, ὅ τινες οἰωνίζοντο ἀνεπιτήδειον εἶναι καὶ αὐτῷ καὶ τῇ πόλει. Ἀθηναίων γὰρ οὐδεὶς ἐν ταύτῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ οὐδενὸς σπουδαίου ἔργου τολμήσαι ἂν ἅψασθαι, “He [Alcibiades] sailed back to the Peiraieus on the day on which the city was celebrating the Plynteria, the statue of Athena being covered, which some took as an unpropitious sign both for himself and for the city. For none of the Athenians would dare to undertake any serious work on this day”).

[ back ] 67. For the removal and return of the péplos, note the following: 1) an entry in Hesychius says that the Praxiergidai (who conducted the Plynteria, cf. n3.66 above) had the task of “clothing” the old statue of Athena (Hesychius s.v. Πραξιεργίδαι· οἱ τὸ ἕδος τὸ ἀρχαῖον τῆς Ἀθηνᾶς ἀμφιεννύντες); 2) a fragmentary inscription detailing the tasks of the Praxiergidai uses the same verb “clothe” with péplos as object (ἀμφιεννύουσιν τὸν πέπλον, IG I3 7 line 11). It is inferred that this inscription refers to the ritual of the Plynteria (cf. Deubner 1932:19n11, Robertson 1996:72n74; Herington 1955:30n2 regards the inference as very probable but not certain; for further discussion of the inscription, see Parker 1996:307–308). That the péplos was washed can only be inferred from the name Πλυντήρια of the festival itself, which must refer to washing a garment and not to bathing the statue. This issue is discussed in EN3.4.

[ back ] 68. See Robertson 1996:51 (Athena is partnered by Aglauros in both festivals); for a fuller description of the evidence for these festivals see Robertson 1983:281–282 and n113.

[ back ] 69. Strictly speaking, we do not know that the implied festival of the Plynteria on these islands belonged to Athena; thus Nilsson 1906:469 lists the festivals on the islands of Chios and Paros under “unknown gods” (“unbekannte Götter”).

[ back ] 70. Nilsson 1906:469: “It is surprising that a festival, whose content in Athens seems to be only the purification of the temple and cult image, is found in other places as well, and this seems to point to an earlier wider meaning” (“Es ist auffallend, ein Fest, dessen Inhalt nur die Reinigung des Tempels und des Xoanon in Athen zu sein scheint, an anderen Orten wiederzufinden, und dieses scheint auf eine einstige weitere Bedeutung hinzuweisen”).

[ back ] 71. When Nausicaa asks her father for a wagon, she repeats the verb “to wash” in nearly identical form but suppresses the context of marriage (Odyssey 6.57–61):

πάππα φίλ', οὐκ ἂν δή μοι ἐφοπλίσσειας ἀπήνην
ὑψηλὴν εὔκυκλον, ἵνα κλυτὰ εἵματ' ἄγωμαι
ἐς ποταμὸν πλυνέουσα, τά μοι ῥερυπωμένα κεῖται;
καὶ δὲ σοὶ αὐτῷ ἔοικε μετὰ πρώτοισιν ἐόντα
βουλὰς βουλεύειν καθαρὰ χροῒ εἵματ' ἔχοντα.

Daddy dear, wouldn’t you hitch a wagon for me,
a high one with good wheels, so that I can take my famed clothes,
which lie soiled, to the river to wash them?
For you too it is fitting to take counsel with the first men
wearing clean clothes on your skin.

[ back ] 72. The plunoí are mentioned again when Nausicaa and her companions reach them (Odyssey 6.85–87):

αἱ δ' ὅτε δὴ ποταμοῖο ῥόον περικαλλέ' ἵκοντο,
ἔνθ' ἦ τοι πλυνοὶ ἦσαν ἐπηετανοί, πολὺ δ' ὕδωρ
καλὸν ὑπεκπρόρεεν μάλα περ ῥυπόωντα καθῆραι….

When they came to the beautiful stream of the river,
there were ever-flowing washing places, and much beautiful water
flowed from them to clean even very soiled clothes….

The verb plúnō also occurs again when the maidens have cleaned the clothes and set them out to dry (Odyssey 6.93–94): αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ πλῦνάν τε κάθηράν τε ῥύπα πάντα, / ἑξείης πέτασαν παρὰ θῖν' ἁλός, “but when they had washed and cleaned all the dirt, they spread them out side by side by the shore of the sea.”

[ back ] 73. Odyssey 6.36–38:

ἀλλ' ἄγ' ἐπότρυνον πατέρα κλυτὸν ἠῶθι πρὸ
ἡμιόνους καὶ ἄμαξαν ἐφοπλίσαι, ἥ κεν ἄγῃσι
ζῶστρά τε καὶ πέπλους καὶ ῥήγεα σιγαλόεντα.

But come, urge your famed father at dawn
to hitch the mules and the wagon, which will bring
the sashes and robes and shining coverlets.

[ back ] 74. The Homeric epithet eǘpeplos occurs more often in the plural of groups of women than in the singular: sisters-in-law (εἰνατέρων ἐϋπέπλων occurs three times in the Iliad) and Achaean women (Ἀχαιϊάδων ἐϋπέπλων occurs once each in the Iliad and the Odyssey); besides its use of Nausicaa in Odyssey 6 there is only one other use in the singular, in Iliad 6.372 of a serving woman (ἀμφιπόλῳ ἐϋπέπλῳ).

[ back ] 75. Note that Athena wears the péplos on Olympus in the Iliad, twice shedding it on her father’s threshold when she arms for battle (Iliad 5.733–735 = 8.384–386):

αὐτὰρ Ἀθηναίη κούρη Διὸς αἰγιόχοιο
πέπλον μὲν κατέχευεν ἑανὸν πατρὸς ἐπ' οὔδει
ποικίλον, ὅν ῥ' αὐτὴ ποιήσατο καὶ κάμε χερσίν.

But Athena, daughter of aegis-holder Zeus,
let slip to her father’s floor her supple robe
of many colors, which she herself had made and worked by hand.

The péplos is of course the usual female garment; the unarmed Aphrodite wears it on the battlefield in Iliad 5.315, hiding Aeneas in one of its folds. For the péplos as a specifically bridal garment see Lee 2003/2004:256–257, 269, 272, 273. For another interpretation of the Plynteria and the role of the péplos in it, see Connelly 1996:78–79, who interprets the festival as a funerary rite in honor of Aglauros, and the garment as a sacrificial robe.

[ back ] 76. See n3.14 above for Auge’s myth, and for a statue of the goddess of childbirth called Aúgē en gónasi, “Auge on her knees,” in the temple of Eileithyia in Tegea. Euripides wrote a tragedy called Auge, according to which the title character, as Athena’s priestess, was washing the goddess’s garment when she was seized by Heracles. We know this from a fragmentary argument to the play and from Pompeian wall paintings inspired by the play. Ludwig Koenen first studied the papyrus fragment and identified it as the hypothesis to Euripides’ Auge, and his restoration of the text established the argument’s essential content (Koenen 1969). The text was improved by Wolfgang Luppe, who recognized that the length of the lines should be shortened (Luppe 1983). From this evidence we infer, first, that Arcadian Tegea had a festival like the Attic and Ionic Plynteria, whether or not the Tegean festival had this name, and, secondly, that the washing of the goddess’s robe at this festival was associated with a loss of virginity of the most violent kind. The crucial lines of the restored argument tell us that Auge was “washing the garment of Athena near the fountain” when Heracles seized her. Line 10 of the fragment has the crucial letters ητα πλυν, restored as ἐσθῆτα πλύνουσαν, describing Auge as “washing the garment” of the goddess. As Koenen (p. 18) comments, one can assume that the author of the hypothesis was not the first to make a connection with the Athenian Plynteria by using the verb plúnō (or a word of the same stem). In the next line the letters ησιον κρ(η), restored as πλησίον κρήνης, specify a location “near the spring.” Pausanias 8.47.4 mentions this spring, which was just north of the temple, and says that according to the local version of the myth this was where Auge’s rape took place: ἔστι δὲ ἐν τοῖς πρὸς ἄρκτον τοῦ ναοῦ κρήνη, καὶ ἐπὶ ταύτῃ βιασθῆναι τῇ κρήνῃ φασὶν Αὔγην ὑπὸ Ἡρακλέους, οὐχ ὁμολογοῦντες Ἑκαταίῳ τὰ ἐς αὐτήν, “In the area north of the temple there is a spring, and they say that Auge was raped by Heracles at this spring, not agreeing with Hecataeus’s account of her.” Euripides clearly followed the local version of the myth (as opposed to that of Hecataeus) in making the Plynteria the occasion of Auge’s rape (cf. Koenen, p. 10). Excavators have found a large basin with marble sides and steps where Pausanias locates the spring, just north of the temple (Robertson 1996:50 citing Dugas et al. 1924:69–71). The Pompeian wall paintings, inspired by Euripides, depict a more natural setting. Auge and a friend sit at the water’s edge dipping a garment into the pool as Heracles enters the scene and lays hands on Auge. (Koenen, p. 13, reproduces the line drawings of Reinach 1922; specific references in Koenen p. 12n4). For a vivid depiction of the rape on a Thracian gilt silver bowl see Boardman 1994:184–185, figure 6.1. For a different perspective on Auge’s myth see Burkert 1966:15n3, who classes it with other stories of virgins at the well.

[ back ] 77. There is disagreement as to how Athena’s mythic priestesses relate to Athena herself. Fehrle 1910:193–194 argues that the sexual union in Athena’s temple of figures like Auge, Aithra, and Medusa must come from local cults of these figures which Athena at an early point absorbed (cf. Athena Alea in Tegea, where Auge’s father is called Aleos; for temples of Alea in Arcadia and Laconia, and a town Alea in northern Arcadia, see Nilsson 1967:434); when the fertility aspect of such cults no longer harmonized with Athena’s character, only the original goddesses, now demoted to the status of heroines, retained some form of their old sacred marriages. Nilsson 1967:443 rejects the implication of this argument that Athena’s original character is revealed by that of her priestesses, believing that the connection of these figures to Athena may be based on external circumstances rather than internal relationships. Aglauros, who is featured as Athena’s priestess in aetiological myths of the Plynteria in Athens (Photius Lexicon s.v. Καλλυντήρια καὶ πλυντήρια), is analogous to Auge, Athena’s priestess in a similar festival in Tegea (cf. Robertson 1983:282 and n116). Nilsson, consistently with his argument, does not draw conclusions for Athena from Aglauros, who has mother goddess features. With respect to Auge’s rape by Heracles, Koenen 1969, developing the evidence of the argument to Euripides’ Auge, follows Fehrle rather than Nilsson. Koenen’s argument is discussed in EN3.5.

[ back ] 78. The image of a female figure spinning wool could represent a virgin as well as a matron; cf. the daughters of Pandareos, whom Athena taught érga, “works” (i.e. women’s work, weaving) before Aphrodite sought a marriage for them (Odyssey 20.72–74; cf. n3.49 above); cf. also Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite 14–15, where Athena is said to teach érga to tender maidens: ἡ δέ τε παρθενικὰς ἁπαλόχροας ἐν μεγάροισιν / ἀγλαὰ ἔργ' ἐδίδαξεν ἐπὶ φρεσὶ θεῖσα ἑκάστῃ, “she also teaches soft-skinned maidens splendid works, putting them in the minds of each.” The terracotta reliefs from the Acropolis of a girl spinning (see Figure 1 in §3.14 and cf. n3.32 above) provide an example of such an image.

[ back ] 79. Note that Nausicaa’s part in the story concludes just as Arete’s part begins, and that the division between the two parts is marked by Odysseus’s prayer to Athena in her sacred grove; this point of transition between the two figures is exactly the right moment for Athena, who stands behind both figures, to be invoked in her own persona. In answer to Odysseus’s prayer she continues herself in Nausicaa’s role by appearing as a young maiden and directing Odysseus toward Alcinous’s palace; at the same time she introduces Arete and takes on the role of mother goddess by departing to Athens and entering Erechtheus’s palace. Athena changes from the role of maiden to the role of mother goddess just when the figures representing her do. Athena is not the only Greek goddess to move back and forth between virginity and motherhood. Hera, the wife of Zeus, was said to become a virgin again each year when she bathed in the spring Kanathos in Nauplia; according to Pausanias the account of this was among “the things not to be spoken of” (tō̂n aporrḗtōn) in the initiation rites of the Argive Hera: ἐνταῦθα τὴν Ἥραν φασὶν Ἀργεῖοι κατὰ ἔτος λουμένην παρθένον γίνεσθαι. οὗτος μὲν δή σφισιν ἐκ τελετῆς, ἣν ἄγουσι τῇ Ἥρᾳ, λόγος τῶν ἀπορρήτων ἐστίν, “The Argives say that every year Hera, being bathed here, becomes a virgin. This account, from the rite which they perform for Hera, is among the apórrhēta” (Pausanias 2.38.2–3); cf. Nilsson 1906:44–45 and 47–49 for a bathing of Hera’s statue as the likely ritual to restore the goddess’s virginity in both Argos and Samos. In the argument above I have stressed the washing of clothes performed by Nausicaa and her companions, for this is what the Odyssey stresses, but Nausicaa and her companions also bathe afterwards in the river (λοεσσάμεναι, Odyssey 6.96), and this too suits the marriage context evoked by the episode: cf. the ritual bathing of marriage-age girls in the Scamander river in the Troad and their prayer to the river to take away their virginity (“Aeschines” Epistle 10.3–5); cf. also Thucydides 2.15.5 on the Athenian spring used from archaic times for ritual purposes before marriages.