Summary: Book 7
Odysseus is on his way to the palace of Alcinous, the king of the Phaeacians, when he is stopped by a young girl, actually Athena in disguise. She guides him to the palace by covering him in a mist to avoid the Phaeacians, who are kind but somewhat xenophobic people, from harassing him. Athena also advises Odysseus to seek help from Arete, the wise and strong queen who will know how to get him home.
Once Odysseus reaches the palace, Athena departs from Scheria to her beloved city of Athens. Odysseus sees that the residents of Scheria are holding a festival in honor of Poseidon. He is struck by the splendor of the palace and the king Alcinous’s opulence. As soon as he sees the queen Arete, he throws himself at her feet, and the mist about him dissipates.
The king wonders if this traveler might be a god but Odysseus declares that he is indeed a mortal, though he does not reveal his real identity. Odysseus explains his predicament and the king and queen gladly promise to see him off the next day in a Phaeacian ship.
In the evening, when the king and queen are alone with Odysseus, queen Arete recognises the clothes that he is wearing as ones that she herself had made for her daughter Nausicaa. She asks Odysseus about it and Odysseus recounts the story of his journey from Calypso’s island and his encounter with Nausicaa that morning. Here he admits that Nausicaa gave him the set of clothes to wear. Odysseus claims that it was his idea to come alone to absolve the princess for not accompanying him to the palace. King Alcinous is so impressed with his visitor that he offers Odysseus his daughter’s hand in marriage.
Summary: Book 8
King Alcinous calls an assembly of his Phaeacian counselors next day. Athena, back from Athens, ensures huge attendance by spreading the word that the topic of discussion will be the godlike visitor who recently appeared on the island. During the assembly, Alcinous proposes providing a ship for his visitor so that the man can return to his homeland. His proposal is approved and Alcinous invites the counselors for a feast and games in honor of his guest. Demodocus, a blind bard, sings of the fight between Odysseus and Achilles at Troy. Everyone listens with pleasure but Odysseus weeps at the painful memories of that war. The king sees Odysseus in grief and ends the feast so that the games can begin.
At one point, Odysseus is asked to participate in the games including boxing, wrestling, racing, and throwing of the discus. Odysseus is still in trauma and he declines. Broadsea, a young athlete, insults him, which pricks Odysseus' pride into action. Odysseus easily wins the discus throw event and challenges the Phaeacian athletes to any other competition.
The situation turns ugly but Alcinous diffuses it by insisting that Odysseus join them in another feast. There, the Phaeacian youth entertain him and prove their preeminence in song and dance. Demodocus sings again, this time a light song about meeting between Ares and Aphrodite.
At the end of the feast, Alcinous and the young Phaeacian men, including Broadsea, present Odysseus gifts to take with him on his journey home. During the dinner that night, Odysseus asks Demodocus to sing of the Trojan horse and the sack of Troy. As he listens to the minstrel, he breaks down again. King Alcinous stops the music and asks Odysseus to tell him who he is, where he is from, and where he is going.