K ing Nestor
The Wine Red Sea: Journeys of Odysseus
© Copyright 2014 -2020 by Peter J Ponzio

Revelations, Book VIII

Only King Alcinous noticed Odysseus' behavior. The King then announced that the Phaeacians would gather for a series of games and contests, so that their “guest can tell his friends,/when he reaches home, how far we excel the world/at boxing, wrestling, jumping, speed of foot” (VIII, 120-121). Alcinous led the spectators to the games, where the first contest was a track meet, followed by wrestling, then jumping, and finally, boxing. After the games were concluded, Laodamas, King Alcinous' son, asked Odysseus if he would participate in the games. Odysseus was quick to reply: Why do you taunt me so with such a challenge? Pains weigh on my spirit now, not your sports- I've suffered much already, struggled hard. But here I sit amid your assembly still, starved for passage home, begging your king, begging all your people. (VIII, 177- 182) Broadsea, one of the princes' friends egged Odysseus on, however, saying that Odysseus was no athlete. Odysseus, responding to the taunts, responded: Indecent talk, my friend. You, you're a reckless fool-I see that. So,the gods don’t hand out all their gifts at once, not build and brains and flowing speech to all. (VIII, 191-194) Springing up, Odysseus grabbed a discus, heavier than those used in the games, and hurled the discus far past the mark of those thrown previously. At the sight of his throw Odysseus challenged the athletes, saying: Now go match that, you young pups, and straightaway I'll hurl you another just as far, I swear, or even farther! All the rest of you, anyone with spine and spirit, step right up and try me-you've incensed me so- at boxing, wrestling, racing; nothing daunts me. (VIII, 233-238)