Social Security Actuarial Balance in Historical Perspective
Conversing About Race (Cowardly Invertebrates William Kristol and the New York Times Blogging)

Odysseus: Grace Under Pressure

From Underbelly:

Underbelly: "Excuse Me, Are You the Child of Circus People?": this is a good time an Underbelly golden oldy: my all-time favorite literary teaser. It's from Homer's Odyssey:, and a little scene-setting will add to the flavor:

Odysseus, the hero, is asleep exhausted in the bushes just off shore. Meanwhile Athena, his protector, has gone in a vision before Nausikaa, the princess, and said:

Yo, princess! It's getting on time for you to be married-- Don't you think you ought to catch up on the laundry?

Nausikaa thinks this is a cool idea so she loads her buddies and a bunch of dirty clothes into the wagon and sets the mules off to the waterside. After the girls have finished with their domestic chores, they are disporting themselves with a game of catch, when by mischance the ball rolls off into the bushes, awakening Odysseus.

Recall that our hero has the bad grace to be naked at the moment; but mindful of the strict sex-offender laws, he yanks off a juniper branch and deploys it for modesty. He approaches the princess and drops to his knees (gymnos per eon, we are reminded) and utters the immortal words:

At Delos once, at the shrine of Apollo,
I saw a slender young date palm that reminded me of you.

Now I ask any woman who has ever been approached by a guy in a juniper bush--is there any line in any language more calculated to reduce you to butter? Certainly not for Nausikaa. She responds:

Stranger, you seem neither hostile nor stupid...

She invites him to come home with her. But at the city's edge, she suggests he get out of the wagon and walk, so as not to create too much attention. You'll be able to find me again, she says. Just ask for the king's house. They'll know where to send you.

Fn.: Translation is my own and, okay, somewhat free. But I defy anyone to show that I have failed to capture the spirit of the greatest pickup scene ever written. For comparison, go here.