Nausikaa, A French Odyssey


Homer, Nausikaa, translated by Leconte de Lisle (Paris: Édition d’art, H. Piazza, 1899). Copy 306 of 400. Graphic Arts GAX 2012- in process.

The French writer Charles-Marie-René Leconte de Lisle (1818-1894) began translating Homer in 1845; his Iliad appeared in 1867, and the Odyssey and the Hymns in 1868. A few years after his death, the prose for his sixth book of The Odyssey was embedded into twenty-two full page color lithographs by Nabis-inspired Gaston de Latenay (1859-1943), along with twenty-two borders and twenty-four vignettes, initials and culs-de-lampe.


In Book Six, we find Odysseus sleeping on the island of Skheria. The King’s daughter, Nausicaa, goes to the river with her maids to wash clothes and play. They happen on the naked Odysseus and although the others run away, Nausicaa stays and speaks with him.

French: Ainsi dormait là le patient et divin Odysseus, dompté par le sommeil et par la fatigue, tandis qu’Athènè se rendait à la ville et parmi le peuple des hommes Phaiakiens qui habitaient autrefois la grande Hypériè, auprès des kyklôpes insolents qui les opprimaient, étant beaucoup plus forts qu’eux. Et Nausithoos, semblable à un dieu, les emmena de là et les établit dans l’île de Skhériè, loin des autres hommes. Et il bâtit un mur autour de la ville, éleva des demeures, construisit les temples des dieux et partagea les champs.


English: So there he lay asleep, the steadfast goodly Odysseus, fordone with toil and drowsiness. Meanwhile Athena went to the land and the city of the Phaeacians, who of old, upon a time, dwelt in spacious Hypereia; near the Cyclopes they dwelt, men exceeding proud, who harried them continually, being mightier than they. Thence the godlike Nausithous made them depart, and he carried them away, and planted them in Skheria, far off from men that live by bread. And he drew a wall around the town, and built houses and made temples for the gods and meted out the fields.