Old Man of the Sea

Most spoke of the low but omnipresent rumble of water, or its dulcet lap against a hull, but that was not how he missed the sea.  He was a lover of boats and ships and sailing and he told stories about explorers, shipwrecks and people drowning.  His friends called him the old man of the sea, but his real name was Ulysses.  He met Princess Nausicaa of the Phaeacians, after he was shipwrecked and he washed up on a beach on the island of Scheria, which is off the coast of Epirus.  He had been battling Poseidon’s storm for three days sailing through tremendous waves, which threatened to crush him, and he finally was able to steer his ship near the river’s mouth, but by that time he was exhausted and he fell overboard.  He looked very frightening to the princess and her maidens, as they were very surprised to see a wild naked man while they were washing the linen of the royal household.  He looked like, a storm-tossed wanderer, shabby, unkempt, in a tattered state from being washed ashore, as the rocks and waves had covered his whole body in seaweed.

Nausicaa saw to it that her maidens cleaned up the poor pathetic man with the water that was in the cisterns, and she ordered her attendants to give him clothing, as she thought that nobody needed to see his naked body parts flailing around everywhere.  His skin was bruised from being scrapped along the rocks, so they rubbed him with olive-oil, which made him glisten.  The clothing made him look more presentable, being in more worthy shape to Nausicaa.  She enjoyed gazing at his comely personage, and now that he was dressed, she thought he might be a king, or some type of hero.  The princess secretly wished that the gods would be pleased to give her such a husband, but she did not want to pay too much attention to him, fearing that gossip that would spread.  He thought it was nice being on dry land and being treated well by a princess, but the sea was calling him and he had a wife that he wanted to get back to.  The Phaeacians gave him a miraculous ship and when he prepared to sail away, the Princess stopped by to wish him good luck on his journey back home.  He said, “I will never fail to worship you all the rest of my days.  For it was you, lady, who gave me back my life.”

Written for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie First Line Friday hosted by Dylan.

5 thoughts on “Old Man of the Sea

  1. Jim, I love your story. I didn’t realize Nausicaa was based on a myth, as I first heard of her in an anime. This is a very pleasant story in all ways. Alas, things can never be as we wish very often. If he hadn’t been married and loved the sea more than a landfaring life, perhaps they would have stayed together.

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