Regular readers of BwP may remember a couple of Pies with Pandora discussing the Google string "Odysseus rescuer," which is a frequent BwP referrer.
I asked readers some time ago to tell me, if they could, why Google users need so urgently to know who rescued Odysseus, the great sacker of cities and homecoming veteran of the Trojan War.
In my naivete, I thought they must be looking for Nausicaa, the teenage hero who helps Odysseus after a shipwreck, and to whom later he pledges prayers, as to a god (Lombardo translation):
Nausicaa, daughter of great Alcinous,
So may Zeus, Hera's thundering lord,
Grant that I see my homeland again.
There I will pray to you, as to a god,
All of my days. I owe to you my life.
Thanks to 62 down of the New York Times crossword puzzle for September 8, 2006 (registration required to access the daily puzzle), however, I now know the real story, and it is much less mysterious than I thought.
Apparently, crossword puzzles often have the need for a clue to the letter string I-N-O, three of the most frequently used letters in the English language (Scrabble = 1 point each!).
Fortunately for crossword puzzle editors, I-N-O spells out the name of the ancient Greek sea nymph Ino, who rescues Odysseus from drowning-- just before he meets Nausicaa.
Here is the relevant passage (Lombardo translation):
And the White Goddess saw him, Cadmus' daughter
Ino, once a human girl with slim, beautiful ankles
Who had won divine honors in the saltwater gulfs.
She pitied Odysseus his wandering, his pain,
and rose from the water like a flashing gull...
Just before Odysseus goes into the drink for the last time, she gives him a cloth and tells him to tie it around his chest for protection. Odysseus, no dope, does what he is told, and lives.
Now, I know it must be a very small minority of you crossword puzzlers out there, but aren't you NOT supposed to look in a dictionary (or Google) to get your answers?
Many thanks to the NYT puzzle buffs who commented today on 62 down, and thanks to the NYT puzzle for 450+ page views today.