THE ODYSSEY OF HOMER

DONE INTO ENGLISH PROSE

by S. H. BUTCHER, M.A.

& A. LANG, M.A.

 

PREFACE

There would have been less controversy about the proper

method of Homeric translation, if critics bad recognised

that the question is a purely relative one, that of Homer

there can be no final translation. The taste and the

literary habits of each age demand different qualities in

poetry, and therefore a different sort of rendering of

Homer. To the men of the time of Elizabeth, Homer would

have appeared bald, it seems, and lacking in ingenuity, if

he had been presented in his antique simplicity. For the

Elizabethan age, Chapman supplied what was then necessary,

and the mannerisms that were then deemed of the essence of

poetry, namely, daring and luxurious conceits. Thus in

Chapman's verse Troy must 'shed her towers for tears of

overthrow,' and when the winds toss Odysseus about, their

sport must be called 'the horrid tennis.'

In the age of Anne, 'dignity' and 'correctness' had to be

given to Homer, and Pope gave them by aid of his dazzling

rhetoric, his antitheses, his nettete, his command of every

conventional and favourite artifice. Without Chapman's

conceits, Homer's poems would hardly have been what the

Elizabethans took for poetry; without Pope's smoothness,

and Pope's points, the Iliad and Odyssey would have seemed

rude, and harsh in the age of Anne. These great

translations must always live as English poems. As

transcripts of Homer they are like pictures drawn from a

lost point of view. Chaque siecle depuis le xvi a ue de ce

cote son belveder different. Again, when Europe woke to a

sense, an almost exaggerated and certainly uncritical

sense, of the value of her songs of the people, of all the

ballads that Herder, Scott, Lonnrot, and the rest

collected, it was commonly said that Homer was a

ballad-minstrel, that the translator must imitate the

simplicity, and even adopt the formulae of the ballad.

Hence came the renderings of Maginn, the experiments of Mr.

Gladstone, and others. There was some excuse for the error

of critics who asked for a Homer in ballad rhyme. The Epic

poet, the poet of gods and heroes, did indeed inherit some

of the formulae of the earlier Volks-lied. Homer, like the

author of The Song of Roland, like the singers of the

Kalevala, uses constantly recurring epithets, and repeats,

word for word, certain emphatic passages, messages, and so

on. That custom is essential in the ballad, it is an

accident not the essence of the epic. The epic is a poem of

complete and elaborate art, but it still bears some

birthmarks, some signs of the early popular chant, out of

which it sprung, as the garden-rose springs from the wild

stock, When this is recognised the demand for ballad-like

simplicity and 'ballad-slang' ceases to exist, and then all

Homeric translations in the ballad manner cease to

represent our conception of Homer. After the belief in the

ballad manner follows the recognition of the romantic vein

in Homer, and, as a result, came Mr. Worsley's admirable

Odyssey. This masterly translation does all that can be

done for the Odyssey in the romantic style. The smoothness

of the verse, the wonderful closeness to the original,

reproduce all of Homer, in music and in meaning, that can

be rendered in English verse. There still, however, seems

an aspect Homeric poems, and a demand in connection with

Homer to be recognised, and to be satisfied.

Sainte-Beuve says, with reference probably to M. Leconte de

Lisle's prose version of the epics, that some people treat

the epics too much as if the were sagas. Now the Homeric

epics are sagas, but then they are the sagas of the divine

heroic age of Greece, and thus are told with an art which

is not the art of the Northern poets. The epics are stories

about the adventures of men living in most respects like

the men of our own race who dwelt in Iceland, Norway,

Denmark, and Sweden. The epics are, in a way, and as far as

manners and institutions are concerned, historical

documents. Whoever regards them in this way, must wish to

read them exactly as they have reached us, without modern

ornament, with nothing added or omitted. He must recognise,

with Mr. Matthew Arnold, that what he now wants, namely,

the simple truth about the matter of the poem, can only be

given in prose, 'for in a verse translation no original

work is any longer recognisable.' It is for this reason

that we have attempted to tell once more, in simple prose,

the story of Odysseus. We have tried to transfer, not all

the truth about the poem, but the historical truth, into

English. In this process Homer must lose at least half his

charm, his bright and equable speed, the musical current of

that narrative, which, like the river of Egypt, flows from

an indiscoverable source, and mirrors the temples and the

palaces of unforgotten gods and kings. Without this music

of verse, only a half truth about Homer can be told, but

then it is that half of the truth which, at this moment, it

seems most necessary to tell. This is the half of the truth

that the translators who use verse cannot easily tell. They

MUST be adding to Homer, talking with Pope about 'tracing

the mazy lev'ret o'er the lawn,' or with Mr. Worsley about

the islands that are 'stars of the blue Aegaean,' or with

Dr. Hawtrey about 'the earth's soft arms,' when Homer says

nothing at all about the 'mazy lev'ret,' or the 'stars of

the blue Aegaean,' or the 'soft arms' of earth. It would be

impertinent indeed to blame any of these translations in

their place. They give that which the romantic reader of

poetry, or the student of the age of Anne, looks for in

verse; and without tags of this sort, a translation of

Homer in verse cannot well be made to hold together.

There can be then, it appears, no final English translation

of Homer. In each there must be, in addition to what is

Greek and eternal, the element of what is modern, personal,

and fleeting. Thus we trust that there may be room for 'the

pale and far-off shadow of a prose translation,' of which

the aim is limited and humble. A prose translation cannot

give the movement and the fire of a successful translation

in verse; it only gathers, as it were, the crumbs which

fall from the richer table, only tells the story, without

the song. Yet to a prose translation is permitted, perhaps,

that close adherence to the archaisms of the epic, which in

verse become mere oddities. The double epithets, the

recurring epithets of Homer, if rendered into verse, delay

and puzzle the reader, as the Greek does not delay or

puzzle him. In prose he may endure them, or even care to

study them as the survivals of a stage of taste, which is

to be found in its prime in the sagas. These double and

recurring epithets of Homer are a softer form of the quaint

Northern periphrases, which make the sea the 'swan's bath,'

gold, the 'dragon's hoard,' men, the 'ring-givers,' and so

on. We do not know whether it is necessary to defend our

choice of a somewhat antiquated prose. Homer has no ideas

which cannot be expressed in words that are 'old and

plain,' and to words that are old and plain, and, as a

rule, to such terms as, being used by the Translators of

the Bible, are still not unfamiliar, we have tried to

restrict ourselves. It may be objected, that the employment

of language which does not come spontaneously to the lips,

is an affectation out of place in a version of the Odyssey.

To this we may answer that the Greek Epic dialect, like the

English of our Bible, was a thing of slow growth and

composite nature, that it was never a spoken language, nor,

except for certain poetical purposes, a written language.

Thus the Biblical English seems as nearly analogous to the

Epic Greek, as anything that our tongue has to offer.

The few foot-notes in this book are chiefly intended to

make clear some passages where there is a choice of

reading. The notes at the end, which we would like to have

written in the form of essays, and in company with more

complete philological and archaeological studies, are

chiefly meant to elucidate the life of Homer's men. We have

received much help from many friends, and especially from

Mr. R. W. Raper, Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford and Mr.

Gerald Balfour, Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, who

has aided us with many suggestions while the book was

passing through the press.

In the interpretation of B. i.411, ii.191, v.90, and 471,

we have departed from the received view, and followed Mr.

Raper, who, however, has not been able to read through the

proof-sheets further than Book xii.

We have adopted La Roche's text (Homeri Odyssea, J. La

Roche, Leipzig, 1867), except in a few cases where we

mention our reading in a foot-note.

The Arguments prefixed to the Books are taken, with very

slight alterations, from Hobbes' Translation of the

Odyssey.

It is hoped that the Introduction added to the second

edition may illustrate the growth of those national legends

on which Homer worked, and may elucidate the plot of the

Odyssey.

 

INTRODUCTION

COMPOSITION AND
PLOT OF THE ODYSSEY

The Odyssey is generally supposed to be somewhat the later

in date of the two most ancient Greek poems which are

concerned with the events and consequences of the Trojan

war. As to the actual history of that war, it may be said

that nothing is known. We may conjecture that some contest

between peoples of more or less kindred stocks, who

occupied the isles and the eastern and western shores of

the Aegean, left a strong impression on the popular fancy.

Round the memories of this contest would gather many older

legends, myths, and stories, not peculiarly Greek or even

'Aryan,' which previously floated unattached, or were

connected with heroes whose fame was swallowed up by that

of a newer generation. It would be the work of minstrels,

priests, and poets, as the national spirit grew conscious

of itself, to shape all these materials into a definite

body of tradition. This is the rule of development--first

scattered stories, then the union of these into a NATIONAL

legend. The growth of later national legends, which we are

able to trace, historically, has generally come about in

this fashion. To take the best known example, we are able

to compare the real history of Charlemagne with the old

epic poems on his life and exploits. In these poems we find

that facts are strangely exaggerated, and distorted; that

purely fanciful additions are made to the true records,

that the more striking events of earlier history are

crowded into the legend of Charles, that mere fairy tales,

current among African as well as European peoples, are

transmuted into false history, and that the anonymous

characters of fairy tales are converted into historical

personages. We can also watch the process by which feigned

genealogies were constructed, which connected the princely

houses of France with the imaginary heroes of the epics.

The conclusion is that the poetical history of Charlemagne

has only the faintest relations to the true history. And we

are justified in supposing that, quite as little of the

real history of events can be extracted from the tale of

Troy, as from the Chansons de Geste.

By the time the Odyssey was composed, it is certain that a

poet had before him a well-arranged mass of legends and

traditions from which he might select his materials. The

author of the Iliad has an extremely full and curiously

consistent knowledge of the local traditions of Greece, the

memories which were cherished by Thebans, Pylians, people

of Mycenae, of Argos, and so on. The Iliad and the Odyssey

assume this knowledge in the hearers of the poems, and take

for granted some acquaintance with other legends, as with

the story of the Argonautic Expedition. Now that story

itself is a tissue of popular tales,--still current in many

distant lands,--but all woven by the Greek genius into the

history of Iason.

The history of the return of Odysseus as told in the

Odyssey, is in the same way, a tissue of old marchen.

These must have existed for an unknown length of time

before they gravitated into the cycle of the tale of Troy.

The extraordinary artistic skill with which legends and

myths, originally unconnected with each other, are woven

into the plot of the Odyssey, so that the marvels of savage

and barbaric fancy become indispensable parts of an

artistic whole, is one of the chief proofs of the unity of

authorship of that poem. We now go on to sketch the plot,

which is a marvel of construction.

Odysseus was the King of Ithaca, a small and rugged island

on the western coast of Greece. When he was but lately

married to Penelope, and while his only son Telemachus was

still an infant, the Trojan war began. It is scarcely

necessary to say that the object of this war, as conceived

of by the poets, was to win back Helen, the wife of

Menelaus, from Paris, the son of Priam, King of Troy. As

Menelaus was the brother of Agamemnon, the Emperor, so to

speak, or recognised chief of the petty kingdoms of

'Greece, the whole force of these kingdoms was at his

disposal. No prince came to the leaguer of Troy from a home

more remote than that of Odysseus. When Troy was taken, in

the tenth year of the war, his homeward voyage was the

longest and most perilous.

The action of the Odyssey occupies but the last six weeks

of the ten years during which Odysseus was wandering. Two

nights in these six weeks are taken up, however, by his own

narrative of his adventures (to the Phaeacians, p. xx) in

the previous ten years. With this explanatory narrative we

must begin, before coming to the regular action of the

poem.

After the fall of Troy, Odysseus touched at Ismarus, the

city of a Thracian people, whom he attacked and plundered,

but by whom he was at last repulsed. The north wind then

carried his ships to Malea, the extreme southern point of

Greece. Had he doubled Malea safely, he would probably have

reached Ithaca in a few days, would have found Penelope

unvexed by wooers, and Telemachus a boy of ten years old.

But this was not to be.

The 'ruinous winds' drove Odysseus and his ships for ten

days, and on the tenth they touched the land of the Lotus-

Eaters, whose flowery food causes sweet forgetfulness.

Lotus-land was possibly in Western Libya, but it is more

probable that ten days' voyage from the southern point of

Greece, brought Odysseus into an unexplored region of

fairy-land. Egypt, of which Homer had some knowledge, was

but five days' sail from Crete.

Lotus-land, therefore, being ten days' sail from Malea, was

well over the limit of the discovered world. From this

country Odysseus went on till he reached the land of the

lawless Cyclopes, a pastoral people of giants. Later Greece

feigned that the Cyclopes dwelt near Mount Etna, in Sicily.

Homer leaves their place of abode in the vague. Among the

Cyclopes, Odysseus had the adventure on which his whole

fortunes hinged. He destroyed the eye of the cannibal

giant, Polyphemus, a son of Poseidon, the God of the Sea.

To avenge this act, Poseidon drove Odysseus wandering for

ten long years, and only suffered him to land in Ithaca,

'alone, in evil case, to find troubles in his house.' This

is a very remarkable point in the plot. The story of the

crafty adventurer and the blinding of the giant, with the

punning device by which the hero escaped, exists in the

shape of a detached marchen or fairy-tale among races who

never heard of Homer. And when we find the story among

Oghuzians, Esthonians, Basques, and Celts, it seems natural

to suppose that these people did not break a fragment out

of the Odyssey, but that the author of the Odyssey took

possession of a legend out of the great traditional store

of fiction. From the wide distribution of the tale, there

is reason to suppose that it is older than Homer, and that

it was not originally told of Odysseus, but was attached to

his legend, as floating jests of unknown authorship are

attributed to eminent wits. It has been remarked with truth

that in this episode Odysseus acts out of character, that

he is foolhardy as well as cunning. Yet the author of the

Odyssey, so far from merely dove-tailing this story at

random into his narrative, has made his whole plot turn on

the injury to the Cyclops. Had he not foolishly exposed

himself and his companions, by his visit to the Cyclops,

Odysseus would never have been driven wandering for ten

weary years. The prayers of the blinded Cyclops were heard

and fulfilled by Poseidon.

From the land of the Cyclops, Odysseus and his company

sailed to the Isle of Aeolus, the king of the winds. This

place too is undefined; we only learn that, even with the

most favourable gale, it was ten days' sail from Ithaca. In

the Isle of Aeolus Odysseus abode for a month, and then

received from the king a bag in which all the winds were

bound, except that which was to waft the hero to his home.

This sort of bag was probably not unfamiliar to

superstitious Greek sailors who had dealings with witches,

like the modern wise women of the Lapps. The companions of

the hero opened the bag when Ithaca was in sight, the winds

rushed out, the ships were borne back to the Aeolian Isle,

and thence the hero was roughly dismissed by Aeolus. Seven

days' sail brought him to Lamos, a city of the cannibal

Laestrygonians. Their country, too, is in No-man's-land,

and nothing can be inferred from the fact that their

fountain was called Artacia, and that there was an Artacia

in Cyzicus. In Lamos a very important adventure befel

Odysseus. The cannibals destroyed all his fleet, save one

ship, with which he made his escape to the Isle of Circe.

Here the enchantress turned part of the crew into swine,

but Odysseus, by aid of the god Hermes, redeemed them, and

became the lover of Circe. This adventure, like the story

of the Cyclops, is a fairy tale of great antiquity. Dr.

Gerland, in his Alt Griechische Marchen in der Odyssee, his

shown that the story makes part of the collection of

Somadeva, a store of Indian tales, of which 1200 A.D. is

the approximate date. Circe appears as a Yackshini, and is

conquered when an adventurer seizes her flute whose magic

music turns men into beasts. The Indian Circe had the habit

of eating the animals into which she transformed men.

We must suppose that the affairs with the Cicones, the

Lotus-eaters, the Cyclops, Aeolus, and the Laestrygonians,

occupied most of the first year after the fall of Troy. A

year was then spent in the Isle of Circe, after which the

sailors were eager to make for home. Circe commanded them

to go down to Hades, to learn the homeward way from the

ghost of the Theban prophet Teiresias. The descent into

hell, for some similar purpose, is common in the epics of

other races, such as the Finns, and the South-Sea

Islanders. The narrative of Odysseus's visit to the dead

(book xi) is one of the most moving passages in the whole

poem.

From Teiresias Odysseus learned that, if he would bring his

companions home, he must avoid injuring the sacred cattle

of the Sun, which pastured in the Isle of Thrinacia. If

these were harmed, he would arrive in Ithaca alone, or in

the words of the Cyclops's prayer, I in evil plight, with

loss of all his company, on board the ship of strangers, to

find sorrow in his house.' On returning to the Isle Aeaean,

Odysseus was warned by Circe of the dangers he would

encounter. He and his friends set forth, escaped the Sirens

(a sort of mermaidens), evaded the Clashing Rocks, which

close on ships (a fable known to the Aztecs), passed Scylla

(the pieuvre of antiquity) with loss of some of the

company, and reached Thrinacia, the Isle of the Sun. Here

the company of Odysseus, constrained by hunger, devoured

the sacred kine of the Sun, for which offence they were

punished by a shipwreck, when all were lost save Odysseus.

He floated ten days on a raft, and then reached the isle of

the goddess Calypso, who kept him as her lover for eight

years.

The first two years after the fall of Troy are now

accounted for. They were occupied, as we have seen, by

adventures with the Cicones, the Lotus-eaters, the Cyclops,

Aeolus, the Laestrygonians, by a year's residence with

Circe, by the descent into Hades, the encounters with the

Sirens, and Scylla, and the fatal sojourn in the isle of

Thrinacia. We leave Odysseus alone, for eight years,

consuming his own heart, in the island paradise of Calypso.

In Ithaca, the hero's home, things seem to have passed

smoothly till about the sixth year after the fall of Troy.

Then the men of the younger generation, the island chiefs,

began to woo Penelope, and to vex her son Telemachus.

Laertes, the father of Odysseus, was too old to help, and

Penelope only gained time by her famous device of weaving

and unweaving the web. The wooers began to put compulsion

on the Queen, quartering themselves upon her, devouring her

substance, and insulting her by their relations with her

handmaids. Thus Penelope pined at home, amidst her wasting

possessions. Telemachus fretted in vain, and Odysseus was

devoured by grief and home-sickness in the isle of Calypso.

When he had lain there for nigh eight years, the action of

the Odyssey begins, and occupies about six weeks.

 

DAY 1 (Book i)

The ordained time has now arrived, when by the counsels of

the Gods, Odysseus is to be brought home to free his house,

to avenge himself on the wooers, and recover his kingdom.

The chief agent in his restoration is Pallas Athene; the

first book opens with her prayer to Zeus that Odysseus may

be delivered. For this purpose Hermes is to be sent to

Calypso to bid her release Odysseus, while Pallas Athene in

the shape of Mentor, a friend of Odysseus, visits

Telemachus in Ithaca. She bids him call an assembly of the

people, dismiss the wooers to their homes, and his mother

to her father's house, and go in quest of his own father,

in Pylos, the city of Nestor, and Sparta, the home of

Menelaus. Telemachus recognises the Goddess, and the first

day closes.

DAY 2 (Book ii)

Telemachus assembles the people, but he has not the heart

to carry out Athene's advice. He cannot send the wooers

away, nor turn his mother out of her house. He rather

weakly appeals to the wooers' consciences, and announces

his intention of going to seek his father. They answer with

scorn, but are warned of their fate, which is even at the

doors, by Halitherses. His prophecy (first made when

Odysseus set out for Troy) tallies with the prophecy of

Teiresias, and the prayer of the Cyclops. The reader will

observe a series of portents, prophecies, and omens, which

grow more numerous and admonishing as their doom draws

nearer to the wooers. Their hearts, however, are hardened,

and they mock at Telemachus, who, after an interview with

Athene, borrows a ship and secretly sets out for Pylos.

Athene accompanies him, and his friends man his galley.

DAY 3 (Book iii)

They reach Pylos, and are kindly received by the aged

Nestor, who has no news about Odysseus. After sacrifice,

Athene disappears.

DAY 4 (Book iii)

The fourth day is occupied with sacrifice, and the talk of

Nestor. In the evening Telemachus (leaving his ship and

friends at Pylos) drives his chariot into Pherae, half way

to Sparta; Peisistratus, the soil of Nestor, accompanies

him.

DAY 5 (Book iv)

Telemachus and Peisistratus arrive at Sparta, where

Menelaus and Helen receive them kindly.

DAY 6 (Book iv)

Menelaus tells how he himself came home in the eighth year

after the fall of Troy. He had heard from Proteus, the Old

Man of the Sea, that Odysseus was alive, and a captive on

an island of the deep. Menelaus invites Telemachus to Stay

with him for eleven days or twelve, which Telemachus

declines to do. it will later appear that he made an even

longer stay at Sparta, though whether he changed his mind,

or whether we have here an inadvertence of the poet's it is

hard to determine. This blemish has been used as an

argument against the unity of authorship, but writers of

all ages have made graver mistakes.

On this same day (the sixth) the wooers in Ithaca learned

that Telemachus had really set out to I cruise after his

father.' They sent some of their number to lie in ambush

for him, in a certain strait which he was likely to pass on

his return to Ithaca. Penelope also heard of her son's

departure, but was consoled by a dream.

DAY 7 (Book v)

The seventh day finds us again in Olympus. Athene again

urges the release of Odysseus; and Hermes is sent to bid

Calypso let the hero go. Zeus prophecies that after twenty

days sailing, Odysseus will reach Scheria, and the

hospitable Phaeacians, a people akin to the Gods, who will

convey him to Ithaca. Hermes accomplishes the message to

Calypso.

DAYS 8-12-32 (Book v)

These days are occupied by Odysseus in making and launching

a raft; on the twelfth day from the beginning of the action

he leaves Calypso's isle. He sails for eighteen days, and

on the eighteenth day of his voyage (the twenty- ninth from

the beginning of the action), he sees Scheria. Poseidon

raises a storm against him, and it is not till the

thirty-second day from that in which Athene visited

Telemachus, that he lands in Scheria, the country of the

Phaeacians. Here be is again in fairy land. A rough, but

perfectly recognisable form of the Phaeacian myth, is found

in an Indian collection of marchen (already referred to) of

the twelfth century A.D. Here the Phaeacians are the

Vidyidhiris, and their old enemies the Cyclopes, are the

Rakshashas, a sort of giants. The Indian Odysseus, who

seeks the city of gold, passes by the home of an Indian

Aeolus, Satyavrata. His later adventures are confused, and

the Greek version retains only the more graceful fancies of

the marchen.

DAY 33 (Book vi)

Odysseus meets Nausicaa, daughter of Alcinous, the

Phaeacian King, and by her aid, and that of Athene, is

favourably received at the palace, and tells how he came

from Calypso's island. His name is still unknown to his

hosts.

DAY 34 (Books vii, viii, ix, x, xi, xii)

The Phaeacians and Odysseus display their skill in sports.

Nausicaa bids Odysseus farewell. Odysseus recounts to

Alcinous, and Arete, the Queen, those adventures in the two

years between the fall of Troy and his captivity in the

island of Calypso, which we have already described (pp.

xiii-xvii).

DAY 35 (Book xiii)

Odysseus is conveyed to Ithaca, in the evening, on one of

the magical barques of the Phaeacians.

DAY 36 (Books xiii, xiv, xv).

He wakens in Ithaca, which be does not at first recognise

He learns from Athene, for the first time, that the wooers

beset his house. She disguises him as an old man, and bids

him go to the hut of the swineherd Eumaeus, who is loyal to

his absent lord. Athene then goes to Lacedaemon, to bring

back Telemachus, who bas now resided there for a month.

Odysseus won the heart of Eumaeus, who of course did not

recognise him, and slept in the swineherd's hut, while

Athene was waking Telemachus, in Lacedaemon, and bidding

him 'be mindful of his return.'

DAY 37 (Book xv)

Is spent by Odysseus in the swineherd's hut. Telemachus

reaches Pherae, half-way to Pylos.

 

DAY 38 (Book xv)

Telemachus reaches Pylos, but does not visit Nestor. To

save time he goes at once on board ship, taking with him an

unfortunate outlaw, Theoclymenus, a second-sighted man, or

the family of Melampus, in which the gift of prophecy was

hereditary. The ship passed the Elian coast at night, and

evaded the ambush of the wooers. Meanwhile Odysseus was

sitting up almost till dawn, listening to the history of

Eumaeus, the swineherd.

DAY 39 (Books xv, xvi).

Telemachus reaches the Isle of Ithaca, sends his ship to

the city, but himself, by advice of Athene, makes for the

hut of Eumaeus, where he meets, but naturally does not

recognise, his disguised father. He sends Eumaeus to

Penelope with news of his arrival, and then Athene reveals

Odysseus to Telemachus. The two plot the death of the

wooers. Odysseus bids Telemachus remove, on a favourable

opportunity, the arms which were disposed as trophies on

the walls of the hall at home. (There is a slight

discrepancy between the words of this advice and the manner

in which it is afterwards executed.) During this interview,

the ship of Telemachus, the wooers who had been in ambush,

and Eumaeus, all reached the town of Ithaca. In the evening

Eumaeus returned to his hut, where Athene had again

disguised Odysseus.

DAY 40 (Books xvii, xviii, xix, xx)

The story is now hastening to its close, and many events

are crowded into the fortieth day. Telemachus goes from the

swineherd's hut to the city, and calls his guest,

Theoclymenus, to the palace. The second-sighted man

prophesies of the near revenge of Odysseus. In the

afternoon, Odysseus (still disguised) and Eumaeus reach the

city, the dog Argos recognises the hero, and dies. Odysseus

goes begging through his own hall, and is struck by

Antinous, the proudest of the wooers. Late in the day

Eumaeus goes home, and Odysseus fights with the braggart

beggar Irus. Still later, Penelope appears among the

wooers, and receives presents from them. When the wooers

have withdrawn, Odysseus and Telemachus remove the weapons

from the hall to the armoury. Afterwards Odysseus has an

interview with Penelope (who does not recognise him), but

he is recognised by his old nurse Eurycleia. Penelope

mentions her purpose to wed the man who on the following

day, the feast of the Archer-god Apollo, shall draw the bow

of Odysseus, and send an arrow through the holes in twelve

axe-blades, set up in a row. Thus the poet shows that

Odysseus has arrived in Ithaca not a day too soon. Odysseus

is comforted by a vision of Athene, and

DAY 41 (Books xx, xxi, xxii, xxiii)

by the ominous prayer uttered by a weary woman grinding at

the mill. The swineherd and the disloyal Melanthius arrive

at the palace. The wooers defer the plot to kill

Telemachus, as the day is holy to Apollo. Odysseus is led

up from his seat near the door to a place beside Telemachus

at the chief 's table. The wooers mock Telemachus, and the

second- sighted Theoclymenus sees the ominous shroud of

death covering their bodies, and the walls dripping with

blood. He leaves the doomed company. In the trial of the

bow, none of the wooers can draw it; meanwhile Odysseus has

declared himself to the neatherd and the swineherd. The

former bars and fastens the outer gates of the court, the

latter bids Eurycleia bar the doors of the womens' chambers

which lead out of the hall. Odysseus now gets the bow into

his hands, strings it, sends the arrow through the

axe-blades, and then leaping on the threshold of stone,

deals his shafts among the wooers. Telemachus, the

neatherd, and Eumaeus, aiding him, he slaughters all the

crew, despite the treachery of Melanthius. The paramours of

the wooers are hanged, and Odysseus, after some delay, is

recognised by Penelope.

DAY 42 (Books xxiii, xxiv)

This day is occupied with the recognition of Odysseus by

his aged father Laertes, and with the futile attempt of the

kinsfolk of the wooers to avenge them on Odysseus. Athene

reconciles the feud, and the toils of Odysseus are

accomplished.

The reader has now before him a chronologically arranged

sketch of the action of the Odyssey. It is, perhaps,

apparent, even from this bare outline, that the composition

is elaborate and artistic, that the threads of the plot are

skilfully separated and combined. The germ of the whole

epic is probably the popular tale, known all over the

world, of the warrior who, on his return from a long

expedition, has great difficulty in making his prudent wife

recognise him. The incident occurs as a detached story in

China, and in most European countries it is told of a

crusader. 'We may suppose it to be older than the legend of

Troy, and to have gravitated into the cycle of that legend.

The years of the hero's absence are then filled up with

adventures (the Cyclops, Circe, the Phaeacians, the Sirens,

the descent into hell) which exist as scattered tales, or

are woven into the more elaborate epics of Gaels, Aztecs,

Hindoos, Tartars, South-Sea Islanders, Finns, Russians,

Scandinavians, and Eskimo. The whole is surrounded with the

atmosphere of the kingly age of Greece, and the result is

the Odyssey, with that unity of plot and variety of

character which must have been given by one masterly

constructive genius. The date at which the poet of the

Odyssey lived may be approximately determined by his

consistent descriptions of a peculiar and definite

condition of society, which had ceased to exist in the

ninth century B.C., and of a stage of art in which

Phoenician and Assyrian influences predominated. (Die Kunst

bei Homer. Brunn.) As to the mode of composition, it would

not be difficult to show that at least the a priori Wolfian

arguments against the early use of writing for literary

purposes have no longer the cogency which they were once

thought to possess. But this is matter for a separate

investigation.

 

 

 

 

The Odyssey

Book I

In a Council of the Gods, Poseidon absent, Pallas procureth

an order for the restitution of Odysseus; and appearing to

his son Telemachus, in human shape, adviseth him to

complain of the Wooers before the Council of the people,

and then go to Pylos and Sparta to inquire about his

father.

Tell me, Muse, of that man, so ready at need, who wandered

far and wide, after he had sacked the sacred citadel of

Troy, and many were the men whose towns he saw and whose

mind he learnt, yea, and many the woes he suffered in his

heart upon the deep, striving to win his own life and the

return of his company. Nay, but even so he saved not his

company, though he desired it sore. For through the

blindness of their own hearts they perished, fools, who

devoured the oxen of Helios Hyperion: but the god took from

them their day of returning. Of these things, goddess,

daughter of Zeus, whencesoever thou hast heard thereof,

declare thou even unto us.

Now all the rest, as many as fled from sheer destruction,

were at home, and had escaped both war and sea, but

Odysseus only, craving for his wife and for his homeward

path, the lady nymph Calypso held, that fair goddess, in

her hollow caves, longing to have him for her lord. But

when now the year had come in the courses of the seasons,

wherein the gods had ordained that he should return home to

Ithaca, not even there was he quit of labours, not even

among his own; but all the gods had pity on him save

Poseidon, who raged continually against godlike Odysseus,

till be came to his own country. Howbeit Poseidon had now

departed for the distant Ethiopians, the Ethiopians that

are sundered in twain, the uttermost of men, abiding some

where Hyperion sinks and some where he rises. There he

looked to receive his hecatomb of bulls and rams, there he

made merry sitting at the feast, but the other gods were

gathered in the halls of Olympian Zeus. Then among them the

father of gods and men began to speak, for he bethought him

in his heart of noble Aegisthus, whom the son of Agamemnon,

far-famed Orestes, slew. Thinking upon him he spake out

among the Immortals:

'Lo you now, how vainly mortal men do blame the gods! For

of us they say comes evil, whereas they even of themselves,

through the blindness of their own hearts, have sorrows

beyond that which is ordained. Even as of late Aegisthus,

beyond that which was ordained, took to him the wedded wife

of the son of Atreus, and killed her lord on his return,

and that with sheer doom before his eyes, since we had

warned him by the embassy of Hermes the keen-sighted, the

slayer of Argos, that he should neither kill the man, nor

woo his wife. For the son of Atreus shall be avenged at the

hand of Orestes, so soon as he shall come to man's estate

and long for his own country. So spake Hermes, yet he

prevailed not on the heart of Aegisthus, for all his good

will; but now hath he paid one price for all.'

And the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, answered him, saying: 'O

father, our father Cronides, throned in the highest; that

man assuredly lies in a death that is his due; so perish

likewise all who work such deeds! But my heart is rent for

wise Odysseus, that hapless one, who far from his friends

this long while suffereth affliction in a seagirt isle,

where is the navel of the sea, a woodland isle, and therein

a goddess hath her habitation, the daughter of the wizard

Atlas, who knows the depths of every sea, and himself

upholds the tall pillars which keep earth and sky asunder.

His daughter it is that holds the hapless man in sorrow:

and ever with soft and guileful tales she is wooing him to

forgetfulness of Ithaca. But Odysseus yearning to see if it

were but the smoke leap upwards from his own land, hath a

desire to die. As for thee, thine heart regardeth it not at

all, Olympian! What! did not Odysseus by the ships of the

Argives make thee free offering of sacrifice in the wide

Trojan land? Wherefore wast thou then so wroth with him, O

Zeus?'

And Zeus the cloud-gatherer answered her, and said, 'My

child, what word hath escaped the door of thy lips? Yea,

how should I forget divine Odysseus, who in understanding

is beyond mortals and beyond all men hath done sacrifice to

the deathless gods, who keep the wide heaven? Nay, but it

is Poseidon, the girdler of the earth, that hath been wroth

continually with quenchless anger for the Cyclops' sake

whom he blinded of his eye, even godlike Polyphemus whose

power is mightiest amongst all the Cyclopes. His mother was

the nymph Thoosa, daughter of Phorcys, lord of the

unharvested sea, and in the hollow caves she lay with

Poseidon. From that day forth Poseidon the earth-shaker

doth not indeed slay Odysseus, but driveth him wandering

from his own country. But come, let us here one and all

take good counsel as touching his returning, that he may be

got home; so shall Poseidon let go his displeasure, for he

will in no wise be able to strive alone against all, in

despite of all the deathless gods.'

Then the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, answered him, and said:

'O father, our father Cronides, throned in the highest, if

indeed this thing is now well pleasing to the blessed gods,

that wise Odysseus should return to his own home, let us

then speed Hermes the Messenger, the slayer of Argos, to

the island of Ogygia. There with all speed let him declare

to the lady of the braided tresses our unerring counsel,

even the return of the patient Odysseus, that so he may

come to his home. But as for me I will go to Ithaca that I

may rouse his son yet the more, planting might in his

heart, to call an assembly of the long-haired Achaeans and

speak out to all the wooers who slaughter continually the

sheep of his thronging flocks, and his kine with trailing

feet and shambling gait. And I will guide him to Sparta and

to sandy Pylos to seek tidings of his dear father's return,

if peradventure he may hear thereof and that so he may be

had in good report among men.'

She spake and bound beneath her feet her lovely golden

sandals that wax not old, and bare her alike over the wet

sea and over the limitless land, swift as the breath of the

wind. And she seized her doughty spear, shod with sharp

bronze, weighty and huge and strong, wherewith she quells

the ranks of heroes with whomsoever she is wroth, the

daughter of the mighty sire. Then from the heights of

Olympus she came glancing down, and she stood in the land

of Ithaca, at the entry of the gate of Odysseus, on the

threshold of the courtyard, holding in her hand the spear

of bronze, in the semblance of a stranger, Mentes the

captain of the Taphians. And there she found the lordly

wooers: now they were taking their pleasure at draughts in

front of the doors, sitting on hides of oxen, which

themselves had slain. And of the henchmen and the ready

squires, some were mixing for them wine and water in bowls,

and some again were washing the tables with porous sponges

and were setting them forth, and others were carving flesh

in plenty.

And godlike Telemachus was far the first to descry her, for

he was sitting with a heavy heart among the wooers dreaming

on his good father, if haply he might come somewhence, and

make a scattering of the wooers there throughout the

palace, and himself get honour and bear rule among his own

possessions. Thinking thereupon, as he sat among wooers, he

saw Athene--and he went straight to the outer porch, for he

thought it blame in his heart that a stranger should stand

long at the gates: and halting nigh her he clasped her

right hand and took from her the spear of bronze, and

uttered his voice and spake unto her winged words:

'Hail, stranger, with us thou shalt be kindly entreated,

and thereafter, when thou hast tasted meat, thou shalt tell

us that whereof thou hast need.'

Therewith he led the way, and Pallas Athene followed. And

when they were now within the lofty house, he set her spear

that he bore against a tall pillar, within the polished

spear-stand, where stood many spears besides, even those of

Odysseus of the hardy heart; and he led the goddess and

seated her on a goodly carven chair, and spread a linen

cloth thereunder, and beneath was a footstool for the feet.

For himself he placed an inlaid seat hard by, apart from

the company of the wooers, lest the stranger should be

disquieted by the noise and should have a loathing for the

meal, being come among overweening men, and also that he

might ask him about his father that was gone from his home.

Then a handmaid bare water for the washing of hands in a

goodly golden ewer, and poured it forth over a silver basin

to wash withal, and drew to their side a polished table.

And a grave dame bare wheaten bread and set it by them, and

laid on the board many dainties, giving freely of such

things as she had by her. And a carver lifted and placed by

them platters of divers kinds of flesh, and nigh them he

set golden bowls, and a henchman walked to and fro pouring

out to them the wine.

Then in came the lordly wooers; and they sat them down in

rows on chairs, and on high seats, and henchmen poured

water on their hands, and maidservants piled wheaten bread

by them in baskets, and pages crowned the bowls with drink;

and they stretched forth their hands upon the good cheer

spread before them. Now when the wooers had put from them

the desire of meat and drink, they minded them of other

things, even of the song and dance: for these are the crown

of the feast. And a henchman placed a beauteous lyre in the

hands of Phemius, who was minstrel to the wooers despite

his will. Yea and as he touched the lyre he lifted up his

voice in sweet songs.{*}

{* Or, according to the ordinary interpretation of [Greek]:

So he touched the chords in prelude to his sweet singing.}

But Telemachus spake unto grey-eyed Athene, holding his

head close to her that those others might not hear: 'Dear

stranger, wilt thou of a truth be wroth at the word that I

shall say? Yonder men verily care for such things as these,

the lyre and song, lightly, as they that devour the

livelihood of another without atonement, of that man whose

white bones, it may be, lie wasting in the rain upon the

mainland, or the billow rolls them in the brine. Were but

these men to see him returned to Ithaca, they all would

pray rather for greater speed of foot than for gain of gold

and raiment. But now he hath perished, even so, an evil

doom, and for us is no comfort, no, not though any of

earthly men should say that he will come again. Gone is the

day of his returning! But come declare me this, and tell me

all plainly: Who art thou of the sons of men, and whence?

Where is thy city, where are they that begat thee? Say, on

what manner of ship didst thou come, and how did sailors

bring thee to Ithaca, and who did they avow themselves to

be, for in nowise do I deem that thou camest hither by

land. And herein tell me true, that I may know for a

surety whether thou art a newcomer, or whether thou art a

guest of the house, seeing that many were the strangers

that came to our home, for that HE too had voyaged much

among men.'

Then the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, answered him: 'Yea now,

I will plainly tell thee all. I avow me to be Mentes, son

of wise Anchialus, and I bear rule among the Taphians,

lovers of the oar. And now am I come to shore, as thou

seest, with ship and crew, sailing over the wine-dark sea,

unto men of strange speech, even to Temesa, {*} in quest of

copper, and my cargo is shining iron. And there my ship is

lying toward the upland, away from the city, in the harbour

of Rheithron beneath wooded Neion: and we declare ourselves

to be friends one of the other, and of houses friendly,

from of old. Nay, if thou wouldest be assured, go ask the

old man, the hero Laertes, who they say no more comes to

the city, but far away toward the upland suffers

affliction, with an ancient woman for his handmaid, who

sets by him meat and drink, whensoever weariness takes hold

of his limbs, as he creeps along the knoll of his vineyard

plot. And now am I come; for verily they said that HE, thy

father, was among his people; but lo, the gods withhold him

from his way. For goodly Odysseus hath not yet perished on

the earth; but still, methinks, he lives and is kept on the

wide deep in a seagirt isle, and hard men constrain him,

wild folk that hold him, it may be, sore against his will.

But now of a truth will I utter my word of prophecy, as the

Immortals bring it into my heart and as I deem it will be

accomplished, though no soothsayer am I, nor skilled in the

signs of birds. Henceforth indeed for no long while shall

he be far from his own dear country, not though bonds of

iron bind him; he will advise him of a way to return, for

he is a man of many devices. But come, declare me this, and

tell me all plainly, whether indeed, so tall as thou art,

thou art sprung from the loins of Odysseus. Thy head surely

and they beauteous eyes are wondrous like to his, since

full many a time have we held converse together ere he

embarked for Troy, whither the others, aye the bravest of

the Argives, went in hollow ships. From that day forth

neither have I seen Odysseus, nor he me.'

{* Tamasia, in the mountainous centre of Cyprus.}

Then wise Telemachus answered her, and said: 'Yea, sir, now

will I plainly tell thee all. My mother verily saith that I

am his; for myself I know not, for never man yet knew of

himself his own descent. O that I had been the son of some

blessed man, whom old age overtook among his own

possessions! But now of him that is the most hapless of

mortal men, his son they say that I am, since thou dost

question me hereof.'

Then the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, spake unto him, and

said: 'Surely no nameless lineage have the gods ordained

for thee in days to come, since Penelope bore thee so

goodly a man. But come, declare me this, and tell it all

plainly. What feast, nay, what rout is this? What hast thou

to do therewith? Is it a clan drinking, or a wedding feast,

for here we have no banquet where each man brings his

share? In such wise, flown with insolence, do they seem to

me to revel wantonly through the house: and well might any

man be wroth to see so many deeds of shame, whatso wise man

came among them.'

Then wise Telemachus answered her, and said: 'Sir,

forasmuch as thou questionest me of these things and

inquirest thereof, our house was once like to have been

rich and honourable, while yet that man was among his

people. But now the gods willed it otherwise, in evil

purpose, who have made him pass utterly out of sight as no

man ever before. Truly I would not even for his death make

so great sorrow, had he fallen among his fellows in the

land of the Trojans, or in the arms of his friends when he

had wound up the clew of war. Then would the whole Achaean

host have builded him a barrow, and even for his son would

he have won great glory in the after days. But now the

spirits of the storm have swept him away inglorious. He is

gone, lost to sight and hearsay, but for me hath he left

anguish and lamentation; nor henceforth is it for him alone

that I mourn and weep, since the gods have wrought for me

other sore distress. For all the noblest that are princes

in the isles, in Dulichium and Same and wooded Zacynthus,

and as many as lord it in rocky Ithaca, all these woo my

mother and waste my house. But as for her she neither

refuseth the hated bridal, nor hath the heart to make an

end: so they devour and minish my house, and ere long will

they make havoc likewise of myself.'

Then in heavy displeasure spake unto him Pallas Athene:

'God help thee! thou art surely sore in need of Odysseus

that is afar, to stretch forth his hands upon the shameless

wooers. If he could but come now and stand at the entering

in of the gate, with helmet and shield and lances twain, as

mighty a man as when first I marked him in our house

drinking and making merry what time he came up out of

Ephyra from Ilus son of Mermerus! For even thither had

Odysseus gone on his swift ship to seek a deadly drug, that

he might have wherewithal to smear his bronze-shod arrows:

but Ilus would in nowise give it to him, for he had in awe

the everliving gods. But my father gave it him, for he bare

him wondrous love. O that Odysseus might in such strength

consort with the wooers: so should they all have swift fate

and bitter wedlock! Howbeit these things surely lie on the

knees of the gods, whether he shall return or not, and take

vengeance in his halls. But I charge thee to take counsel

how thou mayest thrust forth the wooers from the hall. Come

now, mark and take heed unto my words. On the morrow call

the Achaean lords to the assembly, and declare thy saying

to all, and take the gods to witness. As for the wooers bid

them scatter them each one to his own, and for thy mother,

if her heart is moved to marriage, let her go back to the

hall of that mighty man her father, and her kinsfolk will

furnish a wedding feast, and array the gifts of wooing

exceeding many, all that should go back with a daughter

dearly beloved. And to thyself I will give a word of wise

counsel, if perchance thou wilt hearken. Fit out a ship,

the best thou hast, with twenty oarsmen, and go to inquire

concerning thy father that is long afar, if perchance any

man shall tell thee aught, or if thou mayest hear the voice

from Zeus, which chiefly brings tidings to men. Get thee

first to Pylos and inquire of goodly Nestor, and from

thence to Sparta to Menelaus of the fair hair, for he came

home the last of the mail-coated Achaeans. If thou shalt

hear news of the life and the returning of thy father, then

verily thou mayest endure the wasting for yet a year. But

if thou shalt hear that he is dead and gone, return then to

thine own dear country and pile his mound, and over it pay

burial rites, full many as is due, and give thy mother to a

husband. But when thou hast done this and made an end,

thereafter take counsel in thy mind and heart, how thou

mayest slay the wooers in thy halls, whether by guile or

openly; for thou shouldest not carry childish thoughts,

being no longer of years thereto. Or hast thou not heard

what renown the goodly Orestes gat him among all men in

that he slew the slayer of his father, guileful Aegisthus,

who killed his famous sire? And thou, too, my friend, for I

see that thou art very comely and tall, be valiant, that

even men unborn may praise thee. But I will now go down to

the swift ship and to my men, who methinks chafe much at

tarrying for me; and do thou thyself take heed and give ear

unto my words.'

Then wise Telemachus answered her, saying: 'Sir, verily

thou speakest these things out of a friendly heart, as a

father to his son, and never will I forget them. But now I

pray thee abide here, though eager to be gone, to the end

that after thou hast bathed and had all thy heart's desire,

thou mayest wend to the ship joyful in spirit, with a

costly gift and very goodly, to be an heirloom of my

giving, such as dear friends give to friends.'

Then the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, answered him: 'Hold me

now no longer, that am eager for the way. But whatsoever

gift thine heart shall bid thee give me, when I am on my

way back let it be mine to carry home: bear from thy stores

a gift right goodly, and it shall bring thee the worth

thereof in return.'

So spake she and departed, the grey-eyed Athene, and like

an eagle of the sea she flew away, but in his spirit she

planted might and courage, and put him in mind of his

father yet more than heretofore. And he marked the thing

and was amazed, for he deemed that it was a god; and anon

he went among the wooers, a godlike man.

Now the renowned minstrel was singing to the wooers, and

they sat listening in silence; and his song was of the

pitiful return of the Achaeans, that Pallas Athene laid on

them as they came forth from Troy. And from her upper

chamber the daughter of Icarius, wise Penelope, caught the

glorious strain, and she went down the high stairs from her

chamber, not alone, for two of her handmaids bare her

company. Now when the fair lady had come unto the wooers,

she stood by the pillar of the well-builded roof holding up

her glistening tire before her face; and a faithful maiden

stood on either side her. Then she fell a weeping, and

spake unto the divine minstrel:

'Phemius, since thou knowest many other charms for mortals,

deeds of men and gods, which bards rehearse, some one of

these do thou sing as thou sittest by them, and let them

drink their wine in silence; but cease from this pitiful

strain, that ever wastes my heart within my breast, since

to me above all women hath come a sorrow comfortless. So

dear a head do I long for in constant memory, namely, that

man whose fame is noised abroad from Hellas to mid Argos.'

Then wise Telemachus answered her, and said: 'O my mother,

why then dost thou grudge the sweet minstrel to gladden us

as his spirit moves him? It is not minstrels who are in

fault, but Zeus, methinks, is in fault, who gives to men,

that live by bread, to each one as he will. As for him it

is no blame if he sings the ill-faring of the Danaans; for

men always prize that song the most, which rings newest in

their ears. But let thy heart and mind endure to listen,

for not Odysseus only lost in Troy the day of his

returning, but many another likewise perished. Howbeit go

to thy chamber and mind thine own housewiferies, the loom

and distaff, and bid thy handmaids ply their tasks. But

speech shall be for men, for all, but for me in chief; for

mine is the lordship in the house.'

Then in amaze she went back to her chamber, for she laid up

the wise saying of her son in her heart. She ascended to

her upper chamber with the women her handmaids, and then

was bewailing Odysseus, her dear lord, till grey-eyed

Athene cast sweet sleep upon her eyelids.

Now the wooers clamoured throughout the shadowy halls, and

each one uttered a prayer to be her bedfellow. And wise

Telemachus first spake among them:

'Wooers of my mother, men despiteful out of measure, let us

feast now and make merry and let there be no brawling; for,

lo, it is a good thing to list to a minstrel such as him,

like to the gods in voice. But in the morning let us all go

to the assembly and sit us down, that I may declare my

saying outright, to wit that ye leave these halls: and busy

yourselves with other feasts, eating your own substance,

going in turn from house to house. But if ye deem this a

likelier and a better thing, that one man's goods should

perish without atonement, then waste ye as ye will; and I

will call upon the everlasting gods, if haply Zeus may

grant that acts of recompense be made: so should ye

hereafter perish within the halls without atonement.'

So spake he, and all that heard him bit their lips and

marvelled at Telemachus, in that he spake boldly.

Then Antinous, son of Eupeithes, answered him: 'Telemachus,

in very truth the gods themselves instruct thee to be proud

of speech and boldly to harangue. Never may Cronion make

thee king in seagirt Ithaca, which thing is of inheritance

thy right!'

Then wise Telemachus answered him, and said: 'Antinous,

wilt thou indeed be wroth at the word that I shall say?

Yea, at the hand of Zeus would I be fain to take even this

thing upon me. Sayest thou that this is the worst hap that

can befal a man? Nay, verily, it is no ill thing to be a

king: the house of such an one quickly waxeth rich and

himself is held in greater honour. Howsoever there are many

other kings of the Achaeans in seagirt Ithaca, kings young

and old; someone of them shall surely have this kingship

since goodly Odysseus is dead. But as for me, I will be

lord of our own house and thralls, that goodly Odysseus gat

me with his spear.'

Then Eurymachus, son of Polybus, answered him, saying:

'Telemachus, on the knees of the gods it surely lies, what

man is to be king over the Achaeans in seagirt Ithaca. But

mayest thou keep thine own possessions and be lord in thine

own house! Never may that man come, who shall wrest from

thee thy substance violently in thine own despite while

Ithaca yet stands. But I would ask thee, friend, concerning

the stranger--whence he is, and of what land he avows him

to be? Where are his kin and his native fields? Doth he

bear some tidings of thy father on his road, or cometh he

thus to speed some matter of his own? In such wise did he

start up, and lo, he was gone, nor tarried he that we

should know him;--and yet he seemed no mean man to look

upon.' {*}

{* The [Greek] explains the expression of surprise at the

sudden departure of the stranger.}

Then wise Telemachus answered him, and said: 'Eurymachus,

surely the day of my father's returning hath gone by.

Therefore no more do I put faith in tidings, whencesoever

they may come, neither have I regard unto any divination,

whereof my mother may inquire at the lips of a diviner,

when she hath bidden him to the hall. But as for that man,

he is a friend of my house from Taphos, and he avows him to

be Mentes, son of wise Anchialus, and he hath lordship

among the Taphians, lovers of the oar.'

So spake Telemachus, but in his heart he knew the deathless

goddess. Now the wooers turned them to the dance and the

delightsome song, and made merry, and waited till evening

should come on. And as they made merry, dusk evening came

upon them. Then they went each one to his own house to lie

down to rest.

But Telemachus, where his chamber was builded high up in

the fair court, in a place with wide prospect, thither

betook him to his bed, pondering many thoughts in his mind;

and with him went trusty Eurycleia, and bare for him

torches burning. She was the daughter of Ops, son of

Peisenor, and Laertes bought her on a time with his wealth,

while as yet she was in her first youth, and gave for her

the worth of twenty oxen. And he honoured her even as he

honoured his dear wife in the halls, but he never lay with

her, for he shunned the wrath of his lady. She went with

Telemachus and bare for him the burning torches: and of all

the women of the household she loved him most, and she had

nursed him when a little one. Then he opened the doors of

the well-builded chamber and sat him on the bed and took

off his soft doublet, and put it in the wise old woman's

hands. So she folded the doublet and smoothed it, and hung

it on a pin by the jointed bedstead, and went forth on her

way from the room, and pulled to the door with the silver

handle, and drew home the bar with the thong. There, all

night through, wrapped in a fleece of wool, he meditated in

his heart upon the journey that Athene had showed him.

 

Book II

Telemachus complains in vain, and borrowing a ship, goes

secretly to Pylos by night. And how he was there received.

Now so soon as early Dawn shone forth, the rosy-fingered,

the dear son of Odysseus gat him up from his bed, and put

on his raiment and cast his sharp sword about his shoulder,

and beneath his smooth feet he bound his goodly sandals,

and stept forth from his chamber in presence like a god.

And straightway he bade the clear-voiced heralds to call

the long-haired Achaeans to the assembly. And the heralds

called the gathering, and the Achaeans were assembled

quickly. Now when they were gathered and come together, he

went on his way to the assembly holding in his hand a spear

of bronze,--not alone he went, for two swift hounds bare

him company. Then Athene shed on him a wondrous grace, and

all the people marvelled at him as he came. And he sat him

in his father's seat and the elders gave place to him.

Then the lord Aegyptus spake among them first; bowed was he

with age, and skilled in things past number. Now for this

reason he spake that his dear son, the warrior Antiphus,

had gone in the hollow ships to Ilios of the goodly steeds;

but the savage Cyclops slew him in his hollow cave, and

made of him then his latest meal. Three other sons Aegyptus

had, and one consorted with the wooers, namely Eurynomus,

but two continued in their father's fields; yet even so

forgat he not that son, still mourning and sorrowing. So

weeping for his sake he made harangue and spake among them:

'Hearken now to me, ye men of Ithaca, to the word that I

shall say. Never hath our assembly or session been since

the day that goodly Odysseus departed in the hollow ships.

And now who was minded thus to assemble us? On what man

hath such sore need come, of the young men or of the elder

born? Hath he heard some tidings of the host now returning,

which he might plainly declare to us, for that he first

learned thereof, or doth he show forth and tell some other

matter of the common weal? Methinks he is a true man--good

luck be with him! Zeus vouchsafe him some good thing in his

turn, even all his heart's desire!'

So spake he, and the dear son of Odysseus was glad at the

omen of the word; nor sat he now much longer, but he burned

to speak, and he stood in mid assembly; and the herald

Peisenor, skilled in sage counsels, placed the staff in his

hands. Then he spake, accosting the old man first:

'Old man, he is not far off, and soon shalt thou know it

for thyself, he who called the folk together, even I: for

sorrow hath come to me in chief. Neither have I heard any

tidings of the host now returning, which I may plainly

declare to you, for that I first learned thereof; neither

do I show forth or tell any other matter of the common

weal, but mine own need, for that evil hath befallen my

house, a double woe. First, I have lost my noble sire, who

sometime was king among you here, and was gentle as a

father; and now is there an evil yet greater far, which

surely shall soon make grievous havoc of my whole house and

ruin all my livelihood. My mother did certain wooers beset

sore against her will, even the sons of those men that here

are the noblest. They are too craven to go to the house of

her father Icarius, that he may himself set the bride-price

for his daughter, and bestow her on whom he will, even on

him who finds favour in his sight. But they resorting to

our house day by day sacrifice oxen and sheep and fat

goats, and keep revel, and drink the dark wine recklessly,

and lo, our great wealth is wasted, for there is no man now

alive such as Odysseus was, to keep ruin from the house. As

for me I am nowise strong like him to ward mine own; verily

to the end of my days {*} shall I be a weakling and all

unskilled in prowess. Truly I would defend me if but

strength were mine; for deeds past sufferance have now been

wrought, and now my house is wasted utterly beyond pretence

of right. Resent it in your own hearts, and have regard to

your neighbours who dwell around, and tremble ye at the

anger of the gods, lest haply they turn upon you in wrath

at your evil deeds. {Or, lest they bring your evil deeds in

wrath on your own heads.} I pray you by Olympian Zeus and

by Themis, who looseth and gathereth the meetings of men,

let be, my friends, and leave me alone to waste in bitter

grief;-- unless it so be that my father, the good Odysseus,

out of evil heart wrought harm to the goodly-greaved

Achaeans, in quittance whereof ye now work me harm out of

evil hearts, and spur on these men. Better for me that ye

yourselves should eat up my treasures and my flocks. Were

YE so to devour them, ere long would some recompense be

made, for we would urge our plea throughout the town,

begging back our substance, until all should be restored.

But now without remedy are the pains that ye lay up in my

heart.'

{* Cf. B. xxi. 131. For the use of the 1st pers. pl. like

our ROYAL plural, cf. B. xvi.44, Il. vii. 190.}

So spake he in wrath, and dashed the staff to the ground,

and brake forth in tears; and pity fell on all the people.

Then all the others held their peace, and none had the

heart to answer Telemachus with hard words, but Antinous

alone made answer, saying:

'Telemachus, proud of speech and unrestrained in fury, what

is this thou hast said to put us to shame, and wouldest

fasten on us reproach? Behold the fault is not in the

Achaean wooers, but in thine own mother, for she is the

craftiest of women. For it is now the third year, and the

fourth is fast going by, since she began to deceive the

minds of the Achaeans in their breasts. She gives hope to

all, and makes promises to every man, and sends them

messages, but her mind is set on other things. And she hath

devised in her heart this wile besides; she set up in her

halls a mighty web, fine of woof and very wide, whereat she

would weave, and anon she spake among us:

'"Ye princely youths, my wooers, now that the goodly

Odysseus is dead, do ye abide patiently, how eager soever

to speed on this marriage of mine, till I finish the robe.

I would not that the threads perish to no avail, even this

shroud for the hero Laertes, against the day when the

ruinous doom shall bring him low, of death that lays men at

their length. So shall none of the Achaean women in the

land count it blame in me, as well might be, were he to lie

without a winding-sheet, a man that had gotten great

possessions."

'So spake she, and our high hearts consented thereto. So

then in the day time she would weave the mighty web, and in

the night unravel the same, when she had let place the

torches by her. Thus for the space of three years she hid

the thing by craft and beguiled the minds of the Achaeans;

but when the fourth year arrived and the seasons came

round, then at the last one of her women who knew all

declared it, and we found her unravelling the splendid web.

Thus she finished it perforce and sore against her will.

But as for thee, the wooers make thee answer thus, that

thou mayest know it in thine own heart, thou and all the

Achaeans! Send away thy mother, and bid her be married to

whomsoever her father commands, and whoso is well pleasing

unto her. But if she will continue for long to vex the sons

of the Achaeans, pondering in her heart those things that

Athene hath given her beyond women, knowledge of all fair

handiwork, yea, and cunning wit, and wiles--so be it! Such

wiles as hers we have never yet heard that any even of the

women of old did know, of those that aforetime were

fair-tressed Achaean ladies, Tyro, and Alcmene, and Mycene

with the bright crown. Not one of these in the imaginations

of their hearts was like unto Penelope, yet herein at least

her imagining was not good. For in despite of her the

wooers will devour thy living and thy substance, so long as

she is steadfast in such purpose as the gods now put within

her breast: great renown for herself she winneth, but for

thee regret for thy much livelihood. But we will neither go

to our own lands, nor otherwhere, till she marry that man

whom she will of the Achaeans.'

Then wise Telemachus answered him, saying: 'Antinous, I may

in no wise thrust forth from the house, against her will,

the woman that bare me, that reared me: while as for my

father he is abroad on the earth, whether he be alive or

dead. Moreover it is hard for me to make heavy restitution

to Icarius, as needs I must, if of mine own will I send my

mother away. For I shall have evil at his hand, at the hand

of her father, and some god will give me more besides, for

my mother will call down the dire Avengers as she departs

from the house, and I shall have blame of men; surely then

I will never speak this word. Nay, if your own heart, even

yours, is indignant, quit ye my halls, and busy yourselves

with other feasts, eating your own substance, and going in

turn from house to house. But if ye deem this a likelier

and a better thing, that one man's goods should perish

without atonement, then waste ye as ye will: and I will

call upon the everlasting gods, if haply Zeus may grant

that acts of recompense be made: so should ye hereafter

perish in the halls without atonement.'

So spake Telemachus, and in answer to his prayer did Zeus,

of the far borne voice, send forth two eagles in flight,

from on high, from the mountain-crest. Awhile they flew as

fleet as the blasts of the wind, side by side, with

straining of their pinions. But when they had now reached

the mid assembly, the place of many voices, there they

wheeled about and flapped their strong wings, and looked

down upon the heads of all, and destruction was in their

gaze. Then tore they with their talons each the other's

cheeks and neck on every side, and so sped to the right

across the dwellings and the city of the people. And the

men marvelled at the birds when they had sight of them, and

pondered in their hearts the things that should come to

pass. Yea and the old man, the lord Halitherses son of

Mastor spake among them, for he excelled his peers in

knowledge of birds, and in uttering words of fate. With

good will he made harangue and spake among them:

'Hearken to me now, ye men of Ithaca, to the word that I

shall say: and mainly to the wooers do I show forth and

tell these things, seeing that a mighty woe is rolling upon

them. For Odysseus shall not long be away from his friends,

nay, even now, it may be, he is near, and sowing the seeds

of death and fate for these men, every one; and he will be

a bane to many another likewise of us who dwell in

clear-seen Ithaca. But long ere that falls out let us

advise us how we may make an end of their mischief; yea,

let them of their own selves make an end, for this is the

better way for them, as will soon be seen. For I prophesy

not as one unproved, but with sure knowledge; verily, I

say, that for him all things now are come to pass, even as

I told him, what time the Argives embarked for Ilios, and

with them went the wise Odysseus. I said that after sore

affliction, with the loss of all his company, unknown to

all, in the twentieth year he should come home. And behold,

all these things now have an end.'

And Eurymachus, son of Polybus, answered him, saying: 'Go

now, old man, get thee home and prophesy to thine own

children, lest haply they suffer harm hereafter: but herein

am I a far better prophet than thou. Howbeit there be many

birds that fly to and fro under the sun's rays, but all are

not birds of fate. Now as for Odysseus, he hath perished

far away, as would that thou too with him hadst been cut

off: so wouldst thou not have babbled thus much prophecy,

nor wouldst thou hound on Telemachus that is already

angered, expecting a gift for thy house, if perchance he

may vouchsafe thee aught. But now will I speak out, and my

word shall surely be accomplished. If thou that knowest

much lore from of old, shalt beguile with words a younger

man, and rouse him to indignation, first it shall be a

great grief to him:--and yet he can count on no aid from

these who hear him;--while upon thee, old man, we will lay

a fine, that thou mayest pay it and chafe at heart, and

sore pain shall be thine. And I myself will give a word of

counsel to Telemachus in presence of you all. Let him

command his mother to return to her father's house; and her

kinsfolk will furnish a wedding feast, and array the gifts

of wooing, exceeding many, all that should go back with a

daughter dearly beloved. For ere that, I trow, we sons of

the Achaeans will not cease from our rough wooing, since,

come what may, we fear not any man, no, not Telemachus,

full of words though he be, nor soothsaying do we heed,

whereof thou, old man, pratest idly, and art hated yet the

more. His substance too shall be woefully devoured, nor

shall recompense ever be made, so long as she shall put off

the Achaeans in the matter of her marriage; while we in

expectation, from day to day, vie one with another for the

prize of her perfection, nor go we after other women whom

it were meet that we should each one wed.'

Then wise Telemachus answered him saying: 'Eurymachus, and

ye others, that are lordly wooers, I entreat you no more

concerning this nor speak thereof, for the gods have

knowledge of it now and all the Achaeans. But come, give me

a swift ship and twenty men, who shall accomplish for me my

voyage to and fro. For I will go to Sparta and to sandy

Pylos to inquire concerning the return of my father that is

long afar, if perchance any man shall tell me aught, or if

I may hear the voice from Zeus, that chiefly brings tidings

to men. If I shall hear news of the life and the returning

of my father, then verily I may endure the wasting for yet

a year; but if I shall hear that he is dead and gone, let

me then return to my own dear country, and pile his mound,

and over it pay burial rites full many as is due, and I

will give my mother to a husband.'

So with that word he sat him down; then in the midst uprose

Mentor, the companion of noble Odysseus. He it was to whom

Odysseus, as he departed in the fleet, had given the charge

over all his house, that it should obey the old man, and

that he should keep all things safe. With good will he now

made harangue and spake among them:

'Hearken to me now, ye men of Ithaca, to the word that I

shall say. Henceforth let not any sceptred king be kind and

gentle with all his heart, nor minded to do righteously,

but let him alway be a hard man and work unrighteousness:

for behold, there is none that remembereth divine Odysseus

of the people whose lord he was, and was gentle as a

father. Howsoever, it is not that I grudge the lordly

wooers their deeds of violence in the evil devices of their

heart. For at the hazard of their own heads they violently

devour the household of Odysseus, and say of him that he

will come no more again. But I am indeed wroth with the

rest of the people, to see how ye all sit thus speechless,

and do not cry shame upon the wooers, and put them down, ye

that are so many and they so few.'

And Leocritus, son of Euenor, answered him, saying: 'Mentor

infatuate, with thy wandering wits, what word hast thou

spoken, that callest upon them to put us down? Nay, it is a

hard thing to fight about a feast, and that with men who

are even more in number than you. Though Odysseus of Ithaca

himself should come and were eager of heart to drive forth

from the hall the lordly wooers that feast throughout his

house, yet should his wife have no joy of his coming,

though she yearns for him;--but even there should he meet

foul doom, if he fought with those that outnumbered him; so

thou hast not spoken aright. But as for the people, come

now, scatter yourselves each one to his own lands, but

Mentor and Halitherses will speed this man's voyage, for

they are friends of his house from of old. Yet after all,

methinks, that long time he will abide and seek tidings in

Ithaca, and never accomplish this voyage.'

Thus he spake, and in haste they broke up the assembly. So

they were scattered each one to his own dwelling, while the

wooers departed to the house of divine Odysseus.

Then Telemachus, going far apart to the shore of the sea,

laved his hands in the grey sea water, and prayed unto

Athene, saying: 'Hear me, thou who yesterday didst come in

thy godhead to our house, and badest me go in a ship across

the misty seas, to seek tidings of the return of my father

that is long gone: but all this my purpose do the Achaeans

delay, and mainly the wooers in the naughtiness of their

pride.'

So spake he in prayer, and Athene drew nigh him in the

likeness of Mentor, in fashion and in voice, and she spake

and hailed him in winged words:

'Telemachus, even hereafter thou shalt not be craven or

witless, if indeed thou hast a drop of thy father's blood

and a portion of his spirit; such an one was he to fulfil

both word and work. Nor, if this be so, shall thy voyage be

vain or unfulfilled. But if thou art not the very seed of

him and of Penelope, then have I no hope that thou wilt

accomplish thy desire. For few children, truly, are like

their father; lo, the more part are worse, yet a few are

better than the sire. But since thou shalt not even

hereafter be craven or witless, nor hath the wisdom of

Odysseus failed thee quite, so is there good hope of thine

accomplishing this work. Wherefore now take no heed of the

counsel or the purpose of the senseless wooers, for they

are in no way wise or just: neither know they aught of

death and of black fate, which already is close upon them,

that they are all to perish in one day. But the voyage on

which thy heart is set shall not long be lacking to

thee--so faithful a friend of thy father am I, who will

furnish thee a swift ship and myself be thy companion. But

go thou to the house, and consort with the wooers, and make

ready corn, and bestow all in vessels, the wine in jars and

barley-flour, the marrow of men, in well-sewn skins; and I

will lightly gather in the township a crew that offer

themselves willingly. There are many ships, new and old, in

seagirt Ithaca; of these I will choose out the best for

thee, and we will quickly rig her and launch her on the

broad deep.'

So spake Athene, daughter of Zeus, and Telemachus made no

long tarrying, when he had heard the voice of the goddess.

He went on his way towards the house, heavy at heart, and

there he found the noble wooers in the halls, flaying goats

and singeing swine in the court. And Antinous laughed out

and went straight to Telemachus, and clasped his hand and

spake and hailed him:

'Telemachus, proud of speech and unrestrained in fury, let

no evil word any more be in thy heart, nor evil work, but

let me see thee eat and drink as of old. And the Achaeans

will make thee ready all things without fail, a ship and

chosen oarsmen, that thou mayest come the quicker to fair

Pylos, to seek tidings of thy noble father.'

Then wise Telemachus answered him, saying, 'Antinous, in no

wise in your proud company can I sup in peace, and make

merry with a quiet mind. Is it a little thing, ye wooers,

that in time past ye wasted many good things of my getting,

while as yet I was a child? But now that I am a man grown,

and learn the story from the lips of others, and my spirit

waxeth within me, I will seek to let loose upon you evil

fates, as I may, going either to Pylos for help, or abiding

here in this township. Yea, I will go, nor vain shall the

voyage be whereof I speak; a passenger on another's ship go

I, for I am not to have a ship nor oarsmen of mine own; so

in your wisdom ye have thought it for the better.'

He spake and snatched his hand from out the hand of

Antinous, lightly, and all the while the wooers were busy

feasting through the house; and they mocked him and sharply

taunted him, and thus would some proud youth speak:

'In very truth Telemachus planneth our destruction. He will

bring a rescue either from sandy Pylos, or even it may be

from Sparta, so terribly is he set on slaying us. Or else

he will go to Ephyra, a fruitful land, to fetch a poisonous

drug that he may cast it into the bowl and make an end of

all of us.'

And again another proud youth would say: 'Who knows but

that he himself if he goes hence on the hollow ship, may

perish wandering far from his friends, even as Odysseus? So

should we have yet more ado, for then must we divide among

us all his substance, and moreover give the house to his

mother to possess it, and to him whosoever should wed her.'

So spake they; but he stepped down into the vaulted

treasure-chamber of his father, a spacious room, where gold

and bronze lay piled, and raiment in coffers, and fragrant

olive oil in plenty. And there stood casks of sweet wine

and old, full of the unmixed drink divine, all orderly

ranged by the wall, ready if ever Odysseus should come

home, albeit after travail and much pain. And the

close-fitted doors, the folding doors, were shut, and night

and day there abode within a dame in charge, who guarded

all in the fulness of her wisdom, Eurycleia, daughter of

Ops son of Peisenor. Telemachus now called her into the

chamber and spake unto her, saying:

'Mother, come draw off for me sweet wine in jars, the

choicest next to that thou keepest mindful ever of that

ill-fated one, Odysseus, of the seed of Zeus, if perchance

he may come I know not whence, having avoided death and the

fates. So fill twelve jars, and close each with his lid,

and pour me barley-meal into well-sewn skins, and let there

be twenty measures of the grain of bruised barley-meal. Let

none know this but thyself! As for these things let them

all be got together; for in the evening I will take them

with me, at the time that my mother hath gone to her upper

chamber and turned her thoughts to sleep. Lo, to Sparta I

go and to sandy Pylos to seek tidings of my dear father's

return, if haply I may hear thereof.'

So spake he, and the good nurse Eurycleia wailed aloud, and

making lament spake to him winged words: 'Ah, wherefore,

dear child, hath such a thought arisen in thine heart? How

shouldst thou fare over wide lands, thou that art an only

child and well-beloved? As for him he hath perished,

Odysseus of the seed of Zeus, far from his own country in

the land of strangers. And yonder men, so soon as thou art

gone, will devise mischief against thee thereafter, that

thou mayest perish by guile, and they will share among them

all this wealth of thine. Nay, abide here, settled on thine

own lands: thou hast no need upon the deep unharvested to

suffer evil and go wandering.'

Then wise Telemachus answered her, saying: 'Take heart,

nurse, for lo, this my purpose came not but of a god. But

swear to tell no word thereof to my dear mother, till at

least it shall be the eleventh or twelfth day from hence,

or till she miss me of herself, and hear of my departure,

that so she may not mar her fair face with her tears.'

Thus he spake, and the old woman sware a great oath by the

gods not to reveal it. But when she had sworn and done that

oath, straightway she drew off the wine for him in jars,

and poured barley-meal into well-sewn skins, and Telemachus

departed to the house and consorted with the wooers.

Then the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, turned to other

thoughts. In the likeness of Telemachus she went all

through the city, and stood by each one of the men and

spake her saying, and bade them gather at even by the swift

ship. Furthermore, she craved a swift ship of Noemon,

famous son of Phronius, and right gladly he promised it.

Now the sun sank and all the ways were darkened. Then at

length she let drag the swift ship to the sea and stored

within it all such tackling as decked ships carry. And she

moored it at the far end of the harbour and the good

company was gathered together, and the goddess cheered on

all.

Then the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, turned to other

thoughts. She went on her way to the house of divine

Odysseus; and there she shed sweet sleep upon the wooers

and made them distraught in their drinking, and cast the

cups from their hands. And they arose up to go to rest

throughout the city, nor sat they yet a long while, for

slumber was falling on their eyelids. Now grey eyed Athene

spake unto Telemachus, and called him from out the

fair-lying halls, taking the likeness of Mentor, both in

fashion and in voice:

'Telemachus, thy goodly-greaved companions are sitting

already at their oars, it is thy despatch they are

awaiting. Nay then, let us go, that we delay them not long

from the way.'

Therewith Pallas Athene led the way quickly, and he

followed hard in the steps of the goddess. Now when they

had come down to the ship and to the sea, they found the

long-haired youths of the company on the shore; and the

mighty prince Telemachus spake among them:

'Come hither, friends, let us carry the corn on board, for

all is now together in the room, and my mother knows nought

thereof, nor any of the maidens of the house: one woman

only heard my saying.'

Thus he spake and led the way, and they went with him. So

they brought all and stowed it in the decked ship,

according to the word of the dear son of Odysseus. Then

Telemachus climbed the ship, and Athene went before him,

and behold, she sat her down in the stern, and near her sat

Telemachus. And the men loosed the hawsers and climbed on

board themselves and sat down upon the benches. And

grey-eyed Athene sent them a favourable gale, a fresh West

Wind, singing over the wine-dark sea.

And Telemachus called unto his company and bade them lay

hands on the tackling, and they hearkened to his call. So

they raised the mast of pine tree and set it in the hole of

the cross plank, and made it fast with forestays, and

hauled up the white sails with twisted ropes of oxhide. And

the wind filled the belly of the sail, and the dark wave

seethed loudly round the stem of the running ship, and she

fleeted over the wave, accomplishing her path. Then they

made all fast in the swift black ship, and set mixing bowls

brimmed with wine, and poured drink offering to the

deathless gods that are from everlasting, and in chief to

the grey eyed daughter of Zeus. So all night long and

through the dawn the ship cleft her way.

 

Book III

Nestor entertains Telemachus at Pylos and tells him how the

Greeks departed from Troy; and sends him for further

information to Sparta.

Now the sun arose and left the lovely mere, speeding to the

brazen heaven, to give light to the immortals and to mortal

men on the earth, the graingiver, and they reached Pylos,

the stablished castle of Neleus. There the people were

doing sacrifice on the sea shore, slaying black bulls

without spot to the dark-haired god, the shaker of the

earth. Nine companies there were, and five hundred men sat

in each, and in every company they held nine bulls ready to

hand. Just as they had tasted the inner parts, and were

burning the slices of the thighs on the altar to the god,

the others were bearing straight to land, and brailed up

the sails of the gallant ship, and moored her, and

themselves came forth. And Telemachus too stept forth from

the ship, and Athene led the way. And the goddess,

grey-eyed Athene, spake first to him, saying:

'Telemachus, thou needst not now be abashed, no, not one

whit. For to this very end didst thou sail over the deep,

that thou mightest hear tidings of thy father, even where

the earth closed over him, and what manner of death he met.

But come now, go straight to Nestor, tamer of horses: let

us learn what counsel he hath in the secret of his heart.

And beseech him thyself that he may give unerring answer;

and he will not lie to thee, for he is very wise.'

The wise Telemachus answered, saying: 'Mentor, and how

shall I go, how shall I greet him, I, who am untried in

words of wisdom? Moreover a young man may well be abashed

to question an elder.'

Then the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, spake to him again:

'Telemachus, thou shalt bethink thee of somewhat in thine

own breast, and somewhat the god will give thee to say. For

thou, methinks, of all men wert not born and bred without

the will of the gods.'

So spake Pallas Athene and led the way quickly; and he

followed hard in the steps of the goddess. And they came to

the gathering and the session of the men of Pylos. There

was Nestor seated with his sons, and round him his company

making ready the feast, and roasting some of the flesh and

spitting other. Now when they saw the strangers, they went

all together, and clasped their hands in welcome, and would

have them sit down. First Peisistratus, son of Nestor, drew

nigh, and took the hands of each, and made them to sit down

at the feast on soft fleeces upon the sea sand, beside his

brother Thrasymedes and his father. And he gave them messes

of the inner meat, and poured wine into a golden cup, and

pledging her, he spake unto Pallas Athene, daughter of

Zeus, lord of the aegis:

'Pray now, my guest, to the lord Poseidon, even as it is

his feast whereon ye have chanced in coming hither. And

when thou hast made drink offering and prayed, as is due,

give thy friend also the cup of honeyed wine to make

offering thereof, inasmuch as he too, methinks, prayeth to

the deathless gods, for all men stand in need of the gods.

Howbeit he is younger and mine own equal in years,

therefore to thee first will I give the golden chalice.'

Therewith he placed in her hand the cup of sweet wine. And

Athene rejoiced in the wisdom and judgment of the man, in

that he had given to her first the chalice of gold. And

straightway she prayed, and that instantly, to the lord

Poseidon:

'Hear me, Poseidon, girdler of the earth, and grudge not

the fulfilment of this labour in answer to our prayer. To

Nestor first and to his sons vouchsafe renown, and

thereafter grant to all the people of Pylos a gracious

recompense for this splendid hecatomb. Grant moreover that

Telemachus and I may return, when we have accomplished that

for which we came hither with our swift black ship.'

Now as she prayed on this wise, herself the while was

fulfilling the prayer. And she gave Telemachus the fair

two-handled cup; and in like manner prayed the dear son of

Odysseus. Then, when the others had roasted the outer parts

and drawn them off the spits, they divided the messes and

shared the glorious feast. But when they had put from them

the desire of meat and drink, Nestor of Gerenia, lord of

chariots, first spake among them:

'Now is the better time to enquire and ask of the strangers

who they are, now that they have had their delight of food.

Strangers, who are ye? Whence sail ye over the wet ways? On

some trading enterprise, or at adventure do ye rove, even

as sea-robbers, over the brine, for they wander at hazard

of their own lives bringing bale to alien men?'

Then wise Telemachus answered him and spake with courage,

for Athene herself had put boldness in his heart, that he

might ask about his father who was afar, and that he might

be had in good report among men:

'Nestor, son of Neleus, great glory of the Achaeans, thou

askest whence we are, and I will surely tell thee all. We

have come forth out of Ithaca that is below Neion; and this

our quest whereof I speak is a matter of mine own, and not

of the common weal. I follow after the far-spread rumour of

my father, if haply I may hear thereof, even of the goodly

steadfast Odysseus, who upon a time, men say, fought by thy

side and sacked the city of the Trojans. For of all the

others, as many as warred with the Trojans, we hear

tidings, and where each one fell by a pitiful death; but

even the death of this man Cronion hath left untold. For

none can surely declare the place where he hath perished,

whether he was smitten by foemen on the mainland, or lost

upon the deep among the waves of Amphitrite. So now am I

come hither to thy knees, if perchance thou art willing to

tell me of his pitiful death, as one that saw it with thine

own eyes, or heard the story from some other wanderer,--

for his mother bare him to exceeding sorrow. And speak me

no soft words in ruth or pity, but tell me plainly what

sight thou didst get of him. Ah! I pray thee, if ever at

all my father, noble Odysseus, made promise to thee of word

or work, and fulfilled the same in the land of the Trojans,

where ye Achaeans suffered affliction; these things, I pray

thee, now remember and tell me truth.'

Then Nestor of Gerenia, lord of chariots, answered him: 'My

friend, since thou hast brought sorrow back to mind,

behold, this is the story of the woe which we endured in

that land, we sons of the Achaeans, unrestrained in fury,

and of all that we bore in wanderings after spoil, sailing

with our ships over the misty deep, wheresoever Achilles

led; and of all our war round the mighty burg of king

Priam. Yea and there the best of us were slain. There lies

valiant Aias, and there Achilles, and there Patroclus, the

peer of the gods in counsel, and there my own dear son,

strong and noble, Antilochus, that excelled in speed of

foot and in the fight. And many other ills we suffered

beside these; who of mortal men could tell the tale? Nay

none, though thou wert to abide here for five years, ay and

for six, and ask of all the ills which the goodly Achaeans

then endured. Ere all was told thou wouldst be weary and

turn to thine own country. For nine whole years we were

busy about them, devising their ruin with all manner of

craft; and scarce did Cronion bring it to pass. There never

a man durst match with him in wisdom, for goodly Odysseus

very far outdid the rest in all manner of craft, Odysseus

thy father, if indeed thou art his son,--amazement comes

upon me as I look at thee; for verily thy speech is like

unto his; none would say that a younger man would speak so

like an elder. Now look you, all the while that myself and

goodly Odysseus were there, we never spake diversely either

in the assembly or in the council, but always were of one

mind, and advised the Argives with understanding and sound

counsel, how all might be for the very best. But after we

had sacked the steep city of Priam, and had departed in our

ships, and a god had scattered the Achaeans, even then did

Zeus devise in his heart a pitiful returning for the

Argives, for in no wise were they all discreet or just.

Wherefore many of them met with an ill faring by reason of

the deadly wrath of the grey-eyed goddess, the daughter of

the mighty sire, who set debate between the two sons of

Atreus. And they twain called to the gathering of the host

all the Achaeans, recklessly and out of order, against the

going down of the sun; and lo, the sons of the Achaeans

came heavy with wine. And the Atreidae spake out and told

the reason wherefore they had assembled the host. Then

verily Menelaus charged all the Achaeans to bethink them of

returning over the broad back of the sea, but in no sort

did he please Agamemnon, whose desire was to keep back the

host and to offer holy hecatombs, that so he might appease

that dread wrath of Athene. Fool! for he knew not this,

that she was never to be won; for the mind of the

everlasting gods is not lightly turned to repentance. So

these twain stood bandying hard words; but the

goodly-greaved Achaeans sprang up with a wondrous din, and

twofold counsels found favour among them. So that one night

we rested, thinking hard things against each other, for

Zeus was fashioning for us a ruinous doom. But in the

morning, we of the one part drew our ships to the fair salt

sea, and put aboard our wealth, and the low-girdled Trojan

women. Now one half the people abode steadfastly there with

Agamemnon, son of Atreus, shepherd of the host; and half of

us embarked and drave to sea and swiftly the ships sailed,

for a god made smooth the sea with the depths thereof. And

when we came to Tenedos, we did sacrifice to the gods,

being eager for the homeward way; but Zeus did not yet

purpose our returning, nay, hard was he, that roused once

more an evil strife among us. Then some turned back their

curved ships, and went their way, even the company of

Odysseus, the wise and manifold in counsel, once again

showing a favour to Agamemnon, son of Atreus. But I fled on

with the squadron that followed me, for I knew how now the

god imagined mischief. And the warlike son of Tydeus fled

and roused his men thereto. And late in our track came

Menelaus of the fair hair, who found us in Lesbos,

considering about the long voyage, whether we should go

sea-ward of craggy Chios, by the isle of Psyria, keeping

the isle upon our left, or inside Chios past windy Mimas.

So we asked the god to show us a sign, and a sign he

declared to us, and bade us cleave a path across the middle

sea to Euboea, that we might flee the swiftest way from

sorrow. And a shrill wind arose and blew, and the ships ran

most fleetly over the teeming ways, and in the night they

touched at Geraestus. So there we sacrificed many thighs of

bulls to Poseidon, for joy that we had measured out so

great a stretch of sea. It was the fourth day when the

company of Diomede son of Tydeus, tamer of horses, moored

their gallant ships at Argos; but I held on for Pylos, and

the breeze was never quenched from the hour that the god

sent it forth to blow. Even so I came, dear child, without

tidings, nor know I aught of those others, which of the

Achaeans were saved and which were lost. But all that I

hear tell of as I sit in our halls, thou shalt learn as it

is meet, and I will hide nothing from thee. Safely, they

say, came the Myrmidons the wild spearsmen, whom the famous

son of high-souled Achilles led; and safely Philoctetes,

the glorious son of Poias. And Idomeneus brought all his

company to Crete, all that escaped the war, and from him

the sea gat none. And of the son of Atreus even yourselves

have heard, far apart though ye dwell, how he came, and how

Aegisthus devised his evil end; but verily he himself paid

a terrible reckoning. So good a thing it is that a son of

the dead should still be left, even as that son also took

vengeance on the slayer of his father, guileful Aegisthus,

who slew his famous sire. And thou too, my friend, for I

see thee very comely and tall, be valiant, that even men

unborn may praise thee.'

And wise Telemachus answered him, and said: 'Nestor, son of

Neleus, great glory of the Achaeans, verily and indeed he

avenged himself, and the Achaeans shall noise his fame

abroad, that even those may hear who are yet for to be. Oh

that the gods would clothe me with such strength as his,

that I might take vengeance on the wooers for their cruel

transgression, who wantonly devise against me infatuate

deeds! But the gods have woven for me the web of no such

weal, for me or for my sire. But now I must in any wise

endure it.'

Then Nestor of Gerenia, lord of chariots, made answer:

'Dear friend, seeing thou dost call these things to my

remembrance and speak thereof, they tell me that many

wooers for thy mother's hand plan mischief within the halls

in thy despite. Say, dost thou willingly submit thee to

oppression, or do the people through the land hate thee,

obedient to the voice of a god? Who knows but that Odysseus

may some day come and requite their violence, either

himself alone or all the host of the Achaeans with him? Ah,

if but grey-eyed Athene were inclined to love thee, as once

she cared exceedingly for the renowned Odysseus in the land

of the Trojans, where we Achaeans were sore afflicted, for

never yet have I seen the gods show forth such manifest

love, as then did Pallas Athene standing manifest by him,--

if she would be pleased so to love thee and to care for

thee, then might certain of them clean forget their

marriage.'

And wise Telemachus answered him, saying: 'Old man, in no

wise methinks shall this word be accomplished. This is a

hard saying of thine, awe comes over me. Not for my hopes

shall this thing come to pass, not even if the gods so

willed it.'

Then the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, spake to him again:

'Telemachus, what word hath escaped the door of thy lips?

Lightly might a god, if so he would, bring a man safe home

even from afar. Rather myself would I have travail and much

pain ere I came home and saw the day of my returning, than

come back and straightway perish on my own hearth-stone,

even as Agamemnon perished by guile at the hands of his own

wife and of Aegisthus. But lo you, death, which is common

to all, the very gods cannot avert even from the man they

love, when the ruinous doom shall bring him low of death

that lays men at their length.'

And wise Telemachus answered her, saying: 'Mentor, no

longer let us tell of these things, sorrowful though we be.

There is none assurance any more of his returning, but

already have the deathless gods devised for him death and

black fate. But now I would question Nestor, and ask him of

another matter, as one who above all men knows judgments

and wisdom: for thrice, men say, he hath been king through

the generations of men; yea, like an immortal he seems to

me to look upon. Nestor, son of Neleus, now tell me true:

how died the son of Atreus, Agamemnon of the wide domain?

Where was Menelaus? What death did crafty Aegisthus plan

for him, in that he killed a man more valiant far than he?

Or was Menelaus not in Argos of Achaia but wandering

elsewhere among men, and that other took heart and slew

Agamemnon?'

Then Nestor of Gerenia, lord of chariots, answered him:

'Yea now, my child, I will tell thee the whole truth.

Verily thou guessest aright even of thyself how things

would have fallen out, if Menelaus of the fair hair, the

son of Atreus, when he came back from Troy, had found

Aegisthus yet alive in the halls. Then even in his death

would they not have heaped the piled earth over him, but

dogs and fowls of the air would have devoured him as he lay

on the plain far from the town. {*} Nor would any of the

Achaean women have bewailed him; so dread was the deed he

contrived. Now we sat in leaguer there, achieving many

adventures; but he the while in peace in the heart of

Argos, the pastureland of horses, spake ofttimes, tempting

her, to the wife of Agamemnon. Verily at the first she

would none of the foul deed, the fair Clytemnestra, for she

had a good understanding. Moreover there was with her a

minstrel, whom the son of Atreus straitly charged as he

went to Troy to have a care of his wife. But when at last

the doom of the gods bound her to her ruin, then did

Aegisthus carry the minstrel to a lonely isle, and left him

there to be the prey and spoil of birds; while as for her,

he led her to his house, a willing lover with a willing

lady. And he burnt many thigh slices upon the holy altars

of the gods, and hung up many offerings, woven-work and

gold, seeing that he had accomplished a great deed, beyond

all hope. Now we, I say, were sailing together on our way

from Troy, the son of Atreus and I, as loving friends. But

when we had reached holy Sunium, the headland of Athens,

there Phoebus Apollo slew the pilot of Menelaus with the

visitation of his gentle shafts, as he held between his

hands the rudder of the running ship, even Phrontis, son of

Onetor, who excelled the tribes of men in piloting a ship,

whenso the storm-winds were hurrying by. Thus was Menelaus

holden there, though eager for the way, till he might bury

his friend and pay the last rites over him. But when he in

his turn, faring over the wine-dark sea in hollow ships,

reached in swift course the steep mount of Malea, then it

was that Zeus of the far-borne voice devised a hateful

path, and shed upon them the breath of the shrill winds,

and great swelling waves arose like unto mountains. There

sundered he the fleet in twain, and part thereof he brought

nigh to Crete, where the Cydonians dwelt about the streams

of Iardanus. Now there is a certain cliff, smooth and sheer

towards the sea, on the border of Gortyn, in the misty

deep, where the South-West Wind drives a great wave against

the left headland, towards Phaestus, and a little rock

keeps back the mighty water. Thither came one part of the

fleet, and the men scarce escaped destruction, but the

ships were broken by the waves against the rock; while

those other five dark-prowed ships the wind and the water

bare and brought nigh to Egypt. Thus Menelaus, gathering

much livelihood and gold, was wandering there with his

ships among men of strange speech, and even then Aegisthus

planned that pitiful work at home. And for seven years he

ruled over Mycenae, rich in gold, after he slew the son of

Atreus, and the people were subdued unto him. But in the

eighth year came upon him goodly Orestes back from Athens

to be his bane, and slew the slayer of his father, guileful

Aegisthus, who killed his famous sire. Now when he had

slain him, he made a funeral feast to the Argives over his

hateful mother, and over the craven Aegisthus. And on the

selfsame day there came to him Menelaus of the loud

war-cry, bringing much treasure, even all the freight of

his ships. So thou, my friend, wander not long far away

from home, leaving thy substance behind thee and men in thy

house so wanton, lest they divide and utterly devour all

thy wealth, and thou shalt have gone on a vain journey.

Rather I bid and command thee to go to Menelaus, for he

hath lately come from a strange country, from the land of

men whence none would hope in his heart to return, whom

once the storms have driven wandering into so wide a sea.

Thence not even the birds can make their way in the space

of one year, so great a sea it is and terrible. But go now

with thy ship and with thy company, or if thou hast a mind

to fare by land, I have a chariot and horses at thy

service, yea and my sons to do thy will, who will be thy

guides to goodly Lacedaemon, where is Menelaus of the fair

hair. Do thou thyself entreat him, that he may give thee

unerring answer. He will not lie to thee, for he is very

wise.'

{* Reading [Greek]. v. 1. '[Greek], which must be wrong.}

Thus he spake, and the sun went down and darkness came on.

Then the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, spake among them,

saying: 'Yea, old man, thou hast told all this thy tale

aright. But come, cut up the tongues of the victims and mix

the wine, that we may pour forth before Poseidon and the

other deathless gods, and so may bethink us of sleep, for

it is the hour for sleep. For already has the light gone

beneath the west, and it is not seemly to sit long at a

banquet of the gods, but to be going home.'

So spake the daughter of Zeus, and they hearkened to her

voice. And the henchmen poured water over their hands, and

pages crowned the mixing bowls with drink, and served out

the wine to all, after they had first poured for libation

into each cup in turn; and they cast the tongues upon the

fire, and stood up and poured the drink-offering thereon.

But when they had poured forth and had drunken to their

heart's content, Athene and godlike Telemachus were both

set on returning to the hollow ship; but Nestor would have

stayed them, and accosted them, saying: 'Zeus forfend it,

and all the other deathless gods, that ye should depart

from my house to the swift ship, as from the dwelling of

one that is utterly without raiment or a needy man, who

hath not rugs or blankets many in his house whereon to

sleep softly, he or his guests. Nay not so, I have rugs and

fair blankets by me. Never, methinks, shall the dear son of

this man, even of Odysseus, lay him down upon the ship's

deck, while as yet I am alive, and my children after me are

left in my hall to entertain strangers, whoso may chance to

come to my house.'

Then the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, spake to him again:

'Yea, herein hast thou spoken aright, dear father: and

Telemachus may well obey thee, for before all things this

is meet. Behold, he shall now depart with thee, that he may

sleep in thy halls; as for me I will go to the black ship,

that I may cheer my company and tell them all. For I avow

me to be the one elder among them; those others are but

younger men, who follow for love of him, all of them of

like age with the high-souled Telemachus. There will I lay

me down by the black hollow ship this night; but in the

morning I will go to the Cauconians high of heart, where

somewhat of mine is owing to me, no small debt nor of

yesterday. But do thou send this man upon his way with thy

chariot and thy son, since he hath come to thy house, and

give him horses the lightest of foot and chief in

strength.'

Therewith grey-eyed Athene departed in the semblance of a

sea-eagle; and amazement fell on all that saw it, and the

old man he marvelled when his eyes beheld it. And he took

the hand of Telemachus and spake and hailed him:

'My friend, methinks that thou wilt in no sort be a coward

and a weakling, if indeed in thy youth the gods thus follow

with thee to be thy guides. For truly this is none other of

those who keep the mansions of Olympus, save only the

daughter of Zeus, the driver of the spoil, the maiden

Trito-born, she that honoured thy good father too among the

Argives. Nay be gracious, queen, and vouchsafe a goodly

fame to me, even to me and to my sons and to my wife

revered. And I in turn will sacrifice to thee a yearling

heifer, broad of brow, unbroken, which man never yet hath

led beneath the yoke. Such an one will I offer to thee, and

gild her horns with gold.'

Even so he spake in prayer, and Pallas Athene heard him.

Then Nestor of Gerenia, lord of chariots, led them, even

his sons and the husbands of his daughters, to his own fair

house. But when they had reached this prince's famous

halls, they sat down all orderly on seats and high chairs;

and when they were come, the old man mixed well for them a

bowl of sweet wine, which now in the eleventh year from the

vintaging the housewife opened, and unloosed the string

that fastened the lid. The old man let mix a bowl thereof,

and prayed instantly to Athene as he poured forth before

her, even to the daughter of Zeus, lord of the aegis.

But after they had poured forth and had drunken to their

heart's content, these went each one to his own house to

lie down to rest. But Nestor of Gerenia, lord of chariots,

would needs have Telemachus, son of divine Odysseus, to

sleep there on a jointed bedstead beneath the echoing

gallery, and by him Peisistratus of the good ashen spear,

leader of men, who alone of his sons was yet unwed in his

halls. As for him he slept within the inmost chamber of the

lofty house, and the lady his wife arrayed for him bedstead

and bedding.

So soon as early Dawn shone forth, the rosy-fingered,

Nestor of Gerenia, lord of chariots, gat him up from his

bed, and he went forth and sat him down upon the smooth

stones, which were before his lofty doors, all polished,

white and glistening, whereon Neleus sat of old, in counsel

the peer of the gods. Howbeit, stricken by fate, he had ere

now gone down to the house of Hades, and to-day Nestor of

Gerenia in his turn sat thereon, warder of the Achaeans,

with his staff in his hands. And about him his sons were

gathered and come together, issuing from their chambers,

Echephron and Stratius, and Perseus and Aretus and the

godlike Thrasymedes. And sixth and last came the hero

Peisistratus. And they led godlike Telemachus and set him

by their side, and Nestor of Gerenia, lord of chariots,

spake first among them:

'Quickly, my dear children, accomplish my desire, that

first of all the gods I may propitiate Athene, who came to

me in visible presence to the rich feast of the god. Nay

then, let one go to the plain for a heifer, that she may

come as soon as may be, and that the neat-herd may drive

her: and let another go to the black ship of high-souled

Telemachus to bring all his company, and let him leave two

men only. And let one again bid Laerces the goldsmith to

come hither that he may gild the horns of the heifer. And

ye others, abide ye here together and speak to the

handmaids within that they make ready a banquet through our

famous halls, and fetch seats and logs to set about the

altar, and bring clear water.'

Thus he spake and lo, they all hastened to the work. The

heifer she came from the field, and from the swift gallant

ship came the company of great-hearted Telemachus; the

smith came holding in his hands his tools, the instruments

of his craft, anvil and hammer and well-made pincers,

wherewith he wrought the gold; Athene too came to receive

her sacrifice. And the old knight Nestor gave gold, and the

other fashioned it skilfully, and gilded therewith the

horns of the heifer, that the goddess might be glad at the

sight of her fair offering. And Stratius and goodly

Echephron led the heifer by the horns. And Aretus came

forth from the chamber bearing water for the washing of

hands in a basin of flowered work, and in the other hand he

held the barley-meal in a basket; and Thrasymedes,

steadfast in the battle, stood by holding in his hand a

sharp axe, ready to smite the heifer. And Perseus held the

dish for the blood, and the old man Nestor, driver of

chariots, performed the first rite of the washing of hands

and the sprinkling of the meal, and he prayed instantly to

Athene as he began the rite, casting into the fire the lock

from the head of the victim.

Now when they had prayed and tossed the sprinkled grain,

straightway the son of Nestor, gallant Thrasymedes, stood

by and struck the blow; and the axe severed the tendons of

the neck and loosened the might of the heifer; and the

women raised their cry, the daughters and the sons' wives

and the wife revered of Nestor, Eurydice, eldest of the

daughters of Clymenus. And now they lifted the victim's

head from the wide-wayed earth, and held it so, while

Peisistratus, leader of men, cut the throat. And after the

black blood had gushed forth and the life had left the

bones, quickly they broke up the body, and anon cut slices

from the thighs all duly, and wrapt the same in the fat,

folding them double, and laid raw flesh thereon. So that

old man burnt them on the cleft wood, and poured over them

the red wine, and by his side the young men held in their

hands the five-pronged forks. Now after that the thighs

were quite consumed and they had tasted the inner parts,

they cut the rest up small and spitted and roasted it,

holding the sharp spits in their hands.

Meanwhile she bathed Telemachus, even fair Polycaste, the

youngest daughter of Nestor, son of Neleus. And after she

had bathed him and anointed him with olive oil, and cast

about him a goodly mantle and a doublet, he came forth from

the bath in fashion like the deathless gods. So he went and

sat him down by Nestor, shepherd of the people.

Now when they had roasted the outer flesh, and drawn it off

the spits, they sat down and fell to feasting, and

honourable men waited on them, pouring wine into the golden

cups. But when they had put from them the desire of meat

and drink, Nestor of Gerenia, lord of chariots, first spake

among them:

'Lo now, my sons, yoke for Telemachus horses with flowing

mane and lead them beneath the car, that he may get forward

on his way.'

Even so he spake, and they gave good heed and hearkened;

and quickly they yoked the swift horses beneath the

chariot. And the dame that kept the stores placed therein

corn and wine and dainties, such as princes eat, the

fosterlings of Zeus. So Telemachus stept up into the goodly

car, and with him Peisistratus son of Nestor, leader of

men, likewise climbed the car and grasped the reins in his

hands, and he touched the horses with the whip to start

them, and nothing loth the pair flew towards the plain, and

left the steep citadel of Pylos. So all day long they

swayed the yoke they bore upon their necks.

Now the sun sank and all the ways were darkened. And they

came to Pherae, to the house of Diocles, son of Orsilochus,

the child begotten of Alpheus. There they rested for the

night, and by them he set the entertainment of strangers.

Now so soon as early Dawn shone forth, the rosy-fingered,

they yoked the horses and mounted the inlaid car. And forth

they drave from the gateway and the echoing gallery, and

Peisistratus touched the horses with the whip to start

them, and the pair flew onward nothing loth. So they came

to the wheat-bearing plain, and thenceforth they pressed

toward the end: in such wise did the swift horses speed

forward. Now the sun sank and all the ways were darkened.

 

Book IV

Telemachus' entertainment at Sparta, where Menelaus tells

him what befell many of the Greeks on their return; that

Odysseus was with Calypso in the isle Ogygia, as he was

told by Proteus.

And they came to Lacedaemon lying low among the caverned

hills, and drave to the dwelling of renowned Menelaus. Him

they found giving a feast in his house to many friends of

his kin, a feast for the wedding of his noble son and

daughter. His daughter he was sending to the son of

Achilles, cleaver of the ranks of men, for in Troy he first

had promised and covenanted to give her, and now the gods

were bringing about their marriage. So now he was speeding

her on her way with chariot and horses, to the famous city

of the Myrmidons, among whom her lord bare rule. And for

his son he was bringing to his home the daughter of Alector

out of Sparta, for his well-beloved son, strong

Megapenthes, {*} born of a slave woman, for the gods no

more showed promise of seed to Helen, from the day that she

bare a lovely child, Hermione, as fair as golden Aphrodite.

So they were feasting through the great vaulted hall, the

neighbours and the kinsmen of renowned Menelaus, making

merry; and among them a divine minstrel was singing to the

lyre, and as he began the song two tumblers in the company

whirled through the midst of them.

{* A son of sorrow: Tristram.}

Meanwhile those twain, the hero Telemachus and the splendid

son of Nestor, made halt at the entry of the gate, they and

their horses. And the lord Eteoneus came forth and saw

them, the ready squire of renowned Menelaus; and he went

through the palace to bear the tidings to the shepherd of

the people, and standing near spake to him winged words:

'Menelaus, fosterling of Zeus, here are two strangers,

whosoever they be, two men like to the lineage of great

Zeus. Say, shall we loose their swift horses from under the

yoke, or send them onward to some other host who shall

receive them kindly?'

Then in sore displeasure spake to him Menelaus of the fair

hair: 'Eteoneus son of Boethous, truly thou wert not a fool

aforetime, but now for this once, like a child thou talkest

folly. Surely ourselves ate much hospitable cheer of other

men, ere we twain came hither, even if in time to come Zeus

haply give us rest from affliction. Nay go, unyoke the

horses of the strangers, and as for the men, lead them

forward to the house to feast with us.'

So spake he, and Eteoneus hasted from the hall, and called

the other ready squires to follow with him. So they loosed

the sweating horses from beneath the yoke, and fastened

them at the stalls of the horses, and threw beside them

spelt, and therewith mixed white barley, and tilted the

chariot against the shining faces of the gateway, and led

the men into the hall divine. And they beheld and marvelled

as they gazed throughout the palace of the king, the

fosterling of Zeus; for there was a gleam as it were of sun

or moon through the lofty palace of renowned Menelaus. But

after they had gazed their fill, they went to the polished

baths and bathed them. Now when the maidens had bathed them

and anointed them with olive oil, and cast about them thick

cloaks and doublets, they sat on chairs by Menelaus, son of

Atreus. And a handmaid bare water for the hands in a goodly

golden ewer, and poured it forth over a silver basin to

wash withal; and to their side she drew a polished table,

and a grave dame bare food and set it by them, and laid

upon the board many dainties, giving freely of such things

as she had by her, and a carver lifted and placed by them

platters of divers kinds of flesh, and nigh them he set

golden bowls. So Menelaus of the fair hair greeted the

twain and spake:

'Taste ye food and be glad, and thereafter when ye have

supped, we will ask what men ye are; for the blood of your

parents is not lost in you, but ye are of the line of men

that are sceptred kings, the fosterlings of Zeus; for no

churls could beget sons like you.'

So spake he, and took and set before them the fat ox-chine

roasted, which they had given him as his own mess by way of

honour. And they stretched forth their hands upon the good

cheer set before them. Now when they had put from them the

desire of meat and drink Telemachus spake to the son of

Nestor, holding his head close to him, that those others

might not hear:

'Son of Nestor, delight of my heart, mark the flashing of

bronze through the echoing halls, and the flashing of gold

and of amber and of silver and of ivory. Such like,

methinks, is the court of Olympian Zeus within, for the

world of things that are here; wonder comes over me as I

look thereon.'

And as he spake Menelaus of the fair hair was ware of him,

and uttering his voice spake to them winged words:

'Children dear, of a truth no one of mortal men may contend

with Zeus, for his mansions and his treasures are

everlasting: but of men there may be who will vie with me

in treasure, or there may be none. Yea, for after many a

woe and wanderings manifold, I brought my wealth home in

ships, and in the eighth year came hither. I roamed over

Cyprus and Phoenicia and Egypt, and reached the Aethiopians

and Sidonians and Erembi and Libya, where lambs are horned

from the birth. For there the ewes yean thrice within the

full circle of a year; there neither lord nor shepherd

lacketh aught of cheese or flesh or of sweet milk, but ever

the flocks yield store of milk continual. While I was yet

roaming in those lands, gathering much livelihood, meantime

another slew my brother privily, at unawares, by the guile

of his accursed wife. Thus, look you, I have no joy of my

lordship among these my possessions: and ye are like to

have heard hereof from your fathers, whosoever they be, for

I have suffered much and let a house go to ruin that was

stablished fair, and had in it much choice substance. I

would that I had but a third part of those my riches, and

dwelt in my halls, and that those men were yet safe, who

perished of old in the wide land of Troy, far from Argos,

the pastureland of horses. Howbeit, though I bewail them

all and sorrow oftentimes as I sit in our halls,--awhile

indeed I satisfy my soul with lamentation, and then again I

cease; for soon hath man enough of chill lamentation--yet

for them all I make no such dole, despite my grief, as for

one only, who causes me to loathe both sleep and meat, when

I think upon him. For no one of the Achaeans toiled so

greatly as Odysseus toiled and adventured himself: but to

him it was to be but labour and trouble, and to me grief

ever comfortless for his sake, so long he is afar, nor know

we aught, whether he be alive or dead. Yea methinks they

lament him, even that old Laertes and the constant Penelope

and Telemachus, whom he left a child new-born in his

house.'

So spake he, and in the heart of Telemachus he stirred a

yearning to lament his father; and at his father's name he

let a tear fall from his eyelids to the ground, and held up

his purple mantle with both his hands before his eyes. And

Menelaus marked him and mused in his mind and his heart

whether he should leave him to speak of his father, or

first question him and prove him in every word.

While yet he pondered these things in his mind and in his

heart, Helen came forth from her fragrant vaulted chamber,

like Artemis of the golden arrows; and with her came

Adraste and set for her the well-wrought chair, and Alcippe

bare a rug of soft wool, and Phylo bare a silver basket

which Alcandre gave her, the wife of Polybus, who dwelt in

Thebes of Egypt, where is the chiefest store of wealth in

the houses. He gave two silver baths to Menelaus, and

tripods twain, ad ten talents of gold. And besides all

this, his wife bestowed on Helen lovely gifts; a golden

distaff did she give, and a silver basket with wheels

beneath, and the rims thereof were finished with gold. This

it was that the handmaid Phylo bare and set beside her,

filled with dressed yarn, and across it was laid a distaff

charged with wool of violet blue. So Helen sat her down in

the chair, and beneath was a footstool for the feet. And

anon she spake to her lord and questioned him of each

thing:

'Menelaus, fosterling of Zeus, know we now who these men

avow themselves to be that have come under our roof? Shall

I dissemble or shall I speak the truth? Nay, I am minded to

tell it. None, I say, have I ever yet seen so like another,

man or woman--wonder comes over me as I look on him--as

this man is like the son of great-hearted Odysseus,

Telemachus, whom he left a new born child in his house,

when for the sake of me, shameless woman that I was, ye

Achaeans came up under Troy with bold war in your hearts.'

And Menelaus of the fair hair answered her, saying: 'Now I

too, lady, mark the likeness even as thou tracest it. For

such as these were his feet, such his hands, and the

glances of his eyes, and his head, and his hair withal.

Yea, and even now I was speaking of Odysseus, as I

remembered him, of all his woeful travail for my sake;

when, lo, he let fall a bitter tear beneath his brows, and

held his purple cloak up before his eyes.'

And Peisistratus, son of Nestor, answered him, saying:

'Menelaus, son of Atreus, fosterling of Zeus, leader of the

host, assuredly this is the son of that very man, even as

thou sayest. But he is of a sober wit, and thinketh it

shame in his heart as on this his first coming to make show

of presumptuous words in the presence of thee, in whose

voice we twain delight as in the voice of a god. Now Nestor

of Gerenia, lord of chariots, sent me forth to be his guide

on the way: for he desired to see thee that thou mightest

put into his heart some word or work. For a son hath many

griefs in his halls when his father is away, if perchance

he hath none to stand by him. Even so it is now with

Telemachus; his father is away, nor hath he others in the

township to defend him from distress.'

And Menelaus of the fair hair answered him, and said: 'Lo

now, in good truth there has come unto my house the son of

a friend indeed, who for my sake endured many adventures.

And I thought to welcome him on his coming more nobly than

all the other Argives, if but Olympian Zeus, of the

far-borne voice, had vouchsafed us a return over the sea in

our swift ships,--that such a thing should be. And in Argos

I would have given him a city to dwell in, and stablished

for him a house, and brought him forth from Ithaca with his

substance and his son and all his people, making one city

desolate of those that lie around, and are in mine own

domain. Then ofttimes would we have held converse here, and

nought would have parted us, the welcoming and the

welcomed, {*} ere the black cloud of death overshadowed us.

Howsoever, the god himself, methinks, must have been

jealous hereof, who from that hapless man alone cut off his

returning.'

{* Mr. Evelyn Abbott of Balliol College has suggested to us

that [Greek] and [Greek] are here correlatives, and denote

respectively the parts of host and of guest. This is

sufficiently borne out by the usage of the words

elsewhere.}

So spake he, and in the hearts of all he stirred the desire

of lamentation. She wept, even Argive Helen the daughter of

Zeus, and Telemachus wept, and Menelaus the son of Atreus;

nay, nor did the son of Nestor keep tearless eyes. For he

bethought him in his heart of noble Antilochus, whom the

glorious son of the bright Dawn had slain. Thinking upon

him he spake winged words:

'Son of Atreus, the ancient Nestor in his own halls was

ever wont to say that thou wert wise beyond man's wisdom,

whensoever we made mention of thee and asked one another

concerning thee. And now, if it be possible, be persuaded

by me, who for one have no pleasure in weeping at supper

time--the new-born day will right soon be upon us. {*} Not

indeed that I deem it blame at all to weep for any mortal

who hath died and met his fate. Lo, this is now the only

due we pay to miserable men, to cut the hair and let the

tear fall from the cheek. For I too have a brother dead,

nowise the meanest of the Argives, and thou art like to

have known him, for as for me I never encountered him,

never beheld him. But men say that Antilochus outdid all,

being excellent in speed of foot and in the fight.'

{* Cf. B. xv.50}

And Menelaus of the fair hair answered him, and said: 'My

friend, lo, thou hast said all that a wise man might say or

do, yea, and an elder than thou;--for from such a sire too

thou art sprung, wherefore thou dost even speak wisely.

Right easily known is that man's seed, for whom Cronion

weaves the skein of luck at bridal and at birth: even as

now hath he granted prosperity to Nestor for ever for all

his days, that he himself should grow into a smooth old age

in his halls, and his sons moreover should be wise and the

best of spearsmen. But we will cease now the weeping which

was erewhile made, and let us once more bethink us of our

supper, and let them pour water over our hands. And again

in the morning there will be tales for Telemachus and me to

tell one to the other, even to the end.'

So spake he, and Asphalion poured water over their hands,

the ready squire of renowned Menelaus. And they put forth

their hands upon the good cheer spread before them.

Then Helen, daughter of Zeus, turned to new thoughts.

Presently she cast a drug into the wine whereof they drank,

a drug to lull all pain and anger, and bring forgetfulness

of every sorrow. Whoso should drink a draught thereof, when

it is mingled in the bowl, on that day he would let no tear

fall down his cheeks, not though his mother and his father

died, not though men slew his brother or dear son with the

sword before his face, and his own eyes beheld it.

Medicines of such virtue and so helpful had the daughter of

Zeus, which Polydamna, the wife of Thon, had given her, a

woman of Egypt, where earth the grain-giver yields herbs in

greatest plenty, many that are healing in the cup, and many

baneful. There each man is a leech skilled beyond all human

kind; yea, for they are of the race of Paeeon. Now after

she had cast in the drug and bidden pour forth of the wine,

she made answer once again, and spake unto her lord:

'Son of Atreus, Menelaus, fosterling of Zeus, and lo, ye

sons of noble men, forasmuch as now to one and now to

another Zeus gives good and evil, for to him all things are

possible,--now, verily, sit ye down and feast in the halls,

and take ye joy in the telling of tales, and I will tell

you one that fits the time. Now all of them I could not

tell or number, so many as were the adventures of Odysseus

of the hardy heart; but, ah, what a deed was this he

wrought and dared in his hardiness in the land of the

Trojans, where ye Achaeans suffered affliction. He subdued

his body with unseemly stripes, and a sorry covering he

cast about his shoulders, and in the fashion of a servant

he went down into the wide-wayed city of the foemen, and he

hid himself in the guise of another, a beggar, though in no

wise such an one was he at the ships of the Achaeans. In

this semblance he passed into the city of the Trojans, and

they wist not who he was, and I alone knew him in that

guise, and I kept questioning him, but in his subtlety he

avoided me. But when at last I was about washing him and

anointing him with olive oil, and had put on him raiment,

and sworn a great oath not to reveal Odysseus amid the

Trojans, ere he reached the swift ships and the huts, even

then he told me all the purpose of the Achaeans. And after

slaying many of the Trojans with the long sword, he

returned to the Argives and brought back word again of all.

Then the other Trojan women wept aloud, but my soul was

glad, for already my heart was turned to go back again even

to my home: and now at the last I groaned for the blindness

that Aphrodite gave me, when she led me thither away from

mine own country, forsaking my child and my bridal chamber

and my lord, that lacked not aught whether for wisdom or

yet for beauty.'

And Menelaus of the fair hair answered her, saying: 'Verily

all this tale, lady, thou hast duly told. Ere now have I

learned the counsel and the thought of many heroes, and

travelled over many a land, but never yet have mine eyes

beheld any such man of heart as was Odysseus; such another

deed as he wrought and dared in his hardiness even in the

shapen horse, wherein sat all we chiefs of the Argives,

bearing to the Trojans death and doom. Anon thou camest

thither, and sure some god must have bidden thee, who

wished to bring glory to the Trojans. Yea and godlike

Deiphobus went with thee on thy way. Thrice thou didst go

round about the hollow ambush and handle it, calling aloud

on the chiefs of the Argives by name, and making thy voice

like the voices of the wives of all the Argives. Now I and

the son of Tydeus and goodly Odysseus sat in the midst and

heard thy call; and verily we twain had a desire to start

up and come forth or presently to answer from within; but

Odysseus stayed and held us there, despite our eagerness.

Then all the other sons of the Achaeans held their peace,

but Anticlus alone was still minded to answer thee. Howbeit

Odysseus firmly closed his mouth with strong hands, and so

saved all the Achaeans, and held him until such time as

Pallas Athene led thee back.'

Then wise Telemachus answered him, and said: 'Menelaus, son

of Atreus, fosterling of Zeus, leader of the host, all the

more grievous it is! for in no way did this courage ward

from him pitiful destruction, not though his heart within

him had been very iron. But come, bid us to bed, that

forthwith we may take our joy of rest beneath the spell of

sleep.'

So spake he, and Argive Helen bade her handmaids set out

bedsteads beneath the gallery, and fling on them fair

purple blankets and spread coverlets above, and thereon lay

thick mantles to be a clothing over all. So they went from

the hall with torch in hand, and spread the beds, and the

henchman led forth the guests. Thus they slept there in the

vestibule of the house, the hero Telemachus and the

splendid son of Nestor. But the son of Atreus slept, as his

custom was, in the inmost chamber of the lofty house, and

by him lay long-robed Helen, that fair lady.

Soon as early Dawn shone forth, the rosy-fingered, Menelaus

of the loud war-shout gat him up from his bed and put on

his raiment, and cast his sharp sword about his shoulder,

and beneath his smooth feet bound his goodly sandals, and

stept forth from his chamber, in presence like a god, and

sat by Telemachus, and spake and hailed him:

'To what end hath thy need brought thee hither, hero

Telemachus, unto fair Lacedaemon, over the broad back of

the sea? Is it a matter of the common weal or of thine own?

Herein tell me the plain truth.'

Then wise Telemachus answered him, and said: 'Menelaus, son

of Atreus, fosterling of Zeus, leader of the host, I have

come if perchance thou mayest tell me some tidings of my

father. My dwelling is being devoured and my fat lands are

ruined, and of unfriendly men my house is full,--who

slaughter continually my thronging flocks, and my kine with

trailing feet and shambling gait,--none other than the

wooers of my mother, despiteful out of measure. So now am I

come hither to thy knees, if haply thou art willing to tell

me of his pitiful death, as one that saw it perchance with

thine own eyes, or heard the story from some other

wanderer; for his mother bare him to exceeding sorrow. And

speak me no soft words in ruth or pity, but tell me plainly

how thou didst get sight of him. Ah, I pray thee, if ever

at all my father, good Odysseus, made promise to thee of

word or work and fulfilled the same in the land of the

Trojans, where ye Achaeans suffered affliction, these

things, I pray thee, now remember and tell me truth.'

Then in heavy displeasure spake to him Menelaus of the fair

hair: 'Out upon them, for truly in the bed of a

brave-hearted man were they minded to lie, very cravens as

they are! Even as when a hind hath couched her newborn

fawns unweaned in a strong lion's lair, and searcheth out

the mountain knees and grassy hollows, seeking pasture, and

afterward the lion cometh back to his bed, and sendeth

forth unsightly death upon that pair, even so shall

Odysseus send forth unsightly death upon the wooers. Would

to our father Zeus and Athene and Apollo, would that in

such might as when of old in stablished Lesbos he rose up

and wrestled a match with Philomeleides and threw him

mightily, and all the Achaeans rejoiced; would that in such

strength Odysseus might consort with the wooers: then

should they all have swift fate, and bitter wedlock! But

for that whereof thou askest and entreatest me, be sure I

will not swerve from the truth in aught that I say, nor

deceive thee; but of all that the ancient one of the sea,

whose speech is sooth, declared to me, not a word will I

hide or keep from thee.

'In the river Aegyptus, {*} though eager I was to press

onward home, the gods they stayed me, for that I had not

offered them the acceptable sacrifice of hecatombs, and the

gods ever desired that men should be mindful of their

commandments. Now there is an island in the wash of the

waves over against Aegyptus, and men call it Pharos, within

one day's voyage of a hollow ship, when shrill winds blow

fair in her wake. And therein is a good haven, whence men

launch the gallant ships into the deep when they have drawn

a store of deep black water. There the gods held me twenty

days, nor did the sea-winds ever show their breath, they

that serve to waft ships over the broad back of the sea.

And now would all our corn have been spent, and likewise

the strength of the men, except some goddess had taken pity

on me and saved me, Eidothee, daughter of mighty Proteus,

the ancient one of the sea. For most of all I moved her

heart, when she met me wandering alone apart from my

company, who were ever roaming round the isle, fishing with

bent hooks, for hunger was gnawing at their belly. So she

stood by, and spake and uttered her voice saying:

{* The only name for the Nile in Homer. Cf. Wilkinson,

Ancient Egyptians (1878), vol. i. p. 7.}

'"Art thou so very foolish, stranger, and feeble-witted, or

art thou wilfully remiss, and hast pleasure in suffering?

So long time art thou holden in the isle and canst find no

issue therefrom, while the heart of thy company faileth

within them?"

'Even so she spake, and I answered her saying: "I will

speak forth, what goddess soever thou art, and tell thee

that in no wise am I holden here by mine own will, but it

needs must be that I have sinned against the deathless

gods, who keep the wide heaven. Howbeit, do thou tell

me--for the gods know all things--which of the immortals it

is that binds me here and hath hindered me from my way, and

declare as touching my returning how I may go over the

teeming deep."

'So I spake, and straightway the fair goddess made answer:

"Yea now, sir, I will plainly tell thee all. Hither

resorteth that ancient one of the sea, whose speech is

sooth, the deathless Egyptian Proteus, who knows the depths

of every sea, and is the thrall of Poseidon, and who, they

say, is my father that begat me. If thou couldst but lay an

ambush and catch him, he will surely declare to thee the

way and the measure of thy path, and will tell thee of thy

returning, how thou mayest go over the teeming deep. Yea,

and he will show thee, O fosterling of Zeus, if thou wilt,

what good thing and what evil hath been wrought in thy

halls, whilst thou has been faring this long and grievous

way."

'So she spake, but I answered and said unto her: "Devise

now thyself the ambush to take this ancient one divine,

lest by any chance he see me first, or know of my coming,

and avoid me. For a god is hard for mortal man to quell."

'So spake I, and straightway the fair goddess made answer:

"Yea now, sir, I will plainly tell thee all. So often as

the sun in his course stands high in mid heaven, then forth

from the brine comes the ancient one of the sea, whose

speech is sooth, before the breath of the West Wind he

comes, and the sea's dark ripple covers him. And when he is

got forth, he lies down to sleep in the hollow of the

caves. And around him the seals, the brood of the fair

daughter of the brine, sleep all in a flock, stolen forth

from the grey sea water, and bitter is the scent they

breathe of the deeps of the salt sea. There will I lead

thee at the breaking of the day, and couch you all orderly;

so do thou choose diligently three of thy company, the best

thou hast in thy decked ships. And I will tell thee all the

magic arts of that old man. First, he will number the seals

and go over them; but when he has told their tale and

beheld them, he will lay him down in the midst, as a

shepherd mid the sheep of his flock. So soon as ever ye

shall see him couched, even then mind you of your might and

strength, and hold him there, despite his eagerness and

striving to be free. And he will make assay, and take all

manner of shapes of things that creep upon the earth, of

water likewise, and of fierce fire burning. But do ye grasp

him steadfastly and press him yet the more, and at length

when he questions thee in his proper shape, as he was when

first ye saw him laid to rest, then, hero, hold thy strong

hands, and let the ancient one go free, and ask him which

of the gods is hard upon thee, and as touching thy

returning, how thou mayest go over the teeming deep."

'Therewith she dived beneath the heaving sea, but I betook

me to the ships where they stood in the sand, and my heart

was darkly troubled as I went. But after I had come down to

the ship and to the sea, and we had made ready our supper

and immortal night had come on, then did we lay us to rest

upon the sea-beach. So soon as early Dawn shone forth, the

rosy fingered, in that hour I walked by the shore of the

wide-wayed sea, praying instantly to the gods; and I took

with me three of my company, in whom I trusted most for

every enterprise.

'Meanwhile, so it was that she had plunged into the broad

bosom of the sea, and had brought from the deep the skins

of four sea-calves, and all were newly flayed, for she was

minded to lay a snare for her father. She scooped lairs on

the sea-sand, and sat awaiting us, and we drew very nigh

her, and she made us all lie down in order, and cast a skin

over each. There would our ambush have been most terrible,

for the deadly stench of the sea bred seals distressed us

sore: nay, who would lay him down by a beast of the sea?

But herself she wrought deliverance, and devised a great

comfort. She took ambrosia of a very sweet savour, and set

it beneath each man's nostril, and did away with the stench

of the beast. So all the morning we waited with steadfast

heart, and the seals came forth in troops from the brine,

and then they couched them all orderly by the sea-beach.

And at high day the ancient one came forth from out of the

brine, and found his fatted seals, yea and he went along

their line and told their tale; and first among the

sea-beasts he reckoned us, and guessed not that there was

guile, and afterward he too laid him down. Then we rushed

upon him with a cry, and cast our hands about him, nor did

that ancient one forget his cunning. Now behold, at the

first he turned into a bearded lion, and thereafter into a

snake, and a pard, and a huge boar; then he took the shape

of running water, and of a tall and flowering tree. We the

while held him close with steadfast heart. But when now

that ancient one of the magic arts was aweary, then at last

he questioned me and spake unto me, saying:

'"Which of the gods was it, son of Atreus, that aided thee

with his counsel, that thou mightest waylay and take me

perforce? What wouldest thou thereby?"

'Even so he spake, but I answered him saying; "Old man,

thou knowest all, wherefore dost thou question me thereof

with crooked words? For lo, I am holden long time in this

isle, neither can I find any issue therefrom, and my heart

faileth within me. Howbeit do thou tell me--for the gods

know all things--which of the immortals it is that bindeth

me here, and hath hindered me from my way; and declare as

touching my returning, how I may go over the teeming deep."

'Even so I spake, and he straightway answered me, saying:

"Nay, surely thou shouldest have done goodly sacrifice to

Zeus and the other gods ere thine embarking, that with most

speed thou mightst reach thy country, sailing over the

wine-dark deep. For it is not thy fate to see thy friends,

and come to thy stablished house and thine own country,

till thou hast passed yet again within the waters of

Aegyptus, the heaven-fed stream, and offered holy hecatombs

to the deathless gods who keep the wide heaven. So shall

the gods grant thee the path which thou desirest."

'So spake he, but my spirit within me was broken, for that

he bade me again to go to Aegyptus over the misty deep, a

long and grievous way.

'Yet even so I answered him saying: "Old man, all this will

I do, according to thy word. But come, declare me this, and

tell it all plainly. Did all those Achaeans return safe

with their ships, all whom Nestor and I left as we went

from Troy, or perished any by a shameful death aboard his

own ship, or in the arms of his friends, after he had wound

up the clew of war?"

'So spake I, and anon he answered me, saying: "Son of

Atreus, why dost thou straitly question me hereof? Nay, it

is not for thy good to know or learn my thought; for I tell

thee thou shalt not long be tearless, when thou hast heard

it all aright. For many of these were taken, and many were

left; but two only of the leaders of the mail-coated

Achaeans perished in returning; as for the battle, thou

thyself wast there. And one methinks is yet alive, and is

holden on the wide deep. Aias in truth was smitten in the

midst of his ships of the long oars. Poseidon at first

brought him nigh to Gyrae, to the mighty rocks, and

delivered him from the sea. And so he would have fled his

doom, albeit hated by Athene, had he not let a proud word

fall in the fatal darkening of his heart. He said that in

the gods' despite he had escaped the great gulf of the sea;

and Poseidon heard his loud boasting, and presently caught

up his trident into his strong hands, and smote the rock

Gyraean and cleft it in twain. And the one part abode in

his place, but the other fell into the sea, the broken

piece whereon Aias sat at the first, when his heart was

darkened. And the rock bore him down into the vast and

heaving deep; so there he perished when he had drunk of the

salt sea water. But thy brother verily escaped the fates

and avoided them in his hollow ships, for queen Hera saved

him. But now when he was like soon to reach the steep mount

of Malea, lo, the storm wind snatched him away and bore him

over the teeming deep, making great moan, to the border of

the country whereof old Thyestes dwelt, but now Aegisthus

abode there, the son of Thyestes. But when thence too there

showed a good prospect of safe returning, and the gods

changed the wind to a fair gale, and they had reached home,

then verily did Agamemnon set foot with joy upon his

country's soil, and as he touched his own land he kissed

it, and many were the hot tears he let fall, for he saw his

land and was glad. And it was so that the watchman spied

him from his tower, the watchman whom crafty Aegisthus had

led and posted there, promising him for a reward two

talents of gold. Now he kept watch for the space of a year,

lest Agamemnon should pass by him when he looked not, and

mind him of his wild prowess. So he went to the house to

bear the tidings to the shepherd of the people. And

straightway Aegisthus contrived a cunning treason. He chose

out twenty of the best men in the township, and set an

ambush, and on the further side of the hall he commanded to

prepare a feast. Then with chariot and horses he went to

bid to the feast Agamemnon, shepherd of the people; but

caitiff thoughts were in his heart. He brought him up to

his house, all unwitting of his doom, and when he had

feasted him slew him, as one slayeth an ox at the stall.

And none of the company of Atreides that were of his

following were left, nor any of the men of Aegisthus, but

they were all killed in the halls."

'So spake he, and my spirit within me was broken, and I

wept as I sat upon the sand, nor was I minded any more to

live and see the light of the sun. But when I had taken my

fill of weeping and grovelling on the ground, then spake

the ancient one of the sea, whose speech is sooth:

'"No more, son of Atreus, hold this long weeping without

cease, for we shall find no help therein. Rather with all

haste make essay that so thou mayest come to thine own

country. For either thou shalt find Aegisthus yet alive, or

it may be Orestes was beforehand with thee and slew him; so

mayest thou chance upon his funeral feast."

'So he spake, and my heart and lordly soul again were

comforted for all my sorrow, and I uttered my voice and I

spake to him winged words:

'"Their fate I now know; but tell me of the third; who is

it that is yet living and holden on the wide deep, or

perchance is dead? and fain would I hear despite my

sorrow."

'So spake I, and straightway he answered, and said: "It is

the son of Laertes, whose dwelling is in Ithaca; and I saw

him in an island shedding big tears in the halls of the

nymph Calypso, who holds him there perforce; so he may not

come to his own country, for he has by him no ships with

oars, and no companions to send him on his way over the

broad back of the sea. But thou, Menelaus, son of Zeus, art

not ordained to die and meet thy fate in Argos, the

pasture-land of horses, but the deathless gods will convey

thee to the Elysian plain and the world's end, where is

Rhadamanthus of the fair hair, where life is easiest for

men. No snow is there, nor yet great storm, nor any rain;

but always ocean sendeth forth the breeze of the shrill

West to blow cool on men; yea, for thou hast Helen to wife,

and thereby they deem thee to be son of Zeus."

'So spake he, and plunged into the heaving sea; but I

betook me to the ships with my godlike company, and my

heart was darkly troubled as I went. Now after I had come

down to the ship and to the sea, and had made ready our

supper, and immortal night had come on, then did we lay us

to rest upon the sea-beach. So soon as early Dawn shone

forth, the rosy-fingered, first of all we drew down our

ships to the fair salt sea and placed the masts and the

sails in the gallant ships, and the crew too climbed on

board, and sat upon the benches and smote the grey sea

water with their oars. Then back I went to the waters of

Aegyptus, the heaven-fed stream, and there I moored the

ships and offered the acceptable sacrifice of hecatombs. So

when I had appeased the anger of the everlasting gods, I

piled a barrow to Agamemnon, that his fame might never be

quenched. So having fulfilled all, I set out for home, and

the deathless gods gave me a fair wind, and brought me

swiftly to mine own dear country. But lo, now tarry in my

halls till it shall be the eleventh day hence or the

twelfth. Then will I send thee with all honour on thy way,

and give thee splendid gifts, three horses and a polished

car; and moreover I will give thee a goodly chalice, that

thou mayest pour forth before the deathless gods, and be

mindful of me all the days of thy life.'

Then wise Telemachus answered him, saying: 'Son of Atreus,

nay, hold me not long time here. Yea even for a year would

I be content to sit by thee, and no desire for home or

parents would come upon me; for I take wondrous pleasure in

thy tales and talk. But already my company wearieth in fair

Pylos, and yet thou art keeping me long time here. And

whatsoever gift thou wouldest give me, let it be a thing to

treasure; but horses I will take none to Ithaca, but leave

them here to grace thine own house, for thou art lord of a

wide plain wherein is lotus great plenty, and therein is

spear-reed and wheat and rye, and white and spreading

barley. In Ithaca there are no wide courses, nor meadow

land at all. It is a pasture-land of goats, and more

pleasant in my sight than one that pastureth horses; for of

the isles that lie and lean upon the sea, none are fit for

the driving of horses, or rich in meadow land, and least of

all is Ithaca.'

So spake he, and Menelaus, of the loud war cry, smiled, and

caressed him with his hand, and spake and hailed him:

'Thou art of gentle blood, dear child, so gentle the words

thou speakest. Therefore I will make exchange of the

presents, as I may. Of the gifts, such as are treasures

stored in my house, I will give thee the goodliest and

greatest of price. I will give thee a mixing bowl

beautifully wrought; it is all of silver, and the lips

thereof are finished with gold, the work of Hephaestus; and

the hero Phaedimus, the king of the Sidonians, gave it me,

when his house sheltered me on my coming thither, and to

thee now would I give it.'

Even so they spake one to another, while the guests came to

the palace of the divine king. They drave their sheep, and

brought wine that maketh glad the heart of man: and their

wives with fair tire sent them wheaten bread. Thus were

these men preparing the feast in the halls.

But the wooers meantime were before the palace of Odysseus,

taking their pleasure in casting of weights and spears, on

a levelled place, as heretofore, in their insolence. And

Antinous and god-like Eurymachus were seated there, the

chief men of the wooers, who were far the most excellent of

all. And Noemon, son of Phromius, drew nigh to them and

spake unto Antinous and questioned him, saying:

'Antinous, know we at all, or know we not, when Telemachus

will return from sandy Pylos? He hath departed with a ship

of mine, and I have need thereof, to cross over into

spacious Elis, where I have twelve brood mares with hardy

mules unbroken at the teat; I would drive off one of these

and break him in.'

So spake he, and they were amazed, for they deemed not that

Telemachus had gone to Neleian Pylos, but that he was at

home somewhere in the fields, whether among the flocks, or

with the swineherd.

Then Antinous, son of Eupeithes, spake to him in turn:

'Tell me the plain truth; when did he go, and what noble

youths went with him? Were they chosen men of Ithaca or

hirelings and thralls of his own? He was in case to bring

even that about. And tell me this in good sooth, that I may

know for a surety: did he take thy black ship from thee

perforce against thy will? or didst thou give it him of

free will at his entreaty?

Then Noemon, son of Phromius, answered him saying: 'I gave

it him myself of free will. What can any man do, when such

an one, so bestead with care, begs a favour? it were hard

to deny the gift. The youths who next to us are noblest in

the land, even these have gone with him; and I marked their

leader on board ship, Mentor, or a god who in all things

resembled Mentor. But one matter I marvel at: I saw the

goodly Mentor here yesterday toward dawn, though already he

had embarked for Pylos.'

He spake and withal departed to his father's house. And the

proud spirits of these twain were angered, and they made

the wooers sit down together and cease from their games.

And among them spake Antinous, son of Eupeithes, in

displeasure; and his black heart was wholly filled with

rage, and his eyes were like flaming fire:

'Out on him, a proud deed hath Telemachus accomplished with

a high hand, even this journey, and we thought that he

would never bring it to pass! This lad hath clean gone

without more ado, in spite of us all; his ship he hath let

haul to the sea, and chosen the noblest in the township. He

will begin to be our bane even more than heretofore; but

may Zeus destroy his might, not ours, ere he reach the

measure of manhood! But come, give me a swift ship and

twenty men, that I may lie in watch and wait even for him

on his way home, in the strait between Ithaca and rugged

Samos, that so he may have a woeful end of his cruising in

quest of his father.'

So spake he, and they all assented thereto, and bade him to

the work. And thereupon they arose and went to the house of

Odysseus.

Now it was no long time before Penelope heard of the

counsel that the wooers had devised in the deep of their

heart. For the henchman Medon told her thereof, who stood

without the court and heard their purposes, while they were

weaving their plot within. So he went on his way through

the halls to bring the news to Penelope; and as he stept

down over the threshold, Penelope spake unto him:

'Henchman, wherefore have the noble wooers sent thee forth?

Was it to tell the handmaids of divine Odysseus to cease

from their work, and prepare a banquet for them? Nay, after

thus much wooing, never again may they come together, but

here this day sup for their last and latest time; all ye

who assemble so often, and waste much livelihood, the

wealth of wise Telemachus! Long ago when ye were children,

ye marked not your fathers' telling, what manner of man was

Odysseus among them, one that wrought no iniquity toward

any man, nor spake aught unrighteous in the township, as is

the wont of divine kings. One man a king is like to hate,

another he might chance to love. But never did he do aught

at all presumptuously to any man. Nay, it is plain what

spirit ye are of, and your unseemly deeds are manifest to

all, nor is there any gratitude left for kindness done.'

Then Medon, wise of heart, answered her: 'Would, oh queen,

that this were the crowning evil! But the wooers devise

another far greater and more grievous, which I pray the son

of Cronos may never fulfil! They are set on slaying

Telemachus with the edge of the sword on his homeward way;

for he is gone to fair Pylos and goodly Lacedaemon, to seek

tidings of his father.'

So spake he, but her knees were loosened where she stood,

and her heart melted within her, and long time was she

speechless, and lo, her eyes were filled with tears and the

voice of her utterance was stayed. And at the last she

answered him and said:

'Henchman, wherefore I pray thee is my son departed? There

is no need that he should go abroad on swift ships, that

serve men for horses on the sea, and that cross the great

wet waste. Is it that even his own name may no more be left

upon earth?'

Then Medon, wise of heart, answered her: 'I know not

whether some god set him on or whether his own spirit

stirred him to go to Pylos to seek tidings of his father's

return, or to hear what end he met.'

He spake, and departed through the house of Odysseus, and

on her fell a cloud of consuming grief; so that she might

no more endure to seat her on a chair, whereof there were

many in the house, but there she crouched on the threshold

of her well-builded chamber, wailing piteously, and her

handmaids round her made low moan, as many as were in the

house with her, young and old. And Penelope spake among

them pouring forth her lamentation:

'Hear me, my friends, for the Olympian sire hath given me

pain exceedingly beyond all women who were born and bred in

my day. For erewhile I lost my noble lord of the lion

heart, adorned with all perfection among the Danaans, my

good lord, whose fame is noised abroad from Hellas to mid

Argos. And now again the storm-winds have snatched away my

well-beloved son without tidings from our halls, nor heard

I of his departure. Oh, women, hard of heart, that even ye

did not each one let the thought come into your minds, to

rouse me from my couch when he went to the black hollow

ship, though ye knew full well thereof! For had I heard

that he was purposing this journey, verily he should have

stayed here still, though eager to be gone, or have left me

dead in the halls. Howbeit let some one make haste to call

the ancient Dolius, my thrall, whom my father gave me ere

yet I had come hither, who keepeth my garden of trees. So

shall he go straightway and sit by Laertes, and tell him

all, if perchance Laertes may weave some counsel in his

heart, and go forth and make his plaint to the people, who

are purposed to destroy his seed, and the seed of god-like

Odysseus.'

Then the good nurse Eurycleia answered her: 'Dear lady,

aye, slay me if thou wilt with the pitiless sword or let me

yet live on in the house,--yet will I not hide my saying

from thee. I knew all this, and gave him whatsoever he

commanded, bread and sweet wine. And he took a great oath

of me not to tell thee till at least the twelfth day should

come, or thou thyself shouldst miss him and hear of his

departure, that thou mightest not mar thy fair flesh with

thy tears. But now, wash thee in water, and take to thee

clean raiment and ascend to thy upper chamber with the

women thy handmaids, and pray to Athene, daughter of Zeus,

lord of the aegis. For so may she save him even from death.

And heap not troubles on an old man's trouble; for the seed

of the son of Arceisius, is not, methinks, utterly hated by

the blessed gods, but someone will haply yet remain to

possess these lofty halls, and the fat fields far away.'

So spake she, and lulled her queen's lamentation, and made

her eyes to cease from weeping. So she washed her in water,

and took to her clean raiment, and ascended to the upper

chamber with the women her handmaids, and placed the meal

for sprinkling in a basket, and prayed unto Athene:

'Hear me, child of Zeus, lord of the aegis, unwearied

maiden! If ever wise Odysseus in his halls burnt for thee

fat slices of the thighs of heifer or of sheep, these

things, I pray thee, now remember, and save my dear son,

and ward from him the wooers in the naughtiness of their

pride.'

Therewith she raised a cry, and the goddess heard her

prayer. But the wooers clamoured through the shadowy halls,

and thus would some proud youth say:

'Verily this queen of many wooers prepareth our marriage,

nor knoweth at all how that for her son death hath been

ordained.'

Thus would certain of them speak, but they knew not how

these things were ordained. And Antinous made harangue and

spake among them:

'Good sirs, my friends, shun all disdainful words alike,

lest someone hear and tell it even in the house. But come

let us arise, and in silence accomplish that whereof we

spake, for the counsel pleased us every one.'

Therewith he chose twenty men that were the best, and they

departed to the swift ship and the sea-banks. So first of

all they drew the ship down to the deep water, and placed

the mast and sails in the black ship, and fixed the oars in

leathern loops all orderly, and spread forth the white

sails. And squires, haughty of heart, bare for them their

arms. And they moored her high out in the shore water, and

themselves disembarked. There they supped and waited for

evening to come on.

But the wise Penelope lay there in her upper chamber,

fasting and tasting neither meat nor drink, musing whether

her noble son should escape death, or even fall before the

proud wooers. And as a lion broods all in fear among the

press of men, when they draw the crafty ring around him, so

deeply was she musing when deep sleep came over her. And

she sank back in sleep and all her joints were loosened.

Now the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, turned to other

thoughts. She made a phantom, and fashioned it after the

likeness of a woman, Iphthime, daughter of great-hearted

Icarius, whom Eumelus wedded, whose dwelling was in Pherae.

And she sent it to the house of divine Odysseus to bid

Penelope, amid her sorrow and lamenting, to cease from her

weeping and tearful lamentation. So the phantom passed into

the chamber by the thong of the bolt, and stood above her

head and spake unto her, saying:

'Sleepest thou, Penelope, stricken at heart? Nay, even the

gods who live at ease suffer thee not to wail or be

afflicted, seeing that thy son is yet to return; for no

sinner is he in the eyes of the gods.'

Then wise Penelope made her answer as she slumbered very

softly at the gates of dreams:

'Wherefore, sister, hast thou come hither, that before wert

not wont to come, for thou hast thine habitation very far

away? Biddest thou me indeed to cease from the sorrows and

pains, so many that disquiet my heart and soul? Erewhile I

lost my noble lord of the lion heart, adorned with all

perfection among the Danaans, my true lord, whose fame is

noised abroad from Hellas to mid Argos. And now, again, my

well-beloved son is departed on his hollow ship, poor

child, not skilled in toils or in the gatherings of men.

For him I sorrow yet more than for my lord, and I tremble

and fear for him lest aught befal him, whether, it may be,

amid that folk where he is gone, or in the deep. For many

foemen devise evil against him, and go about to kill him,

or ever he come to his own country.'

And the dim phantom answered her, and said: 'Take courage,

and be not so sorely afraid. For lo, such a friend goes to

guide him, as all men pray to stand by them, for that she

hath the power, even Pallas Athene. And she pitieth thee in

thy sorrow, and now hath sent me forth to speak these words

to thee.'

And wise Penelope answered her, saying: 'If thou art indeed

a god, and hast heard the word of a god, come, I pray thee,

and tell me tidings concerning that ill-fated man, whether

perchance he is yet alive and sees the light of the sun, or

hath already died, and is a dweller in the house of Hades.'

And the dim phantom answered her and said: 'Concerning him

I will not tell thee all the tale, whether he be alive or

dead; it is ill to speak words light as wind.'

Therewith the phantom slipped away by the bolt of the door

and passed into the breath of the wind. And the daughter of

Icarius started up from sleep; and her heart was cheered,

so clear was the vision that sped toward her in the dead of

the night.

Meanwhile the wooers had taken ship and were sailing over

the wet ways, pondering in their hearts sheer death for

Telemachus. Now there is a rocky isle in the mid sea,

midway between Ithaca and rugged Samos, Asteris, a little

isle; and there is a harbour therein with a double

entrance, where ships may ride. There the Achaeans abode

lying in wait for Telemachus.

 

Book V

The Gods in council command Calypso by Hermes to send away

Odysseus on a raft of trees; and Poseidon, returning from

Ethiopia and seeing him on the coast of Phaeacia, scattered

his raft; and how by the help of Ino he was thrown ashore,

and slept on a heap of dry leaves till the next day.

Now the Dawn arose from her couch, from the side of the

lordly Tithonus, to bear light to the immortals and to

mortal men. And lo, the gods were gathering to session, and

among them Zeus, that thunders on high, whose might is

above all. And Athene told them the tale of the many woes

of Odysseus, recalling them to mind; for near her heart was

he that then abode in the dwelling of the nymph:

'Father Zeus, and all ye other blessed gods that live for

ever, henceforth let not any sceptred king be kind and

gentle with all his heart, nor minded to do righteously,

but let him alway be a hard man and work unrighteousness,

for behold, there is none that remembereth divine Odysseus

of the people whose lord he was, and was gentle as a

father. Howbeit, as for him he lieth in an island suffering

strong pains, in the halls of the nymph Calypso, who

holdeth him perforce; so he may not reach his own country,

for he hath no ships by him with oars, and no companions to

send him on his way over the broad back of the sea. And

now, again, they are set on slaying his beloved son on his

homeward way, for he is gone to fair Pylos and to goodly

Lacedaemon, to seek tidings of his father.'

And Zeus, gatherer of the clouds, answered and spake unto

her: 'My child, what word hath escaped the door of thy

lips? Nay, didst thou not thyself plan this device, that

Odysseus may assuredly take vengeance on those men at his

coming? As for Telemachus, do thou guide him by thine art,

as well as thou mayest, that so he may come to his own

country all unharmed, and the wooers may return in their

ship with their labour all in vain.'

Therewith he spake to Hermes, his dear son: 'Hermes,

forasmuch as even in all else thou art our herald, tell

unto the nymph of the braided tresses my unerring counsel,

even the return of the patient Odysseus, how he is to come

to his home, with no furtherance of gods or of mortal men.

Nay, he shall sail on a well-bound raft, in sore distress,

and on the twentieth day arrive at fertile Scheria, even at

the land of the Phaeacians, who are near of kin to the

gods. And they shall give him all worship heartily as to a

god, and send him on his way in a ship to his own dear

country, with gifts of bronze and gold, and raiment in

plenty, much store, such as never would Odysseus have won

for himself out of Troy, yea, though he had returned unhurt

with the share of the spoil that fell to him. On such wise

is he fated to see his friends, and come to his high-roofed

home and his own country.'

So spake he, nor heedless was the messenger, the slayer of

Argos. Straightway he bound beneath his feet his lovely

golden sandals, that wax not old, that bare him alike over

the wet sea and over the limitless land, swift as the

breath of the wind. And he took the wand wherewith he lulls

the eyes of whomso he will, while others again he even

wakes from out of sleep. With this rod in his hand flew the

strong slayer of Argos. Above Pieria he passed and leapt

from the upper air into the deep. Then he sped along the

wave like the cormorant, that chaseth the fishes through

the perilous gulfs of the unharvested sea, and wetteth his

thick plumage in the brine. Such like did Hermes ride upon

the press of the waves. But when he had now reached that

far-off isle, he went forth from the sea of violet blue to

get him up into the land, till he came to a great cave,

wherein dwelt the nymph of the braided tresses: and he

found her within. And on the hearth there was a great fire

burning, and from afar through the isle was smelt the

fragrance of cleft cedar blazing, and of sandal wood. And

the nymph within was singing with a sweet voice as she

fared to and fro before the loom, and wove with a shuttle

of gold. And round about the cave there was a wood

blossoming, alder and poplar and sweet-smelling cypress.

And therein roosted birds long of wing, owls and falcons

and chattering sea-crows, which have their business in the

waters. And lo, there about the hollow cave trailed a

gadding garden vine, all rich with clusters. And fountains

four set orderly were running with clear water, hard by one

another, turned each to his own course. And all around soft

meadows bloomed of violets and parsley, yea, even a

deathless god who came thither might wonder at the sight

and be glad at heart. There the messenger, the slayer of

Argos, stood and wondered. Now when he had gazed at all

with wonder, anon he went into the wide cave; nor did

Calypso, that fair goddess, fail to know him, when she saw

him face to face; for the gods use not to be strange one to

another, the immortals, not though one have his habitation

far away. But he found not Odysseus, the greathearted,

within the cave, who sat weeping on the shore even as

aforetime, straining his soul with tears and groans and

griefs, and as he wept he looked wistfully over the

unharvested deep. And Calypso, that fair goddess,

questioned Hermes, when she had made him sit on a bright

shining seat:

'Wherefore, I pray thee, Hermes, of the golden wand, hast

thou come hither, worshipful and welcome, whereas as of old

thou wert not wont to visit me? Tell me all thy thought; my

heart is set on fulfilling it, if fulfil it I may, and if

it hath been fulfilled in the counsel of fate. But now

follow me further, that I may set before thee the

entertainment of strangers.'

Therewith the goddess spread a table with ambrosia and set

it by him, and mixed the ruddy nectar. So the messenger,

the slayer of Argos, did eat and drink. Now after he had

supped and comforted his soul with food, at the last he

answered, and spake to her on this wise:

'Thou makest question of me on my coming, a goddess of a

god, and I will tell thee this my saying truly, at thy

command. 'Twas Zeus that bade me come hither, by no will of

mine; nay, who of his free will would speed over such a

wondrous space of brine, whereby is no city of mortals that

do sacrifice to the gods, and offer choice hecatombs? But

surely it is in no wise possible for another god to go

beyond or to make void the purpose of Zeus, lord of the

aegis. He saith that thou hast with thee a man most

wretched beyond his fellows, beyond those men that round

the burg of Priam for nine years fought, and in the tenth

year sacked the city and departed homeward. Yet on the way

they sinned against Athene, and she raised upon them an

evil blast and long waves of the sea. Then all the rest of

his good company was lost, but it came to pass that the

wind bare and the wave brought him hither. And now Zeus

biddeth thee send him hence with what speed thou mayest,

for it is not ordained that he die away from his friends,

but rather it is his fate to look on them even yet, and to

come to his high-roofed home and his own country.'

So spake he, and Calypso, that fair goddess, shuddered and

uttered her voice, and spake unto him winged words: 'Hard

are ye gods and jealous exceeding, who ever grudge

goddesses openly to mate with men, if any make a mortal her

dear bed-fellow. Even so when rosy-fingered Dawn took Orion

for her lover, ye gods that live at ease were jealous

thereof, till chaste Artemis, of the golden throne, slew

him in Ortygia with the visitation of her gentle shafts. So

too when fair-tressed Demeter yielded to her love, and lay

with Iasion in the thrice-ploughed fallow-field, Zeus was

not long without tidings thereof, and cast at him with his

white bolt and slew him. So again ye gods now grudge that a

mortal man should dwell with me. Him I saved as he went all

alone bestriding the keel of a bark, for that Zeus had

crushed {*} and cleft his swift ship with a white bolt in

the midst of the wine-dark deep. There all the rest of his

good company was lost, but it came to pass that the wind

bare and the wave brought him hither. And him have I loved

and cherished, and I said that I would make him to know not

death and age for ever. Yet forasmuch as it is no wise

possible for another god to go beyond, or make void the

purpose of Zeus, lord of the aegis, let him away over the

unharvested seas, if the summons and the bidding be of

Zeus. But I will give him no despatch, not I, for I have no

ships by me with oars, nor company to bear him on his way

over the broad back of the sea. Yet will I be forward to

put this in his mind, and will hide nought, that all

unharmed he may come to his own country.'

{* It seems very doubtful whether [Greek] can bear this

meaning. The reading [Greek], 'smote,' preserved by the

Schol. is highly probable.}

Then the messenger, the slayer of Argos, answered her:

'Yea, speed him now upon his path and have regard unto the

wrath of Zeus, lest haply he be angered and bear hard on

thee hereafter.'

Therewith the great slayer of Argos departed, but the lady

nymph went on her way to the great-hearted Odysseus, when

she had heard the message of Zeus. And there she found him

sitting on the shore, and his eyes were never dry of tears,

and his sweet life was ebbing away as he mourned for his

return; for the nymph no more found favour in his sight.

Howsoever by night he would sleep by her, as needs he must,

in the hollow caves, unwilling lover by a willing lady. And

in the day-time he would sit on the rocks and on the beach,

straining his soul with tears, and groans, and griefs, and

through his tears he would look wistfully over the

unharvested deep. So standing near him that fair goddess

spake to him:

'Hapless man, sorrow no more I pray thee in this isle, nor

let thy good life waste away, for even now will I send thee

hence with all my heart. Nay, arise and cut long beams, and

fashion a wide raft with the axe, and lay deckings high

thereupon, that it may bear thee over the misty deep. And I

will place therein bread and water, and red wine to thy

heart's desire, to keep hunger far away. And I will put

raiment upon thee, and send a fair gale in thy wake, that

so thou mayest come all unharmed to thine own country, if

indeed it be the good pleasure of the gods who hold wide

heaven, who are stronger than I am both to will and to do.'

So she spake, and the steadfast goodly Odysseus shuddered,

and uttering his voice spake to her winged words: 'Herein,

goddess, thou hast plainly some other thought, and in no

wise my furtherance, for that thou biddest me to cross in a

raft the great gulf of the sea so dread and difficult,

which not even the swift gallant ships pass over rejoicing

in the breeze of Zeus. Nor would I go aboard a raft to

displeasure thee, unless thou wilt deign, O goddess, to

swear a great oath not to plan any hidden guile to mine own

hurt.'

So spake he, and Calypso, the fair goddess, smiled and

caressed him with her hand, and spake and hailed him:

'Knavish thou art, and no weakling {*} in wit, thou that

hast conceived and spoken such a word. Let earth be now

witness hereto, and the wide heaven above, and that falling

water of the Styx, the greatest oath and the most terrible

to the blessed gods, that I will not plan any hidden guile

to thine own hurt. Nay, but my thoughts are such, and such

will be my counsel, as I would devise for myself, if ever

so sore a need came over me. For I too have a righteous

mind, and my heart within me is not of iron, but pitiful

even as thine.'

{* [Greek], from root [Greek], 'ill-grown,' i. e. a

weakling, in the literal sense as B. xi.249, xiv.212, or

metaphorical, as here and viii. 177.}

Therewith the fair goddess led the way quickly, and he

followed hard in the steps of the goddess. And they reached

the hollow cave, the goddess and the man; so he sat him

down upon the chair whence Hermes had arisen, and the nymph

placed by him all manner of food to eat and drink, such as

is meat for men. As for her she sat over against divine

Odysseus, and the handmaids placed by her ambrosia and

nectar. So they put forth their hands upon the good cheer

set before them. But after they had taken their fill of

meat and drink, Calypso, the fair goddess, spake first and

said:

'Son of Laertes, of the seed of Zeus, Odysseus of many

devices, so it is indeed thy wish to get thee home to thine

own dear country even in this hour? Good fortune go with

thee even so! Yet didst thou know in thine heart what a

measure of suffering thou art ordained to fulfil, or ever

thou reach thine own country, here, even here, thou wouldst

abide with me and keep this house, and wouldst never taste

of death, though thou longest to see thy wife, for whom

thou hast ever a desire day by day. Not in sooth that I

avow me to be less noble than she in form or fashion, for

it is in no wise meet that mortal women should match them

with immortals, in shape and comeliness.'

And Odysseus of many counsels answered, and spake unto her:

'Be not wroth with me hereat, goddess and queen. Myself I

know it well, how wise Penelope is meaner to look upon than

thou, in comeliness and stature. But she is mortal and thou

knowest not age nor death. Yet even so, I wish and long day

by day to fare homeward and see the day of my returning.

Yea, and if some god shall wreck me in the wine-dark deep,

even so I will endure, with a heart within me patient of

affliction. For already have I suffered full much, and much

have I toiled in perils of waves and war; let this be added

to the tale of those.'

So spake he, and the sun sank and darkness came on. Then

they twain went into the chamber of the hollow rock, and

had their delight of love, abiding each by other.

So soon as early Dawn shone forth, the rosy-fingered, anon

Odysseus put on him a mantle and doublet, and the nymph

clad her in a great shining robe, light of woof and

gracious, and about her waist she cast a fair golden

girdle, and a veil withal upon her head. Then she

considered of the sending of Odysseus, the great-hearted.

She gave him a great axe, fitted to his grasp, an axe of

bronze double-edged, and with a goodly handle of olive wood

fastened well. Next she gave him a polished adze, and she

led the way to the border of the isle where tall trees

grew, alder and poplar, and pine that reacheth unto heaven,

seasoned long since and sere, that might lightly float for

him. Now after she had shown him where the tall trees grew,

Calypso, the fair goddess, departed homeward. And he set to

cutting timber, and his work went busily. Twenty trees in

all he felled, and then trimmed them with the axe of

bronze, and deftly smoothed them, and over them made

straight the line. Meanwhile Calypso, the fair goddess,

brought him augers, so he bored each piece and jointed them

together, and then made all fast with trenails and dowels.

Wide as is the floor of a broad ship of burden, which some

man well skilled in carpentry may trace him out, of such

beam did Odysseus fashion his broad raft. And thereat he

wrought, and set up the deckings, fitting them to the

close-set uprights, and finished them off with long

gunwales, and there he set a mast, and a yard-arm fitted

thereto, and moreover he made him a rudder to guide the

craft. And he fenced it with wattled osier withies from

stem to stern, to be a bulwark against the wave, and piled

up wood to back them. Meanwhile Calypso, the fair goddess,

brought him web of cloth to make him sails; and these too

he fashioned very skilfully. And he made fast therein

braces and halyards and sheets, and at last he pushed the

raft with levers down to the fair salt sea.

It was the fourth day when he had accomplished all. And,

lo, on the fifth, the fair Calypso sent him on his way from

the island, when she had bathed him and clad him in

fragrant attire. Moreover, the goddess placed on board the

ship two skins, one of dark wine, and another, a great one,

of water, and corn too in a wallet, and she set therein a

store of dainties to his heart's desire, and sent forth a

warm and gentle wind to blow. And goodly Odysseus rejoiced

as he set his sails to the breeze. So he sate and cunningly

guided the craft with the helm, nor did sleep fall upon his

eyelids, as he viewed the Pleiads and Bootes, that setteth

late, and the Bear, which they likewise call the Wain,

which turneth ever in one place, and keepeth watch upon

Orion, and alone hath no part in the baths of Ocean. This

star, Calypso, the fair goddess, bade him to keep ever on

the left as he traversed the deep. Ten days and seven he

sailed traversing the deep, and on the eighteenth day

appeared the shadowy hills of the land of the Phaeacians,

at the point where it lay nearest to him; and it showed

like a shield in the misty deep.

Now the lord, the shaker of the earth, on his way from the

Ethiopians espied him afar off from the mountains of the

Solymi: even thence he saw Odysseus as he sailed over the

deep; and he was mightily angered in spirit, and shaking

his head he communed with his own heart. 'Lo now, it must

be that the gods at the last have changed their purpose

concerning Odysseus, while I was away among the Ethiopians.

And now he is nigh to the Phaeacian land, where it is

ordained that he escape the great issues of the woe which

hath come upon him. But, methinks, that even yet I will

drive him far enough in the path of suffering.'

With that he gathered the clouds and troubled the waters of

the deep, grasping his trident in his hands; and he roused

all storms of all manner of winds, and shrouded in clouds

the land and sea: and down sped night from heaven. The East

Wind and the South Wind clashed, and the stormy West, and

the North, that is born in the bright air, rolling onward a

great wave. Then were the knees of Odysseus loosened and

his heart melted, and heavily he spake to his own great

spirit:

'Oh, wretched man that I am! what is to befal me at the

last? I fear that indeed the goddess spake all things

truly, who said that I should fill up the measure of sorrow

on the deep, or ever I came to mine own country; and lo,

all these things have an end. In such wise doth Zeus crown

the wide heaven with clouds, and hath troubled the deep,

and the blasts rush on of all the winds; yea, now is utter

doom assured me. Thrice blessed those Danaans, yea, four

times blessed, who perished on a time in wide Troy-land,

doing a pleasure to the sons of Atreus! Would to God that I

too had died, and met my fate on that day when the press of

Trojans cast their bronze-shod spears upon me, fighting for

the body of the son of Peleus! So should I have gotten my

dues of burial, and the Achaeans would have spread my fame;

but now it is my fate to be overtaken by a pitiful death.'

Even as he spake, the great wave smote down upon him,

driving on in terrible wise, that the raft reeled again.

And far therefrom he fell, and lost the helm from his hand;

and the fierce blast of the jostling winds came and brake

his mast in the midst, and sail and yard-arm fell afar into

the deep. Long time the water kept him under, nor could he

speedily rise from beneath the rush of the mighty wave:

for the garments hung heavy which fair Calypso gave him.

But late and at length he came up, and spat forth from his

mouth the bitter salt water, which ran down in streams from

his head. Yet even so forgat he not his raft, for all his

wretched plight, but made a spring after it in the waves,

and clutched it to him, and sat in the midst thereof,

avoiding the issues of death; and the great wave swept it

hither and thither along the stream. And as the North Wind

in the harvest tide sweeps the thistle-down along the

plain, and close the tufts cling each to other, even so the

winds bare the raft hither and thither along the main. Now

the South would toss it to the North to carry, and now

again the East would yield it to the West to chase.

But the daughter of Cadmus marked him, Ino of the fair

ankles, Leucothea, who in time past was a maiden of mortal

speech, but now in the depths of the salt sea she had

gotten her share of worship from the gods. She took pity on

Odysseus in his wandering and travail, and she rose, like a

sea-gull on the wing, from the depth of the mere, and sat

upon the well-bound raft and spake saying:

'Hapless one, wherefore was Poseidon, shaker of the earth,

so wondrous wroth with thee, seeing that he soweth for thee

the seeds of many evils? Yet shall he not make a full end

of thee, for all his desire. But do even as I tell thee,

and methinks thou art not witless. Cast off these garments,

and leave the raft to drift before the winds, but do thou

swim with thine hands and strive to win a footing on the

coast {*} of the Phaeacians, where it is decreed that thou

escape. Here, take this veil imperishable and wind it about

thy breast; so is there no fear that thou suffer aught or

perish. But when thou hast laid hold of the mainland with

thy hands, loose it from off thee and cast it into the

wine-dark deep far from the land, and thyself turn away.'

{* Lit. Strive after an arrival on the land, etc. [Greek]

originally meant going, journeying, and had no idea of

return. The earlier use survives here, and in Soph.

Philoct. 43, Eur. Iph. Aul. 1261. Similarly, perhaps,

[Greek] in Odyssey iv.619, xv.119, and [Greek] frequently}

With that the goddess gave the veil, and for her part dived

back into the heaving deep, like a sea-gull: and the dark

wave closed over her. But the steadfast goodly Odysseus

pondered, and heavily he spake to his own brave spirit:

'Ah, woe is me! Can it be that some one of the immortals is

weaving a new snare for me, that she bids me quit my raft?

Nay verily, I will not yet obey, for I had sight of the

shore yet a long way off, where she told me that I might

escape. I am resolved what I will do;--and methinks on this

wise it is best. So long as the timbers abide in the

dowels, so long will I endure steadfast in affliction, but

so soon as the wave hath shattered my raft asunder, I will

swim, for meanwhile no better counsel may be.'

While yet he pondered these things in his heart and soul,

Poseidon, shaker of the earth, stirred against him a great

wave, terrible and grievous, and vaulted from the crest,

and therewith smote him. And as when a great tempestuous

wind tosseth a heap of parched husks, and scatters them

this way and that, even so did the wave scatter the long

beams of the raft. But Odysseus bestrode a single beam, as

one rideth on a courser, and stript him of the garments

which fair Calypso gave him. And presently he wound the

veil beneath his breast, and fell prone into the sea,

outstretching his hands as one eager to swim. And the lord,

the shaker of the earth, saw him and shook his head, and

communed with his own soul. 'Even so, after all thy

sufferings, go wandering over the deep, till thou shalt

come among a people, the fosterlings of Zeus. Yet for all

that I deem not that thou shalt think thyself too lightly

afflicted.' Therewith he lashed his steeds of the flowing

manes, and came to Aegae, where is his lordly home.

But Athene, daughter of Zeus, turned to new thoughts.

Behold, she bound up the courses of the other winds, and

charged them all to cease and be still; but she roused the

swift North and brake the waves before him, that so

Odysseus, of the seed of Zeus, might mingle with the

Phaeacians, lovers of the oar, avoiding death and the

fates.

So for two nights and two days he was wandering in the

swell of the sea, and much his heart boded of death. But

when at last the fair-tressed Dawn brought the full light

of the third day, thereafter the breeze fell, and lo, there

was a breathless calm, and with a quick glance ahead, (he

being upborne on a great wave,) he saw the land very near.

And even as when most welcome to his children is the sight

of a father's life, who lies in sickness and strong pains

long wasting away, some angry god assailing him; and to

their delight the gods have loosed him from his trouble; so

welcome to Odysseus showed land and wood; and he swam

onward being eager to set foot on the strand. But when he

was within earshot of the shore, and heard now the thunder

of the sea against the reefs--for the great wave crashed

against the dry land belching in terrible wise, and all was

covered with foam of the sea,--for there were no harbours

for ships nor shelters, but jutting headlands and reefs and

cliffs; then at last the knees of Odysseus were loosened

and his heart melted, and in heaviness he spake to his own

brave spirit:

'Ah me! now that beyond all hope Zeus hath given me sight

of land, and withal I have cloven my way through this gulf

of the sea, here there is no place to land on from out of

the grey water. For without are sharp crags, and round them

the wave roars surging, and sheer the smooth rock rises,

and the sea is deep thereby, so that in no wise may I find

firm foothold and escape my bane, for as I fain would go

ashore, the great wave may haply snatch and dash me on the

jagged rock--and a wretched endeavour that would be. But if

I swim yet further along the coast to find, if I may, spits

that take the waves aslant and havens of the sea, I fear

lest the storm-winds catch me again and bear me over the

teeming deep, making heavy moan; or else some god may even

send forth against me a monster from out of the shore

water; and many such pastureth the renowned Amphitrite. For

I know how wroth against me hath been the great Shaker of

the Earth.'

Whilst yet he pondered these things in his heart and mind,

a great wave bore him to the rugged shore. There would he

have been stript of his skin and all his bones been broken,

but that the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, put a thought into

his heart. He rushed in, and with both his hands clutched

the rock, whereto he clung till the great wave went by. So

he escaped that peril, but again with backward wash it

leapt on him and smote him and cast him forth into the

deep. And as when the cuttlefish is dragged forth from his

chamber, the many pebbles clinging to his suckers, even so

was the skin stript from his strong hand against the rocks,

and the great wave closed over him. There of a truth would

luckless Odysseus have perished beyond that which was

ordained, had not grey-eyed Athene given him sure counsel.

He rose from the line of the breakers that belch upon the

shore, and swam outside, ever looking landwards, to find,

if he might, spits that take the waves aslant, and havens

of the sea. But when he came in his swimming over against

the mouth of a fair-flowing river, whereby the place seemed

best in his eyes, smooth of rocks, and withal there was a

covert from the wind, Odysseus felt the river running, and

prayed to him in his heart:

'Hear me, O king, whosoever thou art; unto thee am I come,

as to one to whom prayer is made, while I flee the rebukes

of Poseidon from the deep. Yea, reverend even to the

deathless gods is that man who comes as a wanderer, even as

I now have come to thy stream and to thy knees after much

travail. Nay pity me, O king; for I avow myself thy

suppliant.'

So spake he, and the god straightway stayed his stream and

withheld his waves, and made the water smooth before him,

and brought him safely to the mouths of the river. And his

knees bowed and his stout hands fell, for his heart was

broken by the brine. And his flesh was all swollen and a

great stream of sea water gushed up through his mouth and

nostrils. So he lay without breath or speech, swooning,

such terrible weariness came upon him. But when now his

breath returned and his spirit came to him again, he loosed

from off him the veil of the goddess, and let it fall into

the salt flowing river. And the great wave bare it back

down the stream, and lightly Ino caught it in her hands.

Then Odysseus turned from the river, and fell back in the

reeds, and kissed earth, the grain-giver, and heavily he

spake unto his own brave spirit:

'Ah, woe is me! What is to betide me? What shall happen

unto me at the last? If I watch the river bed all through

the careful night, I fear that the bitter frost and fresh

dew may overcome me, as I breathe forth my life for

faintness, for the river breeze blows cold betimes in the

morning. But if I climb the hill-side up to the shady wood,

and there take rest in the thickets, though perchance the

cold and weariness leave hold of me, and sweet sleep may

come over me, I fear lest of wild beasts I become the spoil

and prey.'

So as he thought thereon this seemed to him the better way.

He went up to the wood, and found it nigh the water in a

place of wide prospect. So he crept beneath twin bushes

that grew from one stem, both olive trees, one of them wild

olive. Through these the force of the wet winds blew never,

neither did the bright sun light on it with his rays, nor

could the rain pierce through, so close were they twined

either to other; and thereunder crept Odysseus and anon he

heaped together with his hands a broad couch; for of fallen

leaves there was great plenty, enough to cover two or three

men in winter time, however hard the weather. And the

steadfast goodly Odysseus beheld it and rejoiced, and he

laid him in the midst thereof and flung over him the fallen

leaves. And as when a man hath hidden away a brand in the

black embers at an upland farm, one that hath no neighbours

nigh, and so saveth the seed of fire, that he may not have

to seek a light otherwhere, even so did Odysseus cover him

with the leaves. And Athene shed sleep upon his eyes, that

so it might soon release him from his weary travail,

overshadowing his eyelids.

 

Book VI

Nausicaa, going to a river near that place to wash the

clothes of her father, mother, and brethren, while the

clothes were drying played with her maids at ball; and

Odysseus coming forth is fed and clothed, and led on his

way to the house of her father, King Alcinous.

So there he lay asleep, the steadfast goodly Odysseus,

fordone with toil and drowsiness. Meanwhile Athene 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 Scheria, far off from men that live by bread. And

he drew a wall around the town, and builded houses and made

temples for the gods and meted out the fields. Howbeit ere

this had he been stricken by fate, and had gone down to the

house of Hades, and now Alcinous was reigning, with wisdom

granted by the gods. To his house went the goddess,

grey-eyed Athene, devising a return for the great-hearted

Odysseus. She betook her to the rich-wrought bower, wherein

was sleeping a maiden like to the gods in form and

comeliness, Nausicaa, the daughter of Alcinous, high of

heart. Beside her on either hand of the pillars of the door

were two handmaids, dowered with beauty from the Graces,

and the shining doors were shut.

But the goddess, fleet as the breath of the wind, swept

towards the couch of the maiden, and stood above her head,

and spake to her in the semblance of the daughter of a

famous seafarer, Dymas, a girl of like age with Nausicaa,

who had found grace in her sight. In her shape the

grey-eyed Athene spake to the princess, saying:

'Nausicaa, how hath thy mother so heedless a maiden to her

daughter? Lo, thou hast shining raiment that lies by thee

uncared for, and thy marriage day is near at hand, when

thou thyself must needs go beautifully clad, and have

garments to give to them who shall lead thee to the house

of the bridegroom! And, behold, these are the things whence

a good report goes abroad among men, wherein a father and

lady mother take delight. But come, let us arise and go

a-washing with the breaking of the day, and I will follow

with thee to be thy mate in the toil, that without delay

thou mayst get thee ready, since truly thou art not long to

be a maiden. Lo, already they are wooing thee, the noblest

youths of all the Phaeacians, among that people whence thou

thyself dost draw thy lineage. So come, beseech thy noble

father betimes in the morning to furnish thee with mules

and a wain to carry the men's raiment, and the robes, and

the shining coverlets. Yea and for thyself it is seemlier

far to go thus than on foot, for the places where we must

wash are a great way off the town.'

So spake the grey-eyed Athene, and departed to Olympus,

where, as they say, is the seat of the gods that standeth

fast for ever. Not by winds is it shaken, nor ever wet with

rain, nor doth the snow come nigh thereto, but most clear

air is spread about it cloudless, and the white light

floats over it. Therein the blessed gods are glad for all

their days, and thither Athene went when she had shown

forth all to the maiden.

Anon came the throned Dawn, and awakened Nausicaa of the

fair robes, who straightway marvelled on the dream, and

went through the halls to tell her parents, her father dear

and her mother. And she found them within, her mother

sitting by the hearth with the women her handmaids,

spinning yarn of sea-purple stain, but her father she met

as he was going forth to the renowned kings in their

council, whither the noble Phaeacians called him. Standing

close by her dear father she spake, saying: 'Father, dear,

couldst thou not lend me a high waggon with strong wheels,

that I may take the goodly raiment to the river to wash, so

much as I have lying soiled? Yea and it is seemly that thou

thyself, when thou art with the princes in council,

shouldest have fresh raiment to wear. Also, there are five

dear sons of thine in the halls, two married, but three are

lusty bachelors, and these are always eager for new-washen

garments wherein to go to the dances; for all these things

have I taken thought.'

This she said, because she was ashamed to speak of glad

marriage to her father; but he saw all and answered,

saying:

'Neither the mules nor aught else do I grudge thee, my

child. Go thy ways, and the thralls shall get thee ready a

high waggon with good wheels, and fitted with an upper

frame.'

Therewith he called to his men, and they gave ear, and

without the palace they made ready the smooth-running

mule-wain, and led the mules beneath the yoke, and

harnessed them under the car, while the maiden brought

forth from her bower the shining raiment. This she stored

in the polished car, and her mother filled a basket with

all manner of food to the heart's desire, dainties too she

set therein, and she poured wine into a goat-skin bottle,

while Nausicaa climbed into the wain. And her mother gave

her soft olive oil also in a golden cruse, that she and her

maidens might anoint themselves after the bath. Then

Nausicaa took the whip and the shining reins, and touched

the mules to start them; then there was a clatter of hoofs,

and on they strained without flagging, with their load of

the raiment and the maiden. Not alone did she go, for her

attendants followed with her.

Now when they were come to the beautiful stream of the

river, where truly were the unfailing cisterns, and bright

water welled up free from beneath, and flowed past, enough

to wash the foulest garments clean, there the girls

unharnessed the mules from under the chariot, and turning

them loose they drove them along the banks of the eddying

river to graze on the honey-sweet clover. Then they took

the garments from the wain, in their hands, and bore them

to the black water, and briskly trod them down in the

trenches, in busy rivalry. Now when they had washed and

cleansed all the stains, they spread all out in order along

the shore of the deep, even where the sea, in beating on

the coast, washed the pebbles clean. Then having bathed and

anointed them well with olive oil, they took their mid-day

meal on the river's banks, waiting till the clothes should

dry in the brightness of the sun. Anon, when they were

satisfied with food, the maidens and the princess, they

fell to playing at ball, casting away their tires, and

among them Nausicaa of the white arms began the song. And

even as Artemis, the archer, moveth down the mountain,

either along the ridges of lofty Taygetus or Erymanthus,

taking her pastime in the chase of boars and swift deer,

and with her the wild wood-nymphs disport them, the

daughters of Zeus, lord of the aegis, and Leto is glad at

heart, while high over all she rears her head and brows,

and easily may she be known,--but all are fair; even so the

girl unwed outshone her maiden company.

But when now she was about going homewards, after yoking

the mules and folding up the goodly raiment, then grey-eyed

Athene turned to other thoughts, that so Odysseus might

awake, and see the lovely maiden, who should be his guide

to the city of the Phaeacian men. So then the princess

threw the ball at one of her company; she missed the girl,

and cast the ball into the deep eddying current, whereat

they all raised a piercing cry. Then the goodly Odysseus

awoke and sat up, pondering in his heart and spirit:

'Woe is me! to what men's land am I come now? say, are they

froward, and wild, and unjust, or are they hospitable, and

of God-fearing mind? How shrill a cry of maidens rings

round me, of the nymphs that hold the steep hill-tops, and

the river-springs, and the grassy water meadows! It must

be, methinks, that I am near men of human speech. Go to, I

myself will make trial and see.'

Therewith the goodly Odysseus crept out from under the

coppice, having broken with his strong hand a leafy bough

from the thick wood, to hold athwart his body, that it

might hide his nakedness withal. And forth he sallied like

a lion mountain-bred, trusting in his strength, who fares

out blown and rained upon, with flaming eyes; amid the kine

he goes or amid the sheep or in the track of the wild deer;

yea, his belly bids him go even to the good homestead to

make assay upon the flocks. Even so Odysseus was fain to

draw nigh to the fair-tressed maidens, all naked as he was,

such need had come upon him. But he was terrible in their

eyes, being marred with the salt sea foam, and they fled

cowering here and there about the jutting spits of shore.

And the daughter of Alcinous alone stood firm, for Athene

gave her courage of heart, and took all trembling from her

limbs. So she halted and stood over against him, and

Odysseus considered whether he should clasp the knees of

the lovely maiden, and so make his prayer, or should stand

as he was, apart, and beseech her with smooth words, if

haply she might show him the town, and give him raiment.

And as he thought within himself, it seemed better to stand

apart, and beseech her with smooth words, lest the maiden

should be angered with him if he touched her knees: so

straightway he spake a sweet and cunning word:

'I supplicate thee, O queen, whether thou art a goddess or

a mortal! If indeed thou art a goddess of them that keep

the wide heaven; to Artemis, then, the daughter of great

Zeus, I mainly liken thee, for beauty and stature and

shapeliness. But if thou art one of the daughters of men

who dwell on earth, thrice blessed are thy father and thy

lady mother, and thrice blessed thy brethren. Surely their

souls ever glow with gladness for thy sake, each time they

see thee entering the dance, so fair a flower of maidens.

But he is of heart the most blessed beyond all other who

shall prevail with gifts of wooing, and lead thee to his

home. Never have mine eyes beheld such an one among

mortals, neither man nor woman; great awe comes upon me as

I look on thee. Yet in Delos once I saw as goodly a thing:

a young sapling of a palm tree springing by the altar of

Apollo. For thither too I went, and much people with me, on

that path where my sore troubles were to be. Yea, and when

I looked thereupon, long time I marvelled in spirit,--for

never grew there yet so goodly a shoot from ground,--even

in such wise as I wonder at thee, lady, and am astonied and

do greatly fear to touch thy knees, though grievous sorrow

is upon me. Yesterday, on the twentieth day, I escaped from

the wine-dark deep, but all that time continually the wave

bare me, and the vehement winds drave, from the isle

Ogygia. And now some god has cast me on this shore, that

here too, methinks, some evil may betide me; for I trow not

that trouble will cease; the gods ere that time will yet

bring many a thing to pass. But, queen, have pity on me,

for after many trials and sore to thee first of all am I

come, and of the other folk, who hold this city and land, I

know no man. Nay show me the town, give me an old garment

to cast about me, if thou hadst, when thou camest here, any

wrap for the linen. And may the gods grant thee all thy

heart's desire: a husband and a home, and a mind at one

with his may they give--a good gift, for there is nothing

mightier and nobler than when man and wife are of one heart

and mind in a house, a grief to their foes, and to their

friends great joy, but their own hearts know it best.'

Then Nausicaa of the white arms answered him, and said:

'Stranger, forasmuch as thou seemest no evil man nor

foolish--and it is Olympian Zeus himself that giveth weal

to men, to the good and to the evil, to each one as he

will, and this thy lot doubtless is of him, and so thou

must in anywise endure it:--and now, since thou hast come

to our city and our land, thou shalt not lack raiment, nor

aught else that is the due of a hapless suppliant, when he

has met them who can befriend him. And I will show thee the

town, and name the name of the people. The Phaeacians hold

this city and land, and I am the daughter of Alcinous,

great of heart, on whom all the might and force of the

Phaeacians depend.'

Thus she spake, and called to her maidens of the fair

tresses: 'Halt, my maidens, whither flee ye at the sight of

a man? Ye surely do not take him for an enemy? That mortal

breathes not, and never will be born, who shall come with

war to the land of the Phaeacians, for they are very dear

to the gods. Far apart we live in the wash of the waves,

the outermost of men, and no other mortals are conversant

with us. Nay, but this man is some helpless one come hither

in his wanderings, whom now we must kindly entreat, for all

strangers and beggars are from Zeus, and a little gift is

dear. So, my maidens, give the stranger meat and drink, and

bathe him in the river, where withal is a shelter from the

winds.'

So she spake, but they had halted and called each to the

other, and they brought Odysseus to the sheltered place,

and made him sit down, as Nausicaa bade them, the daughter

of Alcinous, high of heart. Beside him they laid a mantle,

and a doublet for raiment, and gave him soft olive oil in

the golden cruse, and bade him wash in the streams of the

river. Then goodly Odysseus spake among the maidens,

saying: 'I pray you stand thus apart, while I myself wash

the brine from my shoulders, and anoint me with olive oil,

for truly oil is long a stranger to my skin. But in your

sight I will not bathe, for I am ashamed to make me naked

in the company of fair-tressed maidens.'

Then they went apart and told all to their lady. But with

the river water the goodly Odysseus washed from his skin

the salt scurf that covered his back and broad shoulders,

and from his head he wiped the crusted brine of the barren

sea. But when he had washed his whole body, and anointed

him with olive oil, and had clad himself in the raiment

that the unwedded maiden gave him, then Athene, the

daughter of Zeus, made him greater and more mighty to

behold, and from his head caused deep curling locks to

flow, like the hyacinth flower. And as when some skilful

man overlays gold upon silver--one that Hephaestus and

Pallas Athene have taught all manner of craft, and full of

grace is his handiwork--even so did Athene shed grace about

his head and shoulders.

Then to the shore of the sea went Odysseus apart, and sat

down, glowing in beauty and grace, and the princess

marvelled at him, and spake among her fair-tressed maidens,

saying:

'Listen, my white-armed maidens, and I will say somewhat.

Not without the will of all the gods who hold Olympus hath

this man come among the godlike Phaeacians. Erewhile he

seemed to me uncomely, but now he is like the gods that

keep the wide heaven. Would that such an one might be

called my husband, dwelling here, and that it might please

him here to abide! But come, my maidens, give the stranger

meat and drink.'

Thus she spake, and they gave ready ear and hearkened, and

set beside Odysseus meat and drink, and the steadfast

goodly Odysseus did eat and drink eagerly, for it was long

since he had tasted food.

Now Nausicaa of the white arms had another thought. She

folded the raiment and stored it in the goodly wain, and

yoked the mules strong of hoof, and herself climbed into

the car. Then she called on Odysseus, and spake and hailed

him: 'Up now, stranger, and rouse thee to go to the city,

that I may convey thee to the house of my wise father,

where, I promise thee, thou shalt get knowledge of all the

noblest of the Phaeacians. But do thou even as I tell thee,

and thou seemest a discreet man enough. So long as we are

passing along the fields and farms of men, do thou fare

quickly with the maidens behind the mules and the chariot,

and I will lead the way. But when we set foot within the

city,--whereby goes a high wall with towers, and there is a

fair haven on either side of the town, and narrow is the

entrance, and curved ships are drawn up on either hand of

the mole, for all the folk have stations for their vessels,

each man one for himself. And there is the place of

assembly about the goodly temple of Poseidon, furnished

with heavy stones, deep bedded in the earth. There men look

to the gear of the black ships, hawsers and sails, and

there they fine down the oars. For the Phaeacians care not

for bow nor quiver, but for masts, and oars of ships, and

gallant barques, wherein rejoicing they cross the grey sea.

Their ungracious speech it is that I would avoid, lest some

man afterward rebuke me, and there are but too many

insolent folk among the people. And some one of the baser

sort might meet me and say: "Who is this that goes with

Nausicaa, this tall and goodly stranger? Where found she

him? Her husband he will be, her very own. Either she has

taken in some shipwrecked wanderer of strange men,--for no

men dwell near us; or some god has come in answer to her

instant prayer; from heaven has he descended, and will have

her to wife for evermore. Better so, if herself she has

ranged abroad and found a lord from a strange land, for

verily she holds in no regard the Phaeacians here in this

country, the many men and noble who are her wooers." So

will they speak, and this would turn to my reproach. Yea,

and I myself would think it blame of another maiden who did

such things in despite of her friends, her father and

mother being still alive, and was conversant with men

before the day of open wedlock. But, stranger, heed well

what I say, that as soon as may be thou mayest gain at my

father's hands an escort and a safe return. Thou shalt find

a fair grove of Athene, a poplar grove near the road, and a

spring wells forth therein, and a meadow lies all around.

There is my father's demesne, and his fruitful close,

within the sound of a man's shout from the city. Sit thee

down there and wait until such time as we may have come

into the city, and reached the house of my father. But when

thou deemest that we are got to the palace, then go up to

the city of the Phaeacians, and ask for the house of my

father Alcinous, high of heart. It is easily known, and a

young child could be thy guide, for nowise like it are

builded the houses of the Phaeacians, so goodly is the

palace of the hero Alcinous. But when thou art within the

shadow of the halls and the court, pass quickly through the

great chamber, till thou comest to my mother, who sits at

the hearth in the light of the fire, weaving yarn of

sea-purple stain, a wonder to behold. Her chair is leaned

against a pillar, and her maidens sit behind her. And there

my father's throne leans close to hers, wherein he sits and

drinks his wine, like an immortal. Pass thou by him, and

cast thy hands about my mother's knees, that thou mayest

see quickly and with joy the day of thy returning, even if

thou art from a very far country. If but her heart be

kindly disposed toward thee, then is there hope that thou

shalt see thy friends, and come to thy well-builded house,

and to thine own country.'

She spake, and smote the mules with the shining whip, and

quickly they left behind them the streams of the river. And

well they trotted and well they paced, and she took heed to

drive in such wise that the maidens and Odysseus might

follow on foot, and cunningly she plied the lash. Then the

sun set, and they came to the famous grove, the sacred

place of Athene; so there the goodly Odysseus sat him down.

Then straightway he prayed to the daughter of mighty Zeus:

'Listen to me, child of Zeus, lord of the aegis, unwearied

maiden; hear me even now, since before thou heardest not

when I was smitten on the sea, when the renowned

Earth-shaker smote me. Grant me to come to the Phaeacians

as one dear, and worthy of pity.'

So he spake in prayer, and Pallas Athene heard him; but she

did not yet appear to him face to face, for she had regard

unto her father's brother, who furiously raged against the

godlike Odysseus, till he should come to his own country.

 

Book VII

Odysseus being received at the house of the king Alcinous,

the queen after supper, taking notice of his garments,

gives him occasion to relate his passage thither on the

raft. Alcinous promises him a convoy for the morrow.

So he prayed there, the steadfast goodly Odysseus, while

the two strong mules bare the princess to the town. And

when she had now come to the famous palace of her father,

she halted at the gateway, and round her gathered her

brothers, men like to the immortals, and they loosed the

mules from under the car, and carried the raiment within.

But the maiden betook her to her chamber; and an aged dame

from Aperaea kindled the fire for her, Eurymedusa, the

handmaid of the chamber, whom the curved ships upon a time

had brought from Aperaea; and men chose her as a prize for

Alcinous, seeing that he bare rule over all the Phaeacians,

and the people hearkened to him as to a god. She waited on

the white-armed Nausicaa in the palace halls; she was wont

to kindle the fire and prepare the supper in the inner

chamber.

At that same hour Odysseus roused him to go to the city,

and Athene shed a deep mist about Odysseus for the favour

that she bare him, lest any of the Phaeacians, high of

heart, should meet him and mock him in sharp speech, and

ask him who he was. But when he was now about to enter the

pleasant city, then the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, met him,

in the fashion of a young maiden carrying a pitcher, and

she stood over against him, and goodly Odysseus inquired of

her:

'My child, couldst thou not lead me to the palace of the

lord Alcinous, who bears sway among this people? Lo, I am

come here, a stranger travel-worn from afar, from a distant

land; wherefore of the folk who possess this city and

country I know not any man.'

Then the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, answered him saying:

'Yea now, father and stranger, I will show thee the house

that thou bidst me declare, for it lies near the palace of

my noble father; behold, be silent as thou goest, and I

will lead the way. And look on no man, nor question any.

For these men do not gladly suffer strangers, nor lovingly

entreat whoso cometh from a strange land. They trust to the

speed of their swift ships, wherewith they cross the great

gulf, for the Earth-shaker hath vouchsafed them this power.

Their ships are swift as the flight of a bird, or as a

thought.'

Therewith Pallas Athene led the way swiftly, and he

followed hard in the footsteps of the goddess. And it came

to pass that the Phaeacians, mariners renowned, marked him

not as he went down the city through their midst, for the

fair tressed Athene suffered it not, that awful goddess,

who shed a wondrous mist about him, for the favour that she

bare him in her heart. And Odysseus marvelled at the havens

and the gallant ships, yea and the places of assembly of

the heroes, and the long high walls crowned with palisades,

a marvel to behold. But when they had now come to the

famous palace of the king, the goddess, grey-eyed Athene,

spake first and said:

'Lo, here, father and stranger, is the house that thou

wouldst have me show thee: and thou shalt find kings at the

feast, the fosterlings of Zeus; enter then, and fear not in

thine heart, for the dauntless man is the best in every

adventure, even though he come from a strange land. Thou

shalt find the queen first in the halls; Arete is the name

whereby men call her, and she came even of those that begat

the king Alcinous. First Nausithous was son of Poseidon,

the Earth-shaker, and of Periboea, the comeliest of women,

youngest daughter of great-hearted Eurymedon, who once was

king among the haughty Giants. Howbeit, he destroyed his

infatuate people, and was himself destroyed; but Poseidon

lay with Periboea and begat a son, proud Nausithous, who

sometime was prince among the Phaeacians; and Nausithous

begat Rhexenor and Alcinous. While Rhexenor had as yet no

son, Apollo of the silver bow smote him, a groom new wed,

leaving in his halls one only child Arete; and Alcinous

took her to wife, and honoured her as no other woman in the

world is honoured, of all that now-a-days keep house under

the hand of their lords. Thus she hath, and hath ever had,

all worship heartily from her dear children and from her

lord Alcinous and from all the folk, who look on her as on

a goddess, and greet her with reverend speech, when she

goes about the town. Yea, for she too hath no lack of

understanding. To whomso she shows favour, even if they be

men, she ends their feuds. {*} If but her heart be kindly

disposed to thee, then is there good hope that thou mayest

see thy friends, and come to thy high-roofed home and thine

own country.'

{* And for the women she favours, she ends the feuds of

their lords also.}

Therewith grey-eyed Athene departed over the unharvested

seas, and left pleasant Scheria, and came to Marathon and

wide-wayed Athens, and entered the good house of

Erechtheus. Meanwhile Odysseus went to the famous palace of

Alcinous, and his heart was full of many thoughts as he

stood there or ever he had reached the threshold of bronze.

For there was a gleam as it were of sun or moon through the

high-roofed hall of great-hearted Alcinous. Brazen were the

walls which ran this way and that from the threshold to the

inmost chamber, and round them was a frieze of blue, and

golden were the doors that closed in the good house. Silver

were the door-posts that were set on the brazen threshold,

and silver the lintel thereupon, and the hook of the door

was of gold. And on either side stood golden hounds and

silver, which Hephaestus wrought by his cunning, to guard

the palace of great-hearted Alcinous, being free from death

and age all their days. And within were seats arrayed

against the wall this way and that, from the threshold even

to the inmost chamber, and thereon were spread light

coverings finely woven, the handiwork of women. There the

Phaeacian chieftains were wont to sit eating and drinking,

for they had continual store. Yea, and there were youths

fashioned in gold, standing on firm-set bases, with flaming

torches in their hands, giving light through the night to

the feasters in the palace. And he had fifty handmaids in

the house, and some grind the yellow grain on the

millstone, and others weave webs and turn the yarn as they

sit, restless as the leaves of the tall poplar tree: and

the soft olive oil drops off that linen, so closely is it

woven. For as the Phaeacian men are skilled beyond all

others in driving a swift ship upon the deep, even so are

the women the most cunning at the loom, for Athene hath

given them notable wisdom in all fair handiwork and cunning

wit. And without the courtyard hard by the door is a great

garden, off our ploughgates, and a hedge runs round on

either side. And there grow tall trees blossoming,

pear-trees and pomegranates, and apple-trees with bright

fruit, and sweet figs, and olives in their bloom. The fruit

of these trees never perisheth neither faileth, winter nor

summer, enduring through all the year. Evermore the West

Wind blowing brings some fruits to birth and ripens others.

Pear upon pear waxes old, and apple on apple, yea and

cluster ripens upon cluster of the grape, and fig upon fig.

There too hath he a fruitful vineyard planted, whereof the

one part is being dried by the heat, a sunny plot on level

ground, while other grapes men are gathering, and yet

others they are treading in the wine-press. In the foremost

row are unripe grapes that cast the blossom, and others

there be that are growing black to vintaging. There too,

skirting the furthest line, are all manner of garden beds,

planted trimly, that are perpetually fresh, and therein are

two fountains of water, whereof one scatters his streams

all about the garden, and the other runs over against it

beneath the threshold of the courtyard, and issues by the

lofty house, and thence did the townsfolk draw water. These

were the splendid gifts of the gods in the palace of

Alcinous.

There the steadfast goodly Odysseus stood and gazed. But

when he had gazed at all and wondered, he passed quickly

over the threshold within the house. And he found the

captains and the counsellors of the Phaeacians pouring

forth wine to the keen-sighted god, the slayer of Argos;

for to him they poured the last cup when they were minded

to take rest. Now the steadfast goodly Odysseus went

through the hall, clad in a thick mist, which Athene shed

around him, till he came to Arete and the king Alcinous.

And Odysseus cast his hands about the knees of Arete, and

then it was that the wondrous mist melted from off him, and

a silence fell on them that were within the house at the

sight of him, and they marvelled as they beheld him. Then

Odysseus began his prayer:

'Arete, daughter of god-like Rhexenor, after many toils am

I come to thy husband and to thy knees and to these guests,

and may the gods vouchsafe them a happy life, and may each

one leave to his children after him his substance in his

halls and whatever dues of honour the people have rendered

unto him. But speed, I pray you, my parting, that I may

come the more quickly to mine own country, for already too

long do I suffer affliction far from my friends.'

Therewith he sat him down by the hearth in the ashes at the

fire, and behold, a dead silence fell on all. And at the

last the ancient lord Echeneus spake among them, an elder

of the Phaeacians, excellent in speech and skilled in much

wisdom of old time. With good will he made harangue and

spake among them:

'Alcinous, this truly is not the more seemly way, nor is it

fitting that the stranger should sit upon the ground in the

ashes by the hearth, while these men refrain them, waiting

thy word. Nay come, bid the stranger arise, and set him on

a chair inlaid with silver, and command the henchmen to mix

the wine, that we may pour forth likewise before Zeus,

whose joy is in the thunder, who attendeth upon reverend

suppliants. And let the housewife give supper to the

stranger out of such stores as be within.'

Now when the mighty king Alcinous heard this saying, he

took Odysseus, the wise and crafty, by the hand, and raised

him from the hearth, and set him on a shining chair, whence

he bade his son give place, valiant Laodamas, who sat next

him and was his dearest. And a handmaid bare water for the

hands in a goodly golden ewer, and poured it forth over a

silver basin to wash withal, and drew to his side a

polished table. And a grave dame bare wheaten bread and set

it by him and laid upon the board many dainties, giving

freely of such things as she had by her. So the steadfast

goodly Odysseus did eat and drink: and then the mighty

Alcinous spake unto the henchman:

'Pontonous, mix the bowl and serve out the wine to all in

the hall, that we may pour forth likewise before Zeus,

whose joy is in the thunder, who attendeth upon reverend

suppliants.'

So spake he, and Pontonous mixed the honey-hearted wine,

and served it out to all, when he had poured for libation

into each cup in turn. But when they had poured forth and

had drunken to their heart's content, Alcinous made

harangue and spake among them:

'Hear me, ye captains and counsellors of the Phaeacians,

that I may speak as my spirit bids me. Now that the feast

is over, go ye home and lie down to rest; and in the

morning we will call yet more elders together, and

entertain the stranger in the halls and do fair sacrifice

to the gods, and thereafter we will likewise bethink us of

the convoy, that so without pain or grief yonder stranger

may by our convoy reach his own country speedily and with

joy, even though he be from very far away. So shall he

suffer no hurt or harm in mid passage, ere he set foot on

his own land; but thereafter he shall endure such things as

Fate and the stern spinning women drew off the spindles for

him at his birth when his mother bare him. But if he is

some deathless god come down from heaven, then do the gods

herein imagine some new device against us. For always

heretofore the gods appear manifest amongst us, whensoever

we offer glorious hecatombs, and they feast by our side,

sitting at the same board; yea, and even if a wayfarer

going all alone has met with them, they use no disguise,

since we are near of kin to them, even as are the Cyclopes

and the wild tribes of the Giants.'

And Odysseus of many counsels answered him, saying:

'Alcinous, that thought be far from thee! for I bear no

likeness either in form or fashion to the deathless gods,

who keep wide heaven, but to men that die. Whomsoever ye

know of human kind the heaviest laden with sorrow, to them

might I liken myself in my griefs. Yea, and I might tell of

yet other woes, even the long tale of toil that by the

gods' will I endured. But as for me, suffer me to sup,

afflicted as I am; for nought is there more shameless than

a ravening belly, which biddeth a man perforce be mindful

of him, though one be worn and sorrowful in spirit, even as

I have sorrow of heart; yet evermore he biddeth me eat and

drink and maketh me utterly to forget all my sufferings,

and commandeth me to take my fill. But do ye bestir you at

the breaking of the day, that so ye may set me, hapless as

I am, upon my country's soil, albeit after much suffering.

Ah, and may life leave me when I have had sight of mine own

possessions, my thralls, and my dwelling that is great and

high!'

So spake he, and they all assented thereto, and bade send

the stranger on his way, for that he had spoken aright. Now

when they had poured forth and had drunken to their hearts'

content, they went each one to his house to lay them to

rest. But goodly Odysseus was left behind in the hall, and

by him sat Arete and godlike Alcinous; and the maids

cleared away the furniture of the feast; and white-armed

Arete first spake among them. For she knew the mantle and

the doublet, when she saw the goodly raiment that she

herself had wrought with the women her handmaids. So she

uttered her voice and spake to him winged words:

'Sir, I am bold to ask thee first of this. Who art thou of

the sons of men, and whence? Who gave thee this raiment?

Didst thou not say indeed that thou camest hither wandering

over the deep?'

Then Odysseus of many counsels answered her, and said:

''Tis hard, O queen, to tell my griefs from end to end, for

that the gods of heaven have given me griefs in plenty. But

this will I declare to thee, whereof thou dost question and

inquire. There is an isle, Ogygia, that lies far off in the

sea; there dwells the daughter of Atlas, crafty Calypso, of

the braided tresses, an awful goddess, nor is any either of

gods or mortals conversant with her. Howbeit, some god

brought me to her hearth, wretched man that I am, all

alone, for that Zeus with white bolt crushed my swift ship

and cleft it in the midst of the wine-dark deep. There all

the rest of my good company was lost, but I clung with fast

embrace about the keel of the curved ship, and so was I

borne for nine whole days. And on the tenth dark night the

gods brought me nigh the isle Ogygia, where Calypso of the

braided tresses dwells, an awful goddess. She took me in,

and with all care she cherished me and gave me sustenance,

and said that she would make me to know not death nor age

for all my days; but never did she win my heart within me.

There I abode for seven years continually, and watered with

my tears the imperishable raiment that Calypso gave me. But

when the eighth year came round in his course, then at last

she urged and bade me to be gone, by reason of a message

from Zeus, or it may be that her own mind was turned. So

she sent me forth on a well-bound raft, and gave me

plenteous store, bread and sweet wine, and she clad me in

imperishable raiment, and sent forth a warm and gentle wind

to blow. For ten days and seven I sailed, traversing the

deep, and on the eighteenth day the shadowy hills of your

land showed in sight, and my heart was glad,--wretched that

I was--for surely I was still to be the mate of much

sorrow. For Poseidon, shaker of the earth, stirred up the

same, who roused against me the winds and stopped my way,

and made a wondrous sea to swell, nor did the wave suffer

me to be borne upon my raft, as I made ceaseless moan. Thus

the storm winds shattered the raft, but as for me I cleft

my way through the gulf yonder, till the wind bare and the

water brought me nigh your coast. Then as I strove to land

upon the shore, the wave had overwhelmed me, dashing me

against the great rocks and a desolate place, but at length

I gave way and swam back, till I came to the river, where

the place seemed best in mine eyes, smooth of rocks, and

withal there was a shelter from the wind. And as I came out

I sank down, gathering to me my spirit, and immortal night

came on. Then I gat me forth and away from the heaven-fed

river, and laid me to sleep in the bushes and strewed

leaves about me, and the god shed over me infinite sleep.

There among the leaves I slept, stricken at heart, all the

night long, even till the morning and mid-day. And the sun

sank when sweet sleep let me free. And I was aware of the

company of thy daughter disporting them upon the sand, and

there was she in the midst of them like unto the goddesses.

To her I made my supplication, and she showed no lack of a

good understanding, behaving so as thou couldst not hope

for in chancing upon one so young; for the younger folk

lack wisdom always. She gave me bread enough and red wine,

and let wash me in the river and bestowed on me these

garments. Herein, albeit in sore distress, have I told thee

all the truth.'

And Alcinous answered again, and spake saying: 'Sir, surely

this was no right thought of my daughter, in that she

brought thee not to our house with the women her handmaids,

though thou didst first entreat her grace.'

And Odysseus of many counsels answered, and said unto him:

'My lord, chide not, I pray thee, for this the blameless

maiden. For indeed she bade me follow with her company, but

I would not for fear and very shame, lest perchance thine

heart might be clouded at the sight; for a jealous race

upon the earth are we, the tribes of men.'

And Alcinous answered yet again, and spake saying: 'Sir, my

heart within me is not of such temper as to have been wroth

without a cause: due measure in all things is best. Would

to father Zeus, and Athene, and Apollo, would that so

goodly a man as thou art, and like-minded with me, thou

wouldst wed my daughter, and be called my son, here

abiding: so would I give thee house and wealth, if thou

wouldst stay of thine own will: but against thy will shall

none of the Phaeacians keep thee: never be this

well-pleasing in the eyes of father Zeus! And now I ordain

an escort for thee on a certain day, that thou mayst surely

know, and that day the morrow. Then shalt thou lay thee

down overcome by sleep, and they the while shall smite the

calm waters, till thou come to thy country and thy house,

and whatsoever place is dear to thee, even though it be

much farther than Euboea, which certain of our men say is

the farthest of lands, they who saw it, when they carried

Rhadamanthus, of the fair hair, to visit Tityos, son of

Gaia. Even thither they went, and accomplished the journey

on the self-same day and won home again, and were not

weary. And now shalt thou know for thyself how far my ships

are the best, and how my young men excel at tossing the

salt water with the oar-blade.'

So spake he, and the steadfast goodly Odysseus rejoiced;

and then he uttered a word in prayer, and called aloud to

Zeus: 'Father Zeus, oh that Alcinous may fulfil all that he

hath said, so may his fame never be quenched upon the

earth, the grain-giver, and I should come to mine own

land!'

Thus they spake one to the other. And white-armed Arete

bade her handmaids set out bedsteads beneath the gallery,

and cast fair purple blankets over them, and spread

coverlets above, and thereon lay thick mantles to be a

clothing over all. So they went from the hall with torch in

hand. But when they had busied them and spread the good

bedstead, they stood by Odysseus and called unto him,

saying:

'Up now, stranger, and get thee to sleep, thy bed is made'

So spake they, and it seemed to him that rest was wondrous

good. So he slept there, the steadfast goodly Odysseus, on

the jointed bedstead, beneath the echoing gallery. But

Alcinous laid him down in the innermost chamber of the high

house, and by him the lady his wife arrayed bedstead and

bedding.

 

Book VIII

The next day's entertainment of Odysseus, where he sees

them contend in wrestling and other exercises, and upon

provocation took up a greater stone than that which they

were throwing, and overthrew them all. Alcinous and the

lords give him presents. And how the king asked his name,

his country, and his adventures.

Now when early Dawn shone forth, the rosy-fingered, then

the mighty king Alcinous gat him up from his bed; and

Odysseus, of the seed of Zeus, likewise uprose, the waster

of cities. And the mighty king Alcinous led the way to the

assembly place of the Phaeacians, which they had

established hard by the ships. So when they had come

thither, and sat them down on the polished stones close by

each other, Pallas Athene went on her way through the town,

in the semblance of the herald of wise Alcinous, devising a

return for the great-hearted Odysseus. Then standing by

each man she spake, saying:

'Hither now get ye to the assembly, ye captains and

counsellors of the Phaeacians, that ye may learn concerning

the stranger, who hath lately come to the palace of wise

Alcinous, in his wanderings over the deep, and his form is

like the deathless gods.'

Therewith she aroused the spirit and desire of each one,

and speedily the meeting-places and seats were filled with

men that came to the gathering: yea, and many an one

marvelled at the sight of the wise son of Laertes, for

wondrous was the grace Athene poured upon his head and

shoulders, and she made him greater and more mighty to

behold, that he might win love and worship and honour among

all the Phaeacians, and that he might accomplish many

feats, wherein the Phaeacians made trial of Odysseus. Now

when they were gathered and come together, Alcinous made

harangue and spake among them:

'Harken, ye captains and counsellors of the Phaeacians, and

I will say that which my spirit within me bids me utter.

This stranger, I know not who he is, hath come to my house

in his wandering, whether from the men of the dawning or

the westward, and he presses for a convoy, and prays that

it be assured to him. So let us, as in time past, speed on

the convoy. For never, nay never, doth any man who cometh

to my house, abide here long in sorrow for want of help

upon his way. Nay, come let us draw down a black ship to

the fair salt sea, for her first voyage, and let them

choose fifty and two noble youths throughout the township,

who have been proved heretofore the best. And when ye have

made fast the oars upon the benches, step all a shore, and

thereafter come to our house, and quickly fall to feasting;

and I will make good provision for all. To the noble youths

I give this commandment; but ye others, sceptred kings,

come to my fair dwelling, that we may entertain the

stranger in the halls, and let no man make excuse.

Moreover, bid hither the divine minstrel, Demodocus, for

the god hath given minstrelsy to him as to none other, to

make men glad in what way soever his spirit stirs him to

sing.'

He spake and led the way, and the sceptred kings

accompanied him, while the henchmen went for the divine

minstrel. And chosen youths, fifty and two, departed at his

command, to the shore of the unharvested sea. But after

they had gone down to the ship and to the sea, first of all

they drew the ship down to the deep water, and placed the

mast and sails in the black ship, and fixed the oars in

leathern loops, all orderly, and spread forth the white

sails. And they moored her high out in the shore water, and

thereafter went on their way to the great palace of the

wise Alcinous. Now the galleries and the courts and the

rooms were thronged with men that came to the gathering,

for there were many, young and old. Then Alcinous

sacrificed twelve sheep among them, and eight boars with

flashing tusks, and two oxen with trailing feet. These they

flayed and made ready, and dressed a goodly feast.

Then the henchman drew near, leading with him the beloved

minstrel, whom the muse loved dearly, and she gave him both

good and evil; of his sight she reft him, but granted him

sweet song. Then Pontonous, the henchman, set for him a

high chair inlaid with silver, in the midst of the guests,

leaning it against the tall pillar, and he hung the loud

lyre on a pin, close above his head, and showed him how to

lay his hands on it. And close by him he placed a basket,

and a fair table, and a goblet of wine by his side, to

drink when his spirit bade him. So they stretched forth

their hands upon the good cheer spread before them. But

after they had put from them the desire of meat and drink,

the Muse stirred the minstrel to sing the songs of famous

men, even that lay whereof the fame had then reached the

wide heaven, namely, the quarrel between Odysseus and

Achilles, son of Peleus; how once on a time they contended

in fierce words at a rich festival of the gods, but

Agamemnon, king of men, was inly glad when the noblest of

the Achaeans fell at variance. For so Phoebus Apollo in his

soothsaying had told him that it must be, in goodly Pytho,

what time he crossed the threshold of stone, to seek to the

oracle. For in those days the first wave of woe was rolling

on Trojans and Danaans through the counsel of great Zeus.

This song it was that the famous minstrel sang; but

Odysseus caught his great purple cloak with his stalwart

hands, and drew it down over his head, and hid his comely

face, for he was ashamed to shed tears beneath his brows in

presence of the Phaeacians. Yea, and oft as the divine

minstrel paused in his song, Odysseus would wipe away the

tears, and draw the cloak from off his head, and take the

two-handled goblet and pour forth before the gods. But

whensoever he began again, and the chiefs of the Phaeacians

stirred him to sing, in delight at the lay, again would

Odysseus cover up his head and make moan. Now none of all

the company marked him weeping, but Alcinous alone noted it

and was ware thereof as he sat by him and heard him

groaning heavily. And presently he spake among the

Phaeacians, masters of the oar:

'Hearken, ye captains and counsellors of the Phaeacians,

now have our souls been satisfied with the good feast, and

with the lyre, which is the mate of the rich banquet. Let

us go forth anon, and make trial of divers games, that the

stranger may tell his friends, when home he returneth, how

greatly we excel all men in boxing, and wrestling, and

leaping, and speed of foot.'

He spake, and led the way, and they went with him. And the

henchman hung the loud lyre on the pin, and took the hand

of Demodocus, and let him forth from the hall, and guided

him by the same way, whereby those others, the chiefs of

the Phaeacians, had gone to gaze upon the games. So they

went on their way to the place of assembly, and with them a

great company innumerable; and many a noble youth stood up

to play. There rose Acroneus, and Ocyalus, and Elatreus,

and Nauteus, and Prymneus, and Anchialus, and Eretmeus, and

Ponteus, and Proreus, Thoon, and Anabesineus, and

Amphialus, son of Polyneus, son of Tekton, and likewise

Euryalus, the peer of murderous Ares, the son of Naubolus,

who in face and form was goodliest of all the Phaeacians

next to noble Laodamas. And there stood up the three sons

of noble Alcinous, Laodamas, and Halius, and god-like

Clytoneus. And behold, these all first tried the issue in

the foot race. From the very start they strained at utmost

speed: and all together they flew forward swiftly, raising

the dust along the plain. And noble Clytoneus was far the

swiftest of them all in running, and by the length of the

furrow that mules cleave in a fallow field, {*} so far did

he shoot to the front, and came to the crowd by the lists,

while those others were left behind. Then they made trial

of strong wrestling, and here in turn Euryalus excelled all

the best. And in leaping Amphialus was far the foremost,

and Elatreus in weight-throwing, and in boxing Laodamas,

the good son of Alcinous. Now when they had all taken their

pleasure in the games, Laodamas, son of Alcinous, spake

among them:

{* The distance here indicated seems to be that which the

mule goes in ploughing, without pausing to take breath.}

'Come, my friends, let us ask the stranger whether he is

skilled or practised in any sport. Ill fashioned, at least,

he is not in his thighs and sinewy legs and hands withal,

and his stalwart neck and mighty strength: yea and he lacks

not youth, but is crushed by many troubles. For I tell thee

there is nought else worse than the sea to confound a man,

how hardy soever he may be.'

And Euryalus in turn made answer, and said: 'Laodamas,

verily thou hast spoken this word in season. Go now thyself

and challenge him, and declare thy saying.'

Now when the good son of Alcinous heard this, he went and

stood in the midst, and spake unto Odysseus: 'Come, do thou

too, father and stranger, try thy skill in the sports, if

haply thou art practised in any; and thou art like to have

knowledge of games, for there is no greater glory for a man

while yet he lives, than that which he achieves by hand and

foot. Come, then, make essay, and cast away care from thy

soul: thy journey shall not now be long delayed; lo, thy

ship is even now drawn down to the sea, and the men of thy

company are ready.'

And Odysseus of many counsels answered him, saying;

'Laodamas, wherefore do ye mock me, requiring this thing of

me? Sorrow is far nearer my heart than sports, for much

have I endured and laboured sorely in time past, and now I

sit in this your gathering, craving my return, and making

my prayer to the king and all the people.'

And Euryalus answered, and rebuked him to his face: 'No

truly, stranger, nor do I think thee at all like one that

is skilled in games, whereof there are many among men,

rather art thou such an one as comes and goes in a benched

ship, a master of sailors that are merchantmen, one with a

memory for his freight, or that hath the charge of a cargo

homeward bound, and of greedily gotten gains; thou seemest

not a man of thy hands.'

Then Odysseus of many counsels looked fiercely on him and

said: 'Stranger, thou hast not spoken well; thou art like a

man presumptuous. So true it is that the gods do not give

every gracious gift to all, neither shapeliness, nor

wisdom, nor skilled speech. For one man is feebler than

another in presence, yet the god crowns his words with

beauty, and men behold him and rejoice, and his speech runs

surely on his way with a sweet modesty, and he shines forth

among the gathering of his people, and as he passes through

the town men gaze on him as a god. Another again is like

the deathless gods for beauty, but his words have no crown

of grace about them; even as thou art in comeliness

pre-eminent, nor could a god himself fashion thee for the

better, but in wit thou art a weakling. Yea, thou hast

stirred my spirit in my breast by speaking thus amiss. I am

not all unversed in sports, as thy words go, but methinks I

was among the foremost while as yet I trusted in my youth

and my hands, but now am I holden in misery and pains: for

I have endured much in passing through the wars of men and

the grievous waves of the sea. Yet even so, for all my

affliction, I will essay the games, for thy word hath

bitten to the quick, and thou hast roused me with thy

saying.'

He spake, and clad even as he was in his mantle leaped to

his feet, and caught up a weight larger than the rest, a

huge weight heavier far than those wherewith the Phaeacians

contended in casting. With one whirl he sent it from his

stout hand, and the stone flew hurtling: and the

Phaeacians, of the long oars, those mariners renowned,

crouched to earth beneath the rushing of the stone. Beyond

all the marks it flew, so lightly it sped from his hand,

and Athene in the fashion of a man marked the place, and

spake and hailed him:

'Yea, even a blind man, stranger, might discern that token

if he groped for it, for it is in no wise lost among the

throng of the others, but is far the first; for this bout

then take heart: not one of the Phaeacians shall attain

thereunto or overpass it.'

So spake she; and the steadfast goodly Odysseus rejoiced

and was glad, for that he saw a true friend in the lists.

Then with a lighter heart he spake amid the Phaeacians:

'Now reach ye this throw, young men, if ye may; and soon,

methinks, will I cast another after it, as far or yet

further. And whomsoever of the rest his heart and spirit

stir thereto, hither let him come and try the issue with

me, in boxing or in wrestling or even in the foot race, I

care not which, for ye have greatly angered me: let any of

all the Phaeacians come save Laodamas alone, for he is mine

host: who would strive with one that entreated him kindly?

Witless and worthless is the man, whoso challengeth his

host that receiveth him in a strange land, he doth but maim

his own estate. But for the rest, I refuse none and hold

none lightly, but I fain would know and prove them face to

face. For I am no weakling in all sports, even in the feats

of men. I know well how to handle the polished bow, and

ever the first would I be to shoot and smite my man in the

press of foes, even though many of my company stood by, and

were aiming at the enemy. Alone Philoctetes in the Trojan

land surpassed me with the bow in our Achaean archery. But

I avow myself far more excellent than all besides, of the

mortals that are now upon the earth and live by bread. Yet

with the men of old time I would not match me, neither with

Heracles nor with Eurytus of Oechalia, who contended even

with the deathless gods for the prize of archery. Wherefore

the great Eurytus perished all too soon, nor did old age

come on him in his halls, for Apollo slew him in his wrath,

seeing that he challenged him to shoot a match. And with

the spear I can throw further than any other man can shoot

an arrow. Only I doubt that in the foot race some of the

Phaeacians may outstrip me, for I have been shamefully

broken in many waters, seeing that there was no continual

sustenance on board; wherefore my knees are loosened.'

So spake he and all kept silence; and Alcinous alone

answered him, saying:

'Stranger, forasmuch as these thy words are not ill-taken

in our gathering, but thou wouldest fain show forth the

valour which keeps thee company, being angry that yonder

man stood by thee in the lists, and taunted thee, in such

sort as no mortal would speak lightly of thine excellence,

who had knowledge of sound words; nay now, mark my speech;

so shalt thou have somewhat to tell another hero, when with

thy wife and children thou suppest in thy halls, and

recallest our prowess, what deeds Zeus bestoweth even upon

us from our fathers' days even until now. For we are no

perfect boxers, nor wrestlers, but speedy runners, and the

best of seamen; and dear to us ever is the banquet, and the

harp, and the dance, and changes of raiment, and the warm

bath, and love, and sleep. Lo, now arise, ye dancers of the

Phaeacians, the best in the land, and make sport, that so

the stranger may tell his friends, when he returneth home,

how far we surpass all men besides in seamanship, and speed

of foot, and in the dance and song. And let one go quickly,

and fetch for Demodocus the loud lyre which is lying

somewhere in our halls.'

So spake Alcinous the godlike, and the henchman rose to

bear the hollow lyre from the king's palace. Then stood up

nine chosen men in all, the judges of the people, who were

wont to order all things in the lists aright. So they

levelled the place for the dance, and made a fair ring and

a wide. And the henchman drew near bearing the loud lyre to

Demodocus, who gat him into the midst, and round him stood

boys in their first bloom, skilled in the dance, and they

smote the good floor with their feet. And Odysseus gazed at

the twinklings of the feet, and marvelled in spirit.

Now as the minstrel touched the lyre, he lifted up his

voice in sweet song, and he sang of the love of Ares and

Aphrodite, of the fair crown, how at the first they lay

together in the house of Hephaestus privily; and Ares gave

her many gifts, and dishonoured the marriage bed of the

lord Hephaestus. And anon there came to him one to report

the thing, even Helios, that had seen them at their

pastime. Now when Hephaestus heard the bitter tidings, he

went his way to the forge, devising evil in the deep of his

heart, and set the great anvil on the stithy, and wrought

fetters that none might snap or loosen, that the lovers

might there unmoveably remain. Now when he had forged the

crafty net in his anger against Ares, he went on his way to

the chamber where his marriage bed was set out, and strewed

his snares all about the posts of the bed, and many too

were hung aloft from the main beam, subtle as spiders'

webs, so that none might see them, even of the blessed

gods: so cunningly were they forged. Now after he had done

winding the snare about the bed, he made as though he would

go to Lemnos, that stablished castle, and this was far the

dearest of all lands in his sight. But Ares of the golden

rein kept no blind watch, what time he saw Hephaestus, the

famed craftsman, depart afar. So he went on his way to the

house of renowned Hephaestus, eager for the love of crowned

Cytherea. Now she was but newly come from her sire, the

mighty Cronion, and as it chanced had sat her down; and

Ares entered the house, and clasped her hand, and spake,

and hailed her:

'Come, my beloved, let us to bed, and take our pleasure of

love, for Hephaestus is no longer among his own people;

methinks he is already gone to Lemnos, to the Sintians, men

of savage speech.'

So spake he, and a glad thing it seemed to her to lie with

him. So they twain went to the couch, and laid them to

sleep, and around them clung the cunning bonds of skilled

Hephaestus, so that they could not move nor raise a limb.

Then at the last they knew it, when there was no way to

flee. Now the famous god of the strong arms drew near to

them, having turned him back ere he reached the land of

Lemnos. For Helios had kept watch, and told him all. So

heavy at heart he went his way to his house, and stood at

the entering in of the gate, and wild rage gat hold of him,

and he cried terribly, and shouted to all the gods:

'Father Zeus, and ye other blessed gods, that live for

ever, come hither, that ye may see a mirthful thing and a

cruel, for that Aphrodite, daughter of Zeus, ever

dishonours me by reason of my lameness, and sets her heart

on Ares the destroyer, because he is fair and straight of

limb, but as for me, feeble was I born. Howbeit, there is

none to blame but my father and mother,--would they had

never begotten me! But now shall ye see where these have

gone up into my bed, and sleep together in love; and I am

troubled at the sight. Yet, methinks, they will not care to

lie thus even for a little while longer, despite their

great love. Soon will they have no desire to sleep

together, but the snare and the bond shall hold them, till

her sire give back to me the gifts of wooing, one and all,

those that I bestowed upon him for the hand of his

shameless girl; for that his daughter is fair, but without

discretion.'

So spake he; and lo, the gods gathered together to the

house of the brazen floor. Poseidon came, the girdler of

the earth, and Hermes came, the bringer of luck, and prince

Apollo came, the archer. But the lady goddesses abode each

within her house for shame. So the gods, the givers of good

things, stood in the porch: and laughter unquenchable arose

among the blessed gods, as they beheld the sleight of

cunning Hephaestus. And thus would one speak, looking to

his neighbour:

'Ill deed, ill speed! The slow catcheth the swift! Lo, how

Hephaestus, slow as he is, hath overtaken Ares, albeit he

is the swiftest of the gods that hold Olympus, by his craft

hath he taken him despite his lameness; wherefore surely

Ares oweth the fine of the adulterer.' Thus they spake one

to the other. But the lord Apollo, son of Zeus, spake to

Hermes:

'Hermes, son of Zeus, messenger and giver of good things,

wouldst thou be fain, aye, pressed by strong bonds though

it might be, to lie on the couch by golden Aphrodite?'

Then the messenger, the slayer of Argos, answered him: 'I

would that this might be, Apollo, my prince of archery! So

might thrice as many bonds innumerable encompass me about,

and all ye gods be looking on and all the goddesses, yet

would I lie by golden Aphrodite.'

So spake he, and laughter rose among the deathless gods.

Howbeit, Poseidon laughed not, but was instant with

Hephaestus, the renowed artificer, to loose the bonds of

Ares: and he uttered his voice, and spake to him winged

words:

'Loose him, I pray thee, and I promise even as thou biddest

me, that he shall himself pay all fair forfeit in the

presence of the deathless gods.'

Then the famous god of the strong arms answered him:

'Require not this of me, Poseidon, girdler of the earth.

Evil are evil folk's pledges to hold. How could I keep thee

bound among the deathless gods, if Ares were to depart,

avoiding the debt and the bond?'

Then Poseidon answered him, shaker of the earth:

'Hephaestus, even if Ares avoid the debt and flee away, I

myself will pay thee all.'

Then the famous god of the strong arms answered him: 'It

may not be that I should say thee nay, neither is it meet.'

Therewith the mighty Hephaestus loosed the bonds, and the

twain, when they were freed from that strong bond, sprang

up straightway, and departed, he to Thrace, but

laughter-loving Aphrodite went to Paphos of Cyprus, where

is her precinct and fragrant altar. There the Graces bathed

and anointed her with oil imperishable, such as is laid

upon the everlasting gods. And they clad her in lovely

raiment, a wonder to see.

This was the song the famous minstrel sang; and Odysseus

listened and was glad at heart, and likewise did the

Phaeacians, of the long oars, those mariners renowned.

Then Alcinous bade Halius and Laodamas dance alone, for

none ever contended with them. So when they had taken in

their hands the goodly ball of purple hue, that cunning

Polybus had wrought for them, the one would bend backwards,

and throw it towards the shadowy clouds; and the other

would leap upward from the earth, and catch it lightly in

his turn, before his feet touched the ground. Now after

they had made trial of throwing the ball straight up, the

twain set to dance upon the bounteous earth, tossing the

ball from hand to hand, and the other youths stood by the

lists and beat time, and a great din uprose.

Then it was that goodly Odysseus spake unto Alcinous: 'My

lord Alcinous, most notable among all the people, thou

didst boast thy dancers to be the best in the world, and

lo, thy words are fulfilled; I wonder as I look on them.'

So spake he, and the mighty king Alcinous rejoiced and

spake at once among the Phaeacians, masters of the oar:

'Hearken ye, captains and counsellors of the Phaeacians,

this stranger seems to me a wise man enough. Come then, let

us give him a stranger's gift, as is meet. Behold, there

are twelve glorious princes who rule among this people and

bear sway, and I myself am the thirteenth. Now each man

among you bring a fresh robe and a doublet, and a talent of

fine gold, and let us speedily carry all these gifts

together, that the stranger may take them in his hands, and

go to supper with a glad heart. As for Euryalus, let him

yield amends to the man himself, with soft speech and with

a gift, for his was no gentle saying.'

So spake he, and they all assented thereto, and would have

it so. And each one sent forth his henchman to fetch his

gift, and Euryalus answered the king and spake, saying:

'My lord Alcinous, most notable among all the people, I

will make atonement to thy guest according to thy word. I

will give him a hanger all of bronze, with a silver hilt

thereto, and a sheath of fresh-sawn ivory covers it about,

and it shall be to him a thing of price.'

Therewith he puts into his hands the hanger dight with

silver, and uttering his voice spake to him winged words:

'Hail, stranger and father; and if aught grievous hath been

spoken, may the storm-winds soon snatch and bear it away.

But may the gods grant thee to see thy wife and to come to

thine own country, for all too long has thou endured

affliction away from thy friends.'

And Odysseus of many counsels answered him saying: 'Thou

too, my friend, all hail; and may the gods vouchsafe thee

happiness, and mayst thou never miss this sword which thou

hast given me, thou that with soft speech hast yielded me

amends.'

He spake and hung about his shoulders the silver-studded

sword. And the sun sank, and the noble gifts were brought

him. Then the proud henchmen bare them to the palace of

Alcinous, and the sons of noble Alcinous took the fair

gifts, and set them by their reverend mother. And the

mighty king Alcinous led the way, and they came in and sat

them down on the high seats. And the mighty Alcinous spake

unto Arete:

'Bring me hither, my lady, a choice coffer, the best thou

hast, and thyself place therein a fresh robe and a doublet,

and heat for our guest a cauldron on the fire, and warm

water, that after the bath the stranger may see all the

gifts duly arrayed which the noble Phaeacians bare hither,

and that he may have joy in the feast, and in hearing the

song of the minstrelsy. Also I will give him a beautiful

golden chalice of mine own, that he may be mindful of me

all the days of his life when he poureth the drink-offering

to Zeus and to the other gods.'

So spake he, and Arete bade her handmaids to set a great

cauldron on the fire with what speed they might. And they

set the cauldron for the filling of the bath on the blazing

fire, and poured water therein, and took faggots and

kindled them beneath. So the fire began to circle round the

belly of the cauldron, and the water waxed hot. Meanwhile

Arete brought forth for her guest the beautiful coffer from

the treasure chamber, and bestowed fair gifts therein,

raiment and gold, which the Phaeacians gave him. And with

her own hands she placed therein a robe and goodly doublet,

and uttering her voice spake to him winged words:

'Do thou now look to the lid, and quickly tie the knot,

lest any man spoil thy goods by the way, when presently

thou fallest on sweet sleep travelling in thy black ship.'

Now when the steadfast goodly Odysseus heard this saying,

forthwith he fixed on the lid, and quickly tied the curious

knot, which the lady Circe on a time had taught him. Then

straightway the housewife bade him go to the bath and bathe

him; and he saw the warm water and was glad, for he was not

wont to be so cared for, from the day that he left the

house of fair-tressed Calypso, but all that while he had

comfort continually as a god.

Now after the maids had bathed him and anointed him with

olive oil, and had cast a fair mantle and a doublet upon

him, he stept forth from the bath, and went to be with the

chiefs at their wine. And Nausicaa, dowered with beauty by

the gods, stood by the pillar of the well-builded roof, and

marvelled at Odysseus, beholding him before her eyes, and

she uttered her voice and spake to him winged words:

'Farewell, stranger, and even in thine own country bethink

thee of me upon a time, for that to me first thou owest the

ransom of life.'

And Odysseus of many counsels answered her saying:

'Nausicaa, daughter of great-hearted Alcinous, yea, may

Zeus, the thunderer, the lord of Here, grant me to reach my

home and see the day of my returning; so would I, even

there, do thee worship as to a god, all my days for

evermore, for thou, lady, hast given me my life.'

He spake and sat him in the high seat by king Alcinous. And

now they were serving out the portions and mixing the wine.

Then the henchmen drew nigh leading the sweet minstrel,

Demodocus, that was had in honour of the people. So he set

him in the midst of the feasters, and made him lean against

a tall column. Then to the henchman spake Odysseus of many

counsels, for he had cut off a portion of the chine of a

white-toothed boar, whereon yet more was left, with rich

fat on either side:

'Lo, henchman, take this mess, and hand it to Demodocus,

that he may eat, and I will bid him hail, despite my

sorrow. For minstrels from all men on earth get their meed

of honour and worship; inasmuch as the Muse teacheth them

the paths of song, and loveth the tribe of minstrels.'

Thus he spake, and the henchman bare the mess, and set it

upon the knees of the lord Demodocus, and he took it, and

was glad at heart. Then they stretched forth their hands

upon the good cheer set before them. Now after they had put

from them the desire of meat and drink, then Odysseus of

many counsels spake to Demodocus, saying:

'Demodocus, I praise thee far above all mortal men, whether

it be the Muse, the daughter of Zeus, that taught thee, or

even Apollo, for right duly dost thou chant the faring of

the Achaeans, even all that they wrought and suffered, and

all their travail, as if, methinks, thou hadst been

present, or heard the tale from another. Come now, change

thy strain, and sing of the fashioning of the horse of

wood, which Epeius made by the aid of Athene, even the

guileful thing, that goodly Odysseus led up into the

citadel, when he had laden it with the men who wasted

Ilios. If thou wilt indeed rehearse me this aright, so will

I be thy witness among all men, how the god of his grace

hath given thee the gift of wondrous song.'

So spake he, and the minstrel, being stirred by the god,

began and showed forth his minstrelsy. He took up the tale

where it tells how the Argives of the one part set fire to

their huts, and went aboard their decked ships and sailed

away, while those others, the fellowship of renowned

Odysseus, were now seated in the assembly-place of the

Trojans, all hidden in the horse, for the Trojans

themselves had dragged him to the citadel. So the horse

stood there, while seated all around him the people spake

many things confusedly and three ways their counsel looked;

either to cleave the hollow timber with the pitiless spear,

or to drag it to the brow of the hill, and hurl it from the

rocks, or to leave it as a mighty offering to appease the

gods. And on this wise it was to be at the last. For the

doom was on them to perish when their city should have

closed upon the great horse of wood, wherein sat all the

bravest of the Argives, bearing to the Trojans death and

destiny. And he sang how the sons of the Achaeans poured

forth from the horse, and left the hollow lair, and sacked

the burg. And he sang how and where each man wasted the

town, and of Odysseus, how he went like Ares to the house

of Deiphobus with godlike Menelaus. It was there, he said,

that Odysseus adventured the most grievous battle, and in

the end prevailed, by grace of great-hearted Athene.

This was the song that the famous minstrel sang. But the

heart of Odysseus melted, and the tear wet his cheeks

beneath the eyelids. And as a woman throws herself wailing

about her dear lord, who hath fallen before his city and

the host, warding from his town and his children the

pitiless day; and she beholds him dying and drawing

difficult breath, and embracing his body wails aloud, while

the foemen behind smite her with spears on back and

shoulders and lead her up into bondage, to bear labour and

trouble, and with the most pitiful grief her cheeks are

wasted; even so pitifully fell the tears beneath the brows

of Odysseus. Now none of all the company marked him

weeping; but Alcinous alone noted it, and was ware thereof,

as he sat nigh him and heard him groaning heavily. And

presently he spake among the Phaeacians, masters of the

oar:

'Hearken, ye captains and counsellors of the Phaeacians,

and now let Demodocus hold his hand from the loud lyre, for

this song of his is nowise pleasing alike to all. From the

time that we began to sup, and that the divine minstrel was

moved to sing, ever since hath yonder stranger never ceased

from woeful lamentation: sore grief, methinks, hath

encompassed his heart. Nay, but let the minstrel cease,

that we may all alike make merry, hosts and guest, since it

is far meeter so. For all these things are ready for the

sake of the honourable stranger, even the convoy and the

loving gifts which we give him out of our love. In a

brother's place stand the stranger and the suppliant, to

him whose wits have even a little range, wherefore do thou

too hide not now with crafty purpose aught whereof I ask

thee; it were more meet for thee to tell it out. Say, what

is the name whereby they called thee at home, even thy

father and thy mother, and others thy townsmen and the

dwellers round about? For there is none of all mankind

nameless, neither the mean man nor yet the noble, from the

first hour of his birth, but parents bestow a name on every

man so soon as he is born. Tell me too of thy land, thy

township, and thy city, that our ships may conceive of

their course to bring thee thither. For the Phaeacians have

no pilots nor any rudders after the manner of other ships,

but their barques themselves understand the thoughts and

intents of men; they know the cities and fat fields of

every people, and most swiftly they traverse the gulf of

the salt sea, shrouded in mist and cloud, and never do they

go in fear of wreck or ruin. Howbeit I heard upon a time

this word thus spoken by my father Nausithous, who was wont

to say that Poseidon was jealous of us for that we give

safe escort to all men. He said that the god would some day

smite a well-wrought ship of the Phaeacians as she came

home from a convoy over the misty deep, and would

overshadow our city with a great mountain. Thus that

ancient one would speak, and thus the god may bring it

about, or leave it undone, according to the good pleasure

of his will. But come now, declare me this and plainly tell

it all; whither wast thou borne wandering, and to what

shores of men thou camest; tell me of the people and of

their fair-lying cities, of those whoso are hard and wild

and unjust, and of those likewise who are hospitable and of

a god-fearing mind. Declare, too, wherefore thou dost weep

and mourn in spirit at the tale of the faring of the Argive

Danaans and the lay of Ilios. All this the gods have

fashioned, and have woven the skein of death for men, that

there might be a song in the ears even of the folk of

aftertime. Hadst thou even a kinsman by marriage that fell

before Ilios, a true man, a daughter's husband or wife's

father, such as are nearest us after those of our own stock

and blood? Or else, may be, some loving friend, a good man

and true; for a friend with an understanding heart is no

whit worse than a brother.'

 

Book IX

Odysseus relates, first, what befell him amongst the

Cicones at Ismarus; secondly, amongst the Lotophagi;

thirdly, how he was used by the Cyclops Polyphemus.

And Odysseus of many counsels answered him saying: 'King

Alcinous, most notable of all the people, verily it is a

good thing to list to a minstrel such as this one, like to

the gods in voice. Nay, as for me, I say that there is no

more gracious or perfect delight than when a whole people

makes merry, and the men sit orderly at feast in the halls

and listen to the singer, and the tables by them are laden

with bread and flesh, and a wine-bearer drawing the wine

serves it round and pours it into the cups. This seems to

me well-nigh the fairest thing in the world. But now thy

heart was inclined to ask of my grievous troubles, that I

may mourn for more exceeding sorrow. What then shall I tell

of first, what last, for the gods of heaven have given me

woes in plenty? Now, first, will I tell my name, that ye

too may know it, and that I, when I have escaped the

pitiless day, may yet be your host, though my home is in a

far country. I am ODYSSEUS, SON OF LAERTES, who am in men's

minds for all manner of wiles, and my fame reaches unto

heaven. And I dwell in clear-seen Ithaca, wherein is a

mountain Neriton, with trembling forest leaves, standing

manifest to view, and many islands lie around, very near

one to the other, Dulichium and Same, and wooded Zacynthus.

Now Ithaca lies low, furthest up the sea-line toward the

darkness, but those others face the dawning and the sun: a

rugged isle, but a good nurse of noble youths; and for

myself I can see nought beside sweeter than a man's own

country. Verily Calypso, the fair goddess, would fain have

kept me with her in her hollow caves, longing to have me

for her lord; and likewise too, guileful Circe of Aia,

would have stayed me in her halls, longing to have me for

her lord. But never did they prevail upon my heart within

my breast. So surely is there nought sweeter than a man's

own country and his parents, even though he dwell far off

in a rich home, in a strange land, away from them that

begat him. But come, let me tell thee too of the troubles

of my journeying, which Zeus laid on me as I came from

Troy.

'The wind that bare me from Ilios brought me nigh to the

Cicones, even to Ismarus, whereupon I sacked their city and

slew the people. And from out the city we took their wives

and much substance, and divided them amongst us, that none

through me might go lacking his proper share. Howbeit,

thereafter I commanded that we should flee with a swift

foot, but my men in their great folly hearkened not. There

was much wine still a drinking, and still they slew many

flocks of sheep by the seashore and kine with trailing feet

and shambling gait. Meanwhile the Cicones went and raised a

cry to other Cicones their neighbours, dwelling inland, who

were more in number than they and braver withal: skilled

they were to fight with men from chariots, and when need

was on foot. So they gathered in the early morning as thick

as leaves and flowers that spring in their season-- yea and

in that hour an evil doom of Zeus stood by us, ill-fated

men, that so we might be sore afflicted. They set their

battle in array by the swift ships, and the hosts cast at

one another with their bronze-shod spears. So long as it

was morn and the sacred day waxed stronger, so long we

abode their assault and beat them off, albeit they

outnumbered us. But when the sun was wending to the time of

the loosing of cattle, then at last the Cicones drave in

the Achaeans and overcame them, and six of my

goodly-greaved company perished from each ship: but the

remnant of us escaped death and destiny.

'Thence we sailed onward stricken at heart, yet glad as men

saved from death, albeit we had lost our dear companions.

Nor did my curved ships move onward ere we had called

thrice on each of those our hapless fellows, who died at

the hands of the Cicones on the plain. Now Zeus, gatherer

of the clouds, aroused the North Wind against our ships

with a terrible tempest, and covered land and sea alike

with clouds, and down sped night from heaven. Thus the

ships were driven headlong, and their sails were torn to

shreds by the might of the wind. So we lowered the sails

into the hold, in fear of death, but rowed the ships

landward apace. There for two nights and two days we lay

continually, consuming our hearts with weariness and

sorrow. But when the fair-tressed Dawn had at last brought

the full light of the third day, we set up the masts and

hoisted the white sails and sat us down, while the wind and

the helmsman guided the ships. And now I should have come

to mine own country all unhurt, but the wave and the stream

of the sea and the North Wind swept me from my course as I

was doubling Malea, and drave me wandering past Cythera.

'Thence for nine whole days was I borne by ruinous winds

over the teeming deep; but on the tenth day we set foot on

the land of the lotus-eaters, who eat a flowery food. So we

stepped ashore and drew water, and straightway my company

took their midday meal by the swift ships. Now when we had

tasted meat and drink I sent forth certain of my company to

go and make search what manner of men they were who here

live upon the earth by bread, and I chose out two of my

fellows, and sent a third with them as herald. Then

straightway they went and mixed with the men of the

lotus-eaters, and so it was that the lotus-eaters devised

not death for our fellows, but gave them of the lotus to

taste. Now whosoever of them did eat the honey-sweet fruit

of the lotus, had no more wish to bring tidings nor to come

back, but there he chose to abide with the lotus-eating

men, ever feeding on the lotus, and forgetful of his

homeward way. Therefore I led them back to the ships

weeping, and sore against their will, and dragged them

beneath the benches, and bound them in the hollow barques.

But I commanded the rest of my well-loved company to make

speed and go on board the swift ships, lest haply any

should eat of the lotus and be forgetful of returning.

Right soon they embarked, and sat upon the benches, and

sitting orderly they smote the grey sea water with their

oars.

'Thence we sailed onward stricken at heart. And we came to

the land of the Cyclopes, a froward and a lawless folk, who

trusting to the deathless gods plant not aught with their

hands, neither plough: but, behold, all these things spring

for them in plenty, unsown and untilled, wheat, and barley,

and vines, which bear great clusters of the juice of the

grape, and the rain of Zeus gives them increase. These have

neither gatherings for council nor oracles of law, but they

dwell in hollow caves on the crests of the high hills, and

each one utters the law to his children and his wives, and

they reck not one of another.

'Now there is a waste isle stretching without the harbour

of the land of the Cyclopes, neither nigh at hand nor yet

afar off, a woodland isle, wherein are wild goats

unnumbered, for no path of men scares them, nor do hunters

resort thither who suffer hardships in the wood, as they

range the mountain crests. Moreover it is possessed neither

by flocks nor by ploughed lands, but the soil lies unsown

evermore and untilled, desolate of men, and feeds the

bleating goats. For the Cyclopes have by them no ships with

vermilion cheek, not yet are there shipwrights in the

island, who might fashion decked barques, which should

accomplish all their desire, voyaging to the towns of men

(as ofttimes men cross the sea to one another in ships),

who might likewise have made of their isle a goodly

settlement. Yea, it is in no wise a sorry land, but would

bear all things in their season; for therein are soft water

meadows by the shores of the grey salt sea, and there the

vines know no decay, and the land is level to plough;

thence might they reap a crop exceeding deep in due season,

for verily there is fatness beneath the soil. Also there is

a fair haven, where is no need of moorings, either to cast

anchor or to fasten hawsers, but men may run the ship on

the beach, and tarry until such time as the sailors are

minded to be gone, and favourable breezes blow. Now at the

head of the harbour is a well of bright water issuing from

a cave, and round it are poplars growing. Thither we

sailed, and some god guided us through the night, for it

was dark and there was no light to see, a mist lying deep

about the ships, nor did the moon show her light from

heaven, but was shut in with clouds. No man then beheld

that island, neither saw we the long waves rolling to the

beach, till we had run our decked ships ashore. And when

our ships were beached, we took down all their sails, and

ourselves too stept forth upon the strand of the sea, and

there we fell into sound sleep and waited for the bright

Dawn.

'So soon as early Dawn shone forth, the rosy-fingered, in

wonder at the island we roamed over the length thereof: and

the Nymphs, the daughters of Zeus, lord of the aegis,

started the wild goats of the hills, that my company might

have wherewith to sup. Anon we took to us our curved bows

from out the ships and long spears, and arrayed in three

bands we began shooting at the goats; and the god soon gave

us game in plenty. Now twelve ships bare me company, and to

each ship fell nine goats for a portion, but for me alone

they set ten apart.

'Thus we sat there the livelong day until the going down of

the sun, feasting on abundant flesh and on sweet wine. For

the red wine was not yet spent from out the ships, but

somewhat was yet therein, for we had each one drawn off

large store thereof in jars, when we took the sacred

citadel of the Cicones. And we looked across to the land of

the Cyclopes, who dwell nigh, and to the smoke, and to the

voice of the men, and of the sheep and of the goats. And

when the sun had sunk and darkness had come on, then we

laid us to rest upon the sea-beach. So soon as early Dawn

shone forth, the rosy-fingered, then I called a gathering

of my men, and spake among them all:

'"Abide here all the rest of you, my dear companions; but I

will go with mine own ship and my ship's company, and make

proof of these men, what manner of folk they are, whether

froward, and wild, and unjust, or hospitable and of

god-fearing mind."

'So I spake, and I climbed the ship's side, and bade my

company themselves to mount, and to loose the hawsers. So

they soon embarked and sat upon the benches, and sitting

orderly smote the grey sea water with their oars. Now when

we had come to the land that lies hard by, we saw a cave on

the border near to the sea, lofty and roofed over with

laurels, and there many flocks of sheep and goats were used

to rest. And about it a high outer court was built with

stones, deep bedded, and with tall pines and oaks with

their high crown of leaves. And a man was wont to sleep

therein, of monstrous size, who shepherded his flocks alone

and afar, and was not conversant with others, but dwelt

apart in lawlessness of mind. Yea, for he was a monstrous

thing and fashioned marvellously, nor was he like to any

man that lives by bread, but like a wooded peak of the

towering hills, which stands out apart and alone from

others.

'Then I commanded the rest of my well-loved company to

tarry there by the ship, and to guard the ship, but I chose

out twelve men, the best of my company, and sallied forth.

Now I had with me a goat-skin of the dark wine and sweet

which Maron, son of Euanthes, had given me, the priest of

Apollo, the god that watched over Ismarus. And he gave it,

for that we had protected him with his wife and child

reverently; for he dwelt in a thick grove of Phoebus

Apollo. And he made me splendid gifts; he gave me seven

talents of gold well wrought, and he gave me a mixing bowl

of pure silver, and furthermore wine which he drew off in

twelve jars in all, sweet wine unmingled, a draught divine;

nor did any of his servants or of his handmaids in the

house know thereof, but himself and his dear wife and one

housedame only. And as often as they drank that red wine

honey sweet, he would fill one cup and pour it into twenty

measures of water, and a marvellous sweet smell went up

from the mixing bowl: then truly it was no pleasure to

refrain.

'With this wine I filled a great skin, and bare it with me,

and corn too I put in a wallet, for my lordly spirit

straightway had a boding that a man would come to me, a

strange man, clothed in mighty strength, one that knew not

judgment and justice. {*}

{* Literally, knowing neither dooms, nor ordinances of

law.}

'Soon we came to the cave, but we found him not within; he

was shepherding his fat flocks in the pastures. So we went

into the cave, and gazed on all that was therein. The

baskets were well laden with cheeses, and the folds were

thronged with lambs and kids; each kind was penned by

itself, the firstlings apart, and the summer lambs apart,

apart too the younglings of the flock. Now all the vessels

swam with whey, the milk-pails and the bowls, the

well-wrought vessels whereinto he milked. My company then

spake and besought me first of all to take of the cheeses

and to return, and afterwards to make haste and drive off

the kids and lambs to the swift ships from out the pens,

and to sail over the salt sea water. Howbeit I hearkened

not (and far better would it have been), but waited to see

the giant himself, and whether he would give me gifts as a

stranger's due. Yet was not his coming to be with joy to my

company.

'Then we kindled a fire, and made burnt-offering, and

ourselves likewise took of the cheeses, and did eat, and

sat waiting for him within till he came back, shepherding

his flocks. And he bore a grievous weight of dry wood,

against supper time. This log he cast down with a din

inside the cave, and in fear we fled to the secret place of

the rock. As for him, he drave his fat flocks into the wide

cavern, even all that he was wont to milk; but the males

both of the sheep and of the goats he left without in the

deep yard. Thereafter he lifted a huge doorstone and

weighty, and set it in the mouth of the cave, such an one

as two and twenty good four-wheeled wains could not raise

from the ground, so mighty a sheer rock did he set against

the doorway. Then he sat down and milked the ewes and

bleating goats, all orderly, and beneath each ewe he placed

her young. And anon he curdled one half of the white milk,

and massed it together, and stored it in wicker-baskets,

and the other half he let stand in pails, that he might

have it to take and drink against supper time. Now when he

had done all his work busily, then he kindled the fire

anew, and espied us, and made question:

'"Strangers, who are ye? Whence sail ye over the wet ways?

On some trading enterprise or at adventure do ye rove, even

as sea-robbers over the brine, for at hazard of their own

lives they wander, bringing bale to alien men."

'So spake he, but as for us our heart within us was broken

for terror of the deep voice and his own monstrous shape;

yet despite all I answered and spake unto him, saying:

'"Lo, we are Achaeans, driven wandering from Troy, by all

manner of winds over the great gulf of the sea; seeking our

homes we fare, but another path have we come, by other

ways: even such, methinks, was the will and the counsel of

Zeus. And we avow us to be the men of Agamemnon, son of

Atreus, whose fame is even now the mightiest under heaven,

so great a city did he sack, and destroyed many people; but

as for us we have lighted here, and come to these thy

knees, if perchance thou wilt give us a stranger's gift, or

make any present, as is the due of strangers. Nay, lord,

have regard to the gods, for we are thy suppliants; and

Zeus is the avenger of suppliants and sojourners, Zeus, the

god of the stranger, who fareth in the company of reverend

strangers."

'So I spake, and anon he answered out of his pitiless

heart: "Thou art witless, my stranger, or thou hast come

from afar, who biddest me either to fear or shun the gods.

For the Cyclopes pay no heed to Zeus, lord of the aegis,

nor to the blessed gods, for verily we are better men than

they. Nor would I, to shun the enmity of Zeus, spare either

thee or thy company, unless my spirit bade me. But tell me

where thou didst stay thy well-wrought ship on thy coming?

Was it perchance at the far end of the island, or hard by,

that I may know?"

'So he spake tempting me, but he cheated me not, who knew

full much, and I answered him again with words of guile:

'"As for my ship, Poseidon, the shaker of the earth, brake

it to pieces, for he cast it upon the rocks at the border

of your country, and brought it nigh the headland, and a

wind bare it thither from the sea. But I with these my men

escaped from utter doom."

'So I spake, and out of his pitiless heart he answered me

not a word, but sprang up, and laid his hands upon my

fellows, and clutching two together dashed them, as they

had been whelps, to the earth, and the brain flowed forth

upon the ground, and the earth was wet. Then cut he them up

piecemeal, and made ready his supper. So he ate even as a

mountain-bred lion, and ceased not, devouring entrails and

flesh and bones with their marrow. And we wept and raised

our hands to Zeus, beholding the cruel deeds; and we were

at our wits' end. And after the Cyclops had filled his huge

maw with human flesh and the milk he drank thereafter, he

lay within the cave, stretched out among his sheep.

'So I took counsel in my great heart, whether I should draw

near, and pluck my sharp sword from my thigh, and stab him

in the breast, where the midriff holds the liver, feeling

for the place with my hand. But my second thought withheld

me, for so should we too have perished even there with

utter doom. For we should not have prevailed to roll away

with our hands from the lofty door the heavy stone which he

set there. So for that time we made moan, awaiting the

bright Dawn.

'Now when early Dawn shone forth, the rosy-fingered, again

he kindled the fire and milked his goodly flocks all

orderly, and beneath each ewe set her lamb. Anon when he

had done all his work busily, again he seized yet other two

men and made ready his mid-day meal. And after the meal,

lightly he moved away the great door-stone, and drave his

fat flocks forth from the cave, and afterwards he set it in

his place again, as one might set the lid on a quiver. Then

with a loud whoop, the Cyclops turned his fat flocks

towards the hills; but I was left devising evil in the deep

of my heart, if in any wise I might avenge me, and Athene

grant me renown.

'And this was the counsel that showed best in my sight.

There lay by a sheep-fold a great club of the Cyclops, a

club of olive wood, yet green, which he had cut to carry

with him when it should be seasoned. Now when we saw it we

likened it in size to the mast of a black ship of twenty

oars, a wide merchant vessel that traverses the great sea

gulf, so huge it was to view in bulk and length. I stood

thereby and cut off from it a portion as it were a fathom's

length, and set it by my fellows, and bade them fine it

down, and they made it even, while I stood by and sharpened

it to a point, and straightway I took it and hardened it in

the bright fire. Then I laid it well away, and hid it

beneath the dung, which was scattered in great heaps in the

depths of the cave. And I bade my company cast lots among

them, which of them should risk the adventure with me, and

lift the bar and turn it about in his eye, when sweet sleep

came upon him. And the lot fell upon those four whom I

myself would have been fain to choose, and I appointed

myself to be the fifth among them. In the evening he came

shepherding his flocks of goodly fleece, and presently he

drave his fat flocks into the cave each and all, nor left

he any without in the deep court-yard, whether through some

foreboding, or perchance that the god so bade him do.

Thereafter he lifted the huge door-stone and set it in the

mouth of the cave, and sitting down he milked the ewes and

bleating goats, all orderly, and beneath each ewe he placed

her young. Now when he had done all his work busily, again

he seized yet other two and made ready his supper. Then I

stood by the Cyclops and spake to him, holding in my hands

an ivy bowl of the dark wine:

'"Cyclops, take and drink wine after thy feast of man's

meat, that thou mayest know what manner of drink this was

that our ship held. And lo, I was bringing it thee as a

drink offering, if haply thou mayest take pity and send me

on my way home, but thy mad rage is past all sufferance. O

hard of heart, how may another of the many men there be

come ever to thee again, seeing that thy deeds have been

lawless?"

'So I spake, and he took the cup and drank it off, and

found great delight in drinking the sweet draught, and

asked me for it yet a second time:

'"Give it me again of thy grace, and tell me thy name

straightway, that I may give thee a stranger's gift,

wherein thou mayest be glad. Yea for the earth, the

grain-giver, bears for the Cyclopes the mighty clusters of

the juice of the grape, and the rain of Zeus gives them

increase, but this is a rill of very nectar and ambrosia."

'So he spake, and again I handed him the dark wine. Thrice

I bare and gave it him, and thrice in his folly he drank it

to the lees. Now when the wine had got about the wits of

the Cyclops, then did I speak to him with soft words:

'"Cyclops, thou askest me my renowned name, and I will

declare it unto thee, and do thou grant me a stranger's

gift, as thou didst promise. Noman is my name, and Noman

they call me, my father and my mother and all my fellows."

'So I spake, and straightway he answered me out of his

pitiless heart:

'"Noman will I eat last in the number of his fellows, and

the others before him: that shall be thy gift."

'Therewith he sank backwards and fell with face upturned,

and there he lay with his great neck bent round, and sleep,

that conquers all men, overcame him. And the wine and the

fragments of men's flesh issued forth from his mouth, and

he vomited, being heavy with wine. Then I thrust in that

stake under the deep ashes, until it should grow hot, and I

spake to my companions comfortable words, lest any should

hang back from me in fear. But when that bar of olive wood

was just about to catch fire in the flame, green though it

was, and began to glow terribly, even then I came nigh, and

drew it from the coals, and my fellows gathered about me,

and some god breathed great courage into us. For their part

they seized the bar of olive wood, that was sharpened at

the point, and thrust it into his eye, while I from my

place aloft turned it about, as when a man bores a ship's

beam with a drill while his fellows below spin it with a

strap, which they hold at either end, and the auger runs

round continually. Even so did we seize the fiery-pointed

brand and whirled it round in his eye, and the blood flowed

about the heated bar. And the breath of the flame singed

his eyelids and brows all about, as the ball of the eye

burnt away, and the roots thereof crackled in the flame.

And as when a smith dips an axe or adze in chill water with

a great hissing, when he would temper it--for hereby anon

comes the strength of iron--even so did his eye hiss round

the stake of olive. And he raised a great and terrible cry,

that the rock rang around, and we fled away in fear, while

he plucked forth from his eye the brand bedabbled in much

blood. Then maddened with pain he cast it from him with his

hands, and called with a loud voice on the Cyclopes, who

dwelt about him in the caves along the windy heights. And

they heard the cry and flocked together from every side,

and gathering round the cave asked him what ailed him:

'"What hath so distressed thee, Polyphemus, that thou

criest thus aloud through the immortal night, and makest us

sleepless? Surely no mortal driveth off thy flocks against

thy will: surely none slayeth thyself by force or craft?"

'And the strong Polyphemus spake to them again from out the

cave: "My friends, Noman is slaying me by guile, nor at all

by force."

'And they answered and spake winged words: "If then no man

is violently handling thee in thy solitude, it can in no

wise be that thou shouldest escape the sickness sent by

mighty Zeus. Nay, pray thou to thy father, the lord

Poseidon."

'On this wise they spake and departed; and my heart within

me laughed to see how my name and cunning counsel had

beguiled them. But the Cyclops, groaning and travailing in

pain, groped with his hands, and lifted away the stone from

the door of the cave, and himself sat in the entry, with

arms outstretched to catch, if he might, any one that was

going forth with his sheep, so witless, methinks, did he

hope to find me. But I advised me how all might be for the

very best, if perchance I might find a way of escape from

death for my companions and myself, and I wove all manner

of craft and counsel, as a man will for his life, seeing

that great mischief was nigh. And this was the counsel that

showed best in my sight. The rams of the flock were well

nurtured and thick of fleece, great and goodly, with wool

dark as the violet. Quietly I lashed them together with

twisted withies, whereon the Cyclops slept, that lawless

monster. Three together I took: now the middle one of the

three would bear each a man, but the other twain went on

either side, saving my fellows. Thus every three sheep bare

their man. But as for me I laid hold of the back of a young

ram who was far the best and the goodliest of all the

flock, and curled beneath his shaggy belly there I lay, and

so clung face upward, grasping the wondrous fleece with a

steadfast heart. So for that time making moan we awaited

the bright Dawn.

'So soon as early Dawn shone forth, the rosy-fingered, then

did the rams of the flock hasten forth to pasture, but the

ewes bleated unmilked about the pens, for their udders were

swollen to bursting. Then their lord, sore stricken with

pain, felt along the backs of all the sheep as they stood

up before him, and guessed not in his folly how that my men

were bound beneath the breasts of his thick-fleeced flocks.

Last of all the sheep came forth the ram, cumbered with his

wool, and the weight of me and my cunning. And the strong

Polyphemus laid his hands on him and spake to him saying:

'"Dear ram, wherefore, I pray thee, art thou the last of

all the flocks to go forth from the cave, who of old wast

not wont to lag behind the sheep, but wert ever the

foremost to pluck the tender blossom of the pasture, faring

with long strides, and wert still the first to come to the

streams of the rivers, and first did long to return to the

homestead in the evening? But now art thou the very last.

Surely thou art sorrowing for the eye of thy lord, which an

evil man blinded, with his accursed fellows, when he had

subdued my wits with wine, even Noman, whom I say hath not

yet escaped destruction. Ah, if thou couldst feel as I, and

be endued with speech, to tell me where he shifts about to

shun my wrath; then should he be smitten, and his brains be

dashed against the floor here and there about the cave, and

my heart be lightened of the sorrows which Noman, nothing

worth, hath brought me!"

'Therewith he sent the ram forth from him, and when we had

gone but a little way from the cave and from the yard,

first I loosed myself from under the ram and then I set my

fellows free. And swiftly we drave on those stiff-shanked

sheep, so rich in fat, and often turned to look about, till

we came to the ship. And a glad sight to our fellows were

we that had fled from death, but the others they would have

bemoaned with tears; howbeit I suffered it not, but with

frowning brows forbade each man to weep. Rather I bade them

to cast on board the many sheep with goodly fleece, and to

sail over the salt sea water. So they embarked forthwith,

and sate upon the benches, and sitting orderly smote the

grey sea water with their oars. But when I had not gone so

far, but that a man's shout might be heard, then I spoke

unto the Cyclops taunting him:

'"Cyclops, so thou wert not to eat the company of a

weakling by main might in thy hollow cave! Thine evil deeds

were very sure to find thee out, thou cruel man, who hadst

no shame to eat thy guests within thy gates, wherefore Zeus

hath requited thee, and the other gods."

'So I spake, and he was mightily angered at heart, and he

brake off the peak of a great hill and threw it at us, and

it fell in front of the dark-prowed ship. {*} And the sea

heaved beneath the fall of the rock, and the backward flow

of the wave bare the ship quickly to the dry land, with the

wash from the deep sea, and drave it to the shore. Then I

caught up a long pole in my hands, and thrust the ship from

off the land, and roused my company, and with a motion of

the head bade them dash in with their oars, that so we

might escape our evil plight. So they bent to their oars

and rowed on. But when we had now made twice the distance

over the brine, I would fain have spoken to the Cyclops,

but my company stayed me on every side with soft words,

saying:

{* We have omitted line 483, as required by the sense. It

is introduced here from line 540.}

'"Foolhardy that thou art, why wouldst thou rouse a wild

man to wrath, who even now hath cast so mighty a throw

towards the deep and brought our ship back to land, yea and

we thought that we had perished {*} even there? If he had

heard any of us utter sound or speech he would have crushed

our heads and our ship timbers with a cast of a rugged

stone, so mightily he hurls."

{* Neither in this passage nor in B ii.171 nor in B xx.121

do we think that the aorist infinitive after a verb of

saying can bear a future sense. The aorist infinitive after

[Greek] (ii.280, vii.76) is hardly an argument in its

favour; the infinitive there is in fact a noun in the

genitive case.}

'So spake they, but they prevailed not on my lordly spirit,

and I answered him again from out an angry heart:

'"Cyclops, if any one of mortal men shall ask thee of the

unsightly blinding of thine eye, say that it was Odysseus

that blinded it, the waster of cities, son of Laertes,

whose dwelling is in Ithaca."

'So I spake, and with a moan he answered me, saying:

'"Lo now, in very truth the ancient oracles have come upon

me. There lived here a soothsayer, a noble man and a

mighty, Telemus, son of Eurymus, who surpassed all men in

soothsaying, and waxed old as a seer among the Cyclopes. He

told me that all these things should come to pass in the

aftertime, even that I should lose my eyesight at the hand

of Odysseus. But I ever looked for some tall and goodly man

to come hither, clad in great might, but behold now one

that is a dwarf, a man of no worth and a weakling, hath

blinded me of my eye after subduing me with wine. Nay come

hither, Odysseus, that I may set by thee a stranger's

cheer, and speed thy parting hence, that so the

Earth-shaker may vouchsafe it thee, for his son am I, and

he avows him for my father. And he himself will heal me, if

it be his will; and none other of the blessed gods or of

mortal men."

'Even so he spake, but I answered him, and said: "Would god

that I were as sure to rob thee of soul and life, and send

thee within the house of Hades, as I am that not even the

Earth-shaker will heal thine eye!"

'So I spake, and then he prayed to the lord Poseidon

stretching forth his hands to the starry heaven: "Hear me,

Poseidon, girdler of the earth, god of the dark hair, if

indeed I be thine, and thou avowest thee my sire,--grant

that he may never come to his home, even Odysseus, waster

of cities, the son of Laertes, whose dwelling is in Ithaca;

yet if he is ordained to see his friends and come unto his

well-builded house, and his own country, late may he come

in evil case, with the loss of all his company, in the ship

of strangers, and find sorrows in his house."

'So he spake in prayer, and the god of the dark locks heard

him. And once again he lifted a stone, far greater than the

first, and with one swing he hurled it, and he put forth a

measureless strength, and cast it but a little space behind

the dark-prowed ship, and all but struck the end of the

rudder. And the sea heaved beneath the fall of the rock,

but the wave bare on the ship and drave it to the further

shore.

'But when he had now reached that island, where all our

other decked ships abode together, and our company were

gathered sorrowing, expecting us evermore, on our coming

thither we ran our ship ashore upon the sand, and ourselves

too stept forth upon the sea beach. Next we took forth the

sheep of the Cyclops from out the hollow ship, and divided

them, that none through me might go lacking his proper

share. But the ram for me alone my goodly-greaved company

chose out, in the dividing of the sheep, and on the shore I

offered him up to Zeus, even to the son of Cronos, who

dwells in the dark clouds, and is lord of all, and I burnt

the slices of the thighs. But he heeded not the sacrifice,

but was devising how my decked ships and my dear company

might perish utterly. Thus for that time we sat the

livelong day, until the going down of the sun, feasting on

abundant flesh and sweet wine. And when the sun had sunk

and darkness had come on, then we laid us to rest upon the

sea beach. So soon as early Dawn shone forth, the

rosy-fingered, I called to my company, and commanded them

that they should themselves climb the ship and loose the

hawsers. So they soon embarked and sat upon the benches,

and sitting orderly smote the grey sea water with their

oars.

'Thence we sailed onward stricken at heart, yet glad as men

saved from death, albeit we had lost our dear companions.

 

Book X

Odysseus, his entertainment by Aeolus, of whom he received

a fair wind for the present, and all the rest of the winds

tied up in a bag; which his men untying, flew out, and

carried him back to Aeolus, who refused to receive him. His

adventure at Laestrygonia with Antiphates, where of twelve

ships he lost eleven, men and all. How he went thence to

the Isle of Aea, where half of his men were turned by Circe

into swine, and how he went himself, and by the help of

Hermes recovered them and stayed with Circe a year.

'Then we came to the isle Aeolian, where dwelt Aeolus, son

of Hippotas, dear too the deathless gods, in a floating

island, and all about it is a wall of bronze unbroken, and

the cliff runs up sheer from the sea. His twelve children

to abide there in his halls, six daughters and six lusty

sons; and, behold, he gave his daughters to his sons to

wife. And they feast evermore by their dear father and

their kind mother, and dainties innumerable lie ready to

their hands. And the house is full of the savour of

feasting, and the noise thereof rings round, yea in the

courtyard, by day, and in the night they sleep each one by

his chaste wife in coverlets and on jointed bedsteads. So

then we came to their city and their goodly dwelling, and

the king entreated me kindly for a whole month, and sought

out each thing, Ilios and the ships of the Argives, and the

return of the Achaeans. So I told him all the tale in order

duly. But when I in turn took the word and asked of my

journey, and bade him send me on my way, he too denied me

not, but furnished an escort. He gave me a wallet, made of

the hide of an ox of nine seasons old, which he let flay,

and therein he bound the ways of all the noisy winds; for

him the son of Cronos made keeper of the winds, either to

lull or to rouse what blasts he will. And he made it fast

in the hold of the ship with a shining silver thong, that

not the faintest breath might escape. Then he sent forth

the blast of the West Wind to blow for me, to bear our

ships and ourselves upon our way; but this he was never to

bring to pass, for we were undone through our own

heedlessness.

'For nine whole days we sailed by night and day

continually, and now on the tenth day my native land came

in sight, and already we were so near that we beheld the

folk tending the beacon fires. Then over me there came

sweet slumber in my weariness, for all the time I was

holding the sheet, nor gave it to any of my company, that

so we might come quicker to our own country. Meanwhile my

company held converse together, and said that I was

bringing home for myself gold and silver, gifts from Aeolus

the high-hearted son of Hippotas. And thus would they speak

looking each man to his neighbour:

'"Lo now, how beloved he is and highly esteemed among all

men, to the city and land of whomsoever he may come. Many

are the goodly treasures he taketh with him out of the

spoil from Troy, while we who have fulfilled like

journeying with him return homeward bringing with us but

empty hands. And now Aeolus hath given unto him these

things freely in his love. Nay come, let us quickly see

what they are, even what wealth of gold and silver is in

the wallet."

'So they spake, and the evil counsel of my company

prevailed. They loosed the wallet, and all the winds brake

forth. And the violent blast seized my men, and bare them

towards the high seas weeping, away from their own country;

but as for me, I awoke and communed with my great heart,

whether I should cast myself from the ship and perish in

the deep, or endure in silence and abide yet among the

living. Howbeit I hardened my heart to endure, and muffling

my head I lay still in the ship. But the vessels were

driven by the evil storm-wind back to the isle Aeolian, and

my company made moan.

'There we stepped ashore and drew water, and my company

presently took their midday meal by the swift ships. Now

when we had tasted bread and wine, I took with me a herald

and one of my company, and went to the famous dwelling of

Aeolus: and I found him feasting with his wife and

children. So we went in and sat by the pillars of the door

on the threshold, and they all marvelled and asked us:

'"How hast thou come hither, Odysseus? What evil god

assailed thee? Surely we sent thee on thy way with all

diligence, that thou mightest get thee to thine own country

and thy home, and whithersoever thou wouldest."

'Even so they said, but I spake among them heavy at heart:

"My evil company hath been my bane, and sleep thereto

remorseless. Come, my friends, do ye heal the harm, for

yours is the power."

'So I spake, beseeching them in soft words, but they held

their peace. And the father answered, saying: "Get thee

forth from the island straightway, thou that art the most

reprobate of living men. Far be it from me to help or to

further that man whom the blessed gods abhor! Get thee

forth, for lo, thy coming marks thee hated by the deathless

gods."

'Therewith he sent me forth from the house making heavy

moan. Thence we sailed onwards stricken at heart. And the

spirit of the men was spent beneath the grievous rowing by

reason of our vain endeavour, for there was no more any

sign of a wafting wind. So for the space of six days we

sailed by night and day continually, and on the seventh we

came to the steep stronghold of Lamos, Telepylos of the

Laestrygons, where herdsman hails herdsman as he drives in

his flock, and the other who drives forth answers the call.

There might a sleepless man have earned a double wage, the

one as neat-herd, the other shepherding white flocks: so

near are the outgoings of the night and of the day.

Thither when he had come to the fair haven, whereabout on

both sides goes one steep cliff unbroken and jutting

headlands over against each other stretch forth at the

mouth of the harbour, and strait is the entrance; thereinto

all the others steered their curved ships. Now the vessels

were bound within the hollow harbour each hard by other,

for no wave ever swelled within it, great or small, but

there was a bright calm all around. But I alone moored my

dark ship without the harbour, at the uttermost point

thereof, and made fast the hawser to a rock. And I went up

a craggy hill, a place of out-look, and stood thereon:

thence there was no sign of the labour of men or oxen, only

we saw the smoke curling upward from the land. Then I sent

forth certain of my company to go and search out what

manner of men they were who here live upon the earth by

bread, choosing out two of my company and sending a third

with them as herald. Now when they had gone ashore, they

went along a level road whereby wains were wont to draw

down wood from the high hills to the town. And without the

town they fell in with a damsel drawing water, the noble

daughter of Laestrygonian Antiphates. She had come down to

the clear-flowing spring Artacia, for thence it was custom

to draw water to the town. So they stood by her and spake

unto her, and asked who was king of that land, and who they

were he ruled over. Then at once she showed them the

high-roofed hall of her father. Now when they had entered

the renowned house, they found his wife therein: she was

huge of bulk as a mountain peak and was loathly in their

sight. Straightway she called the renowned Antiphates, her

lord, from the assembly-place, and he contrived a pitiful

destruction for my men. Forthwith he clutched up one of my

company and made ready his midday meal, but the other twain

sprang up and came in flight to the ships. Then he raised

the war cry through the town, and the valiant Laestrygons

at the sound thereof, flocked together from every side, a

host past number, not like men but like the Giants. They

cast at us from the cliffs with great rocks, each of them a

man's burden, and anon there arose from the fleet an evil

din of men dying and ships shattered withal. And like folk

spearing fishes they bare home their hideous meal. While as

yet they were slaying my friends within the deep harbour, I

drew my sharp sword from my thigh, and with it cut the

hawsers of my dark-prowed ship. Quickly then I called to my

company, and bade them dash in with the oars, that we might

clean escape this evil plight. And all with one accord they

tossed the sea water with the oar-blade, in dread of death,

and to my delight my barque flew forth to the high seas

away from the beetling rocks, but those other ships were

lost there, one and all.

'Thence we sailed onward stricken at heart, yet glad as men

saved from death, albeit we had lost our dear companions.

And we came to the isle Aeaean, where dwelt Circe of the

braided tresses, an awful goddess of mortal speech, own

sister to the wizard Aeetes. Both were begotten of Helios,

who gives light to all men, and their mother was Perse,

daughter of Oceanus. There on the shore we put in with our

ship into the sheltering haven silently, and some god was

our guide. Then we stept ashore, and for two days and two

nights lay there, consuming our own hearts for weariness

and pain. But when now the fair-tressed Dawn had brought

the full light of the third day, then did I seize my spear

and my sharp sword, and quickly departing from the ship I

went up unto a place of wide prospect, if haply I might see

any sign of the labour of men and hear the sound of their

speech. So I went up a craggy hill, a place of out-look,

and I saw the smoke rising from the broad-wayed earth in

the halls of Circe, through the thick coppice and the

woodland. Then I mused in my mind and heart whether I

should go and make discovery, for that I had seen the smoke

and flame. And as I thought thereon this seemed to me the

better counsel, to go first to the swift ship and to the

sea-banks, and give my company their midday meal, and then

send them to make search. But as I came and drew nigh to

the curved ship, some god even then took pity on me in my

loneliness, and sent a tall antlered stag across my very

path. He was coming down from his pasture in the woodland

to the river to drink, for verily the might of the sun was

sore upon him. And as he came up from out of the stream, I

smote him on the spine in the middle of the back, and the

brazen shaft went clean through him, and with a moan he

fell in the dust, and his life passed from him. Then I set

my foot on him and drew forth the brazen shaft from the

wound, and laid it hard by upon the ground and let it lie.

Next I broke withies and willow twigs, and wove me a rope a

fathom in length, well twisted from end to end, and bound

together the feet of the huge beast, and went to the black

ship bearing him across my neck, and leaning on a spear,

for it was in no wise possible to carry him on my shoulder

with the one hand, for he was a mighty quarry. And I threw

him down before the ship and roused my company with soft

words, standing by each man in turn:

'"Friends, for all our sorrows we shall not yet a while go

down to the house of Hades, ere the coming of the day of

destiny; go to then, while as yet there is meat and drink

in the swift ship, let us take thought thereof, that we be

not famished for hunger."

'Even so I spake, and they speedily hearkened to my words.

They unmuffled their heads, and there on the shore of the

unharvested sea gazed at the stag, for he was a mighty

quarry. But after they had delighted their eyes with the

sight of him, they washed their hands and got ready the

glorious feast. So for that time we sat the livelong day

till the going down of the sun, feasting on abundant flesh

and sweet wine. But when the sun sank and darkness had come

on, then we laid us to rest upon the sea beach. So soon as

early Dawn shone forth, the rosy-fingered, I called a

gathering of my men and spake in the ears of them all:

'"Hear my works, my fellows, despite your evil case. My

friends, lo, now we know not where is the place of darkness

or of dawning, nor where the Sun, that gives light to men,

goes beneath the earth, nor where he rises; therefore let

us advise us speedily if any counsel yet may be: as for me,

I deem there is none. For I went up a craggy hill, a place

of out-look, and saw the island crowned about with the

circle of the endless sea, the isle itself lying low; and

in the midst thereof mine eyes beheld the smoke through the

thick coppice and the woodland."

'Even so I spake, but their spirit within them was broken,

as they remembered the deeds of Antiphates the

Laestrygonian, and all the evil violence of the haughty

Cyclops, the man-eater. So they wept aloud shedding big

tears. Howbeit no avail came of their weeping.

'Then I numbered my goodly-greaved company in two bands,

and appointed a leader for each, and I myself took the

command of the one part, and godlike Eurylochus of the

other. And anon we shook the lots in a brazen-fitted

helmet, and out leapt the lot of proud Eurylochus. So he

went on his way, and with him two and twenty of my

fellowship all weeping; and we were left behind making

lament. In the forest glades they found the halls of Circe

builded, of polished stone, in a place with wide prospect.

And all around the palace mountain-bred wolves and lions

were roaming, whom she herself had bewitched with evil

drugs that she gave them. Yet the beasts did not set on my

men, but lo, they ramped about them and fawned on them,

wagging their long tails. And as when dogs fawn about their

lord when he comes from the feast, for he always brings

them the fragments that soothe their mood, even so the

strong-clawed wolves and the lions fawned around them; but

they were affrighted when they saw the strange and terrible

creatures. So they stood at the outer gate of the

fair-tressed goddess, and within they heard Circe singing

in a sweet voice, as she fared to and fro before the great

web imperishable, such as is the handiwork of goddesses,

fine of woof and full of grace and splendour. Then Polites,

a leader of men, the dearest to me and the trustiest of all

my company, first spake to them:

'"Friends, forasmuch as there is one within that fares to

and fro before a mighty web singing a sweet song, so that

all the floor of the hall makes echo, a goddess she is or a

woman; come quickly and cry aloud to her."

'He spake the word and they cried aloud and called to her.

And straightway she came forth and opened the shining doors

and bade them in, and all went with her in their

heedlessness. But Eurylochus tarried behind, for he guessed

that there was some treason. So she led them in and set

them upon chairs and high seats, and made them a mess of

cheese and barley-meal and yellow honey with Pramnian wine,

and mixed harmful drugs with the food to make them utterly

forget their own country. Now when she had given them the

cup and they had drunk it off, presently she smote them

with a wand, and in the styes of the swine she penned them.

So they had the head and voice, the bristles and the shape

of swine, but their mind abode even as of old. Thus were

they penned there weeping, and Circe flung them acorns and

mast and fruit of the cornel tree to eat, whereon wallowing

swine do always batten.

'Now Eurylochus came back to the swift black ship to bring

tidings of his fellows, and of their unseemly doom. Not a

word could he utter, for all his desire, so deeply smitten

was he to the heart with grief, and his eyes were filled

with tears and his soul was fain of lamentation. But when

we all had pressed him with our questions in amazement,

even then he told the fate of the remnant of our company.

'"We went, as thou didst command, through the coppice,

noble Odysseus: we found within the forest glades the fair

halls, builded of polished stone, in a place with wide

prospect. And there was one that fared before a mighty web

and sang a clear song, a goddess she was or a woman, and

they cried aloud and called to her. And straightway she

came forth, and opened the shining doors and bade them in,

and they all went with her in their heedlessness. But I

tarried behind, for I guessed that there was some treason.

Then they vanished away one and all, nor did any of them

appear again, though I sat long time watching."

'So spake he, whereon I cast about my shoulder my

silver-studded sword, a great blade of bronze, and slung my

bow about me and bade him lead me again by the way that he

came. But he caught me with both hands, and by my knees he

besought me, and bewailing him spake to me winged words:

'"Lead me not thither against my will, oh fosterling of

Zeus, but leave me here! For well I know thou shalt thyself

return no more, nor bring any one of all thy fellowship;

nay, let us flee the swifter with those that be here, for

even yet may we escape the evil day."

'On this wise he spake, but I answered him, saying:

"Eurylochus, abide for thy part here in this place, eating

and drinking by the black hollow ship: but I will go forth,

for a strong constraint is laid on me."

'With that I went up from the ship and the sea-shore. But

lo, when in my faring through the sacred glades I was now

drawing near to the great hall of the enchantress Circe,

then did Hermes, of the golden wand, meet me as I

approached the house, in the likeness of a young man with

the first down on his lip, the time when youth is most

gracious. So he clasped my hand and spake and hailed me:

'"Ah, hapless man, whither away again, all alone through

the wolds, thou that knowest not this country? And thy

company yonder in the hall of Circe are penned in the guise

of swine, in their deep lairs abiding. Is it in hope to

free them that thou art come hither? Nay, methinks, thou

thyself shalt never return but remain there with the

others. Come then, I will redeem thee from thy distress,

and bring deliverance. Lo, take this herb of virtue, and go

to the dwelling of Circe, that it may keep from thy head

the evil day. And I will tell thee all the magic sleight of

Circe. She will mix thee a potion and cast drugs into the

mess; but not even so shall she be able to enchant thee; so

helpful is this charmed herb that I shall give thee, and I

will tell thee all. When it shall be that Circe smites thee

with her long wand, even then draw thou thy sharp sword

from thy thigh, and spring on her, as one eager to slay

her. And she will shrink away and be instant with thee to

lie with her. Thenceforth disdain not thou the bed of the

goddess, that she may deliver thy company and kindly

entertain thee. But command her to swear a mighty oath by

the blessed gods, that she will plan nought else of

mischief to thine own hurt, lest she make thee a dastard

and unmanned, when she hath thee naked."

'Therewith the slayer of Argos gave me the plant that he

had plucked from the ground, and he showed me the growth

thereof. It was black at the root, but the flower was like

to milk. Moly the gods call it, but it is hard for mortal

men to dig; howbeit with the gods all things are possible.

'Then Hermes departed toward high Olympus, up through the

woodland isle, but as for me I held on my way to the house

of Circe, and my heart was darkly troubled as I went. So I

halted in the portals of the fair-tressed goddess; there I

stood and called aloud and the goddess heard my voice, who

presently came forth and opened the shining doors and bade

me in, and I went with her heavy at heart. So she led me in

and set me on a chair with studs of silver, a goodly carven

chair, and beneath was a footstool for the feet. And she

made me a potion in a golden cup, that I might drink, and

she also put a charm therein, in the evil counsel of her

heart.

'Now when she had given it and I had drunk it off and was

not bewitched, she smote me with her wand and spake and

hailed me:

'"Go thy way now to the stye, couch thee there with the

rest of thy company."

'So spake she, but I drew my sharp sword from my thigh and

sprang upon Circe, as one eager to slay her. But with a

great cry she slipped under, and clasped my knees, and

bewailing herself spake to me winged words:

'"Who art thou of the sons of men, and whence? Where is thy

city? Where are they that begat thee? I marvel to see how

thou hast drunk of this charm, and wast nowise subdued.

Nay, for there lives no man else that is proof against this

charm, whoso hath drunk thereof, and once it hath passed

his lips. But thou hast, methinks, a mind within thee that

may not be enchanted. Verily thou art Odysseus, ready at

need, whom he of the golden wand, the slayer of Argos, full

often told me was to come hither, on his way from Troy with

his swift black ship. Nay come, put thy sword into the

sheath, and thereafter let us go up into my bed, that

meeting in love and sleep we may trust each the other."

'So spake she, but I answered her, saying: "Nay, Circe, how

canst thou bid me be gentle to thee, who hast turned my

company into swine within thy halls, and holding me here

with a guileful heart requirest me to pass within thy

chamber and go up into thy bed, that so thou mayest make me

a dastard and unmanned when thou hast me naked? Nay, never

will I consent to go up into thy bed, except thou wilt

deign, goddess, to swear a mighty oath, that thou wilt plan

nought else of mischief to mine own hurt."

'So I spake, and she straightway swore the oath not to harm

me, as I bade her. But when she had sworn and had done that

oath, then at last I went up into the beautiful bed of

Circe.

'Now all this while her handmaids busied them in the halls,

four maidens that are her serving women in the house. They

are born of the wells and of the woods and of the holy

rivers, that flow forward into the salt sea. Of these one

cast upon the chairs goodly coverlets of purple above, and

spread a linen cloth thereunder. And lo, another drew up

silver tables to the chairs, and thereon set for them

golden baskets. And a third mixed sweet honey-hearted wine

in a silver bowl, and set out cups of gold. And a fourth

bare water, and kindled a great fire beneath the mighty

cauldron. So the water waxed warm; but when it boiled in

the bright brazen vessel, she set me in a bath and bathed

me with water from out a great cauldron, pouring it over

head and shoulders, when she had mixed it to a pleasant

warmth, till from my limbs she took away the consuming

weariness. Now after she had bathed me and anointed me well

with olive oil, and cast about me a fair mantle and a

doublet, she led me into the halls and set me on a chair

with studs of silver, a goodly carven chair, and beneath

was a footstool for the feet. And a handmaid bare water for

the hands in a goodly golden ewer, and poured it forth over

a silver basin to wash withal; and to my side she drew a

polished table, and a grave dame bare wheaten bread and set

it by me, and laid on the board many dainties, giving

freely of such things as she had by her. And she bade me

eat, but my soul found no pleasure therein. I sat with

other thoughts, and my heart had a boding of ill.

'Now when Circe saw that I sat thus, and that I put not

forth my hands to the meat, and that I was mightily

afflicted, she drew near to me and spake to me winged

words:

'"Wherefore thus, Odysseus, dost thou sit there like a

speechless man, consuming thine own soul, and dost not

touch meat nor drink? Dost thou indeed deem there is some

further guile? Nay, thou hast no cause to fear, for already

I have sworn thee a strong oath not to harm thee."

'So spake she, but I answered her, saying: "Oh, Circe, what

righteous man would have the heart to taste meat and drink

ere he had redeemed his company, and beheld them face to

face? But if in good faith thou biddest me eat and drink,

then let them go free, that mine eyes may behold my dear

companions."

'So I spake, and Circe passed out through the hall with the

wand in her hand, and opened the doors of the stye, and

drave them forth in the shape of swine of nine seasons old.

There they stood before her, and she went through their

midst, and anointed each one of them with another charm.

And lo, from their limbs the bristles dropped away,

wherewith the venom had erewhile clothed them, that lady

Circe gave them. And they became men again, younger than

before they were, and goodlier far, and taller to behold.

And they all knew me again and each one took my hands, and

wistful was the lament that sank into their souls, and the

roof around rang wondrously. And even the goddess herself

was moved with compassion.

'Then standing nigh me the fair goddess spake unto me: "Son

of Laertes, of the seed of Zeus, Odysseus of many devices,

depart now to thy swift ship and the sea-banks. And first

of all, draw ye up the ship ashore, and bestow the goods in

the caves and all the gear. And thyself return again, and

bring with thee thy dear companions."

'So spake she, and my lordly spirit consented thereto. So I

went on my way to the swift ship and the sea-banks, and

there I found my dear company on the swift ship lamenting

piteously, shedding big tears. And as when calves of the

homestead gather round the droves of kine that have

returned to the yard, when they have had their fill of

pasture, and all with one accord frisk before them, and the

folds may no more contain them, but with a ceaseless lowing

they skip about their dams, so flocked they all about me

weeping, when their eyes beheld me. Yea, and to their

spirit it was as though they had got to their dear country,

and the very city of rugged Ithaca, where they were born

and reared.

'Then making lament they spake to me winged words: "O

fosterling of Zeus, we were none otherwise glad at thy

returning, than if we had come to Ithaca, our own country.

Nay come, of our other companions tell us the tale of their

ruin."

'So spake they, but I answered them with soft words:

"Behold, let us first of all draw up the ship ashore, and

bestow our goods in the caves and all our gear. And do ye

bestir you, one and all, to go with me, that ye may see

your fellows in the sacred dwelling of Circe, eating and

drinking, for they have continual store."

'So spake I, and at once they hearkened to my words, but

Eurylochus alone would have holden all my companions, and

uttering his voice he spake to them winged words:

'"Wretched men that we are! whither are we going? Why are

your hearts so set on sorrow that ye should go down to the

hall of Circe, who will surely change us all to swine, or

wolves, or lions, to guard her great house perforce,

according to the deeds that the Cyclops wrought, when

certain of our company went to his inmost fold, and with

them went Odysseus, ever hardy, for through the blindness

of his heart did they too perish?"

'So spake he, but I mused in my heart whether to draw my

long hanger from my stout thigh, and therewith smite off

his head and bring it to the dust, albeit he was very near

of kin to me; but the men of my company stayed me on every

side with soothing words:

'"Prince of the seed of Zeus, as for this man, we will

suffer him, if thou wilt have it so, to abide here by the

ship and guard the ship; but as for us, be our guide to the

sacred house of Circe."

'So they spake and went up from the ship and the sea. Nay,

nor yet was Eurylochus left by the hollow ship, but he went

with us, for he feared my terrible rebuke.

'Meanwhile Circe bathed the rest of my company in her halls

with all care, and anointed them well with olive oil; and

cast thick mantles and doublets about them. And we found

them all feasting nobly in the halls. And when they saw and

knew each other face to face, they wept and mourned, and

the house rang around. Then she stood near me, that fair

goddess, and spake saying:

'"Son of Laertes, of the seed of Zeus, Odysseus of many

devices, no more now wake this plenteous weeping: myself I

know of all the pains ye endured upon the teeming deep, and

the great despite done you by unkindly men upon the land.

Nay come, eat ye meat and drink wine, till your spirit

shall return to you again, as it was when first ye left

your own country of rugged Ithaca; but now are ye wasted

and wanting heart, mindful evermore of your sore wandering,

nor has your heart ever been merry, for very grievous hath

been your trial."

'So spake she, and our lordly spirit consented thereto. So

there we sat day by day for the full circle of a year,

feasting on abundant flesh and sweet wine. But when now a

year had gone, and the seasons returned as the months

waned, and the long days came in their course, then did my

dear company call me forth, and say:

'"Good sir, now is it high time to mind thee of thy native

land, if it is ordained that thou shalt be saved, and come

to thy lofty house and thine own country."

'So spake they and my lordly spirit consented thereto. So

for that time we sat the livelong day till the going down

of the sun, feasting on abundant flesh and sweet wine. But

when the sun sank and darkness came on, they laid them to

rest throughout the shadowy halls.

'But when I had gone up into the fair bed of Circe, I

besought her by her knees, and the goddess heard my speech,

and uttering my voice I spake to her winged words: "Circe,

fulfil for me the promise which thou madest me to send me

on my homeward way. Now is my spirit eager to be gone, and

the spirit of my company, that wear away my heart as they

mourn around me, when haply thou art gone from us."

'So spake I, and the fair goddess answered me anon: "Son of

Laertes, of the seed of Zeus, Odysseus of many devices,

tarry ye now no longer in my house against your will; but

first must ye perform another journey, and reach the

dwelling of Hades and of dread Persephone to seek to the

spirit of Theban Teiresias, the blind soothsayer, whose

wits abide steadfast. To him Persephone hath given

judgment, even in death, that he alone should have

understanding; but the other souls sweep shadow-like

around."

'Thus spake she, but as for me, my heart was broken, and I

wept as I sat upon the bed, and my soul had no more care to

live and to see the sunlight. But when I had my fill of

weeping and grovelling, then at the last I answered and

spake unto her saying: "And who, Circe, will guide us on

this way? for no man ever yet sailed to hell in a black

ship."

'So spake I, and the fair goddess answered me anon: "Son of

Laertes, of the seed of Zeus, Odysseus of many devices,

nay, trouble not thyself for want of a guide, by thy ship

abiding, but set up the mast and spread abroad the white

sails and sit thee down; and the breeze of the North Wind

will bear thy vessel on her way. But when thou hast now

sailed in thy ship across the stream Oceanus, where is a

waste shore and the groves of Persephone, even tall poplar

trees and willows that shed their fruit before the season,

there beach thy ship by deep eddying Oceanus, but go

thyself to the dank house of Hades. Thereby into Acheron

flows Pyriphlegethon, and Cocytus, a branch of the water of

the Styx, and there is a rock, and the meeting of the two

roaring waters. So, hero, draw nigh thereto, as I command

thee, and dig a trench as it were a cubit in length and

breadth, and about it pour a drink-offering to all the

dead, first with mead and thereafter with sweet wine, and

for the third time with water, and sprinkle white meal

thereon; and entreat with many prayers the strengthless

heads of the dead, and promise that on thy return to Ithaca

thou wilt offer in thy halls a barren heifer, the best thou

hast, and will fill the pyre with treasure, and wilt

sacrifice apart, to Teiresias alone, a black ram without

spot, the fairest of your flock. But when thou hast with

prayers made supplication to the lordly races of the dead,

then offer up a ram and a black ewe, bending their heads

towards Erebus and thyself turn thy back, with thy face set

for the shore of the river. Then will many spirits come to

thee of the dead that be departed. Thereafter thou shalt

call to thy company and command them to flay the sheep

which even now lie slain by the pitiless sword, and to

consume them with fire, and to make prayer to the gods, to

mighty Hades and to dread Persephone. And thyself draw the

sharp sword from thy thigh and sit there, suffering not the

strengthless heads of the dead to draw nigh to the blood,

ere thou hast word of Teiresias. Then the seer will come to

thee quickly, leader of the people; he will surely declare

to thee the way and the measure of thy path, and as

touching thy returning, how thou mayst go over the teeming

deep."

'So spake she, and anon came the golden throned Dawn. Then

she put on me a mantle and a doublet for raiment, and the

nymph clad herself in a great shining robe, light of woof

and gracious, and about her waist she cast a fair golden

girdle, and put a veil upon her head. But I passed through

the halls and roused my men with smooth words, standing by

each one in turn:

'"Sleep ye now no more nor breathe sweet slumber; but let

us go on our way, for surely she hath shown me all, the

lady Circe."

'So spake I, and their lordly soul consented thereto. Yet

even thence I led not my company safe away. There was one,

Elpenor, the youngest of us all, not very valiant in war

neither steadfast in mind. He was lying apart from the rest

of my men on the housetop of Circe's sacred dwelling, very

fain of the cool air, as one heavy with wine. Now when he

heard the noise of the voices and of the feet of my fellows

as they moved to and fro, he leaped up of a sudden and

minded him not to descend again by the way of the tall

ladder, but fell right down from the roof, and his neck was

broken from the bones of the spine, and his spirit went

down to the house of Hades.

'Then I spake among my men as they went on their way,

saying: "Ye deem now, I see, that ye are going to your own

dear country; but Circe hath showed us another way, even to

the dwelling of Hades and of dread Persephone, to seek to

the spirit of Theban Teiresias."

'Even so I spake, but their heart within them was broken,

and they sat them down even where they were, and made

lament and tore their hair. Howbeit no help came of their

weeping.

'But as we were now wending sorrowful to the swift ship and

the sea-banks, shedding big tears, Circe meanwhile had gone

her ways and made fast a ram and a black ewe by the dark

ship, lightly passing us by: who may behold a god against

his will, whether going to or fro?'

 

Book XI

Odysseus, his descent into hell, and discourses with the

ghosts of the deceased heroes.

'Now when we had gone down to the ship and to the sea,

first of all we drew the ship unto the fair salt water and

placed the mast and sails in the black ship, and took those

sheep and put them therein, and ourselves too climbed on

board, sorrowing, and shedding big tears. And in the wake

of our dark-prowed ship she sent a favouring wind that

filled the sails, a kindly escort,--even Circe of the

braided tresses, a dread goddess of human speech. And we

set in order all the gear throughout the ship and sat us

down; and the wind and the helmsman guided our barque. And

all day long her sails were stretched in her seafaring; and

the sun sank and all the ways were darkened.

'She came to the limits of the world, to the deep-flowing

Oceanus. There is the land and the city of the Cimmerians,

shrouded in mist and cloud, and never does the shining sun

look down on them with his rays, neither when he climbs up

the starry heavens, nor when again he turns earthward from

the firmament, but deadly night is outspread over miserable

mortals. Thither we came and ran the ship ashore and took

out the sheep; but for our part we held on our way along

the stream of Oceanus, till we came to the place which

Circe had declared to us.

'There Perimedes and Eurylochus held the victims, but I

drew my sharp sword from my thigh, and dug a pit, as it

were a cubit in length and breadth, and about it poured a

drink-offering to all the dead, first with mead and

thereafter with sweet wine, and for the third time with

water. And I sprinkled white meal thereon, and entreated

with many prayers the strengthless heads of the dead, and

promised that on my return to Ithaca I would offer in my

halls a barren heifer, the best I had, and fill the pyre

with treasure, and apart unto Teiresias alone sacrifice a

black ram without spot, the fairest of my flock. But when I

had besought the tribes of the dead with vows and prayers,

I took the sheep and cut their throats over the trench, and

the dark blood flowed forth, and lo, the spirits of the

dead that be departed gathered them from out of Erebus.

Brides and youths unwed, and old men of many and evil days,

and tender maidens with grief yet fresh at heart; and many

there were, wounded with bronze-shod spears, men slain in

fight with their bloody mail about them. And these many

ghosts flocked together from every side about the trench

with a wondrous cry, and pale fear gat hold on me. Then did

I speak to my company and command them to flay the sheep

that lay slain by the pitiless sword, and to consume them

with fire, and to make prayer to the gods, to mighty Hades

and to dread Persephone, and myself I drew the sharp sword

from my thigh and sat there, suffering not the strengthless

heads of the dead to draw nigh to the blood, ere I had word

of Teiresias.

'And first came the soul of Elpenor, my companion, that had

not yet been buried beneath the wide-wayed earth; for we

left the corpse behind us in the hall of Circe, unwept and

unburied, seeing that another task was instant on us. At

the sight of him I wept and had compassion on him, and

uttering my voice spake to him winged words: "Elpenor, how

hast thou come beneath the darkness and the shadow? Thou

hast come fleeter on foot than I in my black ship."

'So spake I, and with a moan he answered me, saying: "Son

of Laertes, of the seed of Zeus, Odysseus of many devices,

an evil doom of some god was my bane and wine out of

measure. When I laid me down on the house-top of Circe I

minded me not to descend again by the way of the tall

ladder, but fell right down from the roof, and my neck was

broken off from the bones of the spine, and my spirit went

down to the house of Hades. And now I pray thee in the name

of those whom we left, who are no more with us, thy wife,

and thy sire who cherished thee when as yet thou wert a

little one, and Telemachus, whom thou didst leave in thy

halls alone; forasmuch as I know that on thy way hence from

out the dwelling of Hades, thou wilt stay thy well-wrought

ship at the isle Aeaean, even then, my lord, I charge thee

to think on me. Leave me not unwept and unburied as thou

goest hence, nor turn thy back upon me, lest haply I bring

on thee the anger of the gods. Nay, burn me there with mine

armour, all that is mine, and pile me a barrow on the shore

of the grey sea, the grave of a luckless man, that even men

unborn may hear my story. Fulfil me this and plant upon the

barrow mine oar, wherewith I rowed in the days of my life,

while yet I was among my fellows."

'Even so he spake, and I answered him saying: "All this,

luckless man, will I perform for thee and do."

'Even so we twain were sitting holding sad discourse, I on

the one side, stretching forth my sword over the blood,

while on the other side the ghost of my friend told all his

tale.

'Anon came up the soul of my mother dead, Anticleia, the

daughter of Autolycus the great-hearted, whom I left alive

when I departed for sacred Ilios. At the sight of her I

wept, and was moved with compassion, yet even so, for all

my sore grief, I suffered her not to draw nigh to the

blood, ere I had word of Teiresias.

'Anon came the soul of Theban Teiresias, with a golden

sceptre in his hand, and he knew me and spake unto me: "Son

of Laertes, of the seed of Zeus, Odysseus of many devices,

what seekest thou NOW, wretched man, wherefore hast thou

left the sunlight and come hither to behold the dead and a

land desolate of joy? Nay, hold off from the ditch and draw

back thy sharp sword, that I may drink of the blood and

tell thee sooth."

'So spake he and I put up my silver-studded sword into the

sheath, and when he had drunk the dark blood, even then did

the noble seer speak unto me, saying: "Thou art asking of

thy sweet returning, great Odysseus, but that will the god

make hard for thee; for methinks thou shalt not pass

unheeded by the Shaker of the Earth, who hath laid up wrath

in his heart against thee, for rage at the blinding of his

dear son. Yet even so, through many troubles, ye may come

home, if thou wilt restrain thy spirit and the spirit of

thy men so soon as thou shalt bring thy well-wrought ship

nigh to the isle Thrinacia, fleeing the sea of violet blue,

when ye find the herds of Helios grazing and his brave

flocks, of Helios who overseeth all and overheareth all

things. If thou doest these no hurt, being heedful of thy

return, so may ye yet reach Ithaca, albeit in evil case.

But if thou hurtest them, I foreshow ruin for thy ship and

for thy men, and even though thou shalt thyself escape,

late shalt thou return in evil plight, with the loss of all

thy company, on board the ship of strangers, and thou shalt

find sorrows in thy house, even proud men that devour thy

living, while they woo thy godlike wife and offer the gifts

of wooing. Yet I tell thee, on thy coming thou shalt avenge

their violence. But when thou hast slain the wooers in thy

halls, whether by guile, or openly with the edge of the

sword, thereafter go thy way, taking with thee a shapen

oar, till thou shalt come to such men as know not the sea,

neither eat meat savoured with salt; yea, nor have they

knowledge of ships of purple cheek, nor shapen oars which

serve for wings to ships. And I will give thee a most

manifest token, which cannot escape thee. In the day when

another wayfarer shall meet thee and say that thou hast a

winnowing fan on thy stout shoulder, even then make fast

thy shapen oar in the earth and do goodly sacrifice to the

lord Poseidon, even with a ram and a bull and a boar, the

mate of swine, and depart for home and offer holy hecatombs

to the deathless gods that keep the wide heaven, to each in

order due. And from the sea shall thine own death come, the

gentlest death that may be, which shall end thee foredone

with smooth old age, and the folk shall dwell happily

around thee. This that I say is sooth."

'So spake he, and I answered him, saying: "Teiresias, all

these threads, methinks, the gods themselves have spun. But

come, declare me this and plainly tell me all. I see here

the spirit of my mother dead; lo, she sits in silence near

the blood, nor deigns to look her son in the face nor speak

to him! Tell me, prince, how may she know me again that I

am he?"

'So spake I, and anon he answered me, and said: "I will

tell thee an easy saying, and will put it in thy heart.

Whomsoever of the dead that be departed thou shalt suffer

to draw nigh to the blood, he shall tell thee sooth; but if

thou shalt grudge any, that one shall go to his own place

again." Therewith the spirit of the prince Teiresias went

back within the house of Hades, when he had told all his

oracles. But I abode there steadfastly, till my mother drew

nigh and drank the dark blood; and at once she knew me, and

bewailing herself spake to me winged words:

'"Dear child, how didst thou come beneath the darkness and

the shadow, thou that art a living man? Grievous is the

sight of these things to the living, for between us and you

are great rivers and dreadful streams; first, Oceanus,

which can no wise be crossed on foot, but only if one have

a well wrought ship. Art thou but now come hither with thy

ship and thy company in thy long wanderings from Troy? and

hast thou not yet reached Ithaca, nor seen thy wife in thy

halls?"

'Even so she spake, and I answered her, and said: "O my

mother, necessity was on me to come down to the house of

Hades to seek to the spirit of Theban Teiresias. For not

yet have I drawn near to the Achaean shore, nor yet have I

set foot on mine own country, but have been wandering

evermore in affliction, from the day that first I went with

goodly Agamemnon to Ilios of the fair steeds, to do battle

with the Trojans. But come, declare me this and plainly

tell it all. What doom overcame thee of death that lays men

at their length? Was it a slow disease, or did Artemis the

archer slay thee with the visitation of her gentle shafts?

And tell me of my father and my son, that I left behind me;

doth my honour yet abide with them, or hath another already

taken it, while they say that I shall come home no more?

And tell me of my wedded wife, of her counsel and her

purpose, doth she abide with her son and keep all secure,

or hath she already wedded the best of the Achaeans?"

'Even so I spake, and anon my lady mother answered me: "Yea

verily, she abideth with steadfast spirit in thy halls; and

wearily for her the nights wane always and the days in

shedding of tears. But the fair honour that is thine no man

hath yet taken; but Telemachus sits at peace on his

demesne, and feasts at equal banquets, whereof it is meet

that a judge partake, for all men bid him to their house.

And thy father abides there in the field, and goes not down

to the town, nor lies he on bedding or rugs or shining

blankets, but all the winter he sleeps, where sleep the

thralls in the house, in the ashes by the fire, and is clad

in sorry raiment. But when the summer comes and the rich

harvest-tide, his beds of fallen leaves are strewn lowly

all about the knoll of his vineyard plot. There he lies

sorrowing and nurses his mighty grief, for long desire of

thy return, and old age withal comes heavy upon him. Yea

and even so did I too perish and meet my doom. It was not

the archer goddess of the keen sight, who slew me in my

halls with the visitation of her gentle shafts, nor did any

sickness come upon me, such as chiefly with a sad wasting

draws the spirit from the limbs; nay, it was my sore

longing for thee, and for thy counsels, great Odysseus, and

for thy loving-kindness, that reft me of sweet life."

'So spake she, and I mused in my heart and would fain have

embraced the spirit of my mother dead. Thrice I sprang

towards her, and was minded to embrace her; thrice she

flitted from my hands as a shadow or even as a dream, and

sharp grief arose ever at my heart. And uttering my voice I

spake to her winged words:

'"Mother mine, wherefore dost thou not abide me who am

eager to clasp thee, that even in Hades we twain may cast

our arms each about the other, and have our fill of chill

lament? Is this but a phantom that the high goddess

Persephone hath sent me, to the end that I may groan for

more exceeding sorrow?"

'So spake I, and my lady mother answered me anon: "Ah me,

my child, of all men most ill-fated, Persephone, the

daughter of Zeus, doth in no wise deceive thee, but even on

this wise it is with mortals when they die. For the sinews

no more bind together the flesh and the bones, but the

great force of burning fire abolishes these, so soon as the

life hath left the white bones, and the spirit like a dream

flies forth and hovers near. But haste with all thine heart

toward the sunlight, and mark all this, that even hereafter

thou mayest tell it to thy wife."

'Thus we twain held discourse together; and lo, the women

came up, for the high goddess Persephone sent them forth,

all they that had been the wives and daughters of mighty

men. And they gathered and flocked about the black blood,

and I took counsel how I might question them each one. And

this was the counsel that showed best in my sight. I drew

my long hanger from my stalwart thigh, and suffered them

not all at one time to drink of the dark blood. So they

drew nigh one by one, and each declared her lineage, and I

made question of all.

'Then verily did I first see Tyro, sprung of a noble sire,

who said that she was the child of noble Salmoneus, and

declared herself the wife of Cretheus, son of Aeolus. She

loved a river, the divine Enipeus, far the fairest of the

floods that run upon the earth, and she would resort to the

fair streams of Enipeus. And it came to pass that the

girdler of the world, the Earth-shaker, put on the shape of

the god, and lay by the lady at the mouths of the whirling

stream. Then the dark wave stood around them like a

hill-side bowed, and hid the god and the mortal woman. And

he undid her maiden girdle, and shed a slumber over her.

Now when the god had done the work of love, he clasped her

hand and spake and hailed her:

'"Woman, be glad in our love, and when the year comes round

thou shalt give birth to glorious children,--for not weak

are the embraces of the gods,--and do thou keep and cherish

them. And now go home and hold thy peace, and tell it not:

but behold, I am Poseidon, shaker of the earth."

'Therewith he plunged beneath the heaving deep. And she

conceived and bare Pelias and Neleus, who both grew to be

mighty men, servants of Zeus. Pelias dwelt in wide Iolcos,

and was rich in flocks; and that other abode in sandy

Pylos. And the queen of women bare yet other sons to

Cretheus, even Aeson and Pheres and Amythaon, whose joy was

in chariots.

'And after her I saw Antiope, daughter of Asopus, and her

boast was that she had slept even in the arms of Zeus, and

she bare two sons, Amphion and Zethus, who founded first

the place of seven-gated Thebes, and they made of it a

fenced city, for they might not dwell in spacious Thebes

unfenced, for all their valiancy.

'Next to her I saw Alcmene, wife of Amphitryon, who lay in

the arms of mighty Zeus, and bare Heracles of the

lion-heart, steadfast in the fight. And I saw Megara,

daughter of Creon, haughty of heart, whom the strong and

tireless son of Amphitryon had to wife.

'And I saw the mother of Oedipodes, fair Epicaste, who

wrought a dread deed unwittingly, being wedded to her own

son, and he that had slain his own father wedded her, and

straightway the gods made these things known to men. Yet he

abode in pain in pleasant Thebes, ruling the Cadmaeans, by

reason of the deadly counsels of the gods. But she went

down to the house of Hades, the mighty warder; yea, she

tied a noose from the high beam aloft, being fast holden in

sorrow; while for him she left pains behind full many, even

all that the Avengers of a mother bring to pass.

'And I saw lovely Chloris, whom Neleus wedded on a time for

her beauty, and brought gifts of wooing past number. She

was the youngest daughter of Amphion, son of Iasus, who

once ruled mightily in Minyan Orchomenus. And she was queen

of Pylos, and bare glorious children to her lord, Nestor

and Chromius, and princely Periclymenus, and stately Pero

too, the wonder of all men. All that dwelt around were her

wooers; but Neleus would not give her, save to him who

should drive off from Phylace the kine of mighty Iphicles,

with shambling gait and broad of brow, hard cattle to

drive. And none but the noble seer {*} took in hand to

drive them; but a grievous fate from the gods fettered him,

even hard bonds and the herdsmen of the wild. But when at

length the months and days were being fulfilled, as the

year returned upon his course, and the seasons came round,

then did mighty Iphicles set him free, when he had spoken

out all the oracles; and herein was the counsel of Zeus

being accomplished.

{* Melampus}

'And I saw Lede, the famous bed-fellow of Tyndareus, who

bare to Tyndareus two sons, hardy of heart, Castor tamer of

steeds, and Polydeuces the boxer. These twain yet live, but

the quickening earth is over them; and even in the nether

world they have honour at the hand of Zeus. And they

possess their life in turn, living one day and dying the

next, and they have gotten worship even as the gods.

'And after her I beheld Iphimedeia, bed-fellow of Aloeus,

who said that she had lain with Poseidon, and she bare

children twain, but short of life were they, godlike Otus

and far-famed Ephialtes. Now these were the tallest men

that earth, the graingiver, ever reared, and far the

goodliest after the renowned Orion. At nine seasons old

they were of breadth nine cubits, and nine fathoms in

height. They it was who threatened to raise even against

the immortals in Olympus the din of stormy war. They strove

to pile Ossa on Olympus, and on Ossa Pelion with the

trembling forest leaves, that there might be a pathway to

the sky. Yea, and they would have accomplished it, had they

reached the full measure of manhood. But the son of Zeus,

whom Leto of the fair locks bare, destroyed the twain, ere

the down had bloomed beneath their temples, and darkened

their chins with the blossom of youth.

'And Phaedra and Procris I saw, and fair Ariadne, the

daughter of wizard Minos, whom Theseus on a time was

bearing from Crete to the hill of sacred Athens, yet had he

no joy of her; for Artemis slew her ere that in sea-girt

Dia, by reason of the witness of Dionysus.

'And Maera and Clymene I saw, and hateful Eriphyle, who

took fine gold for the price of her dear lord's life. But I

cannot tell or name all the wives and daughters of the

heroes that I saw; ere that, the immortal night would wane.

Nay, it is even now time to sleep, whether I go to the

swift ship to my company or abide here: and for my convoy

you and the gods will care.'

So spake he, and dead silence fell on all, and they were

spell-bound throughout the shadowy halls. Then Arete of the

white arms first spake among them: 'Phaeacians, what think

you of this man for comeliness and stature, and within for

wisdom of heart? Moreover he is my guest, though every one

of you hath his share in this honour. Wherefore haste not

to send him hence, and stint not these your gifts for one

that stands in such sore need of them; for ye have much

treasure stored in your halls by the grace of the gods.'

Then too spake among them the old man, lord Echeneus, that

was an elder among the Phaeacians: 'Friends, behold, the

speech of our wise queen is not wide of the mark, nor far

from our deeming, so hearken ye thereto. But on Alcinous

here both word and work depend.'

Then Alcinous made answer, and spake unto him: 'Yea, the

word that she hath spoken shall hold, if indeed I am yet to

live and bear rule among the Phaeacians, masters of the

oar. Howbeit let the stranger, for all his craving to

return, nevertheless endure to abide until the morrow, till

I make up the full measure of the gift; and men shall care

for his convoy, all men, but I in chief, for mine is the

lordship in the land.'

And Odysseus of many counsels answered him, saying: My lord

Alcinous, most notable of all the people, if ye bade me

tarry here even for a year, and would speed my convoy and

give me splendid gifts, even that I would choose; and

better would it be for me to come with a fuller hand to

mine own dear country, so should I get more love and

worship in the eyes of all men, whoso should see me after I

was returned to Ithaca.'

And Alcinous answered him, saying: 'Odysseus, in no wise do

we deem thee, we that look on thee, to be a knave or a

cheat, even as the dark earth rears many such broadcast,

fashioning lies whence none can even see his way therein.

But beauty crowns thy words, and wisdom is within thee; and

thy tale, as when a minstrel sings, thou hast told with

skill, the weary woes of all the Argives and of thine own

self. But come, declare me this and plainly tell it all.

Didst thou see any of thy godlike company who went up at

the same time with thee to Ilios and there met their doom?

Behold, the night is of great length, unspeakable, and the

time for sleep in the hall is not yet; tell me therefore of

those wondrous deeds. I could abide even till the bright

dawn, so long as thou couldst endure to rehearse me these

woes of thine in the hall.'

And Odysseus of many counsels answered him, saying: 'My

lord Alcinous, most notable of all the people, there is a

time for many words and there is a time for sleep. But if

thou art eager still to listen, I would not for my part

grudge to tell thee of other things more pitiful still,

even the woes of my comrades, those that perished

afterward, for they had escaped with their lives from the

dread war-cry of the Trojans, but perished in returning by

the will of an evil woman.

'Now when holy Persephone had scattered this way and that

the spirits of the women folk, thereafter came the soul of

Agamemnon, son of Atreus, sorrowing; and round him others

were gathered, the ghosts of them who had died with him in

the house of Aegisthus and met their doom. And he knew me

straightway when he had drunk the dark blood, yea, and he

wept aloud, and shed big tears as he stretched forth his

hands in his longing to reach me. But it might not be, for

he had now no steadfast strength nor power at all in

moving, such as was aforetime in his supple limbs.

'At the sight of him I wept and was moved with compassion,

and uttering my voice, spake to him winged words: "Most

renowned son of Atreus, Agamemnon, king of men, say what

doom overcame thee of death that lays men at their length?

Did Poseidon smite thee in thy ships, raising the dolorous

blast of contrary winds, or did unfriendly men do thee hurt

upon the land, whilst thou wert cutting off their oxen and

fair flocks of sheep, or fighting to win a city and the

women thereof?"

'So spake I, and straightway he answered, and said unto me:

"Son of Laertes, of the seed of Zeus, Odysseus of many

devices, it was not Poseidon that smote me in my ships, and

raised the dolorous blast of contrary winds, nor did

unfriendly men do me hurt upon the land, but Aegisthus it

was that wrought me death and doom and slew me, with the

aid of my accursed wife, as one slays an ox at the stall,

after he had bidden me to his house, and entertained me at

a feast. Even so I died by a death most pitiful, and round

me my company likewise were slain without ceasing, like

swine with glittering tusks which are slaughtered in the

house of a rich and mighty man, whether at a wedding

banquet or a joint-feast or a rich clan-drinking. Ere now

hast thou been at the slaying of many a man, killed in

single fight or in strong battle, yet thou wouldst have

sorrowed the most at this sight, how we lay in the hall

round the mixing-bowl and the laden boards, and the floor

all ran with blood. And most pitiful of all that I heard

was the voice of the daughter of Priam, of Cassandra, whom

hard by me the crafty Clytemnestra slew. Then I strove to

raise my hands as I was dying upon the sword, but to earth

they fell. And that shameless one turned her back upon me,

and had not the heart to draw down my eyelids with her

fingers nor to close my mouth. So surely is there nought

more terrible and shameless than a woman who imagines such

evil in her heart, even as she too planned a foul deed,

fashioning death for her wedded lord. Verily I had thought

to come home most welcome to my children and my thralls;

but she, out of the depth of her evil knowledge, hath shed

shame on herself and on all womankind, which shall be for

ever, even on the upright."

'Even so he spake, but I answered him, saying: "Lo now, in

very sooth, hath Zeus of the far-borne voice wreaked

wondrous hatred on the seed of Atreus through the counsels

of woman from of old. For Helen's sake so many of us

perished, and now Clytemnestra hath practised treason

against thee, while yet thou wast afar off."

'Even so I spake, and anon he answered me, saying:

"Wherefore do thou too, never henceforth be soft even to

thy wife, neither show her all the counsel that thou

knowest, but a part declare and let part be hid. Yet shalt

not thou, Odysseus, find death at the hand of thy wife, for

she is very discreet and prudent in all her ways, the wise

Penelope, daughter of Icarius. Verily we left her a bride

new wed when we went to the war, and a child was at her

breast, who now, methinks, sits in the ranks of men, happy

in his lot, for his dear father shall behold him on his

coming, and he shall embrace his sire as is meet. But us

for my wife, she suffered me not so much as to have my fill

of gazing on my son; ere that she slew me, even her lord.

And yet another thing will I tell thee, and do thou ponder

it in thy heart. Put thy ship to land in secret, and not

openly, on the shore of thy dear country; for there is no

more faith in woman. But come, declare me this and plainly

tell it all, if haply ye hear of my son as yet living,

either, it may be, in Orchomenus or in sandy Pylos, or

perchance with Menelaus in wide Sparta, for goodly Orestes

hath not yet perished on the earth."

'Even so he spake, but I answered him, saying: "Son of

Atreus, wherefore dost thou ask me straitly of these

things? Nay I know not at all, whether he be alive or dead;

it is ill to speak words light as wind."

'Thus we twain stood sorrowing, holding sad discourse,

while the big tears fell fast: and therewithal came the

soul of Achilles, son of Peleus, and of Patroclus and of

noble Antilochus and of Aias, who in face and form was

goodliest of all the Danaans, after the noble son of

Peleus. And the spirit of the son of Aeacus, fleet of foot,

knew me again, and making lament spake to me winged words:

'"Son of Laertes, of the seed of Zeus, Odysseus of many

devices, man overbold, what new deed and hardier than this

wilt thou devise in thy heart? How durst thou come down to

the house of Hades, where dwell the senseless dead, the

phantoms of men outworn?"

'So he spake, but I answered him: "Achilles, son of Peleus,

mightiest far of the Achaeans, I am come hither to seek to

Teiresias, if he may tell me any counsel, how I may come to

rugged Ithaca. For not yet have I come nigh the Achaean

land, nor set foot on mine own soil, but am still in evil

case; while as for thee, Achilles, none other than thou

wast heretofore the most blessed of men, nor shall any be

hereafter. For of old, in the days of thy life, we Argives

gave thee one honour with the gods, and now thou art a

great prince here among the dead. Wherefore let not thy

death be any grief to thee, Achilles."

'Even so I spake, and he straightway answered me, and said:

"Nay, speak not comfortably to me of death, oh great

Odysseus. Rather would I live on ground {*} as the hireling

of another, with a landless man who had no great

livelihood, than bear sway among all the dead that be

departed. But come, tell me tidings of that lordly son of

mine--did he follow to the war to be a leader or not? And

tell me of noble Peleus, if thou hast heard aught,--is he

yet held in worship among the Myrmidons, or do they

dishonour him from Hellas to Phthia, for that old age binds

him hand and foot? For I am no longer his champion under

the sun, so mighty a man as once I was, when in wide Troy I

slew the best of the host, and succoured the Argives. Ah!

could I but come for an hour to my father's house as then I

was, so would I make my might and hands invincible, to be

hateful to many an one of those who do him despite and keep

him from his honour."

{* [Greek] seems to mean 'upon the earth,' 'above ground,'

as opposed to the dead who are below, rather than 'bound to

the soil,' in which sense most commentators take it.}

'Even so he spake, but I answered him saying: "As for noble

Peleus, verily I have heard nought of him; but concerning

thy dear son Neoptolemus, I will tell thee all the truth,

according to thy word. It was I that led him up out of

Scyros in my good hollow ship, in the wake of the

goodly-greaved Achaeans. Now oft as we took counsel around

Troy town, he was ever the first to speak, and no word

missed the mark; the godlike Nestor and I alone surpassed

him. But whensoever we Achaeans did battle on the plain of

Troy, he never tarried behind in the throng or the press of

men, but ran out far before us all, yielding to none in

that might of his. And many men he slew in warfare dread;

but I could not tell of all or name their names, even all

the host he slew in succouring the Argives; but, ah, how he

smote with the sword that son of Telephus, the hero

Eurypylus, and many Ceteians {*} of his company were slain

around him, by reason of a woman's bribe. He truly was the

comeliest man that ever I saw, next to goodly Memnon. And

again when we, the best of the Argives, were about to go

down into the horse which Epeus wrought, and the charge of

all was laid on me, both to open the door of our good

ambush and to shut the same, then did the other princes and

counsellors of the Danaans wipe away the tears, and the

limbs of each one trembled beneath him, but never once did

I see thy son's fair face wax pale, nor did he wipe the

tears from his cheeks: but he besought me often to let him

go forth from the horse, and kept handling his sword-hilt,

and his heavy bronze-shod spear, and he was set on mischief

against the Trojans. But after we had sacked the steep city

of Priam, he embarked unscathed with his share of the

spoil, and with a noble prize; he was not smitten with the

sharp spear, and got no wound in close fight: and many such

chances there be in war, for Ares rageth confusedly."

{* See Lenormant, Premieres Civilisations, vol. i. p.289.}

'So I spake, and the spirit of the son of Aeacus, fleet of

foot, passed with great strides along the mead of asphodel,

rejoicing in that I had told him of his son's renown.

'But lo, other spirits of the dead that be departed stood

sorrowing, and each one asked of those that were dear to

them. The soul of Aias, son of Telamon, alone stood apart

being still angry for the victory wherein I prevailed

against him, in the suit by the ships concerning the arms

of Achilles, that his lady mother had set for a prize; and

the sons of the Trojans made award and Pallas Athene. Would

that I had never prevailed and won such a prize! So goodly

a head hath the earth closed over, for the sake of those

arms, even over Aias, who in beauty and in feats of war was

of a mould above all the other Danaans, next to the noble

son of Peleus. To him then I spake softly, saying:

'"Aias, son of noble Telamon, so art thou not even in death

to forget thy wrath against me, by reason of those arms

accursed, which the gods set to be the bane of the Argives?

What a tower of strength fell in thy fall, and we Achaeans

cease not to sorrow for thee, even as for the life of

Achilles, son of Peleus! Nay, there is none other to blame,

but Zeus, who hath borne wondrous hate to the army of the

Danaan spearsmen, and laid on thee thy doom. Nay, come

hither, my lord, that thou mayest hear my word and my

speech; master thy wrath and thy proud spirit."

'So I spake, but he answered me not a word and passed to

Erebus after the other spirits of the dead that be

departed. Even then, despite his anger, would he have

spoken to me or I to him, but my heart within me was minded

to see the spirits of those others that were departed.

'There then I saw Minos, glorious son of Zeus, wielding a

golden sceptre, giving sentence from his throne to the

dead, while they sat and stood around the prince, asking

his dooms through the wide-gated house of Hades.

'And after him I marked the mighty Orion driving the wild

beasts together over the mead of asphodel, the very beasts

that himself had slain on the lonely hills, with a strong

mace all of bronze in his hands, {*} that is ever unbroken.

{* [Greek] in strict grammar agrees with [Greek] in 574,

but this merely by attraction, for in sense it refers not

to the living man, but to his phantom.}

'And I saw Tityos, son of renowned Earth, lying on a

levelled ground, and he covered nine roods as he lay, and

vultures twain beset him one on either side, and gnawed at

his liver, piercing even to the caul, but he drave them not

away with his hands. For he had dealt violently with Leto,

the famous bedfellow of Zeus, as she went up to Pytho

through the fair lawns of Panopeus.

'Moreover I beheld Tantalus in grievous torment, standing

in a mere and the water came nigh unto his chin. And he

stood straining as one athirst, but he might not attain to

the water to drink of it. For often as that old man stooped

down in his eagerness to drink, so often the water was

swallowed up and it vanished away, and the black earth

still showed at his feet, for some god parched it evermore.

And tall trees flowering shed their fruit overhead, pears

and pomegranates and apple trees with bright fruit, and

sweet figs and olives in their bloom, whereat when that old

man reached out his hands to clutch them, the wind would

toss them to the shadowy clouds.

'Yea and I beheld Sisyphus in strong torment, grasping a

monstrous stone with both his hands. He was pressing

thereat with hands and feet, and trying to roll the stone

upward toward the brow of the hill. But oft as he was about

to hurl it over the top, the weight would drive him back,

so once again to the plain rolled the stone, the shameless

thing. And he once more kept heaving and straining, and the

sweat the while was pouring down his limbs, and the dust

rose upwards from his head.

'And after him I descried the mighty Heracles, his phantom,

I say; but as for himself he hath joy at the banquet among

the deathless gods, and hath to wife Hebe of the fair

ankles, child of great Zeus, and of Here of the golden

sandals. And all about him there was a clamour of the dead,

as it were fowls flying every way in fear, and he like

black Night, with bow uncased, and shaft upon the string,

fiercely glancing around, like one in the act to shoot. And

about his breast was an awful belt, a baldric of gold,

whereon wondrous things were wrought, bears and wild boars

and lions with flashing eyes, and strife and battles and

slaughters and murders of men. Nay, now that he hath

fashioned this, never another may he fashion, whoso stored

in his craft the device of that belt! And anon he knew me

when his eyes beheld me, and making lament he spake unto me

winged words:

'"Son of Laertes, of the seed of Zeus, Odysseus of many

devices: ah! wretched one, dost thou too lead such a life

of evil doom, as I endured beneath the rays of the sun? I

was the son of Zeus Cronion, yet had I trouble beyond

measure, for I was subdued unto a man far worse than I. And

he enjoined on me hard adventures, yea and on a time he

sent me hither to bring back the hound of hell; for he

devised no harder task for me than this. I lifted the hound

and brought him forth from out of the house of Hades; and

Hermes sped me on my way and the grey-eyed Athene."

'Therewith he departed again into the house of Hades, but I

abode there still, if perchance some one of the hero folk

besides might come, who died in old time. Yea and I should

have seen the men of old, whom I was fain to look on,

Theseus and Peirithous, renowned children of the gods. But

ere that might be the myriad tribes of the dead thronged up

together with wondrous clamour: and pale fear gat hold of

me, lest the high goddess Persephone should send me the

head of the Gorgon, that dread monster, from out of Hades.

'Straightway then I went to the ship, and bade my men mount

the vessel, and loose the hawsers. So speedily they went on

board, and sat upon the benches. And the wave of the flood

bore the barque down the stream of Oceanus, we rowing

first, and afterwards the fair wind was our convoy.

 

Book XII

Odysseus, his passage by the Sirens, and by Scylla and

Charybdis. The sacrilege committed by his men in the isle

Thrinacia. The destruction of his ships and men. How he

swam on a plank nine days together, and came to Ogygia,

where he stayed seven years with Calypso.

'Now after the ship had left the stream of the river

Oceanus, and was come to the wave of the wide sea, and the

isle Aeaean, where is the dwelling place of early Dawn and

her dancing grounds, and the land of sunrising, upon our

coming thither we beached the ship in the sand, and

ourselves too stept ashore on the sea beach. There we fell

on sound sleep and awaited the bright Dawn.

'So soon as early Dawn shone forth, the rosy-fingered, I

sent forth my fellows to the house of Circe to fetch the

body of the dead Elpenor. And speedily we cut billets of

wood and sadly we buried him, where the furthest headland

runs out into the sea, shedding big tears. But when the

dead man was burned and the arms of the dead, we piled a

barrow and dragged up thereon a pillar, and on the topmost

mound we set the shapen oar.

'Now all that task we finished, and our coming from out of

Hades was not unknown to Circe, but she arrayed herself and

speedily drew nigh, and her handmaids with her bare flesh

and bread in plenty and dark red wine. And the fair goddess

stood in the midst and spake in our ears, saying:

'"Men overbold, who have gone alive into the house of

Hades, to know death twice, while all men else die once for

all. Nay come, eat ye meat and drink wine here all day

long; and with the breaking of the day ye shall set sail,

and myself I will show you the path and declare each thing,

that ye may not suffer pain or hurt through any grievous

ill-contrivance by sea or on the land."

'So spake she, and our lordly souls consented thereto. Thus

for that time we sat the livelong day, until the going down

of the sun, feasting on abundant flesh and on sweet wine.

Now when the sun sank and darkness came on, my company laid

them to rest by the hawsers of the ship. Then she took me

by the hand and led me apart from my dear company, and made

me to sit down and laid herself at my feet, and asked all

my tale. And I told her all in order duly. Then at the last

the Lady Circe spake unto me, saying:

'"Even so, now all these things have an end; do thou then

hearken even as I tell thee, and the god himself shall

bring it back to thy mind. To the Sirens first shalt thou

come, who bewitch all men, whosoever shall come to them.

Whoso draws nigh them unwittingly and hears the sound of

the Sirens' voice, never doth he see wife or babes stand by

him on his return, nor have they joy at his coming; but the

Sirens enchant him with their clear song, sitting in the

meadow, and all about is a great heap of bones of men,

corrupt in death, and round the bones the skin is wasting.

But do thou drive thy ship past, and knead honey-sweet wax,

and anoint therewith the ears of thy company, lest any of

the rest hear the song; but if thou myself art minded to

hear, let them bind thee in the swift ship hand and foot,

upright in the mast-stead, and from the mast let rope-ends

be tied, that with delight thou mayest hear the voice of

the Sirens. And if thou shalt beseech thy company and bid

them to loose thee, then let them bind thee with yet more

bonds. But when thy friends have driven thy ship past

these, I will not tell thee fully which path shall

thenceforth be thine, but do thou thyself consider it, and

I will speak to thee of either way. On the one side there

are beetling rocks, and against them the great wave roars

of dark-eyed Amphitrite. These, ye must know, are they the

blessed gods call the Rocks Wandering. By this way even

winged things may never pass, nay, not even the cowering

doves that bear ambrosia to Father Zeus, but the sheer rock

evermore takes away one even of these, and the Father sends

in another to make up the tale. Thereby no ship of men ever

escapes that comes thither, but the planks of ships and the

bodies of men confusedly are tossed by the waves of the sea

and the storms of ruinous fire. One ship only of all that

fare by sea hath passed that way, even Argo, that is in all

men's minds, on her voyage from Aeetes. And even her the

wave would lightly have cast there upon the mighty rocks,

but Here sent her by for love of Jason.

'"On the other part are two rocks, whereof the one reaches

with sharp peak to the wide heaven, and a dark cloud

encompasses it; this never streams away, and there is no

clear air about the peak neither in summer nor in harvest

tide. No mortal man may scale it or set foot thereon, not

though he had twenty hands and feet. For the rock is

smooth, and sheer, as it were polished. And in the midst of

the cliff is a dim cave turned to Erebus, towards the place

of darkness, whereby ye shall even steer your hollow ship,

noble Odysseus. Not with an arrow from a bow might a man in

his strength reach from his hollow ship into that deep

cave. And therein dwelleth Scylla, yelping terribly. Her

voice indeed is no greater than the voice of a new-born

whelp, but a dreadful monster is she, nor would any look on

her gladly, not if it were a god that met her. Verily she

hath twelve feet all dangling down; and six necks exceeding

long, and on each a hideous head, and therein three rows of

teeth set thick and close, full of black death. Up to her

middle is she sunk far down in the hollow cave, but forth

she holds her heads from the dreadful gulf, and there she

fishes, swooping round the rock, for dolphins or sea-dogs,

or whatso greater beast she may anywhere take, whereof the

deep-voiced Amphitrite feeds countless flocks. Thereby no

sailors boast that they have fled scatheless ever with

their ship, for with each head she carries off a man, whom

she hath snatched from out the dark-prowed ship.

'"But that other cliff, Odysseus, thou shalt note, lying

lower, hard by the first: thou couldest send an arrow

across. And thereon is a great fig-tree growing, in fullest

leaf, and beneath it mighty Charybdis sucks down black

water, for thrice a day she spouts it forth, and thrice a

day she sucks it down in terrible wise. Never mayest thou

be there when she sucks the water, for none might save thee

then from thy bane, not even the Earth-Shaker! But take

heed and swiftly drawing nigh to Scylla's rock drive the

ship past, since of a truth it is far better to mourn six

of thy company in the ship, than all in the selfsame hour."

'So spake she, but I answered, and said unto her: "Come I

pray thee herein, goddess, tell me true, if there be any

means whereby I might escape from the deadly Charybdis and

avenge me on that other, when she would prey upon my

company."

'So spake I, and that fair goddess answered me: "Man

overbold, lo, now again the deeds of war are in thy mind

and the travail thereof. Wilt thou not yield thee even to

the deathless gods? As for her, she is no mortal, but an

immortal plague, dread, grievous, and fierce, and not to be

fought with; and against her there is no defence; flight is

the bravest way. For if thou tarry to do on thine armour by

the cliff, I fear lest once again she sally forth and catch

at thee with so many heads, and seize as many men as

before. So drive past with all thy force, and call on

Cratais, mother of Scylla, which bore her for a bane to

mortals. And she will then let her from darting forth

thereafter.

'"Then thou shalt come unto the isle Thrinacia; there are

the many kine of Helios and his brave flocks feeding, seven

herds of kine and as many goodly flocks of sheep, and fifty

in each flock. They have no part in birth or in corruption,

and there are goddesses to shepherd them, nymphs with fair

tresses, Phaethusa and Lampetie whom bright Neaera bare to

Helios Hyperion. Now when the lady their mother had borne

and nursed them, she carried them to the isle Thrinacia to

dwell afar, that they should guard their father's flocks

and his kine with shambling gait. If thou doest these no

hurt, being heedful of thy return, truly ye may even yet

reach Ithaca, albeit in evil case. But if thou hurtest

them, I foreshow ruin for thy ship and for thy men, and

even though thou shouldest thyself escape, late shalt thou

return in evil plight with the loss of all thy company."

'So spake she, and anon came the golden-throned Dawn. Then

the fair goddess took her way up the island. But I departed

to my ship and roused my men themselves to mount the vessel

and loose the hawsers. And speedily they went aboard and

sat upon the benches, and sitting orderly smote the grey

sea water with their oars. And in the wake of our

dark-prowed ship she sent a favouring wind that filled the

sails, a kindly escort,--even Circe of the braided tresses,

a dread goddess of human speech. And straightway we set in

order the gear throughout the ship and sat us down, and the

wind and the helmsman guided our barque.

'Then I spake among my company with a heavy heart:

"Friends, forasmuch as it is not well that one or two alone

should know of the oracles that Circe, the fair goddess,

spake unto me, therefore will I declare them, that with

foreknowledge we may die, or haply shunning death and

destiny escape. First she bade us avoid the sound of the

voice of the wondrous Sirens, and their field of flowers,

and me only she bade listen to their voices. So bind ye me

in a hard bond, that I may abide unmoved in my place,

upright in the mast-stead, and from the mast let rope-ends

be tied, and if I beseech and bid you to set me free, then

do ye straiten me with yet more bonds."

'Thus I rehearsed these things one and all, and declared

them to my company. Meanwhile our good ship quickly came to

the island of the Sirens twain, for a gentle breeze sped

her on her way. Then straightway the wind ceased, and lo,

there was a windless calm, and some god lulled the waves.

Then my company rose up and drew in the ship's sails, and

stowed them in the hold of the ship, while they sat at the

oars and whitened the water with their polished pine

blades. But I with my sharp sword cleft in pieces a great

circle of wax, and with my strong hands kneaded it. And

soon the wax grew warm, for that my great might constrained

it, and the beam of the lord Helios, son of Hyperion. And I

anointed therewith the ears of all my men in their order,

and in the ship they bound me hand and foot upright in the

mast-stead, and from the mast they fastened rope-ends and

themselves sat down, and smote the grey sea water with

their oars. But when the ship was within the sound of a

man's shout from the land, we fleeing swiftly on our way,

the Sirens espied the swift ship speeding toward them, and

they raised their clear-toned song:

'"Hither, come hither, renowned Odysseus, great glory of

the Achaeans, here stay thy barque, that thou mayest listen

to the voice of us twain. For none hath ever driven by this

way in his black ship, till he hath heard from our lips the

voice sweet as the honeycomb, and hath had joy thereof and

gone on his way the wiser. For lo, we know all things, all

the travail that in wide Troy-land the Argives and Trojans

bare by the gods' designs, yea, and we know all that shall

hereafter be upon the fruitful earth."

'So spake they uttering a sweet voice, and my heart was

fain to listen, and I bade my company unbind me, nodding at

them with a frown, but they bent to their oars and rowed

on. Then straight uprose Perimedes and Eurylochus and bound

me with more cords and straitened me yet the more. Now

when we had driven past them, nor heard we any longer the

sound of the Sirens or their song, forthwith my dear

company took away the wax wherewith I had anointed their

ears and loosed me from my bonds.

'But so soon as we left that isle, thereafter presently I

saw smoke and a great wave, and heard the sea roaring. Then

for very fear the oars flew from their hands, and down the

stream they all splashed, and the ship was holden there,

for my company no longer plied with their hands the

tapering oars. But I paced the ship and cheered on my men,

as I stood by each one and spake smooth words:

'"Friends, forasmuch as in sorrow we are not all unlearned,

truly this is no greater woe that is upon us, {*} than when

the Cyclops penned us by main might in his hollow cave; yet

even thence we made escape by my manfulness, even by my

counsel and my wit, and some day I think that this

adventure too we shall remember. Come now, therefore, let

us all give ear to do according to my word. Do ye smite the

deep surf of the sea with your oars, as ye sit on the

benches, if peradventure Zeus may grant us to escape from

and shun this death. And as for thee, helmsman, thus I

charge thee, and ponder it in thine heart seeing that thou

wieldest the helm of the hollow ship. Keep the ship well

away from this smoke and from the wave and hug the rocks,

lest the ship, ere thou art aware, start from her course to

the other side, and so thou hurl us into ruin."

{* Reading [Greek], not [Greek] with La Roche.}

'So I spake, and quickly they hearkened to my words. But of

Scylla I told them nothing more, a bane none might deal

with, lest haply my company should cease from rowing for

fear, and hide them in the hold. In that same hour I

suffered myself to forget the hard behest of Circe, in that

she bade me in nowise be armed; but I did on my glorious

harness and caught up two long lances in my hands, and went

on the decking of the prow, for thence methought that

Scylla of the rock would first be seen, who was to bring

woe on my company. Yet could I not spy her anywhere, and my

eyes waxed weary for gazing all about toward the darkness

of the rock.

"Next we began to sail up the narrow strait lamenting. For

on the one hand lay Scylla, and on the other mighty

Charybdis in terrible wise sucked down the salt sea water.

As often as she belched it forth, like a cauldron on a

great fire she would seethe up through all her troubled

deeps, and overhead the spray fell on the tops of either

cliff. But oft as she gulped down the salt sea water,

within she was all plain to see through her troubled deeps,

and the rock around roared horribly and beneath the earth

was manifest swart with sand, and pale fear gat hold on my

men. Toward her, then, we looked fearing destruction; but

Scylla meanwhile caught from out my hollow ship six of my

company, the hardiest of their hands and the chief in

might. And looking into the swift ship to find my men, even

then I marked their feet and hands as they were lifted on

high, and they cried aloud in their agony, and called me by

my name for that last time of all. Even as when as fisher

on some headland lets down with a long rod his baits for a

snare to the little fishes below, casting into the deep the

horn of an ox of the homestead, and as he catches each

flings it writhing ashore, so writhing were they borne

upward to the cliff. And there she devoured them shrieking

in her gates, they stretching forth their hands to me in

the dread death-struggle. And the most pitiful thing was

this that mine eyes have seen of all my travail in

searching out the paths of the sea.

'Now when we had escaped the Rocks and dread Charybdis and

Scylla, thereafter we soon came to the fair island of the

god; where were the goodly kine, broad of brow, and the

many brave flocks of Helios Hyperion. Then while as yet I

was in my black ship upon the deep, I heard the lowing of

the cattle being stalled and the bleating of the sheep, and

on my mind there fell the saying of the blind seer, Theban

Teiresias, and of Circe of Aia, who charged me very

straitly to shun the isle of Helios, the gladdener of the

world. Then I spake out among my company in sorrow of

heart:

'"Hear my words, my men, albeit in evil plight, that I may

declare unto you the oracles of Teiresias and of Circe of

Aia, who very straitly charged me to shun the isle of

Helios, the gladdener of the world. For there she said the

most dreadful mischief would befal us. Nay, drive ye then

the black ship beyond and past that isle."

'So spake I, and their heart was broken within them. And

Eurylochus straightway answered me sadly, saying:

'"Hardy art thou, Odysseus, of might beyond measure, and

thy limbs are never weary; verily thou art fashioned all of

iron, that sufferest not thy fellows, foredone with toil

and drowsiness, to set foot on shore, where we might

presently prepare us a good supper in this sea-girt island.

But even as we are thou biddest us fare blindly through the

sudden night, and from the isle go wandering on the misty

deep. And strong winds, the bane of ships, are born of the

night. How could a man escape from utter doom, if there

chanced to come a sudden blast of the South Wind, or of the

boisterous West, which mainly wreck ships, beyond the will

of the gods, the lords of all? Howbeit for this present let

us yield to the black night, and we will make ready our

supper abiding by the swift ship, and in the morning we

will climb on board, and put out into the broad deep."

'So spake Eurylochus, and the rest of my company consented

thereto. Then at the last I knew that some god was indeed

imagining evil, and I uttered my voice and spake unto him

winged words:

'"Eurylochus, verily ye put force upon me, being but one

among you all. But come, swear me now a mighty oath, one

and all, to the intent that if we light on a herd of kine

or a great flock of sheep, none in the evil folly of his

heart may slay any sheep or ox; but in quiet eat ye the

meat which the deathless Circe gave."

'So I spake, and straightway they swore to refrain as I

commanded them. Now after they had sworn and done that

oath, we stayed our well-builded ship in the hollow harbour

near to a well of sweet water, and my company went forth

from out the ship and deftly got ready supper. But when

they had put from them the desire of meat and drink,

thereafter they fell a weeping as they thought upon their

dear companions whom Scylla had snatched from out the

hollow ship and so devoured. And deep sleep came upon them

amid their weeping. And when it was the third watch of the

night, and the stars had crossed the zenith, Zeus the

cloud-gatherer roused against them an angry wind with

wondrous tempest, and shrouded in clouds land and sea

alike, and from heaven sped down the night. Now when early

Dawn shone forth, the rosy-fingered, we beached the ship,

and dragged it up within a hollow cave, where were the fair

dancing grounds of the nymphs and the places of their

session. Thereupon I ordered a gathering of my men and

spake in their midst, saying:

'"Friends, forasmuch as there is yet meat and drink in the

swift ship, let us keep our hands off those kine, lest some

evil thing befal us. For these are the kine and the brave

flocks of a dread god, even of Helios, who overseeth all

and overheareth all things."

'So I spake, and their lordly spirit hearkened thereto.

Then for a whole month the South Wind blew without ceasing,

and no other wind arose, save only the East and the South.

'Now so long as my company still had corn and red wine,

they refrained them from the kine, for they were fain of

life. But when the corn was now all spent from out the

ship, and they went wandering with barbed hooks in quest of

game, as needs they must, fishes and fowls, whatsoever

might come to their hand, for hunger gnawed at their belly,

then at last I departed up the isle, that I might pray to

the gods, if perchance some one of them might show me a way

of returning. And now when I had avoided my company on my

way through the island, I laved my hands where was a

shelter from the wind, and prayed to all the gods that hold

Olympus. But they shed sweet sleep upon my eyelids. And

Eurylochus the while set forth an evil counsel to my

company:

'"Hear my words, my friends, though ye be in evil case.

Truly every shape of death is hateful to wretched mortals,

but to die of hunger and so meet doom is most pitiful of

all. Nay come, we will drive off the best of the kine of

Helios and will do sacrifice to the deathless gods who keep

wide heaven. And if we may yet reach Ithaca, our own

country, forthwith will we rear a rich shrine to Helios

Hyperion, and therein would we set many a choice offering.

But if he be somewhat wroth for his cattle with straight

horns, and is fain to wreck our ship, and the other gods

follow his desire, rather with one gulp at the wave would I

cast my life away, than be slowly straitened to death in a

desert isle."

'So spake Eurylochus, and the rest of the company consented

thereto. Forthwith they drave off the best of the kine of

Helios that were nigh at hand, for the fair kine of

shambling gait and broad of brow were feeding no great way

from the dark-prowed ship. Then they stood around the

cattle and prayed to the gods, plucking the fresh leaves

from an oak of lofty boughs, for they had no white barley

on board the decked ship. Now after they had prayed and cut

the throats of the kine and flayed them, they cut out

slices of the thighs and wrapped them in the fat, making a

double fold, and thereon they laid raw flesh. Yet had they

no pure wine to pour over the flaming sacrifices, but they

made libation with water and roasted the entrails over the

fire. Now after the thighs were quite consumed and they had

tasted the inner parts, they cut the rest up small and

spitted it on spits. In the same hour deep sleep sped from

my eyelids and I sallied forth to the swift ship and the

sea-banks. But on my way as I drew near to the curved ship,

the sweet savour of the fat came all about me; and I

groaned and spake out before the deathless gods:

'"Father Zeus, and all ye other blessed gods that live for

ever, verily to my undoing ye have lulled me with a

ruthless sleep, and my company abiding behind have imagined

a monstrous deed."

'Then swiftly to Helios Hyperion came Lampetie of the long

robes, with the tidings that we had slain his kine. And

straight he spake with angry heart amid the Immortals:

'"Father Zeus, and all ye other blessed gods that live for

ever, take vengeance I pray you on the company of Odysseus,

son of Laertes, that have insolently slain my cattle,

wherein I was wont to be glad as I went toward the starry

heaven, and when I again turned earthward from the

firmament. And if they pay me not full atonement for the

cattle, I will go down to Hades and shine among the dead."

'And Zeus the cloud-gatherer answered him, saying: "Helios,

do thou, I say, shine on amidst the deathless gods, and

amid mortal men upon the earth, the grain-giver. But as for

me, I will soon smite their swift ship with my white bolt,

and cleave it in pieces in the midst of the wine-dark

deep."

'This I heard from Calypso of the fair hair; and she said

that she herself had heard it from Hermes the Messenger.

'But when I had come down to the ship and to the sea, I

went up to my companions and rebuked them one by one; but

we could find no remedy, the cattle were dead and gone. And

soon thereafter the gods showed forth signs and wonders to

my company. The skins were creeping, and the flesh

bellowing upon the spits, both the roast and raw, and there

was a sound as the voice of kine.

'Then for six days my dear company feasted on the best of

the kine of Helios which they had driven off. But when

Zeus, son of Cronos, had added the seventh day thereto,

thereafter the wind ceased to blow with a rushing storm,

and at once we climbed the ship and launched into the broad

deep, when we had set up the mast and hoisted the white

sails.

'But now when we left that isle nor any other land

appeared, but sky and sea only, even then the son of Cronos

stayed a dark cloud above the hollow ship, and beneath it

the deep darkened. And the ship ran on her way for no long

while, for of a sudden came the shrilling West, with the

rushing of a great tempest, and the blast of wind snapped

the two forestays of the mast, and the mast fell backward

and all the gear dropped into the bilge. And behold, on the

hind part of the ship the mast struck the head of the pilot

and brake all the bones of his skull together, and like a

diver he dropt down from the deck, and his brave spirit

left his bones. In that same hour Zeus thundered and cast

his bolt upon the ship, and she reeled all over being

stricken by the bolt of Zeus, and was filled with sulphur,

and lo, my company fell from out the vessel. Like sea-gulls

they were borne round the black ship upon the billows, and

the god reft them of returning.

'But I kept pacing through my ship, till the surge loosened

the sides from the keel, and the wave swept her along

stript of her tackling, and brake her mast clean off at the

keel. Now the backstay fashioned of an oxhide had been

flung thereon; therewith I lashed together both keel and

mast, and sitting thereon I was borne by the ruinous winds.

'Then verily the West Wind ceased to blow with a rushing

storm, and swiftly withal the South Wind came, bringing

sorrow to my soul, that so I might again measure back that

space of sea, the way to deadly Charybdis. All the night

was I borne, but with the rising of the sun I came to the

rock of Scylla, and to dread Charybdis. Now she had sucked

down her salt sea water, when I was swung up on high to the

tall fig-tree whereto I clung like a bat, and could find no

sure rest for my feet nor place to stand, for the roots

spread far below and the branches hung aloft out of reach,

long and large, and overshadowed Charybdis. Steadfast I

clung till she should spew forth mast and keel again; and

late they came to my desire. At the hour when a man rises

up from the assembly and goes to supper, one who judges the

many quarrels of the young men that seek to him for law, at

that same hour those timbers came forth to view from out

Charybdis. And I let myself drop down hands and feet, and

plunged heavily in the midst of the waters beyond the long

timbers, and sitting on these I rowed hard with my hands.

But the father of gods and of men suffered me no more to

behold Scylla, else I should never have escaped from utter

doom.

'Thence for nine days was I borne, and on the tenth night

the gods brought me nigh to the isle of Ogygia, where

dwells Calypso of the braided tresses, an awful goddess of

mortal speech, who took me in and entreated me kindly. But

why rehearse all this tale? For even yesterday I told it to

thee and to thy noble wife in thy house; and it liketh me

not twice to tell a plain-told tale.'

 

Book XIII

Odysseus, sleeping, is set ashore at Ithaca by the

Phaeacians, and waking knows it not. Pallas, in the form of

a shepherd, helps to hide his treasure. The ship that

conveyed him is turned into a rock, and Odysseus by Pallas

is instructed what to do, and transformed into an old

beggarman.

So spake he, and dead silence fell on all, and they were

spell-bound throughout the shadowy halls. Thereupon

Alcinous answered him, and spake, saying:

'Odysseus, now that thou hast come to my high house with

floor of bronze, never, methinks, shalt thou be driven from

thy way ere thou returnest, though thou hast been sore

afflicted. And for each man among you, that in these halls

of mine drink evermore the dark wine of the elders, and

hearken to the minstrel, this is my word and command.

Garments for the stranger are already laid up in a polished

coffer, with gold curiously wrought, and all other such

gifts as the counsellors of the Phaeacians bare hither.

Come now, let us each of us give him a great tripod and a

cauldron, and we in turn will gather goods among the people

and get us recompense; for it were hard that one man should

give without repayment.'

So spake Alcinous, and the saying pleased them well. Then

they went each one to his house to lay him down to rest;

but so soon as early Dawn shone forth, the rosy-fingered,

they hasted to the ship and bare the bronze, the joy of

men. And the mighty king Alcinous himself went about the

ship and diligently bestowed the gifts beneath the benches,

that they might not hinder any of the crew in their rowing,

when they laboured at their oars. Then they betook them to

the house of Alcinous and fell to feasting. And the mighty

king Alcinous sacrificed before them an ox to Zeus, the son

of Cronos, that dwells in the dark clouds, who is lord of

all. And when they had burnt the pieces of the thighs, they

shared the glorious feast and made merry, and among them

harped the divine minstrel Demodocus, whom the people

honoured. But Odysseus would ever turn his head toward the

splendour of the sun, as one fain to hasten his setting:

for verily he was most eager to return. And as when a man

longs for his supper, for whom all day long two dark oxen

drag through the fallow field the jointed plough, yea and

welcome to such an one the sunlight sinketh, that so he may

get him to supper, for his knees wax faint by the way, even

so welcome was the sinking of the sunlight to Odysseus.

Then straight he spake among the Phaeacians, masters of the

oar, and to Alcinous in chief he made known his word,

saying:

'My lord Alcinous, most notable of all the people, pour ye

the drink offering, and send me safe upon my way, and as

for you, fare ye well. For now have I all that my heart

desired, an escort and loving gifts. May the gods of heaven

give me good fortune with them, and may I find my noble

wife in my home with my friends unharmed, while ye, for

your part, abide here and make glad your wedded wives and

children; and may the gods vouchsafe all manner of good,

and may no evil come nigh the people!'

So spake he, and they all consented thereto and bade send

the stranger on his way, in that he had spoken aright. Then

the mighty Alcinous spake to the henchman: 'Pontonous, mix

the bowl and serve out the wine to all in the hall, that we

may pray to Father Zeus, and send the stranger on his way

to his own country.'

So spake he, and Pontonous mixed the honey-hearted wine,

and served it to all in turn. And they poured forth before

the blessed gods that keep wide heaven, even there as they

sat. Then goodly Odysseus uprose, and placed in Arete's

hand the two-handled cup, and uttering his voice spake to

her winged words:

'Fare thee well, O queen, all the days of thy life, till

old age come and death, that visit all mankind. But I go

homeward, and do thou in this thy house rejoice in thy

children and thy people and Alcinous the king.'

Therewith goodly Odysseus stept over the threshold. And

with him the mighty Alcinous sent forth a henchman to guide

him to the swift ship and the sea-banks. And Arete sent in

this train certain maidens of her household, one bearing a

fresh robe and a doublet, and another she joined to them to

carry the strong coffer, and yet another bare bread and red

wine. Now when they had come down to the ship and to the

sea, straightway the good men of the escort took these

things and laid them by in the hollow ship, even all the

meat and drink. Then they strewed for Odysseus a rug and a

sheet of linen, on the decks of the hollow ship, in the

hinder part thereof, that he might sleep sound. Then he too

climbed aboard and laid him down in silence, while they sat

upon the benches, every man in order, and unbound the

hawser from the pierced stone. So soon as they leant

backwards and tossed the sea water with the oar blade, a

deep sleep fell upon his eyelids, a sound sleep, very

sweet, and next akin to death. And even as on a plain a

yoke of four stallions comes springing all together beneath

the lash, leaping high and speedily accomplishing the way,

so leaped the stern of that ship, and the dark wave of the

sounding sea rushed mightily in the wake, and she ran ever

surely on her way, nor could a circling hawk keep pace with

her, of winged things the swiftest. Even thus she lightly

sped and cleft the waves of the sea, bearing a man whose

counsel was as the counsel of the gods, one that erewhile

had suffered much sorrow of heart, in passing through the

wars of men, and the grievous waves; but for that time he

slept in peace, forgetful of all that he had suffered.

So when the star came up, that is brightest of all, and

goes ever heralding the light of early Dawn, even then did

the seafaring ship draw nigh the island. There is in the

land of Ithaca a certain haven of Phorcys, the ancient one

of the sea, and thereby are two headlands of sheer cliff,

which slope to the sea on the haven's side and break the

mighty wave that ill winds roll without, but within, the

decked ships ride unmoored when once they have reached the

place of anchorage. Now at the harbour's head is a

long-leaved olive tree, and hard by is a pleasant cave and

shadowy, sacred to the nymphs, that are called the Naiads.

And therein are mixing bowls and jars of stone, and there

moreover do bees hive. And there are great looms of stone,

whereon the nymphs weave raiment of purple stain, a marvel

to behold, and therein are waters welling evermore. Two

gates there are to the cave, the one set toward the North

Wind whereby men may go down, but the portals toward the

South pertain rather to the gods, whereby men may not

enter: it is the way of the immortals.

Thither they, as having knowledge of that place, let drive

their ship; and now the vessel in full course ran ashore,

half her keel's length high; so well was she sped by the

hands of the oarsmen. Then they alighted from the benched

ship upon the land, and first they lifted Odysseus from out

the hollow ship, all as he was in the sheet of linen and

the bright rug, and laid him yet heavy with slumber on the

sand. And they took forth the goods which the lordly

Phaeacians had given him on his homeward way by grace of

the great-hearted Athene. These they set in a heap by the

trunk of the olive tree, a little aside from the road, lest

some wayfaring man, before Odysseus awakened, should come

and spoil them. Then themselves departed homeward again.

But the shaker of the earth forgat not the threats,

wherewith at the first he had threatened god like Odysseus,

and he inquired into the counsel of Zeus, saying:

'Father Zeus, I for one shall no longer be of worship among

the deathless gods, when mortal men hold me in no regard,

even Phaeacians, who moreover are of mine own lineage. Lo,

now I said that after much affliction Odysseus should come

home, for I had no mind to rob him utterly of his return,

when once thou hadst promised it and given assent; but

behold, in his sleep they have borne him in a swift ship

over the sea, and set him down in Ithaca, and given him

gifts out of measure, bronze and gold in plenty and woven

raiment, much store, such as never would Odysseus have won

for himself out of Troy; yea, though he had returned unhurt

with the share of the spoil that fell to him.'

And Zeus, the cloud gatherer, answered him saying: 'Lo,

now, shaker of the earth, of widest power, what a word hast

thou spoken! The gods nowise dishonour thee; hard would it

be to assail with dishonour our eldest and our best. But if

any man, giving place to his own hardihood and strength,

holds thee not in worship, thou hast always thy revenge for

the same, even in the time to come. Do thou as thou wilt,

and as seems thee good.'

Then Poseidon, shaker of the earth, answered him:

'Straightway would I do even as thou sayest, O god of the

dark clouds; but thy wrath I always hold in awe and avoid.

Howbeit, now I fain would smite a fair ship of the

Phaeacians, as she comes home from a convoy on the misty

deep, that thereby they may learn to hold their hands, and

cease from giving escort to men; and I would overshadow

their city with a great mountain.'

And Zeus the gatherer of the clouds, answered him, saying:

'Friend, learn now what seems best in my sight. At an hour

when the folk are all looking forth from the city at the

ship upon her way, smite her into a stone hard by the land;

a stone in the likeness of a swift ship, that all mankind

may marvel, and do thou overshadow their city with a great

mountain.'

Now when Poseidon, shaker of the earth, heard this saying,

he went on his way to Scheria, where the Phaeacians dwell.

There he abode awhile; and lo, she drew near, the seafaring

ship, lightly sped upon her way. Then nigh her came the

shaker of the earth, and he smote her into a stone, and

rooted her far below with the down-stroke of his hand; and

he departed thence again.

Then one to the other they spake winged words, the

Phaeacians of the long oars, mariners renowned. And thus

would they speak, looking each man to his neighbour:

'Ah me! who is this that fettered our swift ship on the

deep as she drave homewards? Even now she stood full in

sight.'

Even so they would speak; but they knew not how these

things were ordained. And Alcinous made harangue and spake

among them:

'Lo now, in very truth the ancient oracles of my father

have come home to me. He was wont to say that Poseidon was

jealous of us, for that we give safe escort to all men. He

said that the day would come when the god would smite a

fair ship of the Phaeacians, as she came home from a convoy

on the misty deep, and overshadow our city with a great

mountain. Thus that ancient one would speak; and lo, all

these things now have an end. But come, let us all give ear

and do according to my word. Cease ye from the convoy of

mortals, whensoever any shall come unto our town, and let

us sacrifice to Poseidon twelve choice bulls, if perchance

he may take pity, neither overshadow our city with a great

mountain.'

So spake he, and they were dismayed and got ready the

bulls. Thus were they praying to the lord Poseidon, the

princes and counsellors of the land of the Phaeacians, as

they stood about the altar.

Even then the goodly Odysseus awoke where he slept on his

native land; nor knew he the same again, having now been

long afar, for around him the goddess had shed a mist, even

Pallas Athene, daughter of Zeus, to the end that she might

make him undiscovered for that he was, and might expound to

him all things, that so his wife should not know him

neither his townsmen and kinsfolk, ere the wooers had paid

for all their transgressions. Wherefore each thing showed

strange to the lord of the land, the long paths and the

sheltering havens and the steep rocks and the trees in

their bloom. So he started up, and stood and looked upon

his native land, and then he made moan withal, and smote on

both his thighs with the down-stroke of his hands, and

making lament, he spake, saying:

'Oh, woe is me, unto what mortals' land am I now come? Say,

are they froward, and wild, and unjust, or hospitable and

of a god-fearing mind? Whither do I bear all this treasure?

Yea, where am I wandering myself? Oh that the treasure had

remained with the Phaeacians where it was, so had I come to

some other of the mighty princes, who would have entreated

me kindly and sent me on my way. But now I know not where

to bestow these things, nor yet will I leave them here

behind, lest haply other men make spoil of them. Ah then,

they are not wholly wise or just, the princes and

counsellors of the Phaeacians, who carried me to a strange

land. Verily they promised to bring me to clear-seen

Ithaca, but they performed it not. May Zeus requite them,

the god of suppliants, seeing that he watches over all men

and punishes the transgressor! But come, I will reckon up

these goods and look to them, lest the men be gone, and

have taken aught away upon their hollow ship.'

Therewith he set to number the fair tripods and the

cauldrons and the gold and the goodly woven raiment; and of

all these he lacked not aught, but he bewailed him for his

own country, as he walked downcast by the shore of the

sounding sea, and made sore lament. Then Athene came nigh

him in the guise of a young man, the herdsman of a flock, a

young man most delicate, such as are the sons of kings. And

she had a well-wrought mantle that fell in two folds about

her shoulders, and beneath her smooth feet she had sandals

bound, and a javelin in her hands. And Odysseus rejoiced as

he saw her, and came over against her, and uttering his

voice spake to her winged words:

'Friend, since thou art the first that I have chanced on in

this land, hail to thee, and with no ill-will mayest thou

meet me! Nay, save this my substance and save me too, for

to thee as to a god I make prayer, and to thy dear knees

have I come. And herein tell me true, that I may surely

know. What land, what people is this? what men dwell

therein? Surely, methinks, it is some clear seen isle, or a

shore of the rich mainland that lies and leans upon the

deep.'

Then the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, spake to him again:

'Thou art witless, stranger, or thou art come from afar, if

indeed thou askest of this land; nay, it is not so very

nameless but that many men know it, both all those who

dwell toward the dawning and the sun, and they that abide

over against the light toward the shadowy west. Verily it

is rough and not fit for the driving of horses, yet is it

not a very sorry isle, though narrow withal. For herein is

corn past telling, and herein too wine is found, and the

rain is on it evermore, and the fresh dew. And it is good

for feeding goats and feeding kine; all manner of wood is

here, and watering-places unfailing are herein. Wherefore,

stranger, the name of Ithaca hath reached even unto

Troy-land, which men say is far from this Achaean shore.'

So spake she, and the steadfast goodly Odysseus was glad,

and had joy in his own country, according to the word of

Pallas Athene, daughter of Zeus, lord of the aegis. And he

uttered his voice and spake unto her winged words; yet he

did not speak the truth, but took back the word that was on

his lips, for quick and crafty was his wit within his

breast:

'Of Ithaca have I heard tell, even in broad Crete, far over

the seas; and now have I come hither myself with these my

goods. And I left as much again to my children, when I

turned outlaw for the slaying of the dear son of Idomeneus,

Orsilochus, swift of foot, who in wide Crete was the

swiftest of all men that live by bread. Now he would have

despoiled me of all that booty of Troy, for the which I had

endured pain of heart, in passing through the wars of men,

and the grievous waves of the sea, for this cause that I

would not do a favour to his father, and make me his squire

in the land of the Trojans, but commanded other fellowship

of mine own. So I smote him with a bronze-shod spear as he

came home from the field, lying in ambush for him by the

wayside, with one of my companions. And dark midnight held

the heavens, and no man marked us, but privily I took his

life away. Now after I had slain him with the sharp spear,

straightway I went to a ship and besought the lordly

Phoenicians, and gave them spoil to their hearts' desire. I

charged them to take me on board, and land me at Pylos or

at goodly Elis where the Epeans bear rule. Howbeit of a

truth, the might of the wind drave them out of their

course, sore against their will, nor did they wilfully play

me false. Thence we were driven wandering, and came hither

by night. And with much ado we rowed onward into harbour,

nor took we any thought of supper, though we stood sore in

need thereof, but even as we were we stept ashore and all

lay down. Then over me there came sweet slumber in my

weariness, but they took forth my goods from the hollow

ship, and set them by me where I myself lay upon the sands.

Then they went on board, and departed for the fair-lying

land of Sidon; while as for me I was left stricken at

heart.'

So spake he and the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, smiled, and

caressed him with her hand; and straightway she changed to

the semblance of a woman, fair and tall, and skilled in

splendid handiwork. And uttering her voice she spake unto

him winged words:

'Crafty must he be, and knavish, who would outdo thee in

all manner of guile, even if it were a god encountered

thee. Hardy man, subtle of wit, of guile insatiate, so thou

wast not even in thine own country to cease from thy

sleights and knavish words, which thou lovest from the

bottom of thine heart! But come, no more let us tell of

these things, being both of us practised in deceits, for

that thou art of all men far the first in counsel and in

discourse, and I in the company of all the gods win renown

for my wit and wile. Yet thou knewest not me, Pallas

Athene, daughter of Zeus, who am always by thee and guard

thee in all adventures. Yea, and I made thee to be beloved

of all the Phaeacians. And now am I come hither to contrive

a plot with thee and to hide away the goods, that by my

counsel and design the noble Phaeacians gave thee on thy

homeward way. And I would tell thee how great a measure of

trouble thou art ordained to fulfil within thy well-builded

house. But do thou harden thy heart, for so it must be, and

tell none neither man nor woman of all the folk, that thou

hast indeed returned from wandering, but in silence endure

much sorrow, submitting thee to the despite of men.'

And Odysseus of many counsels answered her saying: 'Hard is

it, goddess, for a mortal man that meets thee to discern

thee, howsoever wise he be; for thou takest upon thee every

shape. But this I know well, that of old thou wast kindly

to me, so long as we sons of the Achaeans made war in Troy.

But so soon as we had sacked the steep city of Priam and

had gone on board our ships, and the god had scattered the

Achaeans, thereafter I have never beheld thee, daughter of

Zeus, nor seen thee coming on board my ship, to ward off

sorrow from me--but I wandered evermore with a stricken

heart, till the gods delivered me from my evil case--even

till the day when, within the fat land of the men of

Phaeacia, thou didst comfort me with thy words, and thyself

didst lead me to their city. And now I beseech thee in thy

father's name to tell me: for I deem not that I am come to

clear-seen Ithaca, but I roam over some other land, and

methinks that thou speakest thus to mock me and beguile my

mind. Tell me whether in very deed I am come to mine own

dear country.'

Then the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, answered him: 'Yea,

such a thought as this is ever in thy breast. Wherefore I

may in no wise leave thee in thy grief, so courteous art

thou, so ready of wit and so prudent. Right gladly would

any other man on his return from wandering have hasted to

behold his children and his wife in his halls; but thou

hast no will to learn or to hear aught, till thou hast

furthermore made trial of thy wife, who sits as ever in her

halls, and wearily for her the nights wane always and the

days, in shedding of tears. But of this I never doubted,

but ever knew it in my heart that thou wouldest come home

with the loss of all thy company. Yet, I tell thee, I had

no mind to be at strife with Poseidon, my own father's

brother, who laid up wrath in his heart against thee, being

angered at the blinding of his dear son. But come, and I

will show thee the place of the dwelling of Ithaca, that

thou mayst be assured. Lo, here is the haven of Phorcys,

the ancient one of the sea, and here at the haven's head is

the olive tree with spreading leaves, and hard by it is the

pleasant cave and shadowy, sacred to the nymphs that are

called the Naiads. Yonder, behold, is the roofed cavern,

where thou offeredst many an acceptable sacrifice of

hecatombs to the nymphs; and lo, this hill is Neriton, all

clothed in forest.'

Therewith the goddess scattered the mist, and the land

appeared. Then the steadfast goodly Odysseus was glad

rejoicing in his own land, and he kissed the earth, the

grain-giver. And anon he prayed to the nymphs, and lifted

up his hands, saying:

'Ye Naiad nymphs, daughters of Zeus, never did I think to

look on you again, but now be ye greeted in my loving

prayers: yea, and gifts as aforetime I will give, if the

daughter of Zeus, driver of the spoil, suffer me of her

grace myself to live, and bring my dear son to manhood.'

Then the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, spake to him again: 'Be

of good courage, and let not thy heart be careful about

these things. But come, let us straightway set thy goods in

the secret place of the wondrous cave, that there they may

abide for thee safe. And let us for ourselves advise us how

all may be for the very best.'

Therewith the goddess plunged into the shadowy cave,

searching out the chambers of the cavern. Meanwhile

Odysseus brought up his treasure, the gold and the

unyielding bronze and fair woven raiment, which the

Phaeacians gave him. And these things he laid by with care,

and Pallas Athene, daughter of Zeus, lord of the aegis, set

a stone against the door of the cave. Then they twain sat

down by the trunk of the sacred olive tree, and devised

death for the froward wooers. And the goddess, grey-eyed

Athene, spake first, saying:

'Son of Laertes, of the seed of Zeus, Odysseus of many

devices, advise thee how thou mayest stretch forth thine

hands upon the shameless wooers, who now these three years

lord it through thy halls, as they woo thy godlike wife and

proffer the gifts of wooing. And she, that is ever

bewailing her for thy return, gives hope to all and makes

promises to every man and sends them messages, but her mind

is set on other things.'

And Odysseus of many counsels answered her, saying:

'Lo now, in very truth I was like to have perished in my

halls by the evil doom of Agamemnon, son of Atreus, hadst

not thou, goddess, declared me each thing aright. Come

then, weave some counsel whereby I may requite them; and

thyself stand by me, and put great boldness of spirit

within me, even as in the day when we loosed the shining

coronal of Troy. If but thou wouldest stand by me with such

eagerness, thou grey-eyed goddess, I would war even with

three hundred men, with thee my lady and goddess, if thou

of thy grace didst succour me the while.'

Then the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, answered him: 'Yea,

verily I will be near thee nor will I forget thee,

whensoever we come to this toil: and methinks that certain

of the wooers that devour thy livelihood shall bespatter

the boundless earth with blood and brains. But come, I will

make thee such-like that no man shall know thee. Thy fair

skin I will wither on thy supple limbs, and make waste thy

yellow hair from off thy head, and wrap thee in a foul

garment, such that one would shudder to see a man therein.

And I will dim thy two eyes, erewhile so fair, in such wise

that thou mayest be unseemly in the sight of all the wooers

and of thy wife and son, whom thou didst leave in thy

halls. And do thou thyself first of all go unto the

swineherd, who tends thy swine, loyal and at one with thee,

and loves thy son and constant Penelope. Him shalt thou

find sitting by the swine, as they are feeding near the

rock of Corax and the spring Arethusa, and there they eat

abundance of acorns and drink the black water, things

whereby swine grow fat and well-liking. There do thou abide

and sit by the swine, and find out all, till I have gone to

Sparta, the land of fair women, to call Telemachus thy dear

son, Odysseus, who hath betaken himself to spacious

Lacedaemon, to the house of Menelaus to seek tidings of

thee, whether haply thou are yet alive.'

And Odysseus of many counsels answered her saying: 'Nay,

wherefore then didst thou not tell him, seeing thou hast

knowledge of all? Was it, perchance, that he too may wander

in sorrow over the unharvested seas, and that others may

consume his livelihood?'

Then the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, answered him: 'Nay, let

him not be heavy on thy heart. I myself was his guide, that

by going thither he might win a good report. Lo, he knows

no toil, but he sits in peace in the palace of the son of

Atreus, and has boundless store about him. Truly the young

men with their black ship they lie in wait, and are eager

to slay him ere he come to his own country. But this,

methinks, shall never be. Yea, sooner shall the earth close

over certain of the wooers that devour thy livelihood.'

Therewith Athene touched him with her wand. His fair flesh

she withered on his supple limbs, and made waste his yellow

hair from off his head, and over all his limbs she cast the

skin of an old man, and dimmed his two eyes, erewhile so

fair. And she changed his raiment to a vile wrap and a

doublet, torn garments and filthy, stained with foul smoke.

And over all she clad him with the great bald hide of a

swift stag, and she gave him a staff and a mean tattered

scrip, and a cord therewith to hang it.

And after they twain had taken this counsel together, they

parted; and she now went to goodly Lacedaemon to fetch the

son of Odysseus.

 

Book XIV

Odysseus, in the form of a beggar, goes to Eumaeus, the

master of his swine, where he is well used and tells a

feigned story, and informs himself of the behaviour of the

wooers.

But Odysseus fared forth from the haven by the rough track,

up the wooded country and through the heights, where Athene

had showed him that he should find the goodly swineherd,

who cared most for his substance of all the thralls that

goodly Odysseus had gotten.

Now he found him sitting at the vestibule of the house,

where his courtyard was builded high, in a place with wide

prospect; a great court it was and a fair, with free range

round it. This the swineherd had builded by himself for the

swine of his lord who was afar, and his mistress and the

old man Laertes knew not of it. With stones from the quarry

had he builded it, and coped it with a fence of white

thorn, and he had split an oak to the dark core, and

without he had driven stakes the whole length thereof on

either side, set thick and close; and within the courtyard

he made twelve styes hard by one another to be beds for the

swine, and in each stye fifty grovelling swine were penned,

brood swine; but the boars slept without. Now these were

far fewer in number, the godlike wooers minishing them at

their feasts, for the swineherd ever sent in the best of

all the fatted hogs. And their tale was three hundred and

three-score. And by them always slept four dogs, as fierce

as wild beasts, which the swineherd had bred, a master of

men. Now he was fitting sandals to his feet, cutting a good

brown oxhide, while the rest of his fellows, three in all,

were abroad this way and that, with the droves of swine;

while the fourth he had sent to the city to take a boar to

the proud wooers, as needs he must, that they might

sacrifice it and satisfy their soul with flesh.

And of a sudden the baying dogs saw Odysseus, and they ran

at him yelping, but Odysseus in his wariness sat him down,

and let the staff fall from his hand. There by his own

homestead would he have suffered foul hurt, but the

swineherd with quick feet hasted after them, and sped

through the outer door, and let the skin fall from his

hand. And the hounds he chid and drave them this way and

that, with a shower of stones, and he spake unto his lord,

saying:

'Old man, truly the dogs went nigh to be the death of thee

all of a sudden, so shouldest thou have brought shame on

me. Yea, and the gods have given me other pains and griefs

enough. Here I sit, mourning and sorrowing for my godlike

lord, and foster the fat swine for others to eat, while he

craving, perchance, for food, wanders over some land and

city of men of a strange speech, if haply he yet lives and

beholds the sunlight. But come with me, let us to the inner

steading, old man, that when thy heart is satisfied with

bread and wine, thou too mayest tell thy tale and declare

whence thou art, and how many woes thou hast endured.'

Therewith the goodly swineherd led him to the steading, and

took him in and set him down, and strewed beneath him thick

brushwood, and spread thereon the hide of a shaggy wild

goat, wide and soft, which served himself for a mattress.

And Odysseus rejoiced that he had given him such welcome,

and spake and hailed him:

'May Zeus, O stranger, and all the other deathless gods

grant thee thy dearest wish, since thou hast received me

heartily!'

Then, O swineherd Eumaeus, didst thou answer him, saying:

'Guest of mine, it were an impious thing for me to slight a

stranger, even if there came a meaner man than thou; for

from Zeus are all strangers and beggars; and a little gift

from such as we, is dear; for this is the way with thralls,

who are ever in fear when young lords like ours bear rule

over them. For surely the gods have stayed the returning of

my master, who would have loved me diligently, and given me

somewhat of my own, a house and a parcel of ground, and a

comely {*} wife, such as a kind lord gives to his man, who

hath laboured much for him and the work of whose hands God

hath likewise increased, even as he increaseth this work of

mine whereat I abide. Therefore would my lord have rewarded

me greatly, had he grown old at home. But he hath perished,

as I would that all the stock of Helen had perished

utterly, forasmuch as she hath caused the loosening of many

a man's knees. For he too departed to Ilios of the goodly

steeds, to get atonement for Agamemnon, that so he might

war with the Trojans.'

{* Reading [Greek]}

Therewith he quickly bound up his doublet with his girdle,

and went his way to the styes, where the tribes of the

swine were penned. Thence he took and brought forth two,

and sacrificed them both, and singed them and cut them

small, and spitted them. And when he had roasted all, he

bare and set it by Odysseus, all hot as it was upon the

spits, and he sprinkled thereupon white barley-meal. Then

in a bowl of ivywood he mixed the honey-sweet wine, and

himself sat over against him and bade him fall to:

'Eat now, stranger, such fare as thralls have to hand, even

flesh of sucking pigs; but the fatted hogs the wooers

devour, for they know not the wrath of the gods nor any

pity. Verily the blessed gods love not froward deeds, but

they reverence justice and the righteous acts of men. Yet

even foes and men unfriendly, that land on a strange coast,

and Zeus grants them a prey, and they have laden their

ships and depart for home; yea, even on their hearts falls

strong fear of the wrath of the gods. But lo you, these men

know somewhat,--for they have heard an utterance of a god

--, even the tidings of our lord's evil end, seeing that

they are not minded justly to woo, nor to go back to their

own, but at ease they devour our wealth with insolence, and

now there is no sparing. For every day and every night that

comes from Zeus, they make sacrifice not of one victim

only, nor of two, and wine they draw and waste it

riotously. For surely his livelihood was great past

telling, no lord in the dark mainland had so much, nor any

in Ithaca itself; nay, not twenty men together have wealth

so great, and I will tell thee the sum thereof. Twelve

herds of kine upon the mainland, as many flocks of sheep,

as many droves of swine, as many ranging herds of goats,

that his own shepherds and strangers pasture. And ranging

herds of goats, eleven in all, graze here by the extremity

of the island with trusty men to watch them. And day by day

each man of these ever drives one of the flock to the

wooers, whichsoever seems the best of the fatted goats. But

as for me I guard and keep these swine and I choose out for

them, as well as I may, the best of the swine and send it

hence.'

So spake he, but Odysseus ceased not to eat flesh and drink

wine right eagerly and in silence, and the while was sowing

the seeds of evil for the wooers. Now when he had well

eaten and comforted his heart with food, then the herdsman

filled him the bowl out of which he was wont himself to

drink, and he gave it him brimming with wine, and he took

it and was glad at heart, and uttering his voice spake to

him winged words:

'My friend, who was it then that bought thee with his

wealth, a man so exceedingly rich and mighty as thou

declarest? Thou saidest that he perished to get atonement

for Agamemnon; tell me, if perchance I may know him, being

such an one as thou sayest. For Zeus, methinks, and the

other deathless gods know whether I may bring tidings of

having seen him; for I have wandered far.'

Then the swineherd, a master of men, answered him: 'Old

man, no wanderer who may come hither and bring tidings of

him can win the ear of his wife and his dear son; but

lightly do vagrants lie when they need entertainment, and

care not to tell truth. Whosoever comes straying to the

land of Ithaca, goes to my mistress and speaks words of

guile. And she receives him kindly and lovingly and

inquires of all things, and the tears fall from her eyelids

for weeping, as is meet for a woman when her lord hath died

afar. And quickly enough wouldst thou too, old man, forge a

tale, if any would but give thee a mantle and a doublet for

raiment. But as for him, dogs and swift fowls are like

already to have torn his skin from the bones, and his

spirit hath left him. Or the fishes have eaten him in the

deep, and there lie his bones swathed in sand-drift on the

shore. Yonder then hath he perished, but for his friends

nought is ordained but care, for all, but for me in chief.

For never again shall I find a lord so gentle, how far

soever I may go, not though again I attain unto the house

of my father and my mother, where at first I was born, and

they nourished me themselves and with their own hands they

reared me. Nor henceforth it is not for these that I sorrow

so much, though I long to behold them with mine eyes in

mine own country, but desire comes over me for Odysseus who

is afar. His name, stranger, even though he is not here, it

shameth me to speak, for he loved me exceedingly, and cared

for me at heart; nay, I call him "worshipful," albeit he is

far hence.'

Then the steadfast goodly Odysseus spake to him again: 'My

friend, forasmuch as thou gainsayest utterly, and sayest

that henceforth he will not come again, and thine heart is

ever slow to believe, therefore will I tell thee not

lightly but with an oath, that Odysseus shall return. And

let me have the wages of good tidings as soon as ever he in

his journeying shall come hither to his home. Then clothe

me in a mantle and a doublet, goodly raiment. But ere that,

albeit I am sore in need I will not take aught, for hateful

to me even as the gates of hell, is that man, who under

stress of poverty speaks words of guile. Now be Zeus my

witness before any god, and the hospitable board and the

hearth of noble Odysseus whereunto I am come, that all

these things shall surely be accomplished even as I tell

thee. In this same year Odysseus shall come hither; as the

old moon wanes and the new is born shall he return to his

home, and shall take vengeance on all who here dishonour

his wife and noble son.'

Then didst thou make answer, swineherd Eumaeus: 'Old man,

it is not I then, that shall ever pay thee these wages of

good tidings, nor henceforth shall Odysseus ever come to

his home. Nay drink in peace, and let us turn our thoughts

to other matters, and bring not these to my remembrance,

for surely my heart within me is sorrowful whenever any man

puts me in mind of my true lord. But as for thine oath, we

will let it go by; yet, oh that Odysseus may come according

to my desire, and the desire of Penelope and of that old

man Laertes and godlike Telemachus! But now I make a

comfortless lament for the boy begotten of Odysseus, even

for Telemachus. When the gods had reared him like a young

sapling, and I thought that he would be no worse man among

men than his dear father, glorious in form and face, some

god or some man marred his good wits within him, and he

went to fair Pylos after tidings of his sire. And now the

lordly wooers lie in wait for him on his way home, that the

race of godlike Arceisius may perish nameless out of

Ithaca. Howbeit, no more of him now, whether he shall be

taken or whether he shall escape, and Cronion stretch out

his hand to shield him. But come, old man, do thou tell me

of thine own troubles. And herein tell me true, that I may

surely know. Who art thou of the sons of men, and whence?

Where is thy city, where are they that begat thee? Say on

what manner of ship didst thou come, and how did sailors

bring thee to Ithaca, and who did they avow them to be? For

in nowise do I deem that thou camest hither by land.'

And Odysseus of many counsels answered him saying: 'Yea

now, I will tell thee all most plainly. Might we have food

and sweet wine enough to last for long, while we abide

within thy hut to feast thereon in quiet, and others betake

them to their work; then could I easily speak for a whole

year, nor yet make a full end of telling all the troubles

of my spirit, all the travail I have wrought by the will of

the gods.

'I avow that I come by lineage from wide Crete, and am the

son of a wealthy man. And many other sons he had born and

bred in the halls, lawful born of a wedded wife; but the

mother that bare me was a concubine bought with a price.

Yet Castor son of Hylax, of whose blood I avow me to be,

gave me no less honour than his lawful sons. Now he at the

time got worship even as a god from the Cretans in the

land, for wealth and riches and sons renowned. Howbeit the

fates of death bare him away to the house of Hades, and his

gallant sons divided among them his living and cast lots

for it. But to me they gave a very small gift and assigned

me a dwelling, and I took unto me a wife, the daughter of

men that had wide lands, by reason of my valour, for that I

was no weakling nor a dastard; but now all my might has

failed me, yet even so I deem that thou mightest guess from

seeing the stubble what the grain has been, for of trouble

I have plenty and to spare. But then verily did Ares and

Athene give me boldness and courage to hurl through the

press of men, whensoever I chose the best warriors for an

ambush, sowing the seeds of evil for my foes; no boding of

death was ever in my lordly heart, but I would leap out the

foremost and slay with the spear whoso of my foes was less

fleet of foot than I. Such an one was I in war, but the

labour of the field I never loved, nor home-keeping thrift,

that breeds brave children, but galleys with their oars

were dear to me, and wars and polished shafts and darts--

baneful things whereat others use to shudder. But that,

methinks, was dear to me which the god put in my heart, for

divers men take delight in divers deeds. For ere ever the

sons of the Achaeans had set foot on the land of Troy, I

had nine times been a leader of men and of swift-faring

ships against a strange people, and wealth fell ever to my

hands. Of the booty I would choose out for me all that I

craved, and much thereafter I won by lot. So my house got

increase speedily, and thus I waxed dread and honourable

among the Cretans. But when Zeus, of the far-borne voice,

devised at the last that hateful path which loosened the

knees of many a man in death, then the people called on me

and on renowned Idomeneus to lead the ships to Ilios, nor

was there any way whereby to refuse, for the people's voice

bore hard upon us. There we sons of the Achaeans warred for

nine whole years, and then in the tenth year we sacked the

city of Priam, and departed homeward with our ships, and a

god scattered the Achaeans. But Zeus, the counsellor,

devised mischief against me, wretched man that I was! For

one month only I abode and had joy in my children and my

wedded wife, and all that I had; and thereafter my spirit

bade me fit out ships in the best manner and sail to Egypt

with my godlike company. Nine ships I fitted out and the

host was gathered quickly; and then for six days my dear

company feasted, and I gave them many victims that they

might sacrifice to the gods and prepare a feast for

themselves. But on the seventh day we set sail from wide

Crete, with a North Wind fresh and fair, and lightly we ran

as it were down stream, yea and no harm came to any ship of

mine, but we sat safe and hale, while the wind and the

pilots guided the barques. And on the fifth day we came to

the fair-flowing Aegyptus, and in the river Aegyptus I

stayed my curved ships. Then verily I bade my dear

companions to abide there by the ships and to guard them,

and I sent forth scouts to range the points of outlook. But

my men gave place to wantonness, being the fools of their

own force, and soon they fell to wasting the fields of the

Egyptians, exceeding fair, and led away their wives and

infant children and slew the men. And the cry came quickly

to the city, and the people hearing the shout came forth at

the breaking of the day, and all the plain was filled with

footmen and chariots and with the glitter of bronze. And

Zeus, whose joy is in the thunder, sent an evil panic upon

my company, and none durst stand and face the foe, for

danger encompassed us on every side. There they slew many

of us with the edge of the sword, and others they led up

with them alive to work for them perforce. But as for me,

Zeus himself put a thought into my heart; would to God that

I had rather died, and met my fate there in Egypt, for

sorrow was still mine host! Straightway I put off my

well-wrought helmet from my head, and the shield from off

my shoulders, and I cast away my spear from my hand, and I

came over against the chariots of the king, and clasped and

kissed his knees, and he saved me and delivered me, and

setting me on his own chariot took me weeping to his home.

Truly many an one made at me with their ashen spears, eager

to slay me, for verily they were sore angered. But the king

kept them off and had respect unto the wrath of Zeus, the

god of strangers, who chiefly hath displeasure at evil

deeds. So for seven whole years I abode with their king,

and gathered much substance among the Egyptians, for they

all gave me gifts. But when the eighth year came in due

season, there arrived a Phoenician practised in deceit, a

greedy knave, who had already done much mischief among men.

He wrought on me with his cunning, and took me with him

until he came to Phoenicia, where was his house and where

his treasures lay. There I abode with him for the space of

a full year. But when now the months and days were

fulfilled, as the year came round and the seasons returned,

he set me aboard a seafaring ship for Libya, under colour

as though I was to convey a cargo thither with him, but his

purpose was to sell me in Libya, and get a great price. So

I went with him on board, perforce, yet boding evil. And

the ship ran before a North Wind fresh and fair, through

the mid sea over above Crete, and Zeus contrived the

destruction of the crew. But when we left Crete, and no

land showed in sight but sky and sea only, even then the

son of Cronos stayed a dark cloud over the hollow ship, and

the deep grew dark beneath it. And in the same moment Zeus

thundered and smote his bolt into the ship, and she reeled

all over being stricken by the bolt of Zeus, and was filled

with fire and brimstone, and all the crew fell overboard.

And like sea-gulls they were borne hither and thither on

the waves about the black ship, and the god cut off their

return. But in this hour of my affliction Zeus himself put

into my hands the huge mast of the dark-prowed ship, that

even yet I might escape from harm. So I clung round the

mast and was borne by the ruinous winds. For nine days was

I borne, and on the tenth black night the great rolling

wave brought me nigh to the land of the Thesprotians. There

the king of the Thesprotians, the lord Pheidon, took me in

freely, for his dear son lighted on me and raised me by the

hand and led me to his house, foredone with toil and the

keen air, till he came to his father's palace. And he

clothed me in a mantle and a doublet for raiment.

'There I heard tidings of Odysseus, for the king told me

that he had entertained him, and kindly entreated him on

his way to his own country; and he showed me all the wealth

that Odysseus had gathered, bronze and gold and

well-wrought iron; yea it would suffice for his children

after him even to the tenth generation, so great were the

treasures he had stored in the chambers of the king. He had

gone, he said, to Dodona to hear the counsel of Zeus, from

the high leafy oak tree of the god, how he should return to

the fat land of Ithaca after long absence, whether openly

or by stealth. Moreover, he sware, in mine own presence, as

he poured the drink offering in his house, that the ship

was drawn down to the sea and his company were ready, who

were to convey him to his own dear country. But ere that,

he sent me off, for it chanced that a ship of the

Thesprotians was starting for Dulichium, a land rich in

grain. Thither he bade them bring me with all diligence to

the king Acastus. But an evil counsel concerning me found

favour in their sight, that even yet I might reach the

extremity of sorrow. When the seafaring ship had sailed a

great way from the land, anon they sought how they might

compass for me the day of slavery. They stript me of my

garments, my mantle and a doublet, and changed my raiment

to a vile wrap and doublet, tattered garments, even those

thou seest now before thee; and in the evening they reached

the fields of clear-seen Ithaca. There in the decked ship

they bound me closely with a twisted rope, and themselves

went ashore, and hasted to take supper by the sea-banks.

Meanwhile the gods themselves lightly unclasped my bands,

and muffling my head with the wrap I slid down the smooth

lading-plank, and set my breast to the sea and rowed hard

with both hands as I swam, and very soon I was out of the

water and beyond their reach. Then I went up where there

was a thicket, a wood in full leaf, and lay there

crouching. And they went hither and thither making great

moan; but when now it seemed to them little avail to go

further on their quest, they departed back again aboard

their hollow ship. And the gods themselves hid me easily

and brought me nigh to the homestead of a wise man; for

still, methinks, I am ordained to live on.'

Then didst thou make answer to him, swineherd Eumaeus: 'Ah!

wretched guest, verily thou hast stirred my heart with the

tale of all these things, of thy sufferings and thy

wanderings. Yet herein, methinks, thou speakest not aright,

and never shalt thou persuade me with the tale about

Odysseus; why should one in thy plight lie vainly? Well I

know of mine own self, as touching my lord's return, that

he was utterly hated by all the gods, in that they smote

him not among the Trojans nor in the arms of his friends,

when he had wound up the clew of war. So should the whole

Achaean host have builded him a barrow; yea and for his son

would he have won great glory in the after days; but now

all ingloriously the spirits of the storm have snatched him

away. But as for me I dwell apart by the swine and go not

to the city, unless perchance wise Penelope summons me

thither, when tidings of my master are brought I know not

whence. Now all the people sit round and straitly question

the news-bearer, both such as grieve for their lord that is

long gone, and such as rejoice in devouring his living

without atonement. But I have no care to ask or to inquire,

since the day that an Aetolian cheated me with his story,

one who had slain his man and wandered over wide lands and

came to my steading, and I dealt lovingly with him. He said

that he had seen my master among the Cretans at the house

of Idomeneus, mending his ships which the storms had

broken. And he said that he would come home either by the

summer or the harvest-tide, bringing much wealth with the

godlike men of his company. And thou too, old man of many

sorrows, seeing that some god hath brought thee to me, seek

not my grace with lies, nor give me any such comfort; not

for this will I have respect to thee or hold thee dear, but

only for the fear of Zeus, the god of strangers, and for

pity of thyself.'

And Odysseus of many counsels answered him saying: 'Verily

thy heart within thee is slow to believe, seeing that even

with an oath I have not won thee, nor find credence with

thee. But come now, let us make a covenant; and we will

each one have for witnesses the gods above, who hold

Olympus. If thy lord shall return to this house, put on me

a mantle and doublet for raiment, and send me on my way to

Dulichium, whither I had a desire to go. But if thy lord

return not according to my word, set thy thralls upon me,

and cast me down from a mighty rock, that another beggar in

his turn may beware of deceiving.'

And the goodly swineherd answered him, saying: 'Yea

stranger, even so should I get much honour and good luck

among men both now and ever hereafter, if after bringing

thee to my hut and giving thee a stranger's cheer, I should

turn again and slay thee and take away thy dear life. Eager

indeed thereafter should I be to make a prayer to Zeus the

son of Cronos! But now it is supper-time, and would that my

fellows may speedily be at home, that we may make ready a

dainty supper within the hut.'

Thus they spake one to the other. And lo, the swine and the

swineherds drew nigh. And the swine they shut up to sleep

in their lairs, and a mighty din arose as the swine were

being stalled. Then the goodly swineherd called to his

fellows, saying:

'Bring the best of the swine, that I may sacrifice it for a

guest of mine from a far land: and we too will have good

cheer therewith, for we have long suffered and toiled by

reason of the white-tusked swine, while others devour the

fruit of our labour without atonement.'

Therewithal he cleft logs with the pitiless axe, and the

others brought in a well-fatted boar of five years old; and

they set him by the hearth nor did the swineherd forget the

deathless gods, for he was of an understanding heart. But

for a beginning of sacrifice he cast bristles from the head

of the white-tusked boar upon the fire, and prayed to all

the gods that wise Odysseus might return to his own house.

Then he stood erect, and smote the boar with a billet of

oak which he had left in the cleaving, and the boar yielded

up his life. Then they cut the throat and singed the

carcass and quickly cut it up, and the swineherd took a

first portion from all the limbs, and laid the raw flesh on

the rich fat. And some pieces he cast into the fire after

sprinkling them with bruised barley-meal, and they cut the

rest up small, and pierced it, and spitted and roasted it

carefully, and drew it all off from the spits, and put the

whole mess together on trenchers. Then the swineherd stood

up to carve, for well he knew what was fair, and he cut up

the whole and divided it into seven portions. One, when he

had prayed, he set aside for the nymphs and for Hermes son

of Maia, and the rest he distributed to each. And he gave

Odysseus the portion of honour, the long back of the

white-tusked boar, and the soul of his lord rejoiced at

this renown, and Odysseus of many counsels hailed him

saying:

'Eumaeus, oh that thou mayest so surely be dear to father

Zeus, as thou art to me, seeing that thou honourest me with

a good portion, such an one as I am!'

Then didst thou make answer, swineherd Eumaeus:

'Eat, luckless stranger, and make merry with such fare as

is here. And one thing the god will give and another

withhold, even as he will, for with him all things are

possible.'

So he spake, and made burnt offering of the hallowed parts

to the everlasting gods, and poured the dark wine for a

drink offering, and set the cup in the hands of Odysseus,

the waster of cities, and sat down by his own mess. And

Mesaulius bare them wheaten bread, a thrall that the

swineherd had gotten all alone, while his lord was away,

without the knowledge of his mistress and the old Laertes:

yea he had bought him of the Taphians with his own

substance. So they stretched forth their hands upon the

good cheer spread before them. Now after they had put from

them the desire of meat and drink, Mesaulius cleared away

the bread, and they, now that they had eaten enough of

bread and flesh, were moved to go to rest.

Now it was so that night came on foul with a blind moon,

and Zeus rained the whole night through, and still the

great West Wind, the rainy wind, was blowing. Then Odysseus

spake among them that he might make trial of the swineherd,

and see whether he would take off his own mantle and give

it to him or bid one of his company strip, since he cared

for him so greatly:

'Listen now, Eumaeus, and all of you his companions, with a

prayer will I utter my word; so bids me witless wine, which

drives even the wisest to sing and to laugh softly, and

rouses him to dance, yea and makes him to speak out a word

which were better unspoken. Howbeit, now that I have broken

into speech, I will not hide aught. Oh that I were young,

and my might were steadfast, as in the day when we arrayed

our ambush and led it beneath Troy town! And Odysseus, and

Menelaus son of Atreus, were leaders and with them I was a

third in command; for so they bade me. Now when we had come

to the city and the steep wall, we lay about the citadel in

the thick brushwood, crouching under our arms among the

reeds and the marsh land, and behold, the night came on

foul, with frost, as the North Wind went down, while the

snow fell from above, and crusted like rime, bitter cold,

and the ice set thick about our shields. Now the others all

had mantles and doublets, and slept in peace with their

shields buckled close about their shoulders; but I as I

went forth had left my mantle behind with my men, in my

folly, thinking that even so I should not be cold: so I

came with only my shield and bright leathern apron. But

when it was now the third watch of the night and the stars

had passed the zenith, in that hour I spake unto Odysseus

who was nigh me, and thrust him with my elbow, and he

listened straightway:

'"Son of Laertes, of the seed of Zeus, Odysseus of many

devices, verily I shall cease from among living men, for

this wintry cold is slaying me, seeing that I have no

mantle. Some god beguiled me to wear a doublet only, and

henceforth is no way of escape."

'So I spake, and he apprehended a thought in his heart,

such an one as he was in counsel and in fight. So he

whispered and spake to me, saying:

'"Be silent now, lest some other Achaeans hear thee."

Therewith he raised his head upon his elbow, and spake,

saying: "Listen, friends, a vision from a god came to me in

my sleep. Lo, we have come very far from the ships; I would

there were one to tell it to Agamemnon, son of Atreus,

shepherd of the host, if perchance he may send us hither a

greater company from the ships."

'So spake he, and Thoas, son of Andraemon, rose up quickly

and cast off his purple mantle. And he started to run unto

the ships, but I lay gladly in his garment, and the

golden-throned Dawn showed her light. Oh! that I were young

as then and my might steadfast! Then should some of the

swineherds in the homestead give me a mantle, alike for

love's sake and for pity of a good warrior. But now they

scorn me for that sorry raiment is about my body.'

Then didst thou make answer, O swineherd Eumaeus: 'Old man,

the tale that thou hast told in his praise is very good,

and so far thou hast not misspoken aught, nor uttered a

word unprofitably. Wherefore for this night thou shalt lack

neither raiment nor aught else that is the due of a hapless

suppliant, when he has met them that can befriend him. But

in the morning thou shalt go shuffling in thine own rags,

for there are not many mantles here or changes of doublet;

for each man hath but one coat. But when the dear son of

Odysseus comes, he himself will give thee a mantle and

doublet for raiment, and send thee whithersoever thy heart

and spirit bid.'

With that he sprang up and set a bed for Odysseus near the

fire, and thereon he cast skins of sheep and goats. There

Odysseus laid him down and Eumaeus cast a great thick

mantle over him, which he had ever by him for a change of

covering, when any terrible storm should arise.

So there Odysseus slept, and the young men slept beside

him. But the swineherd had no mind to lie there in a bed

away from the boars. So he made him ready to go forth and

Odysseus was glad, because he had a great care for his

master's substance while he was afar. First he cast his

sharp sword about his strong shoulders, then he clad him in

a very thick mantle, to keep the wind away; and he caught

up the fleece of a great and well-fed goat, and seized his

sharp javelin, to defend him against dogs and men. Then he

went to lay him down even where the white-tusked boars were

sleeping, beneath the hollow of the rock, in a place of

shelter from the North Wind.

 

Book XV

Pallas sends home Telemachus from Lacedaemon with the

presents given him by Menelaus. Telemachus landed, goes

first to Eumaeus.

Now Pallas Athene went to the wide land of Lacedaemon, to

put the noble son of the great-hearted Odysseus in mind of

his return, and to make him hasten his coming. And she

found Telemachus, and the glorious son of Nestor, couched

at the vestibule of the house of famous Menelaus. The son

of Nestor truly was overcome with soft sleep, but sweet

sleep gat not hold of Telemachus, but, through the night

divine, careful thoughts for his father kept him wakeful.

And grey-eyed Athene stood nigh him and spake to him,

saying:

'Telemachus, it is no longer meet that thou shouldest

wander far from thy home, leaving thy substance behind

thee, and men in thy house so wanton, lest they divide and

utterly devour all thy wealth, and thou shalt have gone on

a vain journey. But come, rouse with all haste Menelaus, of

the loud war-cry, to send thee on thy way, that thou mayest

even yet find thy noble mother in her home. For even now

her father and her brethren bid her wed Eurymachus, for he

outdoes all the wooers in his presents, and hath been

greatly increasing his gifts of wooing. So shall she take

no treasure from thy house despite thy will. Thou knowest

of what sort is the heart of a woman within her; all her

desire is to increase the house of the man who takes her to

wife, but of her former children and of her own dear lord

she has no more memory once he is dead, and she asks

concerning him no more. Go then, and thyself place all thy

substance in the care of the handmaid who seems to thee the

best, till the day when the gods shall show thee a glorious

bride. Now another word will I tell thee, and do thou lay

it up in thine heart. The noblest of the wooers lie in wait

for thee of purpose, in the strait between Ithaca and

rugged Samos, eager to slay thee before thou come to thine

own country. But this, methinks, will never be; yea, sooner

shall the earth close over certain of the wooers that

devour thy livelihood. Nay, keep thy well-wrought ship far

from those isles, and sail by night as well as day, and he

of the immortals who hath thee in his keeping and

protection will send thee a fair breeze in thy wake. But

when thou hast touched the nearest shore of Ithaca, send

thy ship and all thy company forward to the city, but for

thy part seek first the swineherd who keeps thy swine,

loyal and at one with thee. There do thou rest the night,

and bid him go to the city to bear tidings of thy coming to

the wise Penelope, how that she hath got thee safe, and

thou art come up out of Pylos.'

Therewith she departed to high Olympus. But Telemachus woke

the son of Nestor out of sweet sleep, touching him with his

heel, and spake to him, saying:

'Awake, Peisistratus, son of Nestor, bring up thy horses of

solid hoof, and yoke them beneath the car, that we may get

forward on the road.'

Then Peisistratus, son of Nestor, answered him, saying:

'Telemachus, we may in no wise drive through the dark

night, how eager soever to be gone; nay, soon it will be

dawn. Tarry then, till the hero, the son of Atreus,

spear-famed Menelaus, brings gifts, and sets them on the

car, and bespeaks thee kindly, and sends thee on thy way.

For of him a guest is mindful all the days of his life,

even of the host that shows him loving-kindness.'

So spake he, and anon came the golden-throned Dawn. And

Menelaus, of the loud war cry, drew nigh to them, new risen

from his bed, by fair-haired Helen. Now when the dear son

of Odysseus marked him, he made haste and girt his shining

doublet about him, and the hero cast a great mantle over

his mighty shoulders, and went forth at the door, and

Telemachus, dear son of divine Odysseus, came up and spake

to Menelaus, saying:

'Menelaus, son of Atreus, fosterling of Zeus, leader of the

people, even now do thou speed me hence, to mine own dear

country; for even now my heart is fain to come home again.'

Then Menelaus, of the loud war cry, answered him:

'Telemachus, as for me, I will not hold thee a long time

here, that art eager to return; nay, I think it shame even

in another host, who loves overmuch or hates overmuch.

Measure is best in all things. He does equal wrong who

speeds a guest that would fain abide, and stays one who is

in haste to be gone. Men should lovingly entreat the

present guest and speed the parting. But abide till I bring

fair gifts and set them on the car and thine own eyes

behold them, and I bid the women to prepare the midday meal

in the halls, out of the good store they have within.

Honour and glory it is for us, and gain withal for thee,

that ye should have eaten well ere ye go on your way, over

vast and limitless lands. What and if thou art minded to

pass through Hellas and mid Argos? So shall I too go with

thee, and yoke thee horses and lead thee to the towns of

men, and none shall send us empty away, but will give us

some one thing to take with us, either a tripod of goodly

bronze or a cauldron, or two mules or a golden chalice.'

Then wise Telemachus answered him saying: 'Menelaus, son of

Atreus, fosterling of Zeus, leader of the people, rather

would I return even now to mine own land, for I left none

behind to watch over my goods when I departed. I would not

that I myself should perish on the quest of my godlike

father, nor that any good heir-loom should be lost from my

halls.'

Now when Menelaus, of the loud war cry, heard this saying,

straightway he bade his wife and maids to prepare the

midday meal in the halls, out of the good store they had by

them. Then Eteoneus, son of Boethous, came nigh him, just

risen from his bed, for he abode not far from him. Him

Menelaus of the loud war cry bade kindle the fire and roast

of the flesh; and he hearkened and obeyed. Then the prince

went down into the fragrant treasure chamber, not alone,

for Helen went with him, and Megapenthes. Now, when they

came to the place where the treasures were stored, then

Atrides took a two-handled cup, and bade his son

Megapenthes to bear a mixing bowl of silver. And Helen

stood by the coffers, wherein were her robes of curious

needlework which she herself had wrought. Then Helen, the

fair lady, lifted one and brought it out, the widest and

most beautifully embroidered of all, and it shone like a

star, and lay far beneath the rest.

Then they went forth through the house till they came to

Telemachus; and Menelaus, of the fair hair, spake to him

saying:

'Telemachus, may Zeus the thunderer, and the lord of Here,

in very truth bring about thy return according to the

desire of thy heart. And of the gifts, such as are

treasures stored in my house, I will give thee the

goodliest and greatest of price. I will give thee a mixing

bowl beautifully wrought; it is all of silver and the lips

thereof are finished with gold, the work of Hephaestus; and

the hero Phaedimus the king of the Sidonians, gave it to me

when his house sheltered me, on my coming thither. This cup

I would give to thee.'

Therewith the hero Atrides set the two-handled cup in his

hands. And the strong Megapenthes bare the shining silver

bowl and set it before him. And Helen came up, beautiful

Helen, with the robe in her hands, and spake and hailed

him:

'Lo! I too give thee this gift, dear child, a memorial of

the hands of Helen, against the day of thy desire, even of

thy bridal, for thy bride to wear it. But meanwhile let it

lie by thy dear mother in her chamber. And may joy go with

thee to thy well-builded house, and thine own country.'

With that she put it into his hands, and he took it and was

glad. And the hero Peisistratus took the gifts and laid

them in the chest of the car, and gazed on all and

wondered. Then Menelaus of the fair hair led them to the

house. Then they twain sat them down on chairs and high

seats, and a handmaid bare water for the hands in a goodly

golden ewer, and poured it forth over a silver basin to

wash withal, and drew to their side a polished table. And a

grave dame bare wheaten bread and set it by them, and laid

on the board many dainties, giving freely of such things as

she had by her. And the son of Boethous carved by the board

and divided the messes, and the son of renowned Menelaus

poured forth the wine. So they stretched forth their hands

upon the good cheer set before them. Now when they had put

from them the desire of meat and drink, then did Telemachus

and the glorious son of Nestor yoke the horses and climb

into the inlaid car. And they drave forth from the gateway

and the echoing gallery. After these Menelaus, of the fair

hair, the son of Atreus, went forth bearing in his right

hand a golden cup of honey-hearted wine, that they might

pour a drink-offering ere they departed. And he stood

before the horses and spake his greeting:

'Farewell, knightly youths, and salute in my name Nestor,

the shepherd of the people; for truly he was gentle to me

as a father, while we sons of the Achaeans warred in the

land of Troy.'

And wise Telemachus answered him, saying: 'Yea verily, O

fosterling of Zeus, we will tell him all on our coming even

as thou sayest. Would God that when I return to Ithaca I

may find Odysseus in his home and tell him all, so surely

as now I go on my way having met with all loving-kindness

at thy hands, and take with me treasures many and goodly!'

And even as he spake a bird flew forth at his right hand,

an eagle that bare in his claws a great white goose, a tame

fowl from the yard, and men and women followed shouting.

But the bird drew near them and flew off to the right,

across the horses, and they that saw it were glad, and

their hearts were all comforted within them. And

Peisistratus, son of Nestor, first spake among them:

'Consider, Menelaus, fosterling of Zeus, leader of the

people, whether god hath showed forth this sign for us

twain, or for thee thyself.'

So spake he, and the warrior Menelaus pondered thereupon,

how he should take heed to answer, and interpret it aright.

And long-robed Helen took the word and spake, saying: 'Hear

me, and I will prophesy as the immortals put it into my

heart, and as I deem it will be accomplished. Even as

yonder eagle came down from the hill, the place of his

birth and kin, and snatched away the goose that was

fostered in the house, even so shall Odysseus return home

after much trial and long wanderings and take vengeance;

yea, or even now is he at home and sowing the seeds of evil

for all the wooers.'

Then wise Telemachus answered her, saying: 'Now may Zeus

ordain it so, Zeus the thunderer and the lord of Here. Then

would I do thee worship, as to a god, even in my home

afar.'

He spake and smote the horses with the lash, and they sped

quickly towards the plain, in eager course through the

city. So all day long they swayed the yoke they bore upon

their necks. And the sun sank, and all the ways were

darkened. And they came to Pherae, to the house of Diocles,

son of Orsilochus, the child begotten of Alpheus. There

they rested for the night, and by them he set the

entertainment of strangers.

Now so soon as early Dawn shone forth, the rosy-fingered,

they yoked the horses and mounted the inlaid car. And forth

they drave from the gateway and the echoing gallery. And he

touched the horses with the whip to start them, and the

pair flew onward nothing loth. And soon thereafter they

reached the steep hold of Pylos. Then Telemachus spake unto

the son of Nestor, saying:

'Son of Nestor, in what wise mightest thou make me a

promise and fulfil my bidding? For we claim to be friends

by reason of our fathers' friendship from of old. Moreover

we are equals in age, and this journey shall turn to our

greater love. Take me not hence past my ship, O fosterling

of Zeus, but leave me there, lest that old man keep me in

his house in my despite, out of his eager kindness, for I

must go right quickly home.'

So spake he, and the some of Nestor communed with his own

heart how he might make promise, and duly fulfil the same.

So as he thought thereon, in this wise it seemed to him

best. He turned back his horses toward the swift ship and

the sea-banks, and took forth the fair gifts and set them

in the hinder part of the ship, the raiment and the gold

which Menelaus gave him. And he called to Telemachus and

spake to him winged words:

'Now climb the ship with all haste, and bid all thy company

do likewise, ere I reach home and bring the old man word.

For well I know in my mind and heart that, being so wilful

of heart, he will not let thee go, but he himself will come

hither to bid thee to his house, and methinks that he will

not go back without thee; for very wroth will he be despite

thine excuse.'

Thus he spake, and drave the horses with the flowing manes

back to the town of the Pylians, and came quickly to the

halls. And Telemachus called to his companions and

commanded them, saying:

'Set ye the gear in order, my friends, in the black ship,

and let us climb aboard that we may make way upon our

course.'

So spake he, and they gave good heed and hearkened. Then

straightway they embarked and sat upon the benches.

Thus was he busy hereat and praying and making

burnt-offering to Athene, by the stern of the ship, when

there drew nigh him one from a far country, that had slain

his man and was fleeing from out of Argos. He was a

soothsayer, and by his lineage he came of Melampus, who of

old time abode in Pylos, mother of flocks, a rich man and

one that had an exceeding goodly house among the Pylians,

but afterward he had come to the land of strangers, fleeing

from his country and from Neleus, the great-hearted, the

proudest of living men, who kept all his goods for a full

year by force. All that time Melampus lay bound with hard

bonds in the halls of Phylacus, suffering strong pains for

the sake of the daughter of Neleus, and for the dread

blindness of soul which the goddess, the Erinnys of the

dolorous stroke, had laid on him. Howsoever he escaped his

fate, and drave away the lowing kine from Phylace to Pylos,

and avenged the foul deed upon godlike Neleus, and brought

the maiden home to his own brother to wife. As for him, he

went to a country of other men, to Argos, the pastureland

of horses; for there truly it was ordained that he should

dwell, bearing rule over many of the Argives. There he

wedded a wife, and builded him a lofty house, and begat

Antiphates and Mantius, two mighty sons. Now Antiphates

begat Oicles the great-hearted, and Oicles Amphiaraus, the

rouser of the host, whom Zeus, lord of the aegis, and

Apollo loved with all manner of love. Yet he reached not

the threshold of old age, but died in Thebes by reason of a

woman's gifts. And the sons born to him were Alcmaeon and

Amphilochus. But Mantius begat Polypheides and Cleitus; but

it came to pass that the golden-throned Dawn snatched away

Cleitus for his very beauty's sake, that he might dwell

with the Immortals.

And Apollo made the high-souled Polypheides a seer, far the

chief of human kind, Amphiaraus being now dead. He removed

his dwelling to Hypheresia, being angered with his father,

and here he abode and prophesied to all men.

This man's son it was, Theoclymenus by name, that now drew

nigh and stood by Telemachus. And he found him pouring a

drink-offering and praying by the swift black ship, and

uttering his voice he spake to him winged words:

'Friend, since I find thee making burnt-offering in this

place, I pray thee, by thine offerings and by the god, and

thereafter by thine own head, and in the name of the men of

thy company answer my question truly and hide it not. Who

art thou of the sons of men and whence? Where is thy city,

where are they that begat thee?'

And wise Telemachus answered him, saying: 'Yea now,

stranger, I will plainly tell thee all. Of Ithaca am I by

lineage, and my father is Odysseus, if ever such an one

there was, but now hath he perished by an evil fate.

Wherefore I have taken my company and a black ship, and

have gone forth to hear word of my father that has been

long afar.'

Then godlike Theoclymenus spake to him again: 'Even so I

too have fled from my country, for the manslaying of one of

mine own kin. And many brethren and kinsmen of the slain

are in Argos, the pastureland of horses, and rule mightily

over the Achaeans. Wherefore now am I an exile to shun

death and black fate at their hands, for it is my doom yet

to wander among men. Now set me on board ship, since I

supplicate thee in my flight, lest they slay me utterly;

for methinks they follow hard after me.'

And wise Telemachus answered him, saying: 'Surely I will

not drive thee away from our good ship, if thou art fain to

come. Follow thou with us then, and in Ithaca thou shalt be

welcome to such things as we have.'

Therewith he took from him his spear of bronze, and laid it

along the deck of the curved ship, and himself too climbed

the seafaring ship. Then he sat him down in the stern and

made Theoclymenus to sit beside him; and his company loosed

the hawsers. Then Telemachus called unto his company, and

bade them lay hands on the tackling, and speedily they

hearkened to his call. So they raised the mast of pine

tree, and set it in the hole of the cross plank and made it

fast with forestays, and hauled up the white sails with

twisted ropes of ox-hide. And grey-eyed Athene sent them a

favouring breeze, rushing violently through the clear sky

that the ship might speedily finish her course over the

salt water of the sea. So they passed by Crouni and

Chalcis, a land of fair streams.

And the sun set and all the ways were darkened. And the

vessel drew nigh to Pheae, being sped before the breeze of

Zeus, and then passed goodly Elis where the Epeans bear

rule. From thence he drave on again to the Pointed Isles,

pondering whether he should escape death or be cut off.

Now Odysseus and the goodly swineherd were supping in the

hut, and the other men sat at meat with them. So when they

had put from them the desire of meat and drink, Odysseus

spake among them, to prove the swineherd, whether he would

still entertain him diligently, and bid him abide there in

the steading or send him forward to the city:

'Listen now, Eumaeus, and all the others of the company. In

the morning I would fain be gone to the town to go a

begging, that I be not ruinous to thyself and thy fellows.

Now advise me well, and lend me a good guide by the way to

lead me thither; and through the city will I wander alone

as needs I must, if perchance one may give me a cup of

water and a morsel of bread. Moreover I would go to the

house of divine Odysseus and bear tidings to the wise

Penelope, and consort with the wanton wooers, if haply they

might grant me a meal out of the boundless store that they

have by them. Lightly might I do good service among them,

even all that they would. For lo! I will tell thee and do

thou mark and listen. By the favour of Hermes, the

messenger, who gives grace and glory to all men's work, no

mortal may vie with me in the business of a serving-man, in

piling well a fire, in cleaving dry faggots, and in carving

and roasting flesh and in pouring of wine, those offices

wherein meaner men serve their betters.'

Then didst thou speak to him in heaviness of heart,

swineherd Eumaeus: 'Ah! wherefore, stranger, hath such a

thought arisen in thine heart? Surely thou art set on

perishing utterly there, if thou wouldest indeed go into

the throng of the wooers, whose outrage and violence

reacheth even to the iron heaven! Not such as thou are

their servants; they that minister to them are young and

gaily clad in mantles and in doublets, and their heads are

anointed with oil and they are fair of face, and the

polished boards are laden with bread and flesh and wine.

Nay, abide here, for none is vexed by thy presence, neither

I nor any of my fellows that are with me. But when the dear

son of Odysseus comes, he himself will give thee a mantle

and a doublet for raiment, and will send thee whithersoever

thy heart and spirit bid thee go.'

Then the steadfast goodly Odysseus answered him: 'Oh, that

thou mayst so surely be dear to father Zeus as thou art to

me, in that thou didst make me to cease from wandering and

dread woe! For there is no other thing more mischievous to

men than roaming; yet for their cursed belly's need men

endure sore distress, to whom come wandering and

tribulation and pain. But behold now, since thou stayest me

here, and biddest me wait his coming, tell me of the mother

of divine Odysseus, and of the father whom at his departure

he left behind him on the threshold of old age; are they,

it may be, yet alive beneath the sunlight, or already dead

and within the house of Hades?'

Then spake to him the swineherd, a master of men: 'Yea now,

stranger, I will plainly tell thee all. Laertes yet lives,

and prays evermore to Zeus that his life may waste from out

his limbs within his halls. For he has wondrous sorrow for

his son that is far away, and for the wedded lady his wise

wife, whose death afflicted him in chief and brought him to

old age before his day. Now she died of very grief for her

son renowned, by an evil death, so may no man perish who

dwells here and is a friend to me in word and deed! So long

as she was on earth, though in much sorrow, I was glad to

ask and enquire concerning her, for that she herself had

reared me along with long-robed Ctimene, her noble

daughter, the youngest of her children. With her I was

reared, and she honoured me little less than her own. But

when we both came to the time of our desire, to the flower

of age, thereupon they sent her to Same, and got a great

bride-price; but my lady clad me in a mantle and a doublet,

raiment very fair, and gave me sandals for my feet and sent

me forth to the field, and right dear at heart she held me.

But of these things now at last am I lacking; yet the

blessed gods prosper the work of mine own hands, whereat I

abide. Of this my substance I have eaten and drunken and

given to reverend strangers. But from my lady I may hear

naught pleasant, neither word nor deed, for evil hath

fallen on her house, a plague of froward men; yet thralls

have a great desire to speak before their mistress and find

out all eat and drink, and moreover to carry off somewhat

with them to the field, such things as ever comfort the

heart of a thrall.'

And Odysseus of many counsels answered him saying: "Ah,

Eumaeus, how far then didst thou wander from thine own

country and thy parents while as yet thou wast but a child!

But come, declare me this and plainly tell it all. Was a

wide-wayed town of men taken and sacked, wherein dwelt thy

father and thy lady mother, or did unfriendly men find thee

lonely, tending sheep or cattle, and shipped thee thence,

and sold thee into the house of thy master here, who paid

for thee a goodly price?'

Then spake to him the swineherd, a master of men: Stranger,

since thou askest and questionest me hereof, give heed now

in silence and make merry, and abide here drinking wine.

Lo, the nights now are of length untold. Time is there to

sleep, and time to listen and be glad; thou needest not

turn to bed before the hour; even too much sleep is

vexation of spirit. But for the rest, let him whose heart

and mind bid him, go forth and slumber, and at the dawning

of the day let him break his fast, and follow our master's

swine. But let us twain drink and feast within the

steading, and each in his neighbour's sorrows take delight,

recalling them, for even the memory of griefs is a joy to a

man who hath been sore tried and wandered far. Wherefore I

will tell thee that whereof thou askest and dost question

me.

'There is a certain isle called Syria, if haply thou hast

heard tell of it, over above Ortygia, and there are the

turning-places of the sun. It is not very great in compass,

though a goodly isle, rich in herds, rich in flocks, with

plenty of corn and wine. Dearth never enters the land, and

no hateful sickness falls on wretched mortals. But when the

tribes of men grow old in that city, then comes Apollo of

the silver bow, with Artemis, and slays them with the

visitation of his gentle shafts. In that isle are two

cities, and the whole land is divided between them, and my

father was king over the twain, Ctesius son of Ormenus, a

man like to the Immortals.

'Thither came the Phoenicians, mariners renowned, greedy

merchant men, with countless gauds in a black ship. Now in

my father's house was a Phoenician woman, tall and fair and

skilled in bright handiwork; this woman the Phoenicians

with their sleights beguiled. First as she was washing

clothes, one of them lay with her in love by the hollow

ship, for love beguiles the minds of womankind, even of the

upright. Then he asked her who she was and whence she came,

and straightway she showed him the lofty home of my father,

saying:

'"From out of Sidon I avow that I come, land rich in

bronze, and I am the daughter of Arybas, the deeply

wealthy. But Taphians, who were sea-robbers, laid hands on

me and snatched me away as I came in from the fields, and

brought me hither and sold me into the house of my master,

who paid for me a goodly price."

'Then the man who had lain with her privily, answered:

"Say, wouldst thou now return home with us, that thou mayst

look again on the lofty house of thy father and mother and

on their faces? For truly they yet live, and have a name

for wealth."

'Then the woman answered him and spake, saying: "Even this

may well be, if ye sailors will pledge me an oath to bring

me home in safety."

'So spake she, and they all swore thereto as she bade them.

Now when they had sworn and done that oath, again the woman

spake among them and answered, saying:

'"Hold your peace now, and let none of your fellows speak

to me and greet me, if they meet me in the street, or even

at the well, lest one go and tell it to the old man at

home, and he suspect somewhat and bind me in hard bonds and

devise death for all of you. But keep ye the matter in

mind, and speed the purchase of your homeward freight. And

when your ship is freighted with stores, let a message come

quickly to me at the house; for I will likewise bring gold,

all that comes under my hand. Yea and there is another

thing that I would gladly give for my fare. I am nurse to

the child of my lord in the halls, a most cunning little

boy, that runs out and abroad with me. Him would I bring on

board ship, and he should fetch you a great price,

wheresoever ye take him for sale among men of strange

speech."

'Therewith she went her way to the fair halls. But they

abode among us a whole year, and got together much wealth

in their hollow ship. And when their hollow ship was now

laden to depart, they sent a messenger to tell the tidings

to the woman. There came a man versed in craft to my

father's house, with a golden chain strung here and there

with amber beads. Now the maidens in the hall and my lady

mother were handling the chain and gazing on it, and

offering him their price; but he had signed silently to the

woman, and therewithal gat him away to the hollow ship.

Then she took me by the hand and led me forth from the

house. And at the vestibule of the house she found the cups

and the tables of the guests that had been feasting, who

were in waiting on my father. They had gone forth to the

session and the place of parley of the people. And she

straightway hid three goblets in her bosom, and bare them

away, and I followed in my innocence. Then the sun sank and

all the ways were darkened and we went quickly and came to

the good haven, where was the swift ship of the

Phoenicians. So they climbed on board and took us up with

them, and sailed over the wet ways, and Zeus sent us a

favouring wind. For six days we sailed by day and night

continually; but when Zeus, son of Cronos, added the

seventh day thereto, then Artemis, the archer, smote the

woman that she fell, as a sea-swallow falls, with a plunge

into the hold. And they cast her forth to be the prey of

seals and fishes, but I was left stricken at heart. And

wind and water bare them and brought them to Ithaca, where

Laertes bought me with his possessions. And thus it chanced

that mine eyes beheld this land.'

Then Odysseus, of the seed of Zeus, answered him saying:

'Eumaeus, verily thou hast stirred my heart within me with

the tale of all these things, of all the sorrow of heart

thou hast endured. Yet surely Zeus hath given thee good as

well as evil, since after all these adventures thou hast

come to the house of a kindly man, who is careful to give

thee meat and drink and right well thou livest. But I have

come hither still wandering through the many towns of men.'

Thus they spake one with the other. Then they laid them

down to sleep for no long while, but for a little space,

for soon came the throned Dawn. But on the shore the

company of Telemachus were striking their sails, and took

down the mast quickly and rowed the ship on to anchorage.

And they cast anchors and made fast the hawsers, and

themselves too stept forth upon the strand of the sea, and

made ready the midday meal, and mixed the dark wine. Now

when they had put from them the desire of meat and drink,

wise Telemachus first spake among them:

'Do ye now drive the black ship to the city, while I will

go to the fields and to the herdsmen, and at even I will

return to the city, when I have seen my lands. And in the

morning I will set by you the wages of the voyage, a good

feast of flesh and of sweet wine.'

Then godlike Theoclymenus answered him: 'And whither shall

I go, dear child? To what man's house shall I betake me, of

such as are lords in rocky Ithaca? Shall I get me straight

to thy mother and to thy home?'

Then wise Telemachus answered him, saying: 'In other case I

would bid thee go even to our own house; for there is no

lack of cheer for strangers, but now would it be worse for

thyself, forasmuch as I shall be away nor would my mother

see thee. For she comes not often in sight of the wooers in

the house, but abides apart from them in her upper chamber,

and weaves at her web. Yet there is one whom I will tell

thee of, to whom thou mayst go, Eurymachus the glorious son

of wise Polybus, whom now the men of Ithaca look upon, even

as if he were a god. For he is far the best man of them

all, and is most eager to wed my mother and to have the

sovereignty of Odysseus. Howbeit, Olympian Zeus, that

dwells in the clear sky, knows hereof, whether or no he

will fulfill for them the evil day before their marriage.'

Now even as he spake, a bird flew out on the right, a hawk,

the swift messenger of Apollo. In his talons he held a dove

and plucked her, and shed the feathers down to the earth,

midway between the ship and Telemachus himself. Then

Theoclymenus called him apart from his fellows, and clasped

his hand and spake and hailed him:

'Telemachus, surely not without the god's will hath the

bird flown out on the right, for I knew when I saw him that

he was a bird of omen. There is no other house more kingly

than yours in the land of Ithaca; nay, ye have ever the

mastery.'

And wise Telemachus answered him, saying: 'Ah, stranger,

would that this word may be accomplished! Soon shouldest

thou be aware of kindness and many a gift at my hands, so

that whoso met with thee would call thee blessed.'

Then he spake to Piraeus, his trusty companion: 'Piraeus,

son of Clytius, thou that at other seasons hearkenest to me

above all my company who went with me to Pylos, even now, I

pray, lead this stranger home with thee, and give heed to

treat him lovingly and with worship in thy house till I

come.'

Then Piraeus, spearsman renowned, answered him saying:

'Telemachus, why, even if thou shouldest tarry here long,

yet will I entertain this man, and he shall have no lack of

stranger's cheer.'

Therewith he went on board, and bade his men themselves to

mount and loose the hawsers. And quickly they embarked and

sat upon the benches. And Telemachus bound his goodly

sandals beneath his feet, and seized a mighty spear, shod

with sharp bronze, from the deck of the ship and his men

loosed the hawsers. So they thrust off and sailed to the

city, as Telemachus bade them, the dear son of divine

Odysseus. But swiftly his feet bore him on his forward way,

till he came to the court, where were his swine out of

number; and among them the good swineherd slept, a man

loyal to his lords.

 

Book XVI

Telemachus sends Eumaeus to the city to tell his mother of

his return. And how, in the meantime, Odysseus discovers

himself to his son.

Now these twain, Odysseus and the goodly swineherd, within

the hut had kindled a fire, and were making ready breakfast

at the dawn, and had sent forth the herdsmen with the

droves of swine. And round Telemachus the hounds, that love

to bark, fawned and barked not, as he drew nigh. And goodly

Odysseus took note of the fawning of the dogs, and the

noise of footsteps fell upon his ears. Then straight he

spake to Eumaeus winged words:

'Eumaeus, verily some friend or some other of thy familiars

will soon be here, for the dogs do not bark but fawn

around, and I catch the sound of footsteps.'

While the word was yet on his lips, his own dear son stood

at the entering in of the gate. Then the swineherd sprang

up in amazement, and out of his hands fell the vessels

wherewith he was busied in mingling the dark wine. And he

came over against his master and kissed his head and both

his beautiful eyes and both his hands, and he let a great

tear fall. And even as a loving father welcomes his son

that has come in the tenth year from a far country, his

only son and well-beloved, for whose sake he has had great

sorrow and travail, even so did the goodly swineherd fall

upon the neck of godlike Telemachus, and kiss him all over

as one escaped from death, and he wept aloud and spake to

him winged words:

'Thou art come, Telemachus, a sweet light in the dark;

methought I should see thee never again, after thou hadst

gone in thy ship to Pylos. Nay now enter, dear child, that

my heart may be glad at the sight of thee in mine house,

who hast newly come from afar. For thou dost not often

visit the field and the herdsmen, but abidest in the town;

so it seems has thy good pleasure been, to look on the

ruinous throng of the wooers.'

Then wise Telemachus answered him, saying: 'So be it,

father, as thou sayest; and for thy sake am I come hither

to see thee with mine eyes, and to hear from thy lips

whether my mother yet abides in the halls or another has

already wedded her, and the couch of Odysseus, perchance,

lies in lack of bedding and deep in foul spider-webs.'

Then the swineherd, a master of men, answered him: 'Yea

verily, she abides with patient spirit in thy halls, and

wearily for her the nights wane always and the days, in

shedding of tears.'

So he spake and took from him the spear of bronze. Then

Telemachus passed within and crossed the threshold of

stone. As he came near, his father Odysseus arose from his

seat to give him place; but Telemachus, on his part, stayed

him and spake saying:

'Be seated, stranger, and we will find a seat some other

where in our steading, and there is a man here to set it

for us.'

So he spake, and Odysseus went back and sat him down again.

And the swineherd strewed for Telemachus green brushwood

below, and a fleece thereupon, and there presently the dear

son of Odysseus sat him down. Next the swineherd set by

them platters of roast flesh, the fragments that were left

from the meal of yesterday. And wheaten bread he briskly

heaped up in baskets, and mixed the honey-sweet wine in a

goblet of ivy wood, and himself sat down over against

divine Odysseus. So they stretched forth their hands upon

the good cheer set before them. Now when they had put from

them the desire of meat and drink, Telemachus spake to the

goodly swineherd, saying:

'Father, whence came this stranger to thee? How did sailors

bring him to Ithaca? and who did they avow them to be? For

in no wise, I deem, did he come hither by land.'

Then didst thou make answer, swineherd Eumaeus: 'Yea now,

my son, I will tell thee all the truth. Of wide Crete he

avows him to be by lineage, and he says that round many

cities of mortals he has wandered at adventure; even so has

some god spun for him the thread of fate. But now, as a

runaway from a ship of the Thesprotians, has he come to my

steading, and I will give him to thee for thy man; do with

him as thou wilt; he avows him for thy suppliant.'

Then wise Telemachus answered him, saying: 'Eumaeus, verily

a bitter word is this that thou speakest. How indeed shall

I receive this guest in my house? Myself I am young, and

trust not yet to my strength of hands to defend me against

the man who does violence without a cause. And my mother

has divisions of heart, whether to abide here with me and

keep the house, respecting the bed of her lord and the

voice of the people, or straightway to go with whomsoever

of the Achaeans that woo her in the halls is the best man,

and gives most bridal gifts. But behold, as for this guest

of thine, now that he has come to thy house, I will clothe

him in a mantle and a doublet, goodly raiment, and I will

give him a two-edged sword, and shoes for his feet, and

send him on his way, whithersoever his heart and his spirit

bid him go. Or, if thou wilt, hold him here in the steading

and take care of him, and raiment I will send hither, and

all manner of food to eat, that he be not ruinous to thee

and to thy fellows. But thither into the company of the

wooers would I not suffer him to go, for they are exceeding

full of infatuate insolence, lest they mock at him, and

that would be a sore grief to me. And hard it is for one

man, how valiant soever, to achieve aught among a

multitude, for verily they are far the stronger.'

Then the steadfast goodly Odysseus answered him: 'My

friend, since it is indeed my right to answer thee withal,

of a truth my heart is rent as I hear your words, such

infatuate deeds ye say the wooers devise in the halls, in

despite of thee, a man so noble. Say, dost thou willingly

submit thee to oppression, or do the people through the

township hate thee, obedient to the voice of a god? Or hast

thou cause to blame thy brethren, in whose battle a man

puts trust, even if a great feud arise? Ah, would that I

had the youth, as now I have the spirit, and were either

the son of noble Odysseus or Odysseus' very self, {*}

straightway then might a stranger sever my head from off my

neck, if I went not to the halls of Odysseus, son of

Laertes, and made myself the bane of every man among them!

But if they should overcome me by numbers, being but one

man against so many, far rather would I die slain in mine

own halls, than witness for ever these unseemly deeds,

strangers shamefully entreated, and men haling the

handmaidens in foul wise through the fair house, and wine

drawn wastefully and the wooers devouring food all

recklessly without avail, at a work that knows no ending.'

{* We omit line 101, which spoils the sense of the passage,

and was rejected by antiquity.}

Then wise Telemachus answered him, saying: 'Yea now,

stranger I will plainly tell thee all. There is no grudge

and hatred borne my by the whole people, neither have I

cause to blame my brethren, in whose battle a man puts

trust, even if a great feud arise. For thus, as thou seest,

Cronion has made us a house of but one heir. Arceisius got

him one only son Laertes, and one only son Odysseus was

begotten of his father, and Odysseus left me the only child

of his getting in these halls, and had no joy of me;

wherefore now are foemen innumerable in the house. For all

the noblest that are princes in the islands, in Dulichium

and Same and wooded Zacynthus, and as many as lord it in

rocky Ithaca, all these woo my mother and waste my house.

But as for her she neither refuseth the hated bridal, nor

hath the heart to make and end; so they devour and minish

my house; and ere long will they make havoc likewise of

myself. Howbeit these things surely lie on the knees of the

gods. Nay, father, but do thou go with haste and tell the

constant Penelope that she hath got me safe and that I am

come up out of Pylos. As for me, I will tarry here, and do

thou return hither when thou hast told the tidings to her

alone; but of the other Achaeans let no man learn it, for

there be many that devise mischief against me.'

Then didst thou make answer, swineherd Eumaeus: 'I mark, I

heed, all this thou speakest to one with understanding. But

come, declare me this and tell it plainly; whether or no I

shall go the same road with tidings to Laertes, that

hapless man, who till lately, despite his great sorrow for

Odysseus' sake, yet had oversight of the tillage, and did

eat and drink with the thralls in his house, as often as

his heart within him bade him. But now, from the day that

thou wentest in thy ship to Pylos, never to this hour, they

say, hath he so much as eaten and drunken, nor looked to

the labours of the field, but with groaning and lamentation

he sits sorrowing, and the flesh wastes away about his

bones.'

Then wise Telemachus answered him, saying: 'All the more

grievous it is! yet will we let him be, though we sorrow

thereat. For if men might in any wise have all their will,

we should before ought else choose the day of my father's

returning. But do thou when thou hast told the tidings come

straight back, and go not wandering through the fields

after Laertes. But speak to my mother that with all speed

she send forth the house-dame her handmaid, secretly, for

she might bear tidings to the old man.'

With that word he roused the swineherd, who took his

sandals in his hands and bound them beneath his feet and

departed for the city. Now Athene noted Eumaeus the

swineherd pass from the steading, and she drew nigh in the

semblance of a woman fair and tall, and skilled in splendid

handiwork. And she stood in presence manifest to Odysseus

over against the doorway of the hut; but it was so that

Telemachus saw her not before him and marked her not; for

the gods in no wise appear visibly to all. But Odysseus was

ware of her and the dogs likewise, which barked not, but

with a low whine shrank cowering to the far side of the

steading. Then she nodded at him with bent brows, and

goodly Odysseus perceived it, and came forth from the room,

past the great wall of the yard, and stood before her, and

Athene spake to him, saying:

'Son of Laertes, of the seed of Zeus, Odysseus of many

devices, now is the hour to reveal thy word to thy son, and

hide it not, that ye twain having framed death and doom for

the wooers, may fare to the famous town. Nor will I, even

I, be long away from you, being right eager for battle.'

Therewith Athene touched him with her golden wand. First

she cast about his breast a fresh linen robe and a doublet,

and she increased his bulk and bloom. Dark his colour grew

again, and his cheeks filled out, and the black beard

spread thick around his chin.

Now she, when she had so wrought, withdrew again, but

Odysseus went into the hut, and his dear son marvelled at

him and looked away for very fear lest it should be a god,

and he uttered his voice and spake to him winged words:

'Even now, stranger, thou art other in my sight than that

thou wert a moment since, and other garments thou hast, and

the colour of thy skin is no longer the same. Surely thou

art a god of those that keep the wide heaven. Nay then, be

gracious, that we may offer to thee well-pleasing

sacrifices and golden gifts, beautifully wrought; and spare

us I pray thee.'

Then the steadfast goodly Odysseus answered him, saying:

'Behold, no god am I; why likenest thou me to the

immortals? nay, thy father am I, for whose sake thou

sufferest many pains and groanest sore, and submittest thee

to the despite of men,'

At the word he kissed his son, and from his cheeks let a

tear fall to earth: before, he had stayed the tears

continually. But Telemachus (for as yet he believed not

that it was his father) answered in turn and spake, saying:

'Thou art not Odysseus my father, but some god beguiles me,

that I may groan for more exceeding sorrow. For it cannot

be that a mortal man should contrive this by the aid of his

own wit, unless a god were himself to visit him, and

lightly of his own will to make him young or old. For

truly, but a moment gone, thou wert old and foully clad,

but now thou art like the gods who keep the wide heaven.'

Then Odysseus of many counsels answered him saying:

'Telemachus, it fits thee not to marvel overmuch that thy

father is come home, or to be amazed. Nay for thou shalt

find no other Odysseus come hither any more; but lo, I, all

as I am, after sufferings and much wandering have come in

the twentieth year to mine own country. Behold, this is the

work of Athene, driver of the spoil, who makes me such

manner of man as she will,--for with her it is possible,--

now like a beggar, and now again like a young man, and one

clad about in rich raiment. Easy it is for the gods who

keep the wide heaven to glorify or to abase a mortal man.'

With this word then he sat down again; but Telemachus,

flinging himself upon his noble father's neck, mourned and

shed tears, and in both their hearts arose the desire of

lamentation. And they wailed aloud, more ceaselessly than

birds, sea-eagles or vultures of crooked claws, whose

younglings the country folk have taken from the nest, ere

yet they are fledged. Even so pitifully fell the tears

beneath their brows. And now would the sunlight have gone

down upon their sorrowing, had not Telemachus spoken to his

father suddenly:

'And in what manner of ship, father dear, did sailors at

length bring thee hither to Ithaca? and who did they avow

them to be? For in no wise, I deem, didst thou come hither

by land.'

And the steadfast goodly Odysseus answered him: 'Yea now,

my child, I will tell thee all the truth. The Phaeacians

brought me hither, mariners renowned, who speed other men

too upon their way, whosoever comes to them. Asleep in the

swift ship they bore me over the seas and set me down in

Ithaca, and gave me splendid gifts, bronze and gold in

plenty and woven raiment. And these treasures are lying by

the gods' grace in the caves. But now I am come hither by

the promptings of Athene, that we may take counsel for the

slaughter of the foemen. But come, tell me all the tale of

the wooers and their number, that I may know how many and

what men they be, and that so I may commune with my good

heart and advise me, whether we twain shall be able alone

to make head against them without aid, or whether we should

even seek succour of others.'

Then wise Telemachus answered him, saying: 'Verily, father,

I have ever heard of thy great fame, for a warrior hardy of

thy hands, and sage in counsel. But this is a hard saying

of thine: awe comes over me; for it may not be that two men

should do battle with many men and stalwart. For of the

wooers there are not barely ten nor twice ten only, but

many a decad more: and straight shalt thou learn the tale

of them ere we part. From Dulichium there be two and fifty

chosen lords, and six serving men go with them; and out of

Same four and twenty men; and from Zacynthus there are

twenty lords of the Achaeans; and from Ithaca itself full

twelve men of the best, and with them Medon the henchman,

and the divine minstrel, and two squires skilled in carving

viands. If we shall encounter all these within the halls,

see thou to it, lest bitter and baneful for us be the

vengeance thou takest on their violence at thy coming. But

do thou, if thou canst think of some champion, advise thee

of any that may help us with all his heart.'

Then the steadfast goodly Odysseus answered him, saying:

'Yea now, I will tell thee, and do thou mark and listen to

me, and consider whether Athene with Father Zeus will

suffice for us twain, or whether I shall cast about for

some other champion.'

Then wise Telemachus answered him, saying: 'Valiant

helpers, in sooth, are these two thou namest, whose seat is

aloft in the clouds, and they rule among all men and among

the deathless gods!'

Then the steadfast goodly Odysseus answered him: 'Yet will

the twain not long keep aloof from the strong tumult of

war, when between the wooers and us in my halls is held the

trial of the might of Ares. But as now, do thou go homeward

at the breaking of the day, and consort with the proud

wooers. As for me, the swineherd will lead me to the town

later in the day, in the likeness of a beggar, a wretched

man and an old. And if they shall evil entreat me in the

house, let thy heart harden itself to endure while I am

shamefully handled, yea even if they drag me by the feet

through the house to the doors, or cast at me and smite me:

still do thou bear the sight. Howbeit thou shalt surely bid

them cease from their folly, exhorting them with smooth

words; yet no whit will they hearken, nay for the day of

their doom is at hand. Yet another thing will I tell thee,

and do thou ponder it in thy heart. When Athene, of deep

counsel, shall put it into my heart, I will nod to thee

with my head and do thou note it, and carry away all thy

weapons of war that lie in the halls, and lay them down

every one in the secret place of the lofty chamber. And

when the wooers miss them and ask thee concerning them,

thou shalt beguile them with soft words, saying:

'"Out of the smoke I laid them by, since they were no

longer like those that Odysseus left behind him of old when

he went to Troy, but they are wholly marred: so mightily

hath passed upon them the vapour of fire. Moreover Cronion

hath put into my heart this other and greater care, that

perchance, when ye are heated with wine, ye set a quarrel

between you and wound one the other and thereby shame the

feast and the wooing; for iron of itself draws a man

thereto." But for us twain alone leave two swords and two

spears and two shields of oxhide to grasp, that we may rush

upon the arms and seize them; and then shall Pallas Athene

and Zeus the counsellor enchant the wooers to their ruin.

Yet another thing will I tell thee, and do thou ponder it

in thy heart. If in very truth thou art my son and of our

blood, then let no man hear that Odysseus is come home;

neither let Laertes know it, nor the swineherd nor any of

the household nor Penelope herself, but let me and thee

alone discover the intent of the women. Yea, and we would

moreover make trial of certain of the men among the

thralls, and learn who {*} of them chances to honour us and

to fear us heartily, and who regards us not at all and

holds even thee in no esteem, so noble a man as thou art.'

{* Reading [Greek]}

Then his renowned son answered him, and said: 'O my father,

of a truth thou shalt learn, methinks, even hereafter what

spirit I am of, for no whit doth folly possess me. But I

deem not that this device of thine will be gainful to us

twain, so I bid thee to give heed. For thou shalt be long

time on thy road to little purpose, making trial of each

man, while thou visitest the farm lands; but at ease in thy

halls the wooers devour thy goods with insolence, and now

there is no sparing. Howbeit I would have thee take

knowledge of the women, who they be that dishonour thee,

and who are guiltless. But of the men I would not that we

should make trial in the steadings, but that we should see

to this task afterwards, if indeed thou knowest some sign

from Zeus, lord of the aegis.'

Thus they spake one to the other. And now the well-builded

ship was being brought to land at Ithaca, the ship that

bare Telemachus from Pylos with all his company. When they

were now come within the deep harbour, the men drew up the

black ship on the shore, while squires, haughty of heart,

bare away their weapons, and straightway carried the

glorious gifts to the house of Clytius. Anon they sent

forward a herald to the house of Odysseus to bear the

tidings to prudent Penelope, namely, how Telemachus was in

the field, and had bidden the ship sail to the city, lest

the noble queen should be afraid, and let the round tears

fall. So these two met, the herald and the goodly

swineherd, come on the same errand to tell all to the lady.

Now when they were got to the house of the divine king, the

herald spake out among all the handmaids saying:

'Verily, O queen, thy son hath come out of Pylos.'

But the swineherd went up to Penelope, and told her all

that her dear son had bidden him say. So, when he had

declared all that had been enjoined him, he went on his way

to the swine and left the enclosure and the hall.

Now the wooers were troubled and downcast in spirit, and

forth they went from the hall past the great wall of the

court, and there in front of the gates they held their

session. And Eurymachus son of Polybus first spake among

them saying:

'Verily, friends, a proud deed hath Telemachus accomplished

with a high hand, even this journey, and we said that he

should never bring it to pass. But come, launch we a black

ship, the best there is, and let us get together oarsmen of

the sea, who shall straightway bear word to our friends to

return home with speed.'

The word was yet on his lips, when Amphinomus turned in his

place and saw the ship within the deep harbour, and the men

lowering the sails and with the oars in their hands. Then

sweetly he laughed out and spake among his fellows:

'Nay, let us now send no message any more, for lo, they are

come home. Either some god has told them all or they

themselves have seen the ship of Telemachus go by, and have

not been able to catch her.'

Thus he spake, and they arose and went to the sea-banks.

Swiftly the men drew up the black ship on the shore, and

squires, haughty of heart, bare away their weapons. And the

wooers all together went to the assembly-place, and

suffered none other to sit with them, either of the young

men or of the elders. Then Antinous spake among them, the

son of Eupeithes:

'Lo now, how the gods have delivered this man from his evil

case! All day long did scouts sit along the windy

headlands, ever in quick succession, and at the going down

of the sun we never rested for a night upon the shore, but

sailing with our swift ship on the high seas we awaited the

bright Dawn, as we lay in wait for Telemachus, that we

might take and slay the man himself; but meanwhile some god

has brought him home. But even here let us devise an evil

end for him, even for Telemachus, and let him not escape

out of our hands, for methinks that while he lives we shall

never achieve this task of ours. For he himself has

understanding in counsel and wisdom, and the people no

longer show us favour in all things. Nay come, before he

assembles all the Achaeans to the gathering; for methinks

that he will in nowise be slack, but will be exceeding

wroth, and will stand up and speak out among them all, and

tell how we plotted against him sheer destruction but did

not overtake him. Then will they not approve us, when they

hear these evil deeds. Beware then lest they do us a harm,

and drive us forth from our country, and we come to the

land of strangers. Nay, but let us be beforehand and take

him in the field far from the city, or by the way; and let

us ourselves keep his livelihood and his possessions,

making fair division among us, but the house we would give

to his mother to keep and to whomsoever marries her. But if

this saying likes you not, but ye chose rather that he

should live and keep the heritage of his father, no longer

then let us gather here and eat all his store of pleasant

substance, but let each one from his own hall woo her with

his bridal gifts and seek to win her; so should she wed the

man that gives the most and comes as the chosen of fate.'

So he spake, and they all held their peace. Then Amphinomus

made harangue and spake out among them; he was the famous

son of Nisus the prince, the son of Aretias, and he led the

wooers that came from out Dulichium, a land rich in wheat

and in grass, and more than all the rest his words were

pleasing to Penelope, for he was of an understanding mind.

And now of his good will he made harangue, and spake among

them:

'Friends, I for one would not choose to kill Telemachus; it

is a fearful thing to slay one of the stock of kings! Nay,

first let us seek to the counsel of the gods, and if the

oracles of great Zeus approve, myself I will slay him and

bid all the rest to aid. But if the gods are disposed to

avert it, I bid you to refrain.'

So spake Amphinomus, and his saying pleased them well. Then

straightway they arose and went to the house of Odysseus,

and entering in sat down on the polished seats.

Then the wise Penelope had a new thought, namely, to show

herself to the wooers, so despiteful in their insolence;

for she had heard of the death of her son that was to be in

the halls, seeing that Medon the henchman had told her of

it; who heard their counsels. So she went on her way to the

hall, with the women her handmaids. Now when that fair lady

had come unto the wooers, she stood by the pillar of the

well-builded roof, holding up her glistening tire before

her face, and rebuked Antinous and spake and hailed him:

'Antinous, full of all insolence, deviser of mischief! and

yet they say that in the land of Ithaca thou art chiefest

among thy peers in counsel and in speech. Nay, no such man

dost thou show thyself. Fool! why indeed dost thou contrive

death and doom for Telemachus, and hast no regard unto

suppliants who have Zeus to witness? Nay but it is an

impious thing to contrive evil one against another. What!

knowest thou not of the day when thy father fled to this

house in fear of the people, for verily they were exceeding

wroth against him, because he had followed with Taphian sea

robbers and harried the Thesprotians, who were at peace

with us. So they wished to destroy thy father and wrest

from him his dear life, and utterly to devour all his great

and abundant livelihood; but Odysseus stayed and withheld

them, for all their desire. His house thou now consumest

without atonement, and his wife thou wooest, and wouldst

slay his son, and dost greatly grieve me. But I bid thee

cease, and command the others to do likewise.'

Then Eurymachus, son of Polybus, answered her saying:

'Daughter of Icarius, wise Penelope, take courage, and let

not thy heart be careful for these things. The man is not,

nor shall be, nor ever shall be born, that shall stretch

forth his hands against Telemachus, thy son, while I live

and am on earth and see the light. For thus will I declare

to thee, and it shall surely come to pass. Right quickly

shall the black blood of such an one flow about our spear;

for Odysseus, waster of cities, of a truth did many a time

set me too upon his knees, and gave me roasted flesh into

my hand, and held the red wine to my lips. Wherefore

Telemachus is far the dearest of all men to me, and I bid

him have no fear of death, not from the wooers' hands; but

from the gods none may avoid it.'

Thus he spake comforting her, but was himself the while

framing death for her son.

Now she ascended to her shining upper chamber, and then was

bewailing Odysseus, her dear lord, till grey-eyed Athene

cast sweet sleep upon her eyelids.

And in the evening the goodly swineherd came back to

Odysseus and his son, and they made ready and served the

supper, when they had sacrificed a swine of a year old.

Then Athene drew near Odysseus, son of Laertes, and smote

him with her wand, and made him into an old man again. In

sorry raiment she clad him about his body, lest the

swineherd should look on him and know him, and depart to

tell the constant Penelope, and not keep the matter in his

heart.

Then Telemachus spake first to the swineherd, saying:

'Thou hast come, goodly Eumaeus. What news is there in the

town? Are the lordly wooers now come in from their ambush,

or do they still watch for me as before on my homeward

way?'

Then didst thou make answer, swineherd Eumaeus: 'I had no

mind to go down the city asking and inquiring hereof; my

heart bade me get me home again, as quick as might be, when

once I had told the tidings. And the swift messenger from

thy company joined himself unto me, the henchman, who was

the first to tell the news to thy mother. Yet this, too, I

know, if thou wouldest hear; for I beheld it with mine

eyes. Already had I come in my faring above the city, where

is the hill Hermaean, when I marked a swift ship entering

our haven, and many men there were in her, and she was

laden with shields and two-headed spears, and methought

they were the wooers, but I know not at all.'

So spake he, and the mighty prince Telemachus smiled, and

glanced at his father, while he shunned the eye of the

swineherd.

Now when they had ceased from the work and got supper

ready, they fell to feasting, and their hearts lacked not

ought of the equal banquet. But when they had put from them

the desire of meat and drink, they bethought them of rest,

and took the boon of sleep.

 

Book XVII

Telemachus relates to his mother what he had heard at Pylos

and Sparta

So soon as early Dawn shone forth, the rosy-fingered, then

Telemachus, the dear son of divine Odysseus, bound beneath

his feet his goodly sandals, and took up his mighty spear

that fitted his grasp, to make for the city; and he spake

to his swineherd, saying:

'Verily, father, I am bound for the city, that my mother

may see me, for methinks that she will not cease from

grievous wailing and tearful lament, until she beholds my

very face. But this command I give thee: Lead this

stranger, the hapless one, to the city, that there he may

beg his meat, and whoso chooses will give him a morsel of

bread and a cup of water. As for myself, I can in no wise

suffer every guest who comes to me, so afflicted am I in

spirit. But if the stranger be sore angered hereat, the

more grievous will it be for himself; howbeit I for one

love to speak the truth.'

And Odysseus of many counsels answered him saying: 'I too,

my friend, have no great liking to be left behind here. It

is better that a beggar should beg his meat in the town

than in the fields, and whoso chooses will give it me. For

I am not now of an age to abide at the steading, and to

obey in all things the word of the master. Nay go, and this

man that thou biddest will lead me, so soon as I shall be

warmed with the fire, and the sun waxes hot. For woefully

poor are these garments of mine, and I fear lest the hoar

frost of the dawn overcome me; moreover ye say the city is

far away.'

So he spake, and Telemachus passed out through the

steading, stepping forth at a quick pace, and was sowing

the seeds of evil for the wooers. Now when he was come to

the fair-lying house, he set his spear against the tall

pillar and leaned it there, and himself went in and crossed

the threshold of stone.

And the nurse Eurycleia saw him far before the rest, as she

was strewing skin coverlets upon the carven chairs, and

straightway she drew near him, weeping, and all the other

maidens of Odysseus, of the hardy heart, were gathered

about him, and kissed him lovingly on the head and

shoulders. Now wise Penelope came forth from her chamber,

like Artemis or golden Aphrodite, and cast her arms about

her dear son, and fell a weeping, and kissed his face and

both his beautiful eyes, and wept aloud, and spake to him

winged words:

'Thou art come, Telemachus, a sweet light in the dark;

methought I should see thee never again, after thou hadst

gone in thy ship to Pylos, secretly and without my will, to

seek tidings of thy dear father. Come now, tell me, what

sight thou didst get of him?'

And wise Telemachus answered her, saying: 'Mother mine,

wake not wailing in my soul, nor stir the heart within the

breast of me, that have but now fled from utter death. Nay,

but wash thee in water, and take to thee fresh raiment, and

go aloft to thine upper chamber with the women thy

handmaids, and vow to all the gods an acceptable sacrifice

of hecatombs, if haply Zeus may grant that deeds of

requital be made. But I will go to the assembly-place to

bid a stranger to our house, one that accompanied me as I

came hither from Pylos. I sent him forward with my godlike

company, and commanded Piraeus to lead him home, and to

take heed to treat him lovingly and with worship till I

should come.'

Thus he spake, and wingless her speech remained. And she

washed her in water, and took to her fresh raiment, and

vowed to all the gods an acceptable sacrifice of hecatombs,

if haply Zeus might grant that deeds of requital should be

made.

Now Telemachus went out through the hall with the spear in

his hand: and two swift hounds bare him company. And Athene

shed on him a wondrous grace, and all the people marvelled

at him as he came. And the lordly wooers gathered about him

with fair words on their lips, but brooding evil in the

deep of their heart. Then he avoided the great press of the

wooers, but where Mentor sat, and Antiphus, and

Halitherses, who were friends of his house from of old,

there he went and sat down; and they asked him of all his

adventures. Then Piraeus, the famed spearsman, drew nigh,

leading the stranger to the assembly-place by the way of

the town; and Telemachus kept not aloof from him long, but

went up to him.

Then Piraeus first spake to him, saying: 'Bestir the women

straightway to go to my house, that I may send thee the

gifts that Menelaus gave thee.'

Then wise Telemachus answered him, saying: 'Piraeus, we

know not how these matters will fall out. If the lordly

wooers shall slay me by guile in the halls, and divide

among them the heritage of my father, then I should wish

thee to keep and enjoy the gifts thyself, rather than any

of these. But if I shall sow the seeds of death and fate

for the wooers, then gladly bring me to the house the gifts

that I will gladly take.'

Therewith he led the travel-worn stranger to the house. Now

when they came to the fair-lying palace, they laid aside

their mantles on the chairs and high seats, and went to the

polished baths, and bathed them. So when the maidens had

bathed them and anointed them with olive oil, and cast

about them thick mantles and doublets, they came forth from

the baths, and sat upon the seats. Then the handmaid bare

water for the hands in a goodly golden ewer, and poured it

forth over a silver basin to wash withal, and drew to their

side a polished table. And the grave dame bare wheaten

bread, and set it by them, and laid on the board many

dainties, giving freely of such things as she had by her.

And the mother of Telemachus sat over against him by the

pillar of the hall, leaning against a chair, and spinning

the slender threads from the yarn. And they stretched forth

their hands upon the good cheer set before them. Now when

they had put from them the desire of meat and drink, the

wise Penelope first spake among them:

'Telemachus, verily I will go up to my upper chamber, and

lay me in my bed, the place of my groanings, that is ever

watered by my tears, since the day that Odysseus departed

with the sons of Atreus for Ilios. Yet thou hadst no care

to tell me clearly, before the lordly wooers came to this

house, concerning the returning of thy father, if haply

thou hast heard thereof.'

And wise Telemachus answered her, saying: 'Yea now, mother,

I will tell thee all the truth. We went to Pylos and to

Nestor, the shepherd of the people, and he received me in

his lofty house, and was diligent to entreat me lovingly,

as a father might his son that had but newly come from

strange lands after many years; even so diligently he cared

for me with his renowned sons. Yet he said that he had

heard no word from any man on earth concerning Odysseus, of

the hardy heart, whether alive or dead. But he sent me

forward on my way with horses and a chariot, well compact,

to Menelaus, son of Atreus, spearman renowned. There I saw

Argive Helen, for whose sake the Argives and Trojans bore

much travail by the gods' designs. Then straightway

Menelaus, of the loud war-cry, asked me on what quest I had

come to goodly Lacedaemon. And I told him all the truth.

Then he made answer, and spake, saying:

'"Out upon them, for truly in the bed of a brave-hearted

man were they minded to lie, very cravens as they are! Even

as when a hind hath couched her newborn fawns unweaned in a

strong lion's lair, and searcheth out the mountain-knees

and grassy hollows, seeking pasture; and afterward the lion

cometh back to his bed, and sendeth forth unsightly death

upon that pair, even so shall Odysseus send forth unsightly

death upon the wooers. Would to our father Zeus, and

Athene, and Apollo, would that in such might as when of old

in stablished Lesbos he rose up in strife and wrestled with

Philomeleides, and threw him mightily, and all the Achaeans

rejoiced; would that in such strength Odysseus might

consort with the wooers; then should they all have swift

fate and bitter wedlock! But for that whereof thou askest

and entreatest me, be sure I will not swerve from the truth

in aught that I say, nor deceive thee; but of all that the

ancient one of the sea, whose speech is sooth, declared to

me, not a word will I hide or keep from thee. He said that

he saw Odysseus in an island, suffering strong pains in the

halls of the nymph Calypso, who holds him there perforce;

so that he may not come to his own country, for he has by

him no ships with oars, and no companions to send him on

his way over the broad back of the sea." So spake Menelaus,

son of Atreus, spearsman renowned. Then having fulfilled

all, I set out for home, and the deathless gods gave me a

fair wind, and brought me swiftly to mine own dear

country.'

So he spake, and stirred her heart within her breast. And

next the godlike Theoclymenus spake among them:

'O wife revered of Odysseus, son of Laertes, verily he hath

no clear knowledge; but my word do thou mark, for I will

prophesy to thee most truly and hide nought. Now Zeus be

witness before any god, and this hospitable board and this

hearth of noble Odysseus, whereunto I am come, that

Odysseus is even now of a surety in his own country,

resting or faring, learning of these evil deeds, and sowing

the seeds of evil for all the wooers. So clear was the omen

of the bird that I saw as I sat on the decked ship, and I

proclaimed it to Telemachus.'

Then wise Penelope answered him, saying: 'Ah, stranger,

would that this thy word may be accomplished! Soon

shouldest thou be aware of kindness and of many a gift at

my hands, so that whoso met with thee would call thee

blessed.'

Thus they spake one to the other. But the wooers meantime

were before the palace of Odysseus, taking their pleasure

in casting of weights and of spears on a levelled place, as

heretofore, in their insolence. But when it was now the

hour for supper, and the flocks came home from the fields

all around, and the men led them whose custom it was, then

Medon, who of all the henchmen was most to their mind, and

was ever with them at the feast, spake to them, saying:

'Noble youths, now that ye have had sport to your hearts'

content, get you into the house, that we may make ready a

feast; for truly it is no bad thing to take meat in

season.'

Even so he spake, and they rose up and departed, and were

obedient to his word. Now when they were come into the

fair-lying house, they laid aside their mantles on the

chairs and high seats, and they sacrificed great sheep and

stout goats, yea, and the fatlings of the boars and an

heifer of the herd, and got ready the feast.

Now all this while Odysseus and the goodly swineherd were

bestirring them to go from the field to the city; and the

swineherd, a master of men, spake first saying:

'Well, my friend, forasmuch as I see thou art eager to be

going to the city to-day, even as my master gave command;--

though myself I would well that thou shouldest be left here

to keep the steading, but I hold him in reverence and fear,

lest he chide me afterwards, and grievous are the rebukes

of masters--come then, let us go on our way, for lo, the

day is far spent, and soon wilt thou find it colder toward

evening.'

Then Odysseus of many counsels answered him saying: 'I

mark, I heed: all this thou speakest to one with

understanding. But let us be going, and be thou my guide

withal to the end. And if thou hast anywhere a staff ready

cut, give it me to lean upon, for truly ye said that

slippery was the way.'

Therewith he cast about his shoulders a mean scrip, all

tattered, and a cord withal to hang it, and Eumaeus gave

him a staff to his mind. So these twain went on their way,

and the dogs and the herdsmen stayed behind to guard the

steading. And the swineherd led his lord to the city in the

guise of a beggar, a wretched man and an old, leaning on a

staff; and sorry was the raiment wherewith he was clothed

upon. But as they fared along the rugged path they drew

near to the town, and came to the fair flowing spring, with

a basin fashioned, whence the people of the city drew

water. This well Ithacus and Neritus and Polyctor had

builded. And around it was a thicket of alders that grow by

the waters, all circlewise, and down the cold stream fell

from a rock on high, and above was reared an altar to the

Nymphs, whereat all wayfarers made offering. In that place

Melanthius, son of Dolius, met them, leading his goats to

feast the wooers, the best goats that were in all the

herds; and two herdsmen bare him company. Now when he saw

them he reviled them, and spake and hailed them, in

terrible and evil fashion, and stirred the heart of

Odysseus, saying:

'Now in very truth the vile is leading the vile, for god

brings ever like to like! Say, whither art thou leading

this glutton,--thou wretched swineherd,--this plaguy

beggar, a kill-joy of the feast? He is one to stand about

and rub his shoulders against many doorposts, begging for

scraps of meat, not for swords or cauldrons. If thou

wouldst give me the fellow to watch my steading and sweep

out the stalls, and carry fresh fodder to the kids, then he

might drink whey and get him a stout thigh. Howbeit, since

he is practised only in evil, he will not care to betake

him to the labour of the farm, but rather chooses to go

louting through the land asking alms to fill his insatiate

belly. But now I will speak out and my word shall surely be

accomplished. If ever he fares to the house of divine

Odysseus, many a stool that men's hands hurl shall fly

about his head, and break upon his ribs, {*} as they pelt

him through the house.'

{* Reading [Greek]}

Therewith, as he went past, he kicked Odysseus on the hip,

in his witlessness, yet he drave him not from the path, but

he abode steadfast. And Odysseus pondered whether he should

rush upon him and take away his life with the staff, or

lift him in his grasp {*} and smite his head to the earth.

Yet he hardened his heart to endure and refrained himself.

And the swineherd looked at the other and rebuked him, and

lifting up his hands prayed aloud:

{* [Greek] is perhaps best taken as an adverb in [Greek]

formed from [Greek], though some letters of the word are

still left obscure. Most modern commentators, however,

derive it from [Greek] and [Greek] 'near the ground; hence,

in this context, 'lift him by the feet.'}

'Nymphs of the well-water, daughters of Zeus, if ever

Odysseus burned on your altars pieces of the thighs of rams

or kids, in their covering of rich fat, fulfil for me this

wish:--oh that he, even he, may come home, and that some

god may bring him! Then would he scatter all thy bravery,

which now thou flauntest insolently, wandering ever about

the city, while evil shepherds destroy the flock.'

Then Melanthius, the goatherd, answered: 'Lo now, what a

word has this evil-witted dog been saying! Some day I will

take him in a black decked ship far from Ithaca, that he

may bring me in much livelihood. Would God that Apollo, of

the silver bow, might smite Telemachus to-day in the halls,

or that he might fall before the wooers, so surely as for

Odysseus the day of returning has in a far land gone by!'

So he spake and left them there as they walked slowly on.

But Melanthius stepped forth, and came very speedily to the

house of the prince, and straightway he went in and sat

down among the wooers, over against Eurymachus, who chiefly

showed him kindness. And they that ministered set by him a

portion of flesh, and the grave dame brought wheaten bread

and set it by him to eat. Now Odysseus and the goodly

swineherd drew near and stood by, and the sound of the

hollow lyre rang around them, for Phemius was lifting up

his voice amid the company in song, and Odysseus caught the

swineherd by the hand, and spake, saying:

'Eumaeus, verily this is the fair house of Odysseus, and

right easily might it be known and marked even among many.

There is building beyond building, and the court of the

house is cunningly wrought with a wall and battlements, and

well-fenced are the folding doors; no man may hold it in

disdain. And I see that many men keep revel within, for the

savour of the fat rises upward, {*} and the voice of the

lyre is heard there, which the gods have made to be the

mate of the feast.'

{* Reading [Greek]}

Then didst thou make answer, swineherd Eumaeus: 'Easily

thou knowest it, for indeed thou never lackest

understanding. But come, let us advise us, how things shall

fall out here. Either do thou go first within the

fair-lying halls, and join the company of the wooers, so

will I remain here, or if thou wilt, abide here, and I will

go before thy face, and tarry not long, lest one see thee

without, and hurl at thee or strike thee. Look well to

this, I bid thee.'

Then the steadfast goodly Odysseus answered him, saying: 'I

mark, I heed, all this thou speakest to one with

understanding. Do thou then go before me, and I will remain

here, for well I know what it is to be smitten and hurled

at. My heart is full of hardiness, for much evil have I

suffered in perils of waves and war; let this be added to

the tale of those. But a ravening belly may none conceal, a

thing accursed, that works much ill for men. For this cause

too the benched ships are furnished, that bear mischief to

foemen over the unharvested seas.'

Thus they spake one to the other. And lo, a hound raised up

his head and pricked his ears, even where he lay, Argos,

the hound of Odysseus, of the hardy heart, which of old

himself had bred, but had got no joy of him, for ere that,

he went to sacred Ilios. Now in time past the young men

used to lead the hound against wild goats and deer and

hares; but as then, despised he lay (his master being afar)

in the deep dung of mules and kine, whereof an ample bed

was spread before the doors, till the thralls of Odysseus

should carry it away to dung therewith his wide demesne.

There lay the dog Argos, full of vermin. Yet even now when

he was ware of Odysseus standing by, he wagged his tail and

dropped both his ears, but nearer to his master he had not

now the strength to draw. But Odysseus looked aside and

wiped away a tear that he easily hid from Eumaeus, and

straightway he asked him, saying:

'Eumaeus, verily this is a great marvel, this hound lying

here in the dung. Truly he is goodly of growth, but I know

not certainly if he have speed with this beauty, or if he

be comely only, like as are men's trencher dogs that their

lords keep for the pleasure of the eye.'

Then didst thou make answer, swineherd Eumaeus: 'In very

truth this is the dog of a man that has died in a far land.

If he were what once he was in limb and in the feats of the

chase, when Odysseus left him to go to Troy, soon wouldst

thou marvel at the sight of his swiftness and his strength.

There was no beast that could flee from him in the deep

places of the wood, when he was in pursuit; for even on a

track he was the keenest hound. But now he is holden in an

evil case, and his lord hath perished far from his own

country, and the careless women take no charge of him. Nay,

thralls are no more inclined to honest service when their

masters have lost the dominion, for Zeus, of the far-borne

voice, takes away the half of a man's virtue, when the day

of slavery comes upon him.'

Therewith he passed within the fair-lying house, and went

straight to the hall, to the company of the proud wooers.

But upon Argos came the fate of black death even in the

hour that he beheld Odysseus again, in the twentieth year.

Now godlike Telemachus was far the first to behold the

swineherd as he came into the hall, and straightway then he

beckoned and called him to his side. So Eumaeus looked

about and took a settle that lay by him, where the carver

was wont to sit dividing much flesh among the wooers that

were feasting in the house. This seat he carried and set by

the table of Telemachus over against him, and there sat

down himself. And the henchman took a mess and served it

him, and wheaten bread out of the basket.

And close behind him Odysseus entered the house in the

guise of a beggar, a wretched man and an old, leaning on

his staff, and clothed on with sorry raiment. And he sat

down on the ashen threshold within the doorway, leaning

against a pillar of cypress wood, which the carpenter on a

time had deftly planed, and thereon made straight the line.

And Telemachus called the swineherd to him, and took a

whole loaf out of the fair basket, and of flesh so much as

his hands could hold in their grasp, saying:

'Take and give this to the stranger, and bid him go about

and beg himself of all the wooers in their turn, for shame

is an ill mate of a needy man.'

So he spake, and the swineherd went when he heard that

saying, and stood by and spake to him winged words:

'Stranger, Telemachus gives thee these and bids thee go

about and beg of all the wooers in their turn, for, he

says, "shame ill becomes a beggar man."'

Then Odysseus of many counsels answered him and said: 'King

Zeus, grant me that Telemachus may be happy among men, and

may he have all his heart's desire!'

Therewith he took the gift in both hands, and set it there

before his feet on his unsightly scrip. Then he ate meat so

long as the minstrel was singing in the halls. When he had

done supper, and the divine minstrel was ending his song,

then the wooers raised a clamour through the halls; but

Athene stood by Odysseus, son of Laertes, and moved him to

go gathering morsels of bread among the wooers, and learn

which were righteous and which unjust. Yet not even so was

she fated to redeem one man of them from an evil doom. So

he set out, beginning on the right, to ask of each man,

stretching out his hand on every side, as though he were a

beggar from of old. And they in pity gave him somewhat, and

were amazed at the man, asking one another who he was and

whence he came?

Then Melanthius, the goatherd, spake among them:

'Listen, ye wooers of the renowned queen, concerning this

stranger, for verily I have seen him before. The swineherd

truly was his guide hither, but of him I have no certain

knowledge, whence he avows him to be born.'

So spake he, but Antinous rebuked the swineherd, saying:

'Oh notorious swineherd, wherefore, I pray thee, didst thou

bring this man to the city? Have we not vagrants enough

besides, plaguy beggars, kill-joys of the feast? Dost thou

count it a light thing that they assemble here and devour

the living of thy master, but thou must needs {*} call in

this man too?'

{* [Greek] can hardly have a local meaning here. If

retained, it must be nearly equivalent to [Greek], 'it

seems,' with a touch of irony. Cf. i.348. The v. 1. [Greek]

is a simpler reading, but by no means certain.}

Then didst thou make answer, swineherd Eumaeus: 'Antinous,

no fair words are these of thine, noble though thou art.

For who ever himself seeks out and bids to the feast a

stranger from afar, save only one of those that are

craftsmen of the people, a prophet or a healer of ills, or

a shipwright or even a godlike minstrel, who can delight

all with his song? Nay, these are the men that are welcome

over all the wide earth. But none would call a beggar to

the banquet, to waste his substance. But thou art ever hard

above all the other wooers to the servants of Odysseus,

and, beyond all, to me; but behold, I care not, so long as

my mistress, the constant Penelope, lives in the halls and

godlike Telemachus.'

Then wise Telemachus answered him, saying: 'Be silent,

answer him not, I pray thee, with many words, for Antinous

is wont ever to chide us shamefully with bitter speech,

yea, and urges the others thereto.'

Therewithal he spake winged words to Antinous: 'Antinous,

verily thou hast a good care for me, as it were a father

for his son, thou that biddest me drive our guest from the

hall with a harsh command. God forbid that such a thing

should be! Take somewhat and give it him: lo, I grudge it

not; nay, I charge thee to do it. And herein regard not my

mother, nor any of the thralls that are in the house of

divine Odysseus. Nay, but thou hast no such thought in thy

heart, for thou art far more fain to eat thyself than to

give to another.'

Then Antinous answered him and spake, saying: 'Telemachus,

proud of speech, and unrestrained in fury, what word hast

thou spoken? If all the wooers should vouchsafe him as much

as I, this house would keep him far enough aloof even for

three months' space.'

So he spake, and seized the footstool whereon he rested his

sleek feet as he sat at the feast, and showed it from

beneath the table where it lay. But all the others gave

somewhat and filled the wallet with bread and flesh; yea,

and even now, Odysseus as he returned to the threshold, was

like to escape scot free, making trial of the Achaeans, but

he halted by Antinous, and spake to him, saying:

'Friend, give me somewhat; for methinks thou art not the

basest of the Achaeans, but the best man of them all, for

thou art like a king. Wherefore thou shouldest give me a

portion of bread, and that a better than the others; so

would I make thee renowned over all the wide earth. For I

too, once had a house of mine own among men, a rich man

with a wealthy house, and many a time would I give to a

wanderer, what manner of man soever he might be, and in

whatsoever need he came. And I had thralls out of number,

and all else in plenty, wherewith folk live well and have a

name for riches. But Zeus, the son of Cronos, made me

desolate of all,--for surely it was his will,--who sent me

with wandering sea-robbers to go to Egypt, a far road, to

my ruin. And in the river Aegyptus I stayed my curved

ships. Then verily I bade my loved companions to abide

there by the ships, and to guard the ship, and I sent forth

scouts to range the points of outlook. Now they gave place

to wantonness, being the fools of their own force, and soon

they fell to wasting the fields of the Egyptians, exceeding

fair, and carried away their wives and infant children, and

slew the men. And the cry came quickly to the city, and the

people heard the shout and came forth at the breaking of

the day; and all the plain was filled with footmen and

horsemen and with the glitter of bronze. And Zeus, whose

joy is in the thunder, sent an evil panic upon my company,

and none durst stand and face the foe: for danger

encompassed us on every side. There they slew many of us

with the edge of the sword, and others they led up with

them alive to work for them perforce. But they gave me to a

friend who met them, to take to Cyprus, even to Dmetor son

of Iasus, who ruled mightily over Cyprus; and thence,

behold, am I now come hither in sore distress.'

Then Antinous answered, and spake, saying: 'What god hath

brought this plague hither to trouble the feast? Stand

forth thus in the midst, away from my table, lest thou come

soon to a bitter Egypt and a sad Cyprus; for a bold beggar

art thou and a shameless. Thou standest by all in turn and

recklessly they give to thee, for they hold not their hand

nor feel any ruth in giving freely of others' goods, for

that each man has plenty by him.'

Then Odysseus of many counsels drew back and answered him:

'Lo now, I see thou hast not wisdom with thy beauty! From

out of thine own house thou wouldest not give even so much

as a grain of salt to thy suppliant, thou who now even at

another's board dost sit, and canst not find it in thy

heart to take of the bread and give it me, where there is

plenty to thy hand.'

He spake, and Antinous was mightily angered at heart, and

looked fiercely on him and spake winged words:

'Henceforth, methinks, thou shalt not get thee out with

honour from the hall, seeing thou dost even rail upon me.'

Therewith he caught up the foot-stool and smote Odysseus at

the base of the right shoulder by the back. But he stood

firm as a rock, nor reeled he beneath the blow of Antinous,

but shook his head in silence, brooding evil in the deep of

his heart. Then he went back to the threshold, and sat him

there, and laid down his well-filled scrip, and spake among

the wooers:

'Hear me, ye wooers of the renowned queen, and I will say

what my spirit within me bids me. Verily there is neither

pain nor grief of heart, when a man is smitten in battle

fighting for his own possessions, whether cattle or white

sheep. But now Antinous hath stricken me for my wretched

belly's sake, a thing accursed, that works much ill for

men. Ah, if indeed there be gods and Avengers of beggars,

may the issues of death come upon Antinous before his

wedding!'

Then Antinous, son of Eupeithes, answered him: 'Sit and eat

thy meat in quiet, stranger, or get thee elsewhere, lest

the young men drag thee by hand or foot through the house

for thy evil words, and strip all thy flesh from off thee.'

Even so he spake, and they were all exceeding wroth at his

word. And on this wise would one of the lordly young men

speak:

'Antinous, thou didst ill to strike the hapless wanderer,

doomed man that thou art,--if indeed there be a god in

heaven. Yea and the gods, in the likeness of strangers from

far countries, put on all manner of shapes, and wander

through the cities, beholding the violence and the

righteousness of men.'

So the wooers spake, but he heeded not their words. Now

Telemachus nursed in his heart a mighty grief at the

smiting of Odysseus, yet he let no tear fall from his

eyelids to the ground, but shook his head in silence,

brooding evil in the deep of his heart.

Now when wise Penelope heard of the stranger being smitten

in the halls, she spake among her maidens, saying:

'Oh that Apollo, the famed archer, may so smite thee

thyself, Antinous!'

And the house-dame, Eurynome, answered her, saying: 'Oh

that we might win fulfilment of our prayers! So should not

one of these men come to the fair-throned Dawn.'

And wise Penelope answered her: 'Nurse, they are all

enemies, for they all devise evil continually, but of them

all Antinous is the most like to black fate. Some hapless

stranger is roaming about the house, begging alms of the

men, as his need bids him; and all the others filled his

wallet and gave him somewhat, but Antinous smote him at the

base of the right shoulder with a stool.'

So she spake among her maidens, sitting in her chamber,

while goodly Odysseus was at meat. Then she called to her

the goodly swineherd and spake, saying:

'Go thy way, goodly Eumaeus, and bid the stranger come

hither, that I may speak him a word of greeting, and ask

him if haply he has heard tidings of Odysseus of the hardy

heart, or seen him with his eyes; for he seems like one

that has wandered far.'

Then didst thou make answer, swineherd Eumaeus: 'Queen, oh

that the Achaeans would hold their peace! so would he charm

thy very heart, such things doth he say. For I kept him

three nights and three days I held him in the steading, for

to me he came first when he fled from the ship, yet he had

not made an end of the tale of his affliction. Even as when

a man gazes on a singer, whom the gods have taught to sing

words of yearning joy to mortals, and they have a ceaseless

desire to hear him, so long as he will sing; even so he

charmed me, sitting by me in the halls. He says that he is

a friend of Odysseus and of his house, one that dwells in

Crete, where is the race of Minos. Thence he has come

hither even now, with sorrow by the way, onward and yet

onward wandering; and he stands to it that he has heard

tidings of Odysseus nigh at hand and yet alive in the fat

land of the men of Thesprotia; and he is bringing many

treasures to his home.'

Then wise Penelope answered him, saying: 'Go, call him

hither, that he may speak to me face to face. But let these

men sit in the doorway and take their pleasure, or even

here in the house, since their heart is glad. For their own

wealth lies unspoiled at home, bread and sweet wine, and

thereon do their servants feed. But they resorting to our

house day by day sacrifice oxen and sheep and fat goats,

and keep revel and drink the dark wine recklessly; and, lo,

our great wealth is wasted, for there is no man now alive,

such as Odysseus was, to keep ruin from the house. Oh, if

Odysseus might come again to his own country; soon would he

and his son avenge the violence of these men!'

Even so she spake, and Telemachus sneezed loudly, and

around the roof rang wondrously. And Penelope laughed, and

straightway spake to Eumaeus winged words:

'Go, call me the stranger, even so, into my presence. Dost

thou not mark how my son has sneezed a blessing on all my

words? Wherefore no half-wrought doom shall befal the

wooers every one, nor shall any avoid death and the fates.

Yet another thing will I say, and do thou ponder it in thy

heart. If I shall find that he himself speaks nought but

truth, I will clothe him with a mantle and a doublet,

goodly raiment.'

So she spake, and the swineherd departed when he heard that

saying, and stood by the stranger and spake winged words:

'Father and stranger, wise Penelope, the mother of

Telemachus, is calling for thee, and her mind bids her

inquire as touching her lord, albeit she has sorrowed much

already. And if she shall find that thou dost speak nought

but truth, she will clothe thee in a mantle and a doublet,

whereof thou standest most in need. Moreover thou shalt beg

thy bread through the land and shalt fill thy belly, and

whosoever will, shall give to thee.'

Then the steadfast goodly Odysseus answered him, saying:

'Eumaeus, soon would I tell all the truth to the daughter

of Icarius, wise Penelope, for well I know his story, and

we have borne our travail together. But I tremble before

the throng of the froward wooers, whose outrage and

violence reach even to the iron heaven. For even now, as I

was going through the house, when this man struck and

pained me sore, and that for no ill deed, neither

Telemachus nor any other kept off the blow. Wherefore now,

bid Penelope tarry in the chambers, for all her eagerness,

till the going down of the sun, and then let her ask me

concerning her lord, as touching the day of his returning,

and let her give me a seat yet nearer to the fire, for

behold, I have sorry raiment, and thou knowest it thyself,

since I made my supplication first to thee.'

Even so he spake, and the swineherd departed when he heard

that saying. And as he crossed the threshold Penelope spake

to him:

'Thou bringest him not, Eumaeus: what means the wanderer

hereby? Can it be that he fears some one out of measure, or

is he even ashamed of tarrying in the house? A shamefaced

man makes a bad beggar.'

Then didst thou make answer, swineherd Eumaeus: 'He speaks

aright, and but as another would deem, in that he shuns the

outrage of overweening men. Rather would he have thee wait

till the going down of the sun. Yea, and it is far meeter

for thyself, O queen, to utter thy word to the stranger

alone, and to listen to his speech.'

Then the wise Penelope answered: 'Not witless is the

stranger; even as he deems, so it well may be. {*} For

there are no mortal men, methinks, so wanton as these, and

none that devise such infatuate deeds.'

{* Placing at colon at [Greek], and reading [Greek] (cf.

xix.312).}

So she spake, and the goodly swineherd departed into the

throng of the wooers, when he had showed her all his

message. And straightway he spake to Telemachus winged

words, holding his head close to him, that the others might

not hear:

'Friend, I am going hence to look after thy swine and the

things of the farm, thy livelihood and mine; but do thou

take charge of all that is here. Yet first look to thyself

and take heed that no evil comes nigh thee, for many of the

Achaeans have ill will against us, whom may Zeus confound

before their mischief falls on us!'

And wise Telemachus answered him, and said: 'Even so shall

it be, father; and do thou get thee on thy way, when thou

hast supped. And in the morning come again, and bring fair

victims for sacrifice. And all these matters will be a care

to me and to the deathless gods.'

Thus he spake, and the other sat down again on the polished

settle; and when he had satisfied his heart with meat and

drink, he went on his way to the swine, leaving the courts

and the hall full of feasters; and they were making merry

with dance and song, for already it was close on eventide.

 

Book XVIII

The fighting at fists of Odysseus with Irus. His

admonitions to Amphinomus. Penelope appears before the

wooers, and draws presents from them.

Then up came a common beggar, who was wont to beg through

the town of Ithaca, one that was known among all men for

ravening greed, for his endless eating and drinking, yet he

had no force or might, though he was bulky enough to look

on. Arnaeus was his name, for so had his good mother given

it him at his birth, but all the young men called him Irus,

because he ran on errands, whensoever any might bid him. So

now he came, and would have driven Odysseus from his own

house, and began reviling him, and spake winged words:

'Get thee hence, old man, from the doorway, lest thou be

even haled out soon by the foot. Seest thou not that all

are now giving me the wink, and bidding me drag thee forth?

Nevertheless, I feel shame of the task. Nay get thee up,

lest our quarrel soon pass even to blows.'

Then Odysseus of many counsels looked fiercely on him, and

spake saying: 'Sir, neither in deed nor word do I harm

thee, nor do I grudge that any should give to thee, yea

though it were a good handful. But this threshold will hold

us both, and thou hast no need to be jealous for the sake

of other men's goods. Thou seemest to me to be a wanderer,

even as I am, and the gods it is that are like to give us

gain. Only provoke me not overmuch to buffeting, lest thou

anger me, and old though I be I defile thy breast and lips

with blood. Thereby should I have the greater quiet

to-morrow, for methinks that thou shalt never again come to

the hall of Odysseus, son of Laertes'.

Then the beggar Irus spake unto him in anger: 'Lo now, how

trippingly and like an old cinder-wife this glutton speaks,

on whom I will work my evil will, and smite him right and

left, and drive all the teeth from his jaws to the ground,

like the tusks of a swine that spoils the corn. Gird

thyself now, that even these men all may know our mettle in

fight. Nay, how shouldst thou do battle with a younger man

than thou?'

Thus did they whet each the other's rage right manfully

before the lofty doors upon the polished threshold. And the

mighty prince Antinous heard the twain, and sweetly he

laughed out, and spake among the wooers:

'Friends, never before has there been such a thing; such

goodly game has a god brought to this house. The stranger

yonder and Irus are bidding each other to buffets. Quick,

let us match them one against the other.'

Then all at the word leaped up laughing, and gathered round

the ragged beggars, and Antinous, son of Eupeithes, spake

among them saying: 'Hear me, ye lordly wooers, and I will

say somewhat. Here are goats' bellies lying at the fire,

that we laid by at supper-time and filled with fat and

blood. Now whichsoever of the twain wins, and shows himself

the better man, let him stand up and take his choice of

these puddings. And further, he shall always eat at our

feasts, nor will we suffer any other beggar to come among

us and ask for alms.'

So spake Antinous, and the saying pleased them well. Then

Odysseus of many counsels spake among them craftily:

'Friends, an old man and foredone with travail may in no

wise fight with a younger. But my belly's call is urgent on

me, that evil-worker, to the end that I may be subdued with

stripes. But come now, swear me all of you a strong oath,

so that none, for the sake of shewing a favour to Irus, may

strike me a foul blow with heavy hand and subdue me by

violence to my foe.'

So he spake, and they all swore not to strike him, as he

bade them. Now when they had sworn and done that oath, the

mighty prince Telemachus once more spake among them:

'Stranger, if thy heart and lordly spirit urge thee to rid

thee of this fellow, then fear not any other of the

Achaeans, for whoso strikes thee shall have to fight with

many. Thy host am I, and the princes consent with me,

Antinous and Eurymachus, men of wisdom both.'

So spake he and they all consented thereto. Then Odysseus

girt his rags about his loins, and let his thighs be seen,

goodly and great, and his broad shoulders and breast and

mighty arms were manifest. And Athene came nigh and made

greater the limbs of the shepherd of the people. Then the

wooers were exceedingly amazed, and thus would one speak

looking to his neighbour:

'Right soon will Irus, un-Irused, have a bane of his own

bringing, such a thigh as that old man shows from out his

rags!'

So they spake, and the mind of Irus was pitifully stirred;

but even so the servants girded him and led him out

perforce in great fear, his flesh trembling on his limbs.

Then Antinous chid him, and spake and hailed him:

'Thou lubber, better for thee that thou wert not now, nor

ever hadst been born, if indeed thou tremblest before this

man, and art so terribly afraid; an old man too he is, and

foredone with the travail that is come upon him. But I will

tell thee plainly, and it shall surely be accomplished. If

this man prevail against thee and prove thy master, I will

cast thee into a black ship, and send thee to the mainland

to Echetus the king, the maimer of all mankind, who will

cut off thy nose and ears with the pitiless steel, and draw

out thy vitals and give them raw to dogs to rend.'

So he spake, and yet greater trembling gat hold of the

limbs of Irus, and they led him into the ring, and the

twain put up their hands. Then the steadfast goodly

Odysseus mused in himself whether he should smite him in

such wise that his life should leave his body, even there

where he fell, or whether he should strike him lightly, and

stretch him on the earth. And as he thought thereon, this

seemed to him the better way, to strike lightly, that the

Achaeans might not take note of him, who he was. Then the

twain put up their hands, and Irus struck at the right

shoulder, but the other smote him on his neck beneath the

ear, and crushed in the bones, and straightway the red

blood gushed up through his mouth, and with a moan he fell

in the dust, and drave together his teeth as he kicked the

ground. But the proud wooers threw up their hands, and died

outright for laughter. Then Odysseus seized him by the

foot, and dragged him forth through the doorway, till he

came to the courtyard and the gates of the gallery, and he

set him down and rested him against the courtyard wall, and

put his staff in his hands, and uttering his voice spake to

him winged words:

'Sit thou there now, and scare off swine and dogs, and let

not such an one as thou be lord over strangers and beggars,

pitiful as thou art, lest haply some worse thing befal

thee.'

Thus he spake, and cast about his shoulders his mean scrip

all tattered, and the cord therewith to hang it, and he gat

him back to the threshold, and sat him down there again.

Now the wooers went within laughing sweetly, and greeted

him, saying:

'May Zeus, stranger, and all the other deathless gods give

thee thy dearest wish, even all thy heart's desire, seeing

that thou hast made that insatiate one to cease from his

begging in the land! Soon will we take him over to the

mainland, to Echetus the king, the maimer of all mankind.'

So they spake, and goodly Odysseus rejoiced in the omen of

the words. And Antinous set by him the great pudding,

stuffed with fat and blood, and Amphinomus took up two

loaves from the basket, and set them by him and pledged him

in a golden cup, and spake saying:

'Father and stranger, hail! may happiness be thine in the

time to come; but as now, thou art fast holden in many

sorrows.'

And Odysseus of many counsels answered him saying:

'Amphinomus, verily thou seemest to me a prudent man

enough; for such too was the father of whom thou art

sprung, for I have heard the fair fame of him, how that

Nisus of Dulichium was a good man and a rich, and his son

they say thou art, and thou seemest a man of understanding.

Wherefore I will tell thee, and do thou mark and listen to

me. Nought feebler doth the earth nurture than man, of all

the creatures that breathe and move upon the face of the

earth. Lo, he thinks that he shall never suffer evil in

time to come, while the gods give him happiness, and his

limbs move lightly. But when again the blessed gods have

wrought for him sorrow, even so he bears it, as he must,

with a steadfast heart. For the spirit of men upon the

earth is even as their day, that comes upon them from the

father of gods and men. Yea, and I too once was like to

have been prosperous among men, but many an infatuate deed

I did, giving place to mine own hardihood and strength, and

trusting to my father and my brethren. Wherefore let no man

for ever be lawless any more, but keep quietly the gifts of

the gods, whatsoever they may give. Such infatuate deeds do

I see the wooers devising, as they waste the wealth, and

hold in no regard the wife of a man, who, methinks, will

not much longer be far from his friends and his own land;

nay he is very near. But for thee, may some god withdraw

thee hence to thy home, and mayst thou not meet him in the

day when he returns to his own dear country! For not

without blood, as I deem, will they be sundered, the wooers

and Odysseus, when once he shall have come beneath his own

roof.'

Thus he spake, and poured an offering and then drank of the

honey-sweet wine, and again set the cup in the hands of the

arrayer of the people. But the other went back through the

hall, sad at heart and bowing his head; for verily his soul

boded evil. Yet even so he avoided not his fate, for Athene

had bound him likewise to be slain outright at the hands

and by the spear of Telemachus. So he sat down again on the

high seat whence he had arisen.

Now the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, put it into the heart of

the daughter of Icarius, wise Penelope, to show herself to

the wooers, that she might make their heart all flutter

with hope, and that she might win yet more worship from her

lord and her son than heretofore. To she laughed an idle

laugh, and spake to the nurse, and hailed her, saying:

'Eurynome, my heart yearns, though before I had no such

desire, to show myself to the wooers, hateful as they are.

I would also say a word to my son, that will be for his

weal, namely, that he should not for ever consort with the

proud wooers, who speak friendly with their lips, but

imagine evil in the latter end.'

Then the housewife, Eurynome, spake to her saying: 'Yea my

child, all this thou hast spoken as is meet. Go then, and

declare thy word to thy son and hide it not, but first wash

thee and anoint thy face, and go not as thou art with thy

cheeks all stained with tears. Go, for it is little good to

sorrow always, and never cease. And lo, thy son is now of

an age to hear thee, he whom thou hast above all things

prayed the gods that thou mightest see with a beard upon

his chin.'

Then wise Penelope answered her, saying: 'Eurynome, speak

not thus comfortably to me, for all thy love, bidding me to

wash and be anointed with ointment. For the gods that keep

Olympus destroyed my bloom, since the day that he departed

in the hollow ships. But bid Autonoe and Hippodameia come

to me, to stand by my side in the halls. Alone I will not

go among men, for I am ashamed.'

So she spake, and the old woman passed through the chamber

to tell the maidens, and hasten their coming.

Thereon the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, had another thought.

She shed a sweet slumber over the daughter of Icarius, who

sank back in sleep, and all her joints were loosened as she

lay in the chair, and the fair goddess the while was giving

her gifts immortal, that all the Achaeans might marvel at

her. Her fair face first she steeped with beauty

imperishable, such as that wherewith the crowned Cytherea

is anointed, when she goes to the lovely dances of the

Graces. And she made her taller and greater to behold, and

made her whiter than new-sawn ivory. Now when she had

wrought thus, that fair goddess departed, and the

white-armed handmaidens came forth from the chamber and

drew nigh with a sound of voices. Then sweet sleep left

hold of Penelope, and she rubbed her cheeks with her hands,

and said:

'Surely soft slumber wrapped me round, most wretched though

I be. Oh! that pure Artemis would give me so soft a death

even now, that I might no more waste my life in sorrow of

heart, and longing for the manifold excellence of my dear

lord, for that he was foremost of the Achaeans.'

With this word she went down from the shining upper

chamber, not alone, for two handmaidens likewise bare her

company. But when the fair lady had now come to the wooers,

she stood by the pillar of the well-builded roof, holding

her glistening tire before her face, and on either side of

her stood a faithful handmaid. And straightway the knees of

the wooers were loosened, and their hearts were enchanted

with love, and each one uttered a prayer that he might be

her bed-fellow. But she spake to Telemachus, her dear son:

'Telemachus, thy mind and thy thoughts are no longer stable

as they were. While thou wast still a child, thou hadst a

yet quicker and more crafty wit, but now that thou art

great of growth, and art come to the measure of manhood,

and a stranger looking to thy stature and thy beauty might

say that thou must be some rich man's son, thy mind and thy

thoughts are no longer right as of old. For lo, what manner

of deed has been done in these halls, in that thou hast

suffered thy guest to be thus shamefully dealt with. How

would it be now, if the stranger sitting thus in our house,

were to come to some harm all through this evil handling?

Shame and disgrace would be thine henceforth among men.'

Then wise Telemachus answered her: 'Mother mine, as to this

matter I count it no blame that thou art angered. Yet have

I knowledge and understanding of each thing, of the good

and of the evil; but heretofore I was a child. Howbeit I

cannot devise all things according to wisdom, for these men

in their evil counsel drive me from my wits, on this side

and on that, and there is none to aid me. Howsoever this

battle between Irus and the stranger did not fall out as

the wooers would have had it, but the stranger proved the

better man. Would to Father Zeus and Athene and Apollo,

that the wooers in our halls were even now thus vanquished,

and wagging their heads, some in the court, and some within

the house, and that the limbs of each man were loosened in

such fashion as Irus yonder sits now, by the courtyard

gates wagging his head, like a drunken man, and cannot

stand upright on his feet, nor yet get him home to his own

place, seeing that his limbs are loosened!'

Thus they spake one to another. But Eurymachus spake to

Penelope, saying:

'Daughter of Icarius, wise Penelope, if all the Achaeans in

Iasian Argos could behold thee, even a greater press of

wooers would feast in your halls from to-morrow's dawn,

since thou dost surpass all women in beauty and stature,

and within in wisdom of mind.'

Then wise Penelope answered him: 'Eurymachus, surely my

excellence, both of face and form, the gods destroyed in

the day when the Argives embarked for Ilios, and with them

went my lord Odysseus. If but he might come and watch over

this my life, greater thus would be my fame and fairer! But

now am I in sorrow; such a host of ills some god has sent

against me. Ah, well do I remember, when he set forth and

left his own country, how he took me by the right hand at

the wrist and spake, saying:

'"Lady, methinks that all the goodly-greaved Achaeans will

not win a safe return from Troy; for the Trojans too, they

say, are good men at arms, as spearsmen, and bowmen, and

drivers of fleet horses, such as ever most swiftly

determine the great strife of equal battle. Wherefore I

know not if the gods will suffer me to return, or whether I

shall be cut off there in Troy; so do thou have a care for

all these things. Be mindful of my father and my mother in

the halls, even as now thou art, or yet more than now,

while I am far away. But when thou seest thy son a bearded

man, marry whom thou wilt and leave thine own house."

'Even so did he speak, and now all these things have an

end. The night shall come when a hateful marriage shall

find me out, me most luckless, whose good hap Zeus has

taken away. But furthermore this sore trouble has come on

my heart and soul; for this was not the manner of wooers in

time past. Whoso wish to woo a good lady and the daughter

of a rich man, and vie one with another, themselves bring

with them oxen of their own and goodly flocks, a banquet

for the friends of the bride, and they give the lady

splendid gifts, but do not devour another's livelihood

without atonement.'

Thus she spake, and the steadfast goodly Odysseus rejoiced

because she drew from them gifts, and beguiled their souls

with soothing words, while her heart was set on other

things.

Then Antinous, son of Eupeithes, answered her again:

'Daughter of Icarius, wise Penelope, the gifts which any of

the Achaeans may choose to bring hither, do thou take; for

it were ill to withhold a gift. But we for our part will

neither go to our lands nor otherwhere, before thou art

wedded to the best man of the Achaeans.'

So spake Antinous, and the saying pleased them well, and

each man sent a henchman to bring his gifts. For Antinous

his henchman bare a broidered robe, great and very fair,

wherein were golden brooches, twelve in all, fitted with

well bent clasps. And the henchman straightway bare

Eurymachus a golden chain of curious work, strung with

amber beads, shining like the sun. And his squires bare for

Eurydamas a pair of ear-rings, with three drops well

wrought, and much grace shone from them. And out of the

house of Peisander the prince, the son of Polyctor, the

squire brought a necklet, a very lovely jewel. And likewise

the Achaeans brought each one some other beautiful gift.

Then the fair lady went aloft to her upper chamber, and her

attendant maidens bare for her the lovely gifts, while the

wooers turned to dancing and the delight of song, and

therein took their pleasure, and awaited the coming of

eventide. And dark evening came on them at their pastime.

Anon they set up three braziers in the halls, to give them

light, and on these they laid firewood all around, faggots

seasoned long since and sere, and new split with the axe.

And midway by the braziers they placed torches, and the

maids of Odysseus, of the hardy heart, held up the lights

in turn. Then the prince Odysseus of many counsels himself

spake among them saying:

'Ye maidens of Odysseus, the lord so long afar, get ye into

the chambers where the honoured queen abides, and twist the

yarn at her side, and gladden her heart as ye sit in the

chamber, or card the wools with your hands; but I will

minister light to all these that are here. For even if they

are minded to wait the throned Dawn, they shall not outstay

me, so long enduring am I.'

So he spake, but they laughed and looked one at the other.

And the fair Melantho chid him shamefully, Melantho that

Dolius begat, but Penelope reared, and entreated her

tenderly as she had been her own child, and gave her

playthings to her heart's desire. Yet, for all that, sorrow

for Penelope touched not her heart, but she loved

Eurymachus and was his paramour. Now she chid Odysseus with

railing words:

'Wretched guest, surely thou art some brain-struck man,

seeing that thou dost not choose to go and sleep at a

smithy, or at some place of common resort, but here thou

pratest much and boldly among many lords and hast no fear

at heart. Verily wine has got about thy wits, or perchance

thou art always of this mind, and so thou dost babble idly.

Art thou beside thyself for joy, because thou hast beaten

the beggar Irus? Take heed lest a better man than Irus rise

up presently against thee, to lay his mighty hands about

thy head and bedabble thee with blood, and send thee hence

from the house.'

Then Odysseus of many counsels looked fiercely on her, and

said: 'Yea, straight will I go yonder and tell Telemachus

hereof, thou shameless thing, for this thy speech, that

forthwith he may cut thee limb from limb.'

So he spake, and with his saying scared away the women, who

fled through the hall, and the knees of each were loosened

for fear, for they deemed that his words were true. But

Odysseus took his stand by the burning braziers, tending

the lights, and gazed on all the men: but far other matters

he pondered in his heart, things not to be unfulfilled.

Now Athene would in no wise suffer the lordly wooers to

abstain from biting scorn, that the pain might sink yet the

deeper into the heart of Odysseus, son of Laertes. So

Eurymachus, son of Polybus, began to speak among them,

girding at Odysseus, and so made mirth for his friends:

'Hear me ye wooers of the queen renowned, that I may say

that which my spirit within me bids me. Not without the

gods' will has this man come to the house of Odysseus;

methinks at least that the torchlight flares forth from {*}

that head of his, for there are no hairs on it, nay never

so thin.'

{* Accepting the conjecture [Greek] = [Greek] for the MSS.

[Greek]}

He spake and withal addressed Odysseus, waster of cities:

'Stranger, wouldest thou indeed be my hireling, if I would

take thee for my man, at an upland farm, and thy wages

shall be assured thee, and there shalt thou gather stones

for walls and plant tall trees? There would I provide thee

bread continual, and clothe thee with raiment, and give

thee shoes for thy feet. Howbeit, since thou art practised

only in evil, thou wilt not care to go to the labours of

the field, but wilt choose rather to go louting through the

land, that thou mayst have wherewithal to feed thine

insatiate belly.'

Then Odysseus of many counsels answered him and said:

'Eurymachus, would that there might be a trial of labour

between us twain, in the season of spring, when the long

days begin! In the deep grass might it be, and I should

have a crooked scythe, and thou another like it, that we

might try each the other in the matter of labour, fasting

till late eventide, and grass there should be in plenty. Or

would again, that there were oxen to drive, the best there

may be, large and tawny, both well filled with fodder, of

equal age and force to bear the yoke and of strength

untiring! And it should be a field of four ploughgates, and

the clod should yield before the ploughshare. Then

shouldest thou see me, whether or no I would cut a clean

furrow unbroken before me. Or would that this very day

Cronion might waken war whence he would, and that I had a

shield and two spears, and a helmet all of bronze, close

fitting on my temples! Then shouldest thou see me mingling

in the forefront of the battle, nor speak and taunt me with

this my belly. Nay, thou art exceeding wanton and thy heart

is hard, and thou thinkest thyself some great one and

mighty, because thou consortest with few men and feeble.

Ah, if Odysseus might but return and come to his own

country, right soon would yonder doors full wide as they

are, prove all too strait for thee in thy flight through

the doorway!'

Thus he spake, and Eurymachus waxed yet the more wroth at

heart, and looking fiercely on him spake to him winged

words:

'Ah, wretch that thou art, right soon will I work thee

mischief, so boldly thou pratest among many lords, and hast

no fear at heart. Verily wine has got about thy wits, or

perchance thou art always of this mind, and so thou dost

babble idly. Art thou beside thyself for joy, because thou

hast beaten the beggar Irus?'

Therewith he caught up a footstool, but Odysseus sat him

down at the knees of Amphinomus of Dulichium, in dread of

Eurymachus. And Eurymachus cast and smote the cup-bearer on

the right hand, and the ladle cup dropped to the ground

with a clang, while the young man groaned and fell

backwards in the dust. Then the wooers clamoured through

the shadowy halls, and thus one would say looking to his

neighbour:

'Would that our wandering guest had perished otherwhere, or

ever he came hither; so should he never have made all this

tumult in our midst! But now we are all at strife about

beggars, and there will be no more joy of the good feast,

for worse things have their way.'

Then the mighty prince Telemachus spake among them:

'Sirs, ye are mad; now doth your mood betray that ye have

eaten and drunken; some one of the gods is surely moving

you. Nay, now that ye have feasted well, go home and lay

you to rest, since your spirit so bids; for as for me, I

drive no man hence.'

Thus he spake, and they all bit their lips and marvelled at

Telemachus, in that he spake boldly. Then Amphinomus made

harangue, and spake among them, Amphinomus, the famous son

of Nisus the prince, the son of Aretias:

'Friends, when a righteous word has been spoken, none

surely would rebuke another with hard speech and be angry.

Misuse ye not this stranger, neither any of the thralls

that are in the house of godlike Odysseus. But come, let

the wine-bearer pour for libation into each cup in turn,

that after the drink-offering we may get us home to bed.

But the stranger let us leave in the halls of Odysseus for

a charge to Telemachus: for to his home has he come.'

Thus he spake, and his word was well-pleasing to them all.

Then the lord Mulius mixed for them the bowl, the henchman

out of Dulichium, who was squire of Amphinomus. And he

stood by all and served it to them in their turn; and they

poured forth before the blessed gods, and drank the

honey-sweet wine. Now when they had poured forth and had

drunken to their hearts' content, they departed to lie

down, each one to his own house.

 

Book XIX

Telemachus removes the arms out of the hall. Odysseus

disburseth with Penelope. And is known by his nurse, but

concealed. And the hunting of the boar upon that occasion

related.

Now the goodly Odysseus was left behind in the hall,

devising with Athene's aid the slaying of the wooers, and

straightway he spake winged words to Telemachus:

'Telemachus, we must needs lay by the weapons of war

within, every one; and when the wooers miss them and ask

thee concerning them, thou shalt beguile them with soft

words, saying:

'Out of the smoke I laid them by, since they were no longer

like those that Odysseus left behind him of old, when he

went to Troy, but they are wholly marred, so mightily hath

passed upon them the vapour of fire. Moreover some god hath

put into my heart this other and greater care, that

perchance when ye are heated with wine, ye set a quarrel

between you and wound one the other, and thereby shame the

feast and the wooing; for iron of itself draws a man

thereto.'

Thus he spake, and Telemachus hearkened to his dear father,

and called forth to him the nurse Eurycleia and spake to

her, saying:

'Nurse, come now I pray thee, shut up the women in their

chambers till I shall have laid by in the armoury the

goodly weapons of my father, which all uncared for the

smoke dims in the hall, since my father went hence, and I

was still but a child. Now I wish to lay them by where the

vapour of the fire will not reach them.'

Then the good nurse Eurycleia answered him, saying: 'Ah, my

child, if ever thou wouldest but take careful thought in

such wise as to mind the house, and guard all this wealth!

But come, who shall fetch the light and bear it, if thou

hast thy way, since thou wouldest not that the maidens, who

might have given light, should go before thee?'

Then wise Telemachus made answer to her: 'This stranger

here, for I will keep no man in idleness who eats of my

bread, even if he have come from afar.'

Thus he spake, and wingless her speech remained, and she

closed the doors of the fair-lying chambers. Then they

twain sprang up, Odysseus and his renowned son, and set to

carry within the helmets and the bossy shields, and the

sharp-pointed spears; and before them Pallas Athene bare a

golden cresset and cast a most lovely light. Thereon

Telemachus spake to his father suddenly:

'Father, surely a great marvel is this that I behold with

mine eyes; meseems, at least, that the walls of the hall

and the fair main-beams of the roof and the cross-beams of

pine, and the pillars that run aloft, are bright as it were

with flaming fire. Verily some god is within, of those that

hold the wide heaven.'

And Odysseus of many counsels answered him and said: 'Hold

thy peace and keep thy thoughts in check and ask not

hereof. Lo, this is the wont of the gods that hold Olympus.

But do thou go and lay thee down, and I will abide here,

that I may yet further provoke the maids ant thy mother to

answer; and she in her sorrow will ask me concerning each

thing, one by one.'

So he spake, and Telemachus passed out through the hall to

his chamber to lie down, by the light of the flaming

torches, even to the chamber where of old he took his rest,

when sweet sleep came over him. There now too he lay down

and awaited the bright Dawn. But goodly Odysseus was left

behind in the hall, devising with Athene's aid the slaying

of the wooers.

Now forth from her chamber came the wise Penelope, like

Artemis or golden Aphrodite, and they set a chair for her

hard by before the fire, where she was wont to sit, a chair

well-wrought and inlaid with ivory and silver, which on a

time the craftsman Icmalius had fashioned, and had joined

thereto a footstool, that was part of the chair, whereon a

great fleece was used to be laid. Here then, the wise

Penelope sat her down, and next came white-armed handmaids

from the women's chamber, and began to take away the many

fragments of food, and the tables and the cups whence the

proud lords had been drinking, and they raked out the fire

from the braziers on to the floor, and piled many fresh

logs upon them, to give light and warmth.

Then Melantho began to revile Odysseus yet a second time,

saying: 'Stranger, wilt thou still be a plague to us here,

circling round the house in the night, and spying the

women? Nay, get thee forth, thou wretched thing, and be

thankful for thy supper, or straightway shalt thou even be

smitten with a torch and so fare out of the doors.'

Then Odysseus of many counsels looked fiercely on her, and

said: 'Good woman, what possesses thee to assail me thus

out of an angry heart? Is it because I go filthy and am

clothed about in sorry raiment, and beg through the land,

for necessity is laid on me? This is the manner of beggars

and of wandering men. For I too once had a house of mine

own among men, a rich man with a wealthy house, and many a

time would I give to a wanderer, what manner of man soever

he might be, and in whatsoever need he came. And I had

countless thralls, and all else in plenty, whereby folk

live well and have a name for riches. But Zeus, the son of

Cronos, made me desolate of all, for surely it was his

will. Wherefore, woman, see lest some day thou too lose all

thy fine show wherein thou now excellest among the

handmaids, as well may chance, if thy mistress be provoked

to anger with thee, or if Odysseus come home, for there is

yet a place for hope. And even if he hath perished as ye

deem, and is never more to return, yet by Apollo's grace he

hath a son like him, Telemachus, and none of the women

works wantonness in his halls without his knowledge, for he

is no longer of an age not to mark it,

Thus he spake, and the wise Penelope heard him, and rebuked

the handmaid, and spake and hailed her:

'Thou reckless thing and unabashed, be sure thy great sin

is not hidden from me, and thy blood shall be on thine own

head for the same! Four thou knewest right well, in that

thou hadst heard it from my lips, how that I was minded to

ask the stranger in my halls for tidings of my lord; for I

am grievously afflicted.'

Therewith she spake likewise to the housedame, Eurynome,

saying:

'Eurynome, bring hither a settle with a fleece thereon,

that the stranger may sit and speak with me and hear my

words, for I would ask him all his story.'

So she spake, and the nurse made haste and brought a

polished settle, and cast a fleece thereon; and then the

steadfast goodly Odysseus sat him down there, and the wise

Penelope spake first, saying:

'Stranger, I will make bold first to ask thee this: who art

thou of the sons of men, and whence? Where is thy city, and

where are they that begat thee?'

And Odysseus of many counsels answered her and said: 'Lady,

no one of mortal men in the wide world could find fault

with thee, for lo, thy fame goes up to the wide heaven, as

doth the fame of a blameless king, one that fears the gods

and reigns among many men and mighty, maintaining right,

and the black earth bears wheat and barley, and the trees

are laden with fruit, and the sheep bring forth and fail

not, and the sea gives store of fish, and all out of his

good guidance, and the people prosper under him. Wherefore

do thou ask me now in thy house all else that thou wilt,

but inquire not concerning my race and mine own country,

lest as I think thereupon thou fill my heart the more with

pains, for I am a man of many sorrows. Moreover it beseems

me not to sit weeping and wailing in another's house, for

it is little good to mourn always without ceasing, lest

perchance one of the maidens, or even thyself, be angry

with me and say that I swim in tears, as one that is heavy

with wine.'

Then wise Penelope answered him, and said: 'Stranger,

surely my excellence, both of face and form, the gods

destroyed, in the day when the Argives embarked for Ilios,

and with them went my lord Odysseus. If but he might come

and watch over this my life, greater and fairer thus would

be my fame! But now am I in sorrow, such a host of ills

some god has sent against me. For all the noblest that are

princes in the isles, in Dulichium and Same and wooded

Zacynthus, and they that dwell around even in clear-seen

Ithaca, these are wooing me against my will, and devouring

the house. Wherefore I take no heed of strangers, nor

suppliants, nor at all of heralds, the craftsmen of the

people. But I waste my heart away in longing for Odysseus;

so they speed on my marriage and I weave a web of wiles.

First some god put it into my heart to set up a great web

in the halls, and thereat to weave a robe fine of woof and

very wide; and anon I spake among them, saying: "Ye

princely youths, my wooers, now that goodly Odysseus is

dead, do ye abide patiently, how eager soever to speed on

this marriage of mine, till I finish the robe. I would not

that the threads perish to no avail, even this shroud for

the hero Laertes, against the day when the ruinous doom

shall bring him low, of death that lays men at their

length. So shall none of the Achaean women in the land

count it blame in me, as well might be, were he to lie

without a winding sheet, a man that had gotten great

possessions."

'So spake I, and their high hearts consented thereto. So

then in the daytime I would weave the mighty web, and in

the night unravel the same, when I had let place the

torches by me. Thus for the space of three years I hid the

thing by craft and beguiled the minds of the Achaeans. But

when the fourth year arrived, and the seasons came round as

the months waned, and many days were accomplished, then it

was that by help of the handmaids, shameless things and

reckless, the wooers came and trapped me, and chid me

loudly. Thus did I finish the web by no will of mine, for

so I must. And now I can neither escape the marriage nor

devise any further counsel, and my parents are instant with

me to marry, and my son chafes that these men devour his

livelihood, as he takes note of all; for by this time he

has come to man's estate; and is full able to care for a

household, for one to which Zeus vouchsafes honour. But

even so tell me of thine own stock, whence thou art, for

thou art not sprung of oak or rock, whereof old tales

tell.'

And Odysseus of many counsels answered her and said:

'O wife revered of Odysseus, son of Laertes, wilt thou

never have done asking me about mine own race? Nay, but I

will tell thee: yet surely thou wilt give me over to

sorrows yet more than those wherein I am holden, for so it

ever is when a man has been afar from his own country, so

long as now I am, wandering in sore pain to many cities of

mortals. Yet even so I will tell thee what thou askest and

inquirest. There is a land called Crete in the midst of the

wine-dark sea, a fair land and a rich, begirt with water,

and therein are many men innumerable, and ninety cities.

And all have not the same speech, but there is confusion of

tongues; there dwell Achaeans and there too Cretans of

Crete, high of heart, and Cydonians there and Dorians of

waving plumes and goodly Pelasgians. And among these cities

is the mighty city Cnosus, wherein Minos when he was nine

years old began to rule, he who held converse with great

Zeus, and was the father of my father, even of Deucalion,

high of heart. Now Deucalion begat me and Idomeneus the

prince. Howbeit, he had gone in his beaked ships up into

Ilios, with the sons of Atreus; but my famed name is

Aethon, being the younger of the twain and he was the first

born and the better man. There I saw Odysseus, and gave him

guest-gifts, for the might of the wind bare him too to

Crete, as he was making for Troy land, and had driven him

wandering past Malea. So he stayed his ships in Amnisus,

whereby is the cave of Eilithyia, in havens hard to win,

and scarce he escaped the tempest. Anon he came up to the

city and asked for Idomeneus, saying that he was his friend

and held by him in love and honour. But it was now the

tenth or the eleventh dawn since Idomeneus had gone in his

beaked ships up into Ilios. Then I led him to the house,

and gave him good entertainment with all loving-kindness

out of the plenty in my house, and for him and for the rest

of his company, that went with him, I gathered and gave

barley meal and dark wine out of the public store, and oxen

to sacrifice to his heart's desire. There the goodly

Achaeans abode twelve days, for the strong North Wind

penned them there, and suffered them not to stay upon the

coast, for some angry god had roused it. On the thirteenth

day the wind fell, and then they lifted anchor.'

So he told many a false tale in the likeness of truth, and

her tears flowed as she listened, and her flesh melted. And

even as the snow melts in the high places of the hills, the

snow that the South-East wind has thawed, when the West has

scattered it abroad, and as it wastes the river streams run

full, even so her fair cheeks melted beneath her tears, as

she wept her own lord, who even then was sitting by her.

Now Odysseus had compassion of heart upon his wife in her

lamenting, but his eyes kept steadfast between his eyelids

as it were horn or iron, and craftily he hid his tears. But

she, when she had taken her fill of tearful lamentation,

answered him in turn and spake, saying:

'Friend as thou art, even now I think to make trial of

thee, and learn whether in very truth thou didst entertain

my lord there in thy halls with his godlike company, as

thou sayest. Tell me what manner of raiment he was clothed

in about his body, and what manner of man he was himself,

and tell me of his fellows that went with him.'

Then Odysseus of many counsels answered her saying: 'Lady,

it is hard for one so long parted from him to tell thee all

this, for it is now the twentieth year since he went

thither and left my country. Yet even so I will tell thee

as I see him in spirit. Goodly Odysseus wore a thick purple

mantle, twofold, which had a brooch fashioned in gold, with

two sheathes for the pins, and on the face of it was a

curious device: a hound in his forepaws held a dappled fawn

and gazed on it as it writhed. And all men marvelled at the

workmanship, how, wrought as they were in gold, the hound

was gazing on the fawn and strangling it, and the fawn was

writhing with his feet and striving to flee. Moreover, I

marked the shining doublet about his body, like the gleam

over the skin of a dried onion, so smooth it was, and

glistering as the sun; truly many women looked thereon and

wondered. Yet another thing will I tell thee, and do thou

ponder it in thy heart. I know not if Odysseus was thus

clothed upon at home, or if one of his fellows gave him the

raiment as he went on board the swift ship, or even it may

be some stranger, seeing that to many men was Odysseus

dear, for few of the Achaeans were his peers. I, too, gave

him a sword of bronze, and a fair purple mantle with double

fold, and a tasseled doublet, and I sent him away with all

honour on his decked ship. Moreover, a henchman bare him

company, somewhat older than he, and I will tell thee of

him too, what manner of man he was. He was

round-shouldered, black-skinned, and curly-headed, his name

Eurybates; and Odysseus honoured him above all his company,

because in all things he was like-minded with himself.'

So he spake, and in her heart he stirred yet more the

desire of weeping, as she knew the certain tokens that

Odysseus showed her. So when she had taken her fill of

tearful lament, then she answered him, and spake saying:

'Now verily, stranger, thou that even before wert held in

pity, shalt be dear and honourable in my halls, for it was

I who gave him these garments, as judging from thy words,

and folded them myself, and brought them from the chamber,

and added besides the shining brooch to be his jewel. But

him I shall never welcome back, returned home to his own

dear country. Wherefore with an evil fate it was that

Odysseus went hence in the hollow ship to see that evil

Ilios, never to be named.'

And Odysseus of many counsels answered her saying: 'Wife

revered of Odysseus, son of Laertes, destroy not now thy

fair flesh any more, nor waste thy heart with weeping for

thy lord;--not that I count it any blame in thee, for many

a woman weeps that has lost her wedded lord, to whom she

has borne children in her love,--albeit a far other man

than Odysseus, who, they say, is like the gods. Nay, cease

from thy lamenting, and lay up my word in thy heart; for I

will tell thee without fail, and will hide nought, how but

lately I heard tell of the return of Odysseus, that he is

nigh at hand, and yet alive in the fat land of the men of

Thesprotia, and is bringing with him many choice treasures,

as he begs through the land. But he has lost his dear

companions and his hollow ship on the wine-dark sea, on his

way from the isle Thrinacia: for Zeus and Helios had a

grudge against him, because his company had slain the kine

of Helios. They for their part all perished in the wash of

the sea, but the wave cast him on the keel of the ship out

upon the coast, on the land of the Phaeacians that are near

of kin to the gods, and they did him all honour heartily as

unto a god, and gave him many gifts, and themselves would

fain have sent him scathless home. Yea and Odysseus would

have been here long since, but he thought it more

profitable to gather wealth, as he journeyed over wide

lands; so truly is Odysseus skilled in gainful arts above

all men upon earth, nor may any mortal men contend with

him. So Pheidon king of the Thesprotians told me. Moreover

he sware, in mine own presence, as he poured the

drink-offering in his house, that the ship was drawn down

to the sea and his company were ready, who were to convey

him to his own dear country. But me he first sent off, for

it chanced that a ship of the Thesprotians was on her way

to Dulichium, a land rich in grain. And he showed me all

the wealth that Odysseus had gathered, yea it would suffice

for his children after him, even to the tenth generation,

so great were the treasures he had stored in the chambers

of the king. As for him he had gone, he said, to Dodona to

hear the counsel of Zeus, from the high leafy oak tree of

the god, how he should return to his own dear country,

having now been long afar, whether openly or by stealth.

'In this wise, as I tell thee, he is safe and will come

shortly, and very near he is and will not much longer be

far from his friends and his own country; yet withal I will

give thee my oath on it. Zeus be my witness first, of gods

the highest and best, and the hearth of noble Odysseus

whereunto I am come, that all these things shall surely be

accomplished even as I tell thee. In this same year

Odysseus shall come hither, as the old moon wanes and the

new is born.'

Then wise Penelope answered him: 'Ah! stranger, would that

this word may be accomplished. Soon shouldst thou be aware

of kindness and many a gift at my hands, so that whoso met

with thee would call thee blessed. But on this wise my

heart has a boding, and so it shall be. Neither shall

Odysseus come home any more, nor shalt thou gain an escort

hence, since there are not now such masters in the house as

Odysseus was among men,--if ever such an one there was,--

to welcome guests revered and speed them on their way. But

do ye, my handmaids, wash this man's feet and strew a couch

for him, bedding and mantles and shining blankets, that

well and warmly he may come to the time of golden-throned

Dawn. And very early in the morning bathe him and anoint

him, that within the house beside Telemachus he may eat

meat, sitting quietly in the hall. And it shall be the

worse for any hurtful man of the wooers, that vexes the

stranger, yea he shall not henceforth profit himself here,

for all his sore anger. For how shalt thou learn concerning

me, stranger, whether indeed I excel all women in wit and

thrifty device, if all unkempt and evil clad thou sittest

at supper in my halls? Man's life is brief enough! And if

any be a hard man and hard at heart, all men cry evil on

him for the time to come, while yet he lives, and all men

mock him when he is dead. But if any be a blameless man and

blameless of heart, his guests spread abroad his fame over

the whole earth and many people call him noble.'

Then Odysseus of many counsels answered her and said: 'O

wife revered of Odysseus, son of Laertes, mantles verily

and shining blankets are hateful to me, since first I left

behind me the snowy hills of Crete, voyaging in the

long-oared galley; nay, I will lie as in time past I was

used to rest through the sleepless nights. For full many a

night I have lain on an unsightly bed, and awaited the

bright throned Dawn. And baths for the feet are no longer

my delight, nor shall any women of those who are serving

maidens in thy house touch my foot, unless there chance to

be some old wife, true of heart, one that has borne as much

trouble as myself; I would not grudge such an one to touch

my feet.'

Then wise Penelope answered him: 'Dear stranger, for never

yet has there come to my house, of strangers from afar, a

dearer man or so discreet as thou, uttering so heedfully

the words of wisdom. I have an ancient woman of an

understanding heart, that diligently nursed and tended that

hapless man my lord, she took him in her arms in the hour

when his mother bare him. She will wash thy feet, albeit

her strength is frail. Up now, wise Eurycleia, and wash

this man, whose years are the same as thy master's. Yea and

perchance such even now are the feet of Odysseus, and such

too his hands, for quickly men age in misery.'

So she spake, and the old woman covered her face with her

hands and shed hot tears, and spake a word of lamentation,

saying:

'Ah, woe is me, child, for thy sake, all helpless that I

am! Surely Zeus hated thee above all men, though thou hadst

a god-fearing spirit! For never yet did any mortal burn so

many fat pieces of the thigh and so many choice hecatombs

to Zeus, whose joy is in the thunder, as thou didst give to

him, praying that so thou mightest grow to a smooth old age

and rear thy renowned son. But now from thee alone hath

Zeus wholly cut off the day of thy returning. Haply at him

too did the women mock in a strange land afar, whensoever

he came to the famous palace of any lord, even as here

these shameless ones all mock at thee. To shun their

insults and many taunts it is that thou sufferest them not

to wash thy feet, but the daughter of Icarius, wise

Penelope, hath bidden me that am right willing to this

task. Wherefore I will wash thy feet, both for Penelope's

sake and for thine own, for that my heart within me is

moved and troubled. But come, mark the word that I shall

speak. Many strangers travel-worn have ere now come hither,

but I say that I have never seen any so like another, as

thou art like Odysseus, in fashion in voice and in feet.'

Then Odysseus of many counsels answered her saying: 'Old

wife, even so all men declare, that have beheld us twain,

that we favour each other exceedingly, even as thou dost

mark and say.'

Thereupon the crone took the shining cauldron, wherefrom

{*} she set to wash his feet, and poured in much cold water

and next mingled therewith the warm. Now Odysseus sat aloof

from the hearth, and of a sudden he turned his face to the

darkness, for anon he had a misgiving of heart lest when

she handled him she might know the scar again, and all

should be revealed. Now she drew near her lord to wash him,

and straightway she knew the scar of the wound, that the

boar had dealt him with his white tusk long ago, when

Odysseus went to Parnassus to see Autolycus, and the sons

of Autolycus, his mother's noble father, who outdid all men

in thievery and skill in swearing. This skill was the gift

of the god himself, even Hermes, for that he burned to him

the well-pleasing sacrifice of the thighs of lambs and

kids; wherefore Hermes abetted him gladly. Now Autolycus

once had gone to the rich land of Ithaca, and found his

daughter's son a child new-born, and when he was making an

end of supper, behold, Eurycleia set the babe on his knees,

and spake and hailed him: 'Autolycus find now a name

thyself to give thy child's own son; for lo, he is a child

of many prayers.'

{* Reading [Greek]}

Then Autolycus made answer and spake: 'My daughter and my

daughter's lord, give ye him whatsoever name I tell you.

Forasmuch as I am come hither in wrath against many a one,

both man and woman, over the fruitful earth, wherefore let

the child's name be "a man of wrath," Odysseus. But when

the child reaches his full growth, and comes to the great

house of his mother's kin at Parnassus, whereby are my

possessions, I will give him a gift out of these and send

him on his way rejoicing.'

Therefore it was that Odysseus went to receive the splendid

gifts. And Autolycus and the sons of Autolycus grasped his

hands and greeted him with gentle words, and Amphithea, his

mother's mother, clasped him in her arms and kissed his

face and both his fair eyes. Then Autolycus called to his

renowned sons to get ready the meal, and they hearkened to

the call. So presently they led in a five-year-old bull,

which they flayed and busily prepared, and cut up all the

limbs and deftly chopped them small, and pierced them with

spits and roasted them cunningly, dividing the messes. So

for that livelong day they feasted till the going down of

the sun, and their soul lacked not ought of the equal

banquet. But when the sun sank and darkness came on, they

laid them to rest and took the boon of sleep.

Now so soon as early Dawn shone forth, the rosy-fingered,

they all went forth to the chase, the hounds and the sons

of Autolycus, and with them went the goodly Odysseus. So

they fared up the steep hill of wood-clad Parnassus, and

quickly they came to the windy hollows. Now the sun was but

just striking on the fields, and was come forth from the

soft flowing stream of deep Oceanus. Then the beaters

reached a glade of the woodland, and before them went the

hounds tracking a scent, but behind came the sons of

Autolycus, and among them goodly Odysseus followed close on

the hounds, swaying a long spear. Thereby in a thick lair

was a great boar lying, and through the coppice the force

of the wet winds blew never, neither did the bright sun

light on it with his rays, nor could the rain pierce

through, so thick it was, and of fallen leaves there was

great plenty therein. Then the tramp of the men's feet and

of the dogs' came upon the boar, as they pressed on in the

chase, and forth from his lair he sprang towards them with

crest well bristled and fire shining in his eyes, and stood

at bay before them all. Then Odysseus was the first to rush

in, holding his spear aloft in his strong hand, most eager

to stab him; but the boar was too quick and drave a gash

above the knee, ripping deep into the flesh with his tusk

as he charged sideways, but he reached not to the bone of

the man. Then Odysseus aimed well and smote him on his

right shoulder, so that the point of the bright spear went

clean through, and the boar fell in the dust with a cry,

and his life passed from him. Then the dear sons of

Autolycus began to busy them with the carcase, and as for

the wound of the noble godlike Odysseus, they bound it up

skilfully, and stayed the black blood with a song of

healing, and straight-way returned to the house of their

dear father. Then Autolycus and the sons of Autolycus got

him well healed of his hurt, and gave him splendid gifts,

and quickly sent him with all love to Ithaca, gladly

speeding a glad guest. There his father and lady mother

were glad of his returning, and asked him of all his

adventures, and of his wound how he came by it, and duly he

told them all, namely how the boar gashed him with his

white tusk in the chase, when he had gone to Parnassus with

the sons of Autolycus.

Now the old woman took the scarred limb and passed her

hands down it, and knew it by the touch and let the foot

drop suddenly, so that the knee fell into the bath, and the

brazen vessel rang, being turned over on the other side,

and behold, the water was spilled on the ground. Then joy

and anguish came on her in one moment, and both her eyes

filled up with tears, and the voice of her utterance was

stayed, and touching the chin of Odysseus she spake to him,

saying:

'Yea verily, thou art Odysseus, my dear child, and I knew

thee not before, till I had handled all the body of my

lord.'

Therewithal she looked towards Penelope, as minded to make

a sign that her husband was now home. But Penelope could

not meet her eyes nor take note of her, for Athene had bent

her thoughts to other things. But Odysseus feeling for the

old woman's throat gript it with his right hand and with

the other drew her closer to him and spake, saying:

'Woman, why wouldest thou indeed destroy me? It was thou

that didst nurse me there at thine own breast, and now

after travail and much pain I am come in the twentieth year

to mine own country. But since thou art ware of me, and the

god has put this in thy heart, be silent, lest another

learn the matter in the halls. For on this wise I will

declare it, and it shall surely be accomplished:--if the

gods subdue the lordly wooers unto me, I will not hold my

hand from thee, my nurse though thou art, when I slay the

other handmaids in my halls.'

Then wise Eurycleia answered, saying: 'My child, what word

hath escaped the door of thy lips? Thou knowest how firm is

my spirit and unyielding, and I will keep me fast as

stubborn stone or iron. Yet another thing will I tell thee,

and do thou ponder it in thine heart. If the gods subdue

the lordly wooers to thy hand, then will I tell thee all

the tale of the women in the halls, which of them dishonour

thee and which be guiltless.'

Then Odysseus of many counsels answered her saying: 'Nurse,

wherefore I pray thee wilt thou speak of these? Thou

needest not, for even I myself will mark them well and take

knowledge of each. Nay, do thou keep thy saying to thyself,

and leave the rest to the gods.'

Even so he spake, and the old woman passed forth from the

hall to bring water for his feet, for that first water was

all spilled. So when she had washed him and anointed him

well with olive-oil, Odysseus again drew up his settle

nearer to the fire to warm himself, and covered up the scar

with his rags. Then the wise Penelope spake first, saying:

'Stranger, there is yet a little thing I will make bold to

ask thee, for soon will it be the hour for pleasant rest,

for him on whomsoever sweet sleep falls, though he be heavy

with care. But to me has the god given sorrow, yea sorrow

measureless, for all the day I have my fill of wailing and

lamenting, as I look to mine own housewiferies and to the

tasks of the maidens in the house. But when night comes and

sleep takes hold of all, I lie on my couch, and shrewd

cares, thick thronging about my inmost heart, disquiet me

in my sorrowing. Even as when the daughter of Pandareus,

the nightingale of the greenwood, sings sweet in the first

season of the spring, from her place in the thick leafage

of the trees, and with many a turn and trill she pours

forth her full-voiced music bewailing her child, dear

Itylus, whom on a time she slew with the sword unwitting,

Itylus the son of Zethus the prince; even as her song, my

troubled soul sways to and fro. Shall I abide with my son,

and keep all secure, all the things of my getting, my

thralls and great high-roofed home, having respect unto the

bed of my lord and the voice of the people, or even now

follow with the best of the Achaeans that woos me in the

halls, and gives a bride-price beyond reckoning? Now my

son, so long as he was a child and light of heart, suffered

me not to marry and leave the house of my husband; but now

that he is great of growth, and is come to the full measure

of manhood, lo now he prays me to go back home from these

walls, being vexed for his possessions that the Achaeans

devour before his eyes. But come now, hear a dream of mine

and tell me the interpretation thereof. Twenty geese I have

in the house, that eat wheat, coming forth from the water,

and I am gladdened at the sight. Now a great eagle of

crooked beak swooped from the mountain, and brake all their

necks and slew them; and they lay strewn in a heap in the

halls, while he was borne aloft to the bright air. Thereon

I wept and wailed, in a dream though it was, and around me

were gathered the fair-tressed Achaean women as I made

piteous lament, for that the eagle had slain my geese. But

he came back and sat him down on a jutting point of the

roof-beam, and with the voice of a man he spake, and stayed

my weeping:

'"Take heart, O daughter of renowned Icarius; this is no

dream but a true vision, that shall be accomplished for

thee. The geese are the wooers, and I that before was the

eagle am now thy husband come again, who will let slip

unsightly death upon all the wooers." With that word sweet

slumber let me go, and I looked about, and beheld the geese

in the court pecking their wheat at the trough, where they

were wont before.'

Then Odysseus of many counsels answered her and said:

'Lady, none may turn aside the dream to interpret it

otherwise, seeing that Odysseus himself hath showed thee

how he will fulfil it. For the wooers destruction is

clearly boded, for all and every one; not a man shall avoid

death and the fates.'

Then wise Penelope answered him: 'Stranger, verily dreams

are hard, and hard to be discerned; nor are all things

therein fulfilled for men. Twain are the gates of shadowy

dreams, the one is fashioned of horn and one of ivory. Such

dreams as pass through the portals of sawn ivory are

deceitful, and bear tidings that are unfulfilled. But the

dreams that come forth through the gates of polished horn

bring a true issue, whosoever of mortals beholds them. Yet

methinks my strange dream came not thence; of a truth that

would be most welcome to me and to my son. But another

thing will I tell thee, and do thou ponder it in thy heart.

Lo, even now draws nigh the morn of evil name, that is to

sever me from the house of Odysseus, for now I am about to

ordain for a trial those axes that he would set up in a row

in his halls, like stays of oak in ship-building, twelve in

all, and he would stand far apart and shoot his arrow

through them all. And now I will offer this contest to the

wooers; whoso shall most easily string the bow in his

hands, and shoot through all twelve axes, with him will I

go and forsake this house, this house of my wedlock, so

fair and filled with all livelihood, which methinks I shall

yet remember, aye, in a dream.'

Then Odysseus of many counsels answered her and said: 'Wife

revered of Odysseus son of Laertes, no longer delay this

contest in thy halls; for, lo, Odysseus of many counsels

will be here, before these men, for all their handling of

this polished bow, shall have strung it, and shot the arrow

through the iron.'

Then the wise Penelope answered him: 'Stranger, if only

thou wert willing still to sit beside me in the halls and

to delight me, not upon my eyelids would sleep be shed. But

men may in no wise abide sleepless ever, for the immortals

have made a time for all things for mortals on the

grain-giving earth. Howbeit I will go aloft to my upper

chamber, and lay me on my bed, the place of my groanings,

that is ever watered by my tears, since the day that

Odysseus went to see that evil Ilios, never to be named.

There will I lay me down, but do thou lie in this house;

either strew thee somewhat on the floor, or let them lay

bedding for thee.'

Therewith she ascended to her shining upper chamber, not

alone, for with her likewise went her handmaids. So she

went aloft to her upper chamber with the women her

handmaids, and there was bewailing Odysseus, her dear lord,

till grey-eyed Athene cast sweet sleep upon her eyelids.

 

Book XX

Pallas and Odysseus consult of the killing of the wooers.

But the goodly Odysseus laid him down to sleep in the

vestibule of the house. He spread an undressed bull's hide

on the ground and above it many fleeces of sheep, that the

Achaeans were wont to slay in sacrifice, and Eurynome threw

a mantle over him where he lay. There Odysseus lay wakeful,

with evil thoughts against the wooers in his heart. And the

women came forth from their chamber, that aforetime were

wont to lie with the wooers, making laughter and mirth

among themselves. Then the heart of Odysseus was stirred

within his breast, and much he communed with his mind and

soul, whether he should leap forth upon them and deal death

to each, or suffer them to lie with the proud wooers, now

for the last and latest time. And his heart growled

sullenly within him. And even as a bitch stands over her

tender whelps growling, when she spies a man she knows not,

and she is eager to assail him, so growled his heart within

him in his wrath at their evil deeds. Then he smote upon

his breast and rebuked his own heart, saying:

'Endure, my heart; yea, a baser thing thou once didst bear,

on that day when the Cyclops, unrestrained in fury,

devoured the mighty men of my company; but still thou didst

endure till thy craft found a way for thee forth from out

the cave, where thou thoughtest to die.'

So spake he, chiding his own spirit within him, and his

heart verily abode steadfast in obedience to his word. But

Odysseus himself lay tossing this way and that. And as when

a man by a great fire burning takes a paunch full of fat

and blood, and turns it this way and that and longs to have

it roasted most speedily, so Odysseus tossed from side to

side, musing how he might stretch forth his hands upon the

shameless wooers, being but one man against so many. Then

down from heaven came Athene and drew nigh him, fashioned

in the likeness of a woman. And she stood over his head and

spake to him, saying:

'Lo now again, wherefore art thou watching, most luckless

of all men living? Is not this thy house and is not thy

wife there within and thy child, such a son as men wish to

have for their own?'

Then Odysseus of many counsels answered her saying: 'Yea,

goddess, all this thou hast spoken as is meet. But my heart

within me muses in some measure upon this, how I may

stretch forth my hands upon the shameless wooers, being but

one man, while they abide ever in their companies within.

Moreover this other and harder matter I ponder in my heart:

even if I were to slay them by thy will and the will of

Zeus, whither should I flee from the avengers? Look well to

this, I pray thee.'

Then answered the goddess, grey-eyed Athene: 'O hard of

belief! yea, many there be that trust even in a weaker

friend than I am, in one that is a mortal and knows not

such craft as mine; but I am a god, that preserve thee to

the end, in all manner of toils. And now I will tell thee

plainly; even should fifty companies of mortal men compass

us about eager to slay us in battle, even their kine

shouldst thou drive off and their brave flocks. But let

sleep in turn come over thee; to wake and to watch all

night, this too is vexation of spirit; and soon shalt thou

rise from out of thy troubles.'

So she spake and poured slumber upon his eyelids, but for

her part the fair goddess went back to Olympus.

While sleep laid hold of him loosening the cares of his

soul, sleep that loosens the limbs of men, his good wife

awoke and wept as she sat on her soft bed. But when she had

taken her fill of weeping, to Artemis first the fair lady

made her prayer:

'Artemis, lady and goddess, daughter of Zeus, would that

even now thou wouldst plant thy shaft within my breast and

take my life away, even in this hour! Or else, would that

the stormwind might snatch me up, and bear me hence down

the dusky ways, and cast me forth where the back-flowing

Oceanus mingles with the sea. It should be even as when the

stormwinds bare away the daughters of Pandareus. Their

father and their mother the gods had slain, and the maidens

were left orphans in the halls, and fair Aphrodite

cherished them with curds and sweet honey and delicious

wine. And Here gave them beauty and wisdom beyond the lot

of women, and holy Artemis dowered them with stature, and

Athene taught them skill in all famous handiwork. Now while

fair Aphrodite was wending to high Olympus, to pray that a

glad marriage might be accomplished for the maidens,--and

to Zeus she went whose joy is in the thunder, for he knows

all things well, what the fates give and deny to mortal

men--in the meanwhile the spirits of the storm snatched

away these maidens, and gave them to be handmaids to the

hateful Erinyes. Would that in such wise they that hold the

mansions of Olympus would take me from the sight of men, or

that fair-stressed Artemis would strike me, that so with a

vision of Odysseus before mine eyes I might even pass

beneath the dreadful earth, nor ever make a baser man's

delight! But herein is an evil that may well be borne,

namely, when a man weeps all the day long in great sorrow

of heart, but sleep takes him in the night, for sleep makes

him forgetful of all things, of good and evil, when once it

has overshadowed his eyelids. But as for me, even the

dreams that the gods send upon me are evil. For

furthermore, this very night one seemed to lie by my side,

in the likeness of my lord, as he was when he went with the

host, and then was my heart glad, since methought it was no

vain dream but a clear vision at the last.'

So she spake, and anon came the golden throned Dawn. Now

goodly Odysseus caught the voice of her weeping, and then

he fell a musing, and it seemed to him that even now she

knew him and was standing by his head. So he took up the

mantle and the fleeces whereon he was lying, and set them

on a high seat in the hall, and bare out the bull's hide

out of doors and laid it there, and lifting up his hands he

prayed to Zeus:

'Father Zeus, if ye gods of your good will have led me over

wet and dry, to mine own country, after ye had plagued me

sore, let some one I pray of the folk that are waking show

me a word of good omen within, and without let some sign

also be revealed to me from Zeus.'

So he spake in prayer, and Zeus, the counsellor, heard him.

Straightway he thundered from shining Olympus, from on high

from the place of clouds; and goodly Odysseus was glad.

Moreover a woman, a grinder at the mill, uttered a voice of

omen from within the house hard by, where stood the mills

of the shepherd of the people. At these handmills twelve

women in all plied their task, making meal of barley and of

wheat, the marrow of men. Now all the others were asleep,

for they had ground out their task of grain, but one alone

rested not yet, being the weakest of all. She now stayed

her quern and spake a word, a sign to her lord:

'Father Zeus, who rulest over gods and men, loudly hast

thou thundered from the starry sky, yet nowhere is there a

cloud to be seen: this surely is a portent thou art showing

to some mortal. Fulfil now, I pray thee, even to miserable

me, the word that I shall speak. May the wooers, on this

day, for the last and latest time make their sweet feasting

in the halls of Odysseus! They that have loosened my knees

with cruel toil to grind their barley meal, may they now

sup their last!'

Thus she spake, and goodly Odysseus was glad in the omen of

the voice and in the thunder of Zeus; for he thought that

he had gotten his vengeance on the guilty.

Now the other maidens in the fair halls of Odysseus had

gathered, and were kindling on the hearth the never-resting

fire. And Telemachus rose from his bed, a godlike man, and

put on his raiment, and slung a sharp sword about his

shoulders, and beneath his shining feet he bound his goodly

sandals. And he caught up his mighty spear shod with sharp

bronze, and went and stood by the threshold, and spake to

Eurycleia:

'Dear nurse, have ye honoured our guest in the house with

food and couch, or does he lie uncared for, as he may? For

this is my mother's way, wise as she is: blindly she

honours one of mortal men, even the worse, but the better

she sends without honour away.'

Then the prudent Eurycleia answered: 'Nay, my child, thou

shouldst not now blame her where no blame is. For the

stranger sat and drank wine, so long as he would, and of

food he said he was no longer fain, for thy mother asked

him. Moreover, against the hour when he should bethink him

of rest and sleep, she bade the maidens strew for him a

bed. But he, as one utterly wretched and ill-fated, refused

to lie on a couch and under blankets, but on an undressed

hide and on the fleeces of sheep he slept in the vestibule,

and we cast a mantle over him.'

So she spake, and Telemachus passed out through the hall

with his lance in his hand, and two fleet dogs bare him

company. He went on his way to the assembly-place to join

the goodly-greaved Achaeans. But the good lady Eurycleia,

daughter of Ops son of Peisenor, called aloud to her

maidens:

'Come hither, let some of you go busily and sweep the hall,

and sprinkle it, and on the fair-fashioned seats throw

purple coverlets, and others with sponges wipe all the

tables clean, and cleanse the mixing bowls and well-wrought

double beakers, and others again go for water to the well,

and return with it right speedily. For the wooers will not

long be out of the hall but will return very early, for it

is a feast day, yea for all the people.'

So she spake, and they all gave ready ear and hearkened.

Twenty of them went to the well of dark water, and the

others there in the halls were busy with skilful hands.

Then in came the serving-men of the Achaeans. Thereon they

cleft the faggots well and cunningly, while, behold, the

women came back from the well. Then the swineherd joined

them leading three fatted boars, the best in all the flock.

These he left to feed at large in the fair courts, but as

for him he spake to Odysseus gently, saying:

'Tell me, stranger, do the Achaeans at all look on thee

with more regard, or do they dishonour thee in the halls,

as heretofore?'

Then Odysseus of many counsels answered him saying:

'Oh, that the gods, Eumaeus, may avenge the scorn wherewith

these men deal insolently, and devise infatuate deeds in

another's house, and have no place for shame!'

On such wise they spake one to another. And Melanthius drew

near them, the goatherd, leading the goats that were most

excellent in all the herds to be a dinner for the wooers,

and two shepherds bare him company. So he tethered the

goats beneath the echoing gallery, and himself spake to

Odysseus and taunted him, saying:

'Stranger, wilt thou still be a plague to us here in the

hall, with thy begging of men, and wilt not get thee gone?

In no wise do I think we twain will be sundered, till we

taste each the other's fists, for thy begging is out of all

order. Also there are elsewhere other feasts of the

Achaeans.'

So he spake, but Odysseus of many counsels answered him not

a word, but in silence he shook his head, brooding evil in

the deep of his heart.

Moreover a third man came up, Philoetius, a master of men,

leading a barren heifer for the wooers and fatted goats.

Now ferrymen had brought them over from the mainland,

boatmen who send even other folks on their way, whosoever

comes to them. The cattle he tethered carefully beneath the

echoing gallery, and himself drew close to the swineherd,

and began to question him:

'Swineherd, who is this stranger but newly come to our

house? From what men does he claim his birth? Where are his

kin and his native fields? Hapless is he, yet in fashion he

is like a royal lord; but the gods mar the goodliness of

wandering men, when even for kings they have woven the web

of trouble.'

So he spake, and came close to him offering his right hand

in welcome, and uttering his voice spake to him winged

words:

'Father and stranger, hail! may happiness be thine in the

time to come; but as now, thou art fast holden in many

sorrows! Father Zeus, none other god is more baneful than

thou; thou hast no compassion on men, that are of thine own

begetting, but makest them to have fellowship with evil and

with bitter pains. The sweat brake out on me when I beheld

him, and mine eyes stand full of tears for memory of

Odysseus, for he too, methinks, is clad in such vile

raiment as this, and is wandering among men, if haply he

yet lives and sees the sunlight. But if he be dead already

and in the house of Hades, then woe is me for the noble

Odysseus, who set me over his cattle while I was but a lad

in the land of the Cephallenians. And now these wax

numberless; in no better wise could the breed of

broad-browed cattle of any mortal increase, even as the

ears of corn. But strangers command me to be ever driving

these for themselves to devour, and they care nothing for

the heir in the house, nor tremble at the vengeance of the

gods, for they are eager even now to divide among

themselves the possessions of our lord who is long afar.

Now my heart within my breast often revolves this thing.

Truly it were an evil deed, while a son of the master is

yet alive, to get me away to the land of strangers, and go

off, with cattle and all, to alien men. But this is more

grievous still, to abide here in affliction watching over

the herds of other men. Yea, long ago I would have fled and

gone forth to some other of the proud kings, for things are

now past sufferance; but still my thought is of that

hapless one, if he might come I know not whence, and make a

scattering of the wooers in the halls.'

Then Odysseus of many counsels answered him saying:

'Neatherd, seeing thou art not like to an evil man or a

foolish, and of myself I mark how that thou hast gotten

understanding of heart, therefore I will tell thee

somewhat, and swear a great oath to confirm it. Be Zeus now

my witness before any god, and the hospitable board and the

hearth of noble Odysseus, whereunto I am come, that while

thou art still in this place Odysseus shall come home, and

thou shalt see with thine eyes, if thou wilt, the slaying

of the wooers who lord it here.'

Then the neatherd made answer, saying:

'Ah, would, stranger, that Cronion may accomplish this

word! So shouldst thou know what my might is, and how my

hands follow to obey.'

In like manner Eumaeus prayed to all the gods, that wise

Odysseus might return to his own home.

On such wise they spake one to the other, but the wooers at

that time were framing death and doom for Telemachus. Even

so there came by them a bird on their left, an eagle of

lofty flight, with a cowering dove in his clutch. Then

Amphinomus made harangue and spake among them:

'Friends, this counsel of ours will not go well, namely,

the slaying of Telemachus; rather let us bethink us of the

feast.'

So spake Amphinomus, and his saying pleased them well. They

passed into the halls of godlike Odysseus and laid by their

mantles on the chairs and high seats, and sacrificed great

sheep and stout goats and the fatlings of the boars and the

heifer of the herd; then they roasted the entrails and

served them round and mixed wine in the bowl, and the

swineherd set a cup by each man. And Philoetius, a master

of men, handed them wheaten bread in beautiful baskets, and

Melanthius poured out the wine. So they put forth their

hands on the good cheer set before them.

Now Telemachus, in his crafty purpose, made Odysseus to sit

down within the stablished hall by the threshold of stone,

and placed for him a mean settle and a little table. He set

by him his mess of the entrails, and poured wine into a

golden cup and spake to him, saying:

'There, sit thee down, drinking thy wine among the lords,

and the taunts and buffets of all the wooers I myself will

ward off from thee, for this is no house of public resort,

but the very house of Odysseus, and for me he won it. But,

ye wooers, refrain your minds from rebukes and your hands

from buffets, that no strife and feud may arise.'

So he said, and they all bit their lips and marvelled at

Telemachus, in that he spake boldly. Then Antinous, son of

Eupeithes, spake among them, saying:

'Hard though the word be, let us accept it, Achaeans, even

the word of Telemachus, though mightily he threatens us in

his speech. For Zeus Cronion hath hindered us of our

purpose, else would we have silenced him in our halls,

shrill orator as he is.'

So spake Antinous, but Telemachus took no heed of his

words. Now the henchmen were leading through the town the

holy hecatomb of the gods, and lo, the long-haired Achaeans

were gathered beneath the shady grove of Apollo, the prince

of archery.

Now when they had roasted the outer flesh and drawn it off

the spits, they divided the messes and shared the glorious

feast. And beside Odysseus they that waited set an equal

share, the same as that which fell to themselves, for so

Telemachus commanded, the dear son of divine Odysseus.

Now Athene would in nowise suffer the lordly wooers to

abstain from biting scorn, that the pain might sink yet the

deeper into the heart of Odysseus, son of Laertes. There

was among the wooers a man of a lawless heart, Ctesippus

was his name, and in Same was his home, who trusting,

forsooth, to his vast possessions, was wooing the wife of

Odysseus the lord long afar. And now he spake among the

proud wooers:

'Hear me, ye lordly wooers, and I will say somewhat. The

stranger verily has long had his due portion, as is meet,

an equal share; for it is not fair nor just to rob the

guests of Telemachus of their right, whosoever they may be

that come to this house. Go to then, I also will bestow on

him a stranger's gift, that he in turn may give a present

either to the bath-woman, or to any other of the thralls

within the house of godlike Odysseus.'

Therewith he caught up an ox's foot from the dish, where it

lay, and hurled it with strong hand. But Odysseus lightly

avoided it with a turn of his head, and smiled right grimly

in his heart, and the ox's foot smote the well-builded

wall. Then Telemachus rebuked Ctesippus, saying:

'Verily, Ctesippus, it has turned out happier for thy

heart's pleasure as it is! Thou didst not smite the

stranger, for he himself avoided that which was cast at

him, else surely would I have struck thee through the midst

with the sharp spear, and in place of wedding banquet thy

father would have had to busy him about a funeral feast in

this place. Wherefore let no man make show of unseemly

deeds in this my house, for now I have understanding to

discern both good and evil, but in time past I was yet a

child. But as needs we must, we still endure to see these

deeds, while sheep are slaughtered and wine drunken and

bread devoured, for hard it is for one man to restrain

many. But come, no longer work me harm out of an evil

heart; but if ye be set on slaying me, even me, with the

sword, even that would I rather endure, and far better

would it be to die than to witness for ever these unseemly

deeds--strangers shamefully entreated, and men haling the

handmaidens in foul wise through the fair house.'

So he spake, and they were all hushed in silence. And late

and at last spake among them Agelaus, son of Damastor:

'Friends, when a righteous word has been spoken, none

surely would rebuke another with hard speech and be angry.

Misuse ye not this stranger, nor any of the thralls that

are in the house of godlike Odysseus. But to Telemachus

himself I would speak a soft word and to his mother, if

perchance it may find favour with the mind of those twain.

So long as your hearts within you had hope of the wise

Odysseus returning to his own house, so long none could be

wroth that ye waited and held back the wooers in the halls,

for so had it been better, if Odysseus had returned and

come back to his own home. But now the event is plain, that

he will return no more. Go then, sit by thy mother and tell

her all, namely, that she must wed the best man that wooes

her, and whose gives most gifts; so shalt thou with

gladness live on the heritage of thy father, eating and

drinking, while she cares for another's house.'

Then wise Telemachus answered, and said: 'Nay by Zeus,

Agelaus, and by the griefs of my father, who far away

methinks from Ithaca has perished or goes wandering, in

nowise do I delay my mother's marriage; nay, I bid her be

married to what man she will, and withal I offer gifts

without number. But I do indeed feel shame to drive her

forth from the hall, despite her will, by a word of

compulsion; God forbid that ever this should be.'

So spake Telemachus, but among the wooers Pallas Athene

roused laughter unquenchable, and drave their wits

wandering. And now they were laughing with alien lips, and

blood-bedabbled was the flesh they ate, and their eyes were

filled with tears and their soul was fain of lamentation.

Then the godlike Theoclymenus spake among them:

'Ah, wretched men, what woe is this ye suffer? Shrouded in

night are your heads and your faces and your knees, and

kindled is the voice of wailing, and all cheeks are wet

with tears, and the walls and the fair main-beams of the

roof are sprinkled with blood. And the porch is full, and

full is the court, of ghosts that hasten hellwards beneath

the gloom, and the sun has perished out of heaven, and an

evil mist has overspread the world.'

So spake he, and they all laughed sweetly at him. Then

Eurymachus, son of Polybus, began to speak to them, saying:

'The guest that is newly come from a strange land is beside

himself. Quick, ye young men, and convey him forth out of

doors, that he may go to the place of the gathering, since

here he finds it dark as night.'

Then godlike Theoclymenus answered him: 'Eurymachus, in

nowise do I seek guides of thee to send me on my way. Eyes

have I, and ears, and both my feet, and a stable mind in my

breast of no mean fashioning. With these I will go forth,

for I see evil coming on you, which not one man of the

wooers may avoid or shun, of all you who in the house of

divine Odysseus deal insolently with men and devise

infatuate deeds.'

Therewith he went forth from out the fair-lying halls, and

came to Peiraeus who received him gladly. Then all the

wooers, looking one at the other, provoked Telemachus to

anger, laughing at his guests. And thus some one of the

haughty youths would speak:

'Telemachus, no man is more luckless than thou in his

guests, seeing thou keepest such a filthy wanderer,

whosoever he be, always longing for bread and wine, and

skilled in no peaceful work nor any deed of war, but a mere

burden of the earth. And this other fellow again must stand

up to play the seer! Nay, but if thou wouldest listen to

me, much better it were. Let us cast these strangers on

board a benched ship, and send them to the Sicilians,

whence they would fetch thee their price.' {*}

{* Reading [Greek], which is a correction. Or keeping the

MSS. [Greek] 'and this should bring thee in a goodly

price,' the subject to [Greek] being, probably, THE SALE,

which is suggested by the context.}

So spake the wooers, but he heeded not their words, in

silence he looked towards his father, expecting evermore

the hour when he should stretch forth his hands upon the

shameless wooers.

Now the daughter of Icarius, wise Penelope, had set her

fair chair over against them, and heard the words of each

one of the men in the halls. For in the midst of laughter

they had got ready the midday meal, a sweet meal and

abundant, for they had sacrificed many cattle. But never

could there be a banquet less gracious than that supper,

such an one as the goddess and the brave man were soon to

spread for them; for that they had begun the devices of

shame.

 

Book XXI

Penelope bringeth forth her husband's bow, which the

suitors could not bend, but was bent by Odysseus.

Now the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, put it into the heart of

the daughter of Icarius, wise Penelope, to set the bow and

the axes of grey iron, for the wooers in the halls of

Odysseus, to be the weapons of the contest, and the

beginning of death. So she descended the tall staircase of

her chamber, and took the well-bent key in her strong hand,

a goodly key of bronze, whereon was a handle of ivory. And

she betook her, with her handmaidens, to the

treasure-chamber in the uttermost part of the house, where

lay the treasures of her lord, bronze and gold and

well-wrought iron. And there lay the back-bent bow and the

quiver for the arrows, and many shafts were therein, winged

for death, gifts of a friend of Odysseus, that met with him

in Lacedaemon, Iphitus son of Eurytus, a man like to the

gods. These twain fell in with one another in Messene, in

the house of wise Ortilochus. Now Odysseus had gone thither

to recover somewhat that was owing to him from all the

people, for the men of Messene had lifted three hundred

sheep in benched ships from out of Ithaca, with the

shepherds of the flock. In quest of these it was that

Odysseus went on a far embassy, being yet a lad; for his

father and the other elders sent him forth. Moreover,

Iphitus came thither in his search for twelve brood mares,

which he had lost, with sturdy mules at the teat. These

same it was that brought him death and destiny in the

latter end, when he came to the child of Zeus, hardy of

heart, the man Heracles, that had knowledge of great

adventures, who smote Iphitus though his guest in his

house, in his frowardness, and had no regard for the

vengeance of the gods, nor for the table which he spread

before him; for after the meal he slew him, his guest

though he was, and kept for himself in the halls the horses

strong of hoof. After these was Iphitus asking, when he met

with Odysseus, and he gave him the bow, which of old great

Eurytus bare and had left at his death to his son in his

lofty house. And Odysseus gave Iphitus a sharp sword and a

mighty spear, for the beginning of a loving friendship; but

never had they acquaintance one of another at the board;

ere that might be, the son of Zeus slew Iphitus son of

Eurytus, a man like to the immortals, the same that gave

Odysseus the bow. But goodly Odysseus would never take it

with him on the black ships, as he went to the wars, but

the bow was laid by at home in the halls as a memorial of a

dear guest, and he carried it on his own land.

Now when the fair lady had come even to the

treasure-chamber, and had stept upon the threshold of oak,

which the carpenter had on a time planed cunningly, and

over it had made straight the line,--doorposts also had he

fitted thereby, whereon he set shining doors,--anon she

quickly loosed the strap from the handle of the door, and

thrust in the key, and with a straight aim shot back the

bolts. And even as a bull roars that is grazing in a

meadow, so mightily roared the fair doors smitten by the

key; and speedily they flew open before her. Then she stept

on to the high floor, where the coffers stood, wherein the

fragrant raiment was stored. Thence she stretched forth her

hand, and took the bow from off the pin, all in the bright

case which sheathed it around. And there she sat down, and

set the case upon her knees, and cried aloud and wept, and

took out the bow of her lord. Now when she had her fill of

tearful lament, she set forth to go to the hall to the

company of the proud wooers, with the back-bent bow in her

hands, and the quiver for the arrows, and many shafts were

therein winged for death. And her maidens along with her

bare a chest, wherein lay much store of iron and bronze,

the gear of combat of their lord. Now when the fair lady

had come unto the wooers, she stood by the pillar of the

well-builded roof, holding up her glistening tire before

her face; and a faithful maiden stood on either side of

her, and straightway she spake out among the wooers and

declared her word, saying:

'Hear me, ye lordly wooers, who have vexed this house, that

ye might eat and drink here evermore, forasmuch as the

master is long gone, nor could ye find any other mark {*}

for your speech, but all your desire was to wed me and take

me to wife. Nay come now, ye wooers, seeing that this is

the prize that is put before you. I will set forth for you

the great bow of divine Odysseus, and whoso shall most

easily string the bow in his hands, and shoot through all

twelve axes, with him will I go and forsake this house,

this house of my wedlock, so fair and filled with all

livelihood, which methinks I shall yet remember, aye, in a

dream.'

{* The accepted interpretation of [Greek] (a word which

occurs only here) is 'pretext'; but this does not agree

with any of the meanings of the verb from which the noun is

derived. The usage of [Greek] in Od. xix. 71, xxii. 75, of

[Greek] in Il. xvii. 465, and of [Greek] in Od. xxii. 15,

suggests rather for [Greek] the idea of 'aiming at a

mark.'}

So spake she, and commanded Eumaeus, the goodly swineherd,

to set the bow for the wooers and the axes of grey iron.

And Eumaeus took them with tears, and laid them down; and

otherwhere the neatherd wept, when he beheld the bow of his

lord. Then Antinous rebuked them, and spake and hailed

them:

'Foolish boors, whose thoughts look not beyond the day, ah,

wretched pair, wherefore now do ye shed tears, and stir the

soul of the lady within her, when her heart already lies

low in pain, for that she has lost her dear lord? Nay sit,

and feast in silence, or else get ye forth and weep, and

leave the bow here behind, to be a terrible contest for the

wooers, for methinks that this polished bow does not

lightly yield itself to be strung. For there is no man

among all these present such as Odysseus was, and I myself

saw him, yea I remember it well, though I was still but a

child.'

So spake he, but his heart within him hoped that he would

string the bow, and shoot through the iron. Yet verily, he

was to be the first that should taste the arrow at the

hands of the noble Odysseus, whom but late he was

dishonouring as he sat in the halls, and was inciting all

his fellows to do likewise.

Then the mighty prince Telemachus spake among them, saying:

'Lo now, in very truth, Cronion has robbed me of my wits!

My dear mother, wise as she is, declares that she will go

with a stranger and forsake this house; yet I laugh and in

my silly heart I am glad. Nay come now, ye wooers, seeing

that this is the prize which is set before you, a lady, the

like of whom there is not now in the Achaean land, neither

in sacred Pylos, nor in Argos, nor in Mycenae, nor yet in

Ithaca, nor in the dark mainland. Nay but ye know all this

yourselves,--why need I praise my mother? Come therefore,

delay not the issue with excuses, nor hold much longer

aloof from the drawing of the bow, that we may see the

thing that is to be. Yea and I myself would make trial of

this bow. If I shall string it, and shoot through the iron,

then should I not sorrow if my lady mother were to quit

these halls and go with a stranger, seeing that I should be

left behind, well able now to lift my father's goodly gear

of combat.'

Therewith he cast from off his neck his cloak of scarlet,

and sprang to his full height, and put away the sword from

his shoulders. First he dug a good trench and set up the

axes, one long trench for them all, and over it he made

straight the line and round about stamped in the earth. And

amazement fell on all that beheld how orderly he set the

axes, though never before had he seen it so. Then he went

and stood by the threshold and began to prove the bow.

Thrice he made it to tremble in his great desire to draw

it, and thrice he rested from his effort, though still he

hoped in his heart to string the bow, and shoot through the

iron. And now at last he might have strung it, mightily

straining thereat for the fourth time, but Odysseus nodded

frowning and stayed him, for all his eagerness. Then the

strong prince Telemachus spake among them again:

'Lo you now, even to the end of my days I shall be a coward

and a weakling, or it may be I am too young, and have as

yet no trust in my hands to defend me from such an one as

does violence without a cause. But come now, ye who are

mightier men than I, essay the bow and let us make an end

of the contest.'

Therewith he put the bow from him on the ground, leaning it

against the smooth and well-compacted doors, and the swift

shaft he propped hard by against the fair bow-tip, and then

he sat down once more on the high seat, whence he had

risen.

Then Antinous, son of Eupeithes, spake among them, saying:

'Rise up in order, all my friends, beginning from the left,

even from the place whence the wine is poured.'

So spake Antinous, and the saying pleased them well. Then

first stood up Leiodes, son of Oenops, who was their

soothsayer and ever sat by the fair mixing bowl at the

extremity of the hall; he alone hated their infatuate deeds

and was indignant with all the wooers. He now first took

the bow and the swift shaft, and he went and stood by the

threshold, and began to prove the bow; but he could not

bend it; or ever that might be, his hands grew weary with

the straining, his unworn, delicate hands; so he spake

among the wooers, saying:

'Friends, of a truth I cannot bend it, let some other take

it. Ah, many of our bravest shall this bow rob of spirit

and of life, since truly it is far better for us to die,

than to live on and to fail of that for which we assemble

evermore in this place, day by day expecting the prize.

Many there be even now that hope in their hearts and desire

to wed Penelope, the bedfellow of Odysseus: but when such

an one shall make trial of the bow and see the issue,

thereafter let him woo some other fair-robed Achaean woman

with his bridal gifts and seek to win her. So may our lady

wed the man that gives most gifts, and comes as the chosen

of fate.'

So he spake, and put from him the bow leaning it against

the smooth and well-compacted doors, and the swift shaft he

propped hard by against the fair bow-tip, and then he sat

down once more on the high seat, whence he had risen.

But Antinous rebuked him, and spake and hailed him:

'Leiodes, what word hath escaped the door of thy lips; a

hard word, and a grievous? Nay, it angers me to hear it,

and to think that a bow such as this shall rob our bravest

of spirit and of life, and all because thou canst not draw

it. For I tell thee that thy lady mother bare thee not of

such might as to draw a bow and shoot arrows: but there be

others of the proud wooers that shall draw it soon.'

So he spake, and commanded Melanthius, the goatherd,

saying: 'Up now, light a fire in the halls, Melanthius; and

place a great settle by the fire and a fleece thereon, and

bring forth a great ball of lard that is within, that we

young men may warm and anoint the bow therewith and prove

it, and make an end of the contest.'

So he spake, and Melanthius soon kindled the never-resting

fire, and drew up a settle and placed it near, and put a

fleece thereon, and he brought forth a great ball of lard

that was within. Therewith the young men warmed the bow,

and made essay, but could not string it, for they were

greatly lacking of such might. And Antinous still held to

the task and godlike Eurymachus, chief men among the

wooers, who were far the most excellent of all.

But those other twain went forth both together from the

house, the neatherd and the swineherd of godlike Odysseus;

and Odysseus passed out after them. But when they were now

gotten without the gates and the courtyard, he uttered his

voice and spake to them in gentle words:

'Neatherd and thou swineherd, shall I say somewhat or keep

it to myself? Nay, my spirit bids me declare it. What

manner of men would ye be to help Odysseus, if he should

come thus suddenly, I know not whence, and some god were to

bring him? Would ye stand on the side of the wooers or of

Odysseus? Tell me even as your heart and spirit bid you.'

Then the neatherd answered him, saying: 'Father Zeus, if

but thou wouldst fulfil this wish: {*}--oh, that that man

might come, and some god lead him hither! So shouldest thou

know what my might is, and how my hands follow to obey.'

{* Placing a colon at [Greek]}

In like manner Eumaeus prayed to all the gods that wise

Odysseus might return to his own home.

Now when he knew for a surety what spirit they were of,

once more he answered and spake to them, saying:

'Behold, home am I come, even I; after much travail and

sore am I come in the twentieth year to mine own country.

And I know how that my coming is desired by you alone of

all my thralls, for from none besides have I heard a prayer

that I might return once more to my home. And now I will

tell you all the truth, even as it shall come to pass. If

the god shall subdue the proud wooers to my hands, I will

bring you each one a wife, and will give you a heritage of

your own and a house builded near to me, and ye twain shall

be thereafter in mine eyes as the brethren and companions

of Telemachus. But behold, I will likewise show you a most

manifest token, that ye may know me well and be certified

in heart, even the wound that the boar dealt me with his

white tusk long ago, when I went to Parnassus with the sons

of Autolycus.'

Therewith he drew aside the rags from the great scar. And

when the twain had beheld it and marked it well, they cast

their arms about the wise Odysseus, and fell a weeping; and

kissed him lovingly on head and shoulders. And in like

manner Odysseus too kissed their heads and hands. And now

would the sunlight have gone down upon their sorrowing, had

not Odysseus himself stayed them saying:

'Cease ye from weeping and lamentation, lest some one come

forth from the hall and see us, and tell it likewise in the

house. Nay, go ye within one by one and not both together,

I first and you following, and let this be the token

between us. All the rest, as many as are proud wooers, will

not suffer that I should be given the bow and quiver; do

thou then, goodly Eumaeus, as thou bearest the bow through

the hall, set it in my hands and speak to the women that

they bar the well-fitting doors of their chamber. And if

any of them hear the sound of groaning or the din of men

within our walls, let them not run forth but abide where

they are in silence at their work. But on thee, goodly

Philoetius, I lay this charge, to bolt and bar the outer

gate of the court and swiftly to tie the knot.'

Therewith he passed within the fair-lying halls, and went

and sat upon the settle whence he had risen. And likewise

the two thralls of divine Odysseus went within.

And now Eurymachus was handling the bow, warming it on this

side and on that at the light of the fire; yet even so he

could not string it, and in his great heart he groaned

mightily; and in heaviness of spirit he spake and called

aloud, saying:

'Lo you now, truly am I grieved for myself and for you all!

Not for the marriage do I mourn so greatly, afflicted

though I be; there are many Achaean women besides, some in

sea-begirt Ithaca itself and some in other cities. Nay, but

I grieve, if indeed we are so far worse than godlike

Odysseus in might, seeing that we cannot bend the bow. It

will be a shame even for men unborn to hear thereof.'

Then Antinous, son of Eupeithes, answered him: 'Eurymachus,

this shall not be so, and thou thyself too knowest it. For

to-day the feast of the archer god is held in the land, a

holy feast. Who at such a time would be bending bows? Nay,

set it quietly by; what and if we should let the axes all

stand as they are? None methinks will come to the hall of

Odysseus, son of Laertes, and carry them away. Go to now,

let the wine-bearer pour for libation into each cup in

turn, that after the drink-offering we may set down the

curved bow. And in the morning bid Melanthius, the

goatherd, to lead hither the very best goats in all his

herds, that we may lay pieces of the thighs on the altar of

Apollo the archer, and assay the bow and make an end of the

contest.'

So spake Antinous, and the saying pleased them well. Then

the henchmen poured water on their hands, and pages crowned

the mixing-bowls with drink, and served out the wine to

all, when they had poured for libation into each cup in

turn. But when they had poured forth and had drunken to

their hearts' desire, Odysseus of many counsels spake among

them out of a crafty heart, saying:

'Hear me, ye wooers of the renowned queen, that I may say

that which my heart within me bids. And mainly to

Eurymachus I make my prayer and to the godlike Antinous,

forasmuch as he has spoken even this word aright, namely,

that for this present ye cease from your archery and leave

the issue to the gods; and in the morning the god will give

the victory to whomsoever he will. Come therefore, give me

the polished bow, that in your presence I may prove my

hands and strength, whether I have yet any force such as

once was in my supple limbs, or whether my wanderings and

needy fare have even now destroyed it.'

So spake he and they all were exceeding wroth, for fear

lest he should string the polished bow. And Antinous

rebuked him, and spake and hailed him:

'Wretched stranger, thou hast no wit, nay never so little.

Art thou not content to feast at ease in our high company,

and to lack not thy share of the banquet, but to listen to

our speech and our discourse, while no guest and beggar

beside thee hears our speech? Wine it is that wounds thee,

honey sweet wine, that is the bane of others too, even of

all who take great draughts and drink out of measure. Wine

it was that darkened the mind even of the Centaur, renowned

Eurytion, in the hall of high-hearted Peirithous, when he

went to the Lapithae; and after that his heart was darkened

with wine, he wrought foul deeds in his frenzy, in the

house of Peirithous. Then wrath fell on all the heroes, and

they leaped up and dragged him forth through the porch,

when they had shorn off his ears and nostrils with the

pitiless sword, and then with darkened mind he bare about

with him the burden of his sin in foolishness of heart.

Thence was the feud begun between the Centaurs and mankind;

but first for himself gat he hurt, being heavy with wine.

And even so I declare great mischief unto thee if thou

shalt string the bow, for thou shalt find no courtesy at

the hand of anyone in our land, and anon we will send thee

in a black ship to Echetus, the maimer of all men, and

thence thou shalt not be saved alive. Nay then, drink at

thine ease, and strive not still with men that are younger

than thou.'

Then wise Penelope answered him: 'Antinous, truly it is not

fair nor just to rob the guests of Telemachus of their due,

whosoever he may be that comes to this house. Dost thou

think if yonder stranger strings the great bow of Odysseus,

in the pride of his might and of his strength of arm, that

he will lead me to his home and make me his wife? Nay he

himself, methinks, has no such hope in his breast; so, as

for that, let not any of you fret himself while feasting in

this place; that were indeed unmeet.'

Then Eurymachus, son of Polybus, answered her, saying:

'Daughter of Icarius, wise Penelope, it is not that we deem

that he will lead thee to his home,--far be such a thought

from us,--but we dread the speech of men and women, lest

some day one of the baser sort among the Achaeans say:

"Truly men far too mean are wooing the wife of one that is

noble, nor can they string the polished bow. But a stranger

and a beggar came in his wanderings, and lightly strung the

bow, and shot through the iron." Thus will they speak, and

this will turn to our reproach.'

Then wise Penelope answered him: 'Eurymachus, never can

there be fair fame in the land for those that devour and

dishonour the house of a prince, but why make ye this thing

into a reproach? But, behold, our guest is great of growth

and well-knit, and avows him to be born the son of a good

father. Come then, give ye him the polished bow, that we

may see that which is to be. For thus will I declare my

saying, and it shall surely come to pass. If he shall

string the bow and Apollo grant him renown, I will clothe

him in a mantle and a doublet, goodly raiment, and I will

give him a sharp javelin to defend him against dogs and

men, and a two-edged sword and sandals to bind beneath his

feet, and I will send him whithersoever his heart and

spirit bid him go.'

Then wise Telemachus answered her, saying: 'My mother, as

for the bow, no Achaean is mightier than I to give or to

deny it to whomso I will, neither as many as are lords in

rocky Ithaca nor in the isles on the side of Elis, the

pastureland of horses. Not one of these shall force me in

mine own despite, if I choose to give this bow, yea once

and for all, to the stranger to bear away with him. But do

thou go to thine own chamber and mind thine own

housewiferies, the loom and distaff, and bid thine

handmaids ply their tasks. But the bow shall be for men,

for all, but for me in chief, for mine is the lordship in

the house.'

Then in amaze she went back to her chamber, for she laid up

the wise saying of her son in her heart. She ascended to

her upper chamber with the women her handmaids, and then

was bewailing Odysseus, her dear lord, till grey-eyed

Athene cast sweet sleep upon her eyelids.

Now the goodly swineherd had taken the curved bow, and was

bearing it, when the wooers all cried out upon him in the

halls. And thus some one of the haughty youths would speak:

'Whither now art thou bearing the curved bow, thou wretched

swineherd, crazed in thy wits? Lo, soon shall the swift

hounds of thine own breeding eat thee hard by thy swine,

alone and away from men, if Apollo will be gracious to us

and the other deathless gods.'

Even so they spake, and he took and set down the bow in

that very place, being affrighted because many cried out on

him in the halls. Then Telemachus from the other side spake

threateningly, and called aloud:

'Father, bring hither the bow, soon shalt thou rue it that

thou servest many masters. Take heed, lest I that am

younger than thou pursue thee to the field, and pelt thee

with stones, for in might I am the better. If only I were

so much mightier in strength of arm than all the wooers

that are in the halls, soon would I send many an one forth

on a woeful way from out our house, for they imagine

mischief against us.'

So he spake, and all the wooers laughed sweetly at him, and

ceased now from their cruel anger toward Telemachus. Then

the swineherd bare the bow through the hall, and went up to

wise Odysseus, and set it in his hands. And he called forth

the nurse Eurycleia from the chamber and spake to her:

'Wise Eurycleia, Telemachus bids thee bar the well-fitting

doors of thy chamber, and if any of the women hear the

sound of groaning or the din of men within our walls, let

them not go forth, but abide where they are in silence at

their work.'

So he spake, and wingless her speech remained, and she

barred the doors of the fair-lying chambers.

Then Philoetius hasted forth silently from the house, and

barred the outer gates of the fenced court. Now there lay

beneath the gallery the cable of a curved ship, fashioned

of the byblus plant, wherewith he made fast the gates, and

then himself passed within. Then he went and sat on the

settle whence he had risen, and gazed upon Odysseus. He

already was handling the bow, turning it every way about,

and proving it on this side and on that, lest the worms

might have eaten the horns when the lord of the bow was

away. And thus men spake looking each one to his neighbour:

'Verily he has a good eye, and a shrewd turn for a bow!

Either, methinks, he himself has such a bow lying by at

home or else he is set on making one, in such wise does he

turn it hither and thither in his hands, this evil-witted

beggar.'

And another again of the haughty youths would say: 'Would

that the fellow may have profit thereof, just so surely as

he shall ever prevail to bend this bow!'

So spake the wooers, but Odysseus of many counsels had

lifted the great bow and viewed it on every side, and even

as when a man that is skilled in the lyre and in

minstrelsy, easily stretches a cord about a new peg, after

tying at either end the twisted sheep-gut, even so Odysseus

straightway bent the great bow, all without effort, and

took it in his right hand and proved the bow-string, which

rang sweetly at the touch, in tone like a swallow. Then

great grief came upon the wooers, and the colour of their

countenance was changed, and Zeus thundered loud showing

forth his tokens. And the steadfast goodly Odysseus was

glad thereat, in that the son of deep-counselling Cronos

had sent him a sign. Then he caught up a swift arrow which

lay by his table, bare, but the other shafts were stored

within the hollow quiver, those whereof the Achaeans were

soon to taste. He took and laid it on the bridge of the

bow, and held the notch and drew the string, even from the

settle whereon he sat, and with straight aim shot the shaft

and missed not one of the axes, beginning from the first

axe-handle, and the bronze-weighted shaft passed clean

through and out at the last. Then he spake to Telemachus,

saying:

'Telemachus, thy guest that sits in the halls does thee no

shame. In nowise did I miss my mark, nor was I wearied with

long bending of the bow. Still is my might steadfast--not

as the wooers say scornfully to slight me. But now is it

time that supper too be got ready for the Achaeans, while

it is yet light, and thereafter must we make other sport

with the dance and the lyre, for these are the crown of the

feast.'

Therewith he nodded with bent brows, and Telemachus, the

dear son of divine Odysseus, girt his sharp sword about him

and took the spear in his grasp, and stood by his high seat

at his father's side, armed with the gleaming bronze.

 

Book XXII

The killing of the wooers.

Then Odysseus of many counsels stripped him of his rags and

leaped on to the great threshold with his bow and quiver

full of arrows, and poured forth all the swift shafts there

before his feet, and spake among the wooers:

'Lo, now is this terrible trial ended at last; and now will

I know of another mark, which never yet man has smitten, if

perchance I may hit it and Apollo grant me renown.'

With that he pointed the bitter arrow at Antinous. Now he

was about raising to his lips a fair twy-eared chalice of

gold, and behold, he was handling it to drink of the wine,

and death was far from his thoughts. For who among men at

feast would deem that one man amongst so many, how hardy

soever he were, would bring on him foul death and black

fate? But Odysseus aimed and smote him with the arrow in

the throat, and the point passed clean out through his

delicate neck, and he fell sidelong and the cup dropped

from his hand as he was smitten, and at once through his

nostrils there came up a thick jet of slain man's blood,

and quickly he spurned the table from him with his foot,

and spilt the food on the ground, and the bread and the

roast flesh were defiled. Then the wooers raised a clamour

through the halls when they saw the man fallen, and they

leaped from their high seats, as men stirred by fear, all

through the hall, peering everywhere along the well-builded

walls, and nowhere was there a shield or mighty spear to

lay hold on. Then they reviled Odysseus with angry words:

'Stranger, thou shootest at men to thy hurt. Never again

shalt thou enter other lists, now is utter doom assured

thee. Yea, for now hast thou slain the man that was far the

best of all the noble youths in Ithaca; wherefore vultures

shall devour thee here.'

So each one spake, for indeed they thought that Odysseus

had not slain him wilfully; but they knew not in their

folly that on their own heads, each and all of them, the

bands of death had been made fast. Then Odysseus of many

counsels looked fiercely on them, and spake:

'Ye dogs, ye said in your hearts that I should never more

come home from the land of the Trojans, in that ye wasted

my house, and lay with the maidservants by force, and

traitorously wooed my wife while I was yet alive, and ye

had no fear of the gods, that hold the wide heaven, nor of

the indignation of men hereafter. But now the bands of

death have been made fast upon you one and all.'

Even so he spake, and pale fear gat hold on the limbs of

all, and each man looked about, where he might shun utter

doom. And Eurymachus alone answered him, and spake: 'If

thou art indeed Odysseus of Ithaca, come home again, with

right thou speakest thus, of all that the Achaeans have

wrought, many infatuate deeds in thy halls and many in the

field. Howbeit, he now lies dead that is to blame for all,

Antinous; for he brought all these things upon us, not as

longing very greatly for the marriage nor needing it sore,

but with another purpose, that Cronion has not fulfilled

for him, namely, that he might himself be king over all the

land of stablished Ithaca, and he was to have lain in wait

for thy son and killed him. But now he is slain after his

deserving, and do thou spare thy people, even thine own;

and we will hereafter go about the township and yield thee

amends for all that has been eaten and drunken in thy

halls, each for himself bringing atonement of twenty oxen

worth, and requiting thee in gold and bronze till thy heart

is softened, but till then none may blame thee that thou

art angry.'

Then Odysseus of many counsels looked fiercely on him, and

said: 'Eurymachus, not even if ye gave me all your

heritage, all that ye now have, and whatsoever else ye

might in any wise add thereto, not even so would I

henceforth hold my hands from slaying, ere the wooers had

paid for all their transgressions. And now the choice lies

before you, whether to fight in fair battle or to fly, if

any may avoid death and the fates. But there be some,

methinks, that shall not escape from utter doom.'

He spake, and their knees were straightway loosened and

their hearts melted within them. And Eurymachus spake among

them yet again:

'Friends, it is plain that this man will not hold his

unconquerable hands, but now that he has caught up the

polished bow and quiver, he will shoot from the smooth

threshold, till he has slain us all; wherefore let us take

thought for the delight of battle. Draw your blades, and

hold up the tables to ward off the arrows of swift death,

and let us all have at him with one accord, and drive him,

if it may be, from the threshold and the doorway and then

go through the city, and quickly would the cry be raised.

Thereby should this man soon have shot his latest bolt.'

Therewith he drew his sharp two-edged sword of bronze, and

leapt on Odysseus with a terrible cry, but in the same

moment goodly Odysseus shot the arrow forth and struck him

on the breast by the pap, and drave the swift shaft into

his liver. So he let the sword fall from his hand, and

grovelling over the table he bowed and fell, and spilt the

food and the two-handled cup on the floor. And in his agony

he smote the ground with his brow, and spurning with both

his feet he overthrew the high seat, and the mist of death

was shed upon his eyes.

Then Amphinomus made at renowned Odysseus, setting straight

at him, and drew his sharp sword, if perchance he might

make him give ground from the door. But Telemachus was

beforehand with him, and cast and smote him from behind

with a bronze-shod spear between the shoulders, and drave

it out through the breast, and he fell with a crash and

struck the ground full with his forehead. Then Telemachus

sprang away, leaving the long spear fixed in Amphinomus,

for he greatly dreaded lest one of the Achaeans might run

upon him with his blade, and stab him as he drew forth the

spear, or smite him with a down stroke {*} of the sword. So

he started and ran and came quickly to his father, and

stood by him, and spake winged words:

{* Or, reading [Greek], smite him as he stooped over the

corpse.}

'Father, lo, now I will bring thee a shield and two spears

and a helmet all of bronze, close fitting on the temples,

and when I return I will arm myself, and likewise give arms

to the swineherd and to the neatherd yonder: for it is

better to be clad in full armour.'

And Odysseus of many counsels answered him saying: 'Run and

bring them while I have arrows to defend me, lest they

thrust me from the doorway, one man against them all.'

So he spake, and Telemachus obeyed his dear father, and

went forth to the chamber, where his famous weapons were

lying. Thence he took out four shields and eight spears,

and four helmets of bronze, with thick plumes of horse

hair, and he started to bring them and came quickly to his

father. Now he girded the gear of bronze about his own body

first, and in like manner the two thralls did on the goodly

armour, and stood beside the wise and crafty Odysseus. Now

he, so long as he had arrows to defend him, kept aiming and

smote the wooers one by one in his house, and they fell

thick one upon another. But when the arrows failed the

prince in his archery, he leaned his bow against the

doorpost of the stablished hall, against the shining faces

of the entrance. As for him he girt his fourfold shield

about his shoulders and bound on his mighty head a well

wrought helmet, with horse hair crest, and terribly the

plume waved aloft. And he grasped two mighty spears tipped

with bronze.

Now there was in the well-builded wall a certain postern

raised above the floor, and there by the topmost level of

the threshold of the stablished hall, was a way into an

open passage, closed by well-fitted folding doors. So

Odysseus bade the goodly swineherd stand near thereto and

watch the way, for thither there was but one approach. Then

Agelaus spake among them, and declared his word to all:

'Friends, will not some man climb up to the postern, and

give word to the people, and a cry would be raised

straightway; so should this man soon have shot his latest

bolt?'

Then Melanthius, the goatherd, answered him, saying: 'It

may in no wise be, prince Agelaus; for the fair gate of the

courtyard is terribly nigh, and perilous is the entrance to

the passage, and one man, if he were valiant, might keep

back a host. But come, let me bring you armour from the

inner chamber, that ye may be clad in hauberks, for,

methinks, within that room and not elsewhere did Odysseus

and his renowned son lay by the arms.'

Therewith Melanthius, the goatherd, climbed up by the

clerestory of the hall to the inner chambers of Odysseus,

whence he took twelve shields and as many spears, and as

many helmets of bronze with thick plumes of horse hair, and

he came forth and brought them speedily, and gave them to

the wooers. Then the knees of Odysseus were loosened and

his heart melted within him, when he saw them girding on

the armour and brandishing the long spears in their hands,

and great, he saw, was the adventure. Quickly he spake to

Telemachus winged words:

'Telemachus, sure I am that one of the women in the halls

is stirring up an evil battle against us, or perchance it

is Melanthius.'

Then wise Telemachus answered him: 'My father, it is I that

have erred herein and none other is to blame, for I left

the well-fitted door of the chamber open, and there has

been one of them but too quick to spy it. Go now, goodly

Eumaeus, and close the door of the chamber, and mark if it

be indeed one of the women that does this mischief, or

Melanthius, son of Dolius, as methinks it is.'

Even so they spake one to the other. And Melanthius, the

goatherd, went yet again to the chamber to bring the fair

armour. But the goodly swineherd was ware thereof, and

quickly he spake to Odysseus who stood nigh him:

'Son of Laertes, of the seed of Zeus, Odysseus, of many

devices, lo, there again is that baleful man, whom we

ourselves suspect, going to the chamber; do thou tell me

truly, shall I slay him if I prove the better man, or bring

him hither to thee, that he may pay for the many

transgressions that he has devised in thy house?'

Then Odysseus of many counsels answered saying: 'Verily, I

and Telemachus will keep the proud wooers within the halls,

for all their fury, but do ye twain tie his feet and arms

behind his back and cast him into the chamber, and close

the doors after you,{*} and make fast to his body a twisted

rope, and drag him up the lofty pillar till he be near the

roof beams, that he may hang there and live for long, and

suffer grievous torment.'

{* Or, as Mr. Merry suggests in his note, 'tie boards

behind him' as a method of torture. He compares Aristoph.

Thesm. 931,940.}

So he spake, and they gave good heed and hearkened. So they

went forth to the chamber, but the goatherd who was within

knew not of their coming. Now he was seeking for the armour

in the secret place of the chamber, but they twain stood in

waiting on either side the doorposts. And when Melanthius,

the goatherd, was crossing the threshold with a goodly helm

in one hand, and in the other a wide shield and an old,

stained with rust, the shield of the hero Laertes that he

bare when he was young--but at that time it was laid by,

and the seams of the straps were loosened,--then the twain

rushed on him and caught him, and dragged him in by the

hair, and cast him on the floor in sorrowful plight, and

bound him hand and foot in a bitter bond, tightly winding

each limb behind his back, even as the son of Laertes bade

them, the steadfast goodly Odysseus. And they made fast to

his body a twisted rope, and dragged him up the lofty

pillar till he came near the roof beams. Then didst thou

speak to him and gird at him, swineherd Eumaeus:

'Now in good truth, Melanthius, shalt thou watch all night,

lying in a soft bed as beseems thee, nor shall the

early-born Dawn escape thy ken, when she comes forth from

the streams of Oceanus, on her golden throne, in the hour

when thou art wont to drive the goats to make a meal for

the wooers in the halls.'

So he was left there, stretched tight in the deadly bond.

But they twain got into their harness, and closed the

shining door, and went to Odysseus, wise and crafty chief.

There they stood breathing fury, four men by the threshold,

while those others within the halls were many and good

warriors. Then Athene, daughter of Zeus, drew nigh them,

like Mentor in fashion and in voice, and Odysseus was glad

when he saw her and spake, saying:

'Mentor, ward from us hurt, and remember me thy dear

companion, that befriended thee often, and thou art of like

age with me.'

So he spake, deeming the while that it was Athene, summoner

of the host. But the wooers on the other side shouted in

the halls, and first Agelaus son of Damastor rebuked

Athene, saying:

'Mentor, let not the speech of Odysseus beguile thee to

fight against the wooers, and to succour him. For methinks

that on this wise we shall work our will. When we shall

have slain these men, father and son, thereafter shalt thou

perish with them, such deeds thou art set on doing in these

halls; nay, with thine own head shalt thou pay the price.

But when with the sword we shall have overcome your

violence, we will mingle all thy possessions, all that thou

hast at home or in the field, with the wealth of Odysseus,

and we will not suffer thy sons nor thy daughters to dwell

in the halls, nor thy good wife to gad about in the town of

Ithaca.'

So spake he, and Athene was mightily angered at heart, and

chid Odysseus in wrathful words: 'Odysseus, thou hast no

more steadfast might nor any prowess, as when for nine

whole years continually thou didst battle with the Trojans

for high born Helen, of the white arms, and many men thou

slewest in terrible warfare, and by thy device the

wide-wayed city of Priam was taken. How then, now that thou

art come to thy house and thine own possessions, dost thou

bewail thee and art of feeble courage to stand before the

wooers? Nay, come hither, friend, and stand by me, and I

will show thee a thing, that thou mayest know what manner

of man is Mentor, son of Alcimus, to repay good deeds in

the ranks of foemen.'

She spake, and gave him not yet clear victory in full, but

still for a while made trial of the might and prowess of

Odysseus and his renowned son. As for her she flew up to

the roof timber of the murky hall, in such fashion as a

swallow flies, and there sat down.

Now Agelaus, son of Damastor, urged on the wooers, and

likewise Eurynomus and Amphimedon and Demoptolemus and

Peisandrus son of Polyctor, and wise Polybus, for these

were in valiancy far the best men of the wooers, that still

lived and fought for their lives; for the rest had fallen

already beneath the bow and the thick rain of arrows. Then

Agelaus spake among them, and made known his word to all:

'Friends, now at last will this man hold his unconquerable

hands. Lo, now has Mentor left him and spoken but vain

boasts, and these remain alone at the entrance of the

doors. Wherefore now, throw not your long spears all

together, but come, do ye six cast first, if perchance Zeus

may grant us to smite Odysseus and win renown. Of the rest

will we take no heed, so soon as that man shall have

fallen.'

So he spake and they all cast their javelins, as he bade

them, eagerly; but behold, Athene so wrought that they were

all in vain. One man smote the doorpost of the stablished

hall, and another the well-fastened door, and the ashen

spear of yet another wooer, heavy with bronze, stuck fast

in the wall. So when they had avoided all the spears of the

wooers, the steadfast goodly Odysseus began first to speak

among them:

'Friends, now my word is that we too cast and hurl into the

press of the wooers, that are mad to slay and strip us

beyond the measure of their former iniquities.'

So he spake, and they all took good aim and threw their

sharp spears, and Odysseus smote Demoptolemus, and

Telemachus Euryades, and the swineherd slew Elatus, and the

neatherd Peisandrus. Thus they all bit the wide floor with

their teeth, and the wooers fell back into the inmost part

of the hall. But the others dashed upon them and drew forth

the shafts from the bodies of the dead.

Then once more the wooers threw their sharp spears eagerly;

but behold, Athene so wrought that many of them were in

vain. One man smote the door-post of the stablished hall,

and another the well-fastened door, and the ashen spear of

another wooer, heavy with bronze, struck in the wall. Yet

Amphimedon hit Telemachus on the hand by the wrist lightly,

and the shaft of bronze wounded the surface of the skin.

And Ctesippus grazed the shoulder of Eumaeus with a long

spear high above the shield, and the spear flew over and

fell to the ground. Then again Odysseus, the wise and

crafty, he and his men cast their swift spears into the

press of the wooers, and now once more Odysseus, waster of

cities, smote Eurydamas, and Telemachus Amphimedon, and the

swineherd slew Polybus, and last, the neatherd struck

Ctesippus in the breast and boasted over him, saying:

'O son of Polytherses, thou lover of jeering, never give

place at all to folly to speak so big, but leave thy case

to the gods, since in truth they are far mightier than

thou. This gift is thy recompense for the ox-foot that thou

gavest of late to the divine Odysseus, when he went begging

through the house.'

So spake the keeper of the shambling kine. Next Odysseus

wounded the son of Damastor in close fight with his long

spear, and Telemachus wounded Leocritus son of Euenor,

right in the flank with his lance, and drave the bronze

point clean through, that he fell prone and struck the

ground full with his forehead. Then Athene held up her

destroying aegis on high from the roof, and their minds

were scared, and they fled through the hall, like a drove

of kine that the flitting gadfly falls upon and scatters

hither and thither in spring time, when the long days

begin. But the others set on like vultures of crooked claws

and curved beak, that come forth from the mountains and

dash upon smaller birds, and these scour low in the plain,

stooping in terror from the clouds, while the vultures

pounce on them and slay them, and there is no help nor way

of flight, and men are glad at the sport; even so did the

company of Odysseus set upon the wooers and smite them

right and left through the hall; and there rose a hideous

moaning as their heads were smitten, and the floor all ran

with blood.

Now Leiodes took hold of the knees of Odysseus eagerly, and

besought him and spake winged words: 'I entreat thee by thy

knees, Odysseus, and do thou show mercy on me and have

pity. For never yet, I say, have I wronged a maiden in thy

halls by froward word or deed, nay I bade the other wooers

refrain, whoso of them wrought thus. But they hearkened not

unto me to keep their hands from evil. Wherefore they have

met a shameful death through their own infatuate deeds.

Yet I, the soothsayer among them, that have wrought no

evil, shall fall even as they, for no grace abides for good

deeds done.'

Then Odysseus of many counsels looked askance at him, and

said: 'If indeed thou dost avow thee to be the soothsayer

of these men, thou art like to have often prayed in the

halls that the issue of a glad return might be far from me,

and that my dear wife should follow thee and bear thee

children; wherefore thou shalt not escape the bitterness of

death.'

Therewith he caught up a sword in his strong hand, that lay

where Agelaus had let it fall to the ground when he was

slain, and drave it clean through his neck, and as he yet

spake his head fell even to the dust.

But the son of Terpes, the minstrel, still sought how he

might shun black fate, Phemius, who sang among the wooers

of necessity. He stood with the loud lyre in his hand hard

by the postern gate, and his heart was divided within him,

whether he should slip forth from the hall and sit down by

the well-wrought altar of great Zeus of the household

court, whereon Laertes and Odysseus had burnt many pieces

of the thighs of oxen, or should spring forward and beseech

Odysseus by his knees. And as he thought thereupon this

seemed to him the better way, to embrace the knees of

Odysseus, son of Laertes. So he laid the hollow lyre on the

ground between the mixing-bowl and the high seat inlaid

with silver, and himself sprang forward and seized Odysseus

by the knees, and besought him and spake winged words:

'I entreat thee by thy knees, Odysseus, and do thou show

mercy on me and have pity. It will be a sorrow to thyself

in the aftertime if thou slayest me who am a minstrel, and

sing before gods and men. Yea none has taught me but

myself, and the god has put into my heart all manner of

lays, and methinks I sing to thee as to a god, wherefore be

not eager to cut off my head. And Telemachus will testify

of this, thine own dear son, that not by mine own will or

desire did I resort to thy house to sing to the wooers at

their feasts; but being so many and stronger than I they

led me by constraint.'

So he spake, and the mighty prince Telemachus heard him and

quickly spake to his father at his side: 'Hold thy hand,

and wound not this blameless man with the sword; and let us

save also the henchman Medon, that ever had charge of me in

our house when I was a child, unless perchance Philoetius

or the swineherd have already slain him, or he hath met

thee in thy raging through the house.'

So he spake, and Medon, wise of heart, heard him. For he

lay crouching beneath a high seat, clad about in the

new-flayed hide of an ox and shunned black fate. So he rose

up quickly from under the seat, and cast off the ox-hide,

and sprang forth and caught Telemachus by the knees, and

besought him and spake winged words:

'Friend, here am I; prithee stay thy hand and speak to thy

father, lest he harm me with the sharp sword in the

greatness of his strength, out of his anger for the wooers

that wasted his possessions in the halls, and in their

folly held thee in no honour.'

And Odysseus of many counsels smiled on him and said: 'Take

courage, for lo, he has saved thee and delivered thee, that

thou mayst know in thy heart, and tell it even to another,

how far more excellent are good deeds than evil. But go

forth from the halls and sit down in the court apart from

the slaughter, thou and the full-voiced minstrel, till I

have accomplished all that I must needs do in the house.'

Therewith the two went forth and gat them from the hall. So

they sat down by the altar of great Zeus, peering about on

every side, still expecting death. And Odysseus peered all

through the house, to see if any man was yet alive and

hiding away to shun black fate. But he found all the sort

of them fallen in their blood in the dust, like fishes that

the fishermen have drawn forth in the meshes of the net

into a hollow of the beach from out the grey sea, and all

the fish, sore longing for the salt sea waves, are heaped

upon the sand, and the sun shines forth and takes their

life away; so now the wooers lay heaped upon each other.

Then Odysseus of many counsels spake to Telemachus:

'Telemachus, go, call me the nurse Eurycleia, that I may

tell her a word that is on my mind.'

So he spake, and Telemachus obeyed his dear father, and

smote at the door, and spake to the nurse Eurycleia: 'Up

now, aged wife, that overlookest all the women servants in

our halls, come hither, my father calls thee and has

somewhat to say to thee.'

Even so he spake, and wingless her speech remained, and she

opened the doors of the fair-lying halls, and came forth,

and Telemachus led the way before her. So she found

Odysseus among the bodies of the dead, stained with blood

and soil of battle, like a lion that has eaten of an ox of

the homestead and goes on his way, and all his breast and

his cheeks on either side are flecked with blood, and he is

terrible to behold; even so was Odysseus stained, both

hands and feet. Now the nurse, when she saw the bodies of

the dead and the great gore of blood, made ready to cry

aloud for joy, beholding so great an adventure. But

Odysseus checked and held her in her eagerness, and

uttering his voice spake to her winged words:

'Within thine own heart rejoice, old nurse, and be still,

and cry not aloud; for it is an unholy thing to boast over

slain men. Now these hath the destiny of the gods overcome,

and their own cruel deeds, for they honoured none of

earthly men, neither the bad nor yet the good, that came

among them. Wherefore they have met a shameful death

through their own infatuate deeds. But come, tell me the

tale of the women in my halls, which of them dishonour me,

and which be guiltless.'

Then the good nurse Eurycleia answered him: 'Yea now, my

child, I will tell thee all the truth. Thou hast fifty

women-servants in thy halls, that we have taught the ways

of housewifery, how to card wool and to bear bondage. Of

these twelve in all have gone the way of shame, and honour

not me, nor their lady Penelope. And Telemachus hath but

newly come to his strength, and his mother suffered him not

to take command over the women in this house. But now, let

me go aloft to the shining upper chamber, and tell all to

thy wife, on whom some god hath sent a sleep.'

And Odysseus of many counsels answered her saying: 'Wake

her not yet, but bid the women come hither, who in time

past behaved themselves unseemly.'

So he spake, and the old wife passed through the hall, to

tell the women and to hasten their coming. Then Odysseus

called to him Telemachus, and the neatherd, and the

swineherd, and spake to them winged words:

'Begin ye now to carry out the dead, and bid the women help

you, and thereafter cleanse the fair high seats and the

tables with water and porous sponges. And when ye have set

all the house in order, lead the maidens without the

stablished hall, between the vaulted room and the goodly

fence of the court, and there slay them with your long

blades, till they shall have all given up the ghost and

forgotten the love that of old they had at the bidding of

the wooers, in secret dalliance.'

Even so he spake, and the women came all in a crowd

together, making a terrible lament and shedding big tears.

So first they carried forth the bodies of the slain, and

set them beneath the gallery of the fenced court, and

propped them one on another; and Odysseus himself hasted

the women and directed them, and they carried forth the

dead perforce. Thereafter they cleansed the fair high seats

and the tables with water and porous sponges. And

Telemachus, and the neatherd, and the swineherd, scraped

with spades the floor of the well-builded house, and,

behold, the maidens carried all forth and laid it without

the doors.

Now when they had made an end of setting the hall in order,

they led the maidens forth from the stablished hall, and

drove them up in a narrow space between the vaulted room

and the goodly fence of the court, whence none might avoid;

and wise Telemachus began to speak to his fellows, saying:

'God forbid that I should take these women's lives by a

clean death, these that have poured dishonour on my head

and on my mother, and have lain with the wooers.'

With that word he tied the cable of a dark-prowed ship to a

great pillar and flung it round the vaulted room, and

fastened it aloft, that none might touch the ground with

her feet. And even as when thrushes, long of wing, or doves

fall into a net that is set in a thicket, as they seek to

their roosting-place, and a loathly bed harbours them, even

so the women held their heads all in a row, and about all

their necks nooses were cast, that they might die by the

most pitiful death. And they writhed with their feet for a

little space, but for no long while.

Then they led out Melanthius through the doorway and the

court, and cut off his nostrils and his ears with the

pitiless sword, and drew forth his vitals for the dogs to

devour raw, and cut off his hands and feet in their cruel

anger.

Thereafter they washed their hands and feet, and went into

the house to Odysseus, and all the adventure was over. So

Odysseus called to the good nurse Eurycleia: 'Bring

sulphur, old nurse, that cleanses all pollution and bring

me fire, that I may purify the house with sulphur, and do

thou bid Penelope come here with her handmaidens, and tell

all the women to hasten into the hall.'

Then the good nurse Eurycleia made answer: 'Yea, my child,

herein thou hast spoken aright. But go to, let me bring

thee a mantle and a doublet for raiment, and stand not thus

in the halls with thy broad shoulders wrapped in rags; it

were blame in thee so to do.'

And Odysseus of many counsels answered her saying: 'First

let a fire now be made me in the hall.'

So he spake, and the good nurse Eurycleia was not slow to

obey, but brought fire and brimstone; and Odysseus

thoroughly purged the women's chamber and the great hall

and the court.

Then the old wife went through the fair halls of Odysseus

to tell the women, and to hasten their coming. So they came

forth from their chamber with torches in their hands, and

fell about Odysseus, and embraced him and kissed and

clasped his head and shoulders and his hands lovingly, and

a sweet longing came on him to weep and moan, for he

remembered them every one.

 

Book XXIII

Odysseus maketh himself known to Penelope, tells his

adventures briefly, and in the morning goes to Laertes and

makes himself known to him.

Then the ancient woman went up into the upper chamber

laughing aloud, to tell her mistress how her dear lord was

within, and her knees moved fast for joy, and her feet

stumbled one over the other; and she stood above the lady's

head and spake to her, saying:

'Awake, Penelope, dear child, that thou mayest see with

thine own eyes that which thou desirest day by day.

Odysseus hath come, and hath got him to his own house,

though late hath he come, and hath slain the proud wooers

that troubled his house, and devoured his substance, and

oppressed his child.'

Then wise Penelope answered her: 'Dear nurse, the gods have

made thee distraught, the gods that can make foolish even

the wisdom of the wise, and that stablish the simple in

understanding. They it is that have marred thy reason,

though heretofore thou hadst a prudent heart. Why dost thou

mock me, who have a spirit full of sorrow, to speak these

wild words, and rousest me out of sweet slumber, that had

bound me and overshadowed mine eyelids? Never yet have I

slept so sound since the day that Odysseus went forth to

see that evil Ilios, never to be named. Go to now, get thee

down and back to the women's chamber, for if any other of

the maids of my house had come and brought me such tidings,

and wakened me from sleep, straightway would I have sent

her back woefully to return within the women's chamber; but

this time thine old age shall stand thee in good stead.'

Then the good nurse Eurycleia answered her: 'I mock thee

not, dear child, but in very deed Odysseus is here, and

hath come home, even as I tell thee. He is that guest on

whom all men wrought such dishonour in the halls. But long

ago Telemachus was ware of him, that he was within the

house, yet in his prudence he hid the counsels of his

father, that he might take vengeance on the violence of the

haughty wooers.'

Thus she spake, and then was Penelope glad, and leaping

from her bed she fell on the old woman's neck, and let fall

the tears from her eyelids, and uttering her voice spake to

her winged words: 'Come, dear nurse, I pray thee, tell me

all truly--if indeed he hath come home as thou sayest--how

he hath laid his hands on the shameless wooers, he being

but one man, while they abode ever in their companies

within the house.'

Then the good nurse Eurycleia answered her: 'I saw not, I

wist not, only I heard the groaning of men slain. And we in

an inmost place of the well-builded chambers sat all

amazed, and the close-fitted doors shut in the room, till

thy son called me from the chamber, for his father sent him

out to that end. Then I found Odysseus standing among the

slain, who around him, stretched on the hard floor, lay one

upon the other; it would have comforted thy heart to see

him, all stained like a lion with blood and soil of battle.

And now are all the wooers gathered in an heap by the gates

of the court, while he is purifying his fair house with

brimstone, and hath kindled a great fire, and hath sent me

forth to call thee. So come with me, that ye may both enter

into your heart's delight, {*} for ye have suffered much

affliction. And even now hath this thy long desire been

fulfilled; thy lord hath come alive to his own hearth, and

hath found both thee and his son in the halls; and the

wooers that wrought him evil he hath slain, every man of

them in his house.'

{* Reading [Greek] . . . [Greek].}

Then wise Penelope answered her: 'Dear nurse, boast not yet

over them with laughter. Thou knowest how welcome the sight

of him would be in the halls to all, and to me in chief,

and to his son that we got between us. But this is no true

tale, as thou declarest it, nay but it is one of the

deathless gods that hath slain the proud wooers, in wrath

at their bitter insolence and evil deeds. For they honoured

none of earthly men, neither the good nor yet the bad, that

came among them. Wherefore they have suffered an evil doom

through their own infatuate deeds. But Odysseus, far away

hath lost his homeward path to the Achaean land, and

himself is lost.'

Then the good nurse Eurycleia made answer to her: 'My

child, what word hath escaped the door of thy lips, in that

thou saidest that thy lord, who is even now within, and by

his own hearthstone, would return no more? Nay, thy heart

is ever hard of belief. Go to now, and I will tell thee

besides a most manifest token, even the scar of the wound

that the boar on a time dealt him with his white tusk.

This I spied while washing his feet, and fain I would have

told it even to thee, but he laid his hand on my mouth, and

in the fulness of his wisdom suffered me not to speak. But

come with me and I will stake my life on it; and if I play

thee false, do thou slay me by a death most pitiful.'

Then wise Penelope made answer to her: 'Dear nurse, it is

hard for thee, how wise soever, to observe the purposes of

the everlasting gods. None the less let us go to my child,

that I may see the wooers dead, and him that slew them.'

With that word she went down from the upper chamber, and

much her heart debated, whether she should stand apart, and

question her dear lord or draw nigh, and clasp and kiss his

head and hands. But when she had come within and had

crossed the threshold of stone, she sat down over against

Odysseus, in the light of the fire, by the further wall.

Now he was sitting by the tall pillar, looking down and

waiting to know if perchance his noble wife would speak to

him, when her eyes beheld him. But she sat long in silence,

and amazement came upon her soul, and now she would look

upon him steadfastly with her eyes, and now again she knew

him not, for that he was clad in vile raiment. And

Telemachus rebuked her, and spake and hailed her:

'Mother mine, ill mother, of an ungentle heart, why turnest

thou thus away from my father, and dost not sit by him and

question him and ask him all? No other woman in the world

would harden her heart to stand thus aloof from her lord,

who after much travail and sore had come to her in the

twentieth year to his own country. But thy heart is ever

harder than stone.'

Then wise Penelope answered him, saying: 'Child, my mind is

amazed within me, and I have no strength to speak, nor to

ask him aught, nay nor to look on him face to face. But if

in truth this be Odysseus, and he hath indeed come home,

verily we shall be ware of each other the more surely, for

we have tokens that we twain know, even we, secret from all

others.'

So she spake, and the steadfast goodly Odysseus smiled, and

quickly he spake to Telemachus winged words: 'Telemachus,

leave now thy mother to make trial of me within the

chambers; so shall she soon come to a better knowledge than

heretofore. But now I go filthy, and am clad in vile

raiment, wherefore she has me in dishonour, and as yet will

not allow that I am he. Let us then advise us how all may

be for the very best. For whoso has slain but one man in a

land, even that one leaves not many behind him to take up

the feud for him, turns outlaw and leaves his kindred and

his own country; but we have slain the very stay of the

city, the men who were far the best of all the noble youths

in Ithaca. So this I bid thee consider.'

Then wise Telemachus answered him, saying: 'Father, see

thou to this, for they say that thy counsel is far the best

among men, nor might any other of mortal men contend with

thee. But right eagerly will we go with thee now, and I

think we shall not lack prowess, so far as might is ours.'

And Odysseus of many counsels answered him saying: 'Yea

now, I will tell on what wise methinks it is best. First,

go ye to the bath and array you in your doublets, and bid

the maidens in the chambers to take to them their garments.

Then let the divine minstrel, with his loud lyre in hand,

lead off for us the measure of the mirthful dance. So shall

any man that hears the sound from without, whether a

wayfarer or one of those that dwell around, say that it is

a wedding feast. And thus the slaughter of the wooers shall

not be noised abroad through the town before we go forth to

our well-wooded farm-land. Thereafter shall we consider

what gainful counsel the Olympian may vouchsafe us.'

So he spake, and they gave good ear and hearkened to him.

So first they went to the bath, and arrayed them in

doublets, and the women were apparelled, and the divine

minstrel took the hollow harp, and aroused in them the

desire of sweet song and of the happy dance. Then the great

hall rang round them with the sound of the feet of dancing

men and of fair-girdled women. And whoso heard it from

without would say:

'Surely some one has wedded the queen of many wooers. Hard

of heart was she, nor had she courage to keep the great

house of her wedded lord continually till his coming.'

Even so men spake, and knew not how these things were

ordained. Meanwhile, the house-dame Eurynome had bathed the

great-hearted Odysseus within his house, and anointed him

with olive-oil, and cast about him a goodly mantle and a

doublet. Moreover Athene shed great beauty from his head

downwards, and made him greater and more mighty to behold,

and from his head caused deep curling locks to flow, like

the hyacinth flower. And as when some skilful man overlays

gold upon silver, one that Hephaestus and Pallas Athene

have taught all manner of craft, and full of grace is his

handiwork, even so did Athene shed grace about his head and

shoulders, and forth from the bath he came, in form like to

the immortals. Then he sat down again on the high seat,

whence he had arisen, over against his wife, and spake to

her, saying:

'Strange lady, surely to thee above all womankind the

Olympians have given a heart that cannot be softened. No

other woman in the world would harden her heart to stand

thus aloof from her husband, who after much travail and

sore had come to her, in the twentieth year, to his own

country. Nay come, nurse, strew a bed for me to lie all

alone, for assuredly her spirit within her is as iron.'

Then wise Penelope answered him again: 'Strange man, I have

no proud thoughts nor do I think scorn of thee, nor am I

too greatly astonied, but I know right well what manner of

man thou wert, when thou wentest forth out of Ithaca, on

the long-oared galley. But come, Eurycleia, spread for him

the good bedstead outside the stablished bridal chamber

that he built himself. Thither bring ye forth the good

bedstead and cast bedding thereon, even fleeces and rugs

and shining blankets.'

So she spake and made trial of her lord, but Odysseus in

sore displeasure spake to his true wife, saying: 'Verily a

bitter word is this, lady, that thou hast spoken. Who has

set my bed otherwhere? Hard it would be for one, how

skilled so ever, unless a god were to come that might

easily set it in another place, if so he would. But of men

there is none living, howsoever strong in his youth, that

could lightly upheave it, for a great token is wrought in

the fashioning of the bed, and it was I that made it and

none other. There was growing a bush of olive, long of

leaf, and most goodly of growth, within the inner court,

and the stem as large as a pillar. Round about this I built

the chamber, till I had finished it, with stones close set,

and I roofed it over well and added thereto compacted doors

fitting well. Next I sheared off all the light wood of the

long-leaved olive, and rough-hewed the trunk upwards from

the root, and smoothed it around with the adze, well and

skilfully, and made straight the line thereto and so

fashioned it into the bedpost, and I bored it all with the

auger. Beginning from this bedpost, I wrought at the

bedstead till I had finished it, and made it fair with

inlaid work of gold and of silver and of ivory. Then I made

fast therein a bright purple band of oxhide. Even so I

declare to thee this token, and I know not, lady, if the

bedstead be yet fast in his place, or if some man has cut

away the stem of the olive tree, and set the bedstead

otherwhere.'

So he spake, and at once her knees were loosened, and her

heart melted within her, as she knew the sure tokens that

Odysseus showed her. Then she fell a weeping, and ran

straight toward him and cast her hands about his neck, and

kissed his head and spake, saying:

'Be not angry with me, Odysseus, for thou wert ever at

other times the wisest of men. It is the gods that gave us

sorrow, the gods who begrudged us that we should abide

together and have joy of our youth, and come to the

threshold of old age. So now be not wroth with me hereat

nor full of indignation, because at the first, when I saw

thee, I did not welcome thee straightway. For always my

heart within my breast shuddered, for fear lest some man

should come and deceive me with his words, for many they be

that devise gainful schemes and evil. Nay even Argive

Helen, daughter of Zeus, would not have lain with a

stranger, and taken him for a lover, had she known that the

warlike sons of the Achaeans would bring her home again to

her own dear country. Howsoever, it was the god that set

her upon this shameful deed; nor ever, ere that, did she

lay up in her heart the thought of this folly, a bitter

folly, whence on us too first came sorrow. But now that

thou hast told all the sure tokens of our bed, which never

was seen by mortal man, save by thee and me and one maiden

only, the daughter of Actor, that my father gave me ere yet

I had come hither, she who kept the doors of our strong

bridal chamber, even now dost thou bend my soul, all

ungentle as it is.'

Thus she spake, and in his heart she stirred yet a greater

longing to lament, and he wept as he embraced his beloved

wife and true. And even as when the sight of land is

welcome to swimmers, whose well-wrought ship Poseidon hath

smitten on the deep, all driven with the wind and swelling

waves, and but a remnant hath escaped the grey sea-water

and swum to the shore, and their bodies are all crusted

with the brine, and gladly have they set foot on land and

escaped an evil end; so welcome to her was the sight of her

lord, and her white arms she would never quite let go from

his neck. And now would the rosy-fingered Dawn have risen

upon their weeping, but the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, had

other thoughts. The night she held long in the utmost West,

and on the other side she stayed the golden-throned Dawn by

the stream Oceanus, and suffered her not to harness the

swift-footed steeds that bear light to men, Lampus and

Phaethon, the steeds ever young, that bring the morning.

Then at the last, Odysseus of many counsels spake to his

wife, saying: 'Lady, we have not yet come to the issue of

all our labours; but still there will be toil unmeasured,

long and difficult, that I must needs bring to a full end.

Even so the spirit of Teiresias foretold to me, on that day

when I went down into the house of Hades, to inquire after

a returning for myself and my company. Wherefore come,

lady, let us to bed, that forthwith we may take our joy of

rest beneath the spell of sweet sleep.'

Then wise Penelope answered him: 'Thy bed verily shall be

ready whensoever thy soul desires it, forasmuch as the gods

have indeed caused thee to come back to thy stablished home

and thine own country. But now that thou hast noted it and

the god has put it into thy heart, come, tell me of this

ordeal, for methinks the day will come when I must learn

it, and timely knowledge is no hurt.'

And Odysseus of many counsels answered her saying: 'Ah, why

now art thou so instant with me to declare it? Yet I will

tell thee all and hide nought. Howbeit thy heart shall have

no joy of it, as even I myself have no pleasure therein.

For Teiresias bade me fare to many cities of men, carrying

a shapen oar in my hands, till I should come to such men as

know not the sea, neither eat meat savoured with salt, nor

have they knowledge of ships of purple cheek nor of shapen

oars, which serve for wings to ships. And he told me this

with manifest token, which I will not hide from thee. In

the day when another wayfarer should meet me and say that I

had a winnowing fan on my stout shoulder, even then he bade

me make fast my shapen oar in the earth, and do goodly

sacrifice to the lord Poseidon, even with a ram and a bull

and a boar, the mate of swine, and depart for home, and

offer holy hecatombs to the deathless gods, that keep the

wide heaven, to each in order due. And from the sea shall

mine own death come, the gentlest death that may be, which

shall end me, foredone, with smooth old age, and the folk

shall dwell happily around. All this, he said, was to be

fulfilled.'

Then wise Penelope answered him saying: 'If indeed the gods

will bring about for thee a happier old age at the last,

then is there hope that thou mayest yet have an escape from

evil.'

Thus they spake one to the other. Meanwhile, Eurynome and

the nurse spread the bed with soft coverlets, by the light

of the torches burning. But when they had busied them and

spread the good bed, the ancient nurse went back to her

chamber to lie down, and Eurynome, the bower-maiden, guided

them on their way to the couch, with torches in her hands,

and when she had led them to the bridal-chamber she

departed. And so they came gladly to the rites of their

bed, as of old. But Telemachus, and the neatherd, and the

swineherd stayed their feet from dancing, and made the

women to cease, and themselves gat them to rest through the

shadowy halls.

Now when the twain had taken their fill of sweet love, they

had delight in the tales, which they told one to the other.

The fair lady spoke of all that she had endured in the

halls at the sight of the ruinous throng of wooers, who for

her sake slew many cattle, kine and goodly sheep; and many

a cask of wine was broached. And in turn, Odysseus, of the

seed of Zeus, recounted all the griefs he had wrought on

men, and all his own travail and sorrow, and she was

delighted with the story, and sweet sleep fell not upon her

eyelids till the tale was ended.

He began by setting forth how he overcame the Cicones, and

next arrived at the rich land of the Lotus-eaters, and all

that the Cyclops wrought, and what a price he got from him

for the good companions that he devoured, and showed no

pity. Then how he came to Aeolus, who received him gladly

and sent him on his way; but it was not yet ordained that

he should reach his own country, for the storm-wind seized

him again, and bare him over the teeming seas, making

grievous moan. Next how he came to Telepylus of the

Laestrygonians, who brake his ships and slew all his

goodly-greaved companions, and Odysseus only escaped with

his black ship. Then he told all the wiles and many

contrivances of Circe, and how in a benched ship he fared

to the dank house of Hades, to seek to the soul of Theban

Teiresias. There he beheld all those that had been his

companions, and his mother who bore him and nurtured him,

while yet he was a little one. Then how he heard the song

of the full-voiced Sirens, and came to the Rocks Wandering,

and to terrible Charybdis, and to Scylla, that never yet

have men avoided scatheless. Next he told how his company

slew the kine of Helios, and how Zeus, that thunders on

high, smote the swift ship with the flaming bolt, and the

good crew perished all together, and he alone escaped from

evil fates. And how he came to the isle Ogygia, and to the

nymph Calypso, who kept him there in her hollow caves,

longing to have him for her lord, and nurtured him and said

that she would make him never to know death or age all his

days: yet she never won his heart within his breast. Next

how with great toil he came to the Phaeacians, who gave him

all worship heartily, as to a god, and sent him with a ship

to his own dear country, with gifts of bronze, and of gold,

and raiment in plenty. This was the last word of the tale,

when sweet sleep came speedily upon him, sleep that loosens

the limbs of men, unknitting the cares of his soul.

Then the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, turned to new thoughts.

When she deemed that Odysseus had taken his fill of love

and sleep, straightway she aroused from out Oceanus the

golden-throned Dawn, to bear light to men. Then Odysseus

gat him from his soft bed, and laid this charge on his

wife, saying:

'Lady, already have we had enough of labours, thou and I;

thou, in weeping here, and longing for my troublous return,

I, while Zeus and the other gods bound me fast in pain,

despite my yearning after home, away from mine own country.

But now that we both have come to the bed of our desire,

take thou thought for the care of my wealth within the

halls. But as for the sheep that the proud wooers have

slain, I myself will lift many more as spoil, and others

the Achaeans will give, till they fill all my folds. But

now, behold, I go to the well-wooded farm-land, to see my

good father, who for love of me has been in sorrow

continually. And this charge I lay on thee, lady, too wise

though thou art to need it. Quickly will the bruit go forth

with the rising sun, the bruit concerning the wooers, whom

I slew in the halls. Wherefore ascend with the women thy

handmaids into the upper chamber, and sit there and look on

no man, nor ask any question.'

Therewith he girded on his shoulder his goodly armour, and

roused Telemachus and the neatherd and the swineherd, and

bade them all take weapons of war in their hands. So they

were not disobedient to his word, but clad themselves in

mail, and opened the doors and went forth, and Odysseus led

the way. And now there was light over all the earth; but

them Athene hid in night, and quickly conducted out of the

town.

 

Book XXIV

The Ithacans bury the wooers, and sitting in council

resolve on revenge. And coming near the house of Laertes,

are met by Odysseus, and Laertes with Telemachus and

servants, the whole number twelve, and are overcome, and

submit.

Now Cyllenian Hermes called forth from the halls the souls

of the wooers, and he held in his hand his wand that is

fair and golden, wherewith he lulls the eyes of men, of

whomso he will, while others again he even wakens out of

sleep. Herewith he roused and led the souls who followed

gibbering. And even as bats flit gibbering in the secret

place of a wondrous cave, when one has fallen down from the

cluster on the rock, where they cling each to each up

aloft, even so the souls gibbered as they fared together,

and Hermes, the helper, led them down the dank ways. Past

the streams of Oceanus and the White Rock, past the gates

of the Sun they sped and the land of dreams, and soon they

came to the mead of asphodel, where dwell the souls, the

phantoms of men outworn. There they found the soul of

Achilles son of Peleus, and the souls of Patroclus, and of

noble Antilochus, and of Aias, who in face and form was

goodliest of all the Danaans after the noble son of Peleus.

So these were flocking round Achilles, and the spirit of

Agamemnon, son of Atreus, drew nigh sorrowful; and about

him were gathered all the other shades, as many as perished

with him in the house of Aegisthus, and met their doom.

Now the soul of the son of Peleus spake to him first,

saying:

'Son of Atreus, verily we deemed that thou above all other

heroes wast evermore dear to Zeus, whose joy is in the

thunder, seeing that thou wast lord over warriors, many and

mighty men, in the land of the Trojans where we Achaeans

suffered affliction. But lo, thee too was deadly doom to

visit early, {*} the doom that none avoids of all men born.

Ah, would that in the fulness of thy princely honour, thou

hadst met death and fate in the land of the Trojans! So

would all the Achaean host have builded thee a barrow, yea

and for thy son thou wouldst have won great glory in the

aftertime. But now it has been decreed for thee to perish

by a most pitiful death.'

{* Reading [Greek]}

Then the soul of the son of Atreus answered, and spake:

'Happy art thou son of Peleus, godlike Achilles, that didst

die in Troy-land far from Argos, and about thee fell

others, the best of the sons of Trojans and Achaeans,

fighting for thy body; but thou in the whirl of dust layest

mighty and mightily fallen, forgetful of thy chivalry. And

we strove the livelong day, nor would we ever have ceased

from the fight, if Zeus had not stayed us with a tempest.

Anon when we had borne thee to the ships from out of the

battle, we laid thee on a bier and washed thy fair flesh

clean with warm water and unguents, and around thee the

Danaans shed many a hot tear and shore their hair. And

forth from the sea came thy mother with the deathless

maidens of the waters, when they heard the tidings; and a

wonderful wailing rose over the deep, and trembling fell on

the limbs of all the Achaeans. Yea, and they would have

sprung up and departed to the hollow ships, had not one

held them back that knew much lore from of old, Nestor,

whose counsel proved heretofore the best. Out of his good

will he made harangue, and spake among them:

'"Hold, ye Argives, flee not, young lords of the Achaeans.

Lo, his mother from the sea is she that comes, with the

deathless maidens of the waters, to behold the face of her

dead son."

'So he spake, and the high-hearted Achaeans ceased from

their flight. Then round thee stood the daughters of the

ancient one of the sea, holding a pitiful lament, and they

clad thee about in raiment incorruptible. And all the nine

Muses one to the other replying with sweet voices began the

dirge; there thou wouldest not have seen an Argive but

wept, so mightily rose up the clear chant. Thus for

seventeen days and nights continually did we all bewail

thee, immortal gods and mortal men. On the eighteenth day

we gave thy body to the flames, and many well-fatted sheep

we slew around thee, and kine of shambling gait. So thou

wert burned in the garments of the gods, and in much

unguents and in sweet honey, and many heroes of the

Achaeans moved mail-clad around the pyre when thou wast

burning, both footmen and horse, and great was the noise

that arose. But when the flame of Hephaestus had utterly

abolished thee, lo, in the morning we gathered together thy

white bones, Achilles, and bestowed them in unmixed wine

and in unguents. Thy mother gave a twy-handled golden urn,

and said that it was the gift of Dionysus, and the

workmanship of renowned Hephaestus. Therein lie thy white

bones, great Achilles, and mingled therewith the bones of

Patroclus son of Menoetias, that is dead, but apart is the

dust of Antilochus, whom thou didst honour above all thy

other companions, after Patroclus that was dead. Then over

them did we pile a great and goodly tomb, we the holy host

of Argive warriors, high on a jutting headland over wide

Hellespont, that it might be far seen from off the sea by

men that now are, and by those that shall be hereafter.

Then thy mother asked the gods for glorious prizes in the

games, and set them in the midst of the lists for the

champions of the Achaeans. In days past thou hast been at

the funeral games of many a hero, whenso, after some king's

death, the young men gird themselves and make them ready

for the meed of victory; but couldst thou have seen these

gifts thou wouldst most have marvelled in spirit, such

glorious prizes did the goddess set there to honour thee,

even Thetis, the silver-footed; for very dear wert thou to

the gods. Thus not even in death hast thou lost thy name,

but to thee shall be a fair renown for ever among all men,

Achilles. But what joy have I now herein, that I have wound

up the clew of war, for on my return Zeus devised for me an

evil end at the hands of Aegisthus and my wife accursed?'

So they spake one to the other. And nigh them came the

Messenger, the slayer of Argos, leading down the ghosts of

the wooers by Odysseus slain, and the two heroes were

amazed at the sight and went straight toward them. And the

soul of Agamemnon, son of Atreus, knew the dear son of

Melaneus, renowned Amphimedon, who had been his host,

having his dwelling in Ithaca. The soul of the son of

Atreus spake to him first, saying:

'Amphimedon, what hath befallen you, that ye have come

beneath the darkness of earth, all of you picked men and of

like age? it is even as though one should choose out and

gather together the best warriors in a city. Did Poseidon

smite you in your ships and rouse up contrary winds and the

long waves? Or did unfriendly men, perchance, do you hurt

upon the land as ye were cutting off their oxen and fair

flocks of sheep, or while they fought to defend their city

and the women thereof? Answer and tell me, for I avow me a

friend of thy house. Rememberest thou not the day when I

came to your house in Ithaca with godlike Menelaus, to urge

Odysseus to follow with me to Ilios on the decked ships?

And it was a full month ere we had sailed all across the

wide sea, for scarce could we win to our cause Odysseus,

waster of cities.'

Then the ghost of Amphimedon answered him, and spake: 'Most

famous son of Atreus, king of men, Agamemnon, I remember

all these things, O fosterling of Zeus, as thou declarest

them, and I in turn will tell thee all the tale well and

truly, even our death and evil end, on what wise it befell.

We wooed the wife of Odysseus that was long afar, and she

neither refused the hated bridal nor was minded to make an

end, devising for us death and black fate. Also this other

wile she contrived in her heart. She set up in her halls a

mighty web, fine of woof and very wide, whereat she would

weave, and anon she spake among us:

'"Ye princely youths, my wooers, now that goodly Odysseus

is dead, do ye abide patiently, how eager soever to speed

on this marriage of mine, till I finish the robe. I would

not that the threads perish to no avail, even this shroud

for the hero Laertes, against the day when the ruinous doom

shall bring him low, of death that lays men at their

length. So shall none of the Achaean women in the land

count it blame in me, as well might be, were he to lie

without a winding-sheet, a man that had gotten great

possessions."

'So spake she, and our high hearts consented thereto. So

then in the daytime she would weave the mighty web, and in

the night unravel the same, when she had let place the

torches by her. Thus for the space of three years she hid

the thing by guile and won the minds of the Achaeans; but

when the fourth year arrived and the seasons came round, as

the months waned and many days were accomplished, then it

was that one of her women who knew all declared it, and we

found her unravelling the splendid web. Thus she finished

it perforce and sore against her will. Now when she brought

the robe to light, after she had woven the great web and

washed it, and it shone even as sun or moon, at that very

hour some evil god led Odysseus, I know not whence, to the

upland farm, where the swineherd abode in his dwelling.

Thither too came the dear son of divine Odysseus out of

sandy Pylos, voyaging with his black ship. These twain

framed an evil death for the wooers, and came to the

renowned town. Odysseus verily came the later, and

Telemachus went before and led the way. Now the swineherd

brought Odysseus clad in vile raiment, in the likeness of a

beggar, a wretched man and an old, leaning on a staff, and

behold, he was clad about in sorry raiment. And none of us,

not even the elders, could know him for that he was, on

this his sudden appearing, but with evil words we assailed

him and hurled things at him. Yet for a while he hardened

his heart to endure both the hurlings and the evil words in

his own halls; but at the last, when the spirit of Zeus,

lord of the aegis, aroused him, by the help of Telemachus

he took up all the goodly weapons, and laid them by in the

inner chamber and drew the bolts. Next in his great craft

he bade his wife to offer his bow and store of grey iron to

the wooers to be the weapons of our contest, luckless that

we were, and the beginning of death. Now not one of us

could stretch the string of the strong bow; far short we

fell of that might. But when the great bow came to the

hands of Odysseus, then we all clamoured and forbade to

give him the bow, how much soever he might speak, but

Telemachus alone was instant with him and commanded him to

take it. Then he took the bow into his hands, the steadfast

goodly Odysseus, and lightly he strung it, and sent the

arrow through the iron. Then straight he went to the

threshold and there took his stand, and poured forth the

swift arrows, glancing terribly around, and smote the king

Antinous. Thereafter on the others he let fly his bolts,

winged for death, with straight aim, and the wooers fell

thick one upon another. Then was it known how that some god

was their helper, for pressing on as their passion drave

them, they slew the men right and left through the halls,

and thence there arose a hideous moaning, as heads were

smitten and the floor all ran with blood. So we perished,

Agamemnon, and even now our bodies lie uncared for in the

halls of Odysseus, for the friends of each one at home as

yet know nought, even they who might wash the black-clotted

blood out of our wounds, and lay out the bodies and wail

the dirge, for that is the due of the dead.'

Then the ghost of the son of Atreus answered him: 'Ah,

happy son of Laertes, Odysseus of many devices, yea, for a

wife most excellent hast thou gotten, so good was the

wisdom of constant Penelope, daughter of Icarius, that was

duly mindful of Odysseus, her wedded lord. Wherefore the

fame of her virtue shall never perish, but the immortals

will make a gracious song in the ears of men on earth to

the fame of constant Penelope. In far other wise did the

daughter of Tyndareus devise ill deeds, and slay her wedded

lord, and hateful shall the song of her be among men, and

an evil repute hath she brought upon all womankind, even on

the upright.'

Even so these twain spake one to the other, standing in the

house of Hades, beneath the secret places of the earth.

Now when those others had gone down from the city, quickly

they came to the rich and well-ordered farm land of

Laertes, that he had won for himself of old, as the prize

of great toil in war. There was his house, and all about it

ran the huts wherein the thralls were wont to eat and dwell

and sleep, bondsmen that worked his will. And in the house

there was an old Sicilian woman, who diligently cared for

the old man, in the upland far from the city. There

Odysseus spake to his thralls and to his son, saying:

'Do ye now get you within the well-builded house, and

quickly sacrifice the best of the swine for the midday

meal, but I will make trial of my father, whether he will

know me again and be aware of me when he sees me, or know

me not, so long have I been away,'

Therewith he gave the thralls his weapons of war. Then they

went speedily to the house, while Odysseus drew near to the

fruitful vineyard to make trial of his father. Now he found

not Dolius there, as he went down into the great garden,

nor any of the thralls nor of their sons. It chanced that

they had all gone to gather stones for a garden fence, and

the old man at their head. So he found his father alone in

the terraced vineyard, digging about a plant. He was

clothed in a filthy doublet, patched and unseemly, with

clouted leggings of oxhide bound about his legs, against

the scratches of the thorns, and long sleeves over his

hands by reason of the brambles, and on his head he wore a

goatskin cap, and so he nursed his sorrow. Now when the

steadfast goodly Odysseus saw his father thus wasted with

age and in great grief of heart, he stood still beneath a

tall pear tree and let fall a tear. Then he communed with

his heart and soul, whether he should fall on his father's

neck and kiss him, and tell him all, how he had returned

and come to his own country, or whether he should first

question him and prove him in every word. And as he thought

within himself, this seemed to him the better way, namely,

first to prove his father and speak to him sharply. So with

this intent the goodly Odysseus went up to him. Now he was

holding his head down and kept digging about the plant,

while his renowned son stood by him and spake, saying:

'Old man, thou hast no lack of skill in tending a garden;

lo, thou carest well for all, {*} nor is there aught

whatsoever, either plant or fig-tree, or vine, yea, or

olive, or pear, or garden-bed in all the close, that is not

well seen to. Yet another thing will I tell thee and lay

not up wrath thereat in thy heart. Thyself art scarce so

well cared for, but a pitiful old age is on thee, and

withal thou art withered and unkempt, and clad unseemly. It

cannot be to punish thy sloth that thy master cares not for

thee; there shows nothing of the slave about thy face and

stature, for thou art like a kingly man, even like one who

should lie soft, when he has washed and eaten well, as is

the manner of the aged. But come declare me this and

plainly tell it all. Whose thrall art thou, and whose

garden dost thou tend? Tell me moreover truly, that I may

surely know, if it be indeed to Ithaca that I am now come,

as one yonder told me who met with me but now on the way

hither. He was but of little understanding, for he deigned

not to tell me all nor to heed my saying, when I questioned

him concerning my friend, whether indeed he is yet alive or

is even now dead and within the house of Hades. For I will

declare it and do thou mark and listen: once did I kindly

entreat a man in mine own dear country, who came to our

home, and never yet has any mortal been dearer of all the

strangers that have drawn to my house from afar. He

declared him to be by lineage from out of Ithaca, and said

that his own father was Laertes son of Arceisius. So I led

him to our halls and gave him good entertainment, with all

loving-kindness, out of the plenty that was within. Such

gifts too I gave him as are the due of guests; of well

wrought gold I gave him seven talents, and a mixing bowl of

flowered work, all of silver, and twelve cloaks of single

fold, and as many coverlets, and as many goodly mantles and

doublets to boot, and besides all these, four women skilled

in all fair works and most comely, the women of his

choice.'

{* Supplying [Greek] from the preceding clause as object to

[Greek]. Other constructions are possible.}

Then his father answered him, weeping: 'Stranger, thou art

verily come to that country whereof thou askest, but

outrageous men and froward hold it. And these thy gifts,

thy countless gifts, thou didst bestow in vain. For if thou

hadst found that man yet living in the land of Ithaca he

would have sent thee on thy way with good return of thy

presents, and with all hospitality, as is due to the man

that begins the kindness. But come, declare me this and

plainly tell me all; how many years are passed since thou

didst entertain him, thy guest ill-fated and my child,--if

ever such an one there was,--hapless man, whom far from his

friends and his country's soil, the fishes, it may be, have

devoured in the deep sea, or on the shore he has fallen the

prey of birds and beasts. His mother wept not over him nor

clad him for burial, nor his father, we that begat him. Nor

did his bride, whom men sought with rich gifts, the

constant Penelope, bewail her lord upon the bier, as was

meet, nor closed his eyes, as is the due of the departed.

Moreover, tell me this truly, that I may surely know, who

art thou and whence of the sons of men? Where is thy city

and where are they that begat thee? Where now is thy swift

ship moored, that brought thee thither with thy godlike

company? Hast thou come as a passenger on another's ship,

while they set thee ashore and went away?

Then Odysseus of many counsels answered him, saying: 'Yea

now, I will tell thee all most plainly. From out of Alybas

I come, where I dwell in a house renowned, and am the son

of Apheidas the son of Polypemon, the prince, and my own

name is Eperitus. But some god drave me wandering hither

from Sicania against my will, and yonder my ship is moored

toward the upland away from the city. But for Odysseus,

this is now the fifth year since he went thence and

departed out of my country. Ill-fated was he, and yet he

had birds of good omen when he fared away, birds on the

right; wherefore I sped him gladly on his road, and gladly

he departed, and the heart of us twain hoped yet to meet in

friendship on a day and to give splendid gifts.'

So he spake, and on the old man fell a black cloud of

sorrow. With both his hands he clutched the dust and ashes

and showered them on his gray head, with ceaseless

groaning. Then the heart of Odysseus was moved, and up

through his nostrils throbbed anon the keen sting of sorrow

at the sight of his dear father. And he sprang towards him

and fell on his neck and kissed him, saying:

'Behold, I here, even I, my father, am the man of whom thou

askest; in the twentieth year am I come to mine own

country. But stay thy weeping and tearful lamentation, for

I will tell thee all clearly, though great need there is of

haste. I have slain the wooers in our halls and avenged

their bitter scorn and evil deeds.'

Then Laertes answered him and spake, saying: 'If thou art

indeed Odysseus, mine own child, that art come hither, show

me now a manifest token, that I may be assured.'

Then Odysseus of many counsels answered him saying: 'Look

first on this scar and consider it, that the boar dealt me

with his white tusk on Parnassus, whither I had gone, and

thou didst send me forth, thou and my lady mother, to

Autolycus my mother's father, to get the gifts which when

he came hither he promised and covenanted to give me. But

come, and I will even tell thee the trees through all the

terraced garden, which thou gavest me once for mine own,

and I was begging of thee this and that, being but a little

child, and following thee through the garden. Through these

very trees we were going, and thou didst tell me the names

of each of them. Pear-trees thirteen thou gavest me and ten

apple-trees and figs two-score, and, as we went, thou didst

name the fifty rows of vines thou wouldest give me, whereof

each one ripened at divers times, with all manner of

clusters on their boughs, when the seasons of Zeus wrought

mightily on them from on high.'

So he spake, and straightway his knees were loosened, and

his heart melted within him, as he knew the sure tokens

that Odysseus showed him. About his dear son he cast his

arms, and the steadfast goodly Odysseus caught him fainting

to his breast. Now when he had got breath and his spirit

came to him again, once more he answered and spake, saying:

'Father Zeus, verily ye gods yet bear sway on high Olympus,

if indeed the wooers have paid for their infatuate pride!

But now my heart is terribly afraid, lest straightway all

the men of Ithaca come up against us here, and haste to

send messengers everywhere to the cities of the

Cephallenians.'

Then Odysseus of many counsels answered him saying: 'Take

courage, and let not thy heart be careful about these

matters. But come, let us go to the house that lies near

the garden, for thither I sent forward Telemachus and the

neatherd and the swineherd to get ready the meal as

speedily as may be.'

After these words the twain set out to the goodly halls.

Now when they had come to the fair-lying house, they found

Telemachus and the neatherd and the swineherd carving much

flesh, and mixing the dark wine. Meanwhile the Sicilian

handmaid bathed high-hearted Laertes in his house, and

anointed him with olive-oil, and cast a fair mantle about

him. Then Athene drew nigh, and made greater the limbs of

the shepherd of the people, taller she made him than before

and mightier to behold. Then he went forth from the bath,

and his dear son marvelled at him, beholding him like to

the deathless gods in presence. And uttering his voice he

spake to him winged words:

'Father, surely one of the gods that are from everlasting

hath made thee goodlier and greater to behold.'

Then wise Laertes answered him, saying: 'Ah, would to

father Zeus and Athene and Apollo, that such as I was when

I took Nericus, the stablished castle on the foreland of

the continent, being then the prince of the Cephallenians,

would that in such might, and with mail about my shoulders,

I had stood to aid thee yesterday in our house, and to beat

back the wooers; so should I have loosened the knees of

many an one of them in the halls, and thou shouldest have

been gladdened in thine inmost heart!'

So they spake each with the other. But when the others had

ceased from their task and made ready the feast, they sat

down all orderly on chairs and on high seats. Then they

began to put forth their hands on the meat, and the old man

Dolius drew nigh, and the old man's sons withal came tired

from their labour in the fields, for their mother, the aged

Sicilian woman, had gone forth and called them, she that

saw to their living and diligently cared for the old man,

now that old age had laid hold on him. So soon as they

looked on Odysseus and took knowledge of him, they stood

still in the halls in great amazement. But Odysseus

addressed them in gentle words, saying:

'Old man, sit down to meat and do ye forget your

marvelling, for long have we been eager to put forth our

hands on the food, as we abode in the hall alway expecting

your coming.'

So he spake, and Dolius ran straight toward him stretching

forth both his hands, and he grasped the hand of Odysseus

and kissed it on the wrist, and uttering his voice spake to

him winged words:

'Beloved, forasmuch as thou hast come back to us who sore

desired thee, and no longer thought to see thee, and the

gods have led thee home again;--hail to thee and welcome

manifold, and may the gods give thee all good fortune!

Moreover tell me this truly, that I may be assured, whether

wise Penelope yet knows well that thou hast come back

hither, or whether we shall dispatch a messenger.'

Then Odysseus of many counsels answered saying: 'Old man,

already she knows all; what need to busy thyself herewith?'

Thereon the other sat him down again on his polished

settle. And in like wise the sons of Dolius gathered about

the renowned Odysseus, and greeted him well and clasped his

hands, and then sat down all orderly by Dolius their

father.

So they were busy with the meal in the halls. Now Rumour

the messenger went swiftly all about the city, telling the

tale of the dire death and fate of the wooers. And the

people heard it, and all at once gathered together from

every side with sighing and groaning before the house of

Odysseus. And each brought forth his dead from the halls,

and buried them; but those that came out of other cities

they placed on swift ships and sent with fisherfolk, each

to be carried to his own home. As for them they all fared

together to the assembly-place, in sorrow of heart. When

they were all gathered and come together, Eupeithes arose

and spake among them, for a comfortless grief lay heavy on

his heart for his son Antinous, the first man that goodly

Odysseus had slain. Weeping for him he made harangue and

spake among them:

'Friends, a great deed truly hath this man devised against

the Achaeans. Some with his ships he led away, many men,

and noble, and his hollow ships hath he lost, and utterly

lost of his company, and others again, and those far the

best of the Cephallenians he hath slain on his coming home.

Up now, before ever he gets him swiftly either to Pylos or

to fair Elis, where the Epeians bear sway, let us go forth;

else even hereafter shall we have shame of face for ever.

For a scorn this is even for the ears of men unborn to

hear, if we avenge not ourselves on the slayers of our sons

and of our brethren. Life would no more be sweet to me, but

rather would I die straightway and be with the departed.

Up, let us be going, lest these fellows be beforehand with

us and get them over the sea.'

Thus he spake weeping, and pity fell on all the Achaeans.

Then came near to them Medon and the divine minstrel, forth

from the halls of Odysseus, for that sleep had let them go.

They stood in the midst of the gathering, and amazement

seized every man. Then Medon, wise of heart, spake among

them, saying:

'Hearken to me now, ye men of Ithaca, for surely Odysseus

planned not these deeds without the will of the gods. Nay I

myself beheld a god immortal, who stood hard by Odysseus,

in the perfect semblance of Mentor; now as a deathless god

was he manifest in front of Odysseus, cheering him, and yet

again scaring the wooers he stormed through the hall, and

they fell thick one on another.'

Thus he spake, and pale fear gat hold of the limbs of all.

Then the old man, the lord Halitherses, spake among them,

the son of Mastor, for he alone saw before and after. Out

of his good will be made harangue and spake among them,

saying:

'Hearken to me now, ye men of Ithaca, to the word that I

will say. Through your own cowardice, my friends, have

these deeds come to pass. For ye obeyed not me, nor Mentor,

the shepherd of the people, to make your sons cease from

their foolish ways. A great villainy they wrought in their

evil infatuation, wasting the wealth and holding in no

regard the wife of a prince, while they deemed that he

would never more come home. And now let things be on this

wise, and obey my counsel. Let us not go forth against him,

lest haply some may find a bane of their own bringing.'

So he spake, but they leapt up with a great cry, the more

part of them, while the rest abode there together; for his

counsel was not to the mind of the more part, but they gave

ear to Eupeithes, and swiftly thereafter they rushed for

their armour. So when they had arrayed them in shining

mail, they assembled together in front of the spacious

town. And Eupeithes led them in his witlessness, for he

thought to avenge the slaying of his son, yet himself was

never to return, but then and there to meet his doom.

Now Athene spake to Zeus, the son of Cronos, saying: 'O

Father, our father Cronides, throned in the highest, answer

and tell me what is now the hidden counsel of thy heart?

Wilt thou yet further rouse up evil war and the terrible

din of battle, or art thou minded to set them at one again

in friendship?'

Then Zeus, the gatherer of the clouds, answered her saying:

'My child, why dost thou thus straitly question me, and ask

me this? Nay didst not thou thyself devise this very

thought, namely, that Odysseus should indeed take vengeance

on these men at his coming? Do as thou wilt, but I will

tell thee of the better way. Now that goodly Odysseus hath

wreaked vengeance on the wooers, let them make a firm

covenant together with sacrifice, and let him be king all

his days, and let us bring about oblivion of the slaying of

their children and their brethren; so may both sides love

one another as of old, and let peace and wealth abundant be

their portion.'

Therewith he roused Athene to yet greater eagerness, and

from the peaks of Olympus she came glancing down.

Now when they had put from them the desire of honey-sweet

food, the steadfast goodly Odysseus began to speak among

them, saying:

'Let one go forth and see, lest the people be already

drawing near against us.'

So he spake, and the son of Dolius went forth at his

bidding, and stood on the outer threshold and saw them all

close at hand. Then straightway he spake to Odysseus winged

words:

'Here they be, close upon us! Quick, let us to arms!'

Thereon they rose up and arrayed them in their harness,

Odysseus and his men being four, and the six sons of

Dolius, and likewise Laertes and Dolius did on their

armour, grey-headed as they were, warriors through stress

of need. Now when they had clad them in shining mail, they

opened the gates and went forth and Odysseus led them.

Then Athene, daughter of Zeus, drew near them in the

likeness of Mentor, in fashion and in voice. And the

steadfast goodly Odysseus beheld her and was glad, and

straightway he spake to Telemachus his dear son:

'Telemachus, soon shalt thou learn this, when thou thyself

art got to the place of the battle where the best men try

the issue,--namely, not to bring shame on thy father's

house, on us who in time past have been eminent for might

and hardihood over all the world.'

Then wise Telemachus answered him, saying: 'Thou shalt see

me, if thou wilt, dear father, in this my mood no whit

disgracing thy line, according to thy word.'

So spake he, and Laertes was glad and spake, saying: 'What

a day has dawned for me, kind gods; yea, a glad man am I!

My son and my son's son are vying with one another in

valour.'

Then grey-eyed Athene stood beside Laertes, and spake to

him: 'O son of Arceisius that art far the dearest of all my

friends, pray first to the grey-eyed maid and to father

Zeus, then swing thy long spear aloft and hurl its

straightway.'

Therewith Pallas Athene breathed into him great strength.

Then he prayed to the daughter of mighty Zeus, and

straightway swung his long spear aloft and hurled it, and

smote Eupeithes through his casque with the cheek-piece of

bronze. The armour kept not out the spear that went clean

through, and he fell with a crash, and his arms rattled

about his body. Then Odysseus and his renowned son fell on

the fore-fighters, and smote them with swords and

two-headed spears. And now would they have slain them all

and cut off their return, had not Athene called aloud, the

daughter of Zeus lord of the aegis, and stayed all the host

of the enemy, saying:

'Hold your hands from fierce fighting, ye men of Ithaca,

that so ye may be parted quickly, without bloodshed.'

So spake Athene, and pale fear gat hold of them all. The

arms flew from their hands in their terror and fell all

upon the ground, as the goddess uttered her voice. To the

city they turned their steps, as men fain of life, and the

steadfast goodly Odysseus with a terrible cry gathered

himself together and hurled in on them, like an eagle of

lofty flight. Then in that hour the son of Cronos cast

forth a flaming bolt, and it fell at the feet of the

grey-eyed goddess, the daughter of the mighty Sire. Then

grey-eyed Athene spake to Odysseus, saying:

'Son of Laertes, of the seed of Zeus, Odysseus of many

devices, refrain thee now and stay the strife of

even-handed war, lest perchance the son of Cronos be angry

with thee, even Zeus of the far-borne voice.'

So spake Athene, and he obeyed and was glad at heart. And

thereafter Pallas Athene set a covenant between them with

sacrifice, she, the daughter of Zeus lord of the aegis, in

the likeness of Mentor, both in fashion and in voice.

 

Homer, thy song men liken to the sea,

With every note of music in his tone,

With tides that wash the dim dominion

Of Hades, and light waves that laugh in glee

Around the isles enchanted: nay, to me

Thy verse seems as the River of source unknown

That glasses Egypt's temples overthrown,

In his sky-nurtur'd stream, eternally.

No wiser we than men of heretofore

To find thy mystic fountains guarded fast;

Enough--thy flood makes green our human shore

As Nilus, Egypt, rolling down his vast,

His fertile waters, murmuring evermore

Of gods dethroned, and empires of the Past.