THE STORY OF THE ODYSSEY
BY THE REV. ALFRED J. CHURCH, M.A.
I. THE COUNSEL OF ATHENE
II. THE ASSEMBLY
III. NESTOR'S TALE
IV. IN SPARTA
V. MENELAUS'S TALE
VI. ULYSSES ON HIS RAFT
IX. THE PHAEACIANS
X. THE CYCLOPS
XI. AEOLUS; THE LAESTRYGONS; CIRCE
XII. THE DWELLINGS OF THE DEAD
XIII. THE SIRENS; SCYLLA; THE OXEN OF THE SUN
XV. EUMAEUS, THE SWINEHERD
XVI. THE RETURN OF TELEMACHUS
XVII. ULYSSES AND TELEMACHUS
XVIII. ULYSSES IN HIS HOME
XIX. ULYSSES IN HIS HOME (continued)
XX. ULYSSES IS DISCOVERED BY HIS NURSE
XXI. THE TRIAL OF THE BOW
XXII. THE SLAYING OF THE SUITORS
XXIII. THE END OF THE WANDERING
XXIV. THE TRIUMPH OF ULYSSES
PRONUNCIATION OF PROPER NAMES
Three thousand years ago the world was still young. The western
continent was a huge wilderness, and the greater part of Europe
was inhabited by savage and wandering tribes. Only a few nations
at the eastern end of the Mediterranean and in the neighbouring
parts of Asia had learned to dwell in cities, to use a written
language, to make laws for themselves, and to live in a more
orderly fashion. Of these nations the most brilliant was that of
the Greeks, who were destined in war, in learning, in government,
and in the arts, to play a great part in the world, and to be the
real founders of our modern civilization. While they were still a
rude people, they had noble ideals of beauty and bravery, of duty
and justice. Even before they had a written language, their
singers had made songs about their heroes and their great deeds;
and later these songs, which fathers had taught to children, and
these children to their children, were brought together into two
long and wonderful poems, which have ever since been the delight
of the world, the Iliad and the Odyssey.
The Iliad is the story of the siege of Ilium, or Troy, on
the western coast of Asia Minor. Paris, son of the king of Troy,
had enticed Helen, the most beautiful of Grecian women, and the
wife of a Grecian king, to leave her husband's home with him; and
the kings and princes of the Greeks had gathered an army and a
fleet and sailed across the Aegean Sea to rescue her. For ten
years they strove to capture the city. According to the fine old
legends, the gods themselves took a part in the war, some siding
with the Greeks, and some with the Trojans. It was finally through
Ulysses, a famous Greek warrior, brave and fierce as well as wise
and crafty, that the Greeks captured the city.
The second poem, the Odyssey, tells what befell Ulysses, or
Odysseus, as the Greeks called him, on his homeward way. Sailing
from Troy with his little fleet of ships, which were so small that
they used oars as well as sails, he was destined to wander for ten
years longer before he could return to his rocky island of Ithaca,
on the west shore of Greece, and to his faithful wife, Penelope.
He had marvellous adventures, for the gods who had opposed the
Greeks at Troy had plotted to bring him ill-fortune. Just as his
ships were safely rounding the southern cape of Greece, a fierce
storm took them out of their course, and bore them to many strange
lands—lands of giants, man-eating monsters, and wondrous
enchantments of which you will delight to read. Through countless
perils the resolute wanderer forced his way, losing ship after
ship from his little fleet, and companion after companion from his
own band, until he reached home friendless and alone, and found
his palace, his property, and his family all in the power of a
band of greedy princes. These he overcame by his cunning and his
strength, and his long trials were ended.
As you read these ancient tales, you must forget what knowledge
you have of the world, and think of it as the Greeks did. It was
only a little part of the world that they knew at all,—the
eastern end of the Mediterranean,—but even that seemed to them a
great and marvellous region. Beyond its borders were strange and
mysterious lands, in which wonders of all kinds were found, and
round all ran the great world-river, the encircling stream of
In the mountains of Olympus, to the northward, lived the gods.
There was Zeus, greatest of all, the god of thunder and the wide
heavens; Hera, his wife; Apollo, the archer god; Athene, the wise
and clever goddess; Poseidon, who ruled the sea; Aphrodite, the
goddess of love; Hephaestus, the cunning workman; Ares, the god of
war; Hermes, the swift messenger; and others still, whom you will
learn to know as you read. All these were worshipped by men with
prayer and sacrifice; and, as in the early legends of many races,
the gods often took the shape of men and women; they had their
favourites and those whom they hated; and they ruled the fate of
mortals as they chose.
If you let yourselves be beguiled into this old, simple way of
regarding earth and heaven, you will not only love these ancient
tales yourself, but you will see why, for century after century,
they have been the longest loved and the best loved of all tales—
beloved by old and young, by men and women and children. For they
are hero-tales,—tales of war and adventure, tales of bravery and
nobility, tales of the heroes that mankind, almost since the
beginning of time, have looked to as ideals of wisdom and strength
THE COUNSEL [Footnote: counsel, advice.] OF
ATHENE [Footnote: A-the'-ne.]
When the great city of Troy had been taken, all the chiefs who had
fought against it set sail for their homes. But there was wrath in
heaven against them, so that they did not find a safe and happy
return. For one was shipwrecked, and another was shamefully slain
by his false wife in his palace, and others found all things at
home troubled and changed, and were driven to seek new dwellings
elsewhere; and some were driven far and wide about the world
before they saw their native land again. Of all, the wise Ulysses
[Footnote: U-lys'-ses.] was he that wandered farthest and suffered
most, for when ten years had well-nigh passed, he was still far
away from Ithaca [Footnote: Ith'-a-ca.], his kingdom.
The gods were gathered in council in the hall of Olympus [Footnote: O-
lym'-pus.], all but Poseidon, [Footnote: Po-sei'-don.] the god of the
sea, for he had gone to feast with the Ethiopians. Now Poseidon was he
who most hated Ulysses, and kept him from his home.
Then spake Athene among the immortal gods: "My heart is rent for
Ulysses. Sore affliction doth he suffer in an island of the sea,
where the daughter of Atlas keepeth him, seeking to make him
forget his native land. And he yearns to see even the smoke rising
up from the land of his birth, and is fain [Footnote: is fain,
wishes to] to die. And thou regardest it not at all. Did he not
offer thee many sacrifices in the land of Troy? Wherefore hast
thou such wrath against him?" To her Zeus, the father of the gods,
made reply: "What is this that thou sayest, my daughter? It is
Poseidon that hath great wrath against Ulysses, because he blinded
his son Polyphemus [Footnote: Pol-y-phe'-mus.] the Cyclops.
[Footnote: Cy'-clops.] But come, let us take counsel together that
he may return to his home, for Poseidon will not be able to contend
against us all."
Then said Athene: "If this be thy will, then let us speed Hermes
[Footnote: Her'-mes.] the messenger to the island of Calypso
[Footnote: Ca-lyp'-so.], and let him declare to the goddess our
purpose that Ulysses shall return to his home. And I will go to
Ithaca, and stir up the spirit of his son Telemachus [Footnote:
Te-lem'-a-chus.], that first he speak out his mind to the suitors
of his mother who waste his substance, [Footnote: substance,
property.] and next that he go to Sparta and to Pylos [Footnote:
Py'-los.], seeking tidings of his father. So shall the youth win
good report among men."
So she went to Ithaca, and there she took upon her the form of
Mentes [Footnote: Men'-tes.], who was chief of the Taphians.
Now there were gathered in the house of Ulysses many princes from
the islands, suitors of the Queen Penelope [Footnote: Pe-nel'-o-
pe.], for they said that Ulysses was dead, and that she should
choose another husband. These were gathered together, and were
sitting playing draughts [Footnote: draughts, checkers.] and
feasting. And Telemachus sat among them, vexed at heart, for they
wasted his substance; neither was he master in his house. But when
he saw the guest at the door, he rose from his place, and welcomed
him, and made him sit down, and commanded that they should give
him food and wine. And when he had ended his meal, Telemachus
asked him his business.
Thereupon the false Mentes said: "My name is Mentes, and I am King
of the Taphians, and I am sailing to Cyprus for copper, taking
iron in exchange. Now I have been long time the friend of this
house, of thy father and thy father's father, and I came trusting
to see thy father, for they told me that he was here. But now I
see that some god hath hindered his return, for that he is yet
alive I know full well. But tell me, who are these that I see? Is
this the gathering of a clan, or a wedding feast?"
Telemachus made answer: "O sir, while my father was yet alive, our
house was rich and honoured; but now that he is gone, things are
not well with me. I would not grieve so much had he fallen in
battle before Troy; for then the Greeks would have builded a great
burial mound for him, and he would thus have won great renown,
even for his son. But now the storms of the sea have swept him
away, and I am left in sore distress. For these whom thou seest
are the princes of the islands that come here to woo my mother.
She neither refuseth nor accepteth; and meanwhile they sit here,
and waste my substance."
Then said the false Mentes: "Now may the gods help thee! Thou art
indeed in sore need of Ulysses. But now hearken to my counsel.
First call an assembly of the people. Bid the suitors go back,
each man to his home; and as for thy mother, if she be moved to
wed, let her return to her father's house, that her kinsfolk may
furnish a wedding feast, and prepare gifts such as a well-beloved
daughter should have. Afterwards do thou fit up a ship with twenty
oars, and go, inquire concerning thy father; perhaps some man may
give thee tidings of him; or, may be, thou wilt hear a voice from
Zeus concerning him. Go to Pylos first, and afterwards to Sparta,
where Menelaus [Footnote: Me-ne-la'-us.] dwelleth, who of all the
Greeks came back the last to his home. If thou shouldest hear that
he is dead, then come back hither, and raise a mound for him, and
give thy mother to a husband. And when thou hast made an end of
all these things, then plan how thou mayest slay the suitors by
force or craft, for it is time for thee to have the thoughts of a
Then said Telemachus: "Thou speakest these things out of a
friendly heart, as a father might speak to his son, nor will I
ever forget them. But now, I pray thee, abide here for a space,
that I may give thee a goodly gift, such as friends give to
friends, to be an heirloom in thy house."
But the false Mentes said, "Keep me no longer, for I am eager to
depart; give me thy gift when I shall return."
So the goddess departed; like to an eagle of the sea was she as
she flew. And Telemachus knew her to be a goddess as she went.
Meanwhile Phemius [Footnote: Phe'-mi-us.] the minstrel sang to the
suitors, and his song was of the unhappy return of the Greeks from
When Penelope heard the song, she came down from the upper chamber
where she sat, and two handmaids bare her company. And when she
came to where the suitors sat, she stood by the gate of the hall,
holding her shining veil before her face. Then spake she to the
minstrel, weeping, and said: "Phemius, thou knowest many songs
concerning the deeds of gods and men; sing, therefore, one of
these, and let the guests drink the wine in silence. But stay this
pitiful strain, for it breaketh my heart to hear it. Surely, of
all women I am the most unhappy, so famous was the husband for
whom I mourn."
But Telemachus made reply: "Why dost thou grudge the minstrel, my
mother, to make us glad in such fashion as his spirit biddeth him?
It is no blame to him that he singeth of the unhappy return of the
Greeks, for men most prize the song that soundeth newest in their
ears. Endure, therefore, to listen, for not Ulysses only missed
his return, but many a famous chief besides. Go, then, to thy
chamber, and mind thy household affairs, and bid thy handmaids ply
their tasks. Speech belongeth unto men, and chiefly to me that am
the master in this house."
Then went she back to her chamber, for she was amazed at her son,
with such authority did he speak. Then she bewailed her lord, till
Athene sent down sleep upon her eyes.
When she was gone, Telemachus spake to the suitors, saying: "Let
us now feast and be merry, and let there be no brawling among us.
It is a good thing to listen to a minstrel that hath a voice as
the voice of a god. But in the morning let us go to the assembly,
that I may declare my purpose, to wit, that ye leave this hall,
and eat your own substance. But if ye deem it a better thing that
ye should waste another man's goods, and make no recompense, then
work your will. But certainly Zeus shall repay you."
So he spake, and they all marvelled that he used such boldness.
And Antinous [Footnote: An-ti'-no-us.] answered: "Surely,
Telemachus, it is by the bidding of the gods that thou speakest so
boldly. Therefore I pray that Zeus may never make thee King in
Then said Telemachus: "It is no ill thing to be a king, for his
house groweth rich, and he himself is honoured. But there are
others in Ithaca, young and old, who may have the kingship, now
that Ulysses is dead. Yet know that I will be lord of my own house
and of the slaves which Ulysses won for himself with his own
Thereupon spake Eurymachus [Footnote: Eu-rym'-a-chus.], saying:
"It is with the gods to say who shall be King in Ithaca; but no
man can deny that thou shouldest keep thine own goods and be lord
in thine own house. Tell me, who is this stranger that came but
just now to thy house? Did he bring tidings of thy father? Or came
he on some matter of his own? In strange fashion did he depart,
nor did he tarry that we might know him."
Telemachus made answer: "Verily, Eurymachus, the day of my
father's return hath gone by forever. As for this stranger, he
said that he was Mentes, King of the Taphians."
So spake Telemachus, but in his heart he knew that the stranger
was Athene. Then the suitors turned them to the dance and to the
song, making merry till the darkness fell. Then went they each to
his own house to sleep.
But Telemachus went to his chamber, pondering many things in his
heart. And Eurycleia, [Footnote: Eu-ry-clei'-a] who had nursed him
when he was little, went with him, bearing torches in her hands.
He opened the door of the chamber, and took off his doublet, and
put it in the wise woman's hands. She folded it, and smoothed it,
and hung it on a pin, and went forth from the room, and pulled to
the door, and made it fast. And all the night Telemachus thought
in his heart of the journey which Athene had showed him.
When the morning came, Telemachus bade the heralds call the people
to the assembly. So the heralds called them, and they came in
haste. And when they were gathered together, he went his way to
the place of meeting, holding in his hand a spear, and two dogs
followed him. Then did Athene shed a marvellous grace upon him, so
that all men wondered at him, as he sat him down in his father's
First spake Aegyptus [Footnote: AE-gyp'-tus.], who was bowed with
many years, and was very wise. Four sons he had. One had gone with
Ulysses to Troy, and one was among the suitors of the Queen, and
two abode with their father in the field. He said: "Hearken to me,
men of Ithaca! Never hath an assembly been called in Ithaca since
Ulysses departed. Who now hath called us together? If it be
Telemachus, what doth he want? Hath he heard any tidings of the
coming back of the host? He, methinks, is a true man. May Zeus be
with him and grant him his heart's desire!"
So spake the old man, and Telemachus was glad at his speech. Then
he rose up and said:—
"I have great trouble in my heart, men of Ithaca, for first my
father, whom ye all loved, is dead; and next the princes of the
islands come hither, making suit to my mother, but she waits ever
for the return of her husband. And they devour all our substance;
nor is Ulysses here to defend it, and I, in truth, am not able.
And this is a grievous wrong, and not to be borne."
Then he dashed his sceptre on the ground, and sat down weeping.
And Antinous, who was one of the suitors, rose up and said:—
"Nay, Telemachus, blame not us, but blame thy mother, who indeed
is crafty above all women. For now this is the fourth year that we
have come suing for her hand, and she has cheated us with hopes.
Hear now this that she did. She set up a great web for weaving,
and said to us: 'Listen, ye that are my suitors. Hasten not my
marriage till I finish this web to be a burial cloth for Laertes
[Footnote: La-er'-tes.], the father of Ulysses, for indeed it
would be foul shame if he who has won great possessions should
lack this honour.' So she spake, and for three years she cheated
us, for what she wove in the day she unravelled at night. But when
the fourth year was come, one of her maidens told us of the
matter, and we came upon her by night and found her unravelling
what she had woven in the day. Then did she finish it, much
against her will. Send away, therefore, thy mother, and bid her
marry whom she will. But till this be done we will not depart."
Then answered Telemachus: "How can I send away against her will
her who bare me and brought me up? I cannot do this thing."
So he spake; and there came two eagles, which flew abreast till
they came over the assembly. Then did they wheel in the air, and
shook out from each many feathers, and tare each other, and so
Then cried Alitherses [Footnote: A-li-ther'-ses.], the prophet:
"Beware, ye suitors, for great trouble is coming to you, and to
others also. And as for Ulysses, I said when he went to Troy that
he should return after twenty years; and so it shall be."
And when the suitors would not listen, Telemachus said: "Give me a
ship and twenty rowers, that I may go to Pylos and to Sparta;
perhaps I may hear news of my father. And if I hear that he is
dead, then will I come back hither and raise up a mound for him
and give my mother to a husband."
Having thus spoken, he sat down, and Mentor [Footnote: Men'-tor.],
whom Ulysses, when he departed, set over his household, rose up in
the midst, and spake, saying: "Now henceforth never let any king
be kind and gentle in his heart or minded to work righteousness.
Let him rather be a hard man and unrighteous. For now no man of
all the people whose lord he was remembereth Ulysses. Yet he was
gentle as a father. If the suitors are minded to do evil deeds, I
hinder them not. They do them at the peril of their own heads. It
is with the people that I am wroth, to see how they sit
speechless, and cry not shame upon the suitors; and yet they are
many in number, and the suitors are few."
Then Leocritus [Footnote: Le-oc'-ri-tus.], who was one of the
suitors, answered: "Surely thy wits wander, O Mentor, that thou
biddest the people put us down. Of a truth, if Ulysses himself
should come back, and should seek to drive the suitors from the
hall, it would fare ill with him. An evil fate would he meet, if
he fought with them. As for the people, let them go to their own
houses. Let Mentor speed the young man's voyage, for he is a
friend of his house. Yet I doubt whether he will ever accomplish
So he spake, and the assembly was dismissed.
But Telemachus went apart to the shore of the sea, and he washed
his hands in the water of the sea, and prayed to Athene, saying:
"Hear me, thou who didst come yesterday to the house, and bid me
take a ship, and sail across the sea, seeking tidings of my
father! The people delay my purpose, and the suitors stir them up
in the wickedness of their hearts."
And while he prayed, Athene stood by him, like to Mentor in shape
and speech. She spake, saying: "Thou art not without spirit, and
art like to be a true son of Ulysses and Penelope. Therefore, I
have good hopes that this journey of which thou speakest will not
be in vain. But as for the suitors, think not of them, for they
talk folly, and know not of the doom that is even now close upon
them. Go, therefore, and talk with the suitors as before, and get
ready food for a journey, wine and meal. And I will gather men who
will offer themselves freely for the journey, and I will find a
ship also, the best in Ithaca."
Then Telemachus returned to the house, and the suitors were
flaying goats and singeing swine in the court. And Antinous caught
him by the hand and said, "Eat and drink, Telemachus, and we will
find a ship and rowers for thee, that thou mayest go where thou
wilt, to inquire for thy father."
But Telemachus answered: "Think ye that I will eat and drink with
you, who so shamefully waste my substance? Be sure of this, that I
will seek vengeance against you, and if ye deny me a ship, I will
even go in another man's."
So he spake, and dragged his hand from the hand of Antinous.
And another of the suitors said, "Now will Telemachus go and seek
help against us from Pylos or from Sparta, or may be he will put
poison in our cups, and so destroy us."
And another said: "Perchance he also will perish, as his father
has perished. Then we should divide all his substance, but the
house we should give to his mother and to her husband."
So they spake, mocking him. But he went to the chamber of his
father, in which were ranged many casks of old wine, and gold and
bronze, and clothing and olive oil; and of these things the
prudent Eurycleia, who was the keeper of the house, had care. To
her he spake: "Mother, make ready for me twelve jars of wine, not
of the best, but of that which is next to it, and twenty measures
of barley-meal. At even will I take them, when my mother sleeps,
for I go to Pylos and Sparta; perchance I may hear news of my
But the old woman said, weeping: "What meanest thou, being an only
son, thus to travel abroad? Wilt thou perish, as thy father has
perished? For this evil brood of suitors will plot to slay thee
and divide thy goods. Thou hadst better sit peaceably at home."
Then Telemachus said: "'Tis at the bidding of the gods I go. Only
swear that thou wilt say naught to my mother till eleven or twelve
days be past, unless, perchance, she should ask concerning me."
And the old woman sware that it should be so. And Telemachus went
again among the suitors. But Athene, meanwhile, taking his shape,
had gathered together a crew, and also had borrowed a ship for the
voyage. And, lest the suitors should hinder the thing, she caused
a deep sleep to fall upon them, so that they slept where they sat.
Then she came in the shape of Mentor to the palace, and called
Telemachus forth, saying:
"The rowers are ready; let us go."
Then Athene led the way, and they found the ship's crew upon the
shore. To them spake Telemachus, saying, "Come now, my friends,
let us carry the food on board, for it is all in the chamber, and
no one knoweth of the matter; neither my mother, nor any of the
maidens, but one woman only."
So they went to the house with him, and carried all the provision,
and stowed it in the ship. Then Telemachus climbed the ship and
sat down on the stern, and Athene sat by him.
And when he called to the crew, they made ready to depart. They
raised the pine tree mast, and set it in the hole that was made
for it, and they made it fast with stays. Then they hauled up the
white sails with ropes of ox-hide. And the wind filled out the
sail, and the water seethed about the stem of the ship, as she
hasted through the water. And when all was made fast in the ship,
then they mixed wine in the bowl, and poured out drink offerings
to the gods, especially to Zeus.
So all the night, and till the dawn, the ship sped through the
At sunrise the ship came to Pylos, where Nestor dwelt. Now it so
chanced that the people were offering a great sacrifice upon the
shore to Poseidon. Nine companies there were, and in each company
five hundred men, and for the five hundred there were nine bulls.
And they had tasted of the inner parts and were burning the slices
of flesh on the thigh-bones to the god, when Telemachus's company
moored the ship and came forth from it to the shore. Athene spake
to Telemachus, saying: "Now thou hast no need to be ashamed. Thou
hast sailed across the sea to hear tidings of thy father. Go,
therefore, to Nestor, and learn what counsel he hath in the deep
of his heart."
But Telemachus answered, "How shall I speak to him, being so
untried and young?"
"Nay," said the goddess; "but thou shalt think of something
thyself, and something the gods will put into thy mouth."
So saying she led the way, and they came to where Nestor sat, with
his sons, and a great company round him, making ready the feast.
When these saw the strangers, they clasped their hands, and made
them sit down on soft fleeces of wool. And Nestor's son
Peisistratus [Footnote: Pei-sis'-tra-tus] brought to them food,
and wine in a cup of gold. To Athene first he gave the wine, for
he judged her to be the elder of the two, saying, "Pray now to the
Lord Poseidon, and make thy drink offering, and when thou hast so
done, give the cup to thy friend that he may do likewise."
Then Athene took the cup and prayed to Poseidon, saying: "Grant
renown to Nestor and his son, and reward the men of Pylos for this
great sacrifice. And grant that we may accomplish that for which
we have come hither."
And the son of Ulysses prayed in like manner.
When they had eaten and drunk their fill, Nestor said: "Strangers,
who are ye? Sail ye over the seas for trade, or as pirates that
wander at hazard of their lives?"
To him Telemachus made reply, Athene putting courage into his
heart: "We come from Ithaca, and our errand concerns ourselves. I
seek for tidings of my father, who in old time fought by thy side,
and sacked the city of Troy. Of all the others who did battle with
the men of Troy, we have heard, whether they have returned, or
where they died; but even the death of this man remains untold.
Therefore am I come hither to thee; perchance thou mayest be
willing to tell me of him, whether thou sawest his death with
thine own eyes, or hast heard it from another. Speak me no soft
words for pity's sake, but tell me plainly what thou hast seen."
Nestor made answer: "Thou bringest to my mind all that we endured,
warring round Priam's mighty town. There the best of us were
slain. Valiant Ajax [Footnote: A'-jax.] lies there, and there
Achilles [Footnote: A-chil'-les], and there Patroclus [Footnote:
Pa-tro'-clus], and there my own dear son. Who could tell the tale
of all that we endured? Truly, no one, not though thou shouldst
abide here five years or six to listen. For nine whole years we
were busy, devising the ruin of the enemy, which yet Zeus brought
not to pass. And always Ulysses passed the rest in craft, thy
father Ulysses, if indeed thou art his son, and verily thy speech
is like to his; one would not think that a younger man could be so
like to an elder. But listen to my tale. When we had sacked the
town, I returned across the sea without delay, leaving behind the
others, so that I know not of my own knowledge which of the Greeks
was saved and which was lost. But wander not thou, my son, far
from home, while strangers devour thy substance. Go to Menelaus,
for he hath but lately come back from a far country; go and ask
him to tell thee all that he knoweth. If thou wilt, go with thy
ships, or, if it please thee better, I will send thee with a
chariot and horses, and my sons shall be thy guides."
Then said Athene: "Let us cut up the tongues of the beasts, and
mix the wine, and pour offerings to Poseidon and the other gods,
and so bethink us of sleep, for it is the time."
So she spake, and they hearkened to her words. And when they had
finished, Athene and Telemachus would have gone back to their
ship. But Nestor stayed them, saying: "Now Zeus and all the gods
forbid that ye should depart to your ships from my house, as
though it were the dwelling of a needy man that hath not rugs and
blankets in his house, whereon his guests may sleep! Not so; I
have rugs and blankets enough. Never shall the son of my friend
Ulysses lay him down on his ship's deck, while I am alive, or my
children after me, to entertain strangers in my hall."
Thereupon said the false Mentor: "This is good, dear father. Let
Telemachus abide with thee; but I will go back to the ship, and
cheer the company, and tell them all. There I will sleep this
night, and to-morrow I go to the Cauconians [Footnote: Cau-co'-ni-
ans.], where there is owing to me a debt neither small nor of
yesterday. But do thou send this man on his way in thy chariot."
Then the goddess departed in the semblance of a sea-eagle, and all
that saw it were amazed.
Then the old man took Telemachus by the hand, and said: "No coward
or weakling art thou like to be, whom the gods attend even now in
thy youth. This is none other than Athene, daughter of Zeus, the
same that stood by thy father in the land of Troy."
After this the old man led the company to his house. Here he mixed
for them a bowl of wine eleven years old; and they prayed to
Athene, and then lay down to sleep. Telemachus slept on a bedstead
beneath the gallery, and Peisistratus slept by him.
The next day, as soon as it was morning, Nestor and his sons
arose. And the old man said: "Let one man go to the plain for a
heifer, and let another go to the ship of Telemachus, and bid all
the company come hither, leaving two only behind. And a third
shall command the goldsmith to gild the horns of the heifer, and
let the handmaids prepare all things for a feast."
They did as the old man commanded; and after they had offered
sacrifice, and had eaten and drunk, old Nester said, "Put now the
horses in the chariot, that Telemachus may go his way."
So they yoked the horses, and the dame that kept the stores put
into the chariot food and wine and dainties, such as princes eat.
And Peisistratus took the reins, and Telemachus rode with him. And
all that day they journeyed; and when the land grew dark they came
to the city of Pherae [Footnote: Phe'-rae.], and there they rested;
and the next day, travelling again, came to Lacedaemon [Footnote:
La-ce-dae'-mon.], to the palace of King Menelaus.
Now it chanced that Menelaus had made a great feast that day, for
his daughter, the child of the fair Helen, was married to the son
of Achilles, to whom she had been promised at Troy; and his son
had also taken a wife. And the two wayfarers stayed their chariot
at the door, and the steward spied them, and said to Menelaus:—
"Lo! here are two strangers who are like the children of kings.
Shall we keep them here, or send them to another?"
But Menelaus was wroth, and said: "Shall we, who have eaten so
often of the bread of hospitality, send these strangers to
another? Nay, unyoke their horses and bid them sit down to meat."
So the squires loosed the horses from the yoke, and fastened them
in the stall, and gave them grain to eat and led the men into the
hall. Much did they marvel at the sight, for there was a gleam as
of the sun or moon in the palace of Menelaus. And when they had
gazed their fill, they bathed them in the polished baths. After
that they sat them down by the side of Menelaus. Then a handmaid
bare water in a pitcher of gold, and poured it over a basin of
silver that they might wash their hands. Afterwards she drew a
polished table to their side, and a dame brought food, and set it
by them, laying many dainties on the board, and a carver placed by
them platters of flesh, and set near them golden bowls.
Then said Menelaus: "Eat and be glad; afterwards I will ask you
who ye are, for ye seem like to the sons of kings."
And when they had ended the meal, Telemachus, looking round at the
hall, said to his companion:—
"See the gold and the amber, and the silver and the ivory. This is
like the hall of Zeus."
This he spake with his face close to his comrade's ear, but
Menelaus heard him and said:—
"With the halls of the gods nothing mortal may compare. And among
men also there may be the match of these things. Yet I have
wandered far, and got many possessions in many lands. But woe is
me! Would that I had but the third part of this wealth of mine,
and that they who perished at Troy were alive again! And most of
all I mourn for the great Ulysses, for whether he be alive or dead
no man knows."
But Telemachus wept to hear mention of his father, holding up his
purple cloak before his eyes. This Menelaus saw, and knew who he
was, and pondered whether he should wait till he should himself
speak of his father, or should rather ask him of his errand. But
while he pondered there came in the fair Helen, and three maidens
with her, of whom one set a couch for her to sit, and one spread a
carpet for her feet, and one bare a basket of purple wool; but she
herself had a distaff of gold in her hand. And when she saw the
strangers she said:—
"Who are these, Menelaus? Never have I seen such likeness in man
or woman as this one bears to Ulysses. Surely 'tis his son
Telemachus, whom he left an infant at home when ye went to Troy
for my sake!"
Then said Menelaus: "It must indeed be so, lady. For these are the
hands and feet of Ulysses, and the look of his eyes and his hair.
And but now, when I made mention of his name, he wept, holding his
mantle before his face."
Then said Peisistratus: "King Menelaus, thou speakest truth. This
is indeed the son of Ulysses who is come to thee; perchance thou
canst help him by word or deed."
And Menelaus answered: "Then is he the son of a man whom I loved
right well. I thought to give him a city in this land, bringing
him from Ithaca with all his goods. Then should naught have
divided us but death itself. But these things the gods have
At these words they all wept—the fair Helen and Telemachus and
Menelaus; nor could Peisistratus refrain himself, for he thought
of his dear brother who was slain at Troy.
Then said Menelaus: "Now we will cease from weeping; and to-morrow
there is much that Telemachus and I must say one to the other."
Then the fair Helen put a mighty medicine in the wine whereof they
drank—nepenthe [Footnote: ne-pen'-the], men call it. So mighty is
it that whoever drinks of it, weeps not that day, though father
and mother die, and though men slay brother or son before his
And after this she said: "It would take long to tell all the wise
and valiant deeds of Ulysses. One thing, however, ye shall hear,
and it is this: while the Greeks were before Troy he came into the
city, having disguised himself as a beggar-man, yea, and he had
laid many blows upon himself, so that he seemed to have been
shamefully treated. I alone knew who he was, and questioned him,
but he answered craftily. And I swore that I would not betray him.
So he slew many Trojans with the sword, and learnt many things.
And while other women in Troy lamented, I was glad, for my heart
was turned again to my home."
Then Menelaus said: "Thou speakest truly, lady. Many men have I
seen, and travelled over many lands, but never have I seen one who
might be matched with Ulysses. Well do I remember how, when I and
other chiefs of the Greeks sat in the horse of wood, thou didst
come. Some god who loved the sons of Troy put the thing into thy
heart. Thrice didst thou walk round our hiding-place and call by
name to each one of the chiefs, speaking marvellously like his
wife. Then would we have risen from our place or answered thee
straightway. But Ulysses hindered us, and thus saved all the
But Telemachus said: "Yet all these things have not kept him, for
he has perished."
And after that they slept.
The next day Menelaus said to Telemachus: "For what end hast thou
come hither to fair Lacedaemon?"
Then Telemachus said: "I have come to ask if thou canst tell me
aught of my father. For certain suitors of my mother devour my
goods, nor do I see any help. Tell me truly, therefore; knowest
thou anything thyself about my father, or hast thou heard anything
And Menelaus answered:—
"In the river AEgyptus I was stayed long time, though I was eager
to get home; the gods stayed me, for I had not offered to them due
sacrifice. Now there is an island in the wash of the waves over
against the land of Egypt—men call it Pharos [Footnote: Pha'-
ros.], and it is distant one day's voyage for a ship, if the wind
bloweth fair in her wake. Here did the gods keep me twenty days,
nor did the sea winds ever blow. Then all my corn would have been
spent, and the lives also of my men lost, if the daughter of
Proteus [Footnote: Pro'-teus.]had not taken pity on me. Her heart
was moved to see me when I wandered alone, apart from my company,
for they all roamed about the island, fishing with hooks because
hunger gnawed them. So she stood by me and spake, saying: 'Art
thou foolish, stranger, and feeble of mind, or dost thou sit still
for thine own pleasure, because it is sweet to thee to suffer?
Verily, thou stayest long in this place, and canst find no escape,
while the heart of thy people faileth within them.' Then I
answered: 'I will tell thee the truth, whosoever thou art. It is
not my own will that holdeth me here; I must have sinned against
the gods. Tell me now which of the gods have I offended, and how
shall I contrive to return to my own home?' So I spake, and
straightway the goddess made answer: 'I will tell thee all. To
this place comes Proteus, my father, who knoweth the depths of all
the sea. If thou canst lay an ambush for him and catch him, he
will declare to thee thy way, and tell thee how thou mayest return
across the deep.' So she spake, and I made reply, 'Plan for me
this ambush, lest by any chance he see me first and avoid me, for
it is hard for a man to overcome a god.' Then said the goddess:
'When the sun in his course hath reached the midheaven, then
cometh the old man from the sea; before the breath of the west
wind he cometh, and the ripple covereth him. And when he is come
out of the sea, he lieth down in the caves to sleep, and all about
him lie the seals, the brood of ocean, and bitter is the smell of
the salt water that they breathe. Thither will I lead thee at
break of day, thee and three of thy companions. Choose them from
thy ships, the bravest that thou hast. And now I will tell thee
the old man's ways. First, he will count the seals, and then will
lie down in the midst, as a shepherd in the midst of his flock.
Now, so soon as ye shall see him thus laid down, then remember
your courage, and hold him there. And he will take all manner of
shapes of creatures that creep upon the earth, and of water
likewise, and of burning fire. But do ye grasp him fast, and press
him hard, and when he shall return to his proper shape, then let
him go free, and ask him which of the gods is angry with thee, and
how thou mayest return across the deep.' Thereupon she dived
beneath the sea, and I betook me to the ships; but I was sorely
troubled in heart. The next morning I took three of my comrades,
in whom I trusted most, and lo! she had brought from the sea the
skins of four sea-calves, which she had newly flayed, for she was
minded to lay a snare for her father. She scooped hiding-places
for us in the sand, and made us lie down therein, and cast the
skin of a sea-calf over each of us. It would have been a grievous
ambush, for the stench of the skins had distressed us sore,—who,
indeed, would lay him down by a beast of the sea?—but she wrought
a deliverance for us. She took ambrosia [Footnote: ambrosia, the
food of the gods.], very sweet, and put it under each man's
nostrils, that it might do away with the stench of the beast.
"So all the morning we waited with steadfast hearts. And the seals
came forth from the brine, and ranged them in order upon the
shore. And at noon the old man came forth out of the sea, and went
along the line of the sea-beasts, and counted them. Us, too, he
counted among them, and perceived not our device; and after that
he laid him down to sleep. Then we rushed upon him with a cry, and
held him fast; nor did he forget his cunning, for he became a
bearded lion, and a snake, and a leopard, and a great wild boar.
Also he took the shape of running water, and of a flowering tree.
And all the while we held him fast. When at last he was weary, he
said, 'Which of the gods, son of Atreus [Footnote: A'-treus.],
bade thee thus waylay me?' But I answered him: 'Wherefore dost
thou beguile me, old man, with crooked words? I am held fast in
this isle, and can find no escape therefrom. Tell me now which of
the gods hindereth me, and how I may return across the sea?' The
old man made reply: 'Thou shouldst have done sacrifice to Zeus and
the other gods before embarking, if thou wouldst have reached thy
native country with speed. But now thou must go again to the river
AEgyptus, and make offerings to the gods; then they will grant
that which thou desirest.' Then was my spirit broken within me,
when I heard that I must cross again this weary way, but I said:
'Old man, I will do all thy bidding. But tell me now, I pray thee,
did the other Greeks, whom Nestor and I left behind us in Troy,
return safe to their homes, or perished any by an evil death on
board of his ship or among his friends?' To this the old man made
reply: 'Thou doest ill to ask such things, for thou wilt weep to
hear them. Thy brother indeed escaped from the fates of the sea;
but the storm-wind carried him to the land where Aegisthus dwelt.
And when Agamemnon [Footnote: Ag-a-mem'-non.]set foot upon his
native land, he kissed it, weeping hot tears, so glad was he to
see it again. And Aegisthus set an ambush for him, and slew him
and all his companions.' Then I wept sore, caring not to live any
more. But the old man said: 'Weep not, son of Atreus, for there is
no help in tears. Rather make haste to return, that thou mayest
take vengeance on AEgisthus.'[Footnote: AE-gis'-thus.] So he
spake, and my heart was comforted within me, and I said: 'There is
yet another of whom I would fain hear. Is he yet alive, wandering
on the deep, or is he dead? Speak, though it grieve me to hear.'
Straightway the old man answered: 'It is the son of Laertes of
whom thou speakest. Him I saw in an island, even in the dwelling
of Calypso; and he was shedding great tears, because the nymph
keeps him there by force, so that he may not come to his own
country, for he hath neither ship nor comrades.' So spake Proteus,
and plunged into the sea. The next day we went back to the river
AEgyptus, the stream that is fed from heaven, and offered
sacrifice to the gods. And I made a great burial mound for
Agamemnon, my brother, that his name might not be forgotten among
men. And when these things had been duly performed, I set sail,
and came back to my own country, for the gods gave me a fair wind.
But do thou tarry now in my halls. And when thou art minded to go,
I will give thee a chariot and three horses with it, and a goodly
cup also, from which thou mayest pour offerings to the gods."
To him Telemachus made reply: "Keep me not long, son of Atreus,
for my company wait for me in Pylos, though indeed I would be
content to stay with thee for a whole year, nor would any longing
for my home come over me. And let any gift thou givest me be a
thing for me to treasure. But I will take no horses to Ithaca.
Rather let them stay here and grace thy home, for thou art lord of
a wide plain where there is wheat and rye and barley. But in
Ithaca there is no meadow land. It is a pasture land of goats, yet
verily it is more pleasant to my eyes than as if it were a fit
feeding-place for horses."
Then said Menelaus: "Thou speakest well, as becometh the son of
thy father. Come, now, I will change the gifts. Of all the
treasures in my house, I will give thee the goodliest, especially
a bowl which the King of the Sidonians gave me. Of silver it is,
and the lips are finished with gold."
Now it had been made known meanwhile to the suitors in Ithaca that
Telemachus was gone upon this journey seeking his father, and the
thing displeased them much. And after they had held counsel about
the matter, it seemed best that they should lay an ambush against
him, and should slay him as he came back to his home. So Antinous
took twenty men and departed, purposing to lie in wait in the
strait between Ithaca and Samos.[Footnote: Sa'-mos.]
Nor was this plan unknown to Penelope, for the herald Medon
[Footnote: Me'-don.]had heard it, and he told her how Telemachus
had gone seeking news of his father, and how the suitors purposed
to slay him as he returned. And she called her women, old and
young, and rebuked them, saying: "Wicked ye were, for ye knew that
he was about to go, and did not rouse me from my bed. Surely I
would have kept him, eager though he was, from his journey!"
Then said Eurycleia: "Slay me, if thou wilt, but I will hide
nothing from thee. I knew his purpose, and I furnished him with
such things as he needed. But he made me swear that I would not
tell thee till the eleventh or the twelfth day was come. But go
with thy maidens and make thy prayer to Athene that she will save
him, from death; for this house is not altogether hated by the
Then Penelope, having duly prepared herself, went with her maidens
to the upper chamber, and prayed aloud to Athene that she would
save her son. And the suitors heard her praying, and said, "Surely
the Queen prays, thinking of her marriage, nor knows that death is
near to her son."
Then she lay down to sleep, and while she slept Athene sent her a
dream in the likeness of her sister. And the vision stood over her
head and spake: "Sleepest thou, Penelope? The gods would not have
thee grieve, for thy son shall surely return."
And Penelope said: "How camest thou here, my sister? For thy
dwelling is far away. And how can I cease to weep when my husband
is lost? And now my son is gone, and I am sore afraid for him,
lest his enemies slay him."
But the vision answered: "Fear not at all; for there is a mighty
helper with him, even Athene, who hath bid me tell thee these
Then Penelope said: "If thou art a goddess, tell me this. Is my
husband yet alive?"
But the vision answered, "That I cannot say, whether he be alive
or dead." And so saying, it vanished into air.
And Penelope woke from her sleep, and her heart was comforted.
ULYSSES ON HIS RAFT
Again the gods sate in council on high Olympus, and Athene spake
among them, saying:
"Now let no king be minded to do righteously, for see how there is
no man that remembereth Ulysses, who was as a father to his
people. And he lieth far off, fast bound in Calypso's isle, and
hath no ship to take him to his own country. Also the suitors are
set upon slaying his son, who is gone to Pylos and to Lacedaemon,
that he may get tidings of his father."
To her Zeus made answer: "What is this that thou sayest? Didst not
thou thyself plan this in order that the vengeance of Ulysses
might be wrought upon the suitors? As for Telemachus, guide him by
thy skill, as well thou mayest, so that he may come to his own
land unharmed, and the suitors may have their labour in vain."
Also he said to Hermes: "Hermes, go to the nymph Calypso, and tell
her my sure purpose that Ulysses shall now come back to his home."
So Hermes put on his golden sandals, and took his wand in his
hand, and came to the island of Ogygia [Footnote: O-gyg'-i-a.],
and to the cave where Calypso dwelt. A fair place it was. In the
cave was burning a fire of sweet-smelling wood, and Calypso sat at
her loom, and sang with a lovely voice. And round about the cave
was a grove of alders and poplars and cypresses, wherein many
birds, falcons and owls and sea crows, were wont to roost; and all
about the mouth of the cave was a vine with purple clusters of
grapes; and there were four fountains which streamed four ways
through meadows of parsley and violet. Very fair was the place, so
that even a god might marvel at it, and Hermes stood and
marvelled. Then went he into the cave, and Calypso knew him when
she saw him face to face, for the gods know each other, even
though their dwellings be far apart. But Ulysses was not there,
for he sat, as was his wont, on the seashore, weeping and
groaning, because he might not see wife and home and country.
Then Calypso said to Hermes: "Wherefore hast thou come hither,
Hermes of the golden wand? Welcome thou art, but it is long since
thou hast visited me. Tell me all thy thought, that I may fulfil
it if I may, but first follow me, that I may set food before
So she spread a table with ambrosia, and set it by him, and mixed
the ruddy nectar [Footnote: nectar, the drink of the gods.]for
him, and the messenger ate and drank. So, when he had comforted
his soul with food, he spake, saying:—
"Thou questionest of my coming, and I will tell thee the truth. It
is by no wish of mine own that I come, for who would of his free
will pass over a sea so wide, wherein is no city of men that do
sacrifice to the gods? Zeus bade me come, and none may go against
the commands of Zeus. He saith that thou hast with thee a man more
wretched than all his companions who fought against Troy for nine
years and in the tenth year departed homeward. All the rest of his
company were lost, but him the waves carried thither. Now,
therefore, send him home with what speed thou mayest; for it is
not fated that he should die away from his friends. He shall see
again the high roof of his home and his native country."
It vexed Calypso much to hear this, for she would fain have kept
Ulysses with her always, and she said:—
"Ye gods are always jealous when a goddess loves a mortal man. And
as for Ulysses, did not I save him when Zeus had smitten his ship
with a thunderbolt, and all his comrades had perished? And now let
him go—if it pleases Zeus. Only I cannot send him, for I have
neither ship nor rowers. Yet will I willingly teach him how he may
And Hermes said, "Do this thing speedily, lest Zeus be wroth with
So he departed. And Calypso went seeking Ulysses, and found him on
the shore of the sea, looking out over the waters, and weeping,
for he was weary of his life, so much did he desire to see Ithaca
again. She stood by him and said:—
"Weary not for thy native country, nor waste thyself with tears.
If thou wilt go, I will speed thee on thy way. Take, therefore,
thine axe and cut thee beams, and join them together, and make a
deck upon them, and I will give thee bread and water and wine, and
clothe thee also, so that thou mayest return safe to thy native
country, for the gods will have it so."
"Nay," said Ulysses, "what is this that thou sayest? Shall I pass
in a raft over the dreadful sea, over which even ships go not
without harm? I will not go against thy will; but thou must swear
the great oath of the gods that thou plannest no evil against me."
Then Calypso smiled and said: "These are strange words. I swear
that I plan no harm against thee, but only such good as I would
ask myself, did I need it; for indeed my heart is not of iron, but
rather full of compassion."
Then they two went to the cave and sat down to meat, and she set
before him food such as mortal men eat, but she herself ate
ambrosia and drank nectar. And afterwards she said:—
"Why art thou so eager for thy home? Surely if thou knewest all
the trouble that awaits thee, thou wouldst not go, but wouldst
rather dwell with me. And though thou desirest all the day long to
see thy wife, surely I am not less fair than she."
"Be not angry," Ulysses made reply. "The wise Penelope cannot,
indeed, be compared to thee, for she is a mortal woman and thou
art a goddess. Yet is my home dear to me, and I would fain see it
again. Yea, and if some god should wreck me on the deep, yet would
I endure it with patient heart. Already have I suffered much, and
toiled much in perils of war and perils of the sea. And as to what
is yet to come, let it be added to what hath been."
The next day Calypso gave him an axe with a handle of olive wood,
and an adze, and took him to the end of the island, where there
were great trees, long ago sapless and dry, alder and poplar and
pine. Of these he felled twenty, and lopped them and worked them
by the line. Then the goddess brought him an auger, and he made
holes in the logs and joined them with pegs. And he made decks and
side planking also; also a mast and a yard, and a rudder wherewith
to turn the raft. And he fenced it about with a bulwark of willow
twigs against the waves. The sails Calypso wove, and Ulysses
fitted them with braces and halyards and sheets. Last of all he
pushed the raft down to the sea with levers.
On the fourth day all was finished, and on the fifth day he
departed. And Calypso gave him goodly garments, and a skin of
wine, and a skin of water, and rich food in a bag of leather. She
sent also a fair wind blowing behind, and Ulysses set his sails
and proceeded joyfully on his way; nor did he sleep, but watched
the stars, the Pleiades [Footnote: Plei'-a-des.] and Bootes
[Footnote: Bo-o'-tes.], and the Bear, which turneth ever in one
place, watching Orion.[Footnote: O-ri'-on.] For Calypso had said
to him, "Keep the Bear ever on thy left as thou passest over the
Seventeen days he sailed; and on the eighteenth day appeared the
shadowy hills of the island of the Phaeacians. [Footnote: Phae-a'-
ci-ans.] But now Poseidon, coming back from feasting with the
Ethiopians, spied him as he sailed, and it angered him to the
heart. He shook his head, and spake to himself, saying: "Verily,
the gods must have changed their purpose concerning Ulysses while
I was absent among the Ethiopians; and now he is nigh to the
island of the Phaeacians, and if he reach it, he will escape from
his woes. Yet even now I will send him far enough on a way of
Thereupon he gathered the clouds, and troubled the waters of the
deep, holding his trident in his hand. And he raised a storm of
all the winds that blow, and covered the land and the sea with
Sore troubled was Ulysses, and said to himself: "It was truth that
Calypso spake when she said that I should suffer many troubles
returning to my home. Would that I had died that day when many a
spear was cast by the men of Troy over the dead Achilles. Then
would the Greeks have buried me; but now shall I perish
And as he spake a great wave struck the raft and tossed him far
away, so that he dropped the rudder from his hand. Nor for a long
time could he rise, so deep was he sunk, and so heavy was the
goodly clothing which Calypso had given him. Yet at the last he
rose, and spat the salt water out of his mouth, and sprang at the
raft, and caught it, and sat thereon, and was borne hither and
thither by the waves. But Ino [Footnote: I'-no.] saw him and
pitied him—a woman she had been, and was now a goddess of the
sea,—and rose from the deep like to a sea-gull upon the wing, and
sat upon the raft, and spake, saying:—
"Luckless mortal, why doth Poseidon hate thee so? He shall not
slay thee, though he fain would do it. Put off these garments, and
swim to the land of Phaeacia, putting this veil under thy breast.
And when thou art come to the land, loose it from thee, and cast
it into the sea."
Then the goddess gave him the veil, and dived again into the deep
as a sea-gull diveth, and the waves closed over her. Then Ulysses
pondered the matter, saying to himself: "Woe is me! can it be that
another of the gods is contriving a snare for me, bidding me leave
my raft? Verily, I will not yet obey her counsel, for the land,
when I saw it, seemed a long way off. I am resolved what to do; so
long as the raft will hold together, so long will I abide on it;
but when the waves shall break it asunder, then will I swim, for
nothing better may be done."
But while he thought thus within himself, Poseidon sent another
great wave against the raft. As a stormy wind scattereth a heap of
husks, so did the wave scatter the timbers of the raft. But
Ulysses sat astride on a beam, as a man sitteth astride of a
horse; and he stripped off from him the goodly garments which
Calypso had given him, and put the veil under his breast, and so
leapt into the sea, stretching out his hands to swim.
And Poseidon, when he saw him, shook his head, and said: "Even so
go wandering over the deep, till thou come to the land. Thou wilt
not say that thou hast not had trouble enough."
But Athene, binding up the other winds, roused the swift north
wind, that so Ulysses might escape from death.
So for two days and two nights he swam. But on the third day there
was a calm, and he saw the land from the top of a great wave, for
the waves were yet high, close at hand. But when he came near he
heard the waves breaking along the shore, for there was no harbour
there, but only cliffs and rugged rocks.
Then at last the knees of Ulysses were loosened with fear, and his
heart was melted within him, and in heaviness of spirit he spake
to himself: "Woe is me! for now, when beyond all hope Zeus hath
given me the sight of land, there is no place where I may win to
shore from out of the sea. For the crags are sharp, and the waves
roar about them, and the smooth rock riseth sheer from the sea,
and the water is deep, so that I may gain no foothold. If I should
seek to land, then a great wave may dash me on the rocks. And if I
swim along the shore, to find some harbour, I fear lest the winds
may catch me again and bear me out into the deep; or it may be
that some god may send a monster of the sea against me; and verily
there are many such in the sea-pastures, and I know that Poseidon
is very wroth against me."
While he pondered these things in his heart a great wave bare him
to the rocks. Then would his skin have been stripped from him and
all his bones broken, had not Athene put a thought into his heart.
For he rushed in towards the shore, and clutched the rock with
both his hands, and clung thereto till the wave had passed. But as
it ebbed back, it caught him, and carried him again into the deep.
Even as a cuttle-fish is dragged from out its hole in the rock, so
was he dragged by the water, and the skin was stripped from his
hand against the rocks. Then would Ulysses have perished, if
Athene had not put a plan in his heart. He swam outside the
breakers, along the shore, looking for a place where the waves
might be broken, or there should be a harbour. At last he came to
where a river ran into the sea. Free was the place of rocks, and
sheltered from the wind, and Ulysses felt the stream of the river
as he ran. Then he prayed to the river-god:—
"Hear me, O King, whosoever thou art. I am come to thee, fleeing
from the wrath of Poseidon. Save me, O King."
Thereupon the river stayed his stream, and made the water smooth
before Ulysses, so that at last he won his way to the land. His
knees were bent under him, and his hands dropped at his side, and
the salt water ran out from his mouth and nostrils. Breathless was
he, and speechless; but when he came to himself, he loosed the
veil from under his breast, and cast it into the salt stream of
the river and the stream bare it to the sea, and Ino came up and
caught it in her hands.
Then he lay down on the rushes by the bank of the river and kissed
the earth, thinking within himself: "What now shall I do? for if I
sleep here by the river, I fear that the dew and the frost may
slay me; for indeed in the morning-time the wind from the river
blows cold. And if I go up to the wood, to lay me down to sleep in
the thicket, I fear that some evil beast may devour me."
But it seemed better to go to the wood. So he went. Now this was
close to the river, and he found two bushes, one of wild olive,
and the other of fruitful olive. So thickly grown together were
they that the winds blew not through them, nor did the sun pierce
them, nor yet the rain. Ulysses crept thereunder, and found a
great pile of leaves, shelter enough for two or three, even in
winter time, when the rain is heavy. Then did Ulysses rejoice,
laying himself in the midst, and covering himself with leaves. And
Athene sent down upon his eyelids deep sleep, that might ease him
of his toil.
NAUSICAA [Footnote: Nau-sic'-a-a.]
Meanwhile Athene went to the city of Phaeacians, to the palace of
Alcinous [Footnote: Al-cin'-o-us.], their King. There she betook
her to the chamber where slept Nausicaa, daughter of the King, a
maiden fair as are the gods. The goddess stood above the maiden,
in the likeness of a girl that was of equal age with her, and had
found favour in her sight.
Athene spake, saying: "Why hath thy mother so careless a child,
Nausicaa? Lo! thy raiment lieth unwashed, and yet the day of thy
marriage is at hand, when thou must have fair clothing for
thyself, and to give to them that shall lead thee to thy
bridegroom's house; for thus doth a bride win good repute. Do thou
therefore arise with the day, and go to wash the raiment, and I
will go with thee. Ask thy father betimes in the morning to give
thee mules and a wagon to carry the raiment and the robes. Also it
is more becoming for thee to ride than to go on foot, for the
washing places are far from the city."
And when the morning was come, Nausicaa awoke, marvelling at the
dream, and went seeking her parents. Her mother she found busy
with her maidens at the loom, spinning yarn dyed with purple of
the sea, and her father she met as he was going to the council
with the chiefs of the land. Then she said: "Give me, father, the
wagon with the mules, that I may take the garments to the river to
wash them. Thou shouldest always have clean robes when thou goest
to the council; and there are my five brothers also, who love to
have newly washed garments at the dance."
But of her own marriage she said nothing. And her father, knowing
her thoughts, said: "I grudge thee not, dear child, the mules or
aught else. The men shall harness for thee a wagon with strong
wheels and fitted also with a frame."
Then he called to the men, and they made ready the wagon, and
harnessed the mules; and the maiden brought the raiment out of her
chamber, and put it in the wagon. Also her mother filled a basket
with all manner of food, and poured wine in a goat-skin bottle.
Olive oil also she gave her, that Nausicaa and her maidens might
anoint themselves after the bath. And Nausicaa took the reins, and
touched the mules with the whip. Then was there a clatter of
hoofs, and the mules went on with their load, nor did they grow
When they came to the river, where was water enough for the
washing of raiment, the maidens loosed the mules from the chariot,
and set them free to graze in the sweet clover by the river-bank.
Then they took the raiment from the wagon, and bare it to the
river, and trod it in the trenches. And when they had cleansed all
the garments, they laid them on the shore of the sea, where the
waves had washed the pebbles clean. After that they bathed, and
anointed themselves; and then they sat down to eat and drink by
the river-side; and after the meal they played at ball, singing as
they played, and Nausicaa led the song. And Nausicaa was fairer
than all the maidens. And when they had ended their play, and were
yoking the mules, and folding up the raiment, then Athene
contrived that the princess, throwing the ball to one of her
maidens, cast it so wide that it fell into the river. Thereupon
they all cried aloud, and Ulysses awoke. And he said to himself:
"What is this land to which I have come? Are they that dwell
therein fierce or kind to strangers? Just now I seemed to hear the
voice of nymphs [Footnote: nymphs, spirits of the woods and
waters], or am I near the dwellings of men?"
Then he twisted a leafy bough about his loins, and rose up and
went towards the maidens, who were frightened to see him (for he
was wild-looking), and fled hither and thither. But Nausicaa stood
and fled not. Then Ulysses cried, saying:—
"O Queen, whether thou art a goddess, I know not. But if thou art
a mortal, happy are thy father and mother, and happy thy brothers,
and happiest of all he who shall win thee in marriage. Never have
I seen man or woman so fair. Thou art like a young palm tree that
but lately I saw springing by the temple of the god. But as for
me, I have been cast on this shore, having come from the island of
Ogygia. Pity me, then, and lead me to the city, and give me
something, a wrapper of this linen, maybe, to put about me. So may
the gods give thee all blessings!"
And Nausicaa made answer: "Thou seemest, stranger, to be neither
evil nor foolish. Thou shalt not lack clothing or food, and I will
take thee to the city. Know also that this land is Phaeacia, and
that I am daughter to Alcinous, who is king thereof."
Then she called to her maidens: "What mean ye to flee when ye see
a man? No enemy comes hither to harm us, for we are dear to the
gods, and also we live in an island of the sea, so that men may
not approach to work us wrong. If one cometh here overcome by
trouble, it is well to help him. Give this man, therefore, food
and drink, and wash him in the river, where there is shelter from
So they brought him down to the river, and gave him clothing, and
also olive-oil in a flask of gold. Then, at his bidding, they
departed a little space, and he washed the salt from his skin and
out of his hair, and anointed himself, and put on the clothing.
And Athene made him taller and fairer to see, and caused the hair
to be thick on his head, in colour as a hyacinth. Then he sat down
on the seashore, right beautiful to behold, and the maiden said:—
"Not without the bidding of the gods comes this man to our land.
Before, indeed, I deemed him uncomely, but now he seems like to
the gods. I should be well content to have such a man for a
husband, and maybe he might will to abide in this land. Give him,
ye maidens, food and drink."
So they gave him, and he ate ravenously, having fasted long. Then
Nausicaa bade yoke the mules, and said to Ulysses:—
"Arise, stranger, come with me, that I may bring thee to the house
of my father. But do thou as I shall tell thee. So long as we
shall be passing through the fields, follow quickly with the
maidens behind the chariot. But when we shall come to the city,
—thou wilt see a high wall and a harbour on either side of the
narrow way that leadeth to the gate,—then follow the chariot no
more. Hard by the wall is a grove of Athene, a grove of poplars,
with a spring in the midst, and a meadow round about; there abide
till I have reached the house of my father. For I would not that
the people should speak lightly of me. And I doubt not that were
thou with me some one would say: `Who is this stranger, tall and
fair, that cometh with Nausicaa? Will he be her husband? Perchance
it is some god who has come down at her prayer, or a man from far
away; for she scorns us men of Phaeacia.' It would be a shame that
such words should be spoken. But when thou shalt judge that I have
come to the palace, then go up thyself and ask for my father's
house. Any one, even a child, can show it thee, for the other
Phaeacians dwell not in such. And when thou art come within the
doors, pass quickly through the hall to where my mother sits.
Close to the hearth is her seat, and my father's hard by, where he
sits with the wine-cup in his hand as a god. Pass him by, and
kneel to my mother, and pray her that she give thee safe return to
Then she smote the mules with the whip. Quickly did they leave the
river behind them; but the maiden was heedful to drive them so
that Ulysses and the maidens might be able to follow on foot. At
sunset they came to the sacred grove of Athene, and there Ulysses
sat him down, and prayed to Athene, saying, "Hear me, now, O
daughter of Zeus, and grant that this people may look upon me with
So he spake, and Athene heard him, but showed not herself to him,
face to face, for she feared the wrath of her uncle Poseidon.
Nausicaa came to her father's house, and there her brothers
unyoked the mules from the wagon, and carried the garments into
the house; and the maiden went to her chamber, where a nurse
kindled for her a fire, and prepared a meal.
At the same time Ulysses rose to go to the city; and Athene spread
a mist about him, for she would not that any of the Phaeacians
should see him and mock him. And when he was now about to enter
the city, the goddess took upon herself the shape of a young
maiden carrying a pitcher, and met him.
Then Ulysses asked her: "My child, canst thou tell me where dwells
Alcinous? for I am a stranger in this place."
She answered: "I will show thee, for he dwells near to my own
father. But be thou silent, for we Phaeacians love not strangers
Then Athene led the way, and Ulysses followed after her; and much
he marvelled, as he went, at the harbours, and the ships, and the
places of assembly, and the walls. And when they came to the
palace, Athene said: "This is the place for which thou didst
inquire. Enter in; here thou shalt find kings at the feast; but be
not afraid; the fearless man ever fares the best. And look thou
first for Queen Arete.[Footnote: A-re'-te.] If she be well
disposed to thee, doubtless thou wilt see thy native country
Having thus spoken, Athene departed, and Ulysses entered the
palace. In it there was a gleam as of the sun or the moon.
A wondrous place it was, with walls of brass and doors of gold,
hanging on posts of silver; and on either side of the door were
dogs of gold and silver, and against the wall, all along from the
threshold to the inner chamber, were set seats, on which sat the
chiefs of the Phaeacians, feasting; and youths wrought in gold
stood holding torches in their hands, to give light in the
darkness. Fifty women were in the house, grinding corn and weaving
robes, for the women of the land are no less skilled to weave than
are the men to sail the sea. And round about the house were
beautiful gardens, with orchards of fig, and apple, and pear, and
pomegranate, and olive. Drought hurts them not, nor frost, and
harvest comes after harvest without ceasing. Also there was a
vineyard; and some of the grapes were parching in the sun, and
some were being gathered, and some again were but just turning
red. And there were beds of all manner of flowers; and in the
midst of all were two fountains which never failed.
These things Ulysses regarded for a space, and then passed into
the hall. And there the chiefs of Phaeacia were drinking their
last cup to Hermes. Quickly he passed through them, and put his
hands on the knees of Arete and said—and as he spake the mist
cleared from about him, and all that were in the hall beheld
"I implore thee, and thy husband, and thy guests, to send me home
to my native country. The gods bless thee and them, and grant you
to live in peace, and that your children should come peacefully
And he sat down in the ashes of the hearth. Then for a space all
were silent, but at the last spake Echeneus [Footnote: E-che-ne'-
us.], who was the oldest man in the land:—
"King Alcinous, this ill becomes you that this man should sit in
the ashes of the hearth. Raise him and bid him sit upon a seat,
and let us pour out an offering to Father Zeus, who is the friend
of strangers, and let the keeper of the house give him meat and
And Alcinous did so, bidding his eldest born, Laodamas [Footnote:
La-o'-da-mas.], rise from his seat. And an attendant poured water
on his hands, and the keeper of the house gave him meat and drink.
Then, when all had poured out an offering to Father Zeus, King
Alcinous spake, saying: "In the morning we will call an assembly
of the people, and consider how we may take this stranger to his
home, so that he may reach it without trouble or pain. Home will
we take him without hurt, but what things may befall him there, we
know not; these shall be as the Fates spun his thread. But, if he
is a god and not a man, then is this a new device of the gods. For
heretofore they have shown themselves openly in our midst, when we
offer sacrifice, and sit by our sides at feasts. Yea, and if a
traveller meet them on the way, they use no disguise, for indeed
they are near of kin to us."
Then spake Ulysses: "Think not such things within thy heart, O
King! I am no god but one that is most miserable among the sons of
men. Of many woes might I tell. Nevertheless, suffer me to eat;
for, however sad a man may be, yet he must eat and drink. But when
the day cometh, bestir yourselves, and carry me to my home. Fain
would I die if I could see my home again!"
And they answered that it should be so, and went each to his home.
Only Ulysses was left in the hall, and Alcinous and Arete with
him. And Arete recognized his clothing, and said:—
"Whence art thou, stranger? and who gave thee these garments?"
So Ulysses told her how he had come from the island of Calypso,
and what he had suffered, and how Nausicaa had found him on the
shore, and had guided him to the city.
And Alcinous blamed the maiden because she had not herself brought
him to the house. "Nay," said Ulysses, "she would have brought me,
but I would not, fearing thy wrath." For he would not have the
Then said Alcinous: "I am not one to be angered for such cause.
Gladly would I have such a one as thou art to be my son-in-law,
and I would give him house and wealth. But no one would I hold
against his will. As for sending thee to thy home, that is easy;
thou shalt lay thee down to sleep, and my men shalt smite the sea
with oars, and take thee whithersoever thou wilt, even though it
be to the furthest of all lands. For verily my ships are the best
that sail the sea, and my young men the most skilful of all that
ply the oar."
So he spake, and Ulysses rejoiced to hear his words. And he prayed
within himself, "Grant, Father Zeus, that Alcinous may fulfil all
that he hath said, and that I may come to my own land!"
Then Arete bade her handmaids prepare a bed for the stranger. So
they went from the hall, with torches in their hands, and made it
ready. And when they had ended they called Ulysses, saying, "Up,
stranger, and sleep, for thy bed is ready."
Right glad was he to sleep after all that he had endured.
The next day the King arose at dawn, as also did Ulysses, and the
King led the way to the place of assembly. Meanwhile Athene,
wearing the guise of the King's herald, went throughout the city,
and to each man she said, "Come to the assembly, captains and
counsellors of the Phaeacians, that ye may learn concerning this
stranger, who hath lately come to the hall of Alcinous."
So she roused their desire, and the place of assembly was filled
to the utmost; much did the men marvel to see Ulysses, for Athene
had poured marvellous grace upon him, making him fairer and taller
and stronger to see.
Then the King rose up and spake: "Hearken, captains and
counsellors of the people, to what I say. This stranger hath come
to my hall; I know not who he is or whence he comes, whether it be
from the rising or the setting of the sun; and he prays that he
may be safely carried to his home. Let us therefore choose a ship
that hath never sailed before, and two and fifty youths that are
the best to ply the oar; and when ye have made ready the ship,
then come to my house and feast; I will provide well for all. Bid.
also, Demodocus [Footnote: De-mod'-o-cus.] the minstrel to come,
for the gods have given to him above all others the gift of song
wherewith to rejoice the hearts of men."
Then they did as the King counselled. They made ready the ship,
and moored her by the shore, and after that they went to the
palace of the King. From one end thereof to the other it was
crowded, for many were there, both young and old. And Alcinous
slew for them twelve sheep, and eight swine, and two oxen; and his
men prepared for the people a goodly feast.
Then came the servants of the King, leading the blind minstrel by
the hand. The servants set him in a silver chair, in the midst of
the guests, and hung a harp above his head, and showed him how he
might reach his hand to take it. And close by his side they placed
a table and a basket and a cup of wine, that he might drink at his
So the Phaeacians feasted in the hall; and when they had had
enough of meat and drink, then the minstrel sang. He sang a song,
the fame of which had reached to heaven, of the quarrel between
Ulysses and Achilles, when they were fighting to capture Troy.
But as the minstrel sang, Ulysses held his purple cloak before his
face, for he was ashamed to weep in the sight of the people.
Whensoever the singer ceased from his song, then did Ulysses wipe
away the tears; but when he began again, for the chiefs loved to
hear the song, then again he covered his face and wept. But none
noted the thing but Alcinous.
Then the King said to the chiefs, "Now that we have feasted and
delighted ourselves with song, let us go forth, that this stranger
may see that we are skilful in boxing and wrestling and running."
Then stood up many Phaeacian youths, and the fairest and strongest
of them all was Laodamas, eldest son to the King, and they ran a
race, and wrestled, and threw quoits, and leaped.
Then Laodamas said to Ulysses, "Wilt thou not try thy skill in
some game, and put away the trouble from thy heart?"
But Ulysses answered: "Why askest thou this? I think of my
troubles rather than of sport, and care only that I may see again
Then said another: "And in very truth, stranger, thou hast not the
look of a wrestler or boxer. Rather would one judge thee to be
some trader, who sails over the sea for gain."
"Nay," answered Ulysses, "this is ill said. True it is that the
gods give not all gifts to all men, beauty to one, and sweet
speech to another. Fair of form art thou; no god could better
thee; but thou speakest idle words. I am not unskilled in these
things, but stood among the first in the old days; but since have
I suffered much in battle and shipwreck. Yet will I make trial of
my strength, for thy words have angered me."
Whereupon, clad in his mantle as he was, he took a quoit, heavier
far than such as the Phaeacians were wont to throw, and sent it
with a whirl. It flew through the air, so that the brave
Phaeacians crouched to the ground in fear, and it fell far beyond
all the rest.
Then Athene, for she had taken upon herself the guise of a
Phaeacian man, marked the place where it fell, and spake, saying:
"Stranger, verily, even a blind man might find this token of thy
strength, for it is not lost among the others, but lies far beyond
them. Be of good courage, therefore, in this contest; none of the
Phaeacians shall surpass thee."
Then was Ulysses glad, seeing that he had a friend among the
people, and he said: "Now match this throw, young men, if ye can.
Soon will I cast another after it, as far, or further yet. And, if
any man is so minded, let him rise up and contend with me, for I
will match myself in wrestling or boxing, or even in the race,
with any man in Phaeacia, save Laodamas only, for he is my friend.
I can shoot with the bow; and I can cast a spear as far as other
men can shoot an arrow. But as for the race, it may be that some
one might outrun me, for I have suffered much on the sea."
But they were all silent, till the King stood up and said: "Thou
hast spoken well. But we men of Phaeacia are not mighty to wrestle
or to box; only we are swift of foot and skilful to sail upon the
sea. And we love feasts, and dances, and the harp, and gay
clothing, and the bath. In these things no man may surpass us."
Then the King bade Demodocus the minstrel to sing again. And when
he had done so, the King's two sons danced together; and
afterwards they played with the ball, throwing it into the air,
cloud high, and catching it right skilfully.
And afterwards the King said: "Let us each give this stranger a
mantle and a tunic and a talent of gold."
Then all the princes brought their gifts. And Alcinous said to the
Queen: "Lady, bring hither a chest, the best that thou hast, and
put therein a robe and a tunic. And I will give our guest a fair
golden cup of my own, that he may remember me all the days of his
life, when he poureth out offerings to the gods."
Then the Queen brought from her chamber a fair chest, and put
therein the gifts which the princes had given; also with her own
hands she put therein a robe and a tunic. And she said:—
"Look now to the lid, and tie a knot, that no man rob thee by the
way, when thou sleepest in the ship."
So Ulysses fixed well the lid, and tied it with a cunning knot
which Circe had taught him. After that he went to the bath. As he
came from the bath Nausicaa met him by the entering in of the
hall, and marvelled at him, so fair was he to look upon. And she
spake, saying: "Stranger, farewell. But when thou comest to thine
own country, think upon me once and again, for indeed thou owest
to me the price of thy life."
Ulysses made answer to her, "Nausicaa, if Zeus grant me safe
return to my home, I will do honour to thee as to a goddess,
forever; for indeed I owe thee my life."
Then he went into the hall, and sat down by the side of the King,
and the squire came leading the blind minstrel by the hand. Now
Ulysses had cut off a rich portion from the chine [Footnote:
chine, backbone.] of a boar that had been set before him, and he
said to the squire: "Take this and give it to Demodocus, for the
minstrel should be held in honour by men."
So the squire bare the dish, and set it on the knees of the
minstrel, rejoicing his heart.
When they all had had enough of food and drink, then Ulysses spake
to the minstrel, saying: "Demodocus, I know not whether the gods
have taught thee, but of a truth thou singest of all the toil and
trouble that the Greeks endured before the great city of Troy as
if thou hadst thyself been there. Come, now, sing to us of the
Horse of Wood, and how Ulysses contrived that it should be taken
up into the citadel of Troy when he had filled it with the bravest
of the chiefs. Sing me this aright, and I will bear witness for
thee that thou art indeed a minstrel whom the gods have taught."
Then did the minstrel sing this song. He told how one part of the
Greeks set fire to their camp, and embarked upon their ships, and
sailed away; and how the other part—Ulysses and his comrades—sat
hidden in the Horse which the men of Troy had dragged with their
own hands into their place of assembly. All about sat the people,
and three counsels were given. The first was to cleave the wood,
and the second to drag it to the brow of the hill and cast it down
thence, and the third to leave it as an offering to the gods; and
the third counsel prevailed, for it was the doom of the city that
it should perish through the Horse.
Also the minstrel sang how the chiefs came forth from the Horse,
and went through the city, wasting it; and much also of Ulysses
and his brave deeds.
Thus did the minstrel sing, and the heart of Ulysses was melted
within him as he listened, and the tears ran down his cheeks.
But none of the company, save King Alcinous only, noticed this.
Then the King spake, saying: "Hearken, ye princes of the
Phaeacians, and let Demodocus cease from his singing, for since he
set his hand to the harp, this stranger hath not ceased to weep.
Let, therefore, the minstrel cease, and let us make merry and
rejoice as it is fitting to do. Are we not met together that we
may give gifts to this stranger, and send him to his home? And
hide not thou, stranger, from us aught that I shall ask thee. Tell
us by what name they call thee at home, for no man lacketh a name.
Tell us also of thy land and thy city, that our ships may shape
their course to take thee thither. For these are not as the ships
of other men, that have steersmen and rudders. They have an
understanding of their own, and know all the cities of men, and
they pass over the deep, covered with cloud, and have no fear of
wreck. But my father was wont to say that Poseidon bore a grudge
against us because we carry all men safely to their homes; and
that one day he would smite a ship of ours as it came home from
such an errand, changing it to a rock that should overshadow our
city. But thou, stranger, tell us of thyself,—whither thou hast
wandered, and what cities thou hast seen, be they cities of the
unrighteous, or cities of them that are hospitable to strangers
and fear the gods. Tell us, too, why thou didst weep at hearing of
the tale of Troy. Hadst thou, perchance, a kinsman, or a friend—
for a wise friend is ever as a brother—among those that perished
(THE TALE OF ULYSSES)
Then Ulysses answered the King, saying: "What shall I tell thee
first, and what last, for many sorrows have the gods laid upon me?
First, I will tell my name, that ye may know it, and that there
may be friendship between us, even when I shall be far away. I am
ULYSSES, SON OF LAERTES. In Ithaca I dwell. Many islands lie about
it, but Ithaca is furthest to the west, and the others face the
sun-rising. Very rugged is this island of Ithaca, but it is the
mother of brave men; verily, there is nothing dearer to a man than
his own country. Calypso, the fair goddess, would have had me
abide with her, to be her husband; but she did not prevail,
because there is nothing that a man loves more than his country
and his parents. But now I will tell thee of all the troubles that
the gods laid upon me as I journeyed from Troy.
"The wind that bare me from Troy brought me to Ismarus [Footnote:
Is'-ma-rus.], which is a city of the Cicones.[Footnote: Ci'-co-
nes.] This I sacked, slaying the people that dwelt therein. But
the people of the city fetched their kinsmen that dwelt in the
mountains, and they overcame us, and drave us to our ships. Six
from each ship perished, but the remainder of us escaped from
"Then we sailed, stricken with grief for our dear comrades, yet
rejoicing that we had escaped from destruction. When we had sailed
a little space, Zeus sent the north wind against us with a mighty
storm, covering with clouds both land and sea, and the ships were
driven before it. So we lowered the sails, and rowed the ships to
the land with all our might. For two days we endured much distress
and sorrow, but on the third, when the morning light appeared, we
hoisted the sails and rested. Then I should have come to my own
country, but the north wind and the sea drave me from my course.
For nine days did the wind carry us before it.
"And on the tenth day we came to the land where the lotus grows—a
wondrous fruit, for whoever eats of it cares not to see country or
wife or children again. Now the Lotus-eaters, for so the people of
the land are called, were a kindly folk, and gave of the fruit to
some of the sailors, not meaning them any harm, but thinking it to
be the best that they had to give. These, when they had eaten,
said that they would not sail any more over the sea; and, when I
heard this, I bade their comrades bind them and carry them, sadly
complaining, to the ships.
"Then, the wind having abated, we took to our oars, and rowed for
many days till we came to the country where the Cyclopes
[Footnote: Cy-clo'-pes.] dwell. Now a mile or so from the shore
there was an island, very fair and fertile, but no man dwells
there or tills the soil, and in the island a harbour where a ship
may be safe from all winds, and at the head of the harbour a
stream falling from a rock, and whispering alders all about it.
Into this the ships passed safely, and were hauled up on the
beach, and the crews slept by them, waiting for the morning.
"When the dawn appeared, we wandered through the island; and the
Nymphs of the land started the wild goats, that my company might
have food to eat. Thereupon we took our bows and our spears from
the ships, and shot at the goats; and the gods gave us plenty of
prey. Twelve ships I had in my company, and each ship had nine
goats for its share, and my own portion was ten.
"Then all the day we sat and feasted, drinking sweet wine which we
had taken from the city of the Cicones, and eating the flesh of
the goats; and as we sat we looked across to the land of the
Cyclops, seeing the smoke and hearing the voices of the men and of
the sheep and of the goats. And when the sun set and darkness came
over the land, we lay down upon the seashore and slept.
"The next day I gathered my men together, and said, 'Abide ye
here, dear friends; I with my own ship and my own company will go
and find whether the folk that dwell in yonder island are just or
"So I climbed into my ship, and bade my company follow me: so we
came to the land of the Cyclops. Close to the shore was a cave,
with laurels round about the mouth. This was the dwelling of the
Cyclops. Alone he dwelt, a creature without law. Nor was he like
to mortal men, but rather to some wooded peak of the hills that
stands out apart from all the rest.
"Then I bade the rest of my comrades abide by the ship, and keep
it, but I took twelve men, the bravest that there were in the
crew, and went forth. I had with me a goat-skin full of the wine,
dark red, and sweet, which the priest of Apollo [Footnote: A-pol'-
lo.] at Ismarus had given me. So precious was it that none in his
house knew of it saving himself and his wife. When they drank of
it they mixed twenty measures of water with one of wine, and the
smell that went up from it was wondrous sweet. No man could easily
refrain from drinking it. With this wine I filled a great skin and
bore it with me; also I bare corn in a pouch, for my heart within
me told me that I should need it.
"So we entered the cave, and judged that it was the dwelling of
some rich and skilful shepherd. For within there were pens for the
young of the sheep and of the goats, divided all according to
their age, and there were baskets full of cheeses, and full
milkpails ranged along the wall. But the Cyclops himself was away
in the pastures. Then my companions besought me that I would
depart, taking with me, if I would, a store of cheeses and some of
the lambs and of the kids. But I would not, for I wished to see
what manner of host this strange shepherd might be, and, if it
might be, to take a gift from his hand, such as is the due of
strangers. Verily, his coming was not to be a joy to my company.
"It was evening when the Cyclops came home, a mighty giant, very
tall of stature, and when we saw him we fled into the cave in
great fear. On his shoulder he bore a vast bundle of pine logs for
his fire, and threw them down outside the cave great crash, and
drove the flocks within, and closed the entrance with a huge rock,
which twenty wagons and more could not bear. Then he milked the
ewes and all the she-goats, and half of the milk he curdled for
cheese, and half he set ready for himself, when he should sup.
Next he kindled a fire with the pine logs, and the flame lighted
up all the cave, showing to him both me and my comrades.
"'Who are ye?' cried Polyphemus [Footnote: Pol-y-phe'-mus.], for
that was the giant's name. 'Are ye traders or pirates?'
"I shuddered at the dreadful voice and shape, but bare me bravely,
and answered: 'We are no pirates, mighty sir, but Greeks sailing
back from Troy, and subjects of the great King Agamemnon, whose
fame is spread from one end of heaven to the other. And we are
come to beg hospitality of thee in the name of Zeus, who rewards
or punishes hosts and guests according as they be faithful the one
to the other, or no.'
"'Nay,' said the giant; 'it is but idle talk to tell me of Zeus
and the other gods. We Cyclopes take no account of gods, holding
ourselves to be much better and stronger than they. But come, tell
me where have you left your ship?'
"But I saw his thought when he asked about the ship, for he was
minded to break it, and take from us all hope of flight. Therefore
I answered him craftily:—
"Ship have we none, for that which was ours King Poseidon brake,
driving it on a jutting rock on this coast, and we whom thou seest
are all that are escaped from the waves."
"Polyphemus answered nothing, but without more ado caught up two
of the men, as a man might catch up the pups of a dog, and dashed
them on the ground, and tare them limb from limb, and devoured
them, with huge draughts of milk between, leaving not a morsel,
not even the very bones. But we that were left, when we saw the
dreadful deed, could only weep and pray to Zeus for help. And when
the giant had filled his maw with human flesh and with the milk of
the flocks, he lay down among his sheep and slept.
"Then I questioned much in my heart whether I should slay the
monster as he slept, for I doubted not that my good sword would
pierce to the giant's heart, mighty as he was. But my second
thought kept me back, for I remembered that if I should slay him,
I and my comrades would yet perish miserably. For who could move
away the great rock that lay against the door of the cave? So we
waited till the morning, with grief in our hearts. And the monster
woke, and milked his flocks, and afterwards, seizing two men,
devoured them for his meal. Then he went to the pastures, but put
the great rock on the mouth of the cave, just as a man puts down
the lid upon his quiver.
"All that day I was thinking what I might best do to save myself
and my companions, and the end of my thinking was this. There was
a mighty pole in the cave, green wood of an olive tree, big as a
ship's mast, which Polyphemus purposed to use, when the smoke
should have dried it, as a walking-staff. Of this I cut off a
fathom's length, and my comrades sharpened it and hardened it in
the fire, and then hid it away. At evening the giant came back,
and drove his sheep into the cave, nor left the rams outside, as
he had been wont to do before, but shut them in. And having duly
done his shepherd's work, he took, as before, two of my comrades,
and devoured them. And when he had finished his supper, I came
forward, holding the wine-skin in my hand, and said:—
"'Drink, Cyclops, now that thou hast feasted. Drink, and see what
precious things we had in our ship. But no one hereafter will come
to thee with such, if thou dealest with strangers as cruelly as
thou hast dealt with us.'
"Then the Cyclops drank, and was mightily pleased, and said: 'Give
me again to drink, and tell me thy name, stranger, and I will give
thee a gift such as a host should give. In good truth this is a
rare liquor. We, too, have vines, but they bear not wine like
this, which, indeed, must be such as the gods drink in heaven.'
"Then I gave him the cup again, and he drank. Thrice I gave it to
him, and thrice he drank, not knowing what it was, and how it
would work within his brain.
"Then I spake to him: 'Thou didst ask my name, Cyclops. My name is
No Man. And now that thou knowest my name, thou shouldest give me
"And he said: 'My gift shall be that I will eat thee last of all
"And as he spake, he fell back in a drunken sleep. Then I bade my
comrades be of good courage, for the time was come when they
should be delivered. And they thrust the stake of olive wood into
the fire till it was ready, green as it was, to burst into flame,
and they thrust it into the monster's eye; for he had but one eye
and that was in the midst of his forehead, with the eyebrow below
it. And I, standing above, leaned with all my force upon the
stake, and turned it about, as a man bores the timber of a ship
with a drill. And the burning wood hissed in the eye, just as the
red-hot iron hisses in the water when a man seeks to temper steel
for a sword.
"Then the giant leapt up, and tore away the stake, and cried
aloud, so that all the Cyclopes who dwelt on the mountain-side
heard him and came about his cave, asking him: `What aileth thee,
Polyphemus, that thou makest this uproar in the peaceful night,
driving away sleep? Is any one robbing thee of thy sheep, or
seeking to slay thee by craft or force?' And the giant answered,
`No Man slays me by craft.'
"`Nay, but,' they said, `if no man does thee wrong, we cannot help
thee. The sickness which great Zeus may send, who can avoid? Pray
to our father, Poseidon, for help.'
"So they spake, and I laughed in my heart when I saw how I had
deceived them by the name that I had given.
"But the Cyclops rolled away the great stone from the door of the
cave, and sat in the midst, stretching out his hands, to feel
whether perchance the men within the cave would seek to go out
among the sheep.
"Long did I think how I and my comrades should best escape. At
last I lighted upon a plan that seemed better than all the rest,
and much I thanked Zeus because this once the giant had driven the
rams with the other sheep into the cave. For, these being great
and strong, I fastened my comrades under the bellies of the
beasts, tying them with willow twigs, of which the giant made his
bed. One ram I took, and fastened a man beneath it, and two others
I set, one on either side. So I did with the six, for but six were
left out of the twelve who had ventured with me from the ship. And
there was one mighty ram, far larger than alt the others, and to
this I clung, grasping the fleece tight with both my hands. So we
all waited for the morning. And when the morning came, the rams
rushed forth to the pasture; but the giant sat in the door and
felt the back of each as it went by, nor thought to try what might
be underneath. Last of all went the great ram. And the Cyclops
knew him as he passed, and said:—
"'How is this, thou who art the leader of the flock? Thou art not
wont thus to lag behind. Thou hast always been the first to run to
the pastures and streams in the morning, and the first to come
back to the fold when evening fell; and now thou art last of all.
Perhaps thou art troubled about thy master's eye, which some
wretch—No Man, they call him—has destroyed. He has not escaped,
and I would that thou couldest speak, and tell me where he is
lurking. Of a truth, I would dash out his brains upon the ground,
and avenge me on this No Man.'
"So speaking, he let the ram pass out of the cave. But when we
were now out of reach of the giant, I loosed my hold of the ram,
and then unbound my comrades. And we hastened to our ship, not
forgetting to drive the sheep before us, and often looking back
till we came to the seashore. Right glad were those that had abode
by the ship to see us. Nor did they lament for those that had
died, though we were fain to do so, for I forbade, fearing lest
the noise of their weeping should betray where we were to the
giant. Then we all climbed into the ship, and sitting well in
order on the benches smote the sea with our oars, laying to right
lustily, that we might the sooner get away from the accursed land.
And when we had rowed a hundred yards or so, so that a man's voice
could yet be heard by one who stood upon the shore, I stood up in
the ship and shouted:—
"'He was no coward, O Cyclops, whose comrades thou didst so foully
slay in thy den. Justly art thou punished, monster, that devourest
thy guests in thy dwelling. May the gods make thee suffer yet
worse things than these!'
"Then the Cyclops in his wrath brake off the top of a great hill,
a mighty rock, and hurled it where he had heard the voice. Right
in front of the ship's bow it fell, and a great wave rose as it
sank, and washed the ship back to the shore. But I seized a long
pole with both hands, and pushed the ship from the land, and bade
my comrades ply their oars, nodding with my head, for I would not
speak, lest the Cyclops should know where we were. Then they rowed
with all their might and main.
"And when we had gotten twice as far as before, I made as if I
would speak again; but my comrades sought to hinder me, saying:
'Nay, my lord, anger not the giant any more. Surely we thought
before that we were lost, when he threw the great rock, and washed
our ship back to the shore. And if he hear thee now, he may still
crush our ship and us.'
"But I would not be persuaded, but stood up and said: 'Hear,
Cyclops! If any man ask who blinded thee, say that it was the
warrior Ulysses, son of Laertes, dwelling in Ithaca.'
"And the Cyclops answered with a groan: 'Of a truth, the old
prophecies are fulfilled; for long ago there came to this land a
prophet who foretold to me that Ulysses would rob me of my sight.
But I looked for a great and strong man, who should subdue me by
force, and now a weakling has done the deed, having cheated me
"Then the Cyclops lifted up his hands to Poseidon and prayed:
'Hear me, Poseidon, if I am indeed thy son and thou my father. May
this Ulysses never reach his home! or, if the Fates have ordered
that he should reach it, may he come alone, all his comrades lost,
and come to find sore trouble in his house!'
"And as he ended, he hurled another mighty rock, which almost
lighted on the rudder's end, yet missed it as by a hair's breadth.
And the wave that it raised was so great that it bare us to the
"So we came to the island of the wild goats, where we found our
comrades, who, indeed, had waited long for us in sore fear lest we
had perished. Then I divided amongst my company all the sheep
which we had taken from the Cyclops. And all, with one consent,
gave me for my share the great ram which had carried me out of the
cave, and I sacrificed it to Zeus. And all that day we feasted
right merrily on the flesh of sheep and on sweet wine, and when
the night was come, we lay down upon the shore and slept.
THE LAESTRYGONS;[Footnote: Laes'-try-gons.]
CIRCE [Footnote: Cir'-ce.]
(THE TALE OF ULYSSES)
"The next morning we set sail, and came, after a while, to the
island where dwelleth AEolus. A floating island it is, and it hath
about it an unbroken wall of bronze. For a whole month did the
King entertain me in friendly fashion, and I told him the whole
story of the things that had been done at Troy.
"Afterwards I told him of my journey, and asked help of him. And
he gave me the skin of an ox nine years old, in which he had bound
all the winds that were contrary to me, for Zeus hath made him
keeper of the winds, that he may rouse them or put them to rest as
he will. This pouch of ox-hide he bound fast to the deck of the
ship with a thong of silver, that not a wind might escape from it.
But he let a gentle west wind blow, that it might carry me and my
comrades to our home. For nine days it blew, and now we were near
to Ithaca, our country, so that we saw the men that tended the
beacon-lights, for it was now near to the dawn on the tenth day.
"But now, by an ill chance, I fell asleep, being wholly wearied
out, for I had held the helm for nine days, nor trusted it to any
of my comrades. And while I slept my comrades, who had cast eyes
of envy on the great ox-hide, said one to another:—
"`Strange it is how men love and honour this Ulysses whithersoever
he goes. And now he comes back from Troy with much spoil, but we
with empty hands. Let us see what it is that AEolus hath given
him, for doubtless in this ox-hide is much silver and gold.'
"So they loosed the great bag of ox-hide, and lo! all the winds
rushed out, and carried us far away from our country. And I,
waking with the tumult, doubted much whether I should not throw
myself into the sea and so die. But I endured, thinking it better
to live. Only I veiled my face and so lay still while the ships
drave before the winds, till we came again to the island of
AEolus. Then we landed, and fetched water, and ate our meal by the
side of our ships. And when our meal was ended, I took a herald
and one of my company, and went to the palace of the King, and
found him feasting with his wife and children, and I sat down on
the threshold. Much did they wonder to see me, saying, 'What evil
power has hindered thee, that thou didst not reach thy country and
"Then I answered: 'Blame not me, but the evil counsels of my
comrades, and sleep, which mastered me to my hurt. But do ye help
"But he said, 'Begone! we may not help him whom the gods hate; and
hated of them thou surely art.'
"So AEolus sent me away. Then again we launched our ships and set
forth, toiling wearily at the oars, and sad at heart.
"Six days we rowed, nor rested at night; and on the seventh we
came to Lamos [Footnote: La'-mos.], which was a city of the
Laestrygons, in whose land the night is as the day, so that a man
might earn double wages, if only he wanted not sleep. There was a
fair haven with cliffs about it, and a narrow mouth with great
rocks on either side. And within are no waves.
"Now I made fast my ship to the rocks that were without, but the
others entered the haven. Then I sent two men, and a herald with
them, and these came upon a smooth road by which wagons brought
down wood from the mountain to the city. Here they met a maiden,
the daughter of the king of the land, and asked of her who was
lord of that country. Thereupon she showed them her father's lofty
palace. And they, entering this, saw the maiden's mother, big as a
mountain, and horrible to behold, who straightway called to her
husband. Then the messengers fled to the ships; but he made a
great shout, and the giant Laestrygons came flocking about him.
And these broke off great stones from the cliffs, each stone as
much as a man could carry, and cast them at the ships, so that
they were broken. And the men they speared, as if they were
fishes, and devoured them. So it happened to all the ships in the
haven. I only escaped, for I cut the hawser with my sword, and
bade my men ply their oars, which indeed they did right willingly.
"After a while we came to the island where Circe dwelt, who is the
daughter of the Sun. Two days and nights we lay upon the shore in
great trouble and sorrow. On the third I took my spear and sword
and climbed a hill, for I wished to see to what manner of land we
had come. And having climbed it, I saw the smoke rising from the
palace of Circe, where it stood in the midst of a wood. Then I
thought awhile: should I go straightway to the palace that I saw,
or first return to my comrades on the shore. And it seemed the
better plan to go to the ship and bid my comrades make their
midday meal, and afterwards send them to search out the place. But
as I went, some god took pity on me, and sent a great stag, with
mighty antlers, across my path. The stag was going down to the
river to drink, for the sun was now hot; and casting my spear at
it I pierced it through. Then I fastened together the feet with
green withes and a fathom's length of rope, and slinging the beast
round my neck, so carried it to the ship, leaning on my spear; for
indeed it was heavy to bear, nor was it possible for me to carry
it on my shoulder with one hand. And when I was come to the ship,
I cast down my burden. Now the men were sitting with their faces
muffled, so sad were they. But when I bade them be of good cheer,
they looked up and marvelled at the great stag. And all that day
we feasted on deer's flesh and sweet wine, and at night lay down
to sleep on the shore. But when morning was come, I called my
comrades together, and spake: 'I know not, friends, where we are.
Only I know, having seen smoke yesterday from the hill, that there
is a dwelling in this island.'
"It troubled the men much to hear this, for they thought of the
Cyclops and of the Laestrygons; and they wailed aloud. Then I
divided them into two companies. I set Eurylochus [Footnote: Eu-
ryl'-o-chus.] over the one, and I myself took command of the
other, and I shook lots in a helmet to see who should go and
search out the island, and the lot of Eurylochus leapt out. So he
went, and comrades twenty and two with him. And in an open space
in the wood they found the palace of Circe. All about were wolves
and lions; yet these harmed not the men, but stood up on their
hind legs, fawning upon them, as dogs fawn upon their master when
he comes from his meal, because he brings the fragments with him
that they love. And the men were afraid. And they stood in the
porch and heard the voice of Circe as she sang with a lovely voice
and plied the loom. Then said Polites [Footnote: Po-li'-tes.], who
was dearest of all my comrades to me, in whom also I most trusted:
'Some one within plies a great loom, and sings with a loud voice.
Some goddess is she or a woman. Let us make haste and call.'
"So they called to her, and she came out and beckoned to them that
they should follow. So they went, in their folly, all except
Eurylochus. And she bade them sit, and mixed for them red wine and
barley-meal and cheese and honey, and mighty drugs, of which, if a
man drank, he forgot all that he loved. And when they had drunk,
she smote them with her wand. And lo! they had of a sudden the
heads and the voices and the bristles of swine, but the heart of a
man was in them still. And Circe shut them in sties, and gave them
acorns to eat.
"But Eurylochus fled back to the ship, bringing tidings of what
had befallen his comrades. For a time he could not speak a word,
so full was his heart of grief, and his eyes of tears. But, at
last, when we had asked him many questions, he told us his tale.
"Thereupon I cast about my shoulder my silver-studded sword, and
took my bow also, and bade him lead me by the way by which he had
gone. But he caught me by both my hands, and besought me, saying:
'Take me not thither against my will; for I am persuaded that thou
thyself wilt not return again, nor bring any of thy comrades. Let
us that remain flee, and escape death.' Then I said, 'Stay here by
the ship, eating and drinking, if it be thy will, but I must go.'
"And when I had come to the house, there met me Hermes of the
golden wand, the messenger of the gods, in the shape of a fair
youth, who said to me:—
"'Art thou come to rescue thy comrades that are now swine in
Circe's house? Nay, but thou shalt never go back thyself. Yet
stay; I will give thee a drug which shall give thee power to
resist all her charms. For when she shall have mixed thee drink,
and smitten thee with her wand, then do thou rush upon her with
thy sword, as if thou wouldest slay her. And when she shall pray
for peace, do thou make her swear by the great oath that binds the
gods that she will not harm thee.'
"Then Hermes showed me a certain herb, whose root was black, but
the flower white as milk. 'Moly,' the gods call it, and very hard
it is for mortal man to find; but to the gods all things are
"Thereupon Hermes departed to Olympus, but I went on to the palace
of the goddess, much troubled in heart. When I came thither I
stood in the porch and called, and Circe came, and opened the
doors, and bade me come in.
"Then she set me on a great chair, skilfully carven, with a
footstool for my feet. Afterward she gave me drink in a cup of
gold, but she had mixed in it a deadly charm. This I drank, but
was not bewitched, for the herb saved me. Then she smote me with
her wand, saying: 'Go now to the sty and lie there with thy
fellows.' Thereto upon I drew my sword, and rushed upon her, as
though I would have slain her. Then she caught me by the knees,
and cried aloud: 'Who art thou? What is thy race? I marvel that
thou couldest drink of this drink that I have charmed, and yet
take no hurt. I thought that there was no mortal man that could so
do. Thou must have a soul against which there is no enchantment.
Verily, thou must be that Ulysses who was to come to this island
as he returned from Troy, for so Hermes told me. But come, let us
be friends.' Then I said to her: 'Nay, goddess, but how can we two
be friends, when thou hast turned my companions into swine. I fear
thee that thou hast some deceit in thy heart, and thou wilt take
me unawares, and do me a great mischief. But swear a mighty oath,
even the oath by which the gods are bound, that thou wilt not harm
"Then Circe sware the mighty oath, even the oath by which the gods
"After this her handmaids, who were fair women born of the springs
and streams and woods, prepared a feast. One set coverlets of
purple on the chairs, and another brought up tables of silver to
the chair, and set on the tables baskets of gold. A third mixed
sweet wine in a bowl of silver, and set thereby cups of gold; and
the fourth filled a great kettle with water, and put fire under
it. And when it boiled, she prepared a bath, and the bath took
away the weariness from my limbs. And when I had bathed, a
handmaid bare water in a pitcher of gold, and poured it over a
basin of gold, that I might wash my hands. Then the housekeeper
brought me wheaten bread, and set many dainties on the table; and
Circe bade me eat; but I sat silent and sorrowful, having other
thoughts in my mind.
"And when the goddess perceived that I was silent and ate not, she
said: 'Why dost thou sit, Ulysses, as though thou wert dumb?
Fearest thou any craft of mine? Nay, but that may not be, for have
I not sworn the great oath that binds the gods?'
"Then I made answer, 'Nay, but who could think of meat and drink
when such things had befallen his companions?'
"Then Circe led the way, holding her wand in her hand, and opened
the doors of the sties, and drove out the swine that had been men.
Then she rubbed on each another mighty drug, and the bristles fell
from their bodies and they became men, only younger and fairer
than before. And when they saw me, they clung to me and wept for
joy, and Circe herself was moved with pity.
"Then said she to me: 'Go, Ulysses, to thy ship, and put away all
the goods and tackling in the caves that are on the shore, but
come again hither thyself, and bring thy comrades with thee.'
"Then I went. Right glad were they who had stayed to see me, glad
as are the calves who have been penned in the fold-yard when their
mothers come back in the evening.
"So we went to the dwelling of Circe, who feasted us royally, so
that we remained with her for a whole year, well content.
"But when the year was out my companions said to me, 'It is well
to remember thy country, if it is indeed the will of the gods that
thou shouldest return thither.'
"Then I besought Circe that she would send me on my way homewards,
as indeed she had promised to do. And she answered, saying:—
"'I would not have you abide in my house unwillingly. Yet must
thou first go on another journey, even to the dwellings of the
dead, there to speak with the seer [Footnote: seer, prophet]
Teiresias [Footnote: Tei-re'-si-as].'
"But I was sore troubled to hear such things, and wept aloud,
saying, 'Who shall guide us in this journey?—for never yet did
ship make such a voyage as this.'
"Then Circe made answer: 'Son of Laertes, trouble not thyself
because thou hast no guide, only set up the mast in thy ship, and
spread out the sails, and sit thee down with thy companions, and
the north wind shall carry thee to the place whereto thou art
bound. When thou shalt have sailed across the stream of ocean,
thou shalt come to a waste shore, where are many tall poplar trees
and willows. Beach there thy ship on the shore of ocean, and go
thyself to the dwelling of Hades.[Footnote: Ha'-des] There is a
certain rock, and near to it meet two streams, the river of fire,
and the river of wailing. Dig there a trench; it shall be a cubit
[Footnote: cubit, a foot and a half] long and a, cubit broad; pour
out therein a drink-offering to the dead; and sprinkle white
barley thereon. And as thou doest these things, entreat the dead,
and promise that when thou shalt come again to Ithaca, thou wilt
offer a barren heifer, even the best thou hast, and that thou wilt
sacrifice to Teiresias alone a black ram, the goodliest in the
flock. And after thou hast made thy prayers to the dead, offer up
a black ram and a black ewe. Then will come many spirits of the
dead, but suffer them not to drink of the blood till thou shalt
have spoken to Teiresias. Speedily will the seer come to thee, and
will tell thee how thou mayest return to thy home.' The next
morning I roused my companions, saying, 'Sleep no more; we will go
on our way, for Circe hath shown to me the whole matter.'
"So I spake, and they consented to my words. Yet did not I take
all my company safe from the dwelling of the goddess. There was a
certain Elpenor [Footnote: El-pe'-nor.], who was the youngest of
them all, and was neither valiant nor of an understanding mind. He
was sleeping apart from his fellows, on the housetop, for he had
craved for the coolness of the air. He, hearing our voices, and
the sound of the men's feet, as they moved hither and thither,
leapt up of a sudden, and thought not to come down by the ladder
by which he had gone up, but fell down from the roof, so that his
neck was broken, and he went down to the dwellings of the dead.
"But as my men were on their way, I spake to them, saying: 'Ye
think that ye are going to your native country; not so, for Circe
hath showed me another journey that we must take, even to the
dwelling of Hades, that I may speak with the spirit of Teiresias
"So I spake, and their spirit was broken within them, and they sat
down where they were, and mourned, and tare their hair. But their
weeping profited nothing.
"Meanwhile Circe had gone, and made fast a ram and a black ewe to
the ship, passing on as we went, for none may mark the goings of
the immortal gods."
THE DWELLINGS OF THE DEAD
(THE TALE OF ULYSSES)
"After this we made ready the ship for sailing, and put the black
sheep on board, and so departed; and Circe sent a wind from behind
that filled the sails; and all the day through our ship passed
quickly over the sea.
"And when the sun had set we came to the utmost border of the
ocean. Then I bade two of my comrades make ready the sheep for
sacrifice; and I myself dug a pit of a cubit every way, and poured
in it a drink-offering of honey and milk, and sweet wine, and
water, and sprinkled barley upon the drink-offering. Afterwards I
took the sheep and slew them, so that their blood ran into the
trench. And the dead were gathered to the place,—maidens, and old
men who had borne the sorrows of many years, and warriors that had
been slain in battle, having their arms covered with blood. All
these gathered about the pit with a terrible cry; and I was sore
afraid. Then I bade my comrades burn the carcasses of the sheep
and pray to the gods of the dead; but I myself sat down by the
pit's side, and would not suffer the souls of the dead to come
near unto the blood until I had inquired of Teiresias.
"First of all came the soul of my comrade Elpenor. Much did I
wonder to see him, and I asked, 'How comest thou hither, Elpenor,
to the land of darkness? and how have thy feet outstripped my
ship?' Then said Elpenor: 'I fell from the roof of the palace of
Circe, not bethinking me of the ladder, and so brake my neck. But
now, I pray thee, if thou lovest wife and father and son, forget
me not, when thou returnest to the island of Circe. Burn me with
fire and my arms with me; and make a mound for me by the shore of
the sea, that men may hear of me and of my fate in after time. And
set up my oar upon my tomb, even the oar which I was wont to ply
among my comrades.'
"Then I said to him, 'All this shall be done as thou desirest.'
"And we sat on either side of the trench as we talked, and I held
my sword over the blood.
"After him came to me the soul of my mother, whom I had left alive
when I sailed to Troy. Sorely I wept to see her, yet suffered her
not to come near and drink of the blood till I had inquired of
Teiresias. Then came Teiresias, holding a golden sceptre in his
hand, and spake, saying: 'Why hast thou left the light of day, and
come hither to this land of the dead, wherein is no delight? But
come, depart from the pit, and take away thy sword, that I may
come near and tell thee true.'
"So I thrust my sword into the scabbard; and Teiresias drank of
the blood; and when he had drunk, he spake: 'Thou seekest to hear
of thy going back to thy home. Know, therefore, that it shall be
with peril and toil. For Poseidon will not easily lay aside his
wrath against thee, because thou didst take from his dear son, the
Cyclops, the sight of his eye. Yet for all this ye may yet come
safe to your home, if only thou canst restrain thyself and thy
comrades when ye come to the island of the Three Capes, and find
there the oxen and the sheep of the Sun. If ye let them be and
harm them not, then may ye yet return to Ithaca, though after
dreadful toil. But if not, then shall ye perish. And if thou
escape thyself, after long time shalt thou return, having lost all
thy comrades, and the ship of strangers shall carry thee; and thou
shalt find trouble in thy house, men of violence who devour thy
substance while they seek thy wife in marriage.'
"To him I made answer: 'So be it, Teiresias. All these things the
gods have ordered after their own will. But tell me this. Here I
see the soul of my mother that is dead; and she sits near the
blood, but regards me not, nor speaks to me. How can she know that
I am indeed her son?'
"Then said Teiresias: 'Whomsoever of the dead thou shalt suffer to
drink of the blood, he will speak to thee; but whomsoever thou
sufferest not, he will depart in silence.'
"So I abode in my place; and the soul of my mother came near and
drank of the blood. And when she had drunk, she knew her son, and
said: 'My son, why hast thou come into the land of darkness, being
yet alive? Hast thou not yet returned to thy home?'
"To her I made answer: 'I came hither to inquire of Teiresias of
Thebes, and my home have I not seen. Truly trouble hath followed
me from the day that I first went with King Agamemnon to the land
of Troy. But tell me, how didst thou die? Did a wasting disease
slay thee, or did Artemis [Footnote: Ar'-te-mis] smite thee with a
sudden stroke of her arrow? And my father and my son, have they
enjoyment of that which is mine, or have others taken it from
them? And my wife, is she true to me, or hath she wedded some
prince among the Greeks?'
"Then said my mother: 'Thy wife is true, and sits weeping for thee
day and night. And thy son hath enjoyment of thy possessions, and
hath his due place at the feasts of the people. But thy father
cometh no longer to the city, but abideth in the country. Nor hath
he any couch for his bed, but in winter-time he sleeps, even as
sleep the slaves, in the ashes near unto the fire, and when the
summer comes, in the corner of the vineyard upon leaves. Greatly
doth he sorrow, waiting for thy return, and the burden of old age
lies heavy upon him. But as for me, no wasting disease slew me,
nor did Artemis smite me with her arrows; but I died of longing
for thee, so sorely did I miss thy wisdom and thy love.'
"Then I was fain to lay hold upon the soul of my mother. Thrice I
sprang forward, eager to embrace her, and thrice she passed from
out my hands, even as passeth a shadow. And when I said, 'How is
this, my mother? art thou then but a phantom that the queen of the
dead hath sent me?' my mother answered me: 'Thus it is with the
dead, my son. They have no more any flesh and bones; for these the
fire devours; but their souls are even as dreams, flying hither
and thither. But do thou return so soon as may be to the light,
and tell all that thou hast seen and heard to thy wife.'
"Thereupon I departed from the place, and bade my comrades embark
upon the ships and loose the ropes. And we embarked and sat upon
the benches; and the great stream of Ocean bare us onward, rowing
at the first, and afterwards hoisting the sails."
THE SIRENS; SCYLLA;[Footnote: Scyl'-la] THE OXEN OF THE SUN
(THE TALE OF ULYSSES)
"It was now evening when we came back to the island of Circe.
Therefore we beached the ship, and lay down by the sea, and slept
till the morning. And when it was morning we arose, and went to
the palace of Circe, and fetched thence the body of our comrade
Elpenor. We raised the funeral pile where the farthest headland
runs out into the sea, and burned the dead man and his arms; then
we raised a mound over his bones, and put a pillar on the top of
the mound, and on the top of the pillar his oar.
"But Circe knew of our coming, and of what we had done, and she
came and stood in our midst, her handmaids coming with her, and
bearing flesh and bread and wine in plenty. Then she spake,
saying: 'Overbold are ye, who have gone down twice into the house
of death which most men see but once. Come now, eat and drink this
day; to-morrow shall ye sail again over the sea, and I will tell
you the way, and declare all that shall happen, that ye may suffer
no hindrance as ye go.'
"So all that day we ate and feasted. And when the darkness came
over the land, my comrades lay them down by the ship and slept.
But Circe took me by the hand, and led me apart from my company,
and inquired of what I had seen and done. And when I had told her
all my tale, she spake, saying: 'Hearken now to what I shall tell
thee. First of all thou shalt come to the Sirens, who bewitch all
men with their singing. For whoever cometh nigh to them, and
listeneth to their song, he seeth not wife or children any more;
for the Sirens enchant him, and draw him to where they sit, with a
great heap of dead men's bones about them. Speed thy ship past
them, and first fill the ears of thy comrades with wax, lest any
should hear the song; but if thou art minded thyself to hear the
song, let them bind thee fast to the mast. So shalt thou hear the
song, and take no harm. And if thou shalt entreat thy comrades to
loose thee, they must bind the bonds all the faster.
"'When thou shalt have passed the island of the Sirens, then thou
must choose for thyself which path thou shalt take. On the one
side are the rocks that men call the Wandering Rocks. By these not
even winged creatures can pass unharmed. No ship can pass them by
unhurt; all round them do the waves toss timbers of broken ships
and bodies of men that are drowned. One ship only hath ever passed
them by, even the ship Argo, and even her would the waves have
dashed upon the rocks, but that Hera [Footnote: He'-ra], for love
of Jason [Footnote: Ja'-son], caused her to pass by.
"'These there are on the one side, and on the other are two rocks.
The first rock reacheth with a sharp peak to the heavens, and
about the peak is a dark cloud that passeth not away from it, no,
not in summer time or harvest. This rock no man could climb, even
though he had twenty hands and feet, for it is steep and smooth.
In the midst of this cliff is a cave wherein dwelleth Scylla, the
dreadful monster of the sea. Her voice is but as the voice of a
new-born dog, and her twelve feet are small and ill-grown, but she
hath six necks, exceeding long, and on each a head dreadful to
behold, and in each head three rows of teeth, thick set and full
of death. She is hidden up to her middle in the cave, but she
putteth her heads out of it, fishing for dolphins, or sea-dogs, or
other creatures of the sea, for indeed there are countless flocks
of them. No ship can pass her by unharmed, for with each head she
carrieth off a man, snatching them from the ship's deck. Hard by,
even a bow-shot off, is the other rock, lower by far, and with a
great fig tree growing on the top. Beneath it Charybdis [Footnote:
Cha-ryb'-dis] thrice a day sucketh in the water, and thrice a day
spouteth it forth. If thou chance to be there when she sucks it
in, not even Poseidon's help could save thee. See, therefore, that
thou guide thy ship near to Scylla rather than to the other, for
it is better 'for thee to lose six men out of thy ship than all
thy company together.'
"So Circe spake, and I said: 'Tell me, goddess, can I by any means
escape from Charybdis on the one hand, and. on the other, avenge
me on this monster, when she would take my comrades for a prey?'
"But the goddess said: 'Overbold thou art, and thinkest ever of
deeds of battle. Verily, thou wouldest do battle with the gods
themselves; and surely Scylla is not of mortal race, and against
her there is no help. Thou wilt do better to flee. For if thou
tarry to put on thy armour, then will she dart forth again, and
take as many as before. Drive on thy ship, therefore, with what
speed may be.
"'After this, thou wilt come to the island of the Three Capes,
where are the herds and the flocks of the Sun. Seven herds of kine
there are and seven flocks of sheep, and fifty in each. These
neither are born, nor die, and they have two goddesses to herd
them. If ye do these no hurt, then shall ye return, all of you, to
Ithaca, but if ye harm them, then shall thy ship be broken, and
all thy company shall perish, and thou shalt return alone and
after long delay.'
"Having so spoken, the goddess departed. Then I roused my men and
they launched the ship, and smote the water with their oars, and
the goddess sending a favourable wind, we hoisted the sails, and
"But, as we went, I spake to my companions, saying: 'Friends, it
is not well that one or two only should know the things that Circe
prophesied to me. Therefore I will declare them to you, that we
may know beforehand the things that shall come to pass, and so
either die or live.'
"And first I told them of the Sirens; and while I spake we came to
the Sirens' Island. Then did the breeze cease, and there was a
windless calm. So my comrades took down the sails and put out the
oars, and I cleft a great round of wax with my sword, and, melting
it in the sun, I filled the ears of my men; afterwards they bound
me by hands and feet, as I stood upright by the mast. And when we
were so near the shore that the shout of a man could be heard
therefrom, the Sirens perceived the ship, and began their song.
And their song was this:—
"'Hither, come hither, renowned Odysseus, great glory of the
Greeks. Here stay thy bark 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 that the Greeks and the Trojans have suffered
in wide Troy-land, yea, and we know all that shall hereafter be
upon the fruitful earth.'
"Then I motioned my men to loose me, for their ears were stopped;
but they plied their oars, and Eurylochus put new bonds upon me.
And when we had passed by the island, then they took the wax from
their ears, and loosed my bonds.
"After this they saw a smoke and surf, and heard a mighty roar,
and their oars dropped out of their hands for fear; but I bade
them be of good heart, because by my counsel they had escaped
other dangers in past time. And the rowers I bade row as hard as
they might. But to the helmsman I said: 'Steer the ship outside
the smoke and the surf, and steer close to the cliffs.' But of
Scylla I said nothing, fearing lest they should lose heart, and
cease rowing altogether. Then I armed myself, and stood in the
prow waiting till Scylla should appear.
"So we sailed up the strait; and there was sore trouble in my
heart, for on the one side was Scylla, and on the other Charybdis,
sucking down the water in a terrible fashion. Now would she vomit
it forth, boiling the while as a great kettle boils upon the fire,
and the spray fell on the very tops of the cliffs on either side.
And then again she gulped the water down, so that we could see to
her very depths, even the white sand that was at the bottom of the
sea. Towards her we looked, fearing destruction, and while we
looked, Scylla caught out of my ship six of my companions, the
strongest and bravest of them all. When I looked to my ships to
find my crew, then I saw their feet and hands, and I heard them
call me by name, speaking to me for the last time. Even as a
fisher, standing on some headland, lets down his long line with a
bait, that he may ensnare the fishes of the sea, and each, as he
catches it, he flings writhing ashore, so did Scylla bear the men
writhing up the cliff to her cave. There did she devour them; and
they cried to me terribly the while. Verily, of all the things
that I have seen upon the sea, this was the most piteous of all.
"After this we came to the island of the Three Capes; and from my
ship I heard the lowing of the kine and the bleating of the sheep.
Thereupon I called to mind the saying of Teiresias, how he charged
me to shun the island of the Sun. So I spake to my comrades,
saying: 'Hear now the counsels of Teiresias and Circe. They
charged me to sail by the island of the Sun; for they said that
there the most dreadful evil would overtake us. Do ye then row the
"So I spake; but Eurylochus made answer in wrath: 'Surely,
Ulysses, thou knowest not weariness, and art made of iron,
forbidding us, weary though we be with toil and watching, to land
upon this island, where we might well refresh ourselves. Rash,
also, art thou in that thou commandest us to sail all night; at
night deadly winds spring up, and how shall we escape, if some
sudden storm from the west or the south smite our ship, and break
it in pieces? Rather let us stay, and take our meal and sleep by
the ship's side, and to-morrow will we sail again across the sea.'
"Thus he spake, and all consented to his speech. Then I knew that
the gods were minded to work us mischief, and I made answer: 'Ye
force me, being many against one. But swear ye all an oath, that
if ye find here either herd or flock, ye will not slay either
bullock or sheep, but will rest content with the food that Circe
"Then they all made oath that they would so do; and when they had
sworn, they moored the ship within a creek, where there was a
spring of fresh water; and so we took our meal. But when we had
enough of meat and drink, we remembered our comrades whom Scylla
had snatched from the ship and devoured and we mourned for them
till slumber fell upon us.
"The next morning I spake to my company, saying: 'Friends, we have
yet food, both bread and wine. Keep, therefore, your hands from
the flocks and herds, lest some mischief overtake us, for they are
the flocks and herds of the Sun, a mighty god whose eye none may
"With these words I persuaded them. But for a month the south wind
blew without ceasing; there was no other wind, unless it were
haply the east. So long, indeed, as the bread and wine failed not
the men, they harmed not the herds, fearing to die. And
afterwards, when our stores were consumed, they wandered about the
island, and searched for food, snaring fishes and birds with
hooks, for hunger pressed them sorely. But I roamed by myself,
praying to the gods that they would send us deliverance. So it
chanced one day that slumber overcame me, and I slept far away
from my companions.
"Meanwhile Eurylochus spake to the others, using fatal craft:
'Friends, listen to one who suffers affliction with you. Always is
death a thing to be avoided; but of all deaths the most to be
feared is death by hunger. Come, therefore, let us sacrifice to
the gods in heaven the best of the oxen of the Sun. And we will
vow to build to the Sun, when we shall reach the land of Ithaca, a
great temple which we will adorn with gifts many and precious. But
if he be minded to sink our ship, being wroth for his oxen's sake,
verily I would rather drown than waste slowly to death upon this
"To this they all gave consent. Then Eurylochus drave the fattest
of the kine,—for they grazed near the ship,—and the men
sacrificed it to the gods.
"And one of the nymphs that herded the kine flew to the Sun with
tidings of that which had been done. Then spake the Sun among the
other gods: 'Avenge me now on the guilty comrades of Ulysses; for
they have slain the herds which I delight to see both when I mount
the heavens and when I descend therefrom. Verily, if they pay not
the due penalty for their wrong-doing, I will go down and give my
light to the regions of the dead.'
"Then Zeus made answer: 'Shine, thou Sun, as aforetime, on the
earth. Verily, my thunderbolt can easily reach the bark of these
sinners, and break it in the middle of the sea.'
"All these things I heard afterwards from the nymph Calypso, and
she had heard them from Hermes, the messenger.
"With angry words did I rebuke my comrades, but found no remedy
for their wrong-doing, seeing that the kine were dead. For six
days my friends feasted on the cattle of the Sun; but when the
seventh day came, we launched our ship upon the sea, and set sail.
"When we were now out of sight of the island of the Three Capes,
and no other land appeared, Zeus hung a dark cloud over us, and
suddenly the west wind came fiercely down upon the ship, and
snapped the shrouds on either side. Thereupon the mast fell
backward and brake the skull of a pilot, so that he plunged, as a
diver plunges, into the sea. Meantime Zeus hurled his thunderbolt
into the ship, filling it with sulphur from end to end. Then my
comrades fell from the ship; I saw them carried about it like sea-
gulls. But I still abode on the ship, till the sides were parted
from the keel; then I bound myself with a leathern thong to the
mast and the keel—for these were fastened together. On these I
sat, being driven by the wind. All night long was I driven; and
with the morning I came again to Scylla and to Charybdis. It was
the time when she sucked in the waves; but I, borne upward by a
wave, took fast hold of the branches of the wild fig tree that
grew upon the rock. To this I clung for a long time, but knew not
how to climb higher up. So I watched till she should vomit forth
again the keel and the mast, for these she had swallowed up. And
when I saw them again, then I plunged down from the rock, and
caught hold of them, and seated myself on them; I rowed hard with
the palms of my hands; and the father of the gods suffered not
Scylla to espy me, or I should surely have perished. For nine days
I floated, and on the tenth the gods carried me to the island of
When Ulysses had ended his tale there was silence for a space
throughout the hall. And after a while King Alcinous spake,
saying: "Ulysses, now thou art come to my house, thou shalt no
longer be kept from thy return. And on you, chiefs of the
Phaeacians, I lay this command. Garments and gold are already
stored for this stranger in a chest. Let us now, also, give him
each a gift."
This saying pleased the princes, and they went each man to his
house; and the next day they brought the gifts; and the King
himself bestowed them under the benches, that the rowers might not
be hindered in their rowing.
When these things were finished, the princes betook them to the
palace of the King; and he sacrificed an ox to Zeus, and they
feasted, and the minstrel sang. But still Ulysses would ever look
to the sun, as if he would have hastened his going down; for
indeed he was very desirous to return as a man desireth his
supper, when he hath been driving the plough all day through a
field with a yoke of oxen before him, and is right glad when the
sun sinketh in the west, so Ulysses was glad at the passing of the
daylight. And he spake, saying:—
"Pour out, now, the drink-offering, my lord the King, and send me
on my way. Now do I bid you farewell, for ye have given me all
that my heart desired, noble gifts and escort to my home. May the
gods give me with them good luck, and grant, also, that I may find
my wife and my friends in my home unharmed! And may ye abide here
in joy with your wives and children, and may ye have all manner of
good things and may no evil come near you."
Then spake the King to his squire: "Mix, now, the bowl, and serve
out the wine, that we may pray to Zeus, and send the stranger on
So the squire mixed the wine, and served it out; and they all made
offering, and prayed.
Then Ulysses rose in his place, and placed the cup in the hand of
Arete, the Queen, and spake: "Fare thee well, O Queen, till old
age and death, which no man may escape, shall come upon thee! I go
to my home; and do thou rejoice in thy children and in thy people,
and in thy husband, the King."
When he had so said, he stepped over the threshold. And Alcinous
sent with him a squire to guide him to the ship, and Arete sent
maidens, bearing fresh clothing, and bread and wine. When they
came to the ship, the rowers took the things, and laid them in the
hold. Also they spread for Ulysses a rug and a linen sheet in the
hinder part of the ship, that his sleep might be sound.
When these things were ended Ulysses climbed on board, and lay
down; and the men sat upon the benches, and unbound the hawser.
And it came to pass that so soon as they touched the water with
the oars, a deep sleep fell upon him. As four horses carry a
chariot quickly over the plain, so quick did the ship pass over
the waves Not even a hawk, that is the swiftest of all flying
things, could have kept pace with it.
And when the star that is the herald of the morning came up in the
heaven, then did the ship approach the island. There is a certain
harbour in Ithaca, the harbour of Phorcys [Footnote: Phor'-cys],
the sea-god, where two great cliffs on either side break the force
of the waves; a ship that can win her way into it can ride safely
without moorings. And at the head of this harbour there is an
olive tree, and a cave hard by which is sacred to the nymphs. Two
gates hath the cave, one looking towards the north, by which men
may enter, and one towards the south, which belongeth only to the
gods. To this place the Phaeacians guided the ship, for they knew
it well. Half the length of the keel did they run her ashore, so
quickly did they row her. Then they lifted Ulysses out of the
stern as he lay in the sheet and the rug which the Queen had given
him. And still he slept. They took out also the gifts which the
princes of the Phaeacians had given him, and laid them in a heap
by the trunk of the olive tree, a little way from the road, lest
some passer-by should rob him while he slept. After this they
But Poseidon still remembered his anger, and said to Zeus: "Now
shall I be held in dishonour among the gods, for mortal men, even
these Phaeacians, who are of my own kindred, pay me no regard. I
said that this Ulysses should return in great affliction to his
home; and now they have carried him safely across the sea, with
such a store of gifts as he never would have won out of Troy, even
had he come back unharmed with all his share of the spoil."
To him Zeus made answer: "What is that thou sayest, lord of the
sea? How can the gods dishonour thee, who art the eldest among
them? And if men withhold from thee the worship that is due, thou
canst punish them after thy pleasure. Do, therefore, as thou
Then said Poseidon: "I would have done so long since, had not I
feared thy wrath. But now I will smite this ship of the Phaeacians
as she cometh back from carrying this man to his home. So shall
they learn henceforth not to send men homeward; and their city
will I overshadow with a great mountain."
And Zeus made answer to him, "Do as thou wilt."
Then Poseidon came down to the land of the Phaeacians, and there
he tarried till the ship came near, speeding swiftly on her way.
Thereupon he struck her, changing her into a stone, and rooting
her to the bottom of the sea.
But the Phaeacians said one to another: "Who is this that hath
hindered our ship, as she journeyed homeward? Even now she was
plain to see."
But King Alcinous spake, saying: "Now are the prophecies fulfilled
which my father was wont to speak. For he said that Poseidon was
wroth with us because we carried men safely across the sea, and
that one day the god would smite one of our ships, and change it
into a stone, and that he would also overshadow our city with a
great mountain. Now, therefore, let us cease from conveying men to
their homes, and let us do sacrifice to Poseidon, slaying twelve
bulls, that he overshadow not our city with a great mountain."
So the King spake, and the princes did as he commanded them.
Meanwhile Ulysses awoke in the land of Ithaca, and he knew not the
place, for Athene had spread a great mist about it, doing it, as
will be seen, with a good purpose, that he might safely accomplish
that which it was in his heart to do. Then Ulysses started up, and
made lament, saying: "Woe is me! To what land am I come? Are the
men barbarous and unjust, or are they hospitable and righteous?
Whither shall I carry these riches of mine? And whither shall I go
myself? Surely the Phaeacians have dealt unfairly with me, for
they promised that they would carry me back to my own country, but
now they have taken me to a strange land. May Zeus punish them
therefor! But let me first see to my goods, and reckon them up,
lest the men should have taken some of them."
Thereupon he numbered the treasure and found that nothing was
wanting. But not the less did he bewail him for his country.
But as he walked, lamenting, by the shore, Athene met him, having
the likeness of a young shepherd, fair to look upon, such as are
the sons of kings. Ulysses was glad when he saw her, though he
knew her not, and said: "Friend, thou art the first man that I
have seen in this land. Now, therefore, I pray thee to save my
substance, and myself also. But first, tell me true—what land is
this to which I am come, and what is the people? Is it an island,
or a portion of the mainland?"
And the false shepherd said: "Thou art foolish, or, may be, hast
come from very far, not to know this country. Many men know it,
both in the east and in the west. Rocky it is, not fit for horses,
nor is it very broad; but it is fertile land, and good for wine;
nor does it want for rain, and a good pasture it is for oxen and
goats; and men call it Ithaca. Even in Troy, which is very far,
they say, from this land of Greece, men have heard of Ithaca."
This Ulysses was right glad to hear. Yet he was not minded to say
who he was, but rather to feign a tale.
So he said: "Yes, of a truth, I heard of this Ithaca in Crete,
from which I am newly come, with all this wealth, leaving also as
much behind for my children. For I slew the son of the King,
because he would have taken from me my spoil. And certain
Phoenicians [Footnote: Phoe-ni'-ci-ans] agreed to take me to Pylos
or to Elis;[Footnote: E'-lis] but the wind drave them hither, and
while I slept they put me upon the shore, and my possessions with
me, and departed."
This pleased Athene much, and she changed her shape, becoming like
to a woman, tall and fair, and said to Ulysses:—
"Right cunning would he be who could cheat thee. Even now in thy
native country thou dost not cease thy cunning words and deceits!
But let these things be; for thou art the wisest of mortal men,
and I excel among the gods in counsel. For I am Athene, daughter
of Zeus, who am ever wont to stand by thee and help thee. And now
we will hide these possessions of thine; and thou must be silent,
nor tell to any one who thou art, and endure many things, so that
thou mayest come to thine own again,"
To her Ulysses made answer: "It is hard for a mortal man to know
thee, O goddess, however wise he may be, for thou takest many
shapes. While I was making war against Troy with the other Greeks,
thou wast ever kindly to me. But from the time that we took the
city of Priam, and set sail for our homes, I saw thee not, until
thou didst meet me in the land of the Phaeacians, comforting me,
and guiding me thyself into the city. And now I beseech thee, by
thy Father Zeus, to tell me truly: is this Ithaca that I see, for
it seems to me that I have come to some other country, and that
thou dost mock me. Tell me, therefore, whether in very deed I am
come to mine own country."
Then Athene answered him: "Never will I leave thee, for indeed
thou art wise and prudent above all others. For any other man, so
coming back after many wanderings, would have hastened to see his
wife and his children; but thou will first make trial of thy wife.
Come now, I wilt show thee this land of Ithaca, that thou mayest
be assured in thy heart. Lo! here is the harbour of Phorcys; here
at the harbour's head is the olive tree; here also is the pleasant
cave that is sacred to the nymphs, and there, behold, is the
Then the goddess scattered the mist, so that he saw the land.
Then, indeed, he knew it for Ithaca, and he kneeled down and
kissed the ground, and prayed to the nymphs, saying: "Never did I
think to see you again; but now I greet you lovingly. Many gifts
also will I give you, if Athene be minded, of her grace, to bring
me to my own again." Then said Athene: "Take heart, and be not
troubled. But first let us put away thy goods safely in the secret
place of the cave."
Then Ulysses brought up the brass, and the gold, and the raiment
that the Phaeacians had given him, and they two stored it in the
cave, and Athene laid a great stone upon the mouth.
And Athene said: "Think, man of many devices, how thou wilt lay
hands on these men, suitors of thy wife, who for three years have
sat in thy house devouring thy substance. And she hath answered
them craftily, making many promises, but still waiting for thy
Then Ulysses said: "Truly I should have perished but for thee. But
do thou help me, as of old in Troy, for with thee at my side I
would fight with three hundred men."
Then said Athene: "Lo! I will cause that no man shall know thee,
for I will wither the fair flesh on thy limbs, and take the bright
hair from thy head, and make thine eyes dull. And the suitors
shall take no account of thee, neither shall thy wife nor thy son
know thee. But go to the swineherd Eumaeus [Footnote: Eu-mae'-
us.], where he dwells by the fountain of Arethusa [Footnote: A-re-
thu'-sa.], for he is faithful to thee and to thy house. And I will
hasten to Sparta, to the house of Menelaus, to fetch Telemachus,
for he went thither, seeking news of thee."
But Ulysses said to the goddess: "Why didst thou not tell him,
seeing that thou knewest all? Was it that he too might wander over
the seas in great affliction, and that others meanwhile might
consume his goods?"
Then Athene made reply: "Trouble not thyself concerning him. I
guided him myself that he might earn a good report, as a son
searching for his father. Now he sitteth in peace in the hall of
Menelaus. And though there are some that lie in wait for him to
slay him, yet shall they not have their will. Rather shall they
perish themselves and others with them that have devoured thy
Then she touched him with her rod. She caused his skin to wither,
and wasted the hair upon his head, and made his skin as the skin
of an old man, and dimmed his eyes. His garments she changed so
that they became torn and filthy and defiled with smoke. Over all
she cast the skin of a great stag from which the hair was worn. A
staff also she gave him, and a tattered pouch, and a rope
wherewith to fasten it.
EUMAEUS, THE SWINEHERD
Athene departed to Lacedaemon that she might fetch Telemachus, and
Ulysses went to the house of Eumaeus, the swineherd. A great
courtyard there was, and twelve sties for the sows, and four
watch-dogs, fierce as wild beasts. In each sty were penned fifty
swine; but the hogs were fewer in number, for the suitors ever
devoured them at their feasts. There were but three hundred and
threescore in all. The swineherd himself was shaping sandals, and
of his men three were with the swine in the fields, and one was
driving a fat beast to the city, to be meat for the suitors. But
when Ulysses came near, the dogs ran upon him, and he dropped his
staff and sat down, and yet would have suffered harm, even on his
own threshold; but the swineherd ran forth and drave them away
with stones, and spake unto his lord, though, indeed, he knew him
"Old man, the dogs came near to killing thee. That would, indeed,
have been a shame and a grief to me; and, verily, I have other
griefs in plenty. Here I sit and sorrow for my lord, and rear the
fat swine for others to devour, while he, perchance, wanders
hungry over the deep, or in the land of strangers, if, indeed, he
lives. But come now, old man, to my house, and tell me who thou
art, and what sorrows thou hast thyself endured."
Then the swineherd led him to his dwelling, and set him down on a
seat of brushwood, with the hide of a wild goat spread on it. The
hide was both large and soft, and he was wont himself to sleep on
Greatly did Ulysses rejoice at this welcome, and he said, "Now may
Zeus and the other gods grant thee thy heart's desire, with such
kindness hast thou received me!"
The swineherd made answer: "It were a wicked thing in me to slight
a stranger, for the stranger and the beggar are from Zeus. But
from us that are thralls and in fear of our master, even a little
gift is precious. And the gods have stayed the return of my
master. Had he come back he would surely have given me a house,
and a portion of land, and a fair wife withal; for such things do
lords give to servants that serve them well. Well would my lord
have rewarded me, had he tarried at home. But now he hath
perished. For he, too, went to Troy, that Agamemnon and Menalaus,
his brother, might take vengeance on the Trojans."
Then he went away to the sties, and brought from thence two young
pigs, and singed them, and cut them into pieces, and broiled them
upon spits. And when he had cooked them, he set them before the
beggar man. He also mixed wine in a bowl of ivy-wood, and sat down
opposite his guest, and bade him eat, saying: "Eat now such food
as I can give thee; as for the fat hogs, them the suitors devour.
Truly these men have no pity, nor fear of the gods. They must have
heard that my lord is dead, so wickedly do they behave themselves.
They do not woo as other suitors woo, nor do they go back to their
own houses, but they sit at ease, and devour our wealth without
stint. Once my lord had possessions beyond all counting; none in
Ithaca nor on the mainland had so much. Hear now the sum of them:
on the mainland twenty herds of kine, and flocks of sheep as many,
and droves of swine as many, and as many herds of goats. Also here
at this island's end he had eleven flocks of goats. Day by day do
they take one of the goats for the suitors, and I take for them
the best of the hogs."
So he spake, and Ulysses ate flesh and drank wine the while; but
not a word did he speak, for he was planning the suitors' death.
But at the last he spake: "My friend, who was this, thy lord, of
whom thou speakest? Thou sayest that he perished, seeking to get
vengeance for King Menelaus. Tell me now, for it may be that I
have seen him, for I have wandered far."
But Eumaeus said: "Nay, old man, thus do all wayfarers talk, yet
we hear no truth from them. Not a vagabond fellow comes to this
island but our Queen must see him, and ask him many things,
weeping the while. And thou, I doubt not, would tell a wondrous
tale. But Ulysses, I know, is dead, and either the fowls of the
air devour him, or the fishes of the sea."
But the false beggar said: "Hearken now, I swear to thee that
Ulysses will return. And so soon as this shall come to pass thou
shalt let me have the reward of good tidings. A mantle and a tunic
shalt thou give me. But before it shall happen, I will take
nothing, though my need be sore. Now Zeus be my witness, and this
hospitable hearth of Ulysses to which I am come, that all these
things shall come to pass even as I have said. This year shall
Ulysses return; yea, while the moon waneth he shall come, and take
vengeance on all who dishonour his name."
But Eumaeus made answer: "It is not I, old man, that shall ever
pay the reward of good tidings. Truly, Ulysses will never more
come back to his home. But let us turn our thought to other
things. Bring thou not these to my remembrance any more; for,
indeed, my heart is filled with sorrow, if any man put me in mind
of my lord. As for thine oath, let it be. Earnestly do I pray that
Ulysses may indeed return; for this is my desire, and the desire
of his wife, and of the old man Laertes, and of Telemachus. And
now I am troubled concerning Telemachus also. I thought that he
would be no worse a man than his father; but some one, whether it
were god or man I know not, took away his wits, and he went to
Pylos, seeking news of his father. And now the suitors lie in wait
for him, desiring that the race of Ulysses may perish utterly out
of the land. Come now, old man, and tell me who art thou, and
whence? On what ship did thou come, for that by ship thou earnest
to Ithaca I do not doubt."
Then Ulysses answered: "Had we food and wine to last us for a
year, and could sit quietly here and talk, while others go to
their work, so long I should be in telling thee fully all my
troubles that I have endured upon the earth."
Then he told a false tale,—how he was a Cretan who had been
shipwrecked, and after many sufferings had reached Thesprotia
[Footnote: Thes-pro'ti-a.], where he had heard of Ulysses. And
when he sailed thence, the sailors were minded to sell him as a
slave, but he had broken his bonds, and swam ashore, when they
were near the island, and had hidden himself in the woods.
Then said the swineherd: "Stranger, thou hast stirred my heart
with the tale of all that thou hast suffered. But in this thing, I
fear, thou speakest not aright, saying that Ulysses will return.
Well I know that he was hated of the gods, because they smote him
not when he was warring against the men of Troy, nor afterwards
among his friends, when the war was ended. Then would the host
have builded for him a great mound; and he would have won great
renown for himself and for his children. But now he hath perished
ingloriously by the storms of the sea. As for me, I dwell apart
with the swine, and go not into the city, save when there have
been brought, no man knows whence, some tidings of my master. Then
all the people sit about the bringer of news, and question him,
both those who desire their lord's return, and those who delight
in devouring his substance without recompense. But I care not to
ask questions, since the time when a certain AEtolian [Footnote:
AE-to'-li-an.] cheated me with his story. He too had slain a man,
and had wandered over many lands, and when he came to my house, I
dealt kindly with him. This fellow said that he had seen my lord
with the King of Crete, and that he was mending his ships which
the storm had broken. Also he said that he would come home when it
was summer, or harvest time, and would bring much wealth with him.
But thou, old man, seek not to gain my favour with lies, nor to
comfort me with idle words."
But Ulysses answered: "Verily, thou art slow of heart to believe.
Even with an oath have I not persuaded thee. But come, let us make
an agreement together, and the gods shall be our witnesses. If thy
lord shall return, then shalt thou give me a mantle and a tunic,
and send me on my way, whither I desire to go. But if he come not
back according to my word, then let thy men throw me down from a
great rock, that others may fear to deceive."
Then the swineherd said: "Much credit, truly, should I gain among
men, if, having entertained thee in my house, I should turn and
slay thee; and with a good heart, hereafter, should I pray to
Zeus. But it is time for supper, and I would that my men were
returned that we might make ready a meal."
While he spake, the swine and the swineherds drew near; and
Eumaeus called to his fellows, saying: "Bring the best of the
swine, for I would entertain a guest who comes from far. Verily,
we endure much toil for these beasts, while others devour them,
and make no return."
So they brought a hog of five years old; and the swineherd kindled
a fire, and when he had cast bristles from the hog into the fire,
to do honour to the gods, he slew the beast, and made ready the
flesh. Seven portions he made; one he set apart for the nymphs and
for Hermes, and of the rest he gave one to each. But Ulysses had
the chief portion, even the chine.
Then was Ulysses glad, and spake, saying, "Eumaeus, mayest thou be
dear to Zeus, for thou hast dealt kindly with me."
And Eumaeus answered: "Eat, stranger, and make merry with what
thou hast. The gods give some things, and some things they
Now the night was cold, and it rained without ceasing; for the
west wind, that ever bringeth rain, was blowing; and Ulysses was
minded to try the swineherd, whether he would give him his own
mantle, or bid another do so. Therefore, when they were about to
sleep, he said:—
"Listen to me. O that I was young, and my strength unbroken, as in
the days when we fought before the city of Troy.
"Once upon a time we laid an ambush near to the city of Troy. And
Menelaus and Ulysses and I were the leaders of it. In the reeds we
sat, and the night was cold, and the snow lay upon our shields.
Now all the others had cloaks, but I had left mine behind at the
ships. So, when the night was three parts spent, I spake to
Ulysses, 'Here am I without a cloak; soon, methinks, shall I
perish with the cold.' Soon did he bethink him of a remedy, for he
was ever ready with counsel. Therefore he said: 'Hush, lest some
one hear thee; and to the others, 'I have been warned in a dream.
We are very far from the ships, and in peril. Therefore, let some
one run to the ships, to King Agamemnon, that he send more men to
help.' Then one rose up and ran, casting off his cloak; and this I
took, and slept warmly therein. Were I this night such as then I
was, I should not lack such kindness even now."
Then said Eumaeus: "This is well spoken, old man. Thou shalt have
a cloak to cover thee. But in the morning thou must put on thy own
rags again. Yet, perchance, when the son of Ulysses shall come, he
will give thee new garments."
Thereupon he arose, and set a bed for Ulysses, making it with
sheepskins and goatskins, near to the fire; and when Ulysses lay
down, he cast a thick cloak over him, that he had in case a great
storm should arise. But he himself slept beside the boars, to
guard them; and Ulysses was glad to see that he was very careful
for his master's substance, even though he was so long time away.
THE RETURN OF TELEMACHUS
Now all this time Telemachus tarried in Sparta with King Menelaus,
and the son of Nestor was with him. To him, therefore, Athene
went. Nestor's son she found overcome with slumber, but Telemachus
could not sleep for thoughts of his father. And Athene stood near
him, and spake:—
"It is not well, Telemachus, that thou shouldest tarry longer away
from thy home, for there are some who spoil and devour thy
substance. Come, therefore, rouse thy host Menelaus, and pray him
that he send thee on thy way. For thy mother's father and her
brethren urge her to take Eurymachus [Footnote: Eu-rym'-a-chus.]
for her husband, seeing that he hath far surpassed all the other
suitors in his gifts. Hearken also to another matter. The bravest
of the suitors lie in wait for thee in the strait that is between
Ithaca and Samos, desirous to slay thee before thou shalt come
again to thy home. Keep thy ship, therefore, far from the place,
and sail both by night and by day, and one of the gods shall send
thee a fair breeze. Also, when thou comest to the land of Ithaca,
send thy ship and thy company to the city, but seek thyself the
swineherd Eumaeus, for he hath been ever true to thee. Rest there
the night, and bid him go to the city on the day following, and
carry tidings to thy mother of thy safe return."
Then Telemachus woke the son of Nestor, touching him with his
heel, and saying: "Awake, son of Nestor, bring up thy horses, and
yoke them to the chariot, that we may go upon our way."
But Peisistratus made answer: "We may not drive through the
darkness, how eager soever we be to depart. Soon will it be dawn.
Tarry thou till Menelaus shall bring his gifts and set them on the
car, and send thee on thy way, for a guest should take thought of
the host that showeth him kindness."
And when the morning was come, and Menelaus was risen from his
bed, Telemachus spake to him, saying, "Menelaus, send me now with
all speed to my own country, for I am greatly desirous to go
To him Menelaus made answer: "I will not keep thee long, seeing
that thou desirest to return. But stay till I bring my gifts and
set them in the chariot. Let me also bid the women prepare the
meal in my hall, for it is both honour to me and a profit to you
that ye should eat well before ye set forth on a far journey. But
if thou wilt go further through the land, then let me go with
thee; to many cities will we go, and none will send us empty
But Telemachus said: "Not so, Menelaus; rather would I go back
straightway to mine own land, for I left none to watch over my
goods. It were ill done were I to perish seeking my father, or to
lose some precious possession out of my house."
Then Menelaus bade his wife and the maids prepare the meal, and
his squire he bade kindle a fire and roast flesh; and he himself
went to his treasury, and Helen and his son with him. He himself
took therefrom a double cup, and bade his son bear a mixing-bowl
of silver; as for Helen, she took from her chests a robe that she
had wrought with her own hands. The fairest it was of all, and
shone as shines a star, and it lay beneath all the rest.
Then said Menelaus: "Take this mixing-bowl; it is wrought of
silver, but the lips are finished with gold; the god Hephaestus
[Footnote: He-phaes'-tus.] wrought it with his own hands, and the
King of the Sidonians [Footnote: Si-do'-ni-ans.] gave it me. This
cup also I give thee."
And beautiful Helen came, holding the robe in her hands, and
spake, saying: "Take, dear child, this memorial of Helen's
handiwork; keep it against thy marriage day, for thy bride to
wear. Meanwhile, let thy mother have charge of it. And now mayest
thou return with joy to thy native country and thy home!"
Then they sat down to eat and drink; and when they had finished,
then did Telemachus and Nestor's son yoke the horses and climb
into the chariot.
But Menelaus came forth bringing wine in a cup of gold, that they
might pour out an offering to the gods before they departed. And
he stood before the horses, and spake, saying:—
"Farewell, gallant youths, and salute Nestor for me; verily, he
was as a father to me, when we were waging war against Troy."
To him Telemachus made answer: "That will we do; and may the gods
grant that I find my father at home and tell him what grace I have
found in thy sight!"
But even as he spake there flew forth at his right hand an eagle,
carrying a goose in his claws, that he had snatched from the yard,
and men and women followed it with loud shouting. Across the
horses it flew, still going to the right; and they were glad when
they saw it.
Then said Nestor's son: "Think, Menelaus! Did Zeus send this sign
to us or thee?"
But while Menelaus pondered the matter, Helen spake, saying: "Hear
me while I say what the gods have put in my heart. Even as this
eagle came down from the hill where he was bred, and snatched away
the goose from the house, so shall Ulysses come back to his home
after many wanderings, and take vengeance; yea, even now he is
there, plotting evil for the suitors."
Then they departed and sped across the plain. But when they came
the next day to Pylos, Telemachus said to Peisistratus: "Son of
Nestor, wilt thou be as a friend to me, and do my bidding? Leave
me at my ship; take me not past, lest the old man, thy father,
keep me out of his kindness against my will, for, indeed, I am
desirous to go home."
And Nestor's son did so. He turned his horses towards the shore
and the ship. And coming there, he took out the gifts, and laid
them in the hinder part of the ship. This done, he called
Telemachus and said: "Climb now into thy ship, and depart, ere I
can reach my home. Well I know that my father will come down, and
bid thee return with him to his house; nor, indeed, if he find
thee here, will he go back without thee, so wilful is he of
And Telemachus bade his companions climb on the ship; and they did
So they departed; and Athene sent a wind that blew from behind,
and they sped on their way.
Meanwhile Ulysses sat with the swineherd and his men, and supped.
And Ulysses, willing to try the man's temper, said: "In the
morning I would fain go to the city, to the house of Ulysses, for
I would not be burdensome to thee. Perchance the suitors might
give me a meal. Well could I serve them. No man can light a fire,
or cleave wood, or carve flesh, or pour out wine, better than I."
"Nay," said the swineherd, "thou hadst best not go among the
suitors, so proud and lawless are they. They that serve them are
not such as thou. They are young, and fair, and gaily clad, and
their heads are anointed with oil. Abide here; thou art not
burdensome to us; and when the son of Ulysses shall come, he will
give thee, may be, a mantle and a tunic."
Ulysses answered: "Now may Zeus bless thee for thy kindness, for
thou makest me to cease from my wanderings. Surely, nothing is
more grievous to a man than to wander; but hunger compels him.
Tell me now about the mother of Ulysses and about his father. Are
they yet alive?"
Then said the swineherd: "I will tell thee all. Laertes, the
father of Ulysses, yet lives; yet doth he daily pray to die, for
he sorroweth for his son, who is far away from his home, and for
his wife, who is dead. Verily, it was her death that brought him
to old age before his time. And it was of grief for her son that
she died. Much kindness did I receive at her hands, while she yet
lived; but now I lack it. As for my lady Penelope, a great trouble
hath fallen upon her house, even a plague of evil-minded men."
ULYSSES AND TELEMACHUS
Telemachus in his ship came safe to the island of Ithaca, at the
place that was nearest to the swineherd's house. There they
beached the ship, and made it fast with anchors at the fore part
and hawsers at the stern, and they landed, and made ready a meal.
When they had had enough of meat and drink, Telemachus said: "Take
now the ship to the city. I will come thither in the evening,
having first seen my farm; and then I will pay you your wages."
Now the herdsman and Ulysses had kindled a fire, and were making
And Ulysses heard the steps of a man, and, as the dogs barked not,
he said to Eumaeus, "Lo! there comes some comrade or friend, for
the dogs bark not."
And as he spake, Telemachus stood in the doorway; and the
swineherd let fall from his hand the bowl in which he was mixing
wine, and ran to him and kissed his head and his eyes and his
hands. As a father kisses his only son, coming back to him from a
far country after ten years, so did the swineherd kiss Telemachus.
And when Telemachus came in, the false beggar, though indeed he
was his father, rose, and would have given place to him; but
Telemachus allowed him not to do so. And when they had eaten and
drunk, Telemachus asked of the swineherd who this stranger might
Then the swineherd told him what he had heard, and afterwards
said, "I hand him to thee; do as thou wilt."
But Telemachus answered: "Nay, Eumaeus. For am I master in my
house? Do not the suitors devour it? And does not my mother doubt
whether she will abide with me, remembering the great Ulysses, who
was her husband, or will follow some one of those who are suitors
to her? I will give this stranger, indeed, food and clothing and a
sword, and will send him whithersoever he will, but I would not
that he should go among the suitors, so haughty are they and
Then said Ulysses: "But why dost thou bear with these men? Do the
people hate thee, that thou canst not avenge thyself on them? and
hast thou not kinsmen to help thee? As for me, I would rather die
than see such shameful things done in a house of mine."
And Telemachus answered: "My people hate me not; but as for
kinsmen, I have none, for my grandfather had but one son, Laertes,
and he but one, Ulysses, and Ulysses had none other but me.
Therefore do these men spoil my substance, and, it may be, will
take my life also. These things, however, the gods will order. But
do thou, Eumaeus, go to Penelope, and tell her that I am returned;
and let no man know thereof, for they plan evil against me; but I
will stay here meanwhile."
So Eumaeus departed. And when he had gone, Athene came, like a
woman tall and fair; but Telemachus saw her not, for it is not
given to all to see the immortal gods; but Ulysses saw her, and
the dogs saw her, and whimpered for fear. She signed to Ulysses,
and he went forth, and she said:—
"Hide not the matter from thy son, but plan with him how ye may
slay the suitors, and lo! I am with you."
Then she touched him with her golden wand. First she put about him
a fresh robe of linen and new tunic. Also she made him larger and
fairer to behold. More dark did he grow, and his cheeks were
rounded again, and the beard spread out black upon his chin.
Having so done, she passed away. But when Ulysses went into the
hut, his son looked at him, greatly marvelling. Indeed, he feared
that it might be some god.
"Stranger," he said, "surely thou art not what thou wast but a
moment since; other garments hast thou, and the colour of thy skin
is changed. Verily, thou must be some god from heaven. Stay
awhile, that we may offer to thee sacrifice, so shalt thou have
mercy on us!"
Ulysses made answer, "I am no god; I am thy father, for whom thou
hast sought with much trouble of heart."
So saying, he kissed his son, and let fall a tear, but before he
had kept in his tears continually.
But Telemachus, doubting yet whether this could indeed be his
father, made reply: "Thou canst not be my father; some god
deceiveth me that I may have sorrow upon sorrow. No mortal man
could contrive this, making himself now young, now old, at his
pleasure. A moment since thou wast old, and clad in vile garments;
now thou art as one of the gods in heaven."
But Ulysses answered him, saying: "Telemachus, it is not fitting
for thee to marvel so much at thy father's coming home. It is
indeed my very self who am come, now at last in the twentieth
year, having suffered many things and wandered over many lands.
And this at which thou wonderest is Athene's work; she it is that
maketh me now like to an old man and a beggar and now to a young
man clad in rich raiment."
So speaking, he sat him down again, and Telemachus threw himself
upon his father's neck and wept, and his father wept also. And
when they had dried their tears, Telemachus said, "Tell me how
thou camest back, my father?"
So Ulysses told him, saying: "The Phaeacians brought me back from
their country while I slept. Many gifts did they send with me.
These have I hidden in a cave. And to this place have I come by
the counsel of Athene, that we may plan together for the slaying
of the suitors. But come, tell me the number of the suitors, how
many they are and what manner of men. Shall we twain be able to
make war upon them or must we get the help of others?"
Then said Telemachus: "Thou art, I know, a great and wise warrior,
my father, but this thing we cannot do; for these men are not ten,
no, nor twice ten, but from Dulichium [Footnote: Du-lich'-i-um.]
come fifty and two, and from Samos four and twenty, and from
Zacynthus [Footnote: Za-cyn'-thus.] twenty, and from Ithaca
twelve; and they have Medon, the herald, and a minstrel also, and
Then said Ulysses: "Go thou home in the morning and mingle with
the suitors, and I will come as an old beggar; and if they treat
me shamefully, endure to see it, yea, if they drag me to the door.
Only, if thou wilt, speak to them prudent words; but they will not
heed thee, for indeed their doom is near. Heed this also: when I
give thee a sign, take all the arms from the dwelling and hide
them in thy chamber. And when they shall ask thee why thou doest
thus, say that thou takest them out of the smoke, for that they
are not such as Ulysses left behind him when he went to Troy, but
that the smoke has soiled them. Say, also, that perchance they
might stir up strife sitting at their cups, and that it is not
well that arms should be at hand, for that the very steel draws on
a man to fight. But keep two swords and two spears and two
shields—these shall be for thee and me. Only let no one know of
my coming back—not Laertes, nor the swineherd; no, nor Penelope
Meanwhile the ship of Telemachus came to the city, and a herald
went to the palace with tidings for Penelope, lest she should be
troubled for her son. So these two, the herald and the swineherd,
came together, having the same errand. The herald spake out among
the handmaids, saying: "O Queen, thy son is returned from Pylos!"
But the swineherd went up to Penelope by herself, and told her all
that Telemachus had bidden him to say. When he had so done, he
turned about, and went home to his house and to the swine.
But the suitors were troubled in heart; and Eurymachus said: "This
is a bold thing that Telemachus hath done. He hath accomplished
his journey, which we said he never would accomplish. Let us,
therefore, get rowers together, and send a ship, that we may bid
our friends come back with all the speed they may."
But even while he spake, Amphinomus [Footnote: Am-phi'-no-mus.]
turned him about, and saw the ship in the harbour, and the men
lowering the sails. Then he laughed and said: "No need is there to
send a message, for the men themselves have come. Maybe some god
hath told them; maybe they saw the ship of Telemachus go by, and
could not overtake it."
Then all the suitors went together to the place of assembly, and
Antinous stood up and spake: "See how the gods have delivered this
man! All day long our scouts sat and watched upon the headlands,
one man taking another's place; and at sunset we rested not on the
shore, but sailed on the sea, waiting for the morning. Yet some
god hath brought him home. Nevertheless, we will bring him to an
evil end, for so long as he liveth we shall not accomplish our
end. Let us make haste before he assemble the people and tell them
how we plotted against him. Then will they hate us, and we shall
be driven forth from the land. Let us slay him, therefore, either
in the field or by the way; and let us divide his possessions, but
his house will we give to his mother and to him who shall marry
Then spake Amphinomus,—not one of the suitors was of a more
understanding heart than he,—"Friends, I would not that
Telemachus should be slain; it is a fearful thing to slay the son
of a king. First, let us ask counsel of the gods. If the oracles
of Zeus approve, then will I slay him with mine own hand; but if
they forbid, then I would have you refrain."
Thereupon they departed from the place of assembly, and went to
the house of Ulysses.
Now Penelope had heard from Medon, the herald, how the suitors had
plotted to slay her son; therefore she went to the hall, and her
maidens with her, and stood in the door, holding her veil before
her face, and spake, saying:—
"Antinous, men say that thou art the best in counsel and speech of
all the princes of Ithaca. But, in truth, I do find thee thus.
Dost thou plot against the life of my son, having no regard for
the gods, nor any memory of good deeds? Dost thou not remember how
thy father fled to this house, fearing the anger of the people?
Yet it is this man's house that thou dost waste, and his son that
thou wouldest slay."
But Eurymachus made answer: "Take courage, wise Penelope, and let
not thy heart be troubled. The man is not, nor shall be born, who
shall raise a hand against Telemachus, so long as I live upon the
earth. Many a time hath Ulysses set me upon his knees, and given
me roasted flesh, and held the wine-cup to my lips. Therefore
Telemachus is the dearest of men to me. Fear not death for him
from the suitors."
So he spake, as if he would comfort her; but all the while he
plotted the death of her son.
After this she went to her chamber, and wept for her lord till
Athene dropped sweet sleep upon her eyes.
Meanwhile the swineherd went back to his home. But before he came
Athene changed Ulysses again into the likeness of a beggar man,
lest he should know him and tell the matter to Penelope.
Telemachus spake to him, saying: "What news is there in the city?
Are the suitors come back from their ambush, or do they still
watch for my ship?"
Eumaeus answered: "I did not think to go about the city asking
questions; but I will tell what I know. The messenger from thy
company joined himself to me, and, indeed, was the first to tell
the news to the Queen. This also I know, that I saw a ship
entering the harbour, and that there were many men in her, and
spears, and shields. These, perchance, were the suitors, but I
know not of a certainty."
Then Telemachus looked to his father, but the swineherd's eye he
ULYSSES IN HIS HOME
When the morning came, Telemachus said to the swineherd: "I go to
the city, for my mother will not be satisfied till she see my very
face. And do thou lead this stranger to the city, that he may
there beg his bread from any that may have the mind to give."
Thereupon Ulysses spake, saying, "I too, my friend, like not to be
left here. It is better for a man to beg his bread in the town
than in the fields. Go thou, and I will follow, so soon as the sun
shall wax hot, for my garments are exceeding poor, and I fear lest
the cold overcome me."
So Telemachus went his way, devising evil against the suitors all
the while. And when he came to the house his nurse Eurycleia saw
him first, and kissed him. Penelope also came down from her
chamber, and cast her arms about him, and kissed him on the face,
and on both the eyes, and spake, saying: "Thou art come,
Telemachus, light of mine eyes! I thought not ever to see thee
again. But tell me, what news didst thou get of thy father?"
And Telemachus related what Nestor and Menelaus had told him.
Meanwhile the suitors were disporting themselves, casting weights
and aiming with spears in a level place. And when it was the time
for supper, Medon, the herald, said, "Come now, let us sup; meat
in season is a good thing."
So they made ready a feast.
Now in the meanwhile Eumaeus and the false beggar were coming to
the city. And when they were now near to it, Melanthius [Footnote:
Me-lan'-thi-us.], the goatherd, met them, and spake evil to
Eumaeus, rebuking him because he brought this beggar to the city.
And he came near and smote Ulysses with his foot on the thigh, but
moved him not from the path. And Ulysses thought awhile, should he
smite him with his club and slay him, or dash him on the ground.
But it seemed to him better to endure.
So they went on to the palace. And at the door of the court there
lay the dog Argus, whom in the old days Ulysses had reared with
his own hand. But ere the dog grew to his full, Ulysses had sailed
to Troy. And while he was strong, men used him in the chase,
hunting wild goats and roe-deer and hares. But now he lay on a
dunghill, and vermin swarmed upon him. Well he knew his master,
and, although he could not come near to him, he wagged his tail
and drooped his ears.
And Ulysses, when he saw him, wiped away a tear, and said, "Surely
this is strange, Eumaeus, that such a dog of so fine a breed
should lie here upon a dunghill."
And Eumaeus made reply: "He belongeth to a master who died far
away. For, indeed, when Ulysses had him of old, he was the
strongest and swiftest of dogs; but now my dear lord has perished
far away, and the careless women tend him not. For when the master
is away the slaves are careless of their duty. Surely a man, when
he is made a slave, loses half the virtue of a man."
And as he spake the dog Argus died. Twenty years had he waited,
and saw his master at the last. After this the two entered the
hall. And Telemachus, when he saw them, took from the basket bread
and meat, as much as his hands could hold, and bade carry them to
the beggar, and also to tell him that he might go round among the
suitors, asking alms. So he went, stretching out his hand, as
though he were wont to beg; and some gave, having compassion upon
him, and some asked who he was. But of all, Antinous was the most
shameless. For when Ulysses came to him and told him how he had
had much riches and power in former days, and how he had gone to
Egypt, and had been sold a slave into Cyprus, Antinous mocked him,
"Get thee from my table, or thou shalt find a worse Egypt and a
harder Cyprus than before."
Then Ulysses said, "Surely thy soul is evil though thy body is
fair; for though thou sittest at another man's feast, yet wilt
thou give me nothing."
Then Antinous caught up the footstool that was under his feet, and
smote Ulysses therewith. But he stood firm as a rock; and in his
heart he thought on revenge. So he went and sat down at the door.
And being there, he said:—
"Hear me, suitors of the Queen! Antinous has smitten me because
that I am poor. May the curse of the hungry light on him therefor,
ere he come to his marriage day!"
Then spake Antinous, "Sit thou still, stranger, and eat thy bread
in silence, lest the young men drag thee from the house, or strip
thy flesh from off thy bones."
So he spake in his insolence; but the others blamed him, saying:
"Antinous, thou didst ill to smite the wanderer; there is a doom
on such deeds, if there be any god in heaven. Verily, the gods oft
times put on the shape of men, and go through cities, spying out
whether there is righteous dealing or unrighteous among them."
But Antinous heeded not. As for Telemachus, he nursed a great
sorrow in his heart to see his father so smitten; yet he shed not
a tear, but sat in silence, meditating evil against the suitors.
When Penelope also heard how the stranger had been smitten in the
hall, she spake to her maidens, saying, "So may Apollo, the
archer, smite Antinous!"
Then Eurynome [Footnote: Eu-ryn'-o-me.], that kept the house, made
answer: "O that our prayers might be fulfilled! Surely not one of
these evil men should see another day."
To her replied Penelope: "Yea, nurse, all are enemies, but
Antinous is the worst. Verily, he is as hateful as death."
Then Penelope called to the swineherd and said: "Go now, and bring
this stranger to me; I would greet him, and inquire of him whether
he has heard tidings of Ulysses, or, it may be, seen him with his
eyes, for he seems to have wandered far."
Eumaeus made answer: "Truly this man will charm thy heart, O
Queen! Three days did I keep him in my dwelling, and he never
ceased from telling of his sorrows. As a singer of beautiful songs
charmeth men, so did he charm me. He saith that he is a Cretan,
and that he hath heard of Ulysses, that he is yet alive, and that
he is bringing much wealth to his home."
Then said Penelope: "Go, call the man, that I may speak with him.
O that Ulysses would indeed return! Soon would he and his son
avenge them of these men, for all the wrong that they have done!"
And as she spake, Telemachus sneezed, and all the house rang with
the noise. And Penelope said again to Eumaeus: "Call now this
stranger; didst thou not mark the good omen, how my son sneezed
when I spake? Verily, this vengeance shall be wrought, nor shall
one escape from it. And as for this stranger, if I shall perceive
that he hath spoken truth, I will give him a new mantle and
So the swineherd spake to the stranger, saying: "Penelope would
speak with thee, and would inquire concerning her husband. And if
she find that thou hast spoken truth, she will give thee a mantle
and a tunic, and thou shalt have freedom to beg throughout the
But the false beggar said: "Gladly would I tell to Penelope the
story of her husband, for I know him well. But I fear these
suitors. Even now, when this man struck me, and for naught, none
hindered the blow, no, not Telemachus himself. Go, therefore, and
bid the Queen wait till the setting of the sun."
So the swineherd went, and as he crossed the threshold Penelope
said: "Thou bringest him not! What meaneth the wanderer? A beggar
that is shamefaced knoweth his trade but ill."
But the swineherd answered: "He doeth well, O lady, in that he
fearest the wrong-doing of these insolent men. He would have thee
wait till the setting of the sun, and indeed it is better for thee
to have speech with him alone."
Then said Penelope: "It is well; the stranger is a man of
understanding. Verily, these men are insolent above all others."
Then the swineherd went into the throng of the suitors, and spake
to Telemachus, holding his head close that none should hear: "I go
to see after matters at the farm. Take thou heed of what befalleth
here. Many of the people have ill-will against us. May Zeus
Telemachus made answer, "Go, as thou sayest and come again in the
morning, bringing beasts for sacrifice."
So the swineherd departed; and the suitors made merry in the hall.
ULYSSES IN HIS HOME (continued)
After awhile there came a beggar from the city, huge of bulk,
mighty to eat and drink, but his strength was not according to his
size. The young men called him Irus [Footnote: I'-rus], because he
was their messenger, after Iris [Footnote: I'-ris], the messenger
of Zeus. He spake to Ulysses:—
"Give place, old man, lest I drag thee forth; the young men even
now would have it so, but I think it shame to strike such an one
Then said Ulysses, "There is room for thee and for me; get what
thou canst, for I do not grudge thee aught, but beware lest thou
anger me, lest I harm thee, old though I am."
But Irus would not hear words of peace, but still challenged him
And when Antinous saw this he was glad, and said: "This is the
goodliest sport that I have seen in this house. These two beggars
would fight; let us haste and match them."
And the saying pleased them; and Antinous spake again: "Hear me,
ye suitors of the Queen! We have put aside these paunches of the
goats for our supper. Let us agree, then, that whosoever of these
two shall prevail, shall have choice of these, that which pleaseth
him best, and shall hereafter eat with us, and that no one else
shall sit in his place."
Then said Ulysses: "It is hard for an old man to fight with a
young. Yet will I do it. Only do ye swear to me that no one shall
strike me a foul blow while I fight with this man."
Then Telemachus said that this should be so, and they all
consented to his words. And after this Ulysses girded himself for
the fight. And all that were there saw his thighs, how great and
strong they were, and his shoulders, how broad, and his arms, how
mighty. And they said one to another, "There will be little of
Irus left, so stalwart seems this beggar man." But as for Irus
himself, he would have slunk out of sight, but they that were set
to gird him compelled him to come forth.
Then said Antinous: "How is this, thou braggart, that thou fearest
this old man, all woebegone as he is?"
So the two came together. And Ulysses thought whether he should
strike the fellow and slay him, or fell him to the ground. And
this last seemed the better of the two. So when Irus had dealt him
his blow, he smote him on the jaw, and brake the bone, so that he
fell howling on the ground, and the blood poured from his mouth.
Then all the suitors laughed aloud. But Ulysses dragged the fellow
out of the hall, and propped him by the wall of the courtyard,
putting a staff in his hand, and saying, "Sit there, and keep dogs
and swine from the door, but dare not hereafter to lord it over
men, no, not even ov'r strangers and beggars, lest some worse
thing befall thee."
Then Antinous gave Ulysses a great paunch, and Amphinomus gave two
loaves, and pledged him in a cup, saying, "Good luck to thee,
hereafter, though now thou seemest to have evil fortune!"
ULYSSES IS DISCOVERED BY HIS NURSE
And when the suitors had departed, Ulysses spake to Telemachus,
saying: "Come now, let us hide away the arms that are in the hall.
And if any of the suitors ask concerning them, thou shalt say, 'I
have put them away out of the smoke, for they are not such as they
were when Ulysses departed, for the breath of fire hath marred
them. And for this cause also have I put them away, lest ye should
quarrel and wound one another when ye are heated with wine; for
the sight of iron tempteth a man to strike.' So shalt thou speak
to the suitors."
Then said Telemachus to Eurycleia, the nurse, "Shut up the women
in their chambers, till I have put away in the armoury the weapons
of my father, for the smoke in the hall hath made them dim."
The nurse made answer: "I wish, my child, that thou wouldest ever
have such care for thy father's possessions! But say, who shall
bear the light, if thou wilt not have any of the women to go
Then said Telemachus, "This stranger shall do it, for I will not
have any man eat my bread in idleness."
So the nurse shut up the women in their chambers, and Ulysses and
his son set themselves to carry the shields and the helmets and
the spears, from the hall into the armoury. And Athene went ever
before them, holding a lamp of gold, that shed a very fair light.
Thereupon said Telemachus: "Surely, my father, this is a great
wonder that I behold! See the walls, and the beams, and the
pillars are bright, as it were with flames of fire. This must be
the doing of a god."
But Ulysses made answer: "Hold thy peace; keep the matter in thine
heart, and inquire not concerning it. And now lie down and sleep,
for I would talk with thy mother."
So Telemachus went to his chamber, and slept, and Ulysses was left
alone in the hall, devising in his heart how he might slay the
And now Penelope came down, and sat by the fire, on a chair
cunningly wrought of silver and ivory, with a footstool that was
part of the chair. And soon the maidens came in, and took away the
fragments of food that were left, and the cups from which the
suitors drank, and piled fresh logs on the fire.
Then Penelope called to the nurse, saying, "Nurse, bring me now a
settle with a fleece upon it, that the stranger may sit and tell
me his story."
So the nurse brought the settle and the fleece, and Ulysses sat
him down; and Penelope spake, saying: "Stranger, I will ask thee
first who art thou? Whence didst thou come? What is thy city and
thy father's name?"
Ulysses made answer: "Ask me now other things as thou wilt; but
ask me not of my name, or my race, or my native country, lest I
weep as I think thereon, for I am a man of many sorrows; and it is
not fitting to mourn and weep in the house of another."
To him Penelope made reply: "Stranger, I am sore beset with
troubles. For the princes of the islands round about, yea and of
Ithaca itself, woo me against my will, and devour my house. Vainly
have I sought to escape their wooing. For Athene put this into my
heart that I should say to them: 'Noble youths that would wed me,
now that Ulysses is dead, abide patiently, though ye be eager to
hasten the marriage, till I shall have finished this winding-sheet
for Laertes; for it were a shame, if he, having had great wealth,
should lie in his grave without a winding-sheet.' So I spake, and
they gave consent. Three years did I deceive them, weaving the web
by day, and by night unravelling it; but in the fourth year my
handmaids betrayed me. And now I have no escape from marriage, for
my parents urge me, and my son is vexed because these men devour
his substance, and he is now of an age to manage his own house.
But come, tell me of what race thou art; thou art not born of an
oak tree or a rock, as the old fables have it."
Then said Ulysses: "If thou wilt still ask me of my race, then
will I tell thee; but thou wilt so bring sorrow upon me beyond
that to which I am bound; for it is grief to a man who hath
wandered far and suffered much to speak of the matter."
So Ulysses told his tale. False it was, but it seemed to be true.
And Penelope wept to hear it. As the snow melts upon the hills
when the southeast wind bloweth, and the streams run full, so did
Penelope weep for her lord. And Ulysses had compassion on his
wife, when he saw her weep; but his own eyes he kept as if they
had been horn or iron.
But Penelope said: "Friend, suffer me to make trial of thee,
whether this was indeed my husband Ulysses. Tell me now with what
raiment he was clothed, and what manner of man he was, and what
Then Ulysses made answer: "I remember that he had a mantle,
twofold, woollen, of sea-purple, clasped with a brooch of gold,
whereon was a dog that held a fawn by the throat; marvellously
wrought was the dog and the fawn. Also he had a tunic, white and
smooth, even as the skin of an onion when it is dry, which the
women much admired to see. But whether some one had given him
these things I know not, for, indeed, many gave him gifts, and I
also, even a sword and a tunic. Also he had a herald with him, one
Eurybates [Footnote: Eu-ryb'-a-tes.], older than he, dark-skinned,
round in the shoulders, with curly hair."
When Penelope heard this she wept yet more, for she knew by these
tokens that this man was indeed her lord. "This is true," she
said, "O stranger, for I myself gave him these garments, and I
folded them myself, and I also gave him the jewel. And now, alas!
I shall see him no more."
But Ulysses made answer: "Nay, wife of Ulysses, say not so. Cease
from thy mourning, for Ulysses is yet alive. Near at hand is he,
in the land of the Thesprotians, and is bringing many gifts with
him. So the king of the land told me, and showed me the gifts
which he had gathered; many they were and great, and will enrich
his house to the tenth generation. But Ulysses himself, when I was
there, had gone to Dodona [Footnote: Do-do'-na.], to inquire of
Zeus—for there is the oracle of the god in the midst of an oak
tree—whether he shall return to his home openly or by stealth.
Be sure, O lady, that in this tenth year Ulysses shall come, even
when the old moon waneth and the new is born."
Then said Penelope: "May thy words be accomplished, O stranger!
Verily, thou shouldest have much kindness at my hands and many
gifts. Yet I have a boding in my heart that it shall not be. But
now the handmaids shall spread a bed for thee with mattress and
blankets that thou mayest sleep warm till morning shall come. And
they shall wash thy feet."
But Ulysses spake, saying: "Mattress and blankets have been
hateful to me since I left the land of Crete. I will lie as I have
been wont to lie for many nights, sleepless and waiting for the
day. And I have no delight in the bath; nor shall any of these
maidens touch my feet. Yet if there be some old woman, faithful of
heart, her I would suffer to touch my feet."
Then said Penelope: "Such an one there is, even the woman who
nursed my lord, and cherished him, and carried him in her arms,
from the time when his mother bare him. She is now weak with age,
but she will wash thy feet."
And she spake to the nurse, saying, "Up, now, and wash this man,
who is of like age with thy master."
Then the old woman covered her face with her hands and wept,
saying: "Willingly will I wash thy feet both for Penelope's sake
and thine own. Many strangers, worn with travel, have come hither,
but never saw I one that was so like to Ulysses in voice and in
And Ulysses made answer, "Even so have I heard before; men said
ever that we were most like one to the other."
But when she had made ready the bath, then Ulysses sat aloof from
the hearth, and turned his face to the darkness, for he feared in
his heart lest, when the old woman should handle his leg, she
might know a great scar thereon, where he had been rent by the
tusks of a wild boar.
By this scar, then, the old nurse knew that it was Ulysses
himself, and said, "O Ulysses, O my child, to think that I knew
And she looked towards the Queen, as meaning to tell the thing to
her. But Ulysses laid his hand on her throat and said softly:
"Mother, wouldest thou kill me? I am returned after twenty years,
and none must know till I shall be ready to take vengeance."
And the old woman held her peace. And after this Penelope talked
with him again, telling him her dreams, how she had seen a flock
of geese in her palace, and how that an eagle had slain them, and
when she mourned for the geese, lo! a voice that said, "These
geese are thy suitors, and the eagle thy husband."
And Ulysses said that the dream was well. And then she said that
on the morrow she must make her choice, for she had promised to
bring forth the great bow of Ulysses, and whosoever should draw it
most easily, and shoot an arrow best at a mark, he should be her
And Ulysses made answer to her: "It is well, lady. Put not off
this trial of the bow, for before one of them shall draw the
string, the great Ulysses shall come and duly shoot at the mark
that shall be set."
After this Penelope slept.
THE TRIAL OF THE BOW
Ulysses laid him down to sleep in the gallery of the hall. On a
bull's hide he lay, and over him he put fleeces of sheep that had
been slain for sacrifice and feast, and the dame that kept the
house threw a mantle over him.
And he slept not, for he had many thoughts in his heart, but
turned him from side to side, thinking how, being one against
many, he might slay the suitors in his hall.
Then Athene came down from Olympus, and stood over his head,
having taken upon herself the likeness of a woman. And she spake,
saying: "Wakest thou still, man of many troubles? Is not this thy
house? And is not thy wife within, and thy son, a noble lad?"
Ulysses made answer: "This is true, O goddess. But I think how I,
being one against many, can slay the suitors in my hall."
Then answered the goddess: "Verily, thou art weak in faith. Some
put trust in men, yet men are weaker than the gods; why trustest
not thou in me? Verily, I am with thee, and will keep thee to the
end. But now sleep, for to watch all the night is vexation of
So saying, she poured sleep upon his eyes and went back to
When the morning came Ulysses awoke, and he took up the fleeces,
and set them on a seat in the hall, and the bull's hide he carried
without. Then he lifted up his hands to Zeus, and prayed, saying,
"O Father Zeus, if thou hast led me to mine own country of good
will, then give me a sign."
And even as he spake Zeus thundered from Olympus; and Ulysses
heard it, and was glad. Also a woman at the mill spake a word of
omen. Twelve women there were that ground the meal, wheat, and
barley. Eleven of these were now sleeping, for they had finished
their task; but this one, being weakest of all, was still
grinding. And now she stayed her work, and said: "Surely, Father
Zeus, this is a sign, for thou hast thundered in a clear sky.
Grant now that this be the last meal that I shall grind for the
suitors in the house of Ulysses!"
Afterwards came Telemachus, and spake to the nurse, saying, "Hast
thou given to the guest food and bedding, or doth he lie uncared
The nurse made answer: "The stranger drank as much as he would,
and ate till he said that he had had enough; but blankets and a
mattress he would not have; on an hide he slept, with fleeces of
sheep above. Also we cast a mantle over him."
Next came the swineherd, leading three fatted hogs, the best of
all the herd. And he said. "Stranger, do these men treat thee
Ulysses made answer, "May the gods repay them as they have dealt
insolently with me!"
Afterwards came Melanthius, the goatherd, having goats for the
feast of the day. And he spake to Ulysses bitter words: "Wilt thou
still plague us, stranger, with thy begging? Verily, I think that
we shall not part till we have made trial of each other with our
fists. Thy begging is not to be borne; and there are other feasts
whither thou mightest go."
But Ulysses answered him not a word.
Last came Philoetius [Footnote: Phi-loe'-ti-us.], the cattleherd,
bringing a heifer for the feast of the suitors. He spake to
Ulysses, saying: "May happiness come to thee, stranger, hereafter!
Now thou art encompassed with sorrows. Mine eyes are full of tears
as I behold thee, for it may be that Ulysses is clad in vile
garments like to these, wandering about among men, if, indeed, he
is yet alive. But if he is dead, that, indeed, is a great sorrow.
For he set me over his cattle, and these are now increased beyond
all counting; never have herds increased more plentifully.
Nevertheless, it vexeth my heart because strangers are ever
devouring them in his hall. Verily, I would have fled long since,
for the thing is past all enduring, but that I hope to see Ulysses
yet come again to his own."
Then Ulysses made answer: "Cattleherd, thou art a man of an
understanding heart. Now hearken to what I shall say. While thou
art still in this place, Ulysses shall come home, and thou shalt
see it with thine eyes, yea, and the slaying of the suitors also."
And after awhile the suitors came and sat down, as was their wont,
to the feast. And the servants bare to Ulysses, as Telemachus had
bidden, a full share with the others. And when Ctesippus, a prince
of Samos, saw this (he was a man heedless of right and of the
gods), he said: "Is it well that this fellow should fare even as
we? Look now at the gift that I shall give him." Thereupon he
took a bullock's foot out of a basket wherein it lay, and cast
it at Ulysses.
But he moved his head to the left and shunned it, and it flew on,
marking the wall. And Telemachus cried in great wrath:—
"It is well for thee, Ctesippus [Footnote: Cte-sip'-pus.], that
thou didst not strike this stranger. For surely, hadst thou done
this thing, my spear had pierced thee through, and thy father had
made good cheer, not for thy marriage, but for thy burial."
Then said Agelaus [Footnote: A-ge-la'-us.]: "This is well said.
Telemachus should not be wronged, no, nor this stranger. But, on
the other hand, he must bid his mother choose out of the suitors
whom she will, and marry him, nor waste our time any more."
Telemachus said: "It is well. She shall marry whom she will. But
from my house I will never send against her will."
After this Penelope went to fetch the great bow of Ulysses. From
the peg on which it hung she took it with its sheath, and, sitting
down, she laid it on her knees and wept over it, and after this
rose up and went to where the suitors sat feasting in the hall.
The bow she brought, and also the quiver full of arrows, and,
stalling by the pillar of the dome, spake thus:—
"Ye suitors, who devour this house, lo! here is a proof of your
skill. Here is the bow of the great Ulysses. Whoever shall bend it
easiest in his hands, and shoot an arrow most easily through the
holes in the heads of the twelve axes that Telemachus shall set
up, him will I follow, leaving this house, which I shall remember
only in my dreams."
Then she bade Eumaeus bear the bow and the arrows to the suitors.
And the good swineherd wept to see his master's bow, and
Philoetius, the herdsman of the kine, wept also, for he was a good
man, and loved the house of Ulysses.
Then Telemachus planted in order the axes wherein were the holes,
and was minded himself to draw the bow; and indeed would have done
the thing, but Ulysses signed to him that he should not. Therefore
he said, "Methinks I am too weak and young; ye that are elder
should try the first."
Then first Leiodes [Footnote: Lei-o'-des.], the priest, who alone
among the suitors hated their evil ways, made trial of the bow.
But he moved it not, but wearied his hands with it, for they were
tender, and unaccustomed to toil. And he said, "I cannot bend this
bow; let some other try; but I think that it shall be grief and
pain to many this day."
And Antinous was wroth to hear such words, and bade Melanthius
bring forth a roll of fat, that they might anoint the string and
soften it. So they softened the string with fat, but still could
they not bend it, for they all of them tried in vain, till only
Antinous and Eurymachus were left, who, indeed, were the bravest
and the strongest of them all.
Now the swineherd and the herdsman of the kine had gone forth out
of the yard, and Ulysses came behind them and said: "What would ye
do if Ulysses were to come back to his home? Would ye fight for
him or for the suitors?"
And both said that they would fight for him.
And Ulysses said: "It is even I who am come back in the twentieth
year, and ye, I know, are glad at heart that I am come; nor know I
of any one besides. And if ye will help me as brave men to-day,
wives shall ye have, and possessions and houses near to mine own.
And ye shall be brothers and comrades to Telemachus. And for a
sign, behold this scar which the wild boar made."
Then they wept for joy and kissed Ulysses, and he also kissed
them. And he said to Eumaeus that he should bring the bow to him
when the suitors had tried their fortune therewith; also that he
should bid the women keep within doors, nor stir out if they
should hear the noise of battle. And Philoetius he bade lock the
doors of the hall, and fasten them with a rope.
After this he came back to the hall, and Eurymachus had the bow in
his hands, and sought to warm it at the fire. Then he essayed to
draw it, but could not. And he groaned aloud, saying: "Woe is me!
not for loss of this marriage only, for there are other women to
be wooed in Greece, but that we are so much weaker than the great
Ulysses. This is, indeed, shame to tell."
Then said Antinous: "Not so; to-day is a holy day of the god of
archers; therefore we could not draw the bow. But to-morrow will
we try once more, after sacrifice to Apollo."
And this saying pleased them all; but Ulysses said, "Let me try
this bow; for I would fain know whether I have such strength as I
had in former days."
At this all the suitors were wroth, and chiefly Antinous, but
Penelope said that it should be so, and promised the man great
gifts if he could draw this bow.
But Telemachus spake thus: "Mother, the bow is mine to give or to
refuse. And no man shall say me nay, if I will that this stranger
make trial of it. But do thou go to thy chamber with thy maidens,
and let men take thought for these things."
And this he said because he would have her depart from the hall
forthwith, knowing what should happen therein. But she marvelled
to hear him speak with such authority, and answered not, but
departed. And when Eumaeus would have carried the bow to Ulysses,
the suitors spake roughly to him, but Telemachus constrained him
to go. Therefore he took the bow and gave it to his master. Then
went he to Eurycleia, and bade her shut the door of the women's
chambers and keep them within, whatsoever they might hear.
Then Ulysses handled the great bow, trying it, whether it had
taken any hurt, but the suitors thought scorn of him. Then, when
he had found it to be without flaw, just as a minstrel fastens a
string upon his harp and strains it to the pitch, so he strung the
bow without toil; and holding the string in his right hand, he
tried its tone, and the tone was sweet as the voice of a swallow.
Then he took an arrow from the quiver, and laid the notch upon the
string and drew it, sitting as he was, and the arrow passed
through every ring, and stood in the wall beyond. Then he said to
"There is yet a feast to be held before the sun go down."
And he nodded the sign to Telemachus. And forthwith the young man
stood by him, armed with spear and helmet and shield.
THE SLAYING OF THE SUITORS
Then spake Ulysses among the suitors: "This labour has been
accomplished. Let me try at yet another mark."
And he aimed his arrow at Antinous. But the man was just raising a
cup to his lips, thinking not of death, for who had thought that
any man, though mightiest of mortals, would venture on such a
deed, being one among many? Right through the neck passed the
arrow-head, and the blood gushed from his nostrils, and he dropped
the cup and spurned the table from him.
And all the suitors, when they saw him fall, leapt from their
seats; but when they looked, there was neither spear nor shield
upon the wall. And they knew not whether it was by chance or of
set purpose that the stranger had smitten him. But Ulysses then
declared who he was, saying:—
"Dogs, ye thought that I should never come back! Therefore have ye
devoured my house, and made suit to my wife while I yet lived, and
feared not the gods nor regarded men. Therefore a sudden
destruction is come upon you all."
Then when all the others trembled for fear, Eurymachus said: "If
thou be indeed Ulysses of Ithaca, thou hast said well. Foul wrong
has been done to thee in the house and in the field. But lo! he
who was the mover of it all lieth here, even Antinous. Nor was it
so much this marriage that he sought, as to be king of this land,
having destroyed thy house. But we will pay thee back for all that
we have devoured, even twenty times as much."
But Ulysses said: "Speak not of paying back. My hands shall not
cease from slaying till I have taken vengeance on you all."
Then said Eurymachus to his comrades: "This man will not stay his
hands. He will smite us all with his arrows where he stands. But
let us win the door, and raise a cry in the city; soon then will
this archer have shot his last."
And he rushed on, with his two-edged knife in his hand. But as he
rushed, Ulysses smote him on the breast with an arrow, and he fell
forwards. And when Amphinomus came on, Telemachus slew him with
his spear, but drew not the spear from the body, lest some one
should smite him unawares.
Then he ran to his father and said, "Shall I fetch arms for us and
"Yea," said he, "and tarry not, lest my arrows be spent."
So he fetched from the armoury four shields and four helmets and
eight spear. And he and the servants, Eumaeus and Philoetius,
armed themselves. Also Ulysses, when his arrows were spent, donned
helmet and shield, and took a mighty spear in each hand. But
Melanthius, the goatherd, crept up to the armoury and brought down
there from twelve helmets and shields, and spears as many. And
when Ulysses saw that the suitors were arming themselves, he
feared greatly, and said to his son:—
"There is treachery here. It is one of the women, or, it may be,
Melanthius, the goatherd."
And Telemachus said, "This fault is mine, my father, for I left
the door of the chamber unfastened."
And soon Eumaeus spied Melanthius stealing up to the chamber
again, and followed him, and Philoetius with him. There they
caught him, even as he took a helmet in one hand and a shield in
the other, and bound his feet and hands, and fastened him aloft by
a rope to the beams of the ceiling.
Then these two went back to the hall, and there also came Athene,
having the shape of Mentor. Still, for she would yet further try
the courage of Ulysses and his son, she helped them not as yet,
but, changing her shape, sat on the roof-beam like unto a swallow.
And then cried Agelaus: "Friends, Mentor is gone, and helps them
not. Let us not cast our spears at random, but let six come on
together; perchance we may prevail against them."
Then they cast their spears, but Athene turned them aside, one to
the pillar, and another to the door, and another to the wall. But
Ulysses and Telemachus and the two herdsmen slew each his man; and
yet again they did so, and again. Only Amphimedon [Footnote: Am-
phim'-e-don.]wounded Telemachus, and Ctesippus grazed the shoulder
of Eumaeus. But Telemachus struck down Amphimedon, and the
herdsman of the kine slew Ctesippus, saying: "Take this, for the
ox-foot which thou gavest to our guest." And all the while Athene
waved her flaming shield from above and the suitors fell as birds
are scattered and torn by eagles.
Then Leiodes, the priest, made supplication to Ulysses, saying: "I
never wrought evil in this house, and would have kept others from
it, but they would not. Naught have I done save serve at the
altar; wherefore, slay me not."
And Ulysses made reply, "That thou hast served at the altar of
these men is enough, and also that thou wouldest wed my wife."
So he slew him; but Phemius, the minstrel, he spared, for he had
sung among the suitors in the hall because he had been compelled,
and not of his own will; and also Medon, the herald, bidding them
go into the yard without. There they sat, holding by the altar and
looking fearfully every way, for they still feared that they
So the slaughtering of the suitors was ended; and now Ulysses bade
cleanse the hall and wash the benches and the tables with water,
and purify them with sulphur; and when this was done, that
Eurycleia, the nurse, should go to Penelope and tell her that her
husband was indeed returned.
THE END OF THE WANDERING
Eurycleia went to the chamber of her mistress, bearing the glad
tidings. She made haste in her great joy, and her feet stumbled
one over the other. And she stood by the head of Penelope, and
spake, saying: "Awake, dear child, and see with thine eyes that
which thou hast desired so long. For, indeed, Ulysses hath come
back, and hath slain the men that devoured his substance."
But Penelope made answer: "Surely, dear nurse, the gods have
bereft thee of thy sense; and verily, they can make the wisdom of
the wise to be foolishness, and they can give wisdom to the
simple. Why dost thou mock me, rousing me out of my sleep, the
sweetest that hath ever come to my eyes since the day when Ulysses
sailed for Troy, most hateful of cities? Go, get thee to the
chamber of the women! Had another of the maids roused me in this
fashion, I had sent her back with a sharp rebuke, But thine old
age protects thee."
Then said the nurse: "I mock thee not, dear child. In very truth
Ulysses is here. He is the stranger to whom such dishonour was
done. But Telemachus knew long since who he was, and hid the
matter, that they might take vengeance on the suitors."
Then was Penelope glad, and she leapt from bed, and fell upon the
neck of the old woman, weeping, and saying, "Tell me now the
truth, whether, indeed, he hath come home, and hath slain the
suitors, he being but one man, and they many."
The nurse made answer: "How it was done I know not; only I heard
the groaning of men that were slain. Amazed did we women sit in
our chamber till thy son called me. Then I found Ulysses standing
among the dead, who lay one upon another. Verily, thou hadst been
glad at heart to see him, so like to a lion was he, all stained
with blood and the labour of the fight. And now the suitors lie in
a heap, and he is purifying his house with brimstone. But come,
that ye may have an end of all the sorrow that ye have endured,
for thy desire is fulfilled. Thy husband hath come back, and hath
avenged him to the full on these evil men."
But Penelope said: "Dear nurse, be not too bold in thy joy. Thou
knowest how gladly I would see him. But this is not he; it is one
of the gods that hath slain the suitors, being wroth at their
insolence and wrong-doing. But Ulysses himself hath perished."
Then the nurse spake, saying: "What is that thou sayest? That thy
husband will return no more, when he is even now in his own house?
Nay, thou art, indeed, slow to believe. Hear now this manifest
token that I espied with mine eyes,—the scar of the wound that
long since a wild boar dealt him with his tusk. I saw it when I
washed his feet, and would fain have told thee, but he laid his
hand upon my mouth, and in his wisdom suffered me not to speak."
To her Penelope made answer: "It is hard for thee to know the
purposes of the gods. Nevertheless, I will go to my son, that I
may see the suitors dead, and the man that slew them."
So she went and sat in the twilight by the other wall, and Ulysses
sat by a pillar, with eyes cast down, waiting till his wife should
speak to him. But she was sore perplexed; for now she seemed to
know him, and now she knew him not, for he had not suffered that
the women should put new robes upon him.
And Telemachus said: "Mother, evil mother, sittest thou apart from
my father, and speakest not to him? Surely thy heart is harder
than a stone."
But Ulysses said: "Let be, Telemachus. Thy mother will know that
which is true in good time. But now let us hide this slaughter for
awhile, lest the friends of these men seek vengeance against us.
Wherefore, let there be music and dancing in the hall, so that men
shall say, 'This is the wedding of the Queen, and there is joy in
the palace,' and know not of the truth."
So the minstrel played and the women danced. And meanwhile Ulysses
went to the bath, and clothed himself in bright apparel, and came
back to the hall, and Athene made him fair and young to see. Then
he sat him down as before, over against his wife, and said:—
"Surely, O lady, the gods have made thee harder of heart than all
other women. Would another wife have kept away from her husband,
coming back now after twenty years?"
And when she doubted yet, he spake again: "Hear thou this,
Penelope, and know that it is I indeed. I will tell thee of the
fashion of my bed. There grew an olive in the inner court, with a
stem of the bigness of a pillar. Round this did I build the
chamber, and I roofed it over, and put doors upon it. Then I
lopped off the boughs of the olive, and made it into the bedpost.
Afterwards, beginning from this, I wrought the bedstead till I had
finished it, inlaying the work with gold and silver and ivory. And
within I fastened a band of ox-hide that had been dyed with
purple. Whether the bedstead be now fast in its place, or whether
some one hath moved it—and verily, it was no light thing to move
—I know not. But this was its fashion of old."
Then Penelope knew him, that he was her husband indeed, and ran to
him, and threw her arms about him and kissed him, saying: "Pardon
me, my lord, if I was slow to know thee; for ever I feared that
some one should deceive me, saying that he was my husband. But now
I know this, that thou art he and not another."
And they wept over each other and kissed each other. So did
Ulysses come back to his home after twenty years.
THE TRIUMPH OF ULYSSES
Meanwhile, Ulysses went forth from his palace to the dwelling of
Laertes, that was in the fields. There the old man dwelt, and a
woman of Sicily cared for him. And Ulysses spake to his son and to
the shepherds, saying: "Go ye into the house and prepare a meal of
swine's flesh, as savoury as may be; and I will make trial of my
father, whether he will know me. For it may well be that he hath
forgotten me, seeing that I have been now a long time absent."
So spake Ulysses, and gave also his arms to the men to keep for
him. So they went into the house. And Ulysses went to the orchard,
making search for his father. There he found not Dolius [Footnote:
Do'-li-us.], that was steward to Laertes, nor any one of his
servants, nor of his sons, for they were gone to make a fence
about the field. Only the old man he found; and he was busy
digging about a tree. Filthy was the tunic that he had about him
and sewn with thread; and he had coverings of ox-hide on his legs
to keep them from the thorns, and gloves upon his hands, and a cap
of dog-skin on his head. And when Ulysses saw him, how that he was
worn with old age and very sorrowful, he stood under a pear tree
and wept. Then for awhile he took counsel with himself, whether he
should kiss his father and embrace him, and make himself known,
and tell him how he had come back to his home, or should first
inquire of him, and learn all that he would know. And he judged it
best first to inquire. So he came near to the old man; and the old
man was digging about a tree, having his head bent down.
Then said Ulysses: "Verily, old man, thou lackest not skill to
deal with an orchard. And truly, neither fig, nor vine, nor olive,
nor pear may flourish in a garden without care. But yet another
thing will I say to thee, and be not thou wroth when thou hearest
it. Thy garden, indeed, is well cared for, but thou thyself art in
evil plight. For old age lieth heavy upon thee, and thou art clad
in filthy garments. Yet truly it is not because thou art idle that
thy master thus dealeth with thee; nor, indeed, art thou in any
wise like unto a slave; for thy face and thy stature are as it
might be of a king. Such an one as thou art should wash himself,
and sit down to meat, and sleep softly; for such is the right of
old age. But come, tell me truly, whose servant art thou? Whose
orchard dost thou tend? Tell me this also: is this, indeed, the
land of Ithaca to which I am come? This, indeed, a certain man
that I met as I came hither told me, but he seemed to be but of
simple mind, nor would he listen to my words, nor tell me of a
friend that I have who dwelleth in this place, whether he be alive
or dead. I entertained him a long time since in my house, and
never was there stranger whom I loved more than him. And he said
that he was the son of Laertes, and that he came from the land of
To him Laertes made answer, weeping the while: "Doubt not,
stranger, that thou art come to the land of which thou inquirest.
But unrighteous and violent men have it in possession. But as for
the son of Laertes, hadst thou found him here, verily, he would
have sent thee away with many gifts. But tell me truly, is it long
time since thou didst give him entertainment? For, indeed, he is
my son, unhappy man that I am. Surely either he hath been drowned
in the sea, and the fishes have devoured him, or wild beasts and
birds of the air have eaten him upon the land. And neither father
nor mother, nor his wife, Penelope, most prudent of women, could
make lamentation for him and lay him out for his burial. But tell
me, who art thou? Where is thy city, and what thy parentage? Did
thine own ship bring thee hither, and thy companions with thee, or
didst thou come as a trader upon the ship of another?"
Then said Ulysses: "All this I will tell thee truly. My name is
Eperitus.[Footnote: E-per'-i-tus.] It was of the doing of the gods
that I came hither from the land of Sicily, and not of mine own
will. And my ship is moored hard by. As for Ulysses, it is now the
fifth year since he left me. Yet verily, the omens were good when
he went forth on his journey, so that we both rejoiced, thinking
that he would journey safely, and that we should be friends the
one to the other in the time to come."
So spake Ulysses; and when the old man, his father, heard these
words, great grief came upon him, and he took up the dust in his
hands and poured it upon the white hairs of his head. And the
heart of Ulysses was moved within him as he saw it, and he was
ready to weep when he beheld his father. Then he threw his arms
about him and kissed him, and said: "My father, here am I, thy son
for whom thou weepest. Lo! I am come back to my native country
after twenty years, and I have avenged myself on them that sought
my wife in marriage, slaying them all."
To him the old man made answer, "If thou art my very son Ulysses,
tell me some clear sign whereby I may know thee."
Then said Ulysses: "See, now, this scar upon my thigh where the
wild boar wounded me on Mount Parnassus.[Footnote: Par nas'-sus.]
For thou and my mother sent me to my grandfather, and I was
wounded in the hunting. And let this also be a sign to thee. I
will tell thee what trees of the orchard thou gavest me long
since, when I was a boy and walked with thee, inquiring of thee
their names. Thirteen pear trees didst thou give me, and ten apple
trees, and of fig trees two score. Fifty rows also of vines didst
thou promise to give me when the time of grapes should come."
And the old man's heart was moved within him, and his knees failed
him, for he knew that the signs were true. And he threw his arms
about his son, and the spirit of the old man revived, and he said:
"Now I know that there are gods in heaven when I hear that these
evil men have been punished for their wrong-doing. Nevertheless, I
fear much lest their kinsmen shall stir up the men of Ithaca and
of the islands round about against us."
Then said Ulysses: "Trouble not thyself with these matters, my
father. Let us go rather to the house. There are Telemachus and
Eumaeus, and the keeper of the herds, and they have made ready,
that we may dine."
So they went to the house, and found Telemachus and his companions
cutting flesh for the dinner and mixing the wine. Then the woman
of Sicily washed the old man Laertes and anointed him with oil,
and clad him in a fair cloak. And Athene also stood by him, and
made him taller and sturdier to look on than before. And his son
marvelled to behold him, so fair he was and like to the gods that
live forever, so that he spake to him, saying, "O my father,
surely one of the gods that live forever hath made thee fair to
look upon and tall!"
And Laertes made answer: "Would to God that I had stood by you
yesterday, taking vengeance on the suitors, with the strength I
had of old. Many a man would I have slain with my spear, and thou
wouldest have rejoiced in thy heart."
Thus spake they together. And when the dinner was ready they sat
down to meat; and the old man Dolius, with his sons, approached,
coming in from their labour; for the woman of Sicily, that was the
mother of the lads, had called them. And when they saw Ulysses,
they stood amazed and speechless. And Ulysses said, "Cease to
wonder, old man, at this sight, and sit down to meat; truly we are
ready for our meat, and have waited long time for you."
Then Dolius ran to him, stretching forth both his hands, and
caught the hand of Ulysses and kissed it on the wrist. And he
spake, saying: "Right glad are we at thy coming, for we looked not
for thee. Surely it is of the gods that thou hast returned. May
all things be well with thee. But tell me this. Knoweth Queen
Penelope of thy coming, or shall I send a messenger to tell her?"
"Verily, she knoweth it," said Ulysses. Then the old man sat down
to meat, and his sons also, when they had greeted Ulysses.
In the meanwhile there spread through the city the tidings how the
suitors had been slain; and the kindred of the men came to the
house of Ulysses with many groans and tears, and carried away the
dead bodies and buried them. But such as came from other lands
they put on shipboard, that they might carry them to the
sepulchres of their fathers. And when these things were ended they
gathered themselves together in the marketplace; and Eupeithes
[Footnote: Eu-pei'-thes.] stood up amongst them, being sore
troubled in his heart for his son Antinous, whom Ulysses had slain
first of all the suitors. He stood up, therefore, in the midst,
and spake: "Surely this man hath wrought great evils in this land.
First he took comrades with him to Troy, many in number and brave.
These all he lost, and their ships also. And now he hath come
hither and slain the princes of the people. Shame it were to us,
yea, among the generations to come, if we avenge not ourselves on
them that have slain our sons and our brothers. Verily, I desire
not life, if such should go unpunished. Come, therefore, let us
make haste, lest they cross over the sea and so escape."
So Eupeithes spake, weeping the while. And all the people had pity
to hear him. But Medon, the herald, stood up in the assembly and
spake, saying: "Hear me, men of Ithaca! Verily, Ulysses did not
all these things without the helping of the gods that live
forever. I, indeed, saw with mine own eyes one of the gods
standing by Ulysses, being like to Prince Mentor in shape. By
Ulysses there stood a god, and strengthened him; and another was
there among the suitors, troubling them so that they fell."
Thus spake Medon, the herald, and after him stood up Alitherses
[Footnote: A-li-ther'-ses.], the seer, that knew all things that
had been and should be hereafter, and spake, saying: "It is of
your folly, ye men of Ithaca, that all these things have come to
pass. Ye would not hearken to me, no, nor to Mentor, nor would ye
restrain your sons from their folly. Great wickedness did they
work, wasting the goods of a brave man, and making suit to his
wife, for they thought not that he would return. Come now, hearken
unto me, lest some worse evil befall you."
Then some indeed rose up and made haste to depart; and these were
the greater part; but the others remained in their places, for
they liked not the counsel of Medon and the seer, but regarded the
words of Eupeithes. Then they clad themselves in their armour and
marched to the city, Eupeithes leading them.
Then spake Athene to Zeus: "Tell me, my father, what dost thou
purpose in thy heart? Wilt thou that there be strife or friendship
between these two?"
To her Zeus made answer: "Why dost thou inquire this thing of me?
Was it not of thy contriving that Ulysses slew the suitors in his
palace? Order it as thou wilt. But let there be peace and
friendship in the end, that Ulysses may prosper in the land, and
the people dwell in happiness about him."
Then Athene departed, and came to the land of Ithaca.
And when Ulysses and they that sat with him had made an end of
eating and drinking, the King said, "Let some one go forth and see
whether these men are near at hand."
So the son of Dolius went forth. And as he stood on the threshold
he saw them approaching, and cried: "They are even now close at
hand; let us arm ourselves in all haste."
So they armed themselves. With Ulysses were Telemachus, and
Eumaeus, and the keeper of the herds. Also there stood with him
six sons of Dolius; and the two old men also, Laertes and Dolius,
though their heads were white with age. And as they went forth
from the house Athene came near, having the form and the voice of
Prince Mentor. And when Ulysses saw her, he was glad at heart, and
spake to Telemachus, saying, "I know thee well, my son, that thou
wilt bear thyself bravely, and do no dishonour to the house of thy
fathers, that have ever been famous in the land for courage and
Telemachus answered, "This, my father, thou shalt see for thyself,
if thou wilt."
And Laertes was glad at heart, and said, "How happy is this day,
in the which my son and my grandson contend one with the other in
Then Athene came near to the old man, and said, "Laertes, pray
thou first to Athene and Father Zeus, and then cast thy spear."
So she spake, and breathed great strength into his heart. And
having prayed, he cast his spear, and smote Eupeithes through the
helmet, so that he fell dead upon the ground. Then Ulysses and his
son fell upon the men of Ithaca with swords and two-handed spears.
Verily, they had slain them all, but that Athene cried aloud,
saying: "Cease, men of Ithaca, from the battle, for it is too hard
And the men were sore afraid when they heard her voice, and threw
their arms upon the ground and fled, if haply they might escape to
the city. And when Ulysses would have pursued after them, Zeus
cast a thunderbolt from heaven, so that it fell before the feet of
Athene. And Athene cried, "Cease from the battle, son of Laertes,
lest Zeus be wroth with thee."
So Ulysses was stayed from the battle; and Zeus and Athene made
peace between the King and the men of Ithaca.
PRONUNCIATION OF PROPER NAMES
Pronounce ae, as in Caesar; ei as i in island; oe as ae;
y, when accented, as i in island; when unaccented, as i in
Pronounce ch as k. C and g are soft (as s and j) before
ei, i, ae, oe, eu; otherwise, hard, as k; and g (in
A-chil'-les. AE-gis'-thus. AE-gyp'-tus. AE'-o-lus. AE-to'-li-an.
Ag-a-mem'-non. A-ge-la'-us. A'-jax. Al-cin'-o-us. A-li-ther'-ses.
Am-phim'-e-don. Am-phin'-o-mus. An-tin'-o-us. A-pol'-lo. A-re'-te.
A-re-thu'-sa. Ar'-te-mis. A-the'-ne. A'-treus.
Ca-lyp'-so. Cau-co'-ni-ans. Cha-ryb'-dis. Ci'-co-nes. Cir'-ce.
Cte-sip'-pus. Cy-clo'-pes. Cy'-clops.
De-mod'-e-cus. Do-do'-na. Do'-li-s. Du-lich'-i-um.
E-che-ne'-us. E'-lis. El-pe'-nor. E-per'-i-tus. Eu-mae'-us
Eu-pei'-thes. Eu-ryb'-a-tes. Eu-ry-clei'-a. Eu-ryl'-o-dus.
Ha'-des. He'-ra. Her'-mes. He-phaes-tus.
I'-no. I'-ris. I-rus. Ith'-a-ca.
La-ce-dae'-mon. La-er'-tes. La'-mos. Laes'-try-gons. La-o'-da-mas.
Me'-don. Me-lan'-thi-us. Me-ne-la'-us. Men'-tes. Men'-tor.
O-gyg'-i-a. O-lym'-pus. O-ri'-on.
Par-nas'-sus. Pa-tro'-clus. Pei-sis'-tra-tus. Pe-nel'-o-pe.
Phae-a'-ci-aus. Pha'-ros. Phe'-mi-us. Phe'-rae. Phi-loe'-ti-us.
Phoe-ni'-ci-aus. Phor'-cys. Plei'-a-des. Po-li'-des.
Pol-y-phe'-mus. Po-sei'-don. Pro'-teus. Py'-los.
Sa'-mos. Si-do'-ni-ans. Scyl'-la.
Ta'-phi-ans. Tei-re'-si-as. Te-lem'-a-chus. Thes-pro'-ti-a.
As many of the Greek gods are better known under the names given
to them by the Romans, the following list is given:—
(Pallas) Athene. Minerva.