Young Folks' Treasury: Classic Tales and Old-Fashioned Stories HTML version

While Odysseus was fighting far away in Troyland, his baby son grew to be a big boy. And when
years passed and Odysseus did not return, the boy, Telemachus, grew to be a man.
Telemachus loved his beautiful mother, Penelope, but his heart always longed for the hero father
whom he could only dimly remember. As time went on, he longed more and more, for evil things
came to pass in the kingdom of Odysseus.
The chiefs and lords of Ithaca admired Penelope for her beauty. They also coveted her money
and her lands, and when Odysseus did not return, each one of these greedy and wicked men
wished to marry her and make his own all that had belonged to brave Odysseus.
"Odysseus is surely dead," they said, "and Telemachus is only a lad and cannot harm us."
So they came to the palace where Penelope and Telemachus lived, and there they stayed, year in,
year out, feasting and drinking and wasting the goods of Odysseus. Their roughness and greed
troubled Penelope, but still more did they each one daily torment her by rudely asking: "Wilt
thou marry me?"
At last she fell on a plan to stop them from talking to her of marriage.
In the palace hall she set up a great web, beautiful and fine of woof.
Then she said, "When I have finished weaving this robe I shall give you my answer."
Each day she worked at it, but each night, when the wooers [pg 120] slept, she undid all that she had
done during the day. So it seemed to the wooers as if the robe would never be finished.
Penelope's heart was heavy, and heavy, too, was the heart of Telemachus. For three weary years,
while Odysseus was imprisoned on the island of Calypso, the mother and son pined together.
One day Telemachus sat at the door of the palace sadly watching the wooers as they drank and
reveled. He was thinking of the brave father that he feared was dead, when there walked up to
the door of the courtyard a stranger dressed like a warrior from another land.
The stranger was the goddess Athene. At the same time that she gained leave from the gods to
set Odysseus free, they had agreed that she should go to Ithaca and help Telemachus. But she
came dressed as a warrior, and not as a beautiful, gray-eyed, golden-haired goddess with golden
sandals on her feet.