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The Odyssey – Book I The Odyssey
reaching home. Tell me, too, about all these things, O daughter of Jove, from whatsoever source you may know them.
So now all who escaped death in battle or by shipwreck had got safely home except Ulysses, and he, Homer
though he was longing to return to his wife and country, was detained by the goddess Calypso, who Translated by Samuel Butler
had got him into a large cave and wanted to marry him. But as years went by, there came a time when BOOK I
the gods settled that he should go back to Ithaca; even then, however, when he was among his own TELL ME, O MUSE, of that ingenious hero who trav-people, his troubles were not yet over; nevertheless elled far and wide after he had sacked the famous all the gods had now begun to pity him except Nep-town of Troy. Many cities did he visit, and many tune, who still persecuted him without ceasing and were the nations with whose manners and customs would not let him get home.
he was acquainted; moreover he suffered much by Now Neptune had gone off to the Ethiopians, sea while trying to save his own life and bring his who are at the world’s end, and lie in two halves, men safely home; but do what he might he could the one looking West and the other East. He had not save his men, for they perished through their gone there to accept a hecatomb of sheep and oxen, own sheer folly in eating the cattle of the Sun-god and was enjoying himself at his festival; but the Hyperion; so the god prevented them from ever other gods met in the house of Olympian Jove, and 3
The Odyssey – Book I the sire of gods and men spoke first. At that mo-friends. It is an island covered with forest, in the ment he was thinking of Aegisthus, who had been very middle of the sea, and a goddess lives there, killed by Agamemnon’s son Orestes; so he said to daughter of the magician Atlas, who looks after the the other gods:
bottom of the ocean, and carries the great columns
“See now, how men lay blame upon us gods for that keep heaven and earth asunder. This daughter what is after all nothing but their own folly. Look of Atlas has got hold of poor unhappy Ulysses, and at Aegisthus; he must needs make love to keeps trying by every kind of blandishment to make Agamemnon’s wife unrighteously and then kill him forget his home, so that he is tired of life, and Agamemnon, though he knew it would be the death thinks of nothing but how he may once more see of him; for I sent Mercury to warn him not to do the smoke of his own chimneys. You, sir, take no either of these things, inasmuch as Orestes would heed of this, and yet when Ulysses was before Troy be sure to take his revenge when he grew up and did he not propitiate you with many a burnt sacri-wanted to return home. Mercury told him this in fice? Why then should you keep on being so angry all good will but he would not listen, and now he with him?”
has paid for everything in full.” And Jove said, “My child, what are you talking Then Minerva said, “Father, son of Saturn, King about? How can I forget Ulysses than whom there of kings, it served Aegisthus right, and so it would is no more capable man on earth, nor more liberal any one else who does as he did; but Aegisthus is in his offerings to the immortal gods that live in neither here nor there; it is for Ulysses that my heart heaven? Bear in mind, however, that Neptune is bleeds, when I think of his sufferings in that lonely still furious with Ulysses for having blinded an eye sea-girt island, far away, poor man, from all his of Polyphemus king of the Cyclopes. Polyphemus 4
The Odyssey – Book I is son to Neptune by the nymph Thoosa, daughter dals, imperishable, with which she can fly like the to the sea-king Phorcys; therefore though he will wind over land or sea; she grasped the redoubtable not kill Ulysses outright, he torments him by pre-bronze-shod spear, so stout and sturdy and strong, venting him from getting home. Still, let us lay our wherewith she quells the ranks of heroes who have heads together and see how we can help him to displeased her, and down she darted from the top-return; Neptune will then be pacified, for if we are most summits of Olympus, whereon forthwith she all of a mind he can hardly stand out against us.” was in Ithaca, at the gateway of Ulysses’ house, dis-And Minerva said, “Father, son of Saturn, King guised as a visitor, Mentes, chief of the Taphians, of kings, if, then, the gods now mean that Ulysses and she held a bronze spear in her hand. There she should get home, we should first send Mercury to found the lordly suitors seated on hides of the oxen the Ogygian island to tell Calypso that we have which they had killed and eaten, and playing made up our minds and that he is to return. In the draughts in front of the house. Men-servants and meantime I will go to Ithaca, to put heart into pages were bustling about to wait upon them, some Ulysses’ son Telemachus; I will embolden him to mixing wine with water in the mixing-bowls, some call the Achaeans in assembly, and speak out to the cleaning down the tables with wet sponges and lay-suitors of his mother Penelope, who persist in eating them out again, and some cutting up great quan-ing up any number of his sheep and oxen; I will tities of meat.
also conduct him to Sparta and to Pylos, to see if Telemachus saw her long before any one else did.
he can hear anything about the return of his dear He was sitting moodily among the suitors thinking father- for this will make people speak well of him.” about his brave father, and how he would send them So saying she bound on her glittering golden san-flying out of the house, if he were to come to his 5
The Odyssey – Book I own again and be honoured as in days gone by. Thus basin for them to wash their hands, and she drew a brooding as he sat among them, he caught sight of clean table beside them. An upper servant brought Minerva and went straight to the gate, for he was them bread, and offered them many good things of vexed that a stranger should be kept waiting for what there was in the house, the carver fetched them admittance. He took her right hand in his own, and plates of all manner of meats and set cups of gold bade her give him her spear. “Welcome,” said he, by their side, and a man-servant brought them wine
“to our house, and when you have partaken of food and poured it out for them.
you shall tell us what you have come for.” Then the suitors came in and took their places He led the way as he spoke, and Minerva fol-on the benches and seats. Forthwith men servants lowed him. When they were within he took her poured water over their hands, maids went round spear and set it in the spear- stand against a strong with the bread-baskets, pages filled the mixing-bowls bearing-post along with the many other spears of with wine and water, and they laid their hands upon his unhappy father, and he conducted her to a richly the good things that were before them. As soon as decorated seat under which he threw a cloth of dam-they had had enough to eat and drink they wanted ask. There was a footstool also for her feet, and he music and dancing, which are the crowning embel-set another seat near her for himself, away from the lishments of a banquet, so a servant brought a lyre suitors, that she might not be annoyed while eating to Phemius, whom they compelled perforce to sing by their noise and insolence, and that he might ask to them. As soon as he touched his lyre and began her more freely about his father.
to sing Telemachus spoke low to Minerva, with his A maid servant then brought them water in a head close to hers that no man might hear.
beautiful golden ewer and poured it into a silver
“I hope, sir,” said he, “that you will not be of-6
The Odyssey – Book I fended with what I am going to say. Singing comes particularly all about it. I am Mentes, son of cheap to those who do not pay for it, and all this is Anchialus, and I am King of the Taphians. I have done at the cost of one whose bones lie rotting in come here with my ship and crew, on a voyage to some wilderness or grinding to powder in the surf.
men of a foreign tongue being bound for Temesa If these men were to see my father come back to with a cargo of iron, and I shall bring back copper.
Ithaca they would pray for longer legs rather than a As for my ship, it lies over yonder off the open coun-longer purse, for money would not serve them; but try away from the town, in the harbour Rheithron he, alas, has fallen on an ill fate, and even when under the wooded mountain Neritum. Our fathers people do sometimes say that he is coming, we no were friends before us, as old Laertes will tell you, longer heed them; we shall never see him again.
if you will go and ask him. They say, however, that And now, sir, tell me and tell me true, who you are he never comes to town now, and lives by himself and where you come from. Tell me of your town in the country, faring hardly, with an old woman to and parents, what manner of ship you came in, how look after him and get his dinner for him, when he your crew brought you to Ithaca, and of what na-comes in tired from pottering about his vineyard.
tion they declared themselves to be- for you cannot They told me your father was at home again, and have come by land. Tell me also truly, for I want to that was why I came, but it seems the gods are still know, are you a stranger to this house, or have you keeping him back, for he is not dead yet not on the been here in my father’s time? In the old days we mainland. It is more likely he is on some sea-girt had many visitors for my father went about much island in mid ocean, or a prisoner among savages himself.”
who are detaining him against his will I am no And Minerva answered, “I will tell you truly and prophet, and know very little about omens, but I 7
The Odyssey – Book I speak as it is borne in upon me from heaven, and people? What is it all about? Have you some ban-assure you that he will not be away much longer; quet, or is there a wedding in the family- for no one for he is a man of such resource that even though seems to be bringing any provisions of his own?
he were in chains of iron he would find some means And the guests- how atrociously they are behaving; of getting home again. But tell me, and tell me true, what riot they make over the whole house; it is can Ulysses really have such a fine looking fellow enough to disgust any respectable person who comes for a son? You are indeed wonderfully like him about near them.”
the head and eyes, for we were close friends before
“Sir,” said Telemachus, “as regards your question, he set sail for Troy where the flower of all the Argives so long as my father was here it was well with us went also. Since that time we have never either of and with the house, but the gods in their displea-us seen the other.”
sure have willed it otherwise, and have hidden him
“My mother,” answered Telemachus, tells me I away more closely than mortal man was ever yet am son to Ulysses, but it is a wise child that knows hidden. I could have borne it better even though his own father. Would that I were son to one who he were dead, if he had fallen with his men before had grown old upon his own estates, for, since you Troy, or had died with friends around him when ask me, there is no more ill-starred man under the days of his fighting were done; for then the heaven than he who they tell me is my father.” Achaeans would have built a mound over his ashes, And Minerva said, “There is no fear of your race and I should myself have been heir to his renown; dying out yet, while Penelope has such a fine son as but now the storm-winds have spirited him away you are. But tell me, and tell me true, what is the we know not wither; he is gone without leaving so meaning of all this feasting, and who are these much as a trace behind him, and I inherit nothing 8
The Odyssey – Book I but dismay. Nor does the matter end simply with him any, but my father let him have some, for he grief for the loss of my father; heaven has laid sor-was very fond of him. If Ulysses is the man he then rows upon me of yet another kind; for the chiefs was these suitors will have a short shrift and a sorry from all our islands, Dulichium, Same, and the wedding.
woodland island of Zacynthus, as also all the prin-
“But there! It rests with heaven to determine cipal men of Ithaca itself, are eating up my house whether he is to return, and take his revenge in his under the pretext of paying their court to my own house or no; I would, however, urge you to set mother, who will neither point blank say that she about trying to get rid of these suitors at once. Take will not marry, nor yet bring matters to an end; so my advice, call the Achaean heroes in assembly to-they are making havoc of my estate, and before long morrow -lay your case before them, and call heaven will do so also with myself.” to bear you witness. Bid the suitors take themselves
“Is that so?” exclaimed Minerva, “then you do off, each to his own place, and if your mother’s mind indeed want Ulysses home again. Give him his hel-is set on marrying again, let her go back to her fa-met, shield, and a couple lances, and if he is the ther, who will find her a husband and provide her man he was when I first knew him in our house, with all the marriage gifts that so dear a daughter drinking and making merry, he would soon lay his may expect. As for yourself, let me prevail upon hands about these rascally suitors, were he to stand you to take the best ship you can get, with a crew once more upon his own threshold. He was then of twenty men, and go in quest of your father who coming from Ephyra, where he had been to beg has so long been missing. Some one may tell you poison for his arrows from Ilus, son of Mermerus.
something, or (and people often hear things in this Ilus feared the ever-living gods and would not give way) some heaven-sent message may direct you.
The Odyssey – Book I First go to Pylos and ask Nestor; thence go on to of you to talk to me in this way, as though I were Sparta and visit Menelaus, for he got home last of your own son, and I will do all you tell me; I know all the Achaeans; if you hear that your father is you want to be getting on with your voyage, but alive and on his way home, you can put up with stay a little longer till you have taken a bath and the waste these suitors will make for yet another refreshed yourself. I will then give you a present, twelve months. If on the other hand you hear of his and you shall go on your way rejoicing; I will give death, come home at once, celebrate his funeral rites you one of great beauty and value- a keepsake such with all due pomp, build a barrow to his memory, as only dear friends give to one another.” and make your mother marry again. Then, having Minerva answered, “Do not try to keep me, for I done all this, think it well over in your mind how, would be on my way at once. As for any present by fair means or foul, you may kill these suitors in you may be disposed to make me, keep it till I come your own house. You are too old to plead infancy again, and I will take it home with me. You shall any longer; have you not heard how people are sing-give me a very good one, and I will give you one of ing Orestes’ praises for having killed his father’s no less value in return.”
murderer Aegisthus? You are a fine, smart looking With these words she flew away like a bird into fellow; show your mettle, then, and make yourself the air, but she had given Telemachus courage, and a name in story. Now, however, I must go back to had made him think more than ever about his fa-my ship and to my crew, who will be impatient if I ther. He felt the change, wondered at it, and knew keep them waiting longer; think the matter over for that the stranger had been a god, so he went straight yourself, and remember what I have said to you.” to where the suitors were sitting.
“Sir,” answered Telemachus, “it has been very kind Phemius was still singing, and his hearers sat rapt 10
The Odyssey – Book I in silence as he told the sad tale of the return from and who sends weal or woe upon mankind accord-Troy, and the ills Minerva had laid upon the ing to his own good pleasure. This fellow means no Achaeans. Penelope, daughter of Icarius, heard his harm by singing the ill-fated return of the Danaans, song from her room upstairs, and came down by for people always applaud the latest songs most the great staircase, not alone, but attended by two warmly. Make up your mind to it and bear it; Ulysses of her handmaids. When she reached the suitors is not the only man who never came back from Troy, she stood by one of the bearing posts that supported but many another went down as well as he. Go, the roof of the cloisters with a staid maiden on ei-then, within the house and busy yourself with your ther side of her. She held a veil, moreover, before daily duties, your loom, your distaff, and the order-her face, and was weeping bitterly.
ing of your servants; for speech is man’s matter,
“Phemius,” she cried, “you know many another and mine above all others—for it is I who am mas-feat of gods and heroes, such as poets love to cel-ter here.”
ebrate. Sing the suitors some one of these, and let She went wondering back into the house, and laid them drink their wine in silence, but cease this sad her son’s saying in her heart. Then, going upstairs tale, for it breaks my sorrowful heart, and reminds with her handmaids into her room, she mourned me of my lost husband whom I mourn ever withher dear husband till Minerva shed sweet sleep over out ceasing, and whose name was great over all her eyes. But the suitors were clamorous through-Hellas and middle Argos.”
out the covered cloisters, and prayed each one that
“Mother,” answered Telemachus, “let the bard sing he might be her bed fellow.
what he has a mind to; bards do not make the ills Then Telemachus spoke, “Shameless,” he cried, they sing of; it is Jove, not they, who makes them,
“and insolent suitors, let us feast at our pleasure 11
The Odyssey – Book I now, and let there be no brawling, for it is a rare are many great men in Ithaca both old and young, thing to hear a man with such a divine voice as and some other may take the lead among them; Phemius has; but in the morning meet me in full nevertheless I will be chief in my own house, and assembly that I may give you formal notice to de-will rule those whom Ulysses has won for me.” part, and feast at one another’s houses, turn and Then Eurymachus, son of Polybus, answered, “It turn about, at your own cost. If on the other hand rests with heaven to decide who shall be chief among you choose to persist in spunging upon one man, us, but you shall be master in your own house and heaven help me, but Jove shall reckon with you in over your own possessions; no one while there is a full, and when you fall in my father’s house there man in Ithaca shall do you violence nor rob you.
shall be no man to avenge you.” And now, my good fellow, I want to know about The suitors bit their lips as they heard him, and this stranger. What country does he come from? Of marvelled at the boldness of his speech. Then, what family is he, and where is his estate? Has he Antinous, son of Eupeithes, said, “The gods seem brought you news about the return of your father, to have given you lessons in bluster and tall talk-or was he on business of his own? He seemed a ing; may Jove never grant you to be chief in Ithaca well-to-do man, but he hurried off so suddenly that as your father was before you.” he was gone in a moment before we could get to Telemachus answered, “Antinous, do not chide know him.”
with me, but, god willing, I will be chief too if I can.
“My father is dead and gone,” answered Is this the worst fate you can think of for me? It is Telemachus, “and even if some rumour reaches me no bad thing to be a chief, for it brings both riches I put no more faith in it now. My mother does in-and honour. Still, now that Ulysses is dead there deed sometimes send for a soothsayer and question 12
The Odyssey – Book II him, but I give his prophecyings no heed. As for the the door of his bed room and sat down upon the stranger, he was Mentes, son of Anchialus, chief of bed; as he took off his shirt he gave it to the good the Taphians, an old friend of my father’s.” But in old woman, who folded it tidily up, and hung it for his heart he knew that it had been the goddess.
him over a peg by his bed side, after which she went The suitors then returned to their singing and out, pulled the door to by a silver catch, and drew dancing until the evening; but when night fell upon the bolt home by means of the strap. But their pleasuring they went home to bed each in his Telemachus as he lay covered with a woollen fleece own abode. Telemachus’s room was high up in a kept thinking all night through of his intended voy-tower that looked on to the outer court; hither, then, age of the counsel that Minerva had given him.
he hied, brooding and full of thought. A good old woman, Euryclea, daughter of Ops, the son of BOOK II
Pisenor, went before him with a couple of blazing torches. Laertes had bought her with his own money NOW WHEN THE CHILD OF MORNING, rosy-fingered when she was quite young; he gave the worth of Dawn, appeared, Telemachus rose and dressed him-twenty oxen for her, and shewed as much respect to self. He bound his sandals on to his comely feet, her in his household as he did to his own wedded girded his sword about his shoulder, and left his wife, but he did not take her to his bed for he feared room looking like an immortal god. He at once sent his wife’s resentment. She it was who now lighted the criers round to call the people in assembly, so Telemachus to his room, and she loved him better they called them and the people gathered thereon; than any of the other women in the house did, for then, when they were got together, he went to the she had nursed him when he was a baby. He opened place of assembly spear in hand- not alone, for his 13
The Odyssey – Book II two hounds went with him. Minerva endowed him ing, and does he wish to warn us, or would he speak with a presence of such divine comeliness that all upon some other matter of public moment? I am marvelled at him as he went by, and when he took sure he is an excellent person, and I hope Jove will his place’ in his father’s seat even the oldest coun-grant him his heart’s desire.” cillors made way for him.
Telemachus took this speech as of good omen and Aegyptius, a man bent double with age, and of rose at once, for he was bursting with what he had infinite experience, the first to speak His son to say. He stood in the middle of the assembly and Antiphus had gone with Ulysses to Ilius, land of the good herald Pisenor brought him his staff. Then, noble steeds, but the savage Cyclops had killed him turning to Aegyptius, “Sir,” said he, “it is I, as you when they were all shut up in the cave, and had will shortly learn, who have convened you, for it is cooked his last dinner for him, He had three sons I who am the most aggrieved. I have not got wind left, of whom two still worked on their father’s land, of any host approaching about which I would warn while the third, Eurynomus, was one of the suitors; you, nor is there any matter of public moment on nevertheless their father could not get over the loss which I would speak. My grieveance is purely per-of Antiphus, and was still weeping for him when he sonal, and turns on two great misfortunes which began his speech.
have fallen upon my house. The first of these is the
“Men of Ithaca,” he said, “hear my words. From loss of my excellent father, who was chief among all the day Ulysses left us there has been no meeting you here present, and was like a father to every one of our councillors until now; who then can it be, of you; the second is much more serious, and ere whether old or young, that finds it so necessary to long will be the utter ruin of my estate. The sons of convene us? Has he got wind of some host approach-all the chief men among you are pestering my 14
The Odyssey – Book II mother to marry them against her will. They are Ulysses did some wrong to the Achaeans which you afraid to go to her father Icarius, asking him to would now avenge on me, by aiding and abetting choose the one he likes best, and to provide mar-these suitors. Moreover, if I am to be eaten out of riage gifts for his daughter, but day by day they house and home at all, I had rather you did the keep hanging about my father’s house, sacrificing eating yourselves, for I could then take action against our oxen, sheep, and fat goats for their banquets, you to some purpose, and serve you with notices and never giving so much as a thought to the quan-from house to house till I got paid in full, whereas tity of wine they drink. No estate can stand such now I have no remedy.”
recklessness; we have now no Ulysses to ward off With this Telemachus dashed his staff to the harm from our doors, and I cannot hold my own ground and burst into tears. Every one was very against them. I shall never all my days be as good a sorry for him, but they all sat still and no one ven-man as he was, still I would indeed defend myself if tured to make him an angry answer, save only I had power to do so, for I cannot stand such treat-Antinous, who spoke thus:
ment any longer; my house is being disgraced and
“Telemachus, insolent braggart that you are, how ruined. Have respect, therefore, to your own con-dare you try to throw the blame upon us suitors? It sciences and to public opinion. Fear, too, the wrath is your mother’s fault not ours, for she is a very of heaven, lest the gods should be displeased and artful woman. This three years past, and close on turn upon you. I pray you by Jove and Themis, four, she has been driving us out of our minds, by who is the beginning and the end of councils, [do encouraging each one of us, and sending him mes-not] hold back, my friends, and leave me sages without meaning one word of what she says.
singlehanded- unless it be that my brave father And then there was that other trick she played us.
The Odyssey – Book II She set up a great tambour frame in her room, and
’Send your mother away, and bid her marry the began to work on an enormous piece of fine needle-man of her own and of her father’s choice’; for I do work. ‘Sweet hearts,’ said she, ‘Ulysses is indeed not know what will happen if she goes on plaguing dead, still do not press me to marry again immedi-us much longer with the airs she gives herself on ately, wait—for I would not have skill in needle-the score of the accomplishments Minerva has work perish unrecorded—till I have completed a pall taught her, and because she is so clever. We never for the hero Laertes, to be in readiness against the yet heard of such a woman; we know all about Tyro, time when death shall take him. He is very rich, Alcmena, Mycene, and the famous women of old, and the women of the place will talk if he is laid but they were nothing to your mother, any one of out without a pall.’
them. It was not fair of her to treat us in that way,
“This was what she said, and we assented; and as long as she continues in the mind with which whereon we could see her working on her great web heaven has now endowed her, so long shall we go all day long, but at night she would unpick the on eating up your estate; and I do not see why she stitches again by torchlight. She fooled us in this should change, for she gets all the honour and glory, way for three years and we never found her out, and it is you who pay for it, not she. Understand, but as time wore on and she was now in her fourth then, that we will not go back to our lands, neither year, one of her maids who knew what she was do-here nor elsewhere, till she has made her choice and ing told us, and we caught her in the act of undoing married some one or other of us.” her work, so she had to finish it whether she would Telemachus answered, “Antinous, how can I drive or no. The suitors, therefore, make you this answer, the mother who bore me from my father’s house?
that both you and the Achaeans may understand-My father is abroad and we do not know whether 16
The Odyssey – Book II he is alive or dead. It will be hard on me if I have to of them that were below; then, fighting fiercely and pay Icarius the large sum which I must give him if I tearing at one another, they flew off towards the insist on sending his daughter back to him. Not right over the town. The people wondered as they only will he deal rigorously with me, but heaven saw them, and asked each other what an this might will also punish me; for my mother when she leaves be; whereon Halitherses, who was the best prophet the house will calf on the Erinyes to avenge her; and reader of omens among them, spoke to them besides, it would not be a creditable thing to do, plainly and in all honesty, saying: and I will have nothing to say to it. If you choose to
“Hear me, men of Ithaca, and I speak more partake offence at this, leave the house and feast else-ticularly to the suitors, for I see mischief brewing where at one another’s houses at your own cost turn for them. Ulysses is not going to be away much and turn about. If, on the other hand, you elect to longer; indeed he is close at hand to deal out death persist in spunging upon one man, heaven help me, and destruction, not on them alone, but on many but Jove shall reckon with you in full, and when another of us who live in Ithaca. Let us then be you fall in my father’s house there shall be no man wise in time, and put a stop to this wickedness be-to avenge you.”
fore he comes. Let the suitors do so of their own As he spoke Jove sent two eagles from the top of accord; it will be better for them, for I am not proph-the mountain, and they flew on and on with the esying without due knowledge; everything has hap-wind, sailing side by side in their own lordly flight.
pened to Ulysses as I foretold when the Argives set When they were right over the middle of the as-out for Troy, and he with them. I said that after sembly they wheeled and circled about, beating the going through much hardship and losing all his men air with their wings and glaring death into the eyes he should come home again in the twentieth year 17
The Odyssey – Book II and that no one would know him; and now all this him in the presence of you all to send his mother is coming true.”
back to her father, who will find her a husband and Eurymachus son of Polybus then said, “Go home, provide her with all the marriage gifts so dear a old man, and prophesy to your own children, or it daughter may expect. Till we shall go on harassing may be worse for them. I can read these omens him with our suit; for we fear no man, and care myself much better than you can; birds are always neither for him, with all his fine speeches, nor for flying about in the sunshine somewhere or other, any fortune-telling of yours. You may preach as but they seldom mean anything. Ulysses has died much as you please, but we shall only hate you the in a far country, and it is a pity you are not dead more. We shall go back and continue to eat up along with him, instead of prating here about omens Telemachus’s estate without paying him, till such and adding fuel to the anger of Telemachus which time as his mother leaves off tormenting us by keepis fierce enough as it is. I suppose you think he will ing us day after day on the tiptoe of expectation, give you something for your family, but I tell you—
each vying with the other in his suit for a prize of and it shall surely be- when an old man like you, such rare perfection. Besides we cannot go after the who should know better, talks a young one over till other women whom we should marry in due course, he becomes troublesome, in the first place his young but for the way in which she treats us.” friend will only fare so much the worse—he will Then Telemachus said, “Eurymachus, and you take nothing by it, for the suitors will prevent this—
other suitors, I shall say no more, and entreat you and in the next, we will lay a heavier fine, sir, upon no further, for the gods and the people of Ithaca yourself than you will at all like paying, for it will now know my story. Give me, then, a ship and a bear hardly upon you. As for Telemachus, I warn crew of twenty men to take me hither and thither, 18
The Odyssey – Book II and I will go to Sparta and to Pylos in quest of my Ulysses, who ruled you as though he were your fa-father who has so long been missing. Some one may ther. I am not half so angry with the suitors, for if tell me something, or (and people often hear things they choose to do violence in the naughtiness of in this way) some heaven-sent message may direct their hearts, and wager their heads that Ulysses will me. If I can hear of him as alive and on his way not return, they can take the high hand and eat up home I will put up with the waste you suitors will his estate, but as for you others I am shocked at the make for yet another twelve months. If on the other way in which you all sit still without even trying to hand I hear of his death, I will return at once, cel-stop such scandalous goings on-which you could ebrate his funeral rites with all due pomp, build a do if you chose, for you are many and they are few.” barrow to his memory, and make my mother marry Leiocritus, son of Evenor, answered him saying, again.”
“Mentor, what folly is all this, that you should set With these words he sat down, and Mentor who the people to stay us? It is a hard thing for one man had been a friend of Ulysses, and had been left in to fight with many about his victuals. Even though charge of everything with full authority over the Ulysses himself were to set upon us while we are servants, rose to speak. He, then, plainly and in all feasting in his house, and do his best to oust us, his honesty addressed them thus: wife, who wants him back so very badly, would have
“Hear me, men of Ithaca, I hope that you may small cause for rejoicing, and his blood would be never have a kind and well-disposed ruler any more, upon his own head if he fought against such great nor one who will govern you equitably; I hope that odds. There is no sense in what you have been say-all your chiefs henceforward may be cruel and un-ing. Now, therefore, do you people go about your just, for there is not one of you but has forgotten business, and let his father’s old friends, Mentor 19
The Odyssey – Book II and Halitherses, speed this boy on his journey, if him, your voyage will not be fruitless, but unless he goes at all- which I do not think he will, for he is you have the blood of Ulysses and of Penelope in more likely to stay where he is till some one comes your veins I see no likelihood of your succeeding.
and tells him something.”
Sons are seldom as good men as their fathers; they On this he broke up the assembly, and every man are generally worse, not better; still, as you are not went back to his own abode, while the suitors re-going to be either fool or coward henceforward, and turned to the house of Ulysses.
are not entirely without some share of your father’s Then Telemachus went all alone by the sea side, wise discernment, I look with hope upon your un-washed his hands in the grey waves, and prayed to dertaking. But mind you never make common cause Minerva.
with any of those foolish suitors, for they have nei-
“Hear me,” he cried, “you god who visited me yes-ther sense nor virtue, and give no thought to death terday, and bade me sail the seas in search of my fa-and to the doom that will shortly fall on one and ther who has so long been missing. I would obey you, all of them, so that they shall perish on the same but the Achaeans, and more particularly the wicked day. As for your voyage, it shall not be long de-suitors, are hindering me that I cannot do so.” layed; your father was such an old friend of mine As he thus prayed, Minerva came close up to him that I will find you a ship, and will come with you in the likeness and with the voice of Mentor.
myself. Now, however, return home, and go about
“Telemachus,” said she, “if you are made of the same among the suitors; begin getting provisions ready stuff as your father you will be neither fool nor cow-for your voyage; see everything well stowed, the ard henceforward, for Ulysses never broke his word wine in jars, and the barley meal, which is the staff nor left his work half done. If, then, you take after of life, in leathern bags, while I go round the town 20
The Odyssey – Book II and beat up volunteers at once. There are many ships about it, I am also stronger, and whether here among in Ithaca both old and new; I will run my eye over this people, or by going to Pylos, I will do you all them for you and will choose the best; we will get the harm I can. I shall go, and my going will not be her ready and will put out to sea without delay.” in vain though, thanks to you suitors, I have nei-Thus spoke Minerva daughter of Jove, and ther ship nor crew of my own, and must be passen-Telemachus lost no time in doing as the goddess ger not captain.”
told him. He went moodily and found the suitors As he spoke he snatched his hand from that of flaying goats and singeing pigs in the outer court.
Antinous. Meanwhile the others went on getting Antinous came up to him at once and laughed as dinner ready about the buildings, jeering at him he took his hand in his own, saying, “Telemachus, tauntingly as they did so.
my fine fire-eater, bear no more ill blood neither in
“Telemachus,” said one youngster, “means to be word nor deed, but eat and drink with us as you the death of us; I suppose he thinks he can bring used to do. The Achaeans will find you in every-friends to help him from Pylos, or again from Sparta, thing—a ship and a picked crew to boot—so that where he seems bent on going. Or will he go to you can set sail for Pylos at once and get news of Ephyra as well, for poison to put in our wine and your noble father.”
“Antinous,” answered Telemachus, “I cannot eat Another said, “Perhaps if Telemachus goes on in peace, nor take pleasure of any kind with such board ship, he will be like his father and perish far men as you are. Was it not enough that you should from his friends. In this case we should have plenty waste so much good property of mine while I was to do, for we could then divide up his property yet a boy? Now that I am older and know more amongst us: as for the house we can let his mother 21
The Odyssey – Book II and the man who marries her have that.” ley meal—about twenty measures in all. Get these This was how they talked. But Telemachus went things put together at once, and say nothing about down into the lofty and spacious store-room where it. I will take everything away this evening as soon his father’s treasure of gold and bronze lay heaped as my mother has gone upstairs for the night. I am up upon the floor, and where the linen and spare going to Sparta and to Pylos to see if I can hear clothes were kept in open chests. Here, too, there anything about the return of my dear father.
was a store of fragrant olive oil, while casks of old, When Euryclea heard this she began to cry, and well-ripened wine, unblended and fit for a god to spoke fondly to him, saying, “My dear child, what drink, were ranged against the wall in case Ulysses ever can have put such notion as that into your should come home again after all. The room was head? Where in the world do you want to go to-closed with well-made doors opening in the middle; you, who are the one hope of the house? Your poor moreover the faithful old house-keeper Euryclea, father is dead and gone in some foreign country daughter of Ops the son of Pisenor, was in charge nobody knows where, and as soon as your back is of everything both night and day. Telemachus called turned these wicked ones here will be scheming to her to the store-room and said: get you put out of the way, and will share all your
“Nurse, draw me off some of the best wine you possessions among themselves; stay where you are have, after what you are keeping for my father’s among your own people, and do not go wandering own drinking, in case, poor man, he should escape and worrying your life out on the barren ocean.” death, and find his way home again after all. Let
“Fear not, nurse,” answered Telemachus, “my me have twelve jars, and see that they all have lids; scheme is not without heaven’s sanction; but swear also fill me some well-sewn leathern bags with bar-that you will say nothing about all this to my 22
The Odyssey – Book II mother, till I have been away some ten or twelve Furthermore she went to the house of Ulysses, days, unless she hears of my having gone, and asks and threw the suitors into a deep slumber. She you; for I do not want her to spoil her beauty by caused their drink to fuddle them, and made them crying.”
drop their cups from their hands, so that instead of The old woman swore most solemnly that she sitting over their wine, they went back into the town would not, and when she had completed her oath, to sleep, with their eyes heavy and full of drowsi-she began drawing off the wine into jars, and get-ness. Then she took the form and voice of Mentor, ting the barley meal into the bags, while Telemachus and called Telemachus to come outside.
went back to the suitors.
“Telemachus,” said she, “the men are on board Then Minerva bethought her of another mat-and at their oars, waiting for you to give your orter. She took his shape, and went round the town ders, so make haste and let us be off.” to each one of the crew, telling them to meet at On this she led the way, while Telemachus fol-the ship by sundown. She went also to Noemon lowed in her steps. When they got to the ship they son of Phronius, and asked him to let her have a found the crew waiting by the water side, and ship- which he was very ready to do. When the Telemachus said, “Now my men, help me to get the sun had set and darkness was over all the land, stores on board; they are all put together in the she got the ship into the water, put all the tackle cloister, and my mother does not know anything on board her that ships generally carry, and sta-about it, nor any of the maid servants except one.” tioned her at the end of the harbour. Presently With these words he led the way and the others the crew came up, and the goddess spoke encour-followed after. When they had brought the things agingly to each of them.
as he told them, Telemachus went on board, 23
The Odyssey – Book III Minerva going before him and taking her seat in BOOK III
the stern of the vessel, while Telemachus sat beside her. Then the men loosed the hawsers and took their BUT AS THE SUN WAS RISING from the fair sea into the places on the benches. Minerva sent them a fair firmament of heaven to shed light on mortals and wind from the West, that whistled over the deep immortals, they reached Pylos the city of Neleus.
blue waves whereon Telemachus told them to catch Now the people of Pylos were gathered on the sea hold of the ropes and hoist sail, and they did as he shore to offer sacrifice of black bulls to Neptune told them. They set the mast in its socket in the lord of the Earthquake. There were nine guilds with cross plank, raised it, and made it fast with the five hundred men in each, and there were nine bulls forestays; then they hoisted their white sails aloft to each guild. As they were eating the inward meats with ropes of twisted ox hide. As the sail bellied and burning the thigh bones [on the embers] in the out with the wind, the ship flew through the deep name of Neptune, Telemachus and his crew arrived, blue water, and the foam hissed against her bows as furled their sails, brought their ship to anchor, and she sped onward. Then they made all fast through-went ashore.
out the ship, filled the mixing-bowls to the brim, Minerva led the way and Telemachus followed and made drink offerings to the immortal gods that her. Presently she said, “Telemachus, you must not are from everlasting, but more particularly to the be in the least shy or nervous; you have taken this grey-eyed daughter of Jove.
voyage to try and find out where your father is bur-Thus, then, the ship sped on her way through ied and how he came by his end; so go straight up the watches of the night from dark till dawn.
to Nestor that we may see what he has got to tell us. Beg of him to speak the truth, and he will tell 24
The Odyssey – Book III no lies, for he is an excellent person.” each of them, and seated them on some soft sheep-
“But how, Mentor,” replied Telemachus, “dare I skins that were lying on the sands near his father go up to Nestor, and how am I to address him? I and his brother Thrasymedes. Then he gave them have never yet been used to holding long conversa-their portions of the inward meats and poured wine tions with people, and am ashamed to begin ques-for them into a golden cup, handing it to Minerva tioning one who is so much older than myself.” first, and saluting her at the same time.
“Some things, Telemachus,” answered Minerva,
“Offer a prayer, sir,” said he, “to King Neptune,
“will be suggested to you by your own instinct, and for it is his feast that you are joining; when you have heaven will prompt you further; for I am assured duly prayed and made your drink-offering, pass the that the gods have been with you from the time of cup to your friend that he may do so also. I doubt your birth until now.”
not that he too lifts his hands in prayer, for man She then went quickly on, and Telemachus fol-cannot live without God in the world. Still he is lowed in her steps till they reached the place where younger than you are, and is much of an age with the guilds of the Pylian people were assembled.
myself, so I he handed I will give you the precedence.” There they found Nestor sitting with his sons, while As he spoke he handed her the cup. Minerva his company round him were busy getting dinner thought it very right and proper of him to have ready, and putting pieces of meat on to the spits given it to herself first; she accordingly began pray-while other pieces were cooking. When they saw ing heartily to Neptune. “O thou,” she cried, “that the strangers they crowded round them, took them encirclest the earth, vouchsafe to grant the prayers by the hand and bade them take their places.
of thy servants that call upon thee. More especially Nestor’s son Pisistratus at once offered his hand to we pray thee send down thy grace on Nestor and 25
The Odyssey – Book III on his sons; thereafter also make the rest of the
“Nestor,” said he, “son of Neleus, honour to the Pylian people some handsome return for the goodly Achaean name, you ask whence we come, and I will hecatomb they are offering you. Lastly, grant tell you. We come from Ithaca under Neritum, and Telemachus and myself a happy issue, in respect of the matter about which I would speak is of private the matter that has brought us in our to Pylos.” not public import. I seek news of my unhappy fa-When she had thus made an end of praying, she ther Ulysses, who is said to have sacked the town handed the cup to Telemachus and he prayed like-of Troy in company with yourself. We know what wise. By and by, when the outer meats were roasted fate befell each one of the other heroes who fought and had been taken off the spits, the carvers gave at Troy, but as regards Ulysses heaven has hidden every man his portion and they all made an excel-from us the knowledge even that he is dead at all, lent dinner. As soon as they had had enough to eat for no one can certify us in what place he perished, and drink, Nestor, knight of Gerene, began to speak.
nor say whether he fell in battle on the mainland,
“Now,” said he, “that our guests have done their or was lost at sea amid the waves of Amphitrite.
dinner, it will be best to ask them who they are.
Therefore I am suppliant at your knees, if haply Who, then, sir strangers, are you, and from what you may be pleased to tell me of his melancholy port have you sailed? Are you traders? or do you end, whether you saw it with your own eyes, or sail the seas as rovers with your hand against every heard it from some other traveller, for he was a man man, and every man’s hand against you?” born to trouble. Do not soften things out of any Telemachus answered boldly, for Minerva had pity for me, but tell me in all plainness exactly what given him courage to ask about his father and get you saw. If my brave father Ulysses ever did you himself a good name.
loyal service, either by word or deed, when you 26
The Odyssey – Book III Achaeans were harassed among the Trojans, bear it ferent ages could speak so much alike. He and I never in mind now as in my favour and tell me truly all.” had any kind of difference from first to last neither
“My friend,” answered Nestor, “you recall a time in camp nor council, but in singleness of heart and of much sorrow to my mind, for the brave Achaeans purpose we advised the Argives how all might be suffered much both at sea, while privateering under ordered for the best.
Achilles, and when fighting before the great city of
“When however, we had sacked the city of Priam, king Priam. Our best men all of them fell there- Ajax, and were setting sail in our ships as heaven had Achilles, Patroclus peer of gods in counsel, and my dispersed us, then Jove saw fit to vex the Argives on own dear son Antilochus, a man singularly fleet of their homeward voyage; for they had Not all been foot and in fight valiant. But we suffered much more either wise or understanding, and hence many came than this; what mortal tongue indeed could tell the to a bad end through the displeasure of Jove’s daugh-whole story? Though you were to stay here and quester Minerva, who brought about a quarrel between tion me for five years, or even six, I could not tell the two sons of Atreus.
you all that the Achaeans suffered, and you would
“The sons of Atreus called a meeting which was turn homeward weary of my tale before it ended.
not as it should be, for it was sunset and the Nine long years did we try every kind of stratagem, Achaeans were heavy with wine. When they ex-but the hand of heaven was against us; during all plained why they had called- the people together, it this time there was no one who could compare with seemed that Menelaus was for sailing homeward at your father in subtlety- if indeed you are his son—I once, and this displeased Agamemnon, who thought can hardly believe my eyes- and you talk just like that we should wait till we had offered hecatombs him too—no one would say that people of such dif-to appease the anger of Minerva. Fool that he was, 27
The Odyssey – Book III he might have known that he would not prevail mischief was brewing. The son of Tydeus went on with her, for when the gods have made up their also with me, and his crews with him. Later on minds they do not change them lightly. So the two Menelaus joined us at Lesbos, and found us making stood bandying hard words, whereon the Achaeans up our minds about our course—for we did not know sprang to their feet with a cry that rent the air, and whether to go outside Chios by the island of Psyra, were of two minds as to what they should do.
keeping this to our left, or inside Chios, over against
“That night we rested and nursed our anger, for the stormy headland of Mimas. So we asked heaven Jove was hatching mischief against us. But in the for a sign, and were shown one to the effect that we morning some of us drew our ships into the water should be soonest out of danger if we headed our and put our goods with our women on board, while ships across the open sea to Euboea. This we there-the rest, about half in number, stayed behind with fore did, and a fair wind sprang up which gave us a Agamemnon. We—the other half—embarked and quick passage during the night to Geraestus, where sailed; and the ships went well, for heaven had we offered many sacrifices to Neptune for having smoothed the sea. When we reached Tenedos we helped us so far on our way. Four days later Diomed offered sacrifices to the gods, for we were longing to and his men stationed their ships in Argos, but I get home; cruel Jove, however, did not yet mean that held on for Pylos, and the wind never fell light from we should do so, and raised a second quarrel in the the day when heaven first made it fair for me.
course of which some among us turned their ships
“Therefore, my dear young friend, I returned with-back again, and sailed away under Ulysses to make out hearing anything about the others. I know nei-their peace with Agamemnon; but I, and all the ships ther who got home safely nor who were lost but, as that were with me pressed forward, for I saw that in duty bound, I will give you without reserve the 28
The Odyssey – Book III reports that have reached me since I have been here on the insolence of the wicked suitors, who are ill in my own house. They say the Myrmidons returned treating me and plotting my ruin; but the gods have home safely under Achilles’ son Neoptolemus; so no such happiness in store for me and for my fa-also did the valiant son of Poias, Philoctetes.
ther, so we must bear it as best we may.” Idomeneus, again, lost no men at sea, and all his
“My friend,” said Nestor, “now that you remind followers who escaped death in the field got safe me, I remember to have heard that your mother home with him to Crete. No matter how far out of has many suitors, who are ill disposed towards you the world you live, you will have heard of and are making havoc of your estate. Do you sub-Agamemnon and the bad end he came to at the mit to this tamely, or are public feeling and the voice hands of Aegisthus—and a fearful reckoning did of heaven against you? Who knows but what Aegisthus presently pay. See what a good thing it is Ulysses may come back after all, and pay these for a man to leave a son behind him to do as Orestes scoundrels in full, either single-handed or with a did, who killed false Aegisthus the murderer of his force of Achaeans behind him? If Minerva were to noble father. You too, then—for you are a tall, smart-take as great a liking to you as she did to Ulysses looking fellow—show your mettle and make your-when we were fighting before Troy (for I never yet self a name in story.”
saw the gods so openly fond of any one as Minerva
“Nestor son of Neleus,” answered Telemachus, then was of your father), if she would take as good
“honour to the Achaean name, the Achaeans ap-care of you as she did of him, these wooers would plaud Orestes and his name will live through all soon some of them him, forget their wooing.” time for he has avenged his father nobly. Would Telemachus answered, “I can expect nothing of that heaven might grant me to do like vengeance the kind; it would be far too much to hope for. I 29
The Odyssey – Book III dare not let myself think of it. Even though the fore, Nestor, and tell me true; how did Agamemnon gods themselves willed it no such good fortune could come to die in that way? What was Menelaus do-befall me.”
ing? And how came false Aegisthus to kill so far On this Minerva said, “Telemachus, what are you better a man than himself? Was Menelaus away talking about? Heaven has a long arm if it is minded from Achaean Argos, voyaging elsewhither among to save a man; and if it were me, I should not care mankind, that Aegisthus took heart and killed how much I suffered before getting home, provided Agamemnon?”
I could be safe when I was once there. I would rather
“I will tell you truly,” answered Nestor, “and in-this, than get home quickly, and then be killed in deed you have yourself divined how it all happened.
my own house as Agamemnon was by the treach-If Menelaus when he got back from Troy had found ery of Aegisthus and his wife. Still, death is certain, Aegisthus still alive in his house, there would have and when a man’s hour is come, not even the gods been no barrow heaped up for him, not even when can save him, no matter how fond they are of him.” he was dead, but he would have been thrown out-
“Mentor,” answered Telemachus, “do not let us side the city to dogs and vultures, and not a woman talk about it any more. There is no chance of my would have mourned him, for he had done a deed father’s ever coming back; the gods have long since of great wickedness; but we were over there, fight-counselled his destruction. There is something else, ing hard at Troy, and Aegisthus who was taking his however, about which I should like to ask Nestor, ease quietly in the heart of Argos, cajoled Agamemnon’s for he knows much more than any one else does.
wife Clytemnestra with incessant flattery.
They say he has reigned for three generations so
“At first she would have nothing to do with his that it is like talking to an immortal. Tell me, there-wicked scheme, for she was of a good natural dis-30
The Odyssey – Book III position; moreover there was a bard with her, to ently, when he too could put to sea again, and had whom Agamemnon had given strict orders on set-sailed on as far as the Malean heads, Jove counting out for Troy, that he was to keep guard over his selled evil against him and made it it blow hard till wife; but when heaven had counselled her destruc-the waves ran mountains high. Here he divided his tion, Aegisthus thus this bard off to a desert island fleet and took the one half towards Crete where the and left him there for crows and seagulls to batten Cydonians dwell round about the waters of the river upon—after which she went willingly enough to the Iardanus. There is a high headland hereabouts house of Aegisthus. Then he offered many burnt stretching out into the sea from a place called sacrifices to the gods, and decorated many temples Gortyn, and all along this part of the coast as far as with tapestries and gilding, for he had succeeded Phaestus the sea runs high when there is a south far beyond his expectations.
wind blowing, but arter Phaestus the coast is more
“Meanwhile Menelaus and I were on our way protected, for a small headland can make a great home from Troy, on good terms with one another.
shelter. Here this part of the fleet was driven on to When we got to Sunium, which is the point of Ath-the rocks and wrecked; but the crews just managed ens, Apollo with his painless shafts killed Phrontis to save themselves. As for the other five ships, they the steersman of Menelaus’ ship (and never man were taken by winds and seas to Egypt, where knew better how to handle a vessel in rough Menelaus gathered much gold and substance among weather) so that he died then and there with the people of an alien speech. Meanwhile Aegisthus here helm in his hand, and Menelaus, though very anx-at home plotted his evil deed. For seven years after ious to press forward, had to wait in order to bury he had killed Agamemnon he ruled in Mycene, and his comrade and give him his due funeral rites. Pres-the people were obedient under him, but in the 31
The Odyssey – Book III eighth year Orestes came back from Athens to be who can escort you to Lacedaemon where Menelaus his bane, and killed the murderer of his father. Then lives. Beg of him to speak the truth, and he will tell he celebrated the funeral rites of his mother and of you no lies, for he is an excellent person.” false Aegisthus by a banquet to the people of Argos, As he spoke the sun set and it came on dark, and on that very day Menelaus came home, with whereon Minerva said, “Sir, all that you have said as much treasure as his ships could carry.
is well; now, however, order the tongues of the vic-
“Take my advice then, and do not go travelling tims to be cut, and mix wine that we may make about for long so far from home, nor leave your drink-offerings to Neptune, and the other immor-property with such dangerous people in your house; tals, and then go to bed, for it is bed time. People they will eat up everything you have among them, should go away early and not keep late hours at a and you will have been on a fool’s errand. Still, I religious festival.”
should advise you by all means to go and visit Thus spoke the daughter of Jove, and they obeyed Menelaus, who has lately come off a voyage among her saying. Men servants poured water over the hands such distant peoples as no man could ever hope to of the guests, while pages filled the mixing-bowls with get back from, when the winds had once carried wine and water, and handed it round after giving every him so far out of his reckoning; even birds cannot man his drink-offering; then they threw the tongues of fly the distance in a twelvemonth, so vast and ter-the victims into the fire, and stood up to make their rible are the seas that they must cross. Go to him, drink-offerings. When they had made their offerings and therefore, by sea, and take your own men with you; had drunk each as much as he was minded, Minerva or if you would rather travel by land you can have a and Telemachus were forgoing on board their ship, but chariot, you can have horses, and here are my sons Nestor caught them up at once and stayed them.
The Odyssey – Book III
“Heaven and the immortal gods,” he exclaimed, have a large sum of money long owing to me. As for
“forbid that you should leave my house to go on Telemachus, now that he is your guest, send him to board of a ship. Do you think I am so poor and Lacedaemon in a chariot, and let one of your sons short of clothes, or that I have so few cloaks and as go with him. Be pleased also to provide him with to be unable to find comfortable beds both for your best and fleetest horses.” myself and for my guests? Let me tell you I have When she had thus spoken, she flew away in the store both of rugs and cloaks, and shall not permit form of an eagle, and all marvelled as they beheld the son of my old friend Ulysses to camp down on it. Nestor was astonished, and took Telemachus by the deck of a ship—not while I live—nor yet will the hand. “My friend,” said he, “I see that you are my sons after me, but they will keep open house as going to be a great hero some day, since the gods have done.”
wait upon you thus while you are still so young.
Then Minerva answered, “Sir, you have spoken This can have been none other of those who dwell well, and it will be much better that Telemachus in heaven than Jove’s redoubtable daughter, the should do as you have said; he, therefore, shall re-Trito-born, who showed such favour towards your turn with you and sleep at your house, but I must brave father among the Argives.” “Holy queen,” he go back to give orders to my crew, and keep them in continued, “vouchsafe to send down thy grace upon good heart. I am the only older person among them; myself, my good wife, and my children. In return, I the rest are all young men of Telemachus’ own age, will offer you in sacrifice a broad-browed heifer of a who have taken this voyage out of friendship; so I year old, unbroken, and never yet brought by man must return to the ship and sleep there. Moreover under the yoke. I will gild her horns, and will offer to-morrow I must go to the Cauconians where I her up to you in sacrifice.” 33
The Odyssey – Book III Thus did he pray, and Minerva heard his prayer.
and had gone to the house of Hades; so Nestor sat He then led the way to his own house, followed by in his seat, sceptre in hand, as guardian of the public his sons and sons-in-law. When they had got there weal. His sons as they left their rooms gathered round and had taken their places on the benches and seats, him, Echephron, Stratius, Perseus, Aretus, and he mixed them a bowl of sweet wine that was eleven Thrasymedes; the sixth son was Pisistratus, and when years old when the housekeeper took the lid off the Telemachus joined them they made him sit with jar that held it. As he mixed the wine, he prayed them. Nestor then addressed them.
much and made drink-offerings to Minerva, daugh-
“My sons,” said he, “make haste to do as I shall ter of Aegis-bearing Jove. Then, when they had made bid you. I wish first and foremost to propitiate the their drink-offerings and had drunk each as much as great goddess Minerva, who manifested herself vis-he was minded, the others went home to bed each in ibly to me during yesterday’s festivities. Go, then, his own abode; but Nestor put Telemachus to sleep one or other of you to the plain, tell the stockman to in the room that was over the gateway along with look me out a heifer, and come on here with it at Pisistratus, who was the only unmarried son now once. Another must go to Telemachus’s ship, and left him. As for himself, he slept in an inner room of invite all the crew, leaving two men only in charge of the house, with the queen his wife by his side.
the vessel. Some one else will run and fetch Laerceus Now when the child of morning, rosy-fingered the goldsmith to gild the horns of the heifer. The Dawn, appeared, Nestor left his couch and took his rest, stay all of you where you are; tell the maids in seat on the benches of white and polished marble the house to prepare an excellent dinner, and to fetch that stood in front of his house. Here aforetime sat seats, and logs of wood for a burnt offering. Tell them Neleus, peer of gods in counsel, but he was now dead, also—to bring me some clear spring water.” 34
The Odyssey – Book III On this they hurried off on their several errands.
whereon the daughters and daughters-in-law of The heifer was brought in from the plain, and Nestor, and his venerable wife Eurydice (she was Telemachus’s crew came from the ship; the goldsmith eldest daughter to Clymenus) screamed with de-brought the anvil, hammer, and tongs, with which light. Then they lifted the heifer’s head from off he worked his gold, and Minerva herself came to the the ground, and Pisistratus cut her throat. When sacrifice. Nestor gave out the gold, and the smith she had done bleeding and was quite dead, they gilded the horns of the heifer that the goddess might cut her up. They cut out the thigh bones all in due have pleasure in their beauty. Then Stratius and course, wrapped them round in two layers of fat, Echephron brought her in by the horns; Aretus and set some pieces of raw meat on the top of them; fetched water from the house in a ewer that had a then Nestor laid them upon the wood fire and flower pattern on it, and in his other hand he held a poured wine over them, while the young men stood basket of barley meal; sturdy Thrasymedes stood by near him with five-pronged spits in their hands.
with a sharp axe, ready to strike the heifer, while When the thighs were burned and they had tasted Perseus held a bucket. Then Nestor began with wash-the inward meats, they cut the rest of the meat up ing his hands and sprinkling the barley meal, and he small, put the pieces on the spits and toasted them offered many a prayer to Minerva as he threw a lock over the fire.
from the heifer’s head upon the fire.
Meanwhile lovely Polycaste, Nestor’s youngest When they had done praying and sprinkling the daughter, washed Telemachus. When she had barley meal Thrasymedes dealt his blow, and washed him and anointed him with oil, she brought brought the heifer down with a stroke that cut him a fair mantle and shirt, and he looked like a through the tendons at the base of her neck, god as he came from the bath and took his seat by 35
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the side of Nestor. When the outer meats were done Alpheus. Here they passed the night and Diocles they drew them off the spits and sat down to din-entertained them hospitably. When the child of ner where they were waited upon by some worthy morning, rosy-fingered Dawn; appeared, they again henchmen, who kept pouring them out their wine yoked their horses and drove out through the gate-in cups of gold. As soon as they had had had enough way under the echoing gatehouse. Pisistratus lashed to eat and drink Nestor said, “Sons, put the horses on and they flew forward nothing loth; Telemachus’s horses to the chariot that he may start presently they came to the corn lands Of the open at once.”
country, and in the course of time completed their Thus did he speak, and they did even as he had journey, so well did their steeds take them.
said, and yoked the fleet horses to the chariot. The Now when the sun had set and darkness was over housekeeper packed them up a provision of bread, the land, the roads grew dark.
wine, and sweetmeats fit for the sons of princes.
Then Telemachus got into the chariot, while BOOK IV
Pisistratus gathered up the reins and took his seat beside him. He lashed the horses on and they flew THEY REACHED THE LOW LYING CITY of Lacedaemon forward nothing loth into the open country, leav-them where they drove straight to the of abode ing the high citadel of Pylos behind them. All that Menelaus [and found him in his own house, feast-day did they travel, swaying the yoke upon their ing with his many clansmen in honour of the wed-necks till the sun went down and darkness was over ding of his son, and also of his daughter, whom he all the land. Then they reached Pherae where Diocles was marrying to the son of that valiant warrior lived, who was son to Ortilochus and grandson to Achilles. He had given his consent and promised 36
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her to him while he was still at Troy, and now the their horses out, or tell them to find friends else-gods were bringing the marriage about; so he was where as they best can?”
sending her with chariots and horses to the city of Menelaus was very angry and said, “Eteoneus, the Myrmidons over whom Achilles’ son was reign-son of Boethous, you never used to be a fool, but ing. For his only son he had found a bride from now you talk like a simpleton. Take their horses Sparta, daughter of Alector. This son, Megapenthes, out, of course, and show the strangers in that they was born to him of a bondwoman, for heaven vouch-may have supper; you and I have stayed often safed Helen no more children after she had borne enough at other people’s houses before we got back Hermione, who was fair as golden Venus herself.
here, where heaven grant that we may rest in peace So the neighbours and kinsmen of Menelaus were henceforward.”
feasting and making merry in his house. There was So Eteoneus bustled back and bade other servants a bard also to sing to them and play his lyre, while come with him. They took their sweating hands two tumblers went about performing in the midst from under the yoke, made them fast to the man-of them when the man struck up with his tune.
gers, and gave them a feed of oats and barley mixed.
Telemachus and the son of Nestor stayed their Then they leaned the chariot against the end wall horses at the gate, whereon Eteoneus servant to of the courtyard, and led the way into the house.
Menelaus came out, and as soon as he saw them Telemachus and Pisistratus were astonished when ran hurrying back into the house to tell his Master.
they saw it, for its splendour was as that of the sun He went close up to him and said, “Menelaus, there and moon; then, when they had admired everything are some strangers come here, two men, who look to their heart’s content, they went into the bath like sons of Jove. What are we to do? Shall we take room and washed themselves.
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When the servants had washed them and to eat and drink, Telemachus said to the son of anointed them with oil, they brought them woollen Nestor, with his head so close that no one might cloaks and shirts, and the two took their seats by hear, “Look, Pisistratus, man after my own heart, the side of Menelaus. A maidservant brought them see the gleam of bronze and gold- of amber, ivory, water in a beautiful golden ewer, and poured it into and silver. Everything is so splendid that it is like a silver basin for them to wash their hands; and she seeing the palace of Olympian Jove. I am lost in drew a clean table beside them. An upper servant admiration.”
brought them bread, and offered them many good Menelaus overheard him and said, “No one, my things of what there was in the house, while the sons, can hold his own with Jove, for his house and carver fetched them plates of all manner of meats everything about him is immortal; but among mor-and set cups of gold by their side.
tal men- well, there may be another who has as much Menelaus then greeted them saying, “Fall to, and wealth as I have, or there may not; but at all events welcome; when you have done supper I shall ask I have travelled much and have undergone much who you are, for the lineage of such men as you hardship, for it was nearly eight years before I could cannot have been lost. You must be descended from get home with my fleet. I went to Cyprus, Phoenicia a line of sceptre-bearing kings, for poor people do and the Egyptians; I went also to the Ethiopians, not have such sons as you are.” the Sidonians, and the Erembians, and to Libya On this he handed them a piece of fat roast loin, where the lambs have horns as soon as they are which had been set near him as being a prime part, born, and the sheep lamb down three times a year.
and they laid their hands on the good things that Every one in that country, whether master or man, were before them; as soon as they had had enough has plenty of cheese, meat, and good milk, for the 38
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ewes yield all the year round. But while I was trav-been gone a long time, and we know not whether elling and getting great riches among these people, he is alive or dead. His old father, his long-suffering my brother was secretly and shockingly murdered wife Penelope, and his son Telemachus, whom he through the perfidy of his wicked wife, so that I left behind him an infant in arms, are plunged in have no pleasure in being lord of all this wealth.
grief on his account.”
Whoever your parents may be they must have told Thus spoke Menelaus, and the heart of Telemachus you about all this, and of my heavy loss in the ruin yearned as he bethought him of his father. Tears fell of a stately mansion fully and magnificently fur-from his eyes as he heard him thus mentioned, so nished. Would that I had only a third of what I that he held his cloak before his face with both hands.
now have so that I had stayed at home, and all those When Menelaus saw this he doubted whether to let were living who perished on the plain of Troy, far him choose his own time for speaking, or to ask him from Argos. I of grieve, as I sit here in my house, for at once and find what it was all about.
one and all of them. At times I cry aloud for sorrow, While he was thus in two minds Helen came down but presently I leave off again, for crying is cold from her high vaulted and perfumed room, looking comfort and one soon tires of it. Yet grieve for these as lovely as Diana herself. Adraste brought her a as I may, I do so for one man more than for them seat, Alcippe a soft woollen rug while Phylo fetched all. I cannot even think of him without loathing her the silver work-box which Alcandra wife of both food and sleep, so miserable does he make Polybus had given her. Polybus lived in Egyptian me, for no one of all the Achaeans worked so hard Thebes, which is the richest city in the whole world; or risked so much as he did. He took nothing by it, he gave Menelaus two baths, both of pure silver, and has left a legacy of sorrow to myself, for he has two tripods, and ten talents of gold; besides all this, 39
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his wife gave Helen some beautiful presents, to wit, and the expression of his eyes. Moreover, when I a golden distaff, and a silver work-box that ran on was talking about Ulysses, and saying how much wheels, with a gold band round the top of it. Phylo he had suffered on my account, tears fell from his now placed this by her side, full of fine spun yarn, eyes, and he hid his face in his mantle.” and a distaff charged with violet coloured wool was Then Pisistratus said, “Menelaus, son of Atreus, laid upon the top of it. Then Helen took her seat, you are right in thinking that this young man is put her feet upon the footstool, and began to ques-Telemachus, but he is very modest, and is ashamed tion her husband.
to come here and begin opening up discourse with
“Do we know, Menelaus,” said she, “the names one whose conversation is so divinely interesting as of these strangers who have come to visit us? Shall your own. My father, Nestor, sent me to escort him I guess right or wrong?-but I cannot help saying hither, for he wanted to know whether you could what I think. Never yet have I seen either man or give him any counsel or suggestion. A son has al-woman so like somebody else (indeed when I look ways trouble at home when his father has gone away at him I hardly know what to think) as this young leaving him without supporters; and this is how man is like Telemachus, whom Ulysses left as a baby Telemachus is now placed, for his father is absent, behind him, when you Achaeans went to Troy with and there is no one among his own people to stand battle in your hearts, on account of my most shame-by him.”
“Bless my heart,” replied Menelaus, “then I am
“My dear wife,” replied Menelaus, “I see the like-receiving a visit from the son of a very dear friend, ness just as you do. His hands and feet are just like who suffered much hardship for my sake. I had al-Ulysses’; so is his hair, with the shape of his head ways hoped to entertain him with most marked 40
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distinction when heaven had granted us a safe re-as I would urge you. I am not fond of crying while turn from beyond the seas. I should have founded I am getting my supper. Morning will come in due a city for him in Argos, and built him a house. I course, and in the forenoon I care not how much I should have made him leave Ithaca with his goods, cry for those that are dead and gone. This is all we his son, and all his people, and should have sacked can do for the poor things. We can only shave our for them some one of the neighbouring cities that heads for them and wring the tears from our cheeks.
are subject to me. We should thus have seen one I had a brother who died at Troy; he was by no another continually, and nothing but death could means the worst man there; you are sure to have have interrupted so close and happy an intercourse.
known him—his name was Antilochus; I never set I suppose, however, that heaven grudged us such eyes upon him myself, but they say that he was great good fortune, for it has prevented the poor singularly fleet of foot and in fight valiant.” fellow from ever getting home at all.”
“Your discretion, my friend,” answered Menelaus, Thus did he speak, and his words set them all a
“is beyond your years. It is plain you take after your weeping. Helen wept, Telemachus wept, and so did father. One can soon see when a man is son to one Menelaus, nor could Pisistratus keep his eyes from whom heaven has blessed both as regards wife and filling, when he remembered his dear brother offspring—and it has blessed Nestor from first to Antilochus whom the son of bright Dawn had killed.
last all his days, giving him a green old age in his Thereon he said to Menelaus, own house, with sons about him who are both we
“Sir, my father Nestor, when we used to talk about disposed and valiant. We will put an end therefore you at home, told me you were a person of rare and to all this weeping, and attend to our supper again.
excellent understanding. If, then, it be possible, do Let water be poured over our hands. Telemachus 41
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and I can talk with one another fully in the morning.” friends, sons of honourable men (which is as Jove On this Asphalion, one of the servants, poured wills, for he is the giver both of good and evil, and water over their hands and they laid their hands on can do what he chooses), feast here as you will, and the good things that were before them.
listen while I tell you a tale in season. I cannot in-Then Jove’s daughter Helen bethought her of andeed name every single one of the exploits of other matter. She drugged the wine with an herb Ulysses, but I can say what he did when he was that banishes all care, sorrow, and ill humour. Who-before Troy, and you Achaeans were in all sorts of ever drinks wine thus drugged cannot shed a single difficulties. He covered himself with wounds and tear all the rest of the day, not even though his fa-bruises, dressed himself all in rags, and entered the ther and mother both of them drop down dead, or enemy’s city looking like a menial or a beggar. and he sees a brother or a son hewn in pieces before his quite different from what he did when he was among very eyes. This drug, of such sovereign power and his own people. In this disguise he entered the city virtue, had been given to Helen by Polydamna wife of Troy, and no one said anything to him. I alone of Thon, a woman of Egypt, where there grow all recognized him and began to question him, but he sorts of herbs, some good to put into the mixing-was too cunning for me. When, however, I had bowl and others poisonous. Moreover, every one in washed and anointed him and had given him the whole country is a skilled physician, for they clothes, and after I had sworn a solemn oath not to are of the race of Paeeon. When Helen had put this betray him to the Trojans till he had got safely back drug in the bowl, and had told the servants to serve to his own camp and to the ships, he told me all the wine round, she said:
that the Achaeans meant to do. He killed many
“Menelaus, son of Atreus, and you my good Trojans and got much information before he reached 42
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the Argive camp, for all which things the Trojan wives—Diomed, Ulysses, and I from our seats in-women made lamentation, but for my own part I side heard what a noise you made. Diomed and I was glad, for my heart was beginning to oam after could not make up our minds whether to spring my home, and I was unhappy about wrong that out then and there, or to answer you from inside, Venus had done me in taking me over there, away but Ulysses held us all in check, so we sat quite from my country, my girl, and my lawful wedded still, all except Anticlus, who was beginning to an-husband, who is indeed by no means deficient ei-swer you, when Ulysses clapped his two brawny ther in person or understanding.” hands over his mouth, and kept them there. It was Then Menelaus said, “All that you have been say-this that saved us all, for he muzzled Anticlus till ing, my dear wife, is true. I have travelled much, Minerva took you away again.” and have had much to do with heroes, but I have
“How sad,” exclaimed Telemachus, “that all this never seen such another man as Ulysses. What en-was of no avail to save him, nor yet his own iron durance too, and what courage he displayed within courage. But now, sir, be pleased to send us all to the wooden horse, wherein all the bravest of the bed, that we may lie down and enjoy the blessed Argives were lying in wait to bring death and de-boon of sleep.”
struction upon the Trojans. At that moment you On this Helen told the maid servants to set beds came up to us; some god who wished well to the in the room that was in the gatehouse, and to make Trojans must have set you on to it and you had them with good red rugs, and spread coverlets on Deiphobus with you. Three times did you go all the top of them with woollen cloaks for the guests round our hiding place and pat it; you called our to wear. So the maids went out, carrying a torch, chiefs each by his own name, and mimicked all our and made the beds, to which a man-servant pres-43
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ently conducted the strangers. Thus, then, did choly end, whether you saw it with your own eyes, Telemachus and Pisistratus sleep there in the or heard it from some other traveller; for he was a forecourt, while the son of Atreus lay in an inner man born to trouble. Do not soften things out of room with lovely Helen by his side.
any pity for myself, but tell me in all plainness ex-When the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, actly what you saw. If my brave father Ulysses ever appeared, Menelaus rose and dressed himself. He did you loyal service either by word or deed, when bound his sandals on to his comely feet, girded his you Achaeans were harassed by the Trojans, bear it sword about his shoulders, and left his room lookin mind now as in my favour and tell me truly all.” ing like an immortal god. Then, taking a seat near Menelaus on hearing this was very much shocked.
Telemachus he said:
“So,” he exclaimed, “these cowards would usurp a
“And what, Telemachus, has led you to take this brave man’s bed? A hind might as well lay her new long sea voyage to Lacedaemon? Are you on public born young in the lair of a lion, and then go off to or private business? Tell me all about it.” feed in the forest or in some grassy dell: the lion
“I have come, sir replied Telemachus, “to see if when he comes back to his lair will make short work you can tell me anything about my father. I am with the pair of them—and so will Ulysses with being eaten out of house and home; my fair estate these suitors. By father Jove, Minerva, and Apollo, is being wasted, and my house is full of miscreants if Ulysses is still the man that he was when he who keep killing great numbers of my sheep and wrestled with Philomeleides in Lesbos, and threw oxen, on the pretence of paying their addresses to him so heavily that all the Achaeans cheered him-my mother. Therefore, I am suppliant at your knees if he is still such and were to come near these suit-if haply you may tell me about my father’s melan-ors, they would have a short shrift and a sorry wed-44
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ding. As regards your questions, however, I will not barbed hooks, all over the island in the hope of prevaricate nor deceive you, but will tell you with-catching a fish or two to save them from the pangs out concealment all that the old man of the sea of hunger. ‘Stranger,’ said she, ‘it seems to me that told me.
you like starving in this way—at any rate it does
“I was trying to come on here, but the gods de-not greatly trouble you, for you stick here day after tained me in Egypt, for my hecatombs had not given day, without even trying to get away though your them full satisfaction, and the gods are very strict men are dying by inches.’
about having their dues. Now off Egypt, about as
“‘Let me tell you,’ said I, ‘whichever of the god-far as a ship can sail in a day with a good stiff breeze desses you may happen to be, that I am not staying behind her, there is an island called Pharos- it has a here of my own accord, but must have offended the good harbour from which vessels can get out into gods that live in heaven. Tell me, therefore, for the open sea when they have taken in water—and the gods know everything. which of the immortals it is gods becalmed me twenty days without so much as that is hindering me in this way, and tell me also a breath of fair wind to help me forward. We should how I may sail the sea so as to reach my home.’
have run clean out of provisions and my men would
“‘Stranger,’ replied she, ‘I will make it all quite have starved, if a goddess had not taken pity upon clear to you. There is an old immortal who lives me and saved me in the person of Idothea, daugh-under the sea hereabouts and whose name is Proter to Proteus, the old man of the sea, for she had teus. He is an Egyptian, and people say he is my taken a great fancy to me.
father; he is Neptune’s head man and knows every
“She came to me one day when I was by myself, inch of ground all over the bottom of the sea. If as I often was, for the men used to go with their you can snare him and hold him tight, he will tell 45
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you about your voyage, what courses you are to and will lay you in ambush. Pick out, therefore, the take, and how you are to sail the sea so as to reach three best men you have in your fleet, and I will tell your home. He will also tell you, if you so will, all you all the tricks that the old man will play you.
that has been going on at your house both good
“‘First he will look over all his seals, and count and bad, while you have been away on your long them; then, when he has seen them and tallied them and dangerous journey.’
on his five fingers, he will go to sleep among them,