Stories from the Odyssey
by H. L. Havell
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So they sat locked in each other's arms, that valiant, long-suffering man, and his faithful wife, two brave and patient souls, parted so long, and tried so hard, but now united once more in wedded love and bliss. The hours went by unheeded, and day would have overtaken them in that trance of delight, had not Athene marked them with pity from her heavenly seat, and stayed the steeds of the morning in the east, and prolonged the reign of night, that the joy of that first meeting might not be broken until they had tasted all its honey to the lees.



Early next day Odysseus rose and donned his armour, and having charged Penelope to keep close in her chamber, and admit no one into the house, he set forth to visit Laertes on his farm, attended by Telemachus and the two faithful herdsmen, all armed to the teeth. Arrived at the farmhouse he left his companions there, bidding them prepare the morning meal, and went out alone to find his father. Passing through the courtyard gate, he entered a large plot of ground, planted by Laertes as a garden and orchard; and there he found the old man, who was digging about the roots of a young tree. With strange emotions Odysseus noted every detail of his dress and figure—the soiled and tattered coat, the gaiters of clouted leather, the old gauntlets on his hands, and the goatskin cap. He who had once been the wealthiest prince in Ithaca had now the appearance of an ancient serving-man, broken down with years and toil.

But in the midst of his sorrow a freakish whim came into the head of Odysseus, characteristic of his subtle and tortuous nature. Approaching his father, who was still stooping over his work, he said to him in a disguised voice: "Old man, I perceive that thou art well skilled in the gardener's art: never saw I a garden better tended—not a tree, not a shrub, but bears witness to thy fostering care. And be not wroth with me if I say that is a wonder to see the keeper of so fair a garden himself so squalid and unkempt. Surely he whom thou servest must be an ungrateful master. Tell me his name, if thou wilt, and answer me truly if this be indeed the land of Ithaca to which I am come, as I heard from a man whom I met by the way. He seemed a churlish fellow, and would not stay to answer my questions; for I was fain to ask him concerning a friend whom I once entertained in my house, a native of Ithaca, as he told me, and a son of one Laertes. Many days he dwelt with me, eating and drinking of the best, and I sent him away laden with rich gifts, gold and silver, and costly raiment."

"Friend," answered Laertes, shedding tears, "to Ithaca indeed art thou come, but he of whom thou askest is no longer here. In vain were thy gifts bestowed, for he who would have repaid thee richly for all thy kindness hath perished long ago, and his bones lie bleaching on the bare earth, or at the bottom of the sea. Tell me, how long is it since thou didst receive him, and who art thou, and where is thy home?"

"I am a man of Alybas," replied Odysseus, "the son of Apheidas the son of Polypemon, and Eperitus is my name; and it is now five years since Odysseus departed from my home. Fair omens attended him on his starting, and we parted in high hopes that we should meet again in his own land."

At these words of Odysseus the poor old man was overwhelmed with sorrow, and he heaped dust upon his grey head, groaning in bitterness of spirit. Odysseus was moved with pity at the sight of his distress, and thinking that he had now tried him enough, he revealed himself, pointing as proofs to the scar above his knee, and to certain trees which Laertes had allowed him to call his own when he walked with him, hand-in-hand, as a little child, through the garden.

The sudden shock of joyful recognition was too much for the old man, and he fell fainting into his son's arms. When he was somewhat recovered they went back together towards the house, and on the way Odysseus spoke of the slaying of the wooers, and of the danger which threatened him from the vengeance of their friends.


Meanwhile the news of the wooers' violent death had spread like wildfire through the island, and their kinsmen went with loud clamour to the house of Odysseus to carry away the dead bodies. When this was done they gathered together at the place of assembly to devise some plan of vengeance; and Eupeithes, the father of Antinous, made violent outcry against Odysseus for his great act of savage justice.

While they were debating, Medon and Phemius appeared on the scene, and described the manner in which the wooers had met their end. "The hand of Heaven," said Medon, "was made manifest in the deed. I myself saw Athene leading the onset, and your sons were laid low like ripe sheaves before the sickle." This report chilled their courage not a little; and Halitherses, seeing the effect produced, exerted all his eloquence to put an end to the blood feud. Nevertheless more than half of those present persisted in their purpose, and donning their armour went forth from the town to meet the party of Odysseus.

The encounter took place in front of the farmhouse, where Odysseus and the others had just taken their morning meal. Laertes, who seemed to have recovered all the vigour of his youth, led the attack, and by a well-aimed cast of his lance struck down Eupeithes, the leader of the opposing party. This success was followed up by a vigorous charge, in the midst of which a supernatural voice was heard in the air, striking terror into the assailants of Odysseus, who turned and fled in wild panic towards the town. They were hotly pursued, and not a man would have been left alive had not Zeus himself interposed to stay the slaughter. By his command Athene acted as mediator between Odysseus and the kinsmen of the wooers, and an oath of amnesty was taken on both sides, confirmed with solemn prayer and sacrifice.


[Transcriber's note: The orignial list contains characters that are not found in normal ASCII, indicating the long or short stress to be put on the vowels. These are rendered below by the characters in [square brackets], thus: A ")" indicates a short vowel, and a "=" indicates a long. So "hay" would be rendered as "hā" and "aha" would be "ăhă" and so on.]

Achilles (ăkil'ez) AEetes (ē-ē'-tez) AEgaean (ēgē'an) AEgisthus (ēgis'thus) AEgyptus (ēgyp'tus) AEolus (ē'ŏlus) AEthon (ē'thon) Agamemnon (ăgămĕm'non) Agelaus (ăgĕlā'us) Ajax (ā'jax) Alcinous (alsĭn'-ŏ-us) Alcmene (alkmē'nē) Alybas (āl'ĭbas) Amphinomus (amphĭn'ŏmus) Anticleia (antĭklī'a) Antilochus (antĭl'ŏchus) Antiphates (antĭph'ătēz) Antinous (antĭn'ŏus) Antiphus (an'tĭfus) Apheidas (ăfī'das) Aphrodite (ăfrŏdī'tē) Arcady (ar'cădĭ) Arete (ārē'tē) Arethusa (ărĕthyū'să) Arnaeus (arnē'us) Artemis (ar'tĕmis) Arybas (ă'ribas) Athene (ăthē'nē) Atreus (ā'trūs) Aurora (ōrō'ră)

Booetes (bŏō'tēz)

Calypso (kălĭp'sō) Cassandra (cassan'dră) Charybdis (kărib'dis) Cimmerians (simmĕ'rĭans) Circe (sĭr'sē) Clytaemnestra (clītēmnĕs'tră) Cnosus (knō'sŭs) Ctesippus (ktĕ'sĭpus) Ctesius (ktē'sĭus) Cyclopes (sīklō'pēz) Cyclops (sī'klops)

Deiphobus (dēĭf'ŏbus) Delos (dĕ'los) Demeter (dēmē'tēr) Demodocus (dēmŏ'dŏcus) Deucalion (dūka'lĭon) Diomede (dĭ'ŏmeed) Dodona (dō-dō'nă) Dolius (dŏl'ĭus) Dulichium (dyūlĭ'-kĭum)

Eidothea (īdō'thĭ-ĕă) Elis (ē'lis) Elpenor (ĕlpē'nōr) Eperitus (ĕpē'rĭtus) Ephialtes (ĕfĭal'tēz) Ephyra (ĕf'ĭră) Eriphyle (ĕrĭfī'lē) Euboea (yūbē'a) Eumaeus (yūmē'us) Eupeithes (yūpī'thēz) Eurymachus (yūrĭ'măkus) Eurynomus (yūrĭ'nŏmus) Eurycleia (yūrīclī'ă) Euryalus (yūrī'ălus) Eurylochus (yūrĭl'ŏkus) Eurydamas (yūrĭd'ămas) Eurytus (yū'rĭtus)

Hades (hā'dēz) Halitherses (hălĭther'sēz) Helios (hĕ'lĭos) Hephaestus (hēfēs'tus) Hera (hē'ră) Hercules (her'cŭlēz) Hermes (her'mēz)

Iasion (īă'sĭon) Icarius (īkă'rĭus) Idomeneus (īdōm'ĕnyūs) Ino (ī'nŏ) Iphimedeia (ifĭmĕdī'ă) Iphitus (if'ĭtus) Iphthime (ifthī'mē) Irus (ī'rus) Ithaca (ĭth'ăcă)

Lacedaemon (lăsĕdē'mon) Laertes (lāĕr'tēz) Laestrygonia (lēstrĭgŏ'nĭă) Leda (lē'dă) Leiodes (līō'dēz) Lesbos (lĕz'bos) Leto (lē'tō)

Malea (măl'ĕă) Medon (med'on) Melampus (mĕlam'pus) Melanthius (mĕlan'thĭus) Melantho (mĕlan'thō) Menelaus (mĕnĕlā'us) Mentes (men'tez) Mentor (men'tōr) Messene (messē'nē) Minos (mī'nos) Mycenae (mīsē'nē)

Nausicaa (nausĭk'ă-ă) Neleus (nē'lyūs) Neoptolemus (neoptŏl'ĕmus) Neritus (nē'rĭtus) Nestor (nĕs'tōr)

Oceanus (osē'anus) Odysseus (odis'yūs) Orestes (ŏrĕs'tēz) Orion (ōrī'on) Ormenius (ormĕn'ĭus) Orsilochus (orsĭl'ŏkus) Ortygia (ortĭ'gĭă) Otus (ŏ'tus)

Patroclus (pătrŏ'clus) Peiraeus (pīrē'us) Peleus (pē'lyūs) Pelides (pĕlī'dēz) Pelion (pē'lĭon) Penelope (pēnĕl'ŏpē) Persephone (persĕf'ŏnē) Pharos (fā'ros) Phaeacia (fēā'siă) Phemius (fē'mĭus) Pherae (fē'rē) Philoctetes (fĭloktē'tēz) Philoetius (fĭlē'tĭus) Pisistratus (pīsis'trătus) Pleiades (plī'adēz) Polycaste (pŏlĭcas'tē) Polydamna (pŏlĭdam'na) Polypemon (pŏlĭpē'mon) Polyphemus (pŏlĭfē'mus) Poseidon (pŏsī'don) Proteus (prō'tyūs) Pylos (pī'los)

Same (sā'mē) Scylla (sil'lă) Scyros (skī'ros) Sirens (sī'rens) Sisyphus (sĭ'sĭfus) Sunium (syū'nĭum)

Tantalus (tan'tălus) Teiresias (tīrĕ'sĭas) Telamon (tĕl'ămon) Telemachus (tēlē'măkus) Tenedos (tĕn'ĕdos) Theoclymenus (thĕŏcly'mĕnus) Thesprotia (thĕsprō'tīă) Thon (thōn) Tityos (tĭt'ĭos) Tyndareus (tin'dăryūs)

Zacynthus (zăkin'thus) Zeus (zyūs)


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