The Story Of The Odyssey
by The Rev. Alfred J. Church
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Three thousand years ago the world was still young. The western continent was a huge wilderness, and the greater part of Europe was inhabited by savage and wandering tribes. Only a few nations at the eastern end of the Mediterranean and in the neighbouring parts of Asia had learned to dwell in cities, to use a written language, to make laws for themselves, and to live in a more orderly fashion. Of these nations the most brilliant was that of the Greeks, who were destined in war, in learning, in government, and in the arts, to play a great part in the world, and to be the real founders of our modern civilization. While they were still a rude people, they had noble ideals of beauty and bravery, of duty and justice. Even before they had a written language, their singers had made songs about their heroes and their great deeds; and later these songs, which fathers had taught to children, and these children to their children, were brought together into two long and wonderful poems, which have ever since been the delight of the world, the Iliad and the Odyssey.

The Iliad is the story of the siege of Ilium, or Troy, on the western coast of Asia Minor. Paris, son of the king of Troy, had enticed Helen, the most beautiful of Grecian women, and the wife of a Grecian king, to leave her husband's home with him; and the kings and princes of the Greeks had gathered an army and a fleet and sailed across the Aegean Sea to rescue her. For ten years they strove to capture the city. According to the fine old legends, the gods themselves took a part in the war, some siding with the Greeks, and some with the Trojans. It was finally through Ulysses, a famous Greek warrior, brave and fierce as well as wise and crafty, that the Greeks captured the city.

The second poem, the Odyssey, tells what befell Ulysses, or Odysseus, as the Greeks called him, on his homeward way. Sailing from Troy with his little fleet of ships, which were so small that they used oars as well as sails, he was destined to wander for ten years longer before he could return to his rocky island of Ithaca, on the west shore of Greece, and to his faithful wife, Penelope.

He had marvellous adventures, for the gods who had opposed the Greeks at Troy had plotted to bring him ill-fortune. Just as his ships were safely rounding the southern cape of Greece, a fierce storm took them out of their course, and bore them to many strange lands—lands of giants, man-eating monsters, and wondrous enchantments of which you will delight to read. Through countless perils the resolute wanderer forced his way, losing ship after ship from his little fleet, and companion after companion from his own band, until he reached home friendless and alone, and found his palace, his property, and his family all in the power of a band of greedy princes. These he overcame by his cunning and his strength, and his long trials were ended.

As you read these ancient tales, you must forget what knowledge you have of the world, and think of it as the Greeks did. It was only a little part of the world that they knew at all,—the eastern end of the Mediterranean,—but even that seemed to them a great and marvellous region. Beyond its borders were strange and mysterious lands, in which wonders of all kinds were found, and round all ran the great world-river, the encircling stream of Ocean.

In the mountains of Olympus, to the northward, lived the gods. There was Zeus, greatest of all, the god of thunder and the wide heavens; Hera, his wife; Apollo, the archer god; Athene, the wise and clever goddess; Poseidon, who ruled the sea; Aphrodite, the goddess of love; Hephaestus, the cunning workman; Ares, the god of war; Hermes, the swift messenger; and others still, whom you will learn to know as you read. All these were worshipped by men with prayer and sacrifice; and, as in the early legends of many races, the gods often took the shape of men and women; they had their favourites and those whom they hated; and they ruled the fate of mortals as they chose.

If you let yourselves be beguiled into this old, simple way of regarding earth and heaven, you will not only love these ancient tales yourself, but you will see why, for century after century, they have been the longest loved and the best loved of all tales— beloved by old and young, by men and women and children. For they are hero-tales,—tales of war and adventure, tales of bravery and nobility, tales of the heroes that mankind, almost since the beginning of time, have looked to as ideals of wisdom and strength and beauty.



THE COUNSEL [Footnote: counsel, advice.] OF ATHENE [Footnote: A-the'-ne.]

When the great city of Troy had been taken, all the chiefs who had fought against it set sail for their homes. But there was wrath in heaven against them, so that they did not find a safe and happy return. For one was shipwrecked, and another was shamefully slain by his false wife in his palace, and others found all things at home troubled and changed, and were driven to seek new dwellings elsewhere; and some were driven far and wide about the world before they saw their native land again. Of all, the wise Ulysses [Footnote: U-lys'-ses.] was he that wandered farthest and suffered most, for when ten years had well-nigh passed, he was still far away from Ithaca [Footnote: Ith'-a-ca.], his kingdom.

The gods were gathered in council in the hall of Olympus [Footnote: O- lym'-pus.], all but Poseidon, [Footnote: Po-sei'-don.] the god of the sea, for he had gone to feast with the Ethiopians. Now Poseidon was he who most hated Ulysses, and kept him from his home.

Then spake Athene among the immortal gods: "My heart is rent for Ulysses. Sore affliction doth he suffer in an island of the sea, where the daughter of Atlas keepeth him, seeking to make him forget his native land. And he yearns to see even the smoke rising up from the land of his birth, and is fain [Footnote: is fain, wishes to] to die. And thou regardest it not at all. Did he not offer thee many sacrifices in the land of Troy? Wherefore hast thou such wrath against him?" To her Zeus, the father of the gods, made reply: "What is this that thou sayest, my daughter? It is Poseidon that hath great wrath against Ulysses, because he blinded his son Polyphemus [Footnote: Pol-y-phe'-mus.] the Cyclops. [Footnote: Cy'-clops.] But come, let us take counsel together that he may return to his home, for Poseidon will not be able to contend against us all."

Then said Athene: "If this be thy will, then let us speed Hermes [Footnote: Her'-mes.] the messenger to the island of Calypso [Footnote: Ca-lyp'-so.], and let him declare to the goddess our purpose that Ulysses shall return to his home. And I will go to Ithaca, and stir up the spirit of his son Telemachus [Footnote: Te-lem'-a-chus.], that first he speak out his mind to the suitors of his mother who waste his substance, [Footnote: substance, property.] and next that he go to Sparta and to Pylos [Footnote: Py'-los.], seeking tidings of his father. So shall the youth win good report among men."

So she went to Ithaca, and there she took upon her the form of Mentes [Footnote: Men'-tes.], who was chief of the Taphians. [Footnote: Ta'-phi-ans.]

Now there were gathered in the house of Ulysses many princes from the islands, suitors of the Queen Penelope [Footnote: Pe-nel'-o- pe.], for they said that Ulysses was dead, and that she should choose another husband. These were gathered together, and were sitting playing draughts [Footnote: draughts, checkers.] and feasting. And Telemachus sat among them, vexed at heart, for they wasted his substance; neither was he master in his house. But when he saw the guest at the door, he rose from his place, and welcomed him, and made him sit down, and commanded that they should give him food and wine. And when he had ended his meal, Telemachus asked him his business.

Thereupon the false Mentes said: "My name is Mentes, and I am King of the Taphians, and I am sailing to Cyprus for copper, taking iron in exchange. Now I have been long time the friend of this house, of thy father and thy father's father, and I came trusting to see thy father, for they told me that he was here. But now I see that some god hath hindered his return, for that he is yet alive I know full well. But tell me, who are these that I see? Is this the gathering of a clan, or a wedding feast?"

Telemachus made answer: "O sir, while my father was yet alive, our house was rich and honoured; but now that he is gone, things are not well with me. I would not grieve so much had he fallen in battle before Troy; for then the Greeks would have builded a great burial mound for him, and he would thus have won great renown, even for his son. But now the storms of the sea have swept him away, and I am left in sore distress. For these whom thou seest are the princes of the islands that come here to woo my mother. She neither refuseth nor accepteth; and meanwhile they sit here, and waste my substance."

Then said the false Mentes: "Now may the gods help thee! Thou art indeed in sore need of Ulysses. But now hearken to my counsel. First call an assembly of the people. Bid the suitors go back, each man to his home; and as for thy mother, if she be moved to wed, let her return to her father's house, that her kinsfolk may furnish a wedding feast, and prepare gifts such as a well-beloved daughter should have. Afterwards do thou fit up a ship with twenty oars, and go, inquire concerning thy father; perhaps some man may give thee tidings of him; or, may be, thou wilt hear a voice from Zeus concerning him. Go to Pylos first, and afterwards to Sparta, where Menelaus [Footnote: Me-ne-la'-us.] dwelleth, who of all the Greeks came back the last to his home. If thou shouldest hear that he is dead, then come back hither, and raise a mound for him, and give thy mother to a husband. And when thou hast made an end of all these things, then plan how thou mayest slay the suitors by force or craft, for it is time for thee to have the thoughts of a man."

Then said Telemachus: "Thou speakest these things out of a friendly heart, as a father might speak to his son, nor will I ever forget them. But now, I pray thee, abide here for a space, that I may give thee a goodly gift, such as friends give to friends, to be an heirloom in thy house."

But the false Mentes said, "Keep me no longer, for I am eager to depart; give me thy gift when I shall return."

So the goddess departed; like to an eagle of the sea was she as she flew. And Telemachus knew her to be a goddess as she went.

Meanwhile Phemius [Footnote: Phe'-mi-us.] the minstrel sang to the suitors, and his song was of the unhappy return of the Greeks from Troy.

When Penelope heard the song, she came down from the upper chamber where she sat, and two handmaids bare her company. And when she came to where the suitors sat, she stood by the gate of the hall, holding her shining veil before her face. Then spake she to the minstrel, weeping, and said: "Phemius, thou knowest many songs concerning the deeds of gods and men; sing, therefore, one of these, and let the guests drink the wine in silence. But stay this pitiful strain, for it breaketh my heart to hear it. Surely, of all women I am the most unhappy, so famous was the husband for whom I mourn."

But Telemachus made reply: "Why dost thou grudge the minstrel, my mother, to make us glad in such fashion as his spirit biddeth him? It is no blame to him that he singeth of the unhappy return of the Greeks, for men most prize the song that soundeth newest in their ears. Endure, therefore, to listen, for not Ulysses only missed his return, but many a famous chief besides. Go, then, to thy chamber, and mind thy household affairs, and bid thy handmaids ply their tasks. Speech belongeth unto men, and chiefly to me that am the master in this house."

Then went she back to her chamber, for she was amazed at her son, with such authority did he speak. Then she bewailed her lord, till Athene sent down sleep upon her eyes.

When she was gone, Telemachus spake to the suitors, saying: "Let us now feast and be merry, and let there be no brawling among us. It is a good thing to listen to a minstrel that hath a voice as the voice of a god. But in the morning let us go to the assembly, that I may declare my purpose, to wit, that ye leave this hall, and eat your own substance. But if ye deem it a better thing that ye should waste another man's goods, and make no recompense, then work your will. But certainly Zeus shall repay you."

So he spake, and they all marvelled that he used such boldness. And Antinous [Footnote: An-ti'-no-us.] answered: "Surely, Telemachus, it is by the bidding of the gods that thou speakest so boldly. Therefore I pray that Zeus may never make thee King in Ithaca."

Then said Telemachus: "It is no ill thing to be a king, for his house groweth rich, and he himself is honoured. But there are others in Ithaca, young and old, who may have the kingship, now that Ulysses is dead. Yet know that I will be lord of my own house and of the slaves which Ulysses won for himself with his own spear."

Thereupon spake Eurymachus [Footnote: Eu-rym'-a-chus.], saying: "It is with the gods to say who shall be King in Ithaca; but no man can deny that thou shouldest keep thine own goods and be lord in thine own house. Tell me, who is this stranger that came but just now to thy house? Did he bring tidings of thy father? Or came he on some matter of his own? In strange fashion did he depart, nor did he tarry that we might know him."

Telemachus made answer: "Verily, Eurymachus, the day of my father's return hath gone by forever. As for this stranger, he said that he was Mentes, King of the Taphians."

So spake Telemachus, but in his heart he knew that the stranger was Athene. Then the suitors turned them to the dance and to the song, making merry till the darkness fell. Then went they each to his own house to sleep.

But Telemachus went to his chamber, pondering many things in his heart. And Eurycleia, [Footnote: Eu-ry-clei'-a] who had nursed him when he was little, went with him, bearing torches in her hands. He opened the door of the chamber, and took off his doublet, and put it in the wise woman's hands. She folded it, and smoothed it, and hung it on a pin, and went forth from the room, and pulled to the door, and made it fast. And all the night Telemachus thought in his heart of the journey which Athene had showed him.



When the morning came, Telemachus bade the heralds call the people to the assembly. So the heralds called them, and they came in haste. And when they were gathered together, he went his way to the place of meeting, holding in his hand a spear, and two dogs followed him. Then did Athene shed a marvellous grace upon him, so that all men wondered at him, as he sat him down in his father's place.

First spake Aegyptus [Footnote: AE-gyp'-tus.], who was bowed with many years, and was very wise. Four sons he had. One had gone with Ulysses to Troy, and one was among the suitors of the Queen, and two abode with their father in the field. He said: "Hearken to me, men of Ithaca! Never hath an assembly been called in Ithaca since Ulysses departed. Who now hath called us together? If it be Telemachus, what doth he want? Hath he heard any tidings of the coming back of the host? He, methinks, is a true man. May Zeus be with him and grant him his heart's desire!"

So spake the old man, and Telemachus was glad at his speech. Then he rose up and said:—

"I have great trouble in my heart, men of Ithaca, for first my father, whom ye all loved, is dead; and next the princes of the islands come hither, making suit to my mother, but she waits ever for the return of her husband. And they devour all our substance; nor is Ulysses here to defend it, and I, in truth, am not able. And this is a grievous wrong, and not to be borne."

Then he dashed his sceptre on the ground, and sat down weeping. And Antinous, who was one of the suitors, rose up and said:—

"Nay, Telemachus, blame not us, but blame thy mother, who indeed is crafty above all women. For now this is the fourth year that we have come suing for her hand, and she has cheated us with hopes. Hear now this that she did. She set up a great web for weaving, and said to us: 'Listen, ye that are my suitors. Hasten not my marriage till I finish this web to be a burial cloth for Laertes [Footnote: La-er'-tes.], the father of Ulysses, for indeed it would be foul shame if he who has won great possessions should lack this honour.' So she spake, and for three years she cheated us, for what she wove in the day she unravelled at night. But when the fourth year was come, one of her maidens told us of the matter, and we came upon her by night and found her unravelling what she had woven in the day. Then did she finish it, much against her will. Send away, therefore, thy mother, and bid her marry whom she will. But till this be done we will not depart."

Then answered Telemachus: "How can I send away against her will her who bare me and brought me up? I cannot do this thing."

So he spake; and there came two eagles, which flew abreast till they came over the assembly. Then did they wheel in the air, and shook out from each many feathers, and tare each other, and so departed.

Then cried Alitherses [Footnote: A-li-ther'-ses.], the prophet: "Beware, ye suitors, for great trouble is coming to you, and to others also. And as for Ulysses, I said when he went to Troy that he should return after twenty years; and so it shall be."

And when the suitors would not listen, Telemachus said: "Give me a ship and twenty rowers, that I may go to Pylos and to Sparta; perhaps I may hear news of my father. And if I hear that he is dead, then will I come back hither and raise up a mound for him and give my mother to a husband."

Having thus spoken, he sat down, and Mentor [Footnote: Men'-tor.], whom Ulysses, when he departed, set over his household, rose up in the midst, and spake, saying: "Now henceforth never let any king be kind and gentle in his heart or minded to work righteousness. Let him rather be a hard man and unrighteous. For now no man of all the people whose lord he was remembereth Ulysses. Yet he was gentle as a father. If the suitors are minded to do evil deeds, I hinder them not. They do them at the peril of their own heads. It is with the people that I am wroth, to see how they sit speechless, and cry not shame upon the suitors; and yet they are many in number, and the suitors are few."

Then Leocritus [Footnote: Le-oc'-ri-tus.], who was one of the suitors, answered: "Surely thy wits wander, O Mentor, that thou biddest the people put us down. Of a truth, if Ulysses himself should come back, and should seek to drive the suitors from the hall, it would fare ill with him. An evil fate would he meet, if he fought with them. As for the people, let them go to their own houses. Let Mentor speed the young man's voyage, for he is a friend of his house. Yet I doubt whether he will ever accomplish it."

So he spake, and the assembly was dismissed.

But Telemachus went apart to the shore of the sea, and he washed his hands in the water of the sea, and prayed to Athene, saying: "Hear me, thou who didst come yesterday to the house, and bid me take a ship, and sail across the sea, seeking tidings of my father! The people delay my purpose, and the suitors stir them up in the wickedness of their hearts."

And while he prayed, Athene stood by him, like to Mentor in shape and speech. She spake, saying: "Thou art not without spirit, and art like to be a true son of Ulysses and Penelope. Therefore, I have good hopes that this journey of which thou speakest will not be in vain. But as for the suitors, think not of them, for they talk folly, and know not of the doom that is even now close upon them. Go, therefore, and talk with the suitors as before, and get ready food for a journey, wine and meal. And I will gather men who will offer themselves freely for the journey, and I will find a ship also, the best in Ithaca."

Then Telemachus returned to the house, and the suitors were flaying goats and singeing swine in the court. And Antinous caught him by the hand and said, "Eat and drink, Telemachus, and we will find a ship and rowers for thee, that thou mayest go where thou wilt, to inquire for thy father."

But Telemachus answered: "Think ye that I will eat and drink with you, who so shamefully waste my substance? Be sure of this, that I will seek vengeance against you, and if ye deny me a ship, I will even go in another man's."

So he spake, and dragged his hand from the hand of Antinous.

And another of the suitors said, "Now will Telemachus go and seek help against us from Pylos or from Sparta, or may be he will put poison in our cups, and so destroy us."

And another said: "Perchance he also will perish, as his father has perished. Then we should divide all his substance, but the house we should give to his mother and to her husband."

So they spake, mocking him. But he went to the chamber of his father, in which were ranged many casks of old wine, and gold and bronze, and clothing and olive oil; and of these things the prudent Eurycleia, who was the keeper of the house, had care. To her he spake: "Mother, make ready for me twelve jars of wine, not of the best, but of that which is next to it, and twenty measures of barley-meal. At even will I take them, when my mother sleeps, for I go to Pylos and Sparta; perchance I may hear news of my father."

But the old woman said, weeping: "What meanest thou, being an only son, thus to travel abroad? Wilt thou perish, as thy father has perished? For this evil brood of suitors will plot to slay thee and divide thy goods. Thou hadst better sit peaceably at home."

Then Telemachus said: "'Tis at the bidding of the gods I go. Only swear that thou wilt say naught to my mother till eleven or twelve days be past, unless, perchance, she should ask concerning me."

And the old woman sware that it should be so. And Telemachus went again among the suitors. But Athene, meanwhile, taking his shape, had gathered together a crew, and also had borrowed a ship for the voyage. And, lest the suitors should hinder the thing, she caused a deep sleep to fall upon them, so that they slept where they sat. Then she came in the shape of Mentor to the palace, and called Telemachus forth, saying:

"The rowers are ready; let us go."

Then Athene led the way, and they found the ship's crew upon the shore. To them spake Telemachus, saying, "Come now, my friends, let us carry the food on board, for it is all in the chamber, and no one knoweth of the matter; neither my mother, nor any of the maidens, but one woman only."

So they went to the house with him, and carried all the provision, and stowed it in the ship. Then Telemachus climbed the ship and sat down on the stern, and Athene sat by him.

And when he called to the crew, they made ready to depart. They raised the pine tree mast, and set it in the hole that was made for it, and they made it fast with stays. Then they hauled up the white sails with ropes of ox-hide. And the wind filled out the sail, and the water seethed about the stem of the ship, as she hasted through the water. And when all was made fast in the ship, then they mixed wine in the bowl, and poured out drink offerings to the gods, especially to Zeus.

So all the night, and till the dawn, the ship sped through the sea.



At sunrise the ship came to Pylos, where Nestor dwelt. Now it so chanced that the people were offering a great sacrifice upon the shore to Poseidon. Nine companies there were, and in each company five hundred men, and for the five hundred there were nine bulls. And they had tasted of the inner parts and were burning the slices of flesh on the thigh-bones to the god, when Telemachus's company moored the ship and came forth from it to the shore. Athene spake to Telemachus, saying: "Now thou hast no need to be ashamed. Thou hast sailed across the sea to hear tidings of thy father. Go, therefore, to Nestor, and learn what counsel he hath in the deep of his heart."

But Telemachus answered, "How shall I speak to him, being so untried and young?"

"Nay," said the goddess; "but thou shalt think of something thyself, and something the gods will put into thy mouth."

So saying she led the way, and they came to where Nestor sat, with his sons, and a great company round him, making ready the feast. When these saw the strangers, they clasped their hands, and made them sit down on soft fleeces of wool. And Nestor's son Peisistratus [Footnote: Pei-sis'-tra-tus] brought to them food, and wine in a cup of gold. To Athene first he gave the wine, for he judged her to be the elder of the two, saying, "Pray now to the Lord Poseidon, and make thy drink offering, and when thou hast so done, give the cup to thy friend that he may do likewise."

Then Athene took the cup and prayed to Poseidon, saying: "Grant renown to Nestor and his son, and reward the men of Pylos for this great sacrifice. And grant that we may accomplish that for which we have come hither."

And the son of Ulysses prayed in like manner.

When they had eaten and drunk their fill, Nestor said: "Strangers, who are ye? Sail ye over the seas for trade, or as pirates that wander at hazard of their lives?"

To him Telemachus made reply, Athene putting courage into his heart: "We come from Ithaca, and our errand concerns ourselves. I seek for tidings of my father, who in old time fought by thy side, and sacked the city of Troy. Of all the others who did battle with the men of Troy, we have heard, whether they have returned, or where they died; but even the death of this man remains untold. Therefore am I come hither to thee; perchance thou mayest be willing to tell me of him, whether thou sawest his death with thine own eyes, or hast heard it from another. Speak me no soft words for pity's sake, but tell me plainly what thou hast seen."

Nestor made answer: "Thou bringest to my mind all that we endured, warring round Priam's mighty town. There the best of us were slain. Valiant Ajax [Footnote: A'-jax.] lies there, and there Achilles [Footnote: A-chil'-les], and there Patroclus [Footnote: Pa-tro'-clus], and there my own dear son. Who could tell the tale of all that we endured? Truly, no one, not though thou shouldst abide here five years or six to listen. For nine whole years we were busy, devising the ruin of the enemy, which yet Zeus brought not to pass. And always Ulysses passed the rest in craft, thy father Ulysses, if indeed thou art his son, and verily thy speech is like to his; one would not think that a younger man could be so like to an elder. But listen to my tale. When we had sacked the town, I returned across the sea without delay, leaving behind the others, so that I know not of my own knowledge which of the Greeks was saved and which was lost. But wander not thou, my son, far from home, while strangers devour thy substance. Go to Menelaus, for he hath but lately come back from a far country; go and ask him to tell thee all that he knoweth. If thou wilt, go with thy ships, or, if it please thee better, I will send thee with a chariot and horses, and my sons shall be thy guides."

Then said Athene: "Let us cut up the tongues of the beasts, and mix the wine, and pour offerings to Poseidon and the other gods, and so bethink us of sleep, for it is the time."

So she spake, and they hearkened to her words. And when they had finished, Athene and Telemachus would have gone back to their ship. But Nestor stayed them, saying: "Now Zeus and all the gods forbid that ye should depart to your ships from my house, as though it were the dwelling of a needy man that hath not rugs and blankets in his house, whereon his guests may sleep! Not so; I have rugs and blankets enough. Never shall the son of my friend Ulysses lay him down on his ship's deck, while I am alive, or my children after me, to entertain strangers in my hall."

Thereupon said the false Mentor: "This is good, dear father. Let Telemachus abide with thee; but I will go back to the ship, and cheer the company, and tell them all. There I will sleep this night, and to-morrow I go to the Cauconians [Footnote: Cau-co'-ni- ans.], where there is owing to me a debt neither small nor of yesterday. But do thou send this man on his way in thy chariot."

Then the goddess departed in the semblance of a sea-eagle, and all that saw it were amazed.

Then the old man took Telemachus by the hand, and said: "No coward or weakling art thou like to be, whom the gods attend even now in thy youth. This is none other than Athene, daughter of Zeus, the same that stood by thy father in the land of Troy."

After this the old man led the company to his house. Here he mixed for them a bowl of wine eleven years old; and they prayed to Athene, and then lay down to sleep. Telemachus slept on a bedstead beneath the gallery, and Peisistratus slept by him.

The next day, as soon as it was morning, Nestor and his sons arose. And the old man said: "Let one man go to the plain for a heifer, and let another go to the ship of Telemachus, and bid all the company come hither, leaving two only behind. And a third shall command the goldsmith to gild the horns of the heifer, and let the handmaids prepare all things for a feast."

They did as the old man commanded; and after they had offered sacrifice, and had eaten and drunk, old Nester said, "Put now the horses in the chariot, that Telemachus may go his way."

So they yoked the horses, and the dame that kept the stores put into the chariot food and wine and dainties, such as princes eat. And Peisistratus took the reins, and Telemachus rode with him. And all that day they journeyed; and when the land grew dark they came to the city of Pherae [Footnote: Phe'-rae.], and there they rested; and the next day, travelling again, came to Lacedaemon [Footnote: La-ce-dae'-mon.], to the palace of King Menelaus.



Now it chanced that Menelaus had made a great feast that day, for his daughter, the child of the fair Helen, was married to the son of Achilles, to whom she had been promised at Troy; and his son had also taken a wife. And the two wayfarers stayed their chariot at the door, and the steward spied them, and said to Menelaus:—

"Lo! here are two strangers who are like the children of kings. Shall we keep them here, or send them to another?"

But Menelaus was wroth, and said: "Shall we, who have eaten so often of the bread of hospitality, send these strangers to another? Nay, unyoke their horses and bid them sit down to meat." So the squires loosed the horses from the yoke, and fastened them in the stall, and gave them grain to eat and led the men into the hall. Much did they marvel at the sight, for there was a gleam as of the sun or moon in the palace of Menelaus. And when they had gazed their fill, they bathed them in the polished baths. After that they sat them down by the side of Menelaus. Then a handmaid bare water in a pitcher of gold, and poured it over a basin of silver that they might wash their hands. Afterwards she drew a polished table to their side, and a dame brought food, and set it by them, laying many dainties on the board, and a carver placed by them platters of flesh, and set near them golden bowls.

Then said Menelaus: "Eat and be glad; afterwards I will ask you who ye are, for ye seem like to the sons of kings."

And when they had ended the meal, Telemachus, looking round at the hall, said to his companion:—

"See the gold and the amber, and the silver and the ivory. This is like the hall of Zeus."

This he spake with his face close to his comrade's ear, but Menelaus heard him and said:—

"With the halls of the gods nothing mortal may compare. And among men also there may be the match of these things. Yet I have wandered far, and got many possessions in many lands. But woe is me! Would that I had but the third part of this wealth of mine, and that they who perished at Troy were alive again! And most of all I mourn for the great Ulysses, for whether he be alive or dead no man knows."

But Telemachus wept to hear mention of his father, holding up his purple cloak before his eyes. This Menelaus saw, and knew who he was, and pondered whether he should wait till he should himself speak of his father, or should rather ask him of his errand. But while he pondered there came in the fair Helen, and three maidens with her, of whom one set a couch for her to sit, and one spread a carpet for her feet, and one bare a basket of purple wool; but she herself had a distaff of gold in her hand. And when she saw the strangers she said:—

"Who are these, Menelaus? Never have I seen such likeness in man or woman as this one bears to Ulysses. Surely 'tis his son Telemachus, whom he left an infant at home when ye went to Troy for my sake!"

Then said Menelaus: "It must indeed be so, lady. For these are the hands and feet of Ulysses, and the look of his eyes and his hair. And but now, when I made mention of his name, he wept, holding his mantle before his face."

Then said Peisistratus: "King Menelaus, thou speakest truth. This is indeed the son of Ulysses who is come to thee; perchance thou canst help him by word or deed."

And Menelaus answered: "Then is he the son of a man whom I loved right well. I thought to give him a city in this land, bringing him from Ithaca with all his goods. Then should naught have divided us but death itself. But these things the gods have ordered otherwise."

At these words they all wept—the fair Helen and Telemachus and Menelaus; nor could Peisistratus refrain himself, for he thought of his dear brother who was slain at Troy.

Then said Menelaus: "Now we will cease from weeping; and to-morrow there is much that Telemachus and I must say one to the other."

Then the fair Helen put a mighty medicine in the wine whereof they drank—nepenthe [Footnote: ne-pen'-the], men call it. So mighty is it that whoever drinks of it, weeps not that day, though father and mother die, and though men slay brother or son before his eyes.

And after this she said: "It would take long to tell all the wise and valiant deeds of Ulysses. One thing, however, ye shall hear, and it is this: while the Greeks were before Troy he came into the city, having disguised himself as a beggar-man, yea, and he had laid many blows upon himself, so that he seemed to have been shamefully treated. I alone knew who he was, and questioned him, but he answered craftily. And I swore that I would not betray him. So he slew many Trojans with the sword, and learnt many things. And while other women in Troy lamented, I was glad, for my heart was turned again to my home."

Then Menelaus said: "Thou speakest truly, lady. Many men have I seen, and travelled over many lands, but never have I seen one who might be matched with Ulysses. Well do I remember how, when I and other chiefs of the Greeks sat in the horse of wood, thou didst come. Some god who loved the sons of Troy put the thing into thy heart. Thrice didst thou walk round our hiding-place and call by name to each one of the chiefs, speaking marvellously like his wife. Then would we have risen from our place or answered thee straightway. But Ulysses hindered us, and thus saved all the Greeks."

But Telemachus said: "Yet all these things have not kept him, for he has perished."

And after that they slept.



The next day Menelaus said to Telemachus: "For what end hast thou come hither to fair Lacedaemon?"

Then Telemachus said: "I have come to ask if thou canst tell me aught of my father. For certain suitors of my mother devour my goods, nor do I see any help. Tell me truly, therefore; knowest thou anything thyself about my father, or hast thou heard anything from another?"

And Menelaus answered:—

"In the river AEgyptus I was stayed long time, though I was eager to get home; the gods stayed me, for I had not offered to them due sacrifice. Now there is an island in the wash of the waves over against the land of Egypt—men call it Pharos [Footnote: Pha'- ros.], and it is distant one day's voyage for a ship, if the wind bloweth fair in her wake. Here did the gods keep me twenty days, nor did the sea winds ever blow. Then all my corn would have been spent, and the lives also of my men lost, if the daughter of Proteus [Footnote: Pro'-teus.]had not taken pity on me. Her heart was moved to see me when I wandered alone, apart from my company, for they all roamed about the island, fishing with hooks because hunger gnawed them. So she stood by me and spake, saying: 'Art thou foolish, stranger, and feeble of mind, or dost thou sit still for thine own pleasure, because it is sweet to thee to suffer? Verily, thou stayest long in this place, and canst find no escape, while the heart of thy people faileth within them.' Then I answered: 'I will tell thee the truth, whosoever thou art. It is not my own will that holdeth me here; I must have sinned against the gods. Tell me now which of the gods have I offended, and how shall I contrive to return to my own home?' So I spake, and straightway the goddess made answer: 'I will tell thee all. To this place comes Proteus, my father, who knoweth the depths of all the sea. If thou canst lay an ambush for him and catch him, he will declare to thee thy way, and tell thee how thou mayest return across the deep.' So she spake, and I made reply, 'Plan for me this ambush, lest by any chance he see me first and avoid me, for it is hard for a man to overcome a god.' Then said the goddess: 'When the sun in his course hath reached the midheaven, then cometh the old man from the sea; before the breath of the west wind he cometh, and the ripple covereth him. And when he is come out of the sea, he lieth down in the caves to sleep, and all about him lie the seals, the brood of ocean, and bitter is the smell of the salt water that they breathe. Thither will I lead thee at break of day, thee and three of thy companions. Choose them from thy ships, the bravest that thou hast. And now I will tell thee the old man's ways. First, he will count the seals, and then will lie down in the midst, as a shepherd in the midst of his flock. Now, so soon as ye shall see him thus laid down, then remember your courage, and hold him there. And he will take all manner of shapes of creatures that creep upon the earth, and of water likewise, and of burning fire. But do ye grasp him fast, and press him hard, and when he shall return to his proper shape, then let him go free, and ask him which of the gods is angry with thee, and how thou mayest return across the deep.' Thereupon she dived beneath the sea, and I betook me to the ships; but I was sorely troubled in heart. The next morning I took three of my comrades, in whom I trusted most, and lo! she had brought from the sea the skins of four sea-calves, which she had newly flayed, for she was minded to lay a snare for her father. She scooped hiding-places for us in the sand, and made us lie down therein, and cast the skin of a sea-calf over each of us. It would have been a grievous ambush, for the stench of the skins had distressed us sore,—who, indeed, would lay him down by a beast of the sea?—but she wrought a deliverance for us. She took ambrosia [Footnote: ambrosia, the food of the gods.], very sweet, and put it under each man's nostrils, that it might do away with the stench of the beast.

"So all the morning we waited with steadfast hearts. And the seals came forth from the brine, and ranged them in order upon the shore. And at noon the old man came forth out of the sea, and went along the line of the sea-beasts, and counted them. Us, too, he counted among them, and perceived not our device; and after that he laid him down to sleep. Then we rushed upon him with a cry, and held him fast; nor did he forget his cunning, for he became a bearded lion, and a snake, and a leopard, and a great wild boar. Also he took the shape of running water, and of a flowering tree. And all the while we held him fast. When at last he was weary, he said, 'Which of the gods, son of Atreus [Footnote: A'-treus.], bade thee thus waylay me?' But I answered him: 'Wherefore dost thou beguile me, old man, with crooked words? I am held fast in this isle, and can find no escape therefrom. Tell me now which of the gods hindereth me, and how I may return across the sea?' The old man made reply: 'Thou shouldst have done sacrifice to Zeus and the other gods before embarking, if thou wouldst have reached thy native country with speed. But now thou must go again to the river AEgyptus, and make offerings to the gods; then they will grant that which thou desirest.' Then was my spirit broken within me, when I heard that I must cross again this weary way, but I said: 'Old man, I will do all thy bidding. But tell me now, I pray thee, did the other Greeks, whom Nestor and I left behind us in Troy, return safe to their homes, or perished any by an evil death on board of his ship or among his friends?' To this the old man made reply: 'Thou doest ill to ask such things, for thou wilt weep to hear them. Thy brother indeed escaped from the fates of the sea; but the storm-wind carried him to the land where Aegisthus dwelt. And when Agamemnon [Footnote: Ag-a-mem'-non.]set foot upon his native land, he kissed it, weeping hot tears, so glad was he to see it again. And Aegisthus set an ambush for him, and slew him and all his companions.' Then I wept sore, caring not to live any more. But the old man said: 'Weep not, son of Atreus, for there is no help in tears. Rather make haste to return, that thou mayest take vengeance on AEgisthus.'[Footnote: AE-gis'-thus.] So he spake, and my heart was comforted within me, and I said: 'There is yet another of whom I would fain hear. Is he yet alive, wandering on the deep, or is he dead? Speak, though it grieve me to hear.' Straightway the old man answered: 'It is the son of Laertes of whom thou speakest. Him I saw in an island, even in the dwelling of Calypso; and he was shedding great tears, because the nymph keeps him there by force, so that he may not come to his own country, for he hath neither ship nor comrades.' So spake Proteus, and plunged into the sea. The next day we went back to the river AEgyptus, the stream that is fed from heaven, and offered sacrifice to the gods. And I made a great burial mound for Agamemnon, my brother, that his name might not be forgotten among men. And when these things had been duly performed, I set sail, and came back to my own country, for the gods gave me a fair wind. But do thou tarry now in my halls. And when thou art minded to go, I will give thee a chariot and three horses with it, and a goodly cup also, from which thou mayest pour offerings to the gods."

To him Telemachus made reply: "Keep me not long, son of Atreus, for my company wait for me in Pylos, though indeed I would be content to stay with thee for a whole year, nor would any longing for my home come over me. And let any gift thou givest me be a thing for me to treasure. But I will take no horses to Ithaca. Rather let them stay here and grace thy home, for thou art lord of a wide plain where there is wheat and rye and barley. But in Ithaca there is no meadow land. It is a pasture land of goats, yet verily it is more pleasant to my eyes than as if it were a fit feeding-place for horses."

Then said Menelaus: "Thou speakest well, as becometh the son of thy father. Come, now, I will change the gifts. Of all the treasures in my house, I will give thee the goodliest, especially a bowl which the King of the Sidonians gave me. Of silver it is, and the lips are finished with gold."

Now it had been made known meanwhile to the suitors in Ithaca that Telemachus was gone upon this journey seeking his father, and the thing displeased them much. And after they had held counsel about the matter, it seemed best that they should lay an ambush against him, and should slay him as he came back to his home. So Antinous took twenty men and departed, purposing to lie in wait in the strait between Ithaca and Samos.[Footnote: Sa'-mos.]

Nor was this plan unknown to Penelope, for the herald Medon [Footnote: Me'-don.]had heard it, and he told her how Telemachus had gone seeking news of his father, and how the suitors purposed to slay him as he returned. And she called her women, old and young, and rebuked them, saying: "Wicked ye were, for ye knew that he was about to go, and did not rouse me from my bed. Surely I would have kept him, eager though he was, from his journey!"

Then said Eurycleia: "Slay me, if thou wilt, but I will hide nothing from thee. I knew his purpose, and I furnished him with such things as he needed. But he made me swear that I would not tell thee till the eleventh or the twelfth day was come. But go with thy maidens and make thy prayer to Athene that she will save him, from death; for this house is not altogether hated by the gods."

Then Penelope, having duly prepared herself, went with her maidens to the upper chamber, and prayed aloud to Athene that she would save her son. And the suitors heard her praying, and said, "Surely the Queen prays, thinking of her marriage, nor knows that death is near to her son."

Then she lay down to sleep, and while she slept Athene sent her a dream in the likeness of her sister. And the vision stood over her head and spake: "Sleepest thou, Penelope? The gods would not have thee grieve, for thy son shall surely return."

And Penelope said: "How camest thou here, my sister? For thy dwelling is far away. And how can I cease to weep when my husband is lost? And now my son is gone, and I am sore afraid for him, lest his enemies slay him."

But the vision answered: "Fear not at all; for there is a mighty helper with him, even Athene, who hath bid me tell thee these things."

Then Penelope said: "If thou art a goddess, tell me this. Is my husband yet alive?"

But the vision answered, "That I cannot say, whether he be alive or dead." And so saying, it vanished into air.

And Penelope woke from her sleep, and her heart was comforted.



Again the gods sate in council on high Olympus, and Athene spake among them, saying:

"Now let no king be minded to do righteously, for see how there is no man that remembereth Ulysses, who was as a father to his people. And he lieth far off, fast bound in Calypso's isle, and hath no ship to take him to his own country. Also the suitors are set upon slaying his son, who is gone to Pylos and to Lacedaemon, that he may get tidings of his father."

To her Zeus made answer: "What is this that thou sayest? Didst not thou thyself plan this in order that the vengeance of Ulysses might be wrought upon the suitors? As for Telemachus, guide him by thy skill, as well thou mayest, so that he may come to his own land unharmed, and the suitors may have their labour in vain."

Also he said to Hermes: "Hermes, go to the nymph Calypso, and tell her my sure purpose that Ulysses shall now come back to his home."

So Hermes put on his golden sandals, and took his wand in his hand, and came to the island of Ogygia [Footnote: O-gyg'-i-a.], and to the cave where Calypso dwelt. A fair place it was. In the cave was burning a fire of sweet-smelling wood, and Calypso sat at her loom, and sang with a lovely voice. And round about the cave was a grove of alders and poplars and cypresses, wherein many birds, falcons and owls and sea crows, were wont to roost; and all about the mouth of the cave was a vine with purple clusters of grapes; and there were four fountains which streamed four ways through meadows of parsley and violet. Very fair was the place, so that even a god might marvel at it, and Hermes stood and marvelled. Then went he into the cave, and Calypso knew him when she saw him face to face, for the gods know each other, even though their dwellings be far apart. But Ulysses was not there, for he sat, as was his wont, on the seashore, weeping and groaning, because he might not see wife and home and country.

Then Calypso said to Hermes: "Wherefore hast thou come hither, Hermes of the golden wand? Welcome thou art, but it is long since thou hast visited me. Tell me all thy thought, that I may fulfil it if I may, but first follow me, that I may set food before thee."

So she spread a table with ambrosia, and set it by him, and mixed the ruddy nectar [Footnote: nectar, the drink of the gods.]for him, and the messenger ate and drank. So, when he had comforted his soul with food, he spake, saying:—

"Thou questionest of my coming, and I will tell thee the truth. It is by no wish of mine own that I come, for who would of his free will pass over a sea so wide, wherein is no city of men that do sacrifice to the gods? Zeus bade me come, and none may go against the commands of Zeus. He saith that thou hast with thee a man more wretched than all his companions who fought against Troy for nine years and in the tenth year departed homeward. All the rest of his company were lost, but him the waves carried thither. Now, therefore, send him home with what speed thou mayest; for it is not fated that he should die away from his friends. He shall see again the high roof of his home and his native country."

It vexed Calypso much to hear this, for she would fain have kept Ulysses with her always, and she said:—

"Ye gods are always jealous when a goddess loves a mortal man. And as for Ulysses, did not I save him when Zeus had smitten his ship with a thunderbolt, and all his comrades had perished? And now let him go—if it pleases Zeus. Only I cannot send him, for I have neither ship nor rowers. Yet will I willingly teach him how he may safely return."

And Hermes said, "Do this thing speedily, lest Zeus be wroth with thee."

So he departed. And Calypso went seeking Ulysses, and found him on the shore of the sea, looking out over the waters, and weeping, for he was weary of his life, so much did he desire to see Ithaca again. She stood by him and said:—

"Weary not for thy native country, nor waste thyself with tears. If thou wilt go, I will speed thee on thy way. Take, therefore, thine axe and cut thee beams, and join them together, and make a deck upon them, and I will give thee bread and water and wine, and clothe thee also, so that thou mayest return safe to thy native country, for the gods will have it so."

"Nay," said Ulysses, "what is this that thou sayest? Shall I pass in a raft over the dreadful sea, over which even ships go not without harm? I will not go against thy will; but thou must swear the great oath of the gods that thou plannest no evil against me."

Then Calypso smiled and said: "These are strange words. I swear that I plan no harm against thee, but only such good as I would ask myself, did I need it; for indeed my heart is not of iron, but rather full of compassion."

Then they two went to the cave and sat down to meat, and she set before him food such as mortal men eat, but she herself ate ambrosia and drank nectar. And afterwards she said:—

"Why art thou so eager for thy home? Surely if thou knewest all the trouble that awaits thee, thou wouldst not go, but wouldst rather dwell with me. And though thou desirest all the day long to see thy wife, surely I am not less fair than she."

"Be not angry," Ulysses made reply. "The wise Penelope cannot, indeed, be compared to thee, for she is a mortal woman and thou art a goddess. Yet is my home dear to me, and I would fain see it again. Yea, and if some god should wreck me on the deep, yet would I endure it with patient heart. Already have I suffered much, and toiled much in perils of war and perils of the sea. And as to what is yet to come, let it be added to what hath been."

The next day Calypso gave him an axe with a handle of olive wood, and an adze, and took him to the end of the island, where there were great trees, long ago sapless and dry, alder and poplar and pine. Of these he felled twenty, and lopped them and worked them by the line. Then the goddess brought him an auger, and he made holes in the logs and joined them with pegs. And he made decks and side planking also; also a mast and a yard, and a rudder wherewith to turn the raft. And he fenced it about with a bulwark of willow twigs against the waves. The sails Calypso wove, and Ulysses fitted them with braces and halyards and sheets. Last of all he pushed the raft down to the sea with levers.

On the fourth day all was finished, and on the fifth day he departed. And Calypso gave him goodly garments, and a skin of wine, and a skin of water, and rich food in a bag of leather. She sent also a fair wind blowing behind, and Ulysses set his sails and proceeded joyfully on his way; nor did he sleep, but watched the stars, the Pleiades [Footnote: Plei'-a-des.] and Bootes [Footnote: Bo-o'-tes.], and the Bear, which turneth ever in one place, watching Orion.[Footnote: O-ri'-on.] For Calypso had said to him, "Keep the Bear ever on thy left as thou passest over the sea."

Seventeen days he sailed; and on the eighteenth day appeared the shadowy hills of the island of the Phaeacians. [Footnote: Phae-a'- ci-ans.] But now Poseidon, coming back from feasting with the Ethiopians, spied him as he sailed, and it angered him to the heart. He shook his head, and spake to himself, saying: "Verily, the gods must have changed their purpose concerning Ulysses while I was absent among the Ethiopians; and now he is nigh to the island of the Phaeacians, and if he reach it, he will escape from his woes. Yet even now I will send him far enough on a way of trouble."

Thereupon he gathered the clouds, and troubled the waters of the deep, holding his trident in his hand. And he raised a storm of all the winds that blow, and covered the land and the sea with clouds.

Sore troubled was Ulysses, and said to himself: "It was truth that Calypso spake when she said that I should suffer many troubles returning to my home. Would that I had died that day when many a spear was cast by the men of Troy over the dead Achilles. Then would the Greeks have buried me; but now shall I perish miserably."

And as he spake a great wave struck the raft and tossed him far away, so that he dropped the rudder from his hand. Nor for a long time could he rise, so deep was he sunk, and so heavy was the goodly clothing which Calypso had given him. Yet at the last he rose, and spat the salt water out of his mouth, and sprang at the raft, and caught it, and sat thereon, and was borne hither and thither by the waves. But Ino [Footnote: I'-no.] saw him and pitied him—a woman she had been, and was now a goddess of the sea,—and rose from the deep like to a sea-gull upon the wing, and sat upon the raft, and spake, saying:—

"Luckless mortal, why doth Poseidon hate thee so? He shall not slay thee, though he fain would do it. Put off these garments, and swim to the land of Phaeacia, putting this veil under thy breast. And when thou art come to the land, loose it from thee, and cast it into the sea."

Then the goddess gave him the veil, and dived again into the deep as a sea-gull diveth, and the waves closed over her. Then Ulysses pondered the matter, saying to himself: "Woe is me! can it be that another of the gods is contriving a snare for me, bidding me leave my raft? Verily, I will not yet obey her counsel, for the land, when I saw it, seemed a long way off. I am resolved what to do; so long as the raft will hold together, so long will I abide on it; but when the waves shall break it asunder, then will I swim, for nothing better may be done."

But while he thought thus within himself, Poseidon sent another great wave against the raft. As a stormy wind scattereth a heap of husks, so did the wave scatter the timbers of the raft. But Ulysses sat astride on a beam, as a man sitteth astride of a horse; and he stripped off from him the goodly garments which Calypso had given him, and put the veil under his breast, and so leapt into the sea, stretching out his hands to swim.

And Poseidon, when he saw him, shook his head, and said: "Even so go wandering over the deep, till thou come to the land. Thou wilt not say that thou hast not had trouble enough."

But Athene, binding up the other winds, roused the swift north wind, that so Ulysses might escape from death.

So for two days and two nights he swam. But on the third day there was a calm, and he saw the land from the top of a great wave, for the waves were yet high, close at hand. But when he came near he heard the waves breaking along the shore, for there was no harbour there, but only cliffs and rugged rocks.

Then at last the knees of Ulysses were loosened with fear, and his heart was melted within him, and in heaviness of spirit he spake to himself: "Woe is me! for now, when beyond all hope Zeus hath given me the sight of land, there is no place where I may win to shore from out of the sea. For the crags are sharp, and the waves roar about them, and the smooth rock riseth sheer from the sea, and the water is deep, so that I may gain no foothold. If I should seek to land, then a great wave may dash me on the rocks. And if I swim along the shore, to find some harbour, I fear lest the winds may catch me again and bear me out into the deep; or it may be that some god may send a monster of the sea against me; and verily there are many such in the sea-pastures, and I know that Poseidon is very wroth against me."

While he pondered these things in his heart a great wave bare him to the rocks. Then would his skin have been stripped from him and all his bones broken, had not Athene put a thought into his heart. For he rushed in towards the shore, and clutched the rock with both his hands, and clung thereto till the wave had passed. But as it ebbed back, it caught him, and carried him again into the deep. Even as a cuttle-fish is dragged from out its hole in the rock, so was he dragged by the water, and the skin was stripped from his hand against the rocks. Then would Ulysses have perished, if Athene had not put a plan in his heart. He swam outside the breakers, along the shore, looking for a place where the waves might be broken, or there should be a harbour. At last he came to where a river ran into the sea. Free was the place of rocks, and sheltered from the wind, and Ulysses felt the stream of the river as he ran. Then he prayed to the river-god:—

"Hear me, O King, whosoever thou art. I am come to thee, fleeing from the wrath of Poseidon. Save me, O King."

Thereupon the river stayed his stream, and made the water smooth before Ulysses, so that at last he won his way to the land. His knees were bent under him, and his hands dropped at his side, and the salt water ran out from his mouth and nostrils. Breathless was he, and speechless; but when he came to himself, he loosed the veil from under his breast, and cast it into the salt stream of the river and the stream bare it to the sea, and Ino came up and caught it in her hands.

Then he lay down on the rushes by the bank of the river and kissed the earth, thinking within himself: "What now shall I do? for if I sleep here by the river, I fear that the dew and the frost may slay me; for indeed in the morning-time the wind from the river blows cold. And if I go up to the wood, to lay me down to sleep in the thicket, I fear that some evil beast may devour me."

But it seemed better to go to the wood. So he went. Now this was close to the river, and he found two bushes, one of wild olive, and the other of fruitful olive. So thickly grown together were they that the winds blew not through them, nor did the sun pierce them, nor yet the rain. Ulysses crept thereunder, and found a great pile of leaves, shelter enough for two or three, even in winter time, when the rain is heavy. Then did Ulysses rejoice, laying himself in the midst, and covering himself with leaves. And Athene sent down upon his eyelids deep sleep, that might ease him of his toil.


NAUSICAA [Footnote: Nau-sic'-a-a.]

Meanwhile Athene went to the city of Phaeacians, to the palace of Alcinous [Footnote: Al-cin'-o-us.], their King. There she betook her to the chamber where slept Nausicaa, daughter of the King, a maiden fair as are the gods. The goddess stood above the maiden, in the likeness of a girl that was of equal age with her, and had found favour in her sight.

Athene spake, saying: "Why hath thy mother so careless a child, Nausicaa? Lo! thy raiment lieth unwashed, and yet the day of thy marriage is at hand, when thou must have fair clothing for thyself, and to give to them that shall lead thee to thy bridegroom's house; for thus doth a bride win good repute. Do thou therefore arise with the day, and go to wash the raiment, and I will go with thee. Ask thy father betimes in the morning to give thee mules and a wagon to carry the raiment and the robes. Also it is more becoming for thee to ride than to go on foot, for the washing places are far from the city."

And when the morning was come, Nausicaa awoke, marvelling at the dream, and went seeking her parents. Her mother she found busy with her maidens at the loom, spinning yarn dyed with purple of the sea, and her father she met as he was going to the council with the chiefs of the land. Then she said: "Give me, father, the wagon with the mules, that I may take the garments to the river to wash them. Thou shouldest always have clean robes when thou goest to the council; and there are my five brothers also, who love to have newly washed garments at the dance."

But of her own marriage she said nothing. And her father, knowing her thoughts, said: "I grudge thee not, dear child, the mules or aught else. The men shall harness for thee a wagon with strong wheels and fitted also with a frame."

Then he called to the men, and they made ready the wagon, and harnessed the mules; and the maiden brought the raiment out of her chamber, and put it in the wagon. Also her mother filled a basket with all manner of food, and poured wine in a goat-skin bottle. Olive oil also she gave her, that Nausicaa and her maidens might anoint themselves after the bath. And Nausicaa took the reins, and touched the mules with the whip. Then was there a clatter of hoofs, and the mules went on with their load, nor did they grow weary.

When they came to the river, where was water enough for the washing of raiment, the maidens loosed the mules from the chariot, and set them free to graze in the sweet clover by the river-bank. Then they took the raiment from the wagon, and bare it to the river, and trod it in the trenches. And when they had cleansed all the garments, they laid them on the shore of the sea, where the waves had washed the pebbles clean. After that they bathed, and anointed themselves; and then they sat down to eat and drink by the river-side; and after the meal they played at ball, singing as they played, and Nausicaa led the song. And Nausicaa was fairer than all the maidens. And when they had ended their play, and were yoking the mules, and folding up the raiment, then Athene contrived that the princess, throwing the ball to one of her maidens, cast it so wide that it fell into the river. Thereupon they all cried aloud, and Ulysses awoke. And he said to himself: "What is this land to which I have come? Are they that dwell therein fierce or kind to strangers? Just now I seemed to hear the voice of nymphs [Footnote: nymphs, spirits of the woods and waters], or am I near the dwellings of men?"

Then he twisted a leafy bough about his loins, and rose up and went towards the maidens, who were frightened to see him (for he was wild-looking), and fled hither and thither. But Nausicaa stood and fled not. Then Ulysses cried, saying:—

"O Queen, whether thou art a goddess, I know not. But if thou art a mortal, happy are thy father and mother, and happy thy brothers, and happiest of all he who shall win thee in marriage. Never have I seen man or woman so fair. Thou art like a young palm tree that but lately I saw springing by the temple of the god. But as for me, I have been cast on this shore, having come from the island of Ogygia. Pity me, then, and lead me to the city, and give me something, a wrapper of this linen, maybe, to put about me. So may the gods give thee all blessings!"

And Nausicaa made answer: "Thou seemest, stranger, to be neither evil nor foolish. Thou shalt not lack clothing or food, and I will take thee to the city. Know also that this land is Phaeacia, and that I am daughter to Alcinous, who is king thereof."

Then she called to her maidens: "What mean ye to flee when ye see a man? No enemy comes hither to harm us, for we are dear to the gods, and also we live in an island of the sea, so that men may not approach to work us wrong. If one cometh here overcome by trouble, it is well to help him. Give this man, therefore, food and drink, and wash him in the river, where there is shelter from the wind."

So they brought him down to the river, and gave him clothing, and also olive-oil in a flask of gold. Then, at his bidding, they departed a little space, and he washed the salt from his skin and out of his hair, and anointed himself, and put on the clothing. And Athene made him taller and fairer to see, and caused the hair to be thick on his head, in colour as a hyacinth. Then he sat down on the seashore, right beautiful to behold, and the maiden said:—

"Not without the bidding of the gods comes this man to our land. Before, indeed, I deemed him uncomely, but now he seems like to the gods. I should be well content to have such a man for a husband, and maybe he might will to abide in this land. Give him, ye maidens, food and drink."

So they gave him, and he ate ravenously, having fasted long. Then Nausicaa bade yoke the mules, and said to Ulysses:—

"Arise, stranger, come with me, that I may bring thee to the house of my father. But do thou as I shall tell thee. So long as we shall be passing through the fields, follow quickly with the maidens behind the chariot. But when we shall come to the city, —thou wilt see a high wall and a harbour on either side of the narrow way that leadeth to the gate,—then follow the chariot no more. Hard by the wall is a grove of Athene, a grove of poplars, with a spring in the midst, and a meadow round about; there abide till I have reached the house of my father. For I would not that the people should speak lightly of me. And I doubt not that were thou with me some one would say: 'Who is this stranger, tall and fair, that cometh with Nausicaa? Will he be her husband? Perchance it is some god who has come down at her prayer, or a man from far away; for she scorns us men of Phaeacia.' It would be a shame that such words should be spoken. But when thou shalt judge that I have come to the palace, then go up thyself and ask for my father's house. Any one, even a child, can show it thee, for the other Phaeacians dwell not in such. And when thou art come within the doors, pass quickly through the hall to where my mother sits. Close to the hearth is her seat, and my father's hard by, where he sits with the wine-cup in his hand as a god. Pass him by, and kneel to my mother, and pray her that she give thee safe return to thy country."

Then she smote the mules with the whip. Quickly did they leave the river behind them; but the maiden was heedful to drive them so that Ulysses and the maidens might be able to follow on foot. At sunset they came to the sacred grove of Athene, and there Ulysses sat him down, and prayed to Athene, saying, "Hear me, now, O daughter of Zeus, and grant that this people may look upon me with pity."

So he spake, and Athene heard him, but showed not herself to him, face to face, for she feared the wrath of her uncle Poseidon.



Nausicaa came to her father's house, and there her brothers unyoked the mules from the wagon, and carried the garments into the house; and the maiden went to her chamber, where a nurse kindled for her a fire, and prepared a meal.

At the same time Ulysses rose to go to the city; and Athene spread a mist about him, for she would not that any of the Phaeacians should see him and mock him. And when he was now about to enter the city, the goddess took upon herself the shape of a young maiden carrying a pitcher, and met him.

Then Ulysses asked her: "My child, canst thou tell me where dwells Alcinous? for I am a stranger in this place."

She answered: "I will show thee, for he dwells near to my own father. But be thou silent, for we Phaeacians love not strangers over much."

Then Athene led the way, and Ulysses followed after her; and much he marvelled, as he went, at the harbours, and the ships, and the places of assembly, and the walls. And when they came to the palace, Athene said: "This is the place for which thou didst inquire. Enter in; here thou shalt find kings at the feast; but be not afraid; the fearless man ever fares the best. And look thou first for Queen Arete.[Footnote: A-re'-te.] If she be well disposed to thee, doubtless thou wilt see thy native country again."

Having thus spoken, Athene departed, and Ulysses entered the palace. In it there was a gleam as of the sun or the moon.

A wondrous place it was, with walls of brass and doors of gold, hanging on posts of silver; and on either side of the door were dogs of gold and silver, and against the wall, all along from the threshold to the inner chamber, were set seats, on which sat the chiefs of the Phaeacians, feasting; and youths wrought in gold stood holding torches in their hands, to give light in the darkness. Fifty women were in the house, grinding corn and weaving robes, for the women of the land are no less skilled to weave than are the men to sail the sea. And round about the house were beautiful gardens, with orchards of fig, and apple, and pear, and pomegranate, and olive. Drought hurts them not, nor frost, and harvest comes after harvest without ceasing. Also there was a vineyard; and some of the grapes were parching in the sun, and some were being gathered, and some again were but just turning red. And there were beds of all manner of flowers; and in the midst of all were two fountains which never failed.

These things Ulysses regarded for a space, and then passed into the hall. And there the chiefs of Phaeacia were drinking their last cup to Hermes. Quickly he passed through them, and put his hands on the knees of Arete and said—and as he spake the mist cleared from about him, and all that were in the hall beheld him:—

"I implore thee, and thy husband, and thy guests, to send me home to my native country. The gods bless thee and them, and grant you to live in peace, and that your children should come peacefully after you!"

And he sat down in the ashes of the hearth. Then for a space all were silent, but at the last spake Echeneus [Footnote: E-che-ne'- us.], who was the oldest man in the land:—

"King Alcinous, this ill becomes you that this man should sit in the ashes of the hearth. Raise him and bid him sit upon a seat, and let us pour out an offering to Father Zeus, who is the friend of strangers, and let the keeper of the house give him meat and drink."

And Alcinous did so, bidding his eldest born, Laodamas [Footnote: La-o'-da-mas.], rise from his seat. And an attendant poured water on his hands, and the keeper of the house gave him meat and drink. Then, when all had poured out an offering to Father Zeus, King Alcinous spake, saying: "In the morning we will call an assembly of the people, and consider how we may take this stranger to his home, so that he may reach it without trouble or pain. Home will we take him without hurt, but what things may befall him there, we know not; these shall be as the Fates spun his thread. But, if he is a god and not a man, then is this a new device of the gods. For heretofore they have shown themselves openly in our midst, when we offer sacrifice, and sit by our sides at feasts. Yea, and if a traveller meet them on the way, they use no disguise, for indeed they are near of kin to us."

Then spake Ulysses: "Think not such things within thy heart, O King! I am no god but one that is most miserable among the sons of men. Of many woes might I tell. Nevertheless, suffer me to eat; for, however sad a man may be, yet he must eat and drink. But when the day cometh, bestir yourselves, and carry me to my home. Fain would I die if I could see my home again!"

And they answered that it should be so, and went each to his home. Only Ulysses was left in the hall, and Alcinous and Arete with him. And Arete recognized his clothing, and said:—

"Whence art thou, stranger? and who gave thee these garments?"

So Ulysses told her how he had come from the island of Calypso, and what he had suffered, and how Nausicaa had found him on the shore, and had guided him to the city.

And Alcinous blamed the maiden because she had not herself brought him to the house. "Nay," said Ulysses, "she would have brought me, but I would not, fearing thy wrath." For he would not have the maiden blamed.

Then said Alcinous: "I am not one to be angered for such cause. Gladly would I have such a one as thou art to be my son-in-law, and I would give him house and wealth. But no one would I hold against his will. As for sending thee to thy home, that is easy; thou shalt lay thee down to sleep, and my men shalt smite the sea with oars, and take thee whithersoever thou wilt, even though it be to the furthest of all lands. For verily my ships are the best that sail the sea, and my young men the most skilful of all that ply the oar."

So he spake, and Ulysses rejoiced to hear his words. And he prayed within himself, "Grant, Father Zeus, that Alcinous may fulfil all that he hath said, and that I may come to my own land!"

Then Arete bade her handmaids prepare a bed for the stranger. So they went from the hall, with torches in their hands, and made it ready. And when they had ended they called Ulysses, saying, "Up, stranger, and sleep, for thy bed is ready."

Right glad was he to sleep after all that he had endured.



The next day the King arose at dawn, as also did Ulysses, and the King led the way to the place of assembly. Meanwhile Athene, wearing the guise of the King's herald, went throughout the city, and to each man she said, "Come to the assembly, captains and counsellors of the Phaeacians, that ye may learn concerning this stranger, who hath lately come to the hall of Alcinous."

So she roused their desire, and the place of assembly was filled to the utmost; much did the men marvel to see Ulysses, for Athene had poured marvellous grace upon him, making him fairer and taller and stronger to see.

Then the King rose up and spake: "Hearken, captains and counsellors of the people, to what I say. This stranger hath come to my hall; I know not who he is or whence he comes, whether it be from the rising or the setting of the sun; and he prays that he may be safely carried to his home. Let us therefore choose a ship that hath never sailed before, and two and fifty youths that are the best to ply the oar; and when ye have made ready the ship, then come to my house and feast; I will provide well for all. Bid. also, Demodocus [Footnote: De-mod'-o-cus.] the minstrel to come, for the gods have given to him above all others the gift of song wherewith to rejoice the hearts of men."

Then they did as the King counselled. They made ready the ship, and moored her by the shore, and after that they went to the palace of the King. From one end thereof to the other it was crowded, for many were there, both young and old. And Alcinous slew for them twelve sheep, and eight swine, and two oxen; and his men prepared for the people a goodly feast.

Then came the servants of the King, leading the blind minstrel by the hand. The servants set him in a silver chair, in the midst of the guests, and hung a harp above his head, and showed him how he might reach his hand to take it. And close by his side they placed a table and a basket and a cup of wine, that he might drink at his pleasure.

So the Phaeacians feasted in the hall; and when they had had enough of meat and drink, then the minstrel sang. He sang a song, the fame of which had reached to heaven, of the quarrel between Ulysses and Achilles, when they were fighting to capture Troy.

But as the minstrel sang, Ulysses held his purple cloak before his face, for he was ashamed to weep in the sight of the people. Whensoever the singer ceased from his song, then did Ulysses wipe away the tears; but when he began again, for the chiefs loved to hear the song, then again he covered his face and wept. But none noted the thing but Alcinous.

Then the King said to the chiefs, "Now that we have feasted and delighted ourselves with song, let us go forth, that this stranger may see that we are skilful in boxing and wrestling and running."

Then stood up many Phaeacian youths, and the fairest and strongest of them all was Laodamas, eldest son to the King, and they ran a race, and wrestled, and threw quoits, and leaped.

Then Laodamas said to Ulysses, "Wilt thou not try thy skill in some game, and put away the trouble from thy heart?"

But Ulysses answered: "Why askest thou this? I think of my troubles rather than of sport, and care only that I may see again my home."

Then said another: "And in very truth, stranger, thou hast not the look of a wrestler or boxer. Rather would one judge thee to be some trader, who sails over the sea for gain."

"Nay," answered Ulysses, "this is ill said. True it is that the gods give not all gifts to all men, beauty to one, and sweet speech to another. Fair of form art thou; no god could better thee; but thou speakest idle words. I am not unskilled in these things, but stood among the first in the old days; but since have I suffered much in battle and shipwreck. Yet will I make trial of my strength, for thy words have angered me."

Whereupon, clad in his mantle as he was, he took a quoit, heavier far than such as the Phaeacians were wont to throw, and sent it with a whirl. It flew through the air, so that the brave Phaeacians crouched to the ground in fear, and it fell far beyond all the rest.

Then Athene, for she had taken upon herself the guise of a Phaeacian man, marked the place where it fell, and spake, saying: "Stranger, verily, even a blind man might find this token of thy strength, for it is not lost among the others, but lies far beyond them. Be of good courage, therefore, in this contest; none of the Phaeacians shall surpass thee."

Then was Ulysses glad, seeing that he had a friend among the people, and he said: "Now match this throw, young men, if ye can. Soon will I cast another after it, as far, or further yet. And, if any man is so minded, let him rise up and contend with me, for I will match myself in wrestling or boxing, or even in the race, with any man in Phaeacia, save Laodamas only, for he is my friend. I can shoot with the bow; and I can cast a spear as far as other men can shoot an arrow. But as for the race, it may be that some one might outrun me, for I have suffered much on the sea."

But they were all silent, till the King stood up and said: "Thou hast spoken well. But we men of Phaeacia are not mighty to wrestle or to box; only we are swift of foot and skilful to sail upon the sea. And we love feasts, and dances, and the harp, and gay clothing, and the bath. In these things no man may surpass us."

Then the King bade Demodocus the minstrel to sing again. And when he had done so, the King's two sons danced together; and afterwards they played with the ball, throwing it into the air, cloud high, and catching it right skilfully.

And afterwards the King said: "Let us each give this stranger a mantle and a tunic and a talent of gold."

Then all the princes brought their gifts. And Alcinous said to the Queen: "Lady, bring hither a chest, the best that thou hast, and put therein a robe and a tunic. And I will give our guest a fair golden cup of my own, that he may remember me all the days of his life, when he poureth out offerings to the gods."

Then the Queen brought from her chamber a fair chest, and put therein the gifts which the princes had given; also with her own hands she put therein a robe and a tunic. And she said:—

"Look now to the lid, and tie a knot, that no man rob thee by the way, when thou sleepest in the ship."

So Ulysses fixed well the lid, and tied it with a cunning knot which Circe had taught him. After that he went to the bath. As he came from the bath Nausicaa met him by the entering in of the hall, and marvelled at him, so fair was he to look upon. And she spake, saying: "Stranger, farewell. But when thou comest to thine own country, think upon me once and again, for indeed thou owest to me the price of thy life."

Ulysses made answer to her, "Nausicaa, if Zeus grant me safe return to my home, I will do honour to thee as to a goddess, forever; for indeed I owe thee my life."

Then he went into the hall, and sat down by the side of the King, and the squire came leading the blind minstrel by the hand. Now Ulysses had cut off a rich portion from the chine [Footnote: chine, backbone.] of a boar that had been set before him, and he said to the squire: "Take this and give it to Demodocus, for the minstrel should be held in honour by men."

So the squire bare the dish, and set it on the knees of the minstrel, rejoicing his heart.

When they all had had enough of food and drink, then Ulysses spake to the minstrel, saying: "Demodocus, I know not whether the gods have taught thee, but of a truth thou singest of all the toil and trouble that the Greeks endured before the great city of Troy as if thou hadst thyself been there. Come, now, sing to us of the Horse of Wood, and how Ulysses contrived that it should be taken up into the citadel of Troy when he had filled it with the bravest of the chiefs. Sing me this aright, and I will bear witness for thee that thou art indeed a minstrel whom the gods have taught."

Then did the minstrel sing this song. He told how one part of the Greeks set fire to their camp, and embarked upon their ships, and sailed away; and how the other part—Ulysses and his comrades—sat hidden in the Horse which the men of Troy had dragged with their own hands into their place of assembly. All about sat the people, and three counsels were given. The first was to cleave the wood, and the second to drag it to the brow of the hill and cast it down thence, and the third to leave it as an offering to the gods; and the third counsel prevailed, for it was the doom of the city that it should perish through the Horse.

Also the minstrel sang how the chiefs came forth from the Horse, and went through the city, wasting it; and much also of Ulysses and his brave deeds.

Thus did the minstrel sing, and the heart of Ulysses was melted within him as he listened, and the tears ran down his cheeks.

But none of the company, save King Alcinous only, noticed this. Then the King spake, saying: "Hearken, ye princes of the Phaeacians, and let Demodocus cease from his singing, for since he set his hand to the harp, this stranger hath not ceased to weep. Let, therefore, the minstrel cease, and let us make merry and rejoice as it is fitting to do. Are we not met together that we may give gifts to this stranger, and send him to his home? And hide not thou, stranger, from us aught that I shall ask thee. Tell us by what name they call thee at home, for no man lacketh a name. Tell us also of thy land and thy city, that our ships may shape their course to take thee thither. For these are not as the ships of other men, that have steersmen and rudders. They have an understanding of their own, and know all the cities of men, and they pass over the deep, covered with cloud, and have no fear of wreck. But my father was wont to say that Poseidon bore a grudge against us because we carry all men safely to their homes; and that one day he would smite a ship of ours as it came home from such an errand, changing it to a rock that should overshadow our city. But thou, stranger, tell us of thyself,—whither thou hast wandered, and what cities thou hast seen, be they cities of the unrighteous, or cities of them that are hospitable to strangers and fear the gods. Tell us, too, why thou didst weep at hearing of the tale of Troy. Hadst thou, perchance, a kinsman, or a friend— for a wise friend is ever as a brother—among those that perished at Troy?"




Then Ulysses answered the King, saying: "What shall I tell thee first, and what last, for many sorrows have the gods laid upon me? First, I will tell my name, that ye may know it, and that there may be friendship between us, even when I shall be far away. I am ULYSSES, SON OF LAERTES. In Ithaca I dwell. Many islands lie about it, but Ithaca is furthest to the west, and the others face the sun-rising. Very rugged is this island of Ithaca, but it is the mother of brave men; verily, there is nothing dearer to a man than his own country. Calypso, the fair goddess, would have had me abide with her, to be her husband; but she did not prevail, because there is nothing that a man loves more than his country and his parents. But now I will tell thee of all the troubles that the gods laid upon me as I journeyed from Troy.

"The wind that bare me from Troy brought me to Ismarus [Footnote: Is'-ma-rus.], which is a city of the Cicones.[Footnote: Ci'-co- nes.] This I sacked, slaying the people that dwelt therein. But the people of the city fetched their kinsmen that dwelt in the mountains, and they overcame us, and drave us to our ships. Six from each ship perished, but the remainder of us escaped from death.

"Then we sailed, stricken with grief for our dear comrades, yet rejoicing that we had escaped from destruction. When we had sailed a little space, Zeus sent the north wind against us with a mighty storm, covering with clouds both land and sea, and the ships were driven before it. So we lowered the sails, and rowed the ships to the land with all our might. For two days we endured much distress and sorrow, but on the third, when the morning light appeared, we hoisted the sails and rested. Then I should have come to my own country, but the north wind and the sea drave me from my course. For nine days did the wind carry us before it.

"And on the tenth day we came to the land where the lotus grows—a wondrous fruit, for whoever eats of it cares not to see country or wife or children again. Now the Lotus-eaters, for so the people of the land are called, were a kindly folk, and gave of the fruit to some of the sailors, not meaning them any harm, but thinking it to be the best that they had to give. These, when they had eaten, said that they would not sail any more over the sea; and, when I heard this, I bade their comrades bind them and carry them, sadly complaining, to the ships.

"Then, the wind having abated, we took to our oars, and rowed for many days till we came to the country where the Cyclopes [Footnote: Cy-clo'-pes.] dwell. Now a mile or so from the shore there was an island, very fair and fertile, but no man dwells there or tills the soil, and in the island a harbour where a ship may be safe from all winds, and at the head of the harbour a stream falling from a rock, and whispering alders all about it. Into this the ships passed safely, and were hauled up on the beach, and the crews slept by them, waiting for the morning.

"When the dawn appeared, we wandered through the island; and the Nymphs of the land started the wild goats, that my company might have food to eat. Thereupon we took our bows and our spears from the ships, and shot at the goats; and the gods gave us plenty of prey. Twelve ships I had in my company, and each ship had nine goats for its share, and my own portion was ten.

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