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The Odyssey: Book 19 Analysis



Author: poem of Homer Type: poem Views: 3

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  Ulysses was left in the cloister, pondering on the means whereby

with Minerva's help he might be able to kill the suitors. Presently he

said to Telemachus, "Telemachus, we must get the armour together and

take it down inside. Make some excuse when the suitors ask you why you

have removed it. Say that you have taken it to be out of the way of

the smoke, inasmuch as it is no longer what it was when Ulysses went

away, but has become soiled and begrimed with soot. Add to this more

particularly that you are afraid Jove may set them on to quarrel

over their wine, and that they may do each other some harm which may

disgrace both banquet and wooing, for the sight of arms sometimes

tempts people to use them."

  Telemachus approved of what his father had said, so he called

nurse Euryclea and said, "Nurse, shut the women up in their room,

while I take the armour that my father left behind him down into the

store room. No one looks after it now my father is gone, and it has

got all smirched with soot during my own boyhood. I want to take it

down where the smoke cannot reach it."

  "I wish, child," answered Euryclea, "that you would take the

management of the house into your own hands altogether, and look after

all the property yourself. But who is to go with you and light you

to the store room? The maids would have so, but you would not let

them.

  "The stranger," said Telemachus, "shall show me a light; when people

eat my bread they must earn it, no matter where they come from."

  Euryclea did as she was told, and bolted the women inside their

room. Then Ulysses and his son made all haste to take the helmets,

shields, and spears inside; and Minerva went before them with a gold

lamp in her hand that shed a soft and brilliant radiance, whereon

Telemachus said, "Father, my eyes behold a great marvel: the walls,

with the rafters, crossbeams, and the supports on which they rest

are all aglow as with a flaming fire. Surely there is some god here

who has come down from heaven."

  "Hush," answered Ulysses, "hold your peace and ask no questions, for

this is the manner of the gods. Get you to your bed, and leave me here

to talk with your mother and the maids. Your mother in her grief

will ask me all sorts of questions."

  On this Telemachus went by torch-light to the other side of the

inner court, to the room in which he always slept. There he lay in his

bed till morning, while Ulysses was left in the cloister pondering

on the means whereby with Minerva's help he might be able to kill

the suitors.

  Then Penelope came down from her room looking like Venus or Diana,

and they set her a seat inlaid with scrolls of silver and ivory near

the fire in her accustomed place. It had been made by Icmalius and had

a footstool all in one piece with the seat itself; and it was

covered with a thick fleece: on this she now sat, and the maids came

from the women's room to join her. They set about removing the

tables at which the wicked suitors had been dining, and took away

the bread that was left, with the cups from which they had drunk. They

emptied the embers out of the braziers, and heaped much wood upon them

to give both light and heat; but Melantho began to rail at Ulysses a

second time and said, "Stranger, do you mean to plague us by hanging

about the house all night and spying upon the women? Be off, you

wretch, outside, and eat your supper there, or you shall be driven out

with a firebrand."

  Ulysses scowled at her and answered, "My good woman, why should

you be so angry with me? Is it because I am not clean, and my

clothes are all in rags, and because I am obliged to go begging

about after the manner of tramps and beggars generall? I too was a

rich man once, and had a fine house of my own; in those days I gave to

many a tramp such as I now am, no matter who he might be nor what he

wanted. I had any number of servants, and all the other things which

people have who live well and are accounted wealthy, but it pleased

Jove to take all away from me; therefore, woman, beware lest you too

come to lose that pride and place in which you now wanton above your

fellows; have a care lest you get out of favour with your mistress,

and lest Ulysses should come home, for there is still a chance that he

may do so. Moreover, though he be dead as you think he is, yet by

Apollo's will he has left a son behind him, Telemachus, who will

note anything done amiss by the maids in the house, for he is now no

longer in his boyhood."

  Penelope heard what he was saying and scolded the maid, "Impudent

baggage, said she, "I see how abominably you are behaving, and you

shall smart for it. You knew perfectly well, for I told you myself,

that I was going to see the stranger and ask him about my husband, for

whose sake I am in such continual sorrow."

  Then she said to her head waiting woman Eurynome, "Bring a seat with

a fleece upon it, for the stranger to sit upon while he tells his

story, and listens to what I have to say. I wish to ask him some

questions."

  Eurynome brought the seat at once and set a fleece upon it, and as

soon as Ulysses had sat down Penelope began by saying, "Stranger, I

shall first ask you who and whence are you? Tell me of your town and

parents."

  "Madam;" answered Ulysses, "who on the face of the whole earth can

dare to chide with you? Your fame reaches the firmament of heaven

itself; you are like some blameless king, who upholds righteousness,

as the monarch over a great and valiant nation: the earth yields its

wheat and barley, the trees are loaded with fruit, the ewes bring

forth lambs, and the sea abounds with fish by reason of his virtues,

and his people do good deeds under him. Nevertheless, as I sit here in

your house, ask me some other question and do not seek to know my race

and family, or you will recall memories that will yet more increase my

sorrow. I am full of heaviness, but I ought not to sit weeping and

wailing in another person's house, nor is it well to be thus

grieving continually. I shall have one of the servants or even

yourself complaining of me, and saying that my eyes swim with tears

because I am heavy with wine."

  Then Penelope answered, "Stranger, heaven robbed me of all beauty,

whether of face or figure, when the Argives set sail for Troy and my

dear husband with them. If he were to return and look after my affairs

I should be both more respected and should show a better presence to

the world. As it is, I am oppressed with care, and with the

afflictions which heaven has seen fit to heap upon me. The chiefs from

all our islands- Dulichium, Same, and Zacynthus, as also from Ithaca

itself, are wooing me against my will and are wasting my estate. I can

therefore show no attention to strangers, nor suppliants, nor to

people who say that they are skilled artisans, but am all the time

brokenhearted about Ulysses. They want me to marry again at once,

and I have to invent stratagems in order to deceive them. In the first

place heaven put it in my mind to set up a great tambour-frame in my

room, and to begin working upon an enormous piece of fine

needlework. Then I said to them, 'Sweethearts, Ulysses is indeed dead,

still, do not press me to marry again immediately; wait- for I would

not have my skill in needlework perish unrecorded- till I have

finished making a pall for the hero Laertes, to be ready against the

time when death shall take him. He is very rich, and the women of

the place will talk if he is laid out without a pall.' This was what I

said, and they assented; whereon I used to keep working at my great

web all day long, but at night I would unpick the stitches again by

torch light. I fooled them in this way for three years without their

finding it out, but as time wore on and I was now in my fourth year,

in the waning of moons, and many days had been accomplished, those

good-for-nothing hussies my maids betrayed me to the suitors, who

broke in upon me and caught me; they were very angry with me, so I was

forced to finish my work whether I would or no. And now I do not see

how I can find any further shift for getting out of this marriage.

My parents are putting great pressure upon me, and my son chafes at

the ravages the suitors are making upon his estate, for he is now

old enough to understand all about it and is perfectly able to look

after his own affairs, for heaven has blessed him with an excellent

disposition. Still, notwithstanding all this, tell me who you are

and where you come from- for you must have had father and mother of

some sort; you cannot be the son of an oak or of a rock."

  Then Ulysses answered, "madam, wife of Ulysses, since you persist in

asking me about my family, I will answer, no matter what it costs

me: people must expect to be pained when they have been exiles as long

as I have, and suffered as much among as many peoples. Nevertheless,

as regards your question I will tell you all you ask. There is a

fair and fruitful island in mid-ocean called Crete; it is thickly

peopled and there are nine cities in it: the people speak many

different languages which overlap one another, for there are Achaeans,

brave Eteocretans, Dorians of three-fold race, and noble Pelasgi.

There is a great town there, Cnossus, where Minos reigned who every

nine years had a conference with Jove himself. Minos was father to

Deucalion, whose son I am, for Deucalion had two sons Idomeneus and

myself. Idomeneus sailed for Troy, and I, who am the younger, am

called Aethon; my brother, however, was at once the older and the more

valiant of the two; hence it was in Crete that I saw Ulysses and

showed him hospitality, for the winds took him there as he was on

his way to Troy, carrying him out of his course from cape Malea and

leaving him in Amnisus off the cave of Ilithuia, where the harbours

are difficult to enter and he could hardly find shelter from the winds

that were then xaging. As soon as he got there he went into the town

and asked for Idomeneus, claiming to be his old and valued friend, but

Idomeneus had already set sail for Troy some ten or twelve days

earlier, so I took him to my own house and showed him every kind of

hospitality, for I had abundance of everything. Moreover, I fed the

men who were with him with barley meal from the public store, and

got subscriptions of wine and oxen for them to sacrifice to their

heart's content. They stayed with me twelve days, for there was a gale

blowing from the North so strong that one could hardly keep one's feet

on land. I suppose some unfriendly god had raised it for them, but

on the thirteenth day the wind dropped, and they got away."

  Many a plausible tale did Ulysses further tell her, and Penelope

wept as she listened, for her heart was melted. As the snow wastes

upon the mountain tops when the winds from South East and West have

breathed upon it and thawed it till the rivers run bank full with

water, even so did her cheeks overflow with tears for the husband

who was all the time sitting by her side. Ulysses felt for her and was

for her, but he kept his eyes as hard as or iron without letting

them so much as quiver, so cunningly did he restrain his tears.

Then, when she had relieved herself by weeping, she turned to him

again and said: "Now, stranger, I shall put you to the test and see

whether or no you really did entertain my husband and his men, as

you say you did. Tell me, then, how he was dressed, what kind of a man

he was to look at, and so also with his companions."

  "Madam," answered Ulysses, "it is such a long time ago that I can

hardly say. Twenty years are come and gone since he left my home,

and went elsewhither; but I will tell you as well as I can

recollect. Ulysses wore a mantle of purple wool, double lined, and

it was fastened by a gold brooch with two catches for the pin. On

the face of this there was a device that showed a dog holding a

spotted fawn between his fore paws, and watching it as it lay

panting upon the ground. Every one marvelled at the way in which these

things had been done in gold, the dog looking at the fawn, and

strangling it, while the fawn was struggling convulsively to escape.

As for the shirt that he wore next his skin, it was so soft that it

fitted him like the skin of an onion, and glistened in the sunlight to

the admiration of all the women who beheld it. Furthermore I say,

and lay my saying to your heart, that I do not know whether Ulysses

wore these clothes when he left home, or whether one of his companions

had given them to him while he was on his voyage; or possibly some one

at whose house he was staying made him a present of them, for he was a

man of many friends and had few equals among the Achaeans. I myself

gave him a sword of bronze and a beautiful purple mantle, double

lined, with a shirt that went down to his feet, and I sent him on

board his ship with every mark of honour. He had a servant with him, a

little older than himself, and I can tell you what he was like; his

shoulders were hunched, he was dark, and he had thick curly hair.

His name was Eurybates, and Ulysses treated him with greater

familiarity than he did any of the others, as being the most

like-minded with himself."

  Penelope was moved still more deeply as she heard the indisputable

proofs that Ulysses laid before her; and when she had again found

relief in tears she said to him, "Stranger, I was already disposed

to pity you, but henceforth you shall be honoured and made welcome

in my house. It was I who gave Ulysses the clothes you speak of. I

took them out of the store room and folded them up myself, and I

gave him also the gold brooch to wear as an ornament. Alas! I shall

never welcome him home again. It was by an ill fate that he ever set

out for that detested city whose very name I cannot bring myself

even to mention."

  Then Ulysses answered, "Madam, wife of Ulysses, do not disfigure

yourself further by grieving thus bitterly for your loss, though I can

hardly blame you for doing so. A woman who has loved her husband and

borne him children, would naturally be grieved at losing him, even

though he were a worse man than Ulysses, who they say was like a

god. Still, cease your tears and listen to what I can tell I will hide

nothing from you, and can say with perfect truth that I have lately

heard of Ulysses as being alive and on his way home; he is among the

Thesprotians, and is bringing back much valuable treasure that he

has begged from one and another of them; but his ship and all his crew

were lost as they were leaving the Thrinacian island, for Jove and the

sun-god were angry with him because his men had slaughtered the

sun-god's cattle, and they were all drowned to a man. But Ulysses

stuck to the keel of the ship and was drifted on to the land of the

Phaecians, who are near of kin to the immortals, and who treated him

as though he had been a god, giving him many presents, and wishing

to escort him home safe and sound. In fact Ulysses would have been

here long ago, had he not thought better to go from land to land

gathering wealth; for there is no man living who is so wily as he

is; there is no one can compare with him. Pheidon king of the

Thesprotians told me all this, and he swore to me- making

drink-offerings in his house as he did so- that the ship was by the

water side and the crew found who would take Ulysses to his own

country. He sent me off first, for there happened to be a

Thesprotian ship sailing for the wheat-growing island of Dulichium,

but he showed me all treasure Ulysses had got together, and he had

enough lying in the house of king Pheidon to keep his family for ten

generations; but the king said Ulysses had gone to Dodona that he

might learn Jove's mind from the high oak tree, and know whether after

so long an absence he should return to Ithaca openly or in secret.

So you may know he is safe and will be here shortly; he is close at

hand and cannot remain away from home much longer; nevertheless I will

confirm my words with an oath, and call Jove who is the first and

mightiest of all gods to witness, as also that hearth of Ulysses to

which I have now come, that all I have spoken shall surely come to

pass. Ulysses will return in this self same year; with the end of this

moon and the beginning of the next he will be here."

  "May it be even so," answered Penelope; "if your words come true you

shall have such gifts and such good will from me that all who see

you shall congratulate you; but I know very well how it will be.

Ulysses will not return, neither will you get your escort hence, for

so surely as that Ulysses ever was, there are now no longer any such

masters in the house as he was, to receive honourable strangers or

to further them on their way home. And now, you maids, wash his feet

for him, and make him a bed on a couch with rugs and blankets, that he

may be warm and quiet till morning. Then, at day break wash him and

anoint him again, that he may sit in the cloister and take his meals

with Telemachus. It shall be the worse for any one of these hateful

people who is uncivil to him; like it or not, he shall have no more to

do in this house. For how, sir, shall you be able to learn whether

or no I am superior to others of my sex both in goodness of heart

and understanding, if I let you dine in my cloisters squalid and ill

clad? Men live but for a little season; if they are hard, and deal

hardly, people wish them ill so long as they are alive, and speak

contemptuously of them when they are dead, but he that is righteous

and deals righteously, the people tell of his praise among all

lands, and many shall call him blessed."

  Ulysses answered, "Madam, I have foresworn rugs and blankets from

the day that I left the snowy ranges of Crete to go on shipboard. I

will lie as I have lain on many a sleepless night hitherto. Night

after night have I passed in any rough sleeping place, and waited

for morning. Nor, again, do I like having my feet washed; I shall

not let any of the young hussies about your house touch my feet;

but, if you have any old and respectable woman who has gone through as

much trouble as I have, I will allow her to wash them."

  To this Penelope said, "My dear sir, of all the guests who ever

yet came to my house there never was one who spoke in all things

with such admirable propriety as you do. There happens to be in the

house a most respectable old woman- the same who received my poor dear

husband in her arms the night he was born, and nursed him in

infancy. She is very feeble now, but she shall wash your feet."

"Come here," said she, "Euryclea, and wash your master's age-mate; I

suppose Ulysses' hands and feet are very much the same now as his are,

for trouble ages all of us dreadfully fast."

  On these words the old woman covered her face with her hands; she

began to weep and made lamentation saying, "My dear child, I cannot

think whatever I am to do with you. I am certain no one was ever

more god-fearing than yourself, and yet Jove hates you. No one in

the whole world ever burned him more thigh bones, nor gave him finer

hecatombs when you prayed you might come to a green old age yourself

and see your son grow up to take after you; yet see how he has

prevented you alone from ever getting back to your own home. I have no

doubt the women in some foreign palace which Ulysses has got to are

gibing at him as all these sluts here have been gibing you. I do not

wonder at your not choosing to let them wash you after the manner in

which they have insulted you; I will wash your feet myself gladly

enough, as Penelope has said that I am to do so; I will wash them both

for Penelope's sake and for your own, for you have raised the most

lively feelings of compassion in my mind; and let me say this

moreover, which pray attend to; we have had all kinds of strangers

in distress come here before now, but I make bold to say that no one

ever yet came who was so like Ulysses in figure, voice, and feet as

you are."

  "Those who have seen us both," answered Ulysses, "have always said

we were wonderfully like each other, and now you have noticed it too.

  Then the old woman took the cauldron in which she was going to

wash his feet, and poured plenty of cold water into it, adding hot

till the bath was warm enough. Ulysses sat by the fire, but ere long

he turned away from the light, for it occurred to him that when the

old woman had hold of his leg she would recognize a certain scar which

it bore, whereon the whole truth would come out. And indeed as soon as

she began washing her master, she at once knew the scar as one that

had been given him by a wild boar when he was hunting on Mount

Parnassus with his excellent grandfather Autolycus- who was the most

accomplished thief and perjurer in the whole world- and with the

sons of Autolycus. Mercury himself had endowed him with this gift, for

he used to burn the thigh bones of goats and kids to him, so he took

pleasure in his companionship. It happened once that Autolycus had

gone to Ithaca and had found the child of his daughter just born. As

soon as he had done supper Euryclea set the infant upon his knees

and said, you must find a name for your grandson; you greatly wished

that you might have one."

  'Son-in-law and daughter," replied Autolycus, "call the child

thus: I am highly displeased with a large number of people in one

place and another, both men and women; so name the child 'Ulysses,' or

the child of anger. When he grows up and comes to visit his mother's

family on Mount Parnassus, where my possessions lie, I will make him a

present and will send him on his way rejoicing."

  Ulysses, therefore, went to Parnassus to get the presents from

Autolycus, who with his sons shook hands with him and gave him

welcome. His grandmother Amphithea threw her arms about him, and

kissed his head, and both his beautiful eyes, while Autolycus

desired his sons to get dinner ready, and they did as he told them.

They brought in a five year old bull, flayed it, made it ready and

divided it into joints; these they then cut carefully up into

smaller pieces and spitted them; they roasted them sufficiently and

served the portions round. Thus through the livelong day to the

going down of the sun they feasted, and every man had his full share

so that all were satisfied; but when the sun set and it came on

dark, they went to bed and enjoyed the boon of sleep.

  When the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, the sons of

Autolycus went out with their hounds hunting, and Ulysses went too.

They climbed the wooded slopes of Parnassus and soon reached its

breezy upland valleys; but as the sun was beginning to beat upon the

fields, fresh-risen from the slow still currents of Oceanus, they came

to a mountain dell. The dogs were in front searching for the tracks of

the beast they were chasing, and after them came the sons of

Autolycus, among whom was Ulysses, close behind the dogs, and he had a

long spear in his hand. Here was the lair of a huge boar among some

thick brushwood, so dense that the wind and rain could not get through

it, nor could the sun's rays pierce it, and the ground underneath

lay thick with fallen leaves. The boar heard the noise of the men's

feet, and the hounds baying on every side as the huntsmen came up to

him, so rushed from his lair, raised the bristles on his neck, and

stood at bay with fire flashing from his eyes. Ulysses was the first

to raise his spear and try to drive it into the brute, but the boar

was too quick for him, and charged him sideways, ripping him above the

knee with a gash that tore deep though it did not reach the bone. As

for the boar, Ulysses hit him on the right shoulder, and the point

of the spear went right through him, so that he fell groaning in the

dust until the life went out of him. The sons of Autolycus busied

themselves with the carcass of the boar, and bound Ulysses' wound;

then, after saying a spell to stop the bleeding, they went home as

fast as they could. But when Autolycus and his sons had thoroughly

healed Ulysses, they made him some splendid presents, and sent him

back to Ithaca with much mutual good will. When he got back, his

father and mother were rejoiced to see him, and asked him all about

it, and how he had hurt himself to get the scar; so he told them how

the boar had ripped him when he was out hunting with Autolycus and his

sons on Mount Parnassus.

  As soon as Euryclea had got the scarred limb in her hands and had

well hold of it, she recognized it and dropped the foot at once. The

leg fell into the bath, which rang out and was overturned, so that all

the water was spilt on the ground; Euryclea's eyes between her joy and

her grief filled with tears, and she could not speak, but she caught

Ulysses by the beard and said, "My dear child, I am sure you must be

Ulysses himself, only I did not know you till I had actually touched

and handled you."

  As she spoke she looked towards Penelope, as though wanting to

tell her that her dear husband was in the house, but Penelope was

unable to look in that direction and observe what was going on, for

Minerva had diverted her attention; so Ulysses caught Euryclea by

the throat with his right hand and with his left drew her close to

him, and said, "Nurse, do you wish to be the ruin of me, you who

nursed me at your own breast, now that after twenty years of wandering

I am at last come to my own home again? Since it has been borne in

upon you by heaven to recognize me, hold your tongue, and do not say a

word about it any one else in the house, for if you do I tell you- and

it shall surely be- that if heaven grants me to take the lives of

these suitors, I will not spare you, though you are my own nurse, when

I am killing the other women."

  "My child," answered Euryclea, "what are you talking about? You know

very well that nothing can either bend or break me. I will hold my

tongue like a stone or a piece of iron; furthermore let me say, and

lay my saying to your heart, when heaven has delivered the suitors

into your hand, I will give you a list of the women in the house who

have been ill-behaved, and of those who are guiltless."

  And Ulysses answered, "Nurse, you ought not to speak in that way;

I am well able to form my own opinion about one and all of them;

hold your tongue and leave everything to heaven."

  As he said this Euryclea left the cloister to fetch some more water,

for the first had been all spilt; and when she had washed him and

anointed him with oil, Ulysses drew his seat nearer to the fire to

warm himself, and hid the scar under his rags. Then Penelope began

talking to him and said:

  "Stranger, I should like to speak with you briefly about another

matter. It is indeed nearly bed time- for those, at least, who can

sleep in spite of sorrow. As for myself, heaven has given me a life of

such unmeasurable woe, that even by day when I am attending to my

duties and looking after the servants, I am still weeping and

lamenting during the whole time; then, when night comes, and we all of

us go to bed, I lie awake thinking, and my heart comes a prey to the

most incessant and cruel tortures. As the dun nightingale, daughter of

Pandareus, sings in the early spring from her seat in shadiest

covert hid, and with many a plaintive trill pours out the tale how

by mishap she killed her own child Itylus, son of king Zethus, even so

does my mind toss and turn in its uncertainty whether I ought to

stay with my son here, and safeguard my substance, my bondsmen, and

the greatness of my house, out of regard to public opinion and the

memory of my late husband, or whether it is not now time for me to

go with the best of these suitors who are wooing me and making me such

magnificent presents. As long as my son was still young, and unable to

understand, he would not hear of my leaving my husband's house, but

now that he is full grown he begs and prays me to do so, being

incensed at the way in which the suitors are eating up his property.

Listen, then, to a dream that I have had and interpret it for me if

you can. I have twenty geese about the house that eat mash out of a

trough, and of which I am exceedingly fond. I dreamed that a great

eagle came swooping down from a mountain, and dug his curved beak into

the neck of each of them till he had killed them all. Presently he

soared off into the sky, and left them lying dead about the yard;

whereon I wept in my room till all my maids gathered round me, so

piteously was I grieving because the eagle had killed my geese. Then

he came back again, and perching on a projecting rafter spoke to me

with human voice, and told me to leave off crying. 'Be of good

courage,' he said, 'daughter of Icarius; this is no dream, but a

vision of good omen that shall surely come to pass. The geese are

the suitors, and I am no longer an eagle, but your own husband, who am

come back to you, and who will bring these suitors to a disgraceful

end.' On this I woke, and when I looked out I saw my geese at the

trough eating their mash as usual."

  "This dream, Madam," replied Ulysses, "can admit but of one

interpretation, for had not Ulysses himself told you how it shall be

fulfilled? The death of the suitors is portended, and not one single

one of them will escape."

  And Penelope answered, "Stranger, dreams are very curious and

unaccountable things, and they do not by any means invariably come

true. There are two gates through which these unsubstantial fancies

proceed; the one is of horn, and the other ivory. Those that come

through the gate of ivory are fatuous, but those from the gate of horn

mean something to those that see them. I do not think, however, that

my own dream came through the gate of horn, though I and my son should

be most thankful if it proves to have done so. Furthermore I say-

and lay my saying to your heart- the coming dawn will usher in the

ill-omened day that is to sever me from the house of Ulysses, for I am

about to hold a tournament of axes. My husband used to set up twelve

axes in the court, one in front of the other, like the stays upon

which a ship is built; he would then go back from them and shoot an

arrow through the whole twelve. I shall make the suitors try to do the

same thing, and whichever of them can string the bow most easily,

and send his arrow through all the twelve axes, him will I follow, and

quit this house of my lawful husband, so goodly and so abounding in

wealth. But even so, I doubt not that I shall remember it in my

dreams."

  Then Ulysses answered, "Madam wife of Ulysses, you need not defer

your tournament, for Ulysses will return ere ever they can string

the bow, handle it how they will, and send their arrows through the

iron."

  To this Penelope said, "As long, sir, as you will sit here and

talk to me, I can have no desire to go to bed. Still, people cannot do

permanently without sleep, and heaven has appointed us dwellers on

earth a time for all things. I will therefore go upstairs and

recline upon that couch which I have never ceased to flood with my

tears from the day Ulysses set out for the city with a hateful name."

  She then went upstairs to her own room, not alone, but attended by

her maidens, and when there, she lamented her dear husband till

Minerva shed sweet sleep over her eyelids.





Translated by Samuel Butler






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