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The Odyssey Analysis

Author: Poetry of Homer Type: Poetry Views: 400

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Tell me, O muse, of that ingenious hero who travelled far and wide

after he had sacked the famous town of Troy. Many cities did he visit,

and many were the nations with whose manners and customs he was

acquainted; moreover he suffered much by sea while trying to save

his own life and bring his men safely home; but do what he might he

could not save his men, for they perished through their own sheer

folly in eating the cattle of the Sun-god Hyperion; so the god

prevented them from ever reaching home. Tell me, too, about all

these things, O daughter of Jove, from whatsoever source you may

know them.

So now all who escaped death in battle or by shipwreck had got

safely home except Ulysses, and he, though he was longing to return to

his wife and country, was detained by the goddess Calypso, who had got

him into a large cave and wanted to marry him. But as years went by,

there came a time when the gods settled that he should go back to

Ithaca; even then, however, when he was among his own people, his

troubles were not yet over; nevertheless all the gods had now begun to

pity him except Neptune, who still persecuted him without ceasing

and would not let him get home.

Now Neptune had gone off to the Ethiopians, who are at the world's

end, and lie in two halves, the one looking West and the other East.

He had gone there to accept a hecatomb of sheep and oxen, and was

enjoying himself at his festival; but the other gods met in the

house of Olympian Jove, and the sire of gods and men spoke first. At

that moment he was thinking of Aegisthus, who had been killed by

Agamemnon's son Orestes; so he said to the other gods:

"See now, how men lay blame upon us gods for what is after all

nothing but their own folly. Look at Aegisthus; he must needs make

love to Agamemnon's wife unrighteously and then kill Agamemnon, though

he knew it would be the death of him; for I sent Mercury to warn him

not to do either of these things, inasmuch as Orestes would be sure to

take his revenge when he grew up and wanted to return home. Mercury

told him this in all good will but he would not listen, and now he has

paid for everything in full."

Then Minerva said, "Father, son of Saturn, King of kings, it

served Aegisthus right, and so it would any one else who does as he

did; but Aegisthus is neither here nor there; it is for Ulysses that

my heart bleeds, when I think of his sufferings in that lonely

sea-girt island, far away, poor man, from all his friends. It is an

island covered with forest, in the very middle of the sea, and a

goddess lives there, daughter of the magician Atlas, who looks after

the bottom of the ocean, and carries the great columns that keep

heaven and earth asunder. This daughter of Atlas has got hold of

poor unhappy Ulysses, and keeps trying by every kind of blandishment

to make him forget his home, so that he is tired of life, and thinks

of nothing but how he may once more see the smoke of his own chimneys.

You, sir, take no heed of this, and yet when Ulysses was before Troy

did he not propitiate you with many a burnt sacrifice? Why then should

you keep on being so angry with him?"

And Jove said, "My child, what are you talking about? How can I

forget Ulysses than whom there is no more capable man on earth, nor

more liberal in his offerings to the immortal gods that live in

heaven? Bear in mind, however, that Neptune is still furious with

Ulysses for having blinded an eye of Polyphemus king of the

Cyclopes. Polyphemus is son to Neptune by the nymph Thoosa, daughter

to the sea-king Phorcys; therefore though he will not kill Ulysses

outright, he torments him by preventing him from getting home.

Still, let us lay our heads together and see how we can help him to

return; Neptune will then be pacified, for if we are all of a mind

he can hardly stand out against us."

And Minerva said, "Father, son of Saturn, King of kings, if, then,

the gods now mean that Ulysses should get home, we should first send

Mercury to the Ogygian island to tell Calypso that we have made up our

minds and that he is to return. In the meantime I will go to Ithaca,

to put heart into Ulysses' son Telemachus; I will embolden him to call

the Achaeans in assembly, and speak out to the suitors of his mother

Penelope, who persist in eating up any number of his sheep and oxen; I

will also conduct him to Sparta and to Pylos, to see if he can hear

anything about the return of his dear father- for this will make

people speak well of him."

So saying she bound on her glittering golden sandals,

imperishable, with which she can fly like the wind over land or sea;

she grasped the redoubtable bronze-shod spear, so stout and sturdy and

strong, wherewith she quells the ranks of heroes who have displeased

her, and down she darted from the topmost summits of Olympus,

whereon forthwith she was in Ithaca, at the gateway of Ulysses' house,

disguised as a visitor, Mentes, chief of the Taphians, and she held

a bronze spear in her hand. There she found the lordly suitors

seated on hides of the oxen which they had killed and eaten, and

playing draughts in front of the house. Men-servants and pages were

bustling about to wait upon them, some mixing wine with water in the

mixing-bowls, some cleaning down the tables with wet sponges and

laying them out again, and some cutting up great quantities of meat.

Telemachus saw her long before any one else did. He was sitting

moodily among the suitors thinking about his brave father, and how

he would send them flying out of the house, if he were to come to

his own again and be honoured as in days gone by. Thus brooding as

he sat among them, he caught sight of Minerva and went straight to the

gate, for he was vexed that a stranger should be kept waiting for

admittance. He took her right hand in his own, and bade her give him

her spear. "Welcome," said he, "to our house, and when you have

partaken of food you shall tell us what you have come for."

He led the way as he spoke, and Minerva followed him. When they were

within he took her spear and set it in the spear- stand against a

strong bearing-post along with the many other spears of his unhappy

father, and he conducted her to a richly decorated seat under which he

threw a cloth of damask. There was a footstool also for her feet,

and he set another seat near her for himself, away from the suitors,

that she might not be annoyed while eating by their noise and

insolence, and that he might ask her more freely about his father.

A maid servant then brought them water in a beautiful golden ewer

and poured it into a silver basin for them to wash their hands, and

she drew a clean table beside them. An upper servant brought them

bread, and offered them many good things of what there was in the

house, the carver fetched them plates of all manner of meats and set

cups of gold by their side, and a man-servant brought them wine and

poured it out for them.

Then the suitors came in and took their places on the benches and

seats. Forthwith men servants poured water over their hands, maids

went round with the bread-baskets, pages filled the mixing-bowls

with wine and water, and they laid their hands upon the good things

that were before them. As soon as they had had enough to eat and drink

they wanted music and dancing, which are the crowning embellishments

of a banquet, so a servant brought a lyre to Phemius, whom they

compelled perforce to sing to them. As soon as he touched his lyre and

began to sing Telemachus spoke low to Minerva, with his head close

to hers that no man might hear.

"I hope, sir," said he, "that you will not be offended with what I

am going to say. Singing comes cheap to those who do not pay for it,

and all this is done at the cost of one whose bones lie rotting in

some wilderness or grinding to powder in the surf. If these men were

to see my father come back to Ithaca they would pray for longer legs

rather than a longer purse, for money would not serve them; but he,

alas, has fallen on an ill fate, and even when people do sometimes say

that he is coming, we no longer heed them; we shall never see him

again. And now, sir, tell me and tell me true, who you are and where

you come from. Tell me of your town and parents, what manner of ship

you came in, how your crew brought you to Ithaca, and of what nation

they declared themselves to be- for you cannot have come by land. Tell

me also truly, for I want to know, are you a stranger to this house,

or have you been here in my father's time? In the old days we had many

visitors for my father went about much himself."

And Minerva answered, "I will tell you truly and particularly all

about it. I am Mentes, son of Anchialus, and I am King of the

Taphians. I have come here with my ship and crew, on a voyage to men

of a foreign tongue being bound for Temesa with a cargo of iron, and I

shall bring back copper. As for my ship, it lies over yonder off the

open country away from the town, in the harbour Rheithron under the

wooded mountain Neritum. Our fathers were friends before us, as old

Laertes will tell you, if you will go and ask him. They say,

however, that he never comes to town now, and lives by himself in

the country, faring hardly, with an old woman to look after him and

get his dinner for him, when he comes in tired from pottering about

his vineyard. They told me your father was at home again, and that was

why I came, but it seems the gods are still keeping him back, for he

is not dead yet not on the mainland. It is more likely he is on some

sea-girt island in mid ocean, or a prisoner among savages who are

detaining him against his will I am no prophet, and know very little

about omens, but I speak as it is borne in upon me from heaven, and

assure you that he will not be away much longer; for he is a man of

such resource that even though he were in chains of iron he would find

some means of getting home again. But tell me, and tell me true, can

Ulysses really have such a fine looking fellow for a son? You are

indeed wonderfully like him about the head and eyes, for we were close

friends before he set sail for Troy where the flower of all the

Argives went also. Since that time we have never either of us seen the


"My mother," answered Telemachus, tells me I am son to Ulysses,

but it is a wise child that knows his own father. Would that I were

son to one who had grown old upon his own estates, for, since you

ask me, there is no more ill-starred man under heaven than he who they

tell me is my father."

And Minerva said, "There is no fear of your race dying out yet,

while Penelope has such a fine son as you are. But tell me, and tell

me true, what is the meaning of all this feasting, and who are these

people? What is it all about? Have you some banquet, or is there a

wedding in the family- for no one seems to be bringing any

provisions of his own? And the guests- how atrociously they are

behaving; what riot they make over the whole house; it is enough to

disgust any respectable person who comes near them."

"Sir," said Telemachus, "as regards your question, so long as my

father was here it was well with us and with the house, but the gods

in their displeasure have willed it otherwise, and have hidden him

away more closely than mortal man was ever yet hidden. I could have

borne it better even though he were dead, if he had fallen with his

men before Troy, or had died with friends around him when the days

of his fighting were done; for then the Achaeans would have built a

mound over his ashes, and I should myself have been heir to his

renown; but now the storm-winds have spirited him away we know not

wither; he is gone without leaving so much as a trace behind him,

and I inherit nothing but dismay. Nor does the matter end simply

with grief for the loss of my father; heaven has laid sorrows upon

me of yet another kind; for the chiefs from all our islands,

Dulichium, Same, and the woodland island of Zacynthus, as also all the

principal men of Ithaca itself, are eating up my house under the

pretext of paying their court to my mother, who will neither point

blank say that she will not marry, nor yet bring matters to an end; so

they are making havoc of my estate, and before long will do so also

with myself."

"Is that so?" exclaimed Minerva, "then you do indeed want Ulysses

home again. Give him his helmet, shield, and a couple lances, and if

he is the man he was when I first knew him in our house, drinking

and making merry, he would soon lay his hands about these rascally

suitors, were he to stand once more upon his own threshold. He was

then coming from Ephyra, where he had been to beg poison for his

arrows from Ilus, son of Mermerus. Ilus feared the ever-living gods

and would not give him any, but my father let him have some, for he

was very fond of him. If Ulysses is the man he then was these

suitors will have a short shrift and a sorry wedding.

"But there! It rests with heaven to determine whether he is to

return, and take his revenge in his own house or no; I would, however,

urge you to set about trying to get rid of these suitors at once. Take

my advice, call the Achaean heroes in assembly to-morrow -lay your

case before them, and call heaven to bear you witness. Bid the suitors

take themselves off, each to his own place, and if your mother's

mind is set on marrying again, let her go back to her father, who will

find her a husband and provide her with all the marriage gifts that so

dear a daughter may expect. As for yourself, let me prevail upon you

to take the best ship you can get, with a crew of twenty men, and go

in quest of your father who has so long been missing. Some one may

tell you something, or (and people often hear things in this way) some

heaven-sent message may direct you. First go to Pylos and ask

Nestor; thence go on to Sparta and visit Menelaus, for he got home

last of all the Achaeans; if you hear that your father is alive and on

his way home, you can put up with the waste these suitors will make

for yet another twelve months. If on the other hand you hear of his

death, come home at once, celebrate his funeral rites with all due

pomp, build a barrow to his memory, and make your mother marry

again. Then, having done all this, think it well over in your mind

how, by fair means or foul, you may kill these suitors in your own

house. You are too old to plead infancy any longer; have you not heard

how people are singing Orestes' praises for having killed his father's

murderer Aegisthus? You are a fine, smart looking fellow; show your

mettle, then, and make yourself a name in story. Now, however, I

must go back to my ship and to my crew, who will be impatient if I

keep them waiting longer; think the matter over for yourself, and

remember what I have said to you."

"Sir," answered Telemachus, "it has been very kind of you to talk to

me in this way, as though I were your own son, and I will do all you

tell me; I know you want to be getting on with your voyage, but stay a

little longer till you have taken a bath and refreshed yourself. I

will then give you a present, and you shall go on your way

rejoicing; I will give you one of great beauty and value- a keepsake

such as only dear friends give to one another."

Minerva answered, "Do not try to keep me, for I would be on my way

at once. As for any present you may be disposed to make me, keep it

till I come again, and I will take it home with me. You shall give

me a very good one, and I will give you one of no less value in


With these words she flew away like a bird into the air, but she had

given Telemachus courage, and had made him think more than ever

about his father. He felt the change, wondered at it, and knew that

the stranger had been a god, so he went straight to where the

suitors were sitting.

Phemius was still singing, and his hearers sat rapt in silence as he

told the sad tale of the return from Troy, and the ills Minerva had

laid upon the Achaeans. Penelope, daughter of Icarius, heard his

song from her room upstairs, and came down by the great staircase, not

alone, but attended by two of her handmaids. When she reached the

suitors she stood by one of the bearing posts that supported the

roof of the cloisters with a staid maiden on either side of her. She

held a veil, moreover, before her face, and was weeping bitterly.

"Phemius," she cried, "you know many another feat of gods and

heroes, such as poets love to celebrate. Sing the suitors some one

of these, and let them drink their wine in silence, but cease this sad

tale, for it breaks my sorrowful heart, and reminds me of my lost

husband whom I mourn ever without ceasing, and whose name was great

over all Hellas and middle Argos."

"Mother," answered Telemachus, "let the bard sing what he has a mind

to; bards do not make the ills they sing of; it is Jove, not they, who

makes them, and who sends weal or woe upon mankind according to his

own good pleasure. This fellow means no harm by singing the

ill-fated return of the Danaans, for people always applaud the

latest songs most warmly. Make up your mind to it and bear it; Ulysses

is not the only man who never came back from Troy, but many another

went down as well as he. Go, then, within the house and busy

yourself with your daily duties, your loom, your distaff, and the

ordering of your servants; for speech is man's matter, and mine

above all others- for it is I who am master here."

She went wondering back into the house, and laid her son's saying in

her heart. Then, going upstairs with her handmaids into her room,

she mourned her dear husband till Minerva shed sweet sleep over her

eyes. But the suitors were clamorous throughout the covered cloisters,

and prayed each one that he might be her bed fellow.

Then Telemachus spoke, "Shameless," he cried, "and insolent suitors,

let us feast at our pleasure now, and let there be no brawling, for it

is a rare thing to hear a man with such a divine voice as Phemius has;

but in the morning meet me in full assembly that I may give you formal

notice to depart, and feast at one another's houses, turn and turn

about, at your own cost. If on the other hand you choose to persist in

spunging upon one man, heaven help me, but Jove shall reckon with

you in full, and when you fall in my father's house there shall be

no man to avenge you."

The suitors bit their lips as they heard him, and marvelled at the

boldness of his speech. Then, Antinous, son of Eupeithes, said, "The

gods seem to have given you lessons in bluster and tall talking; may

Jove never grant you to be chief in Ithaca as your father was before


Telemachus answered, "Antinous, do not chide with me, but, god

willing, I will be chief too if I can. Is this the worst fate you

can think of for me? It is no bad thing to be a chief, for it brings

both riches and honour. Still, now that Ulysses is dead there are many

great men in Ithaca both old and young, and some other may take the

lead among them; nevertheless I will be chief in my own house, and

will rule those whom Ulysses has won for me."

Then Eurymachus, son of Polybus, answered, "It rests with heaven

to decide who shall be chief among us, but you shall be master in your

own house and over your own possessions; no one while there is a man

in Ithaca shall do you violence nor rob you. And now, my good

fellow, I want to know about this stranger. What country does he

come from? Of what family is he, and where is his estate? Has he

brought you news about the return of your father, or was he on

business of his own? He seemed a well-to-do man, but he hurried off so

suddenly that he was gone in a moment before we could get to know


"My father is dead and gone," answered Telemachus, "and even if some

rumour reaches me I put no more faith in it now. My mother does indeed

sometimes send for a soothsayer and question him, but I give his

prophecyings no heed. As for the stranger, he was Mentes, son of

Anchialus, chief of the Taphians, an old friend of my father's." But

in his heart he knew that it had been the goddess.

The suitors then returned to their singing and dancing until the

evening; but when night fell upon their pleasuring they went home to

bed each in his own abode. Telemachus's room was high up in a tower

that looked on to the outer court; hither, then, he hied, brooding and

full of thought. A good old woman, Euryclea, daughter of Ops, the

son of Pisenor, went before him with a couple of blazing torches.

Laertes had bought her with his own money when she was quite young; he

gave the worth of twenty oxen for her, and shewed as much respect to

her in his household as he did to his own wedded wife, but he did

not take her to his bed for he feared his wife's resentment. She it

was who now lighted Telemachus to his room, and she loved him better

than any of the other women in the house did, for she had nursed him

when he was a baby. He opened the door of his bed room and sat down

upon the bed; as he took off his shirt he gave it to the good old

woman, who folded it tidily up, and hung it for him over a peg by

his bed side, after which she went out, pulled the door to by a silver

catch, and drew the bolt home by means of the strap. But Telemachus as

he lay covered with a woollen fleece kept thinking all night through

of his intended voyage of the counsel that Minerva had given him.


Now when the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared,

Telemachus rose and dressed himself. He bound his sandals on to his

comely feet, girded his sword about his shoulder, and left his room

looking like an immortal god. He at once sent the criers round to call

the people in assembly, so they called them and the people gathered

thereon; then, when they were got together, he went to the place of

assembly spear in hand- not alone, for his two hounds went with him.

Minerva endowed him with a presence of such divine comeliness that all

marvelled at him as he went by, and when he took his place' in his

father's seat even the oldest councillors made way for him.

Aegyptius, a man bent double with age, and of infinite experience,

the first to speak His son Antiphus had gone with Ulysses to Ilius,

land of noble steeds, but the savage Cyclops had killed him when

they were all shut up in the cave, and had cooked his last dinner

for him, He had three sons left, of whom two still worked on their

father's land, while the third, Eurynomus, was one of the suitors;

nevertheless their father could not get over the loss of Antiphus, and

was still weeping for him when he began his speech.

"Men of Ithaca," he said, "hear my words. From the day Ulysses

left us there has been no meeting of our councillors until now; who

then can it be, whether old or young, that finds it so necessary to

convene us? Has he got wind of some host approaching, and does he wish

to warn us, or would he speak upon some other matter of public moment?

I am sure he is an excellent person, and I hope Jove will grant him

his heart's desire."

Telemachus took this speech as of good omen and rose at once, for he

was bursting with what he had to say. He stood in the middle of the

assembly and the good herald Pisenor brought him his staff. Then,

turning to Aegyptius, "Sir," said he, "it is I, as you will shortly

learn, who have convened you, for it is I who am the most aggrieved. I

have not got wind of any host approaching about which I would warn

you, nor is there any matter of public moment on which I would

speak. My grieveance is purely personal, and turns on two great

misfortunes which have fallen upon my house. The first of these is the

loss of my excellent father, who was chief among all you here present,

and was like a father to every one of you; the second is much more

serious, and ere long will be the utter ruin of my estate. The sons of

all the chief men among you are pestering my mother to marry them

against her will. They are afraid to go to her father Icarius,

asking him to choose the one he likes best, and to provide marriage

gifts for his daughter, but day by day they keep hanging about my

father's house, sacrificing our oxen, sheep, and fat goats for their

banquets, and never giving so much as a thought to the quantity of

wine they drink. No estate can stand such recklessness; we have now no

Ulysses to ward off harm from our doors, and I cannot hold my own

against them. I shall never all my days be as good a man as he was,

still I would indeed defend myself if I had power to do so, for I

cannot stand such treatment any longer; my house is being disgraced

and ruined. Have respect, therefore, to your own consciences and to

public opinion. Fear, too, the wrath of heaven, lest the gods should

be displeased and turn upon you. I pray you by Jove and Themis, who is

the beginning and the end of councils, [do not] hold back, my friends,

and leave me singlehanded- unless it be that my brave father Ulysses

did some wrong to the Achaeans which you would now avenge on me, by

aiding and abetting these suitors. Moreover, if I am to be eaten out

of house and home at all, I had rather you did the eating

yourselves, for I could then take action against you to some

purpose, and serve you with notices from house to house till I got

paid in full, whereas now I have no remedy."

With this Telemachus dashed his staff to the ground and burst into

tears. Every one was very sorry for him, but they all sat still and no

one ventured to make him an angry answer, save only Antinous, who

spoke thus:

"Telemachus, insolent braggart that you are, how dare you try to

throw the blame upon us suitors? It is your mother's fault not ours,

for she is a very artful woman. This three years past, and close on

four, she has been driving us out of our minds, by encouraging each

one of us, and sending him messages without meaning one word of what

she says. And then there was that other trick she played us. She set

up a great tambour frame in her room, and began to work on an enormous

piece of fine needlework. 'Sweet hearts,' said she, 'Ulysses is indeed

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

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

completed a pall for the hero Laertes, to be in readiness 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 she said, and we assented; whereon we could see her

working on her great web all day long, but at night she would unpick

the stitches again by torchlight. She fooled us in this way for

three years and we never found her out, but as time wore on and she

was now in her fourth year, one of her maids who knew what she was

doing told us, and we caught her in the act of undoing her work, so

she had to finish it whether she would or no. The suitors,

therefore, make you this answer, that both you and the Achaeans may

understand-'Send your mother away, and bid her marry the man of her

own and of her father's choice'; for I do not know what will happen if

she goes on plaguing us much longer with the airs she gives herself on

the score of the accomplishments Minerva has taught her, and because

she is so clever. We never yet heard of such a woman; we know all

about Tyro, Alcmena, Mycene, and the famous women of old, but they

were nothing to your mother, any one of them. It was not fair of her

to treat us in that way, and as long as she continues in the mind with

which heaven has now endowed her, so long shall we go on eating up

your estate; and I do not see why she should change, for she gets

all the honour and glory, and it is you who pay for it, not she.

Understand, then, that we will not go back to our lands, neither

here nor elsewhere, till she has made her choice and married some

one or other of us."

Telemachus answered, "Antinous, how can I drive the mother who

bore me from my father's house? My father is abroad and we do not know

whether he is alive or dead. It will be hard on me if I have to pay

Icarius the large sum which I must give him if I insist on sending his

daughter back to him. Not only will he deal rigorously with me, but

heaven will also punish me; for my mother when she leaves the house

will calf on the Erinyes to avenge her; besides, it would not be a

creditable thing to do, and I will have nothing to say to it. If you

choose to take offence at this, leave the house and feast elsewhere at

one another's houses at your own cost turn and turn about. If, on

the other hand, you elect to persist in spunging upon one man,

heaven help me, but Jove shall reckon with you in full, and when you

fall in my father's house there shall be no man to avenge you."

As he spoke Jove sent two eagles from the top of the mountain, and

they flew on and on with the wind, sailing side by side in their own

lordly flight. When they were right over the middle of the assembly

they wheeled and circled about, beating the air with their wings and

glaring death into the eyes of them that were below; then, fighting

fiercely and tearing at one another, they flew off towards the right

over the town. The people wondered as they saw them, and asked each

other what an this might be; whereon Halitherses, who was the best

prophet and reader of omens among them, spoke to them plainly and in

all honesty, saying:

"Hear me, men of Ithaca, and I speak more particularly to the

suitors, for I see mischief brewing for them. Ulysses is not going

to be away much longer; indeed he is close at hand to deal out death

and destruction, not on them alone, but on many another of us who live

in Ithaca. Let us then be wise in time, and put a stop to this

wickedness before he comes. Let the suitors do so of their own accord;

it will be better for them, for I am not prophesying without due

knowledge; everything has happened to Ulysses as I foretold when the

Argives set out for Troy, and he with them. I said that after going

through much hardship and losing all his men he should come home again

in the twentieth year and that no one would know him; and now all this

is coming true."

Eurymachus son of Polybus then said, "Go home, old man, and prophesy

to your own children, or it may be worse for them. I can read these

omens myself much better than you can; birds are always flying about

in the sunshine somewhere or other, but they seldom mean anything.

Ulysses has died in a far country, and it is a pity you are not dead

along with him, instead of prating here about omens and adding fuel to

the anger of Telemachus which is fierce enough as it is. I suppose you

think he will give you something for your family, but I tell you-

and it shall surely be- when an old man like you, who should know

better, talks a young one over till he becomes troublesome, in the

first place his young friend will only fare so much the worse- he will

take nothing by it, for the suitors will prevent this- and in the

next, we will lay a heavier fine, sir, upon yourself than you will

at all like paying, for it will bear hardly upon you. As for

Telemachus, I warn him in the presence of you all to send his mother

back to her father, who will find her a husband and provide her with

all the marriage gifts so dear a daughter may expect. Till we shall go

on harassing him with our suit; for we fear no man, and care neither

for him, with all his fine speeches, nor for any fortune-telling of

yours. You may preach as much as you please, but we shall only hate

you the more. We shall go back and continue to eat up Telemachus's

estate without paying him, till such time as his mother leaves off

tormenting us by keeping us day after day on the tiptoe of

expectation, each vying with the other in his suit for a prize of such

rare perfection. Besides we cannot go after the other women whom we

should marry in due course, but for the way in which she treats us."

Then Telemachus said, "Eurymachus, and you other suitors, I shall

say no more, and entreat you no further, for the gods and the people

of Ithaca now know my story. Give me, then, a ship and a crew of

twenty men to take me hither and thither, and I will go to Sparta

and to Pylos in quest of my father who has so long been missing.

Some one may tell me something, or (and people often hear things in

this way) some heaven-sent message may direct me. If I can hear of him

as alive and on his way home I will put up with the waste you

suitors will make for yet another twelve months. If on the other

hand I hear of his death, I will return at once, celebrate his funeral

rites with all due pomp, build a barrow to his memory, and make my

mother marry again."

With these words he sat down, and Mentor who had been a friend of

Ulysses, and had been left in charge of everything with full authority

over the servants, rose to speak. He, then, plainly and in all honesty

addressed them thus:

"Hear me, men of Ithaca, I hope that you may never have a kind and

well-disposed ruler any more, nor one who will govern you equitably; I

hope that all your chiefs henceforward may be cruel and unjust, for

there is not one of you but has forgotten Ulysses, who ruled you as

though he were your father. I am not half so angry with the suitors,

for if they choose to do violence in the naughtiness of their

hearts, and wager their heads that Ulysses will not return, they can

take the high hand and eat up his estate, but as for you others I am

shocked at the way in which you all sit still without even trying to

stop such scandalous goings on-which you could do if you chose, for

you are many and they are few."

Leiocritus, son of Evenor, answered him saying, "Mentor, what

folly is all this, that you should set the people to stay us? It is

a hard thing for one man to fight with many about his victuals. Even

though Ulysses himself were to set upon us while we are feasting in

his house, and do his best to oust us, his wife, who wants him back so

very badly, would have small cause for rejoicing, and his blood

would be upon his own head if he fought against such great odds. There

is no sense in what you have been saying. Now, therefore, do you

people go about your business, and let his father's old friends,

Mentor and Halitherses, speed this boy on his journey, if he goes at

all- which I do not think he will, for he is more likely to stay where

he is till some one comes and tells him something."

On this he broke up the assembly, and every man went back to his own

abode, while the suitors returned to the house of Ulysses.

Then Telemachus went all alone by the sea side, washed his hands

in the grey waves, and prayed to Minerva.

"Hear me," he cried, "you god who visited me yesterday, and bade

me sail the seas in search of my father who has so long been

missing. I would obey you, but the Achaeans, and more particularly the

wicked suitors, are hindering me that I cannot do so."

As he thus prayed, Minerva came close up to him in the likeness

and with the voice of Mentor. "Telemachus," said she, "if you are made

of the same stuff as your father you will be neither fool nor coward

henceforward, for Ulysses never broke his word nor left his work

half done. If, then, you take after him, your voyage will not be

fruitless, but unless you have the blood of Ulysses and of Penelope in

your veins I see no likelihood of your succeeding. Sons are seldom

as good men as their fathers; they are generally worse, not better;

still, as you are not going to be either fool or coward

henceforward, and are not entirely without some share of your father's

wise discernment, I look with hope upon your undertaking. But mind you

never make common cause with any of those foolish suitors, for they

have neither sense nor virtue, and give no thought to death and to the

doom that will shortly fall on one and all of them, so that they shall

perish on the same day. As for your voyage, it shall not be long

delayed; your father was such an old friend of mine that I will find

you a ship, and will come with you myself. Now, however, return

home, and go about among the suitors; begin getting provisions ready

for your voyage; see everything well stowed, the wine in jars, and the

barley meal, which is the staff of life, in leathern bags, while I

go round the town and beat up volunteers at once. There are many ships

in Ithaca both old and new; I will run my eye over them for you and

will choose the best; we will get her ready and will put out to sea

without delay."

Thus spoke Minerva daughter of Jove, and Telemachus lost no time

in doing as the goddess told him. He went moodily and found the

suitors flaying goats and singeing pigs in the outer court. Antinous

came up to him at once and laughed as he took his hand in his own,

saying, "Telemachus, my fine fire-eater, bear no more ill blood

neither in word nor deed, but eat and drink with us as you used to do.

The Achaeans will find you in everything- a ship and a picked crew

to boot- so that you can set sail for Pylos at once and get news of

your noble father."

"Antinous," answered Telemachus, "I cannot eat in peace, nor take

pleasure of any kind with such men as you are. Was it not enough

that you should waste so much good property of mine while I was yet

a boy? Now that I am older and know more about it, I am also stronger,

and whether here among this people, or by going to Pylos, I will do

you all the harm I can. I shall go, and my going will not be in vain

though, thanks to you suitors, I have neither ship nor crew of my own,

and must be passenger not captain."

As he spoke he snatched his hand from that of Antinous. Meanwhile

the others went on getting dinner ready about the buildings, jeering

at him tauntingly as they did so.

"Telemachus," said one youngster, "means to be the death of us; I

suppose he thinks he can bring friends to help him from Pylos, or

again from Sparta, where he seems bent on going. Or will he go to

Ephyra as well, for poison to put in our wine and kill us?"

Another said, "Perhaps if Telemachus goes on board ship, he will

be like his father and perish far from his friends. In this case we

should have plenty to do, for we could then divide up his property

amongst us: as for the house we can let his mother and the man who

marries her have that."

This was how they talked. But Telemachus went down into the lofty

and spacious store-room where his father's treasure of gold and bronze

lay heaped up upon the floor, and where the linen and spare clothes

were kept in open chests. Here, too, there was a store of fragrant

olive oil, while casks of old, well-ripened wine, unblended and fit

for a god to drink, were ranged against the wall in case Ulysses

should come home again after all. The room was closed with well-made

doors opening in the middle; moreover the faithful old house-keeper

Euryclea, daughter of Ops the son of Pisenor, was in charge of

everything both night and day. Telemachus called her to the store-room

and said:

"Nurse, draw me off some of the best wine you have, after what you

are keeping for my father's own drinking, in case, poor man, he should

escape death, and find his way home again after all. Let me have

twelve jars, and see that they all have lids; also fill me some

well-sewn leathern bags with barley meal- about twenty measures in

all. Get these things put together at once, and say nothing about

it. I will take everything away this evening as soon as my mother

has gone upstairs for the night. I am going to Sparta and to Pylos

to see if I can hear anything about the return of my dear father.

When Euryclea heard this she began to cry, and spoke fondly to

him, saying, "My dear child, what ever can have put such notion as

that into your head? Where in the world do you want to go to- you, who

are the one hope of the house? Your poor father is dead and gone in

some foreign country nobody knows where, and as soon as your back is

turned these wicked ones here will be scheming to get you put out of

the way, and will share all your possessions among themselves; stay

where you are among your own people, and do not go wandering and

worrying your life out on the barren ocean."

"Fear not, nurse," answered Telemachus, "my scheme is not without

heaven's sanction; but swear that you will say nothing about all

this to my mother, till I have been away some ten or twelve days,

unless she hears of my having gone, and asks you; for I do not want

her to spoil her beauty by crying."

The old woman swore most solemnly that she would not, and when she

had completed her oath, she began drawing off the wine into jars,

and getting the barley meal into the bags, while Telemachus went

back to the suitors.

Then Minerva bethought her of another matter. She took his shape,

and went round the town to each one of the crew, telling them to

meet at the ship by sundown. She went also to Noemon son of

Phronius, and asked him to let her have a ship- which he was very

ready to do. When the sun had set and darkness was over all the

land, she got the ship into the water, put all the tackle on board her

that ships generally carry, and stationed her at the end of the

harbour. Presently the crew came up, and the goddess spoke

encouragingly to each of them.

Furthermore she went to the house of Ulysses, and threw the

suitors into a deep slumber. She caused their drink to fuddle them,

and made them drop their cups from their hands, so that instead of

sitting over their wine, they went back into the town to sleep, with

their eyes heavy and full of drowsiness. Then she took the form and

voice of Mentor, and called Telemachus to come outside.

"Telemachus," said she, "the men are on board and at their oars,

waiting for you to give your orders, so make haste and let us be off."

On this she led the way, while Telemachus followed in her steps.

When they got to the ship they found the crew waiting by the water

side, and Telemachus said, "Now my men, help me to get the stores on

board; they are all put together in the cloister, and my mother does

not know anything about it, nor any of the maid servants except one."

With these words he led the way and the others followed after.

When they had brought the things as he told them, Telemachus went on

board, Minerva going before him and taking her seat in the stern of

the vessel, while Telemachus sat beside her. Then the men loosed the

hawsers and took their places on the benches. Minerva sent them a fair

wind from the West, that whistled over the deep blue waves whereon

Telemachus told them to catch hold of the ropes and hoist sail, and

they did as he told them. They set the mast in its socket in the cross

plank, raised it, and made it fast with the forestays; then they

hoisted their white sails aloft with ropes of twisted ox hide. As

the sail bellied out with the wind, the ship flew through the deep

blue water, and the foam hissed against her bows as she sped onward.

Then they made all fast throughout the ship, filled the mixing-bowls

to the brim, and made drink offerings to the immortal gods that are

from everlasting, but more particularly to the grey-eyed daughter of


Thus, then, the ship sped on her way through the watches of the

night from dark till dawn.


But as the sun was rising from the fair sea into the firmament of

heaven to shed Blight on mortals and immortals, they reached Pylos the

city of Neleus. Now the people of Pylos were gathered on the sea shore

to offer sacrifice of black bulls to Neptune lord of the Earthquake.

There were nine guilds with five hundred men in each, and there were

nine bulls to each guild. As they were eating the inward meats and

burning the thigh bones [on the embers] in the name of Neptune,

Telemachus and his crew arrived, furled their sails, brought their

ship to anchor, and went ashore.

Minerva led the way and Telemachus followed her. Presently she said,

"Telemachus, you must not be in the least shy or nervous; you have

taken this voyage to try and find out where your father is buried

and how he came by his end; so go straight up to Nestor that we may

see what he has got to tell us. Beg of him to speak the truth, and

he will tell no lies, for he is an excellent person."

"But how, Mentor," replied Telemachus, "dare I go up to Nestor,

and how am I to address him? I have never yet been used to holding

long conversations with people, and am ashamed to begin questioning

one who is so much older than myself."

"Some things, Telemachus," answered Minerva, "will be suggested to

you by your own instinct, and heaven will prompt you further; for I am

assured that the gods have been with you from the time of your birth

until now."

She then went quickly on, and Telemachus followed in her steps

till they reached the place where the guilds of the Pylian people were

assembled. There they found Nestor sitting with his sons, while his

company round him were busy getting dinner ready, and putting pieces

of meat on to the spits while other pieces were cooking. When they saw

the strangers they crowded round them, took them by the hand and

bade them take their places. Nestor's son Pisistratus at once

offered his hand to each of them, and seated them on some soft

sheepskins that were lying on the sands near his father and his

brother Thrasymedes. Then he gave them their portions of the inward

meats and poured wine for them into a golden cup, handing it to

Minerva first, and saluting her at the same time.

"Offer a prayer, sir," said he, "to King Neptune, for it is his

feast that you are joining; when you have duly prayed and made your

drink-offering, pass the cup to your friend that he may do so also.

I doubt not that he too lifts his hands in prayer, for man cannot live

without God in the world. Still he is younger than you are, and is

much of an age with myself, so I he handed I will give you the


As he spoke he handed her the cup. Minerva thought it very right and

proper of him to have given it to herself first; she accordingly began

praying heartily to Neptune. "O thou," she cried, "that encirclest the

earth, vouchsafe to grant the prayers of thy servants that call upon

thee. More especially we pray thee send down thy grace on Nestor and

on his sons; thereafter also make the rest of the Pylian people some

handsome return for the goodly hecatomb they are offering you. Lastly,

grant Telemachus and myself a happy issue, in respect of the matter

that has brought us in our to Pylos."

When she had thus made an end of praying, she handed the cup to

Telemachus and he prayed likewise. By and by, when the outer meats

were roasted and had been taken off the spits, the carvers gave

every man his portion and they all made an excellent dinner. As soon

as they had had enough to eat and drink, Nestor, knight of Gerene,

began to speak.

"Now," said he, "that our guests have done their dinner, it will

be best to ask them who they are. Who, then, sir strangers, are you,

and from what port have you sailed? Are you traders? or do you sail

the seas as rovers with your hand against every man, and every man's

hand against you?"

Telemachus answered boldly, for Minerva had given him courage to ask

about his father and get himself a good name.

"Nestor," said he, "son of Neleus, honour to the Achaean name, you

ask whence we come, and I will tell you. We come from Ithaca under

Neritum, and the matter about which I would speak is of private not

public import. I seek news of my unhappy father Ulysses, who is said

to have sacked the town of Troy in company with yourself. We know what

fate befell each one of the other heroes who fought at Troy, but as

regards Ulysses heaven has hidden from us the knowledge even that he

is dead at all, for no one can certify us in what place he perished,

nor say whether he fell in battle on the mainland, or was lost at

sea amid the waves of Amphitrite. Therefore I am suppliant at your

knees, if haply you may be pleased to tell me of his melancholy end,

whether you saw it with your own eyes, or heard it from some other

traveller, for he was a man born to trouble. Do not soften things

out of any pity for me, but tell me in all plainness exactly what

you saw. If my brave father Ulysses ever did you loyal service, either

by word or deed, when you Achaeans were harassed among the Trojans,

bear it in mind now as in my favour and tell me truly all."

"My friend," answered Nestor, "you recall a time of much sorrow to

my mind, for the brave Achaeans suffered much both at sea, while

privateering under Achilles, and when fighting before the great city

of king Priam. Our best men all of them fell there- Ajax, Achilles,

Patroclus peer of gods in counsel, and my own dear son Antilochus, a

man singularly fleet of foot and in fight valiant. But we suffered

much more than this; what mortal tongue indeed could tell the whole

story? Though you were to stay here and question me for five years, or

even six, I could not tell you all that the Achaeans suffered, and you

would turn homeward weary of my tale before it ended. Nine long

years did we try every kind of stratagem, but the hand of heaven was

against us; during all this time there was no one who could compare

with your father in subtlety- if indeed you are his son- I can

hardly believe my eyes- and you talk just like him too- no one would

say that people of such different ages could speak so much alike. He

and I never had any kind of difference from first to last neither in

camp nor council, but in singleness of heart and purpose we advised

the Argives how all might be ordered for the best.

"When however, we had sacked the city of Priam, and were setting

sail in our ships as heaven had dispersed us, then Jove saw fit to vex

the Argives on their homeward voyage; for they had Not all been either

wise or understanding, and hence many came to a bad end through the

displeasure of Jove's daughter Minerva, who brought about a quarrel

between the two sons of Atreus.

"The sons of Atreus called a meeting which was not as it should

be, for it was sunset and the Achaeans were heavy with wine. When they

explained why they had called- the people together, it seemed that

Menelaus was for sailing homeward at once, and this displeased

Agamemnon, who thought that we should wait till we had offered

hecatombs to appease the anger of Minerva. Fool that he was, he

might have known that he would not prevail with her, for when the gods

have made up their minds they do not change them lightly. So the two

stood bandying hard words, whereon the Achaeans sprang to their feet

with a cry that rent the air, and were of two minds as to what they

should do.

"That night we rested and nursed our anger, for Jove was hatching

mischief against us. But in the morning some of us drew our ships into

the water and put our goods with our women on board, while the rest,

about half in number, stayed behind with Agamemnon. We- the other

half- embarked and sailed; and the ships went well, for heaven had

smoothed the sea. When we reached Tenedos we offered sacrifices to the

gods, for we were longing to get home; cruel Jove, however, did not

yet mean that we should do so, and raised a second quarrel in the

course of which some among us turned their ships back again, and

sailed away under Ulysses to make their peace with Agamemnon; but I,

and all the ships that were with me pressed forward, for I saw that

mischief was brewing. The son of Tydeus went on also with me, and

his crews with him. Later on Menelaus joined us at Lesbos, and found

us making up our minds about our course- for we did not know whether

to go outside Chios by the island of Psyra, keeping this to our

left, or inside Chios, over against the stormy headland of Mimas. So

we asked heaven for a sign, and were shown one to the effect that we

should be soonest out of danger if we headed our ships across the open

sea to Euboea. This we therefore did, and a fair wind sprang up

which gave us a quick passage during the night to Geraestus, where

we offered many sacrifices to Neptune for having helped us so far on

our way. Four days later Diomed and his men stationed their ships in

Argos, but I held on for Pylos, and the wind never fell light from the

day when heaven first made it fair for me.

"Therefore, my dear young friend, I returned without hearing

anything about the others. I know neither who got home safely nor

who were lost but, as in duty bound, I will give you without reserve

the reports that have reached me since I have been here in my own

house. They say the Myrmidons returned home safely under Achilles' son

Neoptolemus; so also did the valiant son of Poias, Philoctetes.

Idomeneus, again, lost no men at sea, and all his followers who

escaped death in the field got safe home with him to Crete. No

matter how far out of the world you live, you will have heard of

Agamemnon and the bad end he came to at the hands of Aegisthus- and

a fearful reckoning did Aegisthus presently pay. See what a good thing

it is for a man to leave a son behind him to do as Orestes did, who

killed false Aegisthus the murderer of his noble father. You too,

then- for you are a tall, smart-looking fellow- show your mettle and

make yourself a name in story."

"Nestor son of Neleus," answered Telemachus, "honour to the

Achaean name, the Achaeans applaud Orestes and his name will live

through all time for he has avenged his father nobly. Would that

heaven might grant me to do like vengeance on the insolence of the

wicked suitors, who are ill treating me and plotting my ruin; but

the gods have no such happiness in store for me and for my father,

so we must bear it as best we may."

"My friend," said Nestor, "now that you remind me, I remember to

have heard that your mother has many suitors, who are ill disposed

towards you and are making havoc of your estate. Do you submit to this

tamely, or are public feeling and the voice of heaven against you? Who

knows but what Ulysses may come back after all, and pay these

scoundrels in full, either single-handed or with a force of Achaeans

behind him? If Minerva were to take as great a liking to you as she

did to Ulysses when we were fighting before Troy (for I never yet

saw the gods so openly fond of any one as Minerva then was of your

father), if she would take as good care of you as she did of him,

these wooers would soon some of them him, forget their wooing."

Telemachus answered, "I can expect nothing of the kind; it would

be far too much to hope for. I dare not let myself think of it. Even

though the gods themselves willed it no such good fortune could befall


On this Minerva said, "Telemachus, what are you talking about?

Heaven has a long arm if it is minded to save a man; and if it were

me, I should not care how much I suffered before getting home,

provided I could be safe when I was once there. I would rather this,

than get home quickly, and then be killed in my own house as Agamemnon

was by the treachery of Aegisthus and his wife. Still, death is

certain, and when a man's hour is come, not even the gods can save

him, no matter how fond they are of him."

"Mentor," answered Telemachus, "do not let us talk about it any

more. There is no chance of my father's ever coming back; the gods

have long since counselled his destruction. There is something else,

however, about which I should like to ask Nestor, for he knows much

more than any one else does. They say he has reigned for three

generations so that it is like talking to an immortal. Tell me,

therefore, Nestor, and tell me true; how did Agamemnon come to die

in that way? What was Menelaus doing? And how came false Aegisthus

to kill so far better a man than himself? Was Menelaus away from

Achaean Argos, voyaging elsewhither among mankind, that Aegisthus took

heart and killed Agamemnon?"

"I will tell you truly," answered Nestor, "and indeed you have

yourself divined how it all happened. If Menelaus when he got back

from Troy had found Aegisthus still alive in his house, there would

have been no barrow heaped up for him, not even when he was dead,

but he would have been thrown outside the city to dogs and vultures,

and not a woman would have mourned him, for he had done a deed of

great wickedness; but we were over there, fighting hard at Troy, and

Aegisthus who was taking his ease quietly in the heart of Argos,

cajoled Agamemnon's wife Clytemnestra with incessant flattery.

"At first she would have nothing to do with his wicked scheme, for

she was of a good natural disposition; moreover there was a bard

with her, to whom Agamemnon had given strict orders on setting out for

Troy, that he was to keep guard over his wife; but when heaven had

counselled her destruction, Aegisthus thus this bard off to a desert

island and left him there for crows and seagulls to batten upon- after

which she went willingly enough to the house of Aegisthus. Then he

offered many burnt sacrifices to the gods, and decorated many

temples with tapestries and gilding, for he had succeeded far beyond

his expectations.

"Meanwhile Menelaus and I were on our way home from Troy, on good

terms with one another. When we got to Sunium, which is the point of

Athens, Apollo with his painless shafts killed Phrontis the

steersman of Menelaus' ship (and never man knew better how to handle a

vessel in rough weather) so that he died then and there with the

helm in his hand, and Menelaus, though very anxious to press

forward, had to wait in order to bury his comrade and give him his due

funeral rites. Presently, when he too could put to sea again, and

had sailed on as far as the Malean heads, Jove counselled evil against

him and made it it blow hard till the waves ran mountains high. Here

he divided his fleet and took the one half towards Crete where the

Cydonians dwell round about the waters of the river Iardanus. There is

a high headland hereabouts stretching out into the sea from a place

called Gortyn, and all along this part of the coast as far as Phaestus

the sea runs high when there is a south wind blowing, but arter

Phaestus the coast is more protected, for a small headland can make

a great shelter. Here this part of the fleet was driven on to the

rocks and wrecked; but the crews just managed to save themselves. As

for the other five ships, they were taken by winds and seas to

Egypt, where Menelaus gathered much gold and substance among people of

an alien speech. Meanwhile Aegisthus here at home plotted his evil

deed. For seven years after he had killed Agamemnon he ruled in

Mycene, and the people were obedient under him, but in the eighth year

Orestes came back from Athens to be his bane, and killed the

murderer of his father. Then he celebrated the funeral rites of his

mother and of false Aegisthus by a banquet to the people of Argos, and

on that very day Menelaus came home, with as much treasure as his

ships could carry.

"Take my advice then, and do not go travelling about for long so far

from home, nor leave your property with such dangerous people in

your house; they will eat up everything you have among them, and you

will have been on a fool's errand. Still, I should advise you by all

means to go and visit Menelaus, who has lately come off a voyage among

such distant peoples as no man could ever hope to get back from,

when the winds had once carried him so far out of his reckoning;

even birds cannot fly the distance in a twelvemonth, so vast and

terrible are the seas that they must cross. Go to him, therefore, by

sea, and take your own men with you; or if you would rather travel

by land you can have a chariot, you can have horses, and here are my

sons who can escort you to Lacedaemon where Menelaus lives. Beg of him

to speak the truth, and he will tell you no lies, for he is an

excellent person."

As he spoke the sun set and it came on dark, whereon Minerva said,

"Sir, all that you have said is well; now, however, order the

tongues of the victims to be cut, and mix wine that we may make

drink-offerings to Neptune, and the other immortals, and then go to

bed, for it is bed time. People should go away early and not keep late

hours at a religious festival."

Thus spoke the daughter of Jove, and they obeyed her saying. Men

servants poured water over the hands of the guests, while pages filled

the mixing-bowls with wine and water, and handed it round after giving

every man his drink-offering; then they threw the tongues of the

victims into the fire, and stood up to make their drink-offerings.

When they had made their offerings and had drunk each as much as he

was minded, Minerva and Telemachus were forgoing on board their

ship, but Nestor caught them up at once and stayed them.

"Heaven and the immortal gods," he exclaimed, "forbid that you

should leave my house to go on board of a ship. Do you think I am so

poor and short of clothes, or that I have so few cloaks and as to be

unable to find comfortable beds both for myself and for my guests? Let

me tell you I have store both of rugs and cloaks, and shall not permit

the son of my old friend Ulysses to camp down on the deck of a ship-

not while I live- nor yet will my sons after me, but they will keep

open house as have done."

Then Minerva answered, "Sir, you have spoken well, and it will be

much better that Telemachus should do as you have said; he, therefore,

shall return with you and sleep at your house, but I must go back to

give orders to my crew, and keep them in good heart. I am the only

older person among them; the rest are all young men of Telemachus' own

age, who have taken this voyage out of friendship; so I must return to

the ship and sleep there. Moreover to-morrow I must go to the

Cauconians where I have a large sum of money long owing to me. As

for Telemachus, now that he is your guest, send him to Lacedaemon in a

chariot, and let one of your sons go with him. Be pleased also to

provide him with your best and fleetest horses."

When she had thus spoken, she flew away in the form of an eagle, and

all marvelled as they beheld it. Nestor was astonished, and took

Telemachus by the hand. "My friend," said he, "I see that you are

going to be a great hero some day, since the gods wait upon you thus

while you are still so young. This can have been none other of those

who dwell in heaven than Jove's redoubtable daughter, the

Trito-born, who showed such favour towards your brave father among the

Argives." "Holy queen," he continued, "vouchsafe to send down thy

grace upon myself, my good wife, and my children. In return, I will

offer you in sacrifice a broad-browed heifer of a year old,

unbroken, and never yet brought by man under the yoke. I will gild her

horns, and will offer her up to you in sacrifice."

Thus did he pray, and Minerva heard his prayer. He then led the

way to his own house, followed by his sons and sons-in-law. When

they had got there and had taken their places on the benches and

seats, he mixed them a bowl of sweet wine that was eleven years old

when the housekeeper took the lid off the jar that held it. As he

mixed the wine, he prayed much and made drink-offerings to Minerva,

daughter of Aegis-bearing Jove. Then, when they had made their

drink-offerings and had drunk each as much as he was minded, the

others went home to bed each in his own abode; but Nestor put

Telemachus to sleep in the room that was over the gateway along with

Pisistratus, who was the only unmarried son now left him. As for

himself, he slept in an inner room of the house, with the queen his

wife by his side.

Now when the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared,

Nestor left his couch and took his seat on the benches of white and

polished marble that stood in front of his house. Here aforetime sat

Neleus, peer of gods in counsel, but he was now dead, and had gone

to the house of Hades; so Nestor sat in his seat, sceptre in hand,

as guardian of the public weal. His sons as they left their rooms

gathered round him, Echephron, Stratius, Perseus, Aretus, and

Thrasymedes; the sixth son was Pisistratus, and when Telemachus joined

them they made him sit with them. Nestor then addressed them.

"My sons," said he, "make haste to do as I shall bid you. I wish

first and foremost to propitiate the great goddess Minerva, who

manifested herself visibly to me during yesterday's festivities. Go,

then, one or other of you to the plain, tell the stockman to look me

out a heifer, and come on here with it at once. Another must go to

Telemachus's ship, and invite all the crew, leaving two men only in

charge of the vessel. Some one else will run and fetch Laerceus the

goldsmith to gild the horns of the heifer. The rest, stay all of you

where you are; tell the maids in the house to prepare an excellent

dinner, and to fetch seats, and logs of wood for a burnt offering.

Tell them also- to bring me some clear spring water."

On this they hurried off on their several errands. The heifer was

brought in from the plain, and Telemachus's crew came from the ship;

the goldsmith brought the anvil, hammer, and tongs, with which he

worked his gold, and Minerva herself came to the sacrifice. Nestor

gave out the gold, and the smith gilded the horns of the heifer that

the goddess might have pleasure in their beauty. Then Stratius and

Echephron brought her in by the horns; Aretus fetched water from the

house in a ewer that had a flower pattern on it, and in his other hand

he held a basket of barley meal; sturdy Thrasymedes stood by with a

sharp axe, ready to strike the heifer, while Perseus held a bucket.

Then Nestor began with washing his hands and sprinkling the barley

meal, and he offered many a prayer to Minerva as he threw a lock

from the heifer's head upon the fire.

When they had done praying and sprinkling the barley meal

Thrasymedes dealt his blow, and brought the heifer down with a

stroke that cut through the tendons at the base of her neck, whereon

the daughters and daughters-in-law of Nestor, and his venerable wife

Eurydice (she was eldest daughter to Clymenus) screamed with

delight. Then they lifted the heifer's head from off the ground, and

Pisistratus cut her throat. When she had done bleeding and was quite

dead, they cut her up. They cut out the thigh bones all in due course,

wrapped them round in two layers of fat, and set some pieces of raw

meat on the top of them; then Nestor laid them upon the wood fire

and poured wine over them, while the young men stood near him with

five-pronged spits in their hands. When the thighs were burned and

they had tasted the inward meats, they cut the rest of the meat up

small, put the pieces on the spits and toasted them over the fire.

Meanwhile lovely Polycaste, Nestor's youngest daughter, washed

Telemachus. When she had washed him and anointed him with oil, she

brought him a fair mantle and shirt, and he looked like a god as he

came from the bath and took his seat by the side of Nestor. When the

outer meats were done they drew them off the spits and sat down to

dinner where they were waited upon by some worthy henchmen, who kept

pouring them out their wine in cups of gold. As soon as they had had

had enough to eat and drink Nestor said, "Sons, put Telemachus's

horses to the chariot that he may start at once."

Thus did he speak, and they did even as he had said, and yoked the

fleet horses to the chariot. The housekeeper packed them up a

provision of bread, wine, and sweetmeats fit for the sons of

princes. Then Telemachus got into the chariot, while Pisistratus

gathered up the reins and took his seat beside him. He lashed the

horses on and they flew forward nothing loth into the open country,

leaving the high citadel of Pylos behind them. All that day did they

travel, swaying the yoke upon their necks till the sun went down and

darkness was over all the land. Then they reached Pherae where Diocles

lived, who was son to Ortilochus and grandson to Alpheus. Here they

passed the night and Diocles entertained them hospitably. When the

child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn; appeared, they again yoked their

horses and drove out through the gateway under the echoing

gatehouse. Pisistratus lashed the horses on and they flew forward

nothing loth; presently they came to the corn lands Of the open

country, and in the course of time completed their journey, so well

did their steeds take them.

Now when the sun had set and darkness was over the land,


They reached the low lying city of Lacedaemon them where they

drove straight to the of abode Menelaus [and found him in his own

house, feasting with his many clansmen in honour of the wedding of his

son, and also of his daughter, whom he was marrying to the son of that

valiant warrior Achilles. He had given his consent and promised her to

him while he was still at Troy, and now the gods were bringing the

marriage about; so he was sending her with chariots and horses to

the city of the Myrmidons over whom Achilles' son was reigning. For

his only son he had found a bride from Sparta, daughter of Alector.

This son, Megapenthes, was born to him of a bondwoman, for heaven

vouchsafed Helen no more children after she had borne Hermione, who

was fair as golden Venus herself.

So the neighbours and kinsmen of Menelaus were feasting and making

merry in his house. There was a bard also to sing to them and play his

lyre, while two tumblers went about performing in the midst of them

when the man struck up with his tune.]

Telemachus and the son of Nestor stayed their horses at the gate,

whereon Eteoneus servant to Menelaus came out, and as soon as he saw

them ran hurrying back into the house to tell his Master. He went

close up to him and said, "Menelaus, there are some strangers come

here, two men, who look like sons of Jove. What are we to do? Shall we

take their horses out, or tell them to find friends elsewhere as

they best can?"

Menelaus was very angry and said, "Eteoneus, son of Boethous, you

never used to be a fool, but now you talk like a simpleton. Take their

horses out, of course, and show the strangers in that they may have

supper; you and I have stayed often enough at other people's houses

before we got back here, where heaven grant that we may rest in

peace henceforward."

So Eteoneus bustled back and bade other servants come with him. They

took their sweating hands from under the yoke, made them fast to the

mangers, and gave them a feed of oats and barley mixed. Then they

leaned the chariot against the end wall of the courtyard, and led

the way into the house. Telemachus and Pisistratus were astonished

when they saw it, for its splendour was as that of the sun and moon;

then, when they had admired everything to their heart's content,

they went into the bath room and washed themselves.

When the servants had washed them and anointed them with oil, they

brought them woollen cloaks and shirts, and the two took their seats

by the side of Menelaus. A maidservant brought them water in a

beautiful golden ewer, and poured it into a silver basin for them to

wash their hands; and she drew a clean table beside them. An upper

servant brought them bread, and offered them many good things of

what there was in the house, while the carver fetched them plates of

all manner of meats and set cups of gold by their side.

Menelaus then greeted them saying, "Fall to, and welcome; when you

have done supper I shall ask who you are, for the lineage of such

men as you cannot have been lost. You must be descended from a line of

sceptre-bearing kings, for poor people do not have such sons as you


On this he handed them a piece of fat roast loin, which had been set

near him as being a prime part, and they laid their hands on the

good things that were before them; as soon as they had had enough to

eat and drink, Telemachus said to the son of Nestor, with his head

so close that no one might hear, "Look, Pisistratus, man after my

own heart, see the gleam of bronze and gold- of amber, ivory, and

silver. Everything is so splendid that it is like seeing the palace of

Olympian Jove. I am lost in admiration."

Menelaus overheard him and said, "No one, my sons, can hold his

own with Jove, for his house and everything about him is immortal; but

among mortal men- well, there may be another who has as much wealth as

I have, or there may not; but at all events I have travelled much

and have undergone much hardship, for it was nearly eight years before

I could get home with my fleet. I went to Cyprus, Phoenicia and the

Egyptians; I went also to the Ethiopians, the Sidonians, and the

Erembians, and to Libya where the lambs have horns as soon as they are

born, and the sheep lamb down three times a year. Every one in that

country, whether master or man, has plenty of cheese, meat, and good

milk, for the ewes yield all the year round. But while I was

travelling and getting great riches among these people, my brother was

secretly and shockingly murdered through the perfidy of his wicked

wife, so that I have no pleasure in being lord of all this wealth.

Whoever your parents may be they must have told you about all this,

and of my heavy loss in the ruin of a stately mansion fully and

magnificently furnished. Would that I had only a third of what I now

have so that I had stayed at home, and all those were living who

perished on the plain of Troy, far from Argos. I of grieve, as I sit

here in my house, for one and all of them. At times I cry aloud for

sorrow, but presently I leave off again, for crying is cold comfort

and one soon tires of it. Yet grieve for these as I may, I do so for

one man more than for them all. I cannot even think of him without

loathing both food and sleep, so miserable does he make me, for no one

of all the Achaeans worked so hard or risked so much as he did. He

took nothing by it, and has left a legacy of sorrow to myself, for

he has been gone a long time, and we know not whether he is alive or

dead. His old father, his long-suffering wife Penelope, and his son

Telemachus, whom he left behind him an infant in arms, are plunged

in grief on his account."

Thus spoke Menelaus, and the heart of Telemachus yearned as he

bethought him of his father. Tears fell from his eyes as he heard

him thus mentioned, so that he held his cloak before his face with

both hands. When Menelaus saw this he doubted whether to let him

choose his own time for speaking, or to ask him at once and find

what it was all about.

While he was thus in two minds Helen came down from her high vaulted

and perfumed room, looking as lovely as Diana herself. Adraste brought

her a seat, Alcippe a soft woollen rug while Phylo fetched her the

silver work-box which Alcandra wife of Polybus had given her.

Polybus lived in Egyptian Thebes, which is the richest city in the

whole world; he gave Menelaus two baths, both of pure silver, two

tripods, and ten talents of gold; besides all this, his wife gave

Helen some beautiful presents, to wit, a golden distaff, and a

silver work-box that ran on wheels, with a gold band round the top

of it. Phylo now placed this by her side, full of fine spun yarn,

and a distaff charged with violet coloured wool was laid upon the

top of it. Then Helen took her seat, put her feet upon the

footstool, and began to question her husband.

"Do we know, Menelaus," said she, "the names of these strangers

who have come to visit us? Shall I guess right or wrong?-but I

cannot help saying what I think. Never yet have I seen either man or

woman so like somebody else (indeed when I look at him I hardly know

what to think) as this young man is like Telemachus, whom Ulysses left

as a baby behind him, when you Achaeans went to Troy with battle in

your hearts, on account of my most shameless self."

"My dear wife," replied Menelaus, "I see the likeness just as you

do. His hands and feet are just like Ulysses'; so is his hair, with

the shape of his head and the expression of his eyes. Moreover, when I

was talking about Ulysses, and saying how much he had suffered on my

account, tears fell from his eyes, and he hid his face in his mantle."

Then Pisistratus said, "Menelaus, son of Atreus, you are right in

thinking that this young man is Telemachus, but he is very modest, and

is ashamed to come here and begin opening up discourse with one

whose conversation is so divinely interesting as your own. My

father, Nestor, sent me to escort him hither, for he wanted to know

whether you could give him any counsel or suggestion. A son has always

trouble at home when his father has gone away leaving him without

supporters; and this is how Telemachus is now placed, for his father

is absent, and there is no one among his own people to stand by him."

"Bless my heart," replied Menelaus, "then I am receiving a visit

from the son of a very dear friend, who suffered much hardship for

my sake. I had always hoped to entertain him with most marked

distinction when heaven had granted us a safe return from beyond the

seas. I should have founded a city for him in Argos, and built him a

house. I should have made him leave Ithaca with his goods, his son,

and all his people, and should have sacked for them some one of the

neighbouring cities that are subject to me. We should thus have seen

one another continually, and nothing but death could have

interrupted so close and happy an intercourse. I suppose, however,

that heaven grudged us such great good fortune, for it has prevented

the poor fellow from ever getting home at all."

Thus did he speak, and his words set them all a weeping. Helen wept,

Telemachus wept, and so did Menelaus, nor could Pisistratus keep his

eyes from filling, when he remembered his dear brother Antilochus whom

the son of bright Dawn had killed. Thereon he said to Menelaus,

"Sir, my father Nestor, when we used to talk about you at home, told

me you were a person of rare and excellent understanding. If, then, it

be possible, do as I would urge you. I am not fond of crying while I

am getting my supper. Morning will come in due course, and in the

forenoon I care not how much I cry for those that are dead and gone.

This is all we can do for the poor things. We can only shave our heads

for them and wring the tears from our cheeks. I had a brother who died

at Troy; he was by no means the worst man there; you are sure to

have known him- his name was Antilochus; I never set eyes upon him

myself, but they say that he was singularly fleet of foot and in fight


"Your discretion, my friend," answered Menelaus, "is beyond your

years. It is plain you take after your father. One can soon see when a

man is son to one whom heaven has blessed both as regards wife and

offspring- and it has blessed Nestor from first to last all his

days, giving him a green old age in his own house, with sons about him

who are both we disposed and valiant. We will put an end therefore

to all this weeping, and attend to our supper again. Let water be

poured over our hands. Telemachus and I can talk with one another

fully in the morning."

On this Asphalion, one of the servants, poured water over their

hands and they laid their hands on the good things that were before


Then Jove's daughter Helen bethought her of another matter. She

drugged the wine with an herb that banishes all care, sorrow, and

ill humour. Whoever drinks wine thus drugged cannot shed a single tear

all the rest of the day, not even though his father and mother both of

them drop down dead, or he sees a brother or a son hewn in pieces

before his very eyes. This drug, of such sovereign power and virtue,

had been given to Helen by Polydamna wife of Thon, a woman of Egypt,

where there grow all sorts of herbs, some good to put into the

mixing-bowl and others poisonous. Moreover, every one in the whole

country is a skilled physician, for they are of the race of Paeeon.

When Helen had put this drug in the bowl, and had told the servants to

serve the wine round, she said:

"Menelaus, son of Atreus, and you my good friends, sons of

honourable men (which is as Jove wills, for he is the giver both of

good and evil, and can do what he chooses), feast here as you will,

and listen while I tell you a tale in season. I cannot indeed name

every single one of the exploits of Ulysses, but I can say what he did

when he was before Troy, and you Achaeans were in all sorts of

difficulties. He covered himself with wounds and bruises, dressed

himself all in rags, and entered the enemy's city looking like a

menial or a beggar. and quite different from what he did when he was

among his own people. In this disguise he entered the city of Troy,

and no one said anything to him. I alone recognized him and began to

question him, but he was too cunning for me. When, however, I had

washed and anointed him and had given him clothes, and after I had

sworn a solemn oath not to betray him to the Trojans till he had got

safely back to his own camp and to the ships, he told me all that

the Achaeans meant to do. He killed many Trojans and got much

information before he reached the Argive camp, for all which things

the Trojan women made lamentation, but for my own part I was glad, for

my heart was beginning to oam after my home, and I was unhappy about

wrong that Venus had done me in taking me over there, away from my

country, my girl, and my lawful wedded husband, who is indeed by no

means deficient either in person or understanding."

Then Menelaus said, "All that you have been saying, my dear wife, is

true. I have travelled much, and have had much to do with heroes,

but I have never seen such another man as Ulysses. What endurance too,

and what courage he displayed within the wooden horse, wherein all the

bravest of the Argives were lying in wait to bring death and

destruction upon the Trojans. At that moment you came up to us; some

god who wished well to the Trojans must have set you on to it and

you had Deiphobus with you. Three times did you go all round our

hiding place and pat it; you called our chiefs each by his own name,

and mimicked all our wives -Diomed, Ulysses, and I from our seats

inside heard what a noise you made. Diomed and I could not make up our

minds whether to spring out then and there, or to answer you from

inside, but Ulysses held us all in check, so we sat quite still, all

except Anticlus, who was beginning to answer you, when Ulysses clapped

his two brawny hands over his mouth, and kept them there. It was

this that saved us all, for he muzzled Anticlus till Minerva took

you away again."

"How sad," exclaimed Telemachus, "that all this was of no avail to

save him, nor yet his own iron courage. But now, sir, be pleased to

send us all to bed, that we may lie down and enjoy the blessed boon of


On this Helen told the maid servants to set beds in the room that

was in the gatehouse, and to make them with good red rugs, and

spread coverlets on the top of them with woollen cloaks for the guests

to wear. So the maids went out, carrying a torch, and made the beds,

to which a man-servant presently conducted the strangers. Thus,

then, did Telemachus and Pisistratus sleep there in the forecourt,

while the son of Atreus lay in an inner room with lovely Helen by

his side.

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

rose and dressed himself. He bound his sandals on to his comely

feet, girded his sword about his shoulders, and left his room

looking like an immortal god. Then, taking a seat near Telemachus he


"And what, Telemachus, has led you to take this long sea voyage to

Lacedaemon? Are you on public or private business? Tell me all about


"I have come, sir replied Telemachus, "to see if you can tell me

anything about my father. I am being eaten out of house and home; my

fair estate is being wasted, and my house is full of miscreants who

keep killing great numbers of my sheep and oxen, on the pretence of

paying their addresses to my mother. Therefore, I am suppliant at your

knees if haply you may tell me about my father's melancholy end,

whether you saw it with your own eyes, or heard it from some other

traveller; for he was a man born to trouble. Do not soften things

out of any pity for myself, but tell me in all plainness exactly

what you saw. If my brave father Ulysses ever did you loyal service

either by word or deed, when you Achaeans were harassed by the

Trojans, bear it in mind now as in my favour and tell me truly all."

Menelaus on hearing this was very much shocked. "So," he

exclaimed, "these cowards would usurp a brave man's bed? A hind

might as well lay her new born young in the lair of a lion, and then

go off to feed in the forest or in some grassy dell: the lion when

he comes back to his lair will make short work with the pair of

them- and so will Ulysses with these suitors. By father Jove, Minerva,

and Apollo, if Ulysses is still the man that he was when he wrestled

with Philomeleides in Lesbos, and threw him so heavily that all the

Achaeans cheered him- if he is still such and were to come near

these suitors, they would have a short shrift and a sorry wedding.

As regards your questions, however, I will not prevaricate nor deceive

you, but will tell you without concealment all that the old man of the

sea told me.

"I was trying to come on here, but the gods detained me in Egypt,

for my hecatombs had not given them full satisfaction, and the gods

are very strict about having their dues. Now off Egypt, about as far

as a ship can sail in a day with a good stiff breeze behind her, there

is an island called Pharos- it has a good harbour from which vessels

can get out into open sea when they have taken in water- and the

gods becalmed me twenty days without so much as a breath of fair

wind to help me forward. We should have run clean out of provisions

and my men would have starved, if a goddess had not taken pity upon me

and saved me in the person of Idothea, daughter to Proteus, the old

man of the sea, for she had taken a great fancy to me.

"She came to me one day when I was by myself, as I often was, for

the men used to go with their barbed hooks, all over the island in the

hope of catching a fish or two to save them from the pangs of

hunger. 'Stranger,' said she, 'it seems to me that you like starving

in this way- at any rate it does not greatly trouble you, for you

stick here day after day, without even trying to get away though

your men are dying by inches.'

"'Let me tell you,' said I, 'whichever of the goddesses you may

happen to be, that I am not staying here of my own accord, but must

have offended the gods that live in heaven. Tell me, therefore, for

the gods know everything. which of the immortals it is that is

hindering me in this way, and tell me also how I may sail the sea so

as to reach my home.'

"'Stranger,' replied she, 'I will make it all quite clear to you.

There is an old immortal who lives under the sea hereabouts and

whose name is Proteus. He is an Egyptian, and people say he is my

father; he is Neptune's head man and knows every inch of ground all

over the bottom of the sea. If you can snare him and hold him tight,

he will tell you about your voyage, what courses you are to take,

and how you are to sail the sea so as to reach your home. He will also

tell you, if you so will, all that has been going on at your house

both good and bad, while you have been away on your long and dangerous


"'Can you show me,' said I, 'some stratagem by means of which I

may catch this old god without his suspecting it and finding me out?

For a god is not easily caught- not by a mortal man.'

"'Stranger,' said she, 'I will make it all quite clear to you. About

the time when the sun shall have reached mid heaven, the old man of

the sea comes up from under the waves, heralded by the West wind

that furs the water over his head. As soon as he has come up he lies

down, and goes to sleep in a great sea cave, where the seals-

Halosydne's chickens as they call them- come up also from the grey

sea, and go to sleep in shoals all round him; and a very strong and

fish-like smell do they bring with them. Early to-morrow morning I

will take you to this place and will lay you in ambush. Pick out,

therefore, the three best men you have in your fleet, and I will

tell you all the tricks that the old man will play you.

"'First he will look over all his seals, and count them; then,

when he has seen them and tallied them on his five fingers, he will go

to sleep among them, as a shepherd among his sheep. The moment you see

that he is asleep seize him; put forth all your strength and hold

him fast, for he will do his very utmost to get away from you. He will

turn himself into every kind of creature that goes upon the earth, and

will become also both fire and water; but you must hold him fast and

grip him tighter and tighter, till he begins to talk to you and

comes back to what he was when you saw him go to sleep; then you may

slacken your hold and let him go; and you can ask him which of the

gods it is that is angry with you, and what you must do to reach

your home over the seas.'

"Having so said she dived under the waves, whereon I turned back

to the place where my ships were ranged upon the shore; and my heart

was clouded with care as I went along. When I reached my ship we got

supper ready, for night was falling, and camped down upon the beach.

"When the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, I took the

three men on whose prowess of all kinds I could most rely, and went

along by the sea-side, praying heartily to heaven. Meanwhile the

goddess fetched me up four seal skins from the bottom of the sea,

all of them just skinned, for she meant playing a trick upon her

father. Then she dug four pits for us to lie in, and sat down to

wait till we should come up. When we were close to her, she made us

lie down in the pits one after the other, and threw a seal skin over

each of us. Our ambuscade would have been intolerable, for the

stench of the fishy seals was most distressing- who would go to bed

with a sea monster if he could help it?-but here, too, the goddess

helped us, and thought of something that gave us great relief, for she

put some ambrosia under each man's nostrils, which was so fragrant

that it killed the smell of the seals.

"We waited the whole morning and made the best of it, watching the

seals come up in hundreds to bask upon the sea shore, till at noon the

old man of the sea came up too, and when he had found his fat seals he

went over them and counted them. We were among the first he counted,

and he never suspected any guile, but laid himself down to sleep as

soon as he had done counting. Then we rushed upon him with a shout and

seized him; on which he began at once with his old tricks, and changed

himself first into a lion with a great mane; then all of a sudden he

became a dragon, a leopard, a wild boar; the next moment he was

running water, and then again directly he was a tree, but we stuck

to him and never lost hold, till at last the cunning old creature

became distressed, and said, Which of the gods was it, Son of

Atreus, that hatched this plot with you for snaring me and seizing

me against my will? What do you want?'

"'You know that yourself, old man,' I answered, 'you will gain

nothing by trying to put me off. It is because I have been kept so

long in this island, and see no sign of my being able to get away. I

am losing all heart; tell me, then, for you gods know everything,

which of the immortals it is that is hindering me, and tell me also

how I may sail the sea so as to reach my home?'

"Then,' he said, 'if you would finish your voyage and get home

quickly, you must offer sacrifices to Jove and to the rest of the gods

before embarking; for it is decreed that you shall not get back to

your friends, and to your own house, till you have returned to the

heaven fed stream of Egypt, and offered holy hecatombs to the immortal

gods that reign in heaven. When you have done this they will let you

finish your voyage.'

"I was broken hearted when I heard that I must go back all that long

and terrible voyage to Egypt; nevertheless, I answered, 'I will do

all, old man, that you have laid upon me; but now tell me, and tell me

true, whether all the Achaeans whom Nestor and I left behind us when

we set sail from Troy have got home safely, or whether any one of them

came to a bad end either on board his own ship or among his friends

when the days of his fighting were done.'

"'Son of Atreus,' he answered, 'why ask me? You had better not

know what I can tell you, for your eyes will surely fill when you have

heard my story. Many of those about whom you ask are dead and gone,

but many still remain, and only two of the chief men among the

Achaeans perished during their return home. As for what happened on

the field of battle- you were there yourself. A third Achaean leader

is still at sea, alive, but hindered from returning. Ajax was wrecked,

for Neptune drove him on to the great rocks of Gyrae; nevertheless, he

let him get safe out of the water, and in spite of all Minerva's

hatred he would have escaped death, if he had not ruined himself by

boasting. He said the gods could not drown him even though they had

tried to do so, and when Neptune heard this large talk, he seized

his trident in his two brawny hands, and split the rock of Gyrae in

two pieces. The base remained where it was, but the part on which Ajax

was sitting fell headlong into the sea and carried Ajax with it; so he

drank salt water and was drowned.

"'Your brother and his ships escaped, for Juno protected him, but

when he was just about to reach the high promontory of Malea, he was

caught by a heavy gale which carried him out to sea again sorely

against his will, and drove him to the foreland where Thyestes used to

dwell, but where Aegisthus was then living. By and by, however, it

seemed as though he was to return safely after all, for the gods

backed the wind into its old quarter and they reached home; whereon

Agamemnon kissed his native soil, and shed tears of joy at finding

himself in his own country.

"'Now there was a watchman whom Aegisthus kept always on the

watch, and to whom he had promised two talents of gold. This man had

been looking out for a whole year to make sure that Agamemnon did

not give him the slip and prepare war; when, therefore, this man saw

Agamemnon go by, he went and told Aegisthus who at once began to lay a

plot for him. He picked twenty of his bravest warriors and placed them

in ambuscade on one side the cloister, while on the opposite side he

prepared a banquet. Then he sent his chariots and horsemen to

Agamemnon, and invited him to the feast, but he meant foul play. He

got him there, all unsuspicious of the doom that was awaiting him, and

killed him when the banquet was over as though he were butchering an

ox in the shambles; not one of Agamemnon's followers was left alive,

nor yet one of Aegisthus', but they were all killed there in the


"Thus spoke Proteus, and I was broken hearted as I heard him. I

sat down upon the sands and wept; I felt as though I could no longer

bear to live nor look upon the light of the sun. Presently, when I had

had my fill of weeping and writhing upon the ground, the old man of

the sea said, 'Son of Atreus, do not waste any more time in crying

so bitterly; it can do no manner of good; find your way home as fast

as ever you can, for Aegisthus be still alive, and even though Orestes

has beforehand with you in kilting him, you may yet come in for his


"On this I took comfort in spite of all my sorrow, and said, 'I

know, then, about these two; tell me, therefore, about the third man

of whom you spoke; is he still alive, but at sea, and unable to get

home? or is he dead? Tell me, no matter how much it may grieve me.'

"'The third man,' he answered, 'is Ulysses who dwells in Ithaca. I

can see him in an island sorrowing bitterly in the house of the

nymph Calypso, who is keeping him prisoner, and he cannot reach his

home for he has no ships nor sailors to take him over the sea. As

for your own end, Menelaus, you shall not die in Argos, but the gods

will take you to the Elysian plain, which is at the ends of the world.

There fair-haired Rhadamanthus reigns, and men lead an easier life

than any where else in the world, for in Elysium there falls not rain,

nor hail, nor snow, but Oceanus breathes ever with a West wind that

sings softly from the sea, and gives fresh life to all men. This

will happen to you because you have married Helen, and are Jove's


"As he spoke he dived under the waves, whereon I turned back to

the ships with my companions, and my heart was clouded with care as

I went along. When we reached the ships we got supper ready, for night

was falling, and camped down upon the beach. When the child of

morning, rosy-fingered Dawn appeared, we drew our ships into the

water, and put our masts and sails within them; then we went on

board ourselves, took our seats on the benches, and smote the grey sea

with our oars. I again stationed my ships in the heaven-fed stream

of Egypt, and offered hecatombs that were full and sufficient. When

I had thus appeased heaven's anger, I raised a barrow to the memory of

Agamemnon that his name might live for ever, after which I had a quick

passage home, for the gods sent me a fair wind.

"And now for yourself- stay here some ten or twelve days longer, and

I will then speed you on your way. I will make you a noble present

of a chariot and three horses. I will also give you a beautiful

chalice that so long as you live you may think of me whenever you make

a drink-offering to the immortal gods."

"Son of Atreus," replied Telemachus, "do not press me to stay

longer; I should be contented to remain with you for another twelve

months; I find your conversation so delightful that I should never

once wish myself at home with my parents; but my crew whom I have left

at Pylos are already impatient, and you are detaining me from them. As

for any present you may be disposed to make me, I had rather that it

should he a piece of plate. I will take no horses back with me to

Ithaca, but will leave them to adorn your own stables, for you have

much flat ground in your kingdom where lotus thrives, as also

meadowsweet and wheat and barley, and oats with their white and

spreading ears; whereas in Ithaca we have neither open fields nor

racecourses, and the country is more fit for goats than horses, and

I like it the better for that. None of our islands have much level

ground, suitable for horses, and Ithaca least of all."

Menelaus smiled and took Telemachus's hand within his own. "What you

say," said he, "shows that you come of good family. I both can, and

will, make this exchange for you, by giving you the finest and most

precious piece of plate in all my house. It is a mixing-bowl by

Vulcan's own hand, of pure silver, except the rim, which is inlaid

with gold. Phaedimus, king of the Sidonians, gave it me in the

course of a visit which I paid him when I returned thither on my

homeward journey. I will make you a present of it."

Thus did they converse [and guests kept coming to the king's

house. They brought sheep and wine, while their wives had put up bread

for them to take with them; so they were busy cooking their dinners in

the courts].

Meanwhile the suitors were throwing discs or aiming with spears at a

mark on the levelled ground in front of Ulysses' house, and were

behaving with all their old insolence. Antinous and Eurymachus, who

were their ringleaders and much the foremost among them all, were

sitting together when Noemon son of Phronius came up and said to


"Have we any idea, Antinous, on what day Telemachus returns from

Pylos? He has a ship of mine, and I want it, to cross over to Elis:

I have twelve brood mares there with yearling mule foals by their side

not yet broken in, and I want to bring one of them over here and break


They were astounded when they heard this, for they had made sure

that Telemachus had not gone to the city of Neleus. They thought he

was only away somewhere on the farms, and was with the sheep, or

with the swineherd; so Antinous said, "When did he go? Tell me

truly, and what young men did he take with him? Were they freemen or

his own bondsmen- for he might manage that too? Tell me also, did

you let him have the ship of your own free will because he asked

you, or did he take it without yourleave?"

"I lent it him," answered Noemon, "what else could I do when a man

of his position said he was in a difficulty, and asked me to oblige

him? I could not possibly refuse. As for those who went with him

they were the best young men we have, and I saw Mentor go on board

as captain- or some god who was exactly like him. I cannot

understand it, for I saw Mentor here myself yesterday morning, and yet

he was then setting out for Pylos."

Noemon then went back to his father's house, but Antinous and

Eurymachus were very angry. They told the others to leave off playing,

and to come and sit down along with themselves. When they came,

Antinous son of Eupeithes spoke in anger. His heart was black with

rage, and his eyes flashed fire as he said:

"Good heavens, this voyage of Telemachus is a very serious matter;

we had made sure that it would come to nothing, but the young fellow

has got away in spite of us, and with a picked crew too. He will be

giving us trouble presently; may Jove take him before he is full

grown. Find me a ship, therefore, with a crew of twenty men, and I

will lie in wait for him in the straits between Ithaca and Samos; he

will then rue the day that he set out to try and get news of his


Thus did he speak, and the others applauded his saying; they then

all of them went inside the buildings.

It was not long ere Penelope came to know what the suitors were

plotting; for a man servant, Medon, overheard them from outside the

outer court as they were laying their schemes within, and went to tell

his mistress. As he crossed the threshold of her room Penelope said:

"Medon, what have the suitors sent you here for? Is it to tell the

maids to leave their master's business and cook dinner for them? I

wish they may neither woo nor dine henceforward, neither here nor

anywhere else, but let this be the very last time, for the waste you

all make of my son's estate. Did not your fathers tell you when you

were children how good Ulysses had been to them- never doing

anything high-handed, nor speaking harshly to anybody? Kings may say

things sometimes, and they may take a fancy to one man and dislike

another, but Ulysses never did an unjust thing by anybody- which shows

what bad hearts you have, and that there is no such thing as gratitude

left in this world."

Then Medon said, "I wish, Madam, that this were all; but they are

plotting something much more dreadful now- may heaven frustrate

their design. They are going to try and murder Telemachus as he is

coming home from Pylos and Lacedaemon, where he has been to get news

of his father."

Then Penelope's heart sank within her, and for a long time she was

speechless; her eyes filled with tears, and she could find no

utterance. At last, however, she said, "Why did my son leave me?

What business had he to go sailing off in ships that make long voyages

over the ocean like sea-horses? Does he want to die without leaving

any one behind him to keep up his name?"

"I do not know," answered Medon, "whether some god set him on to it,

or whether he went on his own impulse to see if he could find out if

his father was dead, or alive and on his way home."

Then he went downstairs again, leaving Penelope in an agony of

grief. There were plenty of seats in the house, but she. had no

heart for sitting on any one of them; she could only fling herself

on the floor of her own room and cry; whereon all the maids in the

house, both old and young, gathered round her and began to cry too,

till at last in a transport of sorrow she exclaimed,

"My dears, heaven has been pleased to try me with more affliction

than any other woman of my age and country. First I lost my brave

and lion-hearted husband, who had every good quality under heaven, and

whose name was great over all Hellas and middle Argos, and now my

darling son is at the mercy of the winds and waves, without my

having heard one word about his leaving home. You hussies, there was

not one of you would so much as think of giving me a call out of my

bed, though you all of you very well knew when he was starting. If I

had known he meant taking this voyage, he would have had to give it

up, no matter how much he was bent upon it, or leave me a corpse

behind him- one or other. Now, however, go some of you and call old

Dolius, who was given me by my father on my marriage, and who is my

gardener. Bid him go at once and tell everything to Laertes, who may

be able to hit on some plan for enlisting public sympathy on our side,

as against those who are trying to exterminate his own race and that

of Ulysses."

Then the dear old nurse Euryclea said, "You may kill me, Madam, or

let me live on in your house, whichever you please, but I will tell

you the real truth. I knew all about it, and gave him everything he

wanted in the way of bread and wine, but he made me take my solemn

oath that I would not tell you anything for some ten or twelve days,

unless you asked or happened to hear of his having gone, for he did

not want you to spoil your beauty by crying. And now, Madam, wash your

face, change your dress, and go upstairs with your maids to offer

prayers to Minerva, daughter of Aegis-bearing Jove, for she can save

him even though he be in the jaws of death. Do not trouble Laertes: he

has trouble enough already. Besides, I cannot think that the gods hate

die race of the race of the son of Arceisius so much, but there will

be a son left to come up after him, and inherit both the house and the

fair fields that lie far all round it."

With these words she made her mistress leave off crying, and dried

the tears from her eyes. Penelope washed her face, changed her

dress, and went upstairs with her maids. She then put some bruised

barley into a basket and began praying to Minerva.

"Hear me," she cried, "Daughter of Aegis-bearing Jove,

unweariable. If ever Ulysses while he was here burned you fat thigh

bones of sheep or heifer, bear it in mind now as in my favour, and

save my darling son from the villainy of the suitors."

She cried aloud as she spoke, and the goddess heard her prayer;

meanwhile the suitors were clamorous throughout the covered

cloister, and one of them said:

"The queen is preparing for her marriage with one or other of us.

Little does she dream that her son has now been doomed to die."

This was what they said, but they did not know what was going to

happen. Then Antinous said, "Comrades, let there be no loud talking,

lest some of it get carried inside. Let us be up and do that in

silence, about which we are all of a mind."

He then chose twenty men, and they went down to their. ship and to

the sea side; they drew the vessel into the water and got her mast and

sails inside her; they bound the oars to the thole-pins with twisted

thongs of leather, all in due course, and spread the white sails

aloft, while their fine servants brought them their armour. Then

they made the ship fast a little way out, came on shore again, got

their suppers, and waited till night should fall.

But Penelope lay in her own room upstairs unable to eat or drink,

and wondering whether her brave son would escape, or be overpowered by

the wicked suitors. Like a lioness caught in the toils with huntsmen

hemming her in on every side she thought and thought till she sank

into a slumber, and lay on her bed bereft of thought and motion.

Then Minerva bethought her of another matter, and made a vision in

the likeness of Penelope's sister Iphthime daughter of Icarius who had

married Eumelus and lived in Pherae. She told the vision to go to

the house of Ulysses, and to make Penelope leave off crying, so it

came into her room by the hole through which the thong went for

pulling the door to, and hovered over her head, saying,

"You are asleep, Penelope: the gods who live at ease will not suffer

you to weep and be so sad. Your son has done them no wrong, so he will

yet come back to you."

Penelope, who was sleeping sweetly at the gates of dreamland,

answered, "Sister, why have you come here? You do not come very often,

but I suppose that is because you live such a long way off. Am I,

then, to leave off crying and refrain from all the sad thoughts that

torture me? I, who have lost my brave and lion-hearted husband, who

had every good quality under heaven, and whose name was great over all

Hellas and middle Argos; and now my darling son has gone off on

board of a ship- a foolish fellow who has never been used to

roughing it, nor to going about among gatherings of men. I am even

more anxious about him than about my husband; I am all in a tremble

when I think of him, lest something should happen to him, either

from the people among whom he has gone, or by sea, for he has many

enemies who are plotting against him, and are bent on killing him

before he can return home."

Then the vision said, "Take heart, and be not so much dismayed.

There is one gone with him whom many a man would be glad enough to

have stand by his side, I mean Minerva; it is she who has compassion

upon you, and who has sent me to bear you this message."

"Then," said Penelope, "if you are a god or have been sent here by

divine commission, tell me also about that other unhappy one- is he

still alive, or is he already dead and in the house of Hades?"

And the vision said, "I shall not tell you for certain whether he is

alive or dead, and there is no use in idle conversation."

Then it vanished through the thong-hole of the door and was

dissipated into thin air; but Penelope rose from her sleep refreshed

and comforted, so vivid had been her dream.

Meantime the suitors went on board and sailed their ways over the

sea, intent on murdering Telemachus. Now there is a rocky islet called

Asteris, of no great size, in mid channel between Ithaca and Samos,

and there is a harbour on either side of it where a ship can lie. Here

then the Achaeans placed themselves in ambush.


And now, as Dawn rose from her couch beside Tithonus- harbinger of

light alike to mortals and immortals- the gods met in council and with

them, Jove the lord of thunder, who is their king. Thereon Minerva

began to tell them of the many sufferings of Ulysses, for she pitied

him away there in the house of the nymph Calypso.

"Father Jove," said she, "and all you other gods that live in

everlasting bliss, I hope there may never be such a thing as a kind

and well-disposed ruler any more, nor one who will govern equitably. I

hope they will be all henceforth cruel and unjust, for there is not

one of his subjects but has forgotten Ulysses, who ruled them as

though he were their father. There he is, lying in great pain in an

island where dwells the nymph Calypso, who will not let him go; and he

cannot get back to his own country, for he can find neither ships

nor sailors to take him over the sea. Furthermore, wicked people are

now trying to murder his only son Telemachus, who is coming home

from Pylos and Lacedaemon, where he has been to see if he can get news

of his father."

"What, my dear, are you talking about?" replied her father, "did you

not send him there yourself, because you thought it would help Ulysses

to get home and punish the suitors? Besides, you are perfectly able to

protect Telemachus, and to see him safely home again, while the

suitors have to come hurry-skurrying back without having killed him."

When he had thus spoken, he said to his son Mercury, "Mercury, you

are our messenger, go therefore and tell Calypso we have decreed

that poor Ulysses is to return home. He is to be convoyed neither by

gods nor men, but after a perilous voyage of twenty days upon a raft

he is to reach fertile Scheria, the land of the Phaeacians, who are

near of kin to the gods, and will honour him as though he were one

of ourselves. They will send him in a ship to his own country, and

will give him more bronze and gold and raiment than he would have

brought back from Troy, if he had had had all his prize money and

had got home without disaster. This is how we have settled that he

shall return to his country and his friends."

Thus he spoke, and Mercury, guide and guardian, slayer of Argus, did

as he was told. Forthwith he bound on his glittering golden sandals

with which he could fly like the wind over land and sea. He took the

wand with which he seals men's eyes in sleep or wakes them just as

he pleases, and flew holding it in his hand over Pieria; then he

swooped down through the firmament till he reached the level of the

sea, whose waves he skimmed like a cormorant that flies fishing

every hole and corner of the ocean, and drenching its thick plumage in

the spray. He flew and flew over many a weary wave, but when at last

he got to the island which was his journey's end, he left the sea

and went on by land till he came to the cave where the nymph Calypso


He found her at home. There was a large fire burning on the

hearth, and one could smell from far the fragrant reek of burning

cedar and sandal wood. As for herself, she was busy at her loom,

shooting her golden shuttle through the warp and singing

beautifully. Round her cave there was a thick wood of alder, poplar,

and sweet smelling cypress trees, wherein all kinds of great birds had

built their nests- owls, hawks, and chattering sea-crows that occupy

their business in the waters. A vine loaded with grapes was trained

and grew luxuriantly about the mouth of the cave; there were also four

running rills of water in channels cut pretty close together, and

turned hither and thither so as to irrigate the beds of violets and

luscious herbage over which they flowed. Even a god could not help

being charmed with such a lovely spot, so Mercury stood still and

looked at it; but when he had admired it sufficiently he went inside

the cave.

Calypso knew him at once- for the gods all know each other, no

matter how far they live from one another- but Ulysses was not within;

he was on the sea-shore as usual, looking out upon the barren ocean

with tears in his eyes, groaning and breaking his heart for sorrow.

Calypso gave Mercury a seat and said: "Why have you come to see me,

Mercury- honoured, and ever welcome- for you do not visit me often?

Say what you want; I will do it for be you at once if I can, and if it

can be done at all; but come inside, and let me set refreshment before


As she spoke she drew a table loaded with ambrosia beside him and

mixed him some red nectar, so Mercury ate and drank till he had had

enough, and then said:

"We are speaking god and goddess to one another, one another, and

you ask me why I have come here, and I will tell you truly as you

would have me do. Jove sent me; it was no doing of mine; who could

possibly want to come all this way over the sea where there are no

cities full of people to offer me sacrifices or choice hecatombs?

Nevertheless I had to come, for none of us other gods can cross

Jove, nor transgress his orders. He says that you have here the most

ill-starred of alf those who fought nine years before the city of King

Priam and sailed home in the tenth year after having sacked it. On

their way home they sinned against Minerva, who raised both wind and

waves against them, so that all his brave companions perished, and

he alone was carried hither by wind and tide. Jove says that you are

to let this by man go at once, for it is decreed that he shall not

perish here, far from his own people, but shall return to his house

and country and see his friends again."

Calypso trembled with rage when she heard this, "You gods," she

exclaimed, to be ashamed of yourselves. You are always jealous and

hate seeing a goddess take a fancy to a mortal man, and live with

him in open matrimony. So when rosy-fingered Dawn made love to

Orion, you precious gods were all of you furious till Diana went and

killed him in Ortygia. So again when Ceres fell in love with Iasion,

and yielded to him in a thrice ploughed fallow field, Jove came to

hear of it before so long and killed Iasion with his thunder-bolts.

And now you are angry with me too because I have a man here. I found

the poor creature sitting all alone astride of a keel, for Jove had

struck his ship with lightning and sunk it in mid ocean, so that all

his crew were drowned, while he himself was driven by wind and waves

on to my island. I got fond of him and cherished him, and had set my

heart on making him immortal, so that he should never grow old all his

days; still I cannot cross Jove, nor bring his counsels to nothing;

therefore, if he insists upon it, let the man go beyond the seas

again; but I cannot send him anywhere myself for I have neither

ships nor men who can take him. Nevertheless I will readily give him

such advice, in all good faith, as will be likely to bring him

safely to his own country."

"Then send him away," said Mercury, "or Jove will be angry with

you and punish you"'

On this he took his leave, and Calypso went out to look for Ulysses,

for she had heard Jove's message. She found him sitting upon the beach

with his eyes ever filled with tears, and dying of sheer

home-sickness; for he had got tired of Calypso, and though he was

forced to sleep with her in the cave by night, it was she, not he,

that would have it so. As for the day time, he spent it on the rocks

and on the sea-shore, weeping, crying aloud for his despair, and

always looking out upon the sea. Calypso then went close up to him


"My poor fellow, you shall not stay here grieving and fretting

your life out any longer. I am going to send you away of my own free

will; so go, cut some beams of wood, and make yourself a large raft

with an upper deck that it may carry you safely over the sea. I will

put bread, wine, and water on board to save you from starving. I

will also give you clothes, and will send you a fair wind to take

you home, if the gods in heaven so will it- for they know more about

these things, and can settle them better than I can."

Ulysses shuddered as he heard her. "Now goddess," he answered,

"there is something behind all this; you cannot be really meaning to

help me home when you bid me do such a dreadful thing as put to sea on

a raft. Not even a well-found ship with a fair wind could venture on

such a distant voyage: nothing that you can say or do shall mage me go

on board a raft unless you first solemnly swear that you mean me no


Calypso smiled at this and caressed him with her hand: "You know a

great deal," said she, "but you are quite wrong here. May heaven above

and earth below be my witnesses, with the waters of the river Styx-

and this is the most solemn oath which a blessed god can take- that

I mean you no sort of harm, and am only advising you to do exactly

what I should do myself in your place. I am dealing with you quite

straightforwardly; my heart is not made of iron, and I am very sorry

for you."

When she had thus spoken she led the way rapidly before him, and

Ulysses followed in her steps; so the pair, goddess and man, went on

and on till they came to Calypso's cave, where Ulysses took the seat

that Mercury had just left. Calypso set meat and drink before him of

the food that mortals eat; but her maids brought ambrosia and nectar

for herself, and they laid their hands on the good things that were

before them. When they had satisfied themselves with meat and drink,

Calypso spoke, saying:

"Ulysses, noble son of Laertes, so you would start home to your

own land at once? Good luck go with you, but if you could only know

how much suffering is in store for you before you get back to your own

country, you would stay where you are, keep house along with me, and

let me make you immortal, no matter how anxious you may be to see this

wife of yours, of whom you are thinking all the time day after day;

yet I flatter myself that at am no whit less tall or well-looking than

she is, for it is not to be expected that a mortal woman should

compare in beauty with an immortal."

"Goddess," replied Ulysses, "do not be angry with me about this. I

am quite aware that my wife Penelope is nothing like so tall or so

beautiful as yourself. She is only a woman, whereas you are an

immortal. Nevertheless, I want to get home, and can think of nothing

else. If some god wrecks me when I am on the sea, I will bear it and

make the best of it. I have had infinite trouble both by land and

sea already, so let this go with the rest."

Presently the sun set and it became dark, whereon the pair retired

into the inner part of the cave and went to bed.

When the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, Ulysses put

on his shirt and cloak, while the goddess wore a dress of a light

gossamer fabric, very fine and graceful, with a beautiful golden

girdle about her waist and a veil to cover her head. She at once set

herself to think how she could speed Ulysses on his way. So she gave

him a great bronze axe that suited his hands; it was sharpened on both

sides, and had a beautiful olive-wood handle fitted firmly on to it.

She also gave him a sharp adze, and then led the way to the far end of

the island where the largest trees grew- alder, poplar and pine,

that reached the sky- very dry and well seasoned, so as to sail

light for him in the water. Then, when she had shown him where the

best trees grew, Calypso went home, leaving him to cut them, which

he soon finished doing. He cut down twenty trees in all and adzed them

smooth, squaring them by rule in good workmanlike fashion. Meanwhile

Calypso came back with some augers, so he bored holes with them and

fitted the timbers together with bolts and rivets. He made the raft as

broad as a skilled shipwright makes the beam of a large vessel, and he

filed a deck on top of the ribs, and ran a gunwale all round it. He

also made a mast with a yard arm, and a rudder to steer with. He

fenced the raft all round with wicker hurdles as a protection

against the waves, and then he threw on a quantity of wood. By and

by Calypso brought him some linen to make the sails, and he made these

too, excellently, making them fast with braces and sheets. Last of

all, with the help of levers, he drew the raft down into the water.

In four days he had completed the whole work, and on the fifth

Calypso sent him from the island after washing him and giving him some

clean clothes. She gave him a goat skin full of black wine, and

another larger one of water; she also gave him a wallet full of

provisions, and found him in much good meat. Moreover, she made the

wind fair and warm for him, and gladly did Ulysses spread his sail

before it, while he sat and guided the raft skilfully by means of

the rudder. He never closed his eyes, but kept them fixed on the

Pleiads, on late-setting Bootes, and on the Bear- which men also

call the wain, and which turns round and round where it is, facing

Orion, and alone never dipping into the stream of Oceanus- for Calypso

had told him to keep this to his left. Days seven and ten did he

sail over the sea, and on the eighteenth the dim outlines of the

mountains on the nearest part of the Phaeacian coast appeared,

rising like a shield on the horizon.

But King Neptune, who was returning from the Ethiopians, caught

sight of Ulysses a long way off, from the mountains of the Solymi.

He could see him sailing upon the sea, and it made him very angry,

so he wagged his head and muttered to himself, saying, heavens, so the

gods have been changing their minds about Ulysses while I was away

in Ethiopia, and now he is close to the land of the Phaeacians,

where it is decreed that he shall escape from the calamities that have

befallen him. Still, he shall have plenty of hardship yet before he

has done with it."

Thereon he gathered his clouds together, grasped his trident,

stirred it round in the sea, and roused the rage of every wind that

blows till earth, sea, and sky were hidden in cloud, and night

sprang forth out of the heavens. Winds from East, South, North, and

West fell upon him all at the same time, and a tremendous sea got

up, so that Ulysses' heart began to fail him. "Alas," he said to

himself in his dismay, "what ever will become of me? I am afraid

Calypso was right when she said I should have trouble by sea before

I got back home. It is all coming true. How black is Jove making

heaven with his clouds, and what a sea the winds are raising from

every quarter at once. I am now safe to perish. Blest and thrice blest

were those Danaans who fell before Troy in the cause of the sons of

Atreus. Would that had been killed on the day when the Trojans were

pressing me so sorely about the dead body of Achilles, for then I

should have had due burial and the Achaeans would have honoured my

name; but now it seems that I shall come to a most pitiable end."

As he spoke a sea broke over him with such terrific fury that the

raft reeled again, and he was carried overboard a long way off. He let

go the helm, and the force of the hurricane was so great that it broke

the mast half way up, and both sail and yard went over into the sea.

For a long time Ulysses was under water, and it was all he could do to

rise to the surface again, for the clothes Calypso had given him

weighed him down; but at last he got his head above water and spat out

the bitter brine that was running down his face in streams. In spite

of all this, however, he did not lose sight of his raft, but swam as

fast as he could towards it, got hold of it, and climbed on board

again so as to escape drowning. The sea took the raft and tossed it

about as Autumn winds whirl thistledown round and round upon a road.

It was as though the South, North, East, and West winds were all

playing battledore and shuttlecock with it at once.

When he was in this plight, Ino daughter of Cadmus, also called

Leucothea, saw him. She had formerly been a mere mortal, but had

been since raised to the rank of a marine goddess. Seeing in what

great distress Ulysses now was, she had compassion upon him, and,

rising like a sea-gull from the waves, took her seat upon the raft.

"My poor good man," said she, "why is Neptune so furiously angry

with you? He is giving you a great deal of trouble, but for all his

bluster he will not kill you. You seem to be a sensible person, do

then as I bid you; strip, leave your raft to drive before the wind,

and swim to the Phaecian coast where better luck awaits you. And here,

take my veil and put it round your chest; it is enchanted, and you can

come to no harm so long as you wear it. As soon as you touch land take

it off, throw it back as far as you can into the sea, and then go away

again." With these words she took off her veil and gave it him. Then

she dived down again like a sea-gull and vanished beneath the dark

blue waters.

But Ulysses did not know what to think. "Alas," he said to himself

in his dismay, "this is only some one or other of the gods who is

luring me to ruin by advising me to will quit my raft. At any rate I

will not do so at present, for the land where she said I should be

quit of all troubles seemed to be still a good way off. I know what

I will do- I am sure it will be best- no matter what happens I will

stick to the raft as long as her timbers hold together, but when the

sea breaks her up I will swim for it; I do not see how I can do any

better than this."

While he was thus in two minds, Neptune sent a terrible great wave

that seemed to rear itself above his head till it broke right over the

raft, which then went to pieces as though it were a heap of dry

chaff tossed about by a whirlwind. Ulysses got astride of one plank

and rode upon it as if he were on horseback; he then took off the

clothes Calypso had given him, bound Ino's veil under his arms, and

plunged into the sea- meaning to swim on shore. King Neptune watched

him as he did so, and wagged his head, muttering to himself and

saying, "'There now, swim up and down as you best can till you fall in

with well-to-do people. I do not think you will be able to say that

I have let you off too lightly." On this he lashed his horses and

drove to Aegae where his palace is.

But Minerva resolved to help Ulysses, so she bound the ways of all

the winds except one, and made them lie quite still; but she roused

a good stiff breeze from the North that should lay the waters till

Ulysses reached the land of the Phaeacians where he would be safe.

Thereon he floated about for two nights and two days in the water,

with a heavy swell on the sea and death staring him in the face; but

when the third day broke, the wind fell and there was a dead calm

without so much as a breath of air stirring. As he rose on the swell

he looked eagerly ahead, and could see land quite near. Then, as

children rejoice when their dear father begins to get better after

having for a long time borne sore affliction sent him by some angry

spirit, but the gods deliver him from evil, so was Ulysses thankful

when he again saw land and trees, and swam on with all his strength

that he might once more set foot upon dry ground. When, however, he

got within earshot, he began to hear the surf thundering up against

the rocks, for the swell still broke against them with a terrific

roar. Everything was enveloped in spray; there were no harbours

where a ship might ride, nor shelter of any kind, but only

headlands, low-lying rocks, and mountain tops.

Ulysses' heart now began to fail him, and he said despairingly to

himself, "Alas, Jove has let me see land after swimming so far that

I had given up all hope, but I can find no landing place, for the

coast is rocky and surf-beaten, the rocks are smooth and rise sheer

from the sea, with deep water close under them so that I cannot

climb out for want of foothold. I am afraid some great wave will

lift me off my legs and dash me against the rocks as I leave the

water- which would give me a sorry landing. If, on the other hand, I

swim further in search of some shelving beach or harbour, a

hurricane may carry me out to sea again sorely against my will, or

heaven may send some great monster of the deep to attack me; for

Amphitrite breeds many such, and I know that Neptune is very angry

with me."

While he was thus in two minds a wave caught him and took him with

such force against the rocks that he would have been smashed and

torn to pieces if Minerva had not shown him what to do. He caught hold

of the rock with both hands and clung to it groaning with pain till

the wave retired, so he was saved that time; but presently the wave

came on again and carried him back with it far into the sea-tearing

his hands as the suckers of a polypus are torn when some one plucks it

from its bed, and the stones come up along with it even so did the

rocks tear the skin from his strong hands, and then the wave drew

him deep down under the water.

Here poor Ulysses would have certainly perished even in spite of his

own destiny, if Minerva had not helped him to keep his wits about him.

He swam seaward again, beyond reach of the surf that was beating

against the land, and at the same time he kept looking towards the

shore to see if he could find some haven, or a spit that should take

the waves aslant. By and by, as he swam on, he came to the mouth of

a river, and here he thought would be the best place, for there were

no rocks, and it afforded shelter from the wind. He felt that there

was a current, so he prayed inwardly and said:

"Hear me, O King, whoever you may be, and save me from the anger

of the sea-god Neptune, for I approach you prayerfully. Any one who

has lost his way has at all times a claim even upon the gods,

wherefore in my distress I draw near to your stream, and cling to

the knees of your riverhood. Have mercy upon me, O king, for I declare

myself your suppliant."

Then the god stayed his stream and stilled the waves, making all

calm before him, and bringing him safely into the mouth of the

river. Here at last Ulysses' knees and strong hands failed him, for

the sea had completely broken him. His body was all swollen, and his

mouth and nostrils ran down like a river with sea-water, so that he

could neither breathe nor speak, and lay swooning from sheer

exhaustion; presently, when he had got his breath and came to

himself again, he took off the scarf that Ino had given him and

threw it back into the salt stream of the river, whereon Ino

received it into her hands from the wave that bore it towards her.

Then he left the river, laid himself down among the rushes, and kissed

the bounteous earth.

"Alas," he cried to himself in his dismay, "what ever will become of

me, and how is it all to end? If I stay here upon the river bed

through the long watches of the night, I am so exhausted that the

bitter cold and damp may make an end of me- for towards sunrise

there will be a keen wind blowing from off the river. If, on the other

hand, I climb the hill side, find shelter in the woods, and sleep in

some thicket, I may escape the cold and have a good night's rest,

but some savage beast may take advantage of me and devour me."

In the end he deemed it best to take to the woods, and he found

one upon some high ground not far from the water. There he crept

beneath two shoots of olive that grew from a single stock- the one

an ungrafted sucker, while the other had been grafted. No wind,

however squally, could break through the cover they afforded, nor

could the sun's rays pierce them, nor the rain get through them, so

closely did they grow into one another. Ulysses crept under these

and began to make himself a bed to lie on, for there was a great

litter of dead leaves lying about- enough to make a covering for two

or three men even in hard winter weather. He was glad enough to see

this, so he laid himself down and heaped the leaves all round him.

Then, as one who lives alone in the country, far from any neighbor,

hides a brand as fire-seed in the ashes to save himself from having to

get a light elsewhere, even so did Ulysses cover himself up with

leaves; and Minerva shed a sweet sleep upon his eyes, closed his

eyelids, and made him lose all memories of his sorrows.


So here Ulysses slept, overcome by sleep and toil; but Minerva

went off to the country and city of the Phaecians- a people who used

to live in the fair town of Hypereia, near the lawless Cyclopes. Now

the Cyclopes were stronger than they and plundered them, so their king

Nausithous moved them thence and settled them in Scheria, far from all

other people. He surrounded the city with a wall, built houses and

temples, and divided the lands among his people; but he was dead and

gone to the house of Hades, and King Alcinous, whose counsels were

inspired of heaven, was now reigning. To his house, then, did

Minerva hie in furtherance of the return of Ulysses.

She went straight to the beautifully decorated bedroom in which

there slept a girl who was as lovely as a goddess, Nausicaa,

daughter to King Alcinous. Two maid servants were sleeping near her,

both very pretty, one on either side of the doorway, which was

closed with well-made folding doors. Minerva took the form of the

famous sea captain Dymas's daughter, who was a bosom friend of

Nausicaa and just her own age; then, coming up to the girl's bedside

like a breath of wind, she hovered over her head and said:

"Nausicaa, what can your mother have been about, to have such a lazy

daughter? Here are your clothes all lying in disorder, yet you are

going to be married almost immediately, and should not only be well

dressed yourself, but should find good clothes for those who attend

you. This is the way to get yourself a good name, and to make your

father and mother proud of you. Suppose, then, that we make tomorrow a

washing day, and start at daybreak. I will come and help you so that

you may have everything ready as soon as possible, for all the best

young men among your own people are courting you, and you are not

going to remain a maid much longer. Ask your father, therefore, to

have a waggon and mules ready for us at daybreak, to take the rugs,

robes, and girdles; and you can ride, too, which will be much

pleasanter for you than walking, for the washing-cisterns are some way

from the town."

When she had said this Minerva went away to Olympus, which they

say is the everlasting home of the gods. Here no wind beats roughly,

and neither rain nor snow can fall; but it abides in everlasting

sunshine and in a great peacefulness of light, wherein the blessed

gods are illumined for ever and ever. This was the place to which

the goddess went when she had given instructions to the girl.

By and by morning came and woke Nausicaa, who began wondering

about her dream; she therefore went to the other end of the house to

tell her father and mother all about it, and found them in their own

room. Her mother was sitting by the fireside spinning her purple

yarn with her maids around her, and she happened to catch her father

just as he was going out to attend a meeting of the town council,

which the Phaeacian aldermen had convened. She stopped him and said:

"Papa dear, could you manage to let me have a good big waggon? I

want to take all our dirty clothes to the river and wash them. You are

the chief man here, so it is only right that you should have a clean

shirt when you attend meetings of the council. Moreover, you have five

sons at home, two of them married, while the other three are

good-looking bachelors; you know they always like to have clean

linen when they go to a dance, and I have been thinking about all


She did not say a word about her own wedding, for she did not like

to, but her father knew and said, "You shall have the mules, my

love, and whatever else you have a mind for. Be off with you, and

the men shall get you a good strong waggon with a body to it that will

hold all your clothes."

On this he gave his orders to the servants, who got the waggon

out, harnessed the mules, and put them to, while the girl brought

the clothes down from the linen room and placed them on the waggon.

Her mother prepared her a basket of provisions with all sorts of

good things, and a goat skin full of wine; the girl now got into the

waggon, and her mother gave her also a golden cruse of oil, that she

and her women might anoint themselves. Then she took the whip and

reins and lashed the mules on, whereon they set off, and their hoofs

clattered on the road. They pulled without flagging, and carried not

only Nausicaa and her wash of clothes, but the maids also who were

with her.

When they reached the water side they went to the

washing-cisterns, through which there ran at all times enough pure

water to wash any quantity of linen, no matter how dirty. Here they

unharnessed the mules and turned them out to feed on the sweet juicy

herbage that grew by the water side. They took the clothes out of

the waggon, put them in the water, and vied with one another in

treading them in the pits to get the dirt out. After they had washed

them and got them quite clean, they laid them out by the sea side,

where the waves had raised a high beach of shingle, and set about

washing themselves and anointing themselves with olive oil. Then

they got their dinner by the side of the stream, and waited for the

sun to finish drying the clothes. When they had done dinner they threw

off the veils that covered their heads and began to play at ball,

while Nausicaa sang for them. As the huntress Diana goes forth upon

the mountains of Taygetus or Erymanthus to hunt wild boars or deer,

and the wood-nymphs, daughters of Aegis-bearing Jove, take their sport

along with her (then is Leto proud at seeing her daughter stand a full

head taller than the others, and eclipse the loveliest amid a whole

bevy of beauties), even so did the girl outshine her handmaids.

When it was time for them to start home, and they were folding the

clothes and putting them into the waggon, Minerva began to consider

how Ulysses should wake up and see the handsome girl who was to

conduct him to the city of the Phaeacians. The girl, therefore,

threw a ball at one of the maids, which missed her and fell into

deep water. On this they all shouted, and the noise they made woke

Ulysses, who sat up in his bed of leaves and began to wonder what it

might all be.

"Alas," said he to himself, "what kind of people have I come

amongst? Are they cruel, savage, and uncivilized, or hospitable and

humane? I seem to hear the voices of young women, and they sound

like those of the nymphs that haunt mountain tops, or springs of

rivers and meadows of green grass. At any rate I am among a race of

men and women. Let me try if I cannot manage to get a look at them."

As he said this he crept from under his bush, and broke off a

bough covered with thick leaves to hide his nakedness. He looked

like some lion of the wilderness that stalks about exulting in his

strength and defying both wind and rain; his eyes glare as he prowls

in quest of oxen, sheep, or deer, for he is famished, and will dare

break even into a well-fenced homestead, trying to get at the sheep-

even such did Ulysses seem to the young women, as he drew near to them

all naked as he was, for he was in great want. On seeing one so

unkempt and so begrimed with salt water, the others scampered off

along the spits that jutted out into the sea, but the daughter of

Alcinous stood firm, for Minerva put courage into her heart and took

away all fear from her. She stood right in front of Ulysses, and he

doubted whether he should go up to her, throw himself at her feet, and

embrace her knees as a suppliant, or stay where he was and entreat her

to give him some clothes and show him the way to the town. In the

end he deemed it best to entreat her from a distance in case the

girl should take offence at his coming near enough to clasp her knees,

so he addressed her in honeyed and persuasive language.

"O queen," he said, "I implore your aid- but tell me, are you a

goddess or are you a mortal woman? If you are a goddess and dwell in

heaven, I can only conjecture that you are Jove's daughter Diana,

for your face and figure resemble none but hers; if on the other

hand you are a mortal and live on earth, thrice happy are your

father and mother- thrice happy, too, are your brothers and sisters;

how proud and delighted they must feel when they see so fair a scion

as yourself going out to a dance; most happy, however, of all will

he be whose wedding gifts have been the richest, and who takes you

to his own home. I never yet saw any one so beautiful, neither man nor

woman, and am lost in admiration as I behold you. I can only compare

you to a young palm tree which I saw when I was at Delos growing

near the altar of Apollo- for I was there, too, with much people after

me, when I was on that journey which has been the source of all my

troubles. Never yet did such a young plant shoot out of the ground

as that was, and I admired and wondered at it exactly as I now

admire and wonder at yourself. I dare not clasp your knees, but I am

in great distress; yesterday made the twentieth day that I had been

tossing about upon the sea. The winds and waves have taken me all

the way from the Ogygian island, and now fate has flung me upon this

coast that I may endure still further suffering; for I do not think

that I have yet come to the end of it, but rather that heaven has

still much evil in store for me.

"And now, O queen, have pity upon me, for you are the first person I

have met, and I know no one else in this country. Show me the way to

your town, and let me have anything that you may have brought hither

to wrap your clothes in. May heaven grant you in all things your

heart's desire- husband, house, and a happy, peaceful home; for

there is nothing better in this world than that man and wife should be

of one mind in a house. It discomfits their enemies, makes the

hearts of their friends glad, and they themselves know more about it

than any one."

To this Nausicaa answered, "Stranger, you appear to be a sensible,

well-disposed person. There is no accounting for luck; Jove gives

prosperity to rich and poor just as he chooses, so you must take

what he has seen fit to send you, and make the best of it. Now,

however, that you have come to this our country, you shall not want

for clothes nor for anything else that a foreigner in distress may

reasonably look for. I will show you the way to the town, and will

tell you the name of our people; we are called Phaeacians, and I am

daughter to Alcinous, in whom the whole power of the state is vested."

Then she called her maids and said, "Stay where you are, you

girls. Can you not see a man without running away from him? Do you

take him for a robber or a murderer? Neither he nor any one else can

come here to do us Phaeacians any harm, for we are dear to the gods,

and live apart on a land's end that juts into the sounding sea, and

have nothing to do with any other people. This is only some poor man

who has lost his way, and we must be kind to him, for strangers and

foreigners in distress are under Jove's protection, and will take what

they can get and be thankful; so, girls, give the poor fellow

something to eat and drink, and wash him in the stream at some place

that is sheltered from the wind."

On this the maids left off running away and began calling one

another back. They made Ulysses sit down in the shelter as Nausicaa

had told them, and brought him a shirt and cloak. They also brought

him the little golden cruse of oil, and told him to go wash in the

stream. But Ulysses said, "Young women, please to stand a little on

one side that I may wash the brine from my shoulders and anoint myself

with oil, for it is long enough since my skin has had a drop of oil

upon it. I cannot wash as long as you all keep standing there. I am

ashamed to strip before a number of good-looking young women."

Then they stood on one side and went to tell the girl, while Ulysses

washed himself in the stream and scrubbed the brine from his back

and from his broad shoulders. When he had thoroughly washed himself,

and had got the brine out of his hair, he anointed himself with oil,

and put on the clothes which the girl had given him; Minerva then made

him look taller and stronger than before, she also made the hair

grow thick on the top of his head, and flow down in curls like

hyacinth blossoms; she glorified him about the head and shoulders as a

skilful workman who has studied art of all kinds under Vulcan and

Minerva enriches a piece of silver plate by gilding it- and his work

is full of beauty. Then he went and sat down a little way off upon the

beach, looking quite young and handsome, and the girl gazed on him

with admiration; then she said to her maids:

"Hush, my dears, for I want to say something. I believe the gods who

live in heaven have sent this man to the Phaeacians. When I first

saw him I thought him plain, but now his appearance is like that of

the gods who dwell in heaven. I should like my future husband to be

just such another as he is, if he would only stay here and not want to

go away. However, give him something to eat and drink."

They did as they were told, and set food before Ulysses, who ate and

drank ravenously, for it was long since he had had food of any kind.

Meanwhile, Nausicaa bethought her of another matter. She got the linen

folded and placed in the waggon, she then yoked the mules, and, as she

took her seat, she called Ulysses:

"Stranger," said she, "rise and let us be going back to the town;

I will introduce you at the house of my excellent father, where I

can tell you that you will meet all the best people among the

Phaecians. But be sure and do as I bid you, for you seem to be a

sensible person. As long as we are going past the fields- and farm

lands, follow briskly behind the waggon along with the maids and I

will lead the way myself. Presently, however, we shall come to the

town, where you will find a high wall running all round it, and a good

harbour on either side with a narrow entrance into the city, and the

ships will be drawn up by the road side, for every one has a place

where his own ship can lie. You will see the market place with a

temple of Neptune in the middle of it, and paved with large stones

bedded in the earth. Here people deal in ship's gear of all kinds,

such as cables and sails, and here, too, are the places where oars are

made, for the Phaeacians are not a nation of archers; they know

nothing about bows and arrows, but are a sea-faring folk, and pride

themselves on their masts, oars, and ships, with which they travel far

over the sea.

"I am afraid of the gossip and scandal that may be set on foot

against me later on; for the people here are very ill-natured, and

some low fellow, if he met us, might say, 'Who is this fine-looking

stranger that is going about with Nausicaa? Where did she End him? I

suppose she is going to marry him. Perhaps he is a vagabond sailor

whom she has taken from some foreign vessel, for we have no

neighbours; or some god has at last come down from heaven in answer to

her prayers, and she is going to live with him all the rest of her

life. It would be a good thing if she would take herself of I for sh

and find a husband somewhere else, for she will not look at one of the

many excellent young Phaeacians who are in with her.' This is the kind

of disparaging remark that would be made about me, and I could not

complain, for I should myself be scandalized at seeing any other

girl do the like, and go about with men in spite of everybody, while

her father and mother were still alive, and without having been

married in the face of all the world.

"If, therefore, you want my father to give you an escort and to help

you home, do as I bid you; you will see a beautiful grove of poplars

by the road side dedicated to Minerva; it has a well in it and a

meadow all round it. Here my father has a field of rich garden ground,

about as far from the town as a man' voice will carry. Sit down

there and wait for a while till the rest of us can get into the town

and reach my father's house. Then, when you think we must have done

this, come into the town and ask the way to the house of my father

Alcinous. You will have no difficulty in finding it; any child will

point it out to you, for no one else in the whole town has anything

like such a fine house as he has. When you have got past the gates and

through the outer court, go right across the inner court till you come

to my mother. You will find her sitting by the fire and spinning her

purple wool by firelight. It is a fine sight to see her as she leans

back against one of the bearing-posts with her maids all ranged behind

her. Close to her seat stands that of my father, on which he sits

and topes like an immortal god. Never mind him, but go up to my

mother, and lay your hands upon her knees if you would get home

quickly. If you can gain her over, you may hope to see your own

country again, no matter how distant it may be."

So saying she lashed the mules with her whip and they left the

river. The mules drew well and their hoofs went up and down upon the

road. She was careful not to go too fast for Ulysses and the maids who

were following on foot along with the waggon, so she plied her whip

with judgement. As the sun was going down they came to the sacred

grove of Minerva, and there Ulysses sat down and prayed to the

mighty daughter of Jove.

"Hear me," he cried, "daughter of Aegis-bearing Jove, unweariable,

hear me now, for you gave no heed to my prayers when Neptune was

wrecking me. Now, therefore, have pity upon me and grant that I may

find friends and be hospitably received by the Phaecians."

Thus did he pray, and Minerva heard his prayer, but she would not

show herself to him openly, for she was afraid of her uncle Neptune,

who was still furious in his endeavors to prevent Ulysses from getting



Thus, then, did Ulysses wait and pray; but the girl drove on to

the town. When she reached her father's house she drew up at the

gateway, and her brothers- comely as the gods- gathered round her,

took the mules out of the waggon, and carried the clothes into the

house, while she went to her own room, where an old servant,

Eurymedusa of Apeira, lit the fire for her. This old woman had been

brought by sea from Apeira, and had been chosen as a prize for

Alcinous because he was king over the Phaecians, and the people obeyed

him as though he were a god. She had been nurse to Nausicaa, and had

now lit the fire for her, and brought her supper for her into her

own room.

Presently Ulysses got up to go towards the town; and Minerva shed

a thick mist all round him to hide him in case any of the proud

Phaecians who met him should be rude to him, or ask him who he was.

Then, as he was just entering the town, she came towards him in the

likeness of a little girl carrying a pitcher. She stood right in front

of him, and Ulysses said:

"My dear, will you be so kind as to show me the house of king

Alcinous? I am an unfortunate foreigner in distress, and do not know

one in your town and country."

Then Minerva said, "Yes, father stranger, I will show you the

house you want, for Alcinous lives quite close to my own father. I

will go before you and show the way, but say not a word as you go, and

do not look at any man, nor ask him questions; for the people here

cannot abide strangers, and do not like men who come from some other

place. They are a sea-faring folk, and sail the seas by the grace of

Neptune in ships that glide along like thought, or as a bird in the


On this she led the way, and Ulysses followed in her steps; but

not one of the Phaecians could see him as he passed through the city

in the midst of them; for the great goddess Minerva in her good will

towards him had hidden him in a thick cloud of darkness. He admired

their harbours, ships, places of assembly, and the lofty walls of

the city, which, with the palisade on top of them, were very striking,

and when they reached the king's house Minerva said:

"This is the house, father stranger, which you would have me show

you. You will find a number of great people sitting at table, but do

not be afraid; go straight in, for the bolder a man is the more likely

he is to carry his point, even though he is a stranger. First find the

queen. Her name is Arete, and she comes of the same family as her

husband Alcinous. They both descend originally from Neptune, who was

father to Nausithous by Periboea, a woman of great beauty. Periboea

was the youngest daughter of Eurymedon, who at one time reigned over

the giants, but he ruined his ill-fated people and lost his own life

to boot.

"Neptune, however, lay with his daughter, and she had a son by

him, the great Nausithous, who reigned over the Phaecians.

Nausithous had two sons Rhexenor and Alcinous; Apollo killed the first

of them while he was still a bridegroom and without male issue; but he

left a daughter Arete, whom Alcinous married, and honours as no

other woman is honoured of all those that keep house along with

their husbands.

"Thus she both was, and still is, respected beyond measure by her

children, by Alcinous himself, and by the whole people, who look

upon her as a goddess, and greet her whenever she goes about the city,

for she is a thoroughly good woman both in head and heart, and when

any women are friends of hers, she will help their husbands also to

settle their disputes. If you can gain her good will, you may have

every hope of seeing your friends again, and getting safely back to

your home and country."

Then Minerva left Scheria and went away over the sea. She went to

Marathon and to the spacious streets of Athens, where she entered

the abode of Erechtheus; but Ulysses went on to the house of Alcinous,

and he pondered much as he paused a while before reaching the

threshold of bronze, for the splendour of the palace was like that

of the sun or moon. The walls on either side were of bronze from end

to end, and the cornice was of blue enamel. The doors were gold, and

hung on pillars of silver that rose from a floor of bronze, while

the lintel was silver and the hook of the door was of gold.

On either side there stood gold and silver mastiffs which Vulcan,

with his consummate skill, had fashioned expressly to keep watch

over the palace of king Alcinous; so they were immortal and could

never grow old. Seats were ranged all along the wall, here and there

from one end to the other, with coverings of fine woven work which the

women of the house had made. Here the chief persons of the Phaecians

used to sit and eat and drink, for there was abundance at all seasons;

and there were golden figures of young men with lighted torches in

their hands, raised on pedestals, to give light by night to those

who were at table. There are fifty maid servants in the house, some of

whom are always grinding rich yellow grain at the mill, while others

work at the loom, or sit and spin, and their shuttles go, backwards

and forwards like the fluttering of aspen leaves, while the linen is

so closely woven that it will turn oil. As the Phaecians are the

best sailors in the world, so their women excel all others in weaving,

for Minerva has taught them all manner of useful arts, and they are

very intelligent.

Outside the gate of the outer court there is a large garden of about

four acres with a wall all round it. It is full of beautiful trees-

pears, pomegranates, and the most delicious apples. There are luscious

figs also, and olives in full growth. The fruits never rot nor fail

all the year round, neither winter nor summer, for the air is so

soft that a new crop ripens before the old has dropped. Pear grows

on pear, apple on apple, and fig on fig, and so also with the

grapes, for there is an excellent vineyard: on the level ground of a

part of this, the grapes are being made into raisins; in another

part they are being gathered; some are being trodden in the wine tubs,

others further on have shed their blossom and are beginning to show

fruit, others again are just changing colour. In the furthest part

of the ground there are beautifully arranged beds of flowers that

are in bloom all the year round. Two streams go through it, the one

turned in ducts throughout the whole garden, while the other is

carried under the ground of the outer court to the house itself, and

the town's people draw water from it. Such, then, were the

splendours with which the gods had endowed the house of king Alcinous.

So here Ulysses stood for a while and looked about him, but when

he had looked long enough he crossed the threshold and went within the

precincts of the house. There he found all the chief people among

the Phaecians making their drink-offerings to Mercury, which they

always did the last thing before going away for the night. He went

straight through the court, still hidden by the cloak of darkness in

which Minerva had enveloped him, till he reached Arete and King

Alcinous; then he laid his hands upon the knees of the queen, and at

that moment the miraculous darkness fell away from him and he became

visible. Every one was speechless with surprise at seeing a man there,

but Ulysses began at once with his petition.

"Queen Arete," he exclaimed, "daughter of great Rhexenor, in my

distress I humbly pray you, as also your husband and these your guests

(whom may heaven prosper with long life and happiness, and may they

leave their possessions to their children, and all the honours

conferred upon them by the state) to help me home to my own country as

soon as possible; for I have been long in trouble and away from my


Then he sat down on the hearth among the ashes and they all held

their peace, till presently the old hero Echeneus, who was an

excellent speaker and an elder among the Phaeacians, plainly and in

all honesty addressed them thus:

"Alcinous," said he, "it is not creditable to you that a stranger

should be seen sitting among the ashes of your hearth; every one is

waiting to hear what you are about to say; tell him, then, to rise and

take a seat on a stool inlaid with silver, and bid your servants mix

some wine and water that we may make a drink-offering to Jove the lord

of thunder, who takes all well-disposed suppliants under his

protection; and let the housekeeper give him some supper, of

whatever there may be in the house."

When Alcinous heard this he took Ulysses by the hand, raised him

from the hearth, and bade him take the seat of Laodamas, who had

been sitting beside him, and was his favourite son. A maid servant

then brought him water in a beautiful golden ewer and poured it into a

silver basin for him to wash his hands, and she drew a clean table

beside him; an upper servant brought him bread and offered him many

good things of what there was in the house, and Ulysses ate and drank.

Then Alcinous said to one of the servants, "Pontonous, mix a cup of

wine and hand it round that we may make drink-offerings to Jove the

lord of thunder, who is the protector of all well-disposed


Pontonous then mixed wine and water, and handed it round after

giving every man his drink-offering. When they had made their

offerings, and had drunk each as much as he was minded, Alcinous said:

"Aldermen and town councillors of the Phaeacians, hear my words. You

have had your supper, so now go home to bed. To-morrow morning I shall

invite a still larger number of aldermen, and will give a

sacrificial banquet in honour of our guest; we can then discuss the

question of his escort, and consider how we may at once send him

back rejoicing to his own country without trouble or inconvenience

to himself, no matter how distant it may be. We must see that he comes

to no harm while on his homeward journey, but when he is once at

home he will have to take the luck he was born with for better or

worse like other people. It is possible, however, that the stranger is

one of the immortals who has come down from heaven to visit us; but in

this case the gods are departing from their usual practice, for

hitherto they have made themselves perfectly clear to us when we

have been offering them hecatombs. They come and sit at our feasts

just like one of our selves, and if any solitary wayfarer happens to

stumble upon some one or other of them, they affect no concealment,

for we are as near of kin to the gods as the Cyclopes and the savage

giants are."

Then Ulysses said: "Pray, Alcinous, do not take any such notion into

your head. I have nothing of the immortal about me, neither in body

nor mind, and most resemble those among you who are the most

afflicted. Indeed, were I to tell you all that heaven has seen fit

to lay upon me, you would say that I was still worse off than they

are. Nevertheless, let me sup in spite of sorrow, for an empty stomach

is a very importunate thing, and thrusts itself on a man's notice no

matter how dire is his distress. I am in great trouble, yet it insists

that I shall eat and drink, bids me lay aside all memory of my sorrows

and dwell only on the due replenishing of itself. As for yourselves,

do as you propose, and at break of day set about helping me to get

home. I shall be content to die if I may first once more behold my

property, my bondsmen, and all the greatness of my house."

Thus did he speak. Every one approved his saying, and agreed that he

should have his escort inasmuch as he had spoken reasonably. Then when

they had made their drink-offerings, and had drunk each as much as

he was minded they went home to bed every man in his own abode,

leaving Ulysses in the cloister with Arete and Alcinous while the

servants were taking the things away after supper. Arete was the first

to speak, for she recognized the shirt, cloak, and good clothes that

Ulysses was wearing, as the work of herself and of her maids; so she

said, "Stranger, before we go any further, there is a question I

should like to ask you. Who, and whence are you, and who gave you

those clothes? Did you not say you had come here from beyond the sea?"

And Ulysses answered, "It would be a long story Madam, were I to

relate in full the tale of my misfortunes, for the hand of heaven

has been laid heavy upon me; but as regards your question, there is an

island far away in the sea which is called 'the Ogygian.' Here

dwells the cunning and powerful goddess Calypso, daughter of Atlas.

She lives by herself far from all neighbours human or divine. Fortune,

however, me to her hearth all desolate and alone, for Jove struck my

ship with his thunderbolts, and broke it up in mid-ocean. My brave

comrades were drowned every man of them, but I stuck to the keel and

was carried hither and thither for the space of nine days, till at

last during the darkness of the tenth night the gods brought me to the

Ogygian island where the great goddess Calypso lives. She took me in

and treated me with the utmost kindness; indeed she wanted to make

me immortal that I might never grow old, but she could not persuade me

to let her do so.

"I stayed with Calypso seven years straight on end, and watered

the good clothes she gave me with my tears during the whole time;

but at last when the eighth year came round she bade me depart of

her own free will, either because Jove had told her she must, or

because she had changed her mind. She sent me from her island on a

raft, which she provisioned with abundance of bread and wine. Moreover

she gave me good stout clothing, and sent me a wind that blew both

warm and fair. Days seven and ten did I sail over the sea, and on

the eighteenth I caught sight of the first outlines of the mountains

upon your coast- and glad indeed was I to set eyes upon them.

Nevertheless there was still much trouble in store for me, for at this

point Neptune would let me go no further, and raised a great storm

against me; the sea was so terribly high that I could no longer keep

to my raft, which went to pieces under the fury of the gale, and I had

to swim for it, till wind and current brought me to your shores.

"There I tried to land, but could not, for it was a bad place and

the waves dashed me against the rocks, so I again took to the sea

and swam on till I came to a river that seemed the most likely landing

place, for there were no rocks and it was sheltered from the wind.

Here, then, I got out of the water and gathered my senses together

again. Night was coming on, so I left the river, and went into a

thicket, where I covered myself all over with leaves, and presently

heaven sent me off into a very deep sleep. Sick and sorry as I was I

slept among the leaves all night, and through the next day till

afternoon, when I woke as the sun was westering, and saw your

daughter's maid servants playing upon the beach, and your daughter

among them looking like a goddess. I besought her aid, and she

proved to be of an excellent disposition, much more so than could be

expected from so young a person- for young people are apt to be

thoughtless. She gave me plenty of bread and wine, and when she had

had me washed in the river she also gave me the clothes in which you

see me. Now, therefore, though it has pained me to do so, I have

told you the whole truth."

Then Alcinous said, "Stranger, it was very wrong of my daughter

not to bring you on at once to my house along with the maids, seeing

that she was the first person whose aid you asked."

"Pray do not scold her," replied Ulysses; "she is not to blame.

She did tell me to follow along with the maids, but I was ashamed

and afraid, for I thought you might perhaps be displeased if you saw

me. Every human being is sometimes a little suspicious and irritable."

"Stranger," replied Alcinous, "I am not the kind of man to get angry

about nothing; it is always better to be reasonable; but by Father

Jove, Minerva, and Apollo, now that I see what kind of person you are,

and how much you think as I do, I wish you would stay here, marry my

daughter, and become my son-in-law. If you will stay I will give you a

house and an estate, but no one (heaven forbid) shall keep you here

against your own wish, and that you may be sure of this I will

attend to-morrow to the matter of your escort. You can sleep during

the whole voyage if you like, and the men shall sail you over smooth

waters either to your own home, or wherever you please, even though it

be a long way further off than Euboea, which those of my people who

saw it when they took yellow-haired Rhadamanthus to see Tityus the son

of Gaia, tell me is the furthest of any place- and yet they did the

whole voyage in a single day without distressing themselves, and

came back again afterwards. You will thus see how much my ships

excel all others, and what magnificent oarsmen my sailors are."

Then was Ulysses glad and prayed aloud saying, "Father Jove, grant

that Alcinous may do all as he has said, for so he will win an

imperishable name among mankind, and at the same time I shall return

to my country."

Thus did they converse. Then Arete told her maids to set a bed in

the room that was in the gatehouse, and make it with good red rugs,

and to spread coverlets on the top of them with woollen cloaks for

Ulysses to wear. The maids thereon went out with torches in their

hands, and when they had made the bed they came up to Ulysses and

said, "Rise, sir stranger, and come with us for your bed is ready,"

and glad indeed was he to go to his rest.

So Ulysses slept in a bed placed in a room over the echoing gateway;

but Alcinous lay in the inner part of the house, with the queen his

wife by his side.


Now when the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared,

Alcinous and Ulysses both rose, and Alcinous led the way to the

Phaecian place of assembly, which was near the ships. When they got

there they sat down side by side on a seat of polished stone, while

Minerva took the form of one of Alcinous' servants, and went round the

town in order to help Ulysses to get home. She went up to the

citizens, man by man, and said, "Aldermen and town councillors of

the Phaeacians, come to the assembly all of you and listen to the

stranger who has just come off a long voyage to the house of King

Alcinous; he looks like an immortal god."

With these words she made them all want to come, and they flocked to

the assembly till seats and standing room were alike crowded. Every

one was struck with the appearance of Ulysses, for Minerva had

beautified him about the head and shoulders, making him look taller

and stouter than he really was, that he might impress the Phaecians

favourably as being a very remarkable man, and might come off well

in the many trials of skill to which they would challenge him. Then,

when they were got together, Alcinous spoke:

"Hear me," said he, "aldermen and town councillors of the

Phaeacians, that I may speak even as I am minded. This stranger,

whoever he may be, has found his way to my house from somewhere or

other either East or West. He wants an escort and wishes to have the

matter settled. Let us then get one ready for him, as we have done for

others before him; indeed, no one who ever yet came to my house has

been able to complain of me for not speeding on his way soon enough.

Let us draw a ship into the sea- one that has never yet made a voyage-

and man her with two and fifty of our smartest young sailors. Then

when you have made fast your oars each by his own seat, leave the ship

and come to my house to prepare a feast. I will find you in

everything. I am giving will these instructions to the young men who

will form the crew, for as regards you aldermen and town

councillors, you will join me in entertaining our guest in the

cloisters. I can take no excuses, and we will have Demodocus to sing

to us; for there is no bard like him whatever he may choose to sing


Alcinous then led the way, and the others followed after, while a

servant went to fetch Demodocus. The fifty-two picked oarsmen went

to the sea shore as they had been told, and when they got there they

drew the ship into the water, got her mast and sails inside her, bound

the oars to the thole-pins with twisted thongs of leather, all in

due course, and spread the white sails aloft. They moored the vessel a

little way out from land, and then came on shore and went to the house

of King Alcinous. The outhouses, yards, and all the precincts were

filled with crowds of men in great multitudes both old and young;

and Alcinous killed them a dozen sheep, eight full grown pigs, and two

oxen. These they skinned and dressed so as to provide a magnificent


A servant presently led in the famous bard Demodocus, whom the

muse had dearly loved, but to whom she had given both good and evil,

for though she had endowed him with a divine gift of song, she had

robbed him of his eyesight. Pontonous set a seat for him among the

guests, leaning it up against a bearing-post. He hung the lyre for him

on a peg over his head, and showed him where he was to feel for it

with his hands. He also set a fair table with a basket of victuals

by his side, and a cup of wine from which he might drink whenever he

was so disposed.

The company then laid their hands upon the good things that were

before them, but as soon as they had had enough to eat and drink,

the muse inspired Demodocus to sing the feats of heroes, and more

especially a matter that was then in the mouths of all men, to wit,

the quarrel between Ulysses and Achilles, and the fierce words that

they heaped on one another as they gat together at a banquet. But

Agamemnon was glad when he heard his chieftains quarrelling with one

another, for Apollo had foretold him this at Pytho when he crossed the

stone floor to consult the oracle. Here was the beginning of the

evil that by the will of Jove fell both Danaans and Trojans.

Thus sang the bard, but Ulysses drew his purple mantle over his head

and covered his face, for he was ashamed to let the Phaeacians see

that he was weeping. When the bard left off singing he wiped the tears

from his eyes, uncovered his face, and, taking his cup, made a

drink-offering to the gods; but when the Phaeacians pressed

Demodocus to sing further, for they delighted in his lays, then

Ulysses again drew his mantle over his head and wept bitterly. No

one noticed his distress except Alcinous, who was sitting near him,

and heard the heavy sighs that he was heaving. So he at once said,

"Aldermen and town councillors of the Phaeacians, we have had enough

now, both of the feast, and of the minstrelsy that is its due

accompaniment; let us proceed therefore to the athletic sports, so

that our guest on his return home may be able to tell his friends

how much we surpass all other nations as boxers, wrestlers, jumpers,

and runners."

With these words he led the way, and the others followed after. A

servant hung Demodocus's lyre on its peg for him, led him out of the

cloister, and set him on the same way as that along which all the

chief men of the Phaeacians were going to see the sports; a crowd of

several thousands of people followed them, and there were many

excellent competitors for all the prizes. Acroneos, Ocyalus, Elatreus,

Nauteus, Prymneus, Anchialus, Eretmeus, Ponteus, Proreus, Thoon,

Anabesineus, and Amphialus son of Polyneus son of Tecton. There was

also Euryalus son of Naubolus, who was like Mars himself, and was

the best looking man among the Phaecians except Laodamas. Three sons

of Alcinous, Laodamas, Halios, and Clytoneus, competed also.

The foot races came first. The course was set out for them from

the starting post, and they raised a dust upon the plain as they all

flew forward at the same moment. Clytoneus came in first by a long

way; he left every one else behind him by the length of the furrow

that a couple of mules can plough in a fallow field. They then

turned to the painful art of wrestling, and here Euryalus proved to be

the best man. Amphialus excelled all the others in jumping, while at

throwing the disc there was no one who could approach Elatreus.

Alcinous's son Laodamas was the best boxer, and he it was who

presently said, when they had all been diverted with the games, "Let

us ask the stranger whether he excels in any of these sports; he seems

very powerfully built; his thighs, claves, hands, and neck are of

prodigious strength, nor is he at all old, but he has suffered much

lately, and there is nothing like the sea for making havoc with a man,

no matter how strong he is."

"You are quite right, Laodamas," replied Euryalus, "go up to your

guest and speak to him about it yourself."

When Laodamas heard this he made his way into the middle of the

crowd and said to Ulysses, "I hope, Sir, that you will enter

yourself for some one or other of our competitions if you are

skilled in any of them- and you must have gone in for many a one

before now. There is nothing that does any one so much credit all

his life long as the showing himself a proper man with his hands and

feet. Have a try therefore at something, and banish all sorrow from

your mind. Your return home will not be long delayed, for the ship

is already drawn into the water, and the crew is found."

Ulysses answered, "Laodamas, why do you taunt me in this way? my

mind is set rather on cares than contests; I have been through

infinite trouble, and am come among you now as a suppliant, praying

your king and people to further me on my return home."

Then Euryalus reviled him outright and said, "I gather, then, that

you are unskilled in any of the many sports that men generally delight

in. I suppose you are one of those grasping traders that go about in

ships as captains or merchants, and who think of nothing but of

their outward freights and homeward cargoes. There does not seem to be

much of the athlete about you."

"For shame, Sir," answered Ulysses, fiercely, "you are an insolent

fellow- so true is it that the gods do not grace all men alike in

speech, person, and understanding. One man may be of weak presence,

but heaven has adorned this with such a good conversation that he

charms every one who sees him; his honeyed moderation carries his

hearers with him so that he is leader in all assemblies of his

fellows, and wherever he goes he is looked up to. Another may be as

handsome as a god, but his good looks are not crowned with discretion.

This is your case. No god could make a finer looking fellow than you

are, but you are a fool. Your ill-judged remarks have made me

exceedingly angry, and you are quite mistaken, for I excel in a

great many athletic exercises; indeed, so long as I had youth and

strength, I was among the first athletes of the age. Now, however, I

am worn out by labour and sorrow, for I have gone through much both on

the field of battle and by the waves of the weary sea; still, in spite

of all this I will compete, for your taunts have stung me to the


So he hurried up without even taking his cloak off, and seized a

disc, larger, more massive and much heavier than those used by the

Phaeacians when disc-throwing among themselves. Then, swinging it

back, he threw it from his brawny hand, and it made a humming sound in

the air as he did so. The Phaeacians quailed beneath the rushing of

its flight as it sped gracefully from his hand, and flew beyond any

mark that had been made yet. Minerva, in the form of a man, came and

marked the place where it had fallen. "A blind man, Sir," said she,

"could easily tell your mark by groping for it- it is so far ahead

of any other. You may make your mind easy about this contest, for no

Phaeacian can come near to such a throw as yours."

Ulysses was glad when he found he had a friend among the lookers-on,

so he began to speak more pleasantly. "Young men," said he, "come up

to that throw if you can, and I will throw another disc as heavy or

even heavier. If anyone wants to have a bout with me let him come

on, for I am exceedingly angry; I will box, wrestle, or run, I do

not care what it is, with any man of you all except Laodamas, but

not with him because I am his guest, and one cannot compete with one's

own personal friend. At least I do not think it a prudent or a

sensible thing for a guest to challenge his host's family at any game,

especially when he is in a foreign country. He will cut the ground

from under his own feet if he does; but I make no exception as regards

any one else, for I want to have the matter out and know which is

the best man. I am a good hand at every kind of athletic sport known

among mankind. I am an excellent archer. In battle I am always the

first to bring a man down with my arrow, no matter how many more are

taking aim at him alongside of me. Philoctetes was the only man who

could shoot better than I could when we Achaeans were before Troy

and in practice. I far excel every one else in the whole world, of

those who still eat bread upon the face of the earth, but I should not

like to shoot against the mighty dead, such as Hercules, or Eurytus

the Cechalian-men who could shoot against the gods themselves. This in

fact was how Eurytus came prematurely by his end, for Apollo was angry

with him and killed him because he challenged him as an archer. I

can throw a dart farther than any one else can shoot an arrow. Running

is the only point in respect of which I am afraid some of the

Phaecians might beat me, for I have been brought down very low at sea;

my provisions ran short, and therefore I am still weak."

They all held their peace except King Alcinous, who began, "Sir,

we have had much pleasure in hearing all that you have told us, from

which I understand that you are willing to show your prowess, as

having been displeased with some insolent remarks that have been

made to you by one of our athletes, and which could never have been

uttered by any one who knows how to talk with propriety. I hope you

will apprehend my meaning, and will explain to any be one of your

chief men who may be dining with yourself and your family when you get

home, that we have an hereditary aptitude for accomplishments of all

kinds. We are not particularly remarkable for our boxing, nor yet as

wrestlers, but we are singularly fleet of foot and are excellent

sailors. We are extremely fond of good dinners, music, and dancing; we

also like frequent changes of linen, warm baths, and good beds, so

now, please, some of you who are the best dancers set about dancing,

that our guest on his return home may be able to tell his friends

how much we surpass all other nations as sailors, runners, dancers,

minstrels. Demodocus has left his lyre at my house, so run some one or

other of you and fetch it for him."

On this a servant hurried off to bring the lyre from the king's

house, and the nine men who had been chosen as stewards stood forward.

It was their business to manage everything connected with the

sports, so they made the ground smooth and marked a wide space for the

dancers. Presently the servant came back with Demodocus's lyre, and he

took his place in the midst of them, whereon the best young dancers in

the town began to foot and trip it so nimbly that Ulysses was

delighted with the merry twinkling of their feet.

Meanwhile the bard began to sing the loves of Mars and Venus, and

how they first began their intrigue in the house of Vulcan. Mars

made Venus many presents, and defiled King Vulcan's marriage bed, so

the sun, who saw what they were about, told Vulcan. Vulcan was very

angry when he heard such dreadful news, so he went to his smithy

brooding mischief, got his great anvil into its place, and began to

forge some chains which none could either unloose or break, so that

they might stay there in that place. When he had finished his snare he

went into his bedroom and festooned the bed-posts all over with chains

like cobwebs; he also let many hang down from the great beam of the

ceiling. Not even a god could see them, so fine and subtle were

they. As soon as he had spread the chains all over the bed, he made as

though he were setting out for the fair state of Lemnos, which of

all places in the world was the one he was most fond of. But Mars kept

no blind look out, and as soon as he saw him start, hurried off to his

house, burning with love for Venus.

Now Venus was just come in from a visit to her father Jove, and

was about sitting down when Mars came inside the house, an said as

he took her hand in his own, "Let us go to the couch of Vulcan: he

is not at home, but is gone off to Lemnos among the Sintians, whose

speech is barbarous."

She was nothing loth, so they went to the couch to take their

rest, whereon they were caught in the toils which cunning Vulcan had

spread for them, and could neither get up nor stir hand or foot, but

found too late that they were in a trap. Then Vulcan came up to

them, for he had turned back before reaching Lemnos, when his scout

the sun told him what was going on. He was in a furious passion, and

stood in the vestibule making a dreadful noise as he shouted to all

the gods.

"Father Jove," he cried, "and all you other blessed gods who live

for ever, come here and see the ridiculous and disgraceful sight

that I will show you. Jove's daughter Venus is always dishonouring

me because I am lame. She is in love with Mars, who is handsome and

clean built, whereas I am a cripple- but my parents are to blame for

that, not I; they ought never to have begotten me. Come and see the

pair together asleep on my bed. It makes me furious to look at them.

They are very fond of one another, but I do not think they will lie

there longer than they can help, nor do I think that they will sleep

much; there, however, they shall stay till her father has repaid me

the sum I gave him for his baggage of a daughter, who is fair but

not honest."

On this the gods gathered to the house of Vulcan. Earth-encircling

Neptune came, and Mercury the bringer of luck, and King Apollo, but

the goddesses stayed at home all of them for shame. Then the givers of

all good things stood in the doorway, and the blessed gods roared with

inextinguishable laughter, as they saw how cunning Vulcan had been,

whereon one would turn towards his neighbour saying:

"Ill deeds do not prosper, and the weak confound the strong. See how

limping Vulcan, lame as he is, has caught Mars who is the fleetest god

in heaven; and now Mars will be cast in heavy damages."

Thus did they converse, but King Apollo said to Mercury,

"Messenger Mercury, giver of good things, you would not care how

strong the chains were, would you, if you could sleep with Venus?"

"King Apollo," answered Mercury, "I only wish I might get the

chance, though there were three times as many chains- and you might

look on, all of you, gods and goddesses, but would sleep with her if I


The immortal gods burst out laughing as they heard him, but

Neptune took it all seriously, and kept on imploring Vulcan to set

Mars free again. "Let him go," he cried, "and I will undertake, as you

require, that he shall pay you all the damages that are held

reasonable among the immortal gods."

"Do not," replied Vulcan, "ask me to do this; a bad man's bond is

bad security; what remedy could I enforce against you if Mars should

go away and leave his debts behind him along with his chains?"

"Vulcan," said Neptune, "if Mars goes away without paying his

damages, I will pay you myself." So Vulcan answered, "In this case I

cannot and must not refuse you."

Thereon he loosed the bonds that bound them, and as soon as they

were free they scampered off, Mars to Thrace and laughter-loving Venus

to Cyprus and to Paphos, where is her grove and her altar fragrant

with burnt offerings. Here the Graces hathed her, and anointed her

with oil of ambrosia such as the immortal gods make use of, and they

clothed her in raiment of the most enchanting beauty.

Thus sang the bard, and both Ulysses and the seafaring Phaeacians

were charmed as they heard him.

Then Alcinous told Laodamas and Halius to dance alone, for there was

no one to compete with them. So they took a red ball which Polybus had

made for them, and one of them bent himself backwards and threw it

up towards the clouds, while the other jumped from off the ground

and caught it with ease before it came down again. When they had

done throwing the ball straight up into the air they began to dance,

and at the same time kept on throwing it backwards and forwards to one

another, while all the young men in the ring applauded and made a

great stamping with their feet. Then Ulysses said:

"King Alcinous, you said your people were the nimblest dancers in

the world, and indeed they have proved themselves to be so. I was

astonished as I saw them."

The king was delighted at this, and exclaimed to the Phaecians

"Aldermen and town councillors, our guest seems to be a person of

singular judgement; let us give him such proof of our hospitality as

he may reasonably expect. There are twelve chief men among you, and

counting myself there are thirteen; contribute, each of you, a clean

cloak, a shirt, and a talent of fine gold; let us give him all this in

a lump down at once, so that when he gets his supper he may do so with

a light heart. As for Euryalus he will have to make a formal apology

and a present too, for he has been rude."

Thus did he speak. The others all of them applauded his saying,

and sent their servants to fetch the presents. Then Euryalus said,

"King Alcinous, I will give the stranger all the satisfaction you

require. He shall have sword, which is of bronze, all but the hilt,

which is of silver. I will also give him the scabbard of newly sawn

ivory into which it fits. It will be worth a great deal to him."

As he spoke he placed the sword in the hands of Ulysses and said,

"Good luck to you, father stranger; if anything has been said amiss

may the winds blow it away with them, and may heaven grant you a

safe return, for I understand you have been long away from home, and

have gone through much hardship."

To which Ulysses answered, "Good luck to you too my friend, and

may the gods grant you every happiness. I hope you will not miss the

sword you have given me along with your apology."

With these words he girded the sword about his shoulders and towards

sundown the presents began to make their appearance, as the servants

of the donors kept bringing them to the house of King Alcinous; here

his sons received them, and placed them under their mother's charge.

Then Alcinous led the way to the house and bade his guests take

their seats.

"Wife," said he, turning to Queen Arete, "Go, fetch the best chest

we have, and put a clean cloak and shirt in it. Also, set a copper

on the fire and heat some water; our guest will take a warm bath;

see also to the careful packing of the presents that the noble

Phaeacians have made him; he will thus better enjoy both his supper

and the singing that will follow. I shall myself give him this

golden goblet- which is of exquisite workmanship- that he may be

reminded of me for the rest of his life whenever he makes a

drink-offering to Jove, or to any of the gods."

Then Arete told her maids to set a large tripod upon the fire as

fast as they could, whereon they set a tripod full of bath water on to

a clear fire; they threw on sticks to make it blaze, and the water

became hot as the flame played about the belly of the tripod.

Meanwhile Arete brought a magnificent chest her own room, and inside

it she packed all the beautiful presents of gold and raiment which the

Phaeacians had brought. Lastly she added a cloak and a good shirt from

Alcinous, and said to Ulysses:

"See to the lid yourself, and have the whole bound round at once,

for fear any one should rob you by the way when you are asleep in your


When Ulysses heard this he put the lid on the chest and made it fast

with a bond that Circe had taught him. He had done so before an

upper servant told him to come to the bath and wash himself. He was

very glad of a warm bath, for he had had no one to wait upon him

ever since he left the house of Calypso, who as long as he remained

with her had taken as good care of him as though he had been a god.

When the servants had done washing and anointing him with oil, and had

given him a clean cloak and shirt, he left the bath room and joined

the guests who were sitting over their wine. Lovely Nausicaa stood

by one of the bearing-posts supporting the roof if the cloister, and

admired him as she saw him pass. "Farewell stranger," said she, "do

not forget me when you are safe at home again, for it is to me first

that you owe a ransom for having saved your life."

And Ulysses said, "Nausicaa, daughter of great Alcinous, may Jove

the mighty husband of Juno, grant that I may reach my home; so shall I

bless you as my guardian angel all my days, for it was you who saved


When he had said this, he seated himself beside Alcinous. Supper was

then served, and the wine was mixed for drinking. A servant led in the

favourite bard Demodocus, and set him in the midst of the company,

near one of the bearing-posts supporting the cloister, that he might

lean against it. Then Ulysses cut off a piece of roast pork with

plenty of fat (for there was abundance left on the joint) and said

to a servant, "Take this piece of pork over to Demodocus and tell

him to eat it; for all the pain his lays may cause me I will salute

him none the less; bards are honoured and respected throughout the

world, for the muse teaches them their songs and loves them."

The servant carried the pork in his fingers over to Demodocus, who

took it and was very much pleased. They then laid their hands on the

good things that were before them, and as soon as they had had to

eat and drink, Ulysses said to Demodocus, "Demodocus, there is no

one in the world whom I admire more than I do you. You must have

studied under the Muse, Jove's daughter, and under Apollo, so

accurately do you sing the return of the Achaeans with all their

sufferings and adventures. If you were not there yourself, you must

have heard it all from some one who was. Now, however, change your

song and tell us of the wooden horse which Epeus made with the

assistance of Minerva, and which Ulysses got by stratagem into the

fort of Troy after freighting it with the men who afterwards sacked

the city. If you will sing this tale aright I will tell all the

world how magnificently heaven has endowed you."

The bard inspired of heaven took up the story at the point where

some of the Argives set fire to their tents and sailed away while

others, hidden within the horse, were waiting with Ulysses in the

Trojan place of assembly. For the Trojans themselves had drawn the

horse into their fortress, and it stood there while they sat in

council round it, and were in three minds as to what they should do.

Some were for breaking it up then and there; others would have it

dragged to the top of the rock on which the fortress stood, and then

thrown down the precipice; while yet others were for letting it remain

as an offering and propitiation for the gods. And this was how they

settled it in the end, for the city was doomed when it took in that

horse, within which were all the bravest of the Argives waiting to

bring death and destruction on the Trojans. Anon he sang how the

sons of the Achaeans issued from the horse, and sacked the town,

breaking out from their ambuscade. He sang how they over ran the

city hither and thither and ravaged it, and how Ulysses went raging

like Mars along with Menelaus to the house of Deiphobus. It was

there that the fight raged most furiously, nevertheless by Minerva's

help he was victorious.

All this he told, but Ulysses was overcome as he heard him, and

his cheeks were wet with tears. He wept as a woman weeps when she

throws herself on the body of her husband who has fallen before his

own city and people, fighting bravely in defence of his home and

children. She screams aloud and flings her arms about him as he lies

gasping for breath and dying, but her enemies beat her from behind

about the back and shoulders, and carry her off into slavery, to a

life of labour and sorrow, and the beauty fades from her cheeks-

even so piteously did Ulysses weep, but none of those present

perceived his tears except Alcinous, who was sitting near him, and

could hear the sobs and sighs that he was heaving. The king,

therefore, at once rose and said:

"Aldermen and town councillors of the Phaeacians, let Demodocus

cease his song, for there are those present who do not seem to like

it. From the moment that we had done supper and Demodocus began to

sing, our guest has been all the time groaning and lamenting. He is

evidently in great trouble, so let the bard leave off, that we may all

enjoy ourselves, hosts and guest alike. This will be much more as it

should be, for all these festivities, with the escort and the presents

that we are making with so much good will, are wholly in his honour,

and any one with even a moderate amount of right feeling knows that he

ought to treat a guest and a suppliant as though he were his own


"Therefore, Sir, do you on your part affect no more concealment

nor reserve in the matter about which I shall ask you; it will be more

polite in you to give me a plain answer; tell me the name by which

your father and mother over yonder used to call you, and by which

you were known among your neighbours and fellow-citizens. There is

no one, neither rich nor poor, who is absolutely without any name

whatever, for people's fathers and mothers give them names as soon

as they are born. Tell me also your country, nation, and city, that

our ships may shape their purpose accordingly and take you there.

For the Phaeacians have no pilots; their vessels have no rudders as

those of other nations have, but the ships themselves understand

what it is that we are thinking about and want; they know all the

cities and countries in the whole world, and can traverse the sea just

as well even when it is covered with mist and cloud, so that there

is no danger of being wrecked or coming to any harm. Still I do

remember hearing my father say that Neptune was angry with us for

being too easy-going in the matter of giving people escorts. He said

that one of these days he should wreck a ship of ours as it was

returning from having escorted some one, and bury our city under a

high mountain. This is what my used to say, but whether the god will

carry out his threat or no is a matter which he will decide for


"And now, tell me and tell me true. Where have you been wandering,

and in what countries have you travelled? Tell us of the peoples

themselves, and of their cities- who were hostile, savage and

uncivilized, and who, on the other hand, hospitable and humane. Tell

us also why you are made unhappy on hearing about the return of the

Argive Danaans from Troy. The gods arranged all this, and sent them

their misfortunes in order that future generations might have

something to sing about. Did you lose some brave kinsman of your

wife's when you were before Troy? a son-in-law or father-in-law- which

are the nearest relations a man has outside his own flesh and blood?

or was it some brave and kindly-natured comrade- for a good friend

is as dear to a man as his own brother?"


And Ulysses answered, "King Alcinous, it is a good thing to hear a

bard with such a divine voice as this man has. There is nothing better

or more delightful than when a whole people make merry together,

with the guests sitting orderly to listen, while the table is loaded

with bread and meats, and the cup-bearer draws wine and fills his

cup for every man. This is indeed as fair a sight as a man can see.

Now, however, since you are inclined to ask the story of my sorrows,

and rekindle my own sad memories in respect of them, I do not know how

to begin, nor yet how to continue and conclude my tale, for the hand

of heaven has been laid heavily upon me.

"Firstly, then, I will tell you my name that you too may know it,

and one day, if I outlive this time of sorrow, may become my there

guests though I live so far away from all of you. I am Ulysses son

of Laertes, reknowned among mankind for all manner of subtlety, so

that my fame ascends to heaven. I live in Ithaca, where there is a

high mountain called Neritum, covered with forests; and not far from

it there is a group of islands very near to one another- Dulichium,

Same, and the wooded island of Zacynthus. It lies squat on the

horizon, all highest up in the sea towards the sunset, while the

others lie away from it towards dawn. It is a rugged island, but it

breeds brave men, and my eyes know none that they better love to

look upon. The goddess Calypso kept me with her in her cave, and

wanted me to marry her, as did also the cunning Aeaean goddess

Circe; but they could neither of them persuade me, for there is

nothing dearer to a man than his own country and his parents, and

however splendid a home he may have in a foreign country, if it be far

from father or mother, he does not care about it. Now, however, I will

tell you of the many hazardous adventures which by Jove's will I met

with on my return from Troy.

"When I had set sail thence the wind took me first to Ismarus, which

is the city of the Cicons. There I sacked the town and put the

people to the sword. We took their wives and also much booty, which we

divided equitably amongst us, so that none might have reason to

complain. I then said that we had better make off at once, but my

men very foolishly would not obey me, so they stayed there drinking

much wine and killing great numbers of sheep and oxen on the sea

shore. Meanwhile the Cicons cried out for help to other Cicons who

lived inland. These were more in number, and stronger, and they were

more skilled in the art of war, for they could fight, either from

chariots or on foot as the occasion served; in the morning, therefore,

they came as thick as leaves and bloom in summer, and the hand of

heaven was against us, so that we were hard pressed. They set the

battle in array near the ships, and the hosts aimed their

bronze-shod spears at one another. So long as the day waxed and it was

still morning, we held our own against them, though they were more

in number than we; but as the sun went down, towards the time when men

loose their oxen, the Cicons got the better of us, and we lost half

a dozen men from every ship we had; so we got away with those that

were left.

"Thence we sailed onward with sorrow in our hearts, but glad to have

escaped death though we had lost our comrades, nor did we leave till

we had thrice invoked each one of the poor fellows who had perished by

the hands of the Cicons. Then Jove raised the North wind against us

till it blew a hurricane, so that land and sky were hidden in thick

clouds, and night sprang forth out of the heavens. We let the ships

run before the gale, but the force of the wind tore our sails to

tatters, so we took them down for fear of shipwreck, and rowed our

hardest towards the land. There we lay two days and two nights

suffering much alike from toil and distress of mind, but on the

morning of the third day we again raised our masts, set sail, and took

our places, letting the wind and steersmen direct our ship. I should

have got home at that time unharmed had not the North wind and the

currents been against me as I was doubling Cape Malea, and set me

off my course hard by the island of Cythera.

"I was driven thence by foul winds for a space of nine days upon the

sea, but on the tenth day we reached the land of the Lotus-eater,

who live on a food that comes from a kind of flower. Here we landed to

take in fresh water, and our crews got their mid-day meal on the shore

near the ships. When they had eaten and drunk I sent two of my company

to see what manner of men the people of the place might be, and they

had a third man under them. They started at once, and went about among

the Lotus-eaters, who did them no hurt, but gave them to eat of the

lotus, which was so delicious that those who ate of it left off caring

about home, and did not even want to go back and say what had happened

to them, but were for staying and munching lotus with the

Lotus-eater without thinking further of their return; nevertheless,

though they wept bitterly I forced them back to the ships and made

them fast under the benches. Then I told the rest to go on board at

once, lest any of them should taste of the lotus and leave off wanting

to get home, so they took their places and smote the grey sea with

their oars.

"We sailed hence, always in much distress, till we came to the

land of the lawless and inhuman Cyclopes. Now the Cyclopes neither

plant nor plough, but trust in providence, and live on such wheat,

barley, and grapes as grow wild without any kind of tillage, and their

wild grapes yield them wine as the sun and the rain may grow them.

They have no laws nor assemblies of the people, but live in caves on

the tops of high mountains; each is lord and master in his family, and

they take no account of their neighbours.

"Now off their harbour there lies a wooded and fertile island not

quite close to the land of the Cyclopes, but still not far. It is

overrun with wild goats, that breed there in great numbers and are

never disturbed by foot of man; for sportsmen- who as a rule will

suffer so much hardship in forest or among mountain precipices- do not

go there, nor yet again is it ever ploughed or fed down, but it lies a

wilderness untilled and unsown from year to year, and has no living

thing upon it but only goats. For the Cyclopes have no ships, nor

yet shipwrights who could make ships for them; they cannot therefore

go from city to city, or sail over the sea to one another's country as

people who have ships can do; if they had had these they would have

colonized the island, for it is a very good one, and would yield

everything in due season. There are meadows that in some places come

right down to the sea shore, well watered and full of luscious

grass; grapes would do there excellently; there is level land for

ploughing, and it would always yield heavily at harvest time, for

the soil is deep. There is a good harbour where no cables are

wanted, nor yet anchors, nor need a ship be moored, but all one has to

do is to beach one's vessel and stay there till the wind becomes

fair for putting out to sea again. At the head of the harbour there is

a spring of clear water coming out of a cave, and there are poplars

growing all round it.

"Here we entered, but so dark was the night that some god must

have brought us in, for there was nothing whatever to be seen. A thick

mist hung all round our ships; the moon was hidden behind a mass of

clouds so that no one could have seen the island if he had looked

for it, nor were there any breakers to tell us we were close in

shore before we found ourselves upon the land itself; when, however,

we had beached the ships, we took down the sails, went ashore and

camped upon the beach till daybreak.

"When the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, we admired

the island and wandered all over it, while the nymphs Jove's daughters

roused the wild goats that we might get some meat for our dinner. On

this we fetched our spears and bows and arrows from the ships, and

dividing ourselves into three bands began to shoot the goats. Heaven

sent us excellent sport; I had twelve ships with me, and each ship got

nine goats, while my own ship had ten; thus through the livelong day

to the going down of the sun we ate and drank our fill,- and we had

plenty of wine left, for each one of us had taken many jars full

when we sacked the city of the Cicons, and this had not yet run out.

While we were feasting we kept turning our eyes towards the land of

the Cyclopes, which was hard by, and saw the smoke of their stubble

fires. We could almost fancy we heard their voices and the bleating of

their sheep and goats, but when the sun went down and it came on dark,

we camped down upon the beach, and next morning I called a council.

"'Stay here, my brave fellows,' said I, 'all the rest of you,

while I go with my ship and exploit these people myself: I want to see

if they are uncivilized savages, or a hospitable and humane race.'

"I went on board, bidding my men to do so also and loose the

hawsers; so they took their places and smote the grey sea with their

oars. When we got to the land, which was not far, there, on the face

of a cliff near the sea, we saw a great cave overhung with laurels. It

was a station for a great many sheep and goats, and outside there

was a large yard, with a high wall round it made of stones built

into the ground and of trees both pine and oak. This was the abode

of a huge monster who was then away from home shepherding his

flocks. He would have nothing to do with other people, but led the

life of an outlaw. He was a horrid creature, not like a human being at

all, but resembling rather some crag that stands out boldly against

the sky on the top of a high mountain.

"I told my men to draw the ship ashore, and stay where they were,

all but the twelve best among them, who were to go along with

myself. I also took a goatskin of sweet black wine which had been

given me by Maron, Apollo son of Euanthes, who was priest of Apollo

the patron god of Ismarus, and lived within the wooded precincts of

the temple. When we were sacking the city we respected him, and spared

his life, as also his wife and child; so he made me some presents of

great value- seven talents of fine gold, and a bowl of silver, with

twelve jars of sweet wine, unblended, and of the most exquisite

flavour. Not a man nor maid in the house knew about it, but only

himself, his wife, and one housekeeper: when he drank it he mixed

twenty parts of water to one of wine, and yet the fragrance from the

mixing-bowl was so exquisite that it was impossible to refrain from

drinking. I filled a large skin with this wine, and took a wallet full

of provisions with me, for my mind misgave me that I might have to

deal with some savage who would be of great strength, and would

respect neither right nor law.

"We soon reached his cave, but he was out shepherding, so we went

inside and took stock of all that we could see. His cheese-racks

were loaded with cheeses, and he had more lambs and kids than his pens

could hold. They were kept in separate flocks; first there were the

hoggets, then the oldest of the younger lambs and lastly the very

young ones all kept apart from one another; as for his dairy, all

the vessels, bowls, and milk pails into which he milked, were swimming

with whey. When they saw all this, my men begged me to let them

first steal some cheeses, and make off with them to the ship; they

would then return, drive down the lambs and kids, put them on board

and sail away with them. It would have been indeed better if we had

done so but I would not listen to them, for I wanted to see the

owner himself, in the hope that he might give me a present. When,

however, we saw him my poor men found him ill to deal with.

"We lit a fire, offered some of the cheeses in sacrifice, ate others

of them, and then sat waiting till the Cyclops should come in with his

sheep. When he came, he brought in with him a huge load of dry

firewood to light the fire for his supper, and this he flung with such

a noise on to the floor of his cave that we hid ourselves for fear

at the far end of the cavern. Meanwhile he drove all the ewes

inside, as well as the she-goats that he was going to milk, leaving

the males, both rams and he-goats, outside in the yards. Then he

rolled a huge stone to the mouth of the cave- so huge that two and

twenty strong four-wheeled waggons would not be enough to draw it from

its place against the doorway. When he had so done he sat down and

milked his ewes and goats, all in due course, and then let each of

them have her own young. He curdled half the milk and set it aside

in wicker strainers, but the other half he poured into bowls that he

might drink it for his supper. When he had got through with all his

work, he lit the fire, and then caught sight of us, whereon he said:

"'Strangers, who are you? Where do sail from? Are you traders, or do

you sail the as rovers, with your hands against every man, and every

man's hand against you?'

"We were frightened out of our senses by his loud voice and

monstrous form, but I managed to say, 'We are Achaeans on our way home

from Troy, but by the will of Jove, and stress of weather, we have

been driven far out of our course. We are the people of Agamemnon, son

of Atreus, who has won infinite renown throughout the whole world,

by sacking so great a city and killing so many people. We therefore

humbly pray you to show us some hospitality, and otherwise make us

such presents as visitors may reasonably expect. May your excellency

fear the wrath of heaven, for we are your suppliants, and Jove takes

all respectable travellers under his protection, for he is the avenger

of all suppliants and foreigners in distress.'

"To this he gave me but a pitiless answer, 'Stranger,' said he, 'you

are a fool, or else you know nothing of this country. Talk to me,

indeed, about fearing the gods or shunning their anger? We Cyclopes do

not care about Jove or any of your blessed gods, for we are ever so

much stronger than they. I shall not spare either yourself or your

companions out of any regard for Jove, unless I am in the humour for

doing so. And now tell me where you made your ship fast when you

came on shore. Was it round the point, or is she lying straight off

the land?'

"He said this to draw me out, but I was too cunning to be caught

in that way, so I answered with a lie; 'Neptune,' said I, 'sent my

ship on to the rocks at the far end of your country, and wrecked it.

We were driven on to them from the open sea, but I and those who are

with me escaped the jaws of death.'

"The cruel wretch vouchsafed me not one word of answer, but with a

sudden clutch he gripped up two of my men at once and dashed them down

upon the ground as though they had been puppies. Their brains were

shed upon the ground, and the earth was wet with their blood. Then

he tore them limb from limb and supped upon them. He gobbled them up

like a lion in the wilderness, flesh, bones, marrow, and entrails,

without leaving anything uneaten. As for us, we wept and lifted up our

hands to heaven on seeing such a horrid sight, for we did not know

what else to do; but when the Cyclops had filled his huge paunch,

and had washed down his meal of human flesh with a drink of neat milk,

he stretched himself full length upon the ground among his sheep,

and went to sleep. I was at first inclined to seize my sword, draw it,

and drive it into his vitals, but I reflected that if I did we

should all certainly be lost, for we should never be able to shift the

stone which the monster had put in front of the door. So we stayed

sobbing and sighing where we were till morning came.

"When the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, he again

lit his fire, milked his goats and ewes, all quite rightly, and then

let each have her own young one; as soon as he had got through with

all his work, he clutched up two more of my men, and began eating them

for his morning's meal. Presently, with the utmost ease, he rolled the

stone away from the door and drove out his sheep, but he at once put

it back again- as easily as though he were merely clapping the lid

on to a quiver full of arrows. As soon as he had done so he shouted,

and cried 'Shoo, shoo,' after his sheep to drive them on to the

mountain; so I was left to scheme some way of taking my revenge and

covering myself with glory.

"In the end I deemed it would be the best plan to do as follows. The

Cyclops had a great club which was lying near one of the sheep pens;

it was of green olive wood, and he had cut it intending to use it

for a staff as soon as it should be dry. It was so huge that we

could only compare it to the mast of a twenty-oared merchant vessel of

large burden, and able to venture out into open sea. I went up to this

club and cut off about six feet of it; I then gave this piece to the

men and told them to fine it evenly off at one end, which they

proceeded to do, and lastly I brought it to a point myself, charring

the end in the fire to make it harder. When I had done this I hid it

under dung, which was lying about all over the cave, and told the

men to cast lots which of them should venture along with myself to

lift it and bore it into the monster's eye while he was asleep. The

lot fell upon the very four whom I should have chosen, and I myself

made five. In the evening the wretch came back from shepherding, and

drove his flocks into the cave- this time driving them all inside, and

not leaving any in the yards; I suppose some fancy must have taken

him, or a god must have prompted him to do so. As soon as he had put

the stone back to its place against the door, he sat down, milked

his ewes and his goats all quite rightly, and then let each have her

own young one; when he had got through with all this work, he

gripped up two more of my men, and made his supper off them. So I went

up to him with an ivy-wood bowl of black wine in my hands:

"'Look here, Cyclops,' said I, you have been eating a great deal

of man's flesh, so take this and drink some wine, that you may see

what kind of liquor we had on board my ship. I was bringing it to

you as a drink-offering, in the hope that you would take compassion

upon me and further me on my way home, whereas all you do is to go

on ramping and raving most intolerably. You ought to be ashamed

yourself; how can you expect people to come see you any more if you

treat them in this way?'

"He then took the cup and drank. He was so delighted with the

taste of the wine that he begged me for another bowl full. 'Be so

kind,' he said, 'as to give me some more, and tell me your name at

once. I want to make you a present that you will be glad to have. We

have wine even in this country, for our soil grows grapes and the

sun ripens them, but this drinks like nectar and ambrosia all in one.'

"I then gave him some more; three times did I fill the bowl for him,

and three times did he drain it without thought or heed; then, when

I saw that the wine had got into his head, I said to him as

plausibly as I could: 'Cyclops, you ask my name and I will tell it

you; give me, therefore, the present you promised me; my name is

Noman; this is what my father and mother and my friends have always

called me.'

"But the cruel wretch said, 'Then I will eat all Noman's comrades

before Noman himself, and will keep Noman for the last. This is the

present that I will make him.'

As he spoke he reeled, and fell sprawling face upwards on the

ground. His great neck hung heavily backwards and a deep sleep took

hold upon him. Presently he turned sick, and threw up both wine and

the gobbets of human flesh on which he had been gorging, for he was

very drunk. Then I thrust the beam of wood far into the embers to heat

it, and encouraged my men lest any of them should turn

faint-hearted. When the wood, green though it was, was about to blaze,

I drew it out of the fire glowing with heat, and my men gathered round

me, for heaven had filled their hearts with courage. We drove the

sharp end of the beam into the monster's eye, and bearing upon it with

all my weight I kept turning it round and round as though I were

boring a hole in a ship's plank with an auger, which two men with a

wheel and strap can keep on turning as long as they choose. Even

thus did we bore the red hot beam into his eye, till the boiling blood

bubbled all over it as we worked it round and round, so that the steam

from the burning eyeball scalded his eyelids and eyebrows, and the

roots of the eye sputtered in the fire. As a blacksmith plunges an axe

or hatchet into cold water to temper it- for it is this that gives

strength to the iron- and it makes a great hiss as he does so, even

thus did the Cyclops' eye hiss round the beam of olive wood, and his

hideous yells made the cave ring again. We ran away in a fright, but

he plucked the beam all besmirched with gore from his eye, and

hurled it from him in a frenzy of rage and pain, shouting as he did so

to the other Cyclopes who lived on the bleak headlands near him; so

they gathered from all quarters round his cave when they heard him

crying, and asked what was the matter with him.

"'What ails you, Polyphemus,' said they, 'that you make such a

noise, breaking the stillness of the night, and preventing us from

being able to sleep? Surely no man is carrying off your sheep?

Surely no man is trying to kill you either by fraud or by force?

"But Polyphemus shouted to them from inside the cave, 'Noman is

killing me by fraud! Noman is killing me by force!'

"'Then,' said they, 'if no man is attacking you, you must be ill;

when Jove makes people ill, there is no help for it, and you had

better pray to your father Neptune.'

"Then they went away, and I laughed inwardly at the success of my

clever stratagem, but the Cyclops, groaning and in an agony of pain,

felt about with his hands till he found the stone and took it from the

door; then he sat in the doorway and stretched his hands in front of

it to catch anyone going out with the sheep, for he thought I might be

foolish enough to attempt this.

"As for myself I kept on puzzling to think how I could best save

my own life and those of my companions; I schemed and schemed, as

one who knows that his life depends upon it, for the danger was very

great. In the end I deemed that this plan would be the best. The

male sheep were well grown, and carried a heavy black fleece, so I

bound them noiselessly in threes together, with some of the withies on

which the wicked monster used to sleep. There was to be a man under

the middle sheep, and the two on either side were to cover him, so

that there were three sheep to each man. As for myself there was a ram

finer than any of the others, so I caught hold of him by the back,

esconced myself in the thick wool under his belly, and flung on

patiently to his fleece, face upwards, keeping a firm hold on it all

the time.

"Thus, then, did we wait in great fear of mind till morning came,

but when the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, the

male sheep hurried out to feed, while the ewes remained bleating about

the pens waiting to be milked, for their udders were full to bursting;

but their master in spite of all his pain felt the backs of all the

sheep as they stood upright, without being sharp enough to find out

that the men were underneath their bellies. As the ram was going

out, last of all, heavy with its fleece and with the weight of my

crafty self; Polyphemus laid hold of it and said:

"'My good ram, what is it that makes you the last to leave my cave

this morning? You are not wont to let the ewes go before you, but lead

the mob with a run whether to flowery mead or bubbling fountain, and

are the first to come home again at night; but now you lag last of

all. Is it because you know your master has lost his eye, and are

sorry because that wicked Noman and his horrid crew have got him

down in his drink and blinded him? But I will have his life yet. If

you could understand and talk, you would tell me where the wretch is

hiding, and I would dash his brains upon the ground till they flew all

over the cave. I should thus have some satisfaction for the harm a

this no-good Noman has done me.'

"As spoke he drove the ram outside, but when we were a little way

out from the cave and yards, I first got from under the ram's belly,

and then freed my comrades; as for the sheep, which were very fat,

by constantly heading them in the right direction we managed to

drive them down to the ship. The crew rejoiced greatly at seeing those

of us who had escaped death, but wept for the others whom the

Cyclops had killed. However, I made signs to them by nodding and

frowning that they were to hush their crying, and told them to get all

the sheep on board at once and put out to sea; so they went aboard,

took their places, and smote the grey sea with their oars. Then,

when I had got as far out as my voice would reach, I began to jeer

at the Cyclops.

"'Cyclops,' said I, 'you should have taken better measure of your

man before eating up his comrades in your cave. You wretch, eat up

your visitors in your own house? You might have known that your sin

would find you out, and now Jove and the other gods have punished


"He got more and more furious as he heard me, so he tore the top

from off a high mountain, and flung it just in front of my ship so

that it was within a little of hitting the end of the rudder. The

sea quaked as the rock fell into it, and the wash of the wave it

raised carried us back towards the mainland, and forced us towards the

shore. But I snatched up a long pole and kept the ship off, making

signs to my men by nodding my head, that they must row for their

lives, whereon they laid out with a will. When we had got twice as far

as we were before, I was for jeering at the Cyclops again, but the men

begged and prayed of me to hold my tongue.

"'Do not,' they exclaimed, 'be mad enough to provoke this savage

creature further; he has thrown one rock at us already which drove

us back again to the mainland, and we made sure it had been the

death of us; if he had then heard any further sound of voices he would

have pounded our heads and our ship's timbers into a jelly with the

rugged rocks he would have heaved at us, for he can throw them a

long way.'

"But I would not listen to them, and shouted out to him in my

rage, 'Cyclops, if any one asks you who it was that put your eye out

and spoiled your beauty, say it was the valiant warrior Ulysses, son

of Laertes, who lives in Ithaca.'

"On this he groaned, and cried out, 'Alas, alas, then the old

prophecy about me is coming true. There was a prophet here, at one

time, a man both brave and of great stature, Telemus son of Eurymus,

who was an excellent seer, and did all the prophesying for the

Cyclopes till he grew old; he told me that all this would happen to me

some day, and said I should lose my sight by the hand of Ulysses. I

have been all along expecting some one of imposing presence and

superhuman strength, whereas he turns out to be a little insignificant

weakling, who has managed to blind my eye by taking advantage of me in

my drink; come here, then, Ulysses, that I may make you presents to

show my hospitality, and urge Neptune to help you forward on your

journey- for Neptune and I are father and son. He, if he so will,

shall heal me, which no one else neither god nor man can do.'

"Then I said, 'I wish I could be as sure of killing you outright and

sending you down to the house of Hades, as I am that it will take more

than Neptune to cure that eye of yours.'

"On this he lifted up his hands to the firmament of heaven and

prayed, saying, 'Hear me, great Neptune; if I am indeed your own

true-begotten son, grant that Ulysses may never reach his home

alive; or if he must get back to his friends at last, let him do so

late and in sore plight after losing all his men [let him reach his

home in another man's ship and find trouble in his house.']

"Thus did he pray, and Neptune heard his prayer. Then he picked up a

rock much larger than the first, swung it aloft and hurled it with

prodigious force. It fell just short of the ship, but was within a

little of hitting the end of the rudder. The sea quaked as the rock

fell into it, and the wash of the wave it raised drove us onwards on

our way towards the shore of the island.

"When at last we got to the island where we had left the rest of our

ships, we found our comrades lamenting us, and anxiously awaiting

our return. We ran our vessel upon the sands and got out of her on

to the sea shore; we also landed the Cyclops' sheep, and divided

them equitably amongst us so that none might have reason to

complain. As for the ram, my companions agreed that I should have it

as an extra share; so I sacrificed it on the sea shore, and burned its

thigh bones to Jove, who is the lord of all. But he heeded not my

sacrifice, and only thought how he might destroy my ships and my


"Thus through the livelong day to the going down of the sun we

feasted our fill on meat and drink, but when the sun went down and

it came on dark, we camped upon the beach. When the child of

morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, I bade my men on board and

loose the hawsers. Then they took their places and smote the grey

sea with their oars; so we sailed on with sorrow in our hearts, but

glad to have escaped death though we had lost our comrades.


Thence we went on to the Aeoli island where lives Aeolus son of

Hippotas, dear to the immortal gods. It is an island that floats (as

it were) upon the sea, iron bound with a wall that girds it. Now,

Aeolus has six daughters and six lusty sons, so he made the sons marry

the daughters, and they all live with their dear father and mother,

feasting and enjoying every conceivable kind of luxury. All day long

the atmosphere of the house is loaded with the savour of roasting

meats till it groans again, yard and all; but by night they sleep on

their well-made bedsteads, each with his own wife between the

blankets. These were the people among whom we had now come.

"Aeolus entertained me for a whole month asking me questions all the

time about Troy, the Argive fleet, and the return of the Achaeans. I

told him exactly how everything had happened, and when I said I must

go, and asked him to further me on my way, he made no sort of

difficulty, but set about doing so at once. Moreover, he flayed me a

prime ox-hide to hold the ways of the roaring winds, which he shut

up in the hide as in a sack- for Jove had made him captain over the

winds, and he could stir or still each one of them according to his

own pleasure. He put the sack in the ship and bound the mouth so

tightly with a silver thread that not even a breath of a side-wind

could blow from any quarter. The West wind which was fair for us did

he alone let blow as it chose; but it all came to nothing, for we were

lost through our own folly.

"Nine days and nine nights did we sail, and on the tenth day our

native land showed on the horizon. We got so close in that we could

see the stubble fires burning, and I, being then dead beat, fell

into a light sleep, for I had never let the rudder out of my own

hands, that we might get home the faster. On this the men fell to

talking among themselves, and said I was bringing back gold and silver

in the sack that Aeolus had given me. 'Bless my heart,' would one turn

to his neighbour, saying, 'how this man gets honoured and makes

friends to whatever city or country he may go. See what fine prizes he

is taking home from Troy, while we, who have travelled just as far

as he has, come back with hands as empty as we set out with- and now

Aeolus has given him ever so much more. Quick- let us see what it

all is, and how much gold and silver there is in the sack he gave


"Thus they talked and evil counsels prevailed. They loosed the sack,

whereupon the wind flew howling forth and raised a storm that

carried us weeping out to sea and away from our own country. Then I

awoke, and knew not whether to throw myself into the sea or to live on

and make the best of it; but I bore it, covered myself up, and lay

down in the ship, while the men lamented bitterly as the fierce

winds bore our fleet back to the Aeolian island.

"When we reached it we went ashore to take in water, and dined

hard by the ships. Immediately after dinner I took a herald and one of

my men and went straight to the house of Aeolus, where I found him

feasting with his wife and family; so we sat down as suppliants on the

threshold. They were astounded when they saw us and said, 'Ulysses,

what brings you here? What god has been ill-treating you? We took

great pains to further you on your way home to Ithaca, or wherever

it was that you wanted to go to.'

"Thus did they speak, but I answered sorrowfully, 'My men have

undone me; they, and cruel sleep, have ruined me. My friends, mend

me this mischief, for you can if you will.'

"I spoke as movingly as I could, but they said nothing, till their

father answered, 'Vilest of mankind, get you gone at once out of the

island; him whom heaven hates will I in no wise help. Be off, for

you come here as one abhorred of heaven. "And with these words he sent

me sorrowing from his door.

"Thence we sailed sadly on till the men were worn out with long

and fruitless rowing, for there was no longer any wind to help them.

Six days, night and day did we toil, and on the seventh day we reached

the rocky stronghold of Lamus- Telepylus, the city of the

Laestrygonians, where the shepherd who is driving in his sheep and

goats [to be milked] salutes him who is driving out his flock [to

feed] and this last answers the salute. In that country a man who

could do without sleep might earn double wages, one as a herdsman of

cattle, and another as a shepherd, for they work much the same by

night as they do by day.

"When we reached the harbour we found it land-locked under steep

cliffs, with a narrow entrance between two headlands. My captains took

all their ships inside, and made them fast close to one another, for

there was never so much as a breath of wind inside, but it was

always dead calm. I kept my own ship outside, and moored it to a

rock at the very end of the point; then I climbed a high rock to

reconnoitre, but could see no sign neither of man nor cattle, only

some smoke rising from the ground. So I sent two of my company with an

attendant to find out what sort of people the inhabitants were.

"The men when they got on shore followed a level road by which the

people draw their firewood from the mountains into the town, till

presently they met a young woman who had come outside to fetch

water, and who was daughter to a Laestrygonian named Antiphates. She

was going to the fountain Artacia from which the people bring in their

water, and when my men had come close up to her, they asked her who

the king of that country might be, and over what kind of people he

ruled; so she directed them to her father's house, but when they got

there they found his wife to be a giantess as huge as a mountain,

and they were horrified at the sight of her.

"She at once called her husband Antiphates from the place of

assembly, and forthwith he set about killing my men. He snatched up

one of them, and began to make his dinner off him then and there,

whereon the other two ran back to the ships as fast as ever they

could. But Antiphates raised a hue and cry after them, and thousands

of sturdy Laestrygonians sprang up from every quarter- ogres, not men.

They threw vast rocks at us from the cliffs as though they had been

mere stones, and I heard the horrid sound of the ships crunching up

against one another, and the death cries of my men, as the

Laestrygonians speared them like fishes and took them home to eat

them. While they were thus killing my men within the harbour I drew my

sword, cut the cable of my own ship, and told my men to row with alf

their might if they too would not fare like the rest; so they laid out

for their lives, and we were thankful enough when we got into open

water out of reach of the rocks they hurled at us. As for the others

there was not one of them left.

"Thence we sailed sadly on, glad to have escaped death, though we

had lost our comrades, and came to the Aeaean island, where Circe

lives a great and cunning goddess who is own sister to the magician

Aeetes- for they are both children of the sun by Perse, who is

daughter to Oceanus. We brought our ship into a safe harbour without a

word, for some god guided us thither, and having landed we there for

two days and two nights, worn out in body and mind. When the morning

of the third day came I took my spear and my sword, and went away from

the ship to reconnoitre, and see if I could discover signs of human

handiwork, or hear the sound of voices. Climbing to the top of a

high look-out I espied the smoke of Circe's house rising upwards

amid a dense forest of trees, and when I saw this I doubted whether,

having seen the smoke, I would not go on at once and find out more,

but in the end I deemed it best to go back to the ship, give the men

their dinners, and send some of them instead of going myself.

"When I had nearly got back to the ship some god took pity upon my

solitude, and sent a fine antlered stag right into the middle of my

path. He was coming down his pasture in the forest to drink of the

river, for the heat of the sun drove him, and as he passed I struck

him in the middle of the back; the bronze point of the spear went

clean through him, and he lay groaning in the dust until the life went

out of him. Then I set my foot upon him, drew my spear from the wound,

and laid it down; I also gathered rough grass and rushes and twisted

them into a fathom or so of good stout rope, with which I bound the

four feet of the noble creature together; having so done I hung him

round my neck and walked back to the ship leaning upon my spear, for

the stag was much too big for me to be able to carry him on my

shoulder, steadying him with one hand. As I threw him down in front of

the ship, I called the men and spoke cheeringly man by man to each

of them. 'Look here my friends,' said I, 'we are not going to die so

much before our time after all, and at any rate we will not starve

so long as we have got something to eat and drink on board.' On this

they uncovered their heads upon the sea shore and admired the stag,

for he was indeed a splendid fellow. Then, when they had feasted their

eyes upon him sufficiently, they washed their hands and began to

cook him for dinner.

"Thus through the livelong day to the going down of the sun we

stayed there eating and drinking our fill, but when the sun went

down and it came on dark, we camped upon the sea shore. When the child

of morning, fingered Dawn, appeared, I called a council and said,

'My friends, we are in very great difficulties; listen therefore to

me. We have no idea where the sun either sets or rises, so that we

do not even know East from West. I see no way out of it; nevertheless,

we must try and find one. We are certainly on an island, for I went as

high as I could this morning, and saw the sea reaching all round it to

the horizon; it lies low, but towards the middle I saw smoke rising

from out of a thick forest of trees.'

"Their hearts sank as they heard me, for they remembered how they

had been treated by the Laestrygonian Antiphates, and by the savage

ogre Polyphemus. They wept bitterly in their dismay, but there was

nothing to be got by crying, so I divided them into two companies

and set a captain over each; I gave one company to Eurylochus, while I

took command of the other myself. Then we cast lots in a helmet, and

the lot fell upon Eurylochus; so he set out with his twenty-two men,

and they wept, as also did we who were left behind.

"When they reached Circe's house they found it built of cut

stones, on a site that could be seen from far, in the middle of the

forest. There were wild mountain wolves and lions prowling all round

it- poor bewitched creatures whom she had tamed by her enchantments

and drugged into subjection. They did not attack my men, but wagged

their great tails, fawned upon them, and rubbed their noses lovingly

against them. As hounds crowd round their master when they see him

coming from dinner- for they know he will bring them something- even

so did these wolves and lions with their great claws fawn upon my men,

but the men were terribly frightened at seeing such strange creatures.

Presently they reached the gates of the goddess's house, and as they

stood there they could hear Circe within, singing most beautifully

as she worked at her loom, making a web so fine, so soft, and of

such dazzling colours as no one but a goddess could weave. On this

Polites, whom I valued and trusted more than any other of my men,

said, 'There is some one inside working at a loom and singing most

beautifully; the whole place resounds with it, let us call her and see

whether she is woman or goddess.'

"They called her and she came down, unfastened the door, and bade

them enter. They, thinking no evil, followed her, all except

Eurylochus, who suspected mischief and stayed outside. When she had

got them into her house, she set them upon benches and seats and mixed

them a mess with cheese, honey, meal, and Pramnian but she drugged

it with wicked poisons to make them forget their homes, and when

they had drunk she turned them into pigs by a stroke of her wand,

and shut them up in her pigsties. They were like pigs-head, hair,

and all, and they grunted just as pigs do; but their senses were the

same as before, and they remembered everything.

"Thus then were they shut up squealing, and Circe threw them some

acorns and beech masts such as pigs eat, but Eurylochus hurried back

to tell me about the sad fate of our comrades. He was so overcome with

dismay that though he tried to speak he could find no words to do

so; his eyes filled with tears and he could only sob and sigh, till at

last we forced his story out of him, and he told us what had

happened to the others.

"'We went,' said he, as you told us, through the forest, and in

the middle of it there was a fine house built with cut stones in a

place that could be seen from far. There we found a woman, or else she

was a goddess, working at her loom and singing sweetly; so the men

shouted to her and called her, whereon she at once came down, opened

the door, and invited us in. The others did not suspect any mischief

so they followed her into the house, but I stayed where I was, for I

thought there might be some treachery. From that moment I saw them

no more, for not one of them ever came out, though I sat a long time

watching for them.'

"Then I took my sword of bronze and slung it over my shoulders; I

also took my bow, and told Eurylochus to come back with me and show me

the way. But he laid hold of me with both his hands and spoke

piteously, saying, 'Sir, do not force me to go with you, but let me

stay here, for I know you will not bring one of them back with you,

nor even return alive yourself; let us rather see if we cannot

escape at any rate with the few that are left us, for we may still

save our lives.'

"'Stay where you are, then, 'answered I, 'eating and drinking at the

ship, but I must go, for I am most urgently bound to do so.'

"With this I left the ship and went up inland. When I got through

the charmed grove, and was near the great house of the enchantress

Circe, I met Mercury with his golden wand, disguised as a young man in

the hey-day of his youth and beauty with the down just coming upon his

face. He came up to me and took my hand within his own, saying, 'My

poor unhappy man, whither are you going over this mountain top,

alone and without knowing the way? Your men are shut up in Circe's

pigsties, like so many wild boars in their lairs. You surely do not

fancy that you can set them free? I can tell you that you will never

get back and will have to stay there with the rest of them. But

never mind, I will protect you and get you out of your difficulty.

Take this herb, which is one of great virtue, and keep it about you

when you go to Circe's house, it will be a talisman to you against

every kind of mischief.

"'And I will tell you of all the wicked witchcraft that Circe will

try to practise upon you. She will mix a mess for you to drink, and

she will drug the meal with which she makes it, but she will not be

able to charm you, for the virtue of the herb that I shall give you

will prevent her spells from working. I will tell you all about it.

When Circe strikes you with her wand, draw your sword and spring

upon her as though you were goings to kill her. She will then be

frightened and will desire you to go to bed with her; on this you must

not point blank refuse her, for you want her to set your companions

free, and to take good care also of yourself, but you make her swear

solemnly by all the blessed that she will plot no further mischief

against you, or else when she has got you naked she will unman you and

make you fit for nothing.'

"As he spoke he pulled the herb out of the ground an showed me

what it was like. The root was black, while the flower was as white as

milk; the gods call it Moly, and mortal men cannot uproot it, but

the gods can do whatever they like.

"Then Mercury went back to high Olympus passing over the wooded

island; but I fared onward to the house of Circe, and my heart was

clouded with care as I walked along. When I got to the gates I stood

there and called the goddess, and as soon as she heard me she came

down, opened the door, and asked me to come in; so I followed her-

much troubled in my mind. She set me on a richly decorated seat inlaid

with silver, there was a footstool also under my feet, and she mixed a

mess in a golden goblet for me to drink; but she drugged it, for she

meant me mischief. When she had given it me, and I had drunk it

without its charming me, she struck she, struck me with her wand.

'There now,' she cried, 'be off to the pigsty, and make your lair with

the rest of them.'

"But I rushed at her with my sword drawn as though I would kill her,

whereon she fell with a loud scream, clasped my knees, and spoke

piteously, saying, 'Who and whence are you? from what place and people

have you come? How can it be that my drugs have no power to charm you?

Never yet was any man able to stand so much as a taste of the herb I

gave you; you must be spell-proof; surely you can be none other than

the bold hero Ulysses, who Mercury always said would come here some

day with his ship while on his way home form Troy; so be it then;

sheathe your sword and let us go to bed, that we may make friends

and learn to trust each other.'

"And I answered, 'Circe, how can you expect me to be friendly with

you when you have just been turning all my men into pigs? And now that

you have got me here myself, you mean me mischief when you ask me to

go to bed with you, and will unman me and make me fit for nothing. I

shall certainly not consent to go to bed with you unless you will

first take your solemn oath to plot no further harm against me.'

"So she swore at once as I had told her, and when she had

completed her oath then I went to bed with her.

"Meanwhile her four servants, who are her housemaids, set about

their work. They are the children of the groves and fountains, and

of the holy waters that run down into the sea. One of them spread a

fair purple cloth over a seat, and laid a carpet underneath it.

Another brought tables of silver up to the seats, and set them with

baskets of gold. A third mixed some sweet wine with water in a

silver bowl and put golden cups upon the tables, while the fourth

she brought in water and set it to boil in a large cauldron over a

good fire which she had lighted. When the water in the cauldron was

boiling, she poured cold into it till it was just as I liked it, and

then she set me in a bath and began washing me from the cauldron about

the head and shoulders, to take the tire and stiffness out of my

limbs. As soon as she had done washing me and anointing me with oil,

she arrayed me in a good cloak and shirt and led me to a richly

decorated seat inlaid with silver; there was a footstool also under my

feet. A maid servant then brought me water in a beautiful golden

ewer and poured it into a silver basin for me to wash my hands, and

she drew a clean table beside me; an upper servant brought me bread

and offered me many things of what there was in the house, and then

Circe bade me eat, but I would not, and sat without heeding what was

before me, still moody and suspicious.

"When Circe saw me sitting there without eating, and in great grief,

she came to me and said, 'Ulysses, why do you sit like that as

though you were dumb, gnawing at your own heart, and refusing both

meat and drink? Is it that you are still suspicious? You ought not

to be, for I have already sworn solemnly that I will not hurt you.'

"And I said, 'Circe, no man with any sense of what is right can

think of either eating or drinking in your house until you have set

his friends free and let him see them. If you want me to eat and

drink, you must free my men and bring them to me that I may see them

with my own eyes.'

"When I had said this she went straight through the court with her

wand in her hand and opened the pigsty doors. My men came out like

so many prime hogs and stood looking at her, but she went about

among them and anointed each with a second drug, whereon the

bristles that the bad drug had given them fell off, and they became

men again, younger than they were before, and much taller and better

looking. They knew me at once, seized me each of them by the hand, and

wept for joy till the whole house was filled with the sound of their

hullabalooing, and Circe herself was so sorry for them that she came

up to me and said, 'Ulysses, noble son of Laertes, go back at once

to the sea where you have left your ship, and first draw it on to

the land. Then, hide all your ship's gear and property in some cave,

and come back here with your men.'

"I agreed to this, so I went back to the sea shore, and found the

men at the ship weeping and wailing most piteously. When they saw me

the silly blubbering fellows began frisking round me as calves break

out and gambol round their mothers, when they see them coming home

to be milked after they have been feeding all day, and the homestead

resounds with their lowing. They seemed as glad to see me as though

they had got back to their own rugged Ithaca, where they had been born

and bred. 'Sir,' said the affectionate creatures, 'we are as glad to

see you back as though we had got safe home to Ithaca; but tell us all

about the fate of our comrades.'

"I spoke comfortingly to them and said, 'We must draw our ship on to

the land, and hide the ship's gear with all our property in some cave;

then come with me all of you as fast as you can to Circe's house,

where you will find your comrades eating and drinking in the midst

of great abundance.'

"On this the men would have come with me at once, but Eurylochus

tried to hold them back and said, 'Alas, poor wretches that we are,

what will become of us? Rush not on your ruin by going to the house of

Circe, who will turn us all into pigs or wolves or lions, and we shall

have to keep guard over her house. Remember how the Cyclops treated us

when our comrades went inside his cave, and Ulysses with them. It

was all through his sheer folly that those men lost their lives.'

"When I heard him I was in two minds whether or no to draw the

keen blade that hung by my sturdy thigh and cut his head off in

spite of his being a near relation of my own; but the men interceded

for him and said, 'Sir, if it may so be, let this fellow stay here and

mind the ship, but take the rest of us with you to Circe's house.'

"On this we all went inland, and Eurylochus was not left behind

after all, but came on too, for he was frightened by the severe

reprimand that I had given him.

"Meanwhile Circe had been seeing that the men who had been left

behind were washed and anointed with olive oil; she had also given

them woollen cloaks and shirts, and when we came we found them all

comfortably at dinner in her house. As soon as the men saw each

other face to face and knew one another, they wept for joy and cried

aloud till the whole palace rang again. Thereon Circe came up to me

and said, 'Ulysses, noble son of Laertes, tell your men to leave off

crying; I know how much you have all of you suffered at sea, and how

ill you have fared among cruel savages on the mainland, but that is

over now, so stay here, and eat and drink till you are once more as

strong and hearty as you were when you left Ithaca; for at present you

are weakened both in body and mind; you keep all the time thinking

of the hardships- you have suffered during your travels, so that you

have no more cheerfulness left in you.'

"Thus did she speak and we assented. We stayed with Circe for a

whole twelvemonth feasting upon an untold quantity both of meat and

wine. But when the year had passed in the waning of moons and the long

days had come round, my men called me apart and said, 'Sir, it is time

you began to think about going home, if so be you are to be spared

to see your house and native country at all.'

"Thus did they speak and I assented. Thereon through the livelong

day to the going down of the sun we feasted our fill on meat and wine,

but when the sun went down and it came on dark the men laid themselves

down to sleep in the covered cloisters. I, however, after I had got

into bed with Circe, besought her by her knees, and the goddess

listened to what I had got to say. 'Circe,' said I, 'please to keep

the promise you made me about furthering me on my homeward voyage. I

want to get back and so do my men, they are always pestering me with

their complaints as soon as ever your back is turned.'

"And the goddess answered, 'Ulysses, noble son of Laertes, you shall

none of you stay here any longer if you do not want to, but there is

another journey which you have got to take before you can sail

homewards. You must go to the house of Hades and of dread Proserpine

to consult the ghost of the blind Theban prophet Teiresias whose

reason is still unshaken. To him alone has Proserpine left his

understanding even in death, but the other ghosts flit about


"I was dismayed when I heard this. I sat up in bed and wept, and

would gladly have lived no longer to see the light of the sun, but

presently when I was tired of weeping and tossing myself about, I

said, 'And who shall guide me upon this voyage- for the house of Hades

is a port that no ship can reach.'

"'You will want no guide,' she answered; 'raise you mast, set your

white sails, sit quite still, and the North Wind will blow you there

of itself. When your ship has traversed the waters of Oceanus, you

will reach the fertile shore of Proserpine's country with its groves

of tall poplars and willows that shed their fruit untimely; here beach

your ship upon the shore of Oceanus, and go straight on to the dark

abode of Hades. You will find it near the place where the rivers

Pyriphlegethon and Cocytus (which is a branch of the river Styx)

flow into Acheron, and you will see a rock near it, just where the two

roaring rivers run into one another.

"'When you have reached this spot, as I now tell you, dig a trench a

cubit or so in length, breadth, and depth, and pour into it as a

drink-offering to all the dead, first, honey mixed with milk, then

wine, and in the third place water-sprinkling white barley meal over

the whole. Moreover you must offer many prayers to the poor feeble

ghosts, and promise them that when you get back to Ithaca you will

sacrifice a barren heifer to them, the best you have, and will load

the pyre with good things. More particularly you must promise that

Teiresias shall have a black sheep all to himself, the finest in all

your flocks.

"'When you shall have thus besought the ghosts with your prayers,

offer them a ram and a black ewe, bending their heads towards

Erebus; but yourself turn away from them as though you would make

towards the river. On this, many dead men's ghosts will come to you,

and you must tell your men to skin the two sheep that you have just

killed, and offer them as a burnt sacrifice with prayers to Hades

and to Proserpine. Then draw your sword and sit there, so as to

prevent any other poor ghost from coming near the split blood before

Teiresias shall have answered your questions. The seer will

presently come to you, and will tell you about your voyage- what

stages you are to make, and how you are to sail the see so as to reach

your home.'

"It was day-break by the time she had done speaking, so she

dressed me in my shirt and cloak. As for herself she threw a beautiful

light gossamer fabric over her shoulders, fastening it with a golden

girdle round her waist, and she covered her head with a mantle. Then I

went about among the men everywhere all over the house, and spoke

kindly to each of them man by man: 'You must not lie sleeping here any

longer,' said I to them, 'we must be going, for Circe has told me

all about it.' And this they did as I bade them.

"Even so, however, I did not get them away without misadventure.

We had with us a certain youth named Elpenor, not very remarkable

for sense or courage, who had got drunk and was lying on the house-top

away from the rest of the men, to sleep off his liquor in the cool.

When he heard the noise of the men bustling about, he jumped up on a

sudden and forgot all about coming down by the main staircase, so he

tumbled right off the roof and broke his neck, and his soul went

down to the house of Hades.

"When I had got the men together I said to them, 'You think you

are about to start home again, but Circe has explained to me that

instead of this, we have got to go to the house of Hades and

Proserpine to consult the ghost of the Theban prophet Teiresias.'

"The men were broken-hearted as they heard me, and threw

themselves on the ground groaning and tearing their hair, but they did

not mend matters by crying. When we reached the sea shore, weeping and

lamenting our fate, Circe brought the ram and the ewe, and we made

them fast hard by the ship. She passed through the midst of us without

our knowing it, for who can see the comings and goings of a god, if

the god does not wish to be seen?


Then, when we had got down to the sea shore we drew our ship into

the water and got her mast and sails into her; we also put the sheep

on board and took our places, weeping and in great distress of mind.

Circe, that great and cunning goddess, sent us a fair wind that blew

dead aft and stayed steadily with us keeping our sails all the time

well filled; so we did whatever wanted doing to the ship's gear and

let her go as the wind and helmsman headed her. All day long her sails

were full as she held her course over the sea, but when the sun went

down and darkness was over all the earth, we got into the deep

waters of the river Oceanus, where lie the land and city of the

Cimmerians who live enshrouded in mist and darkness which the rays

of the sun never pierce neither at his rising nor as he goes down

again out of the heavens, but the poor wretches live in one long

melancholy night. When we got there we beached the ship, took the

sheep out of her, and went along by the waters of Oceanus till we came

to the place of which Circe had told us.

"Here Perimedes and Eurylochus held the victims, while I drew my

sword and dug the trench a cubit each way. I made a drink-offering

to all the dead, first with honey and milk, then with wine, and

thirdly with water, and I sprinkled white barley meal over the

whole, praying earnestly to the poor feckless ghosts, and promising

them that when I got back to Ithaca I would sacrifice a barren

heifer for them, the best I had, and would load the pyre with good

things. I also particularly promised that Teiresias should have a

black sheep to himself, the best in all my flocks. When I had prayed

sufficiently to the dead, I cut the throats of the two sheep and let

the blood run into the trench, whereon the ghosts came trooping up

from Erebus- brides, young bachelors, old men worn out with toil,

maids who had been crossed in love, and brave men who had been

killed in battle, with their armour still smirched with blood; they

came from every quarter and flitted round the trench with a strange

kind of screaming sound that made me turn pale with fear. When I saw

them coming I told the men to be quick and flay the carcasses of the

two dead sheep and make burnt offerings of them, and at the same

time to repeat prayers to Hades and to Proserpine; but I sat where I

was with my sword drawn and would not let the poor feckless ghosts

come near the blood till Teiresias should have answered my questions.

"The first ghost 'that came was that of my comrade Elpenor, for he

had not yet been laid beneath the earth. We had left his body

unwaked and unburied in Circe's house, for we had had too much else to

do. I was very sorry for him, and cried when I saw him: 'Elpenor,'

said I, 'how did you come down here into this gloom and darkness?

You have here on foot quicker than I have with my ship.'

"'Sir,' he answered with a groan, 'it was all bad luck, and my own

unspeakable drunkenness. I was lying asleep on the top of Circe's

house, and never thought of coming down again by the great staircase

but fell right off the roof and broke my neck, so my soul down to

the house of Hades. And now I beseech you by all those whom you have

left behind you, though they are not here, by your wife, by the father

who brought you up when you were a child, and by Telemachus who is the

one hope of your house, do what I shall now ask you. I know that

when you leave this limbo you will again hold your ship for the Aeaean

island. Do not go thence leaving me unwaked and unburied behind you,

or I may bring heaven's anger upon you; but burn me with whatever

armour I have, build a barrow for me on the sea shore, that may tell

people in days to come what a poor unlucky fellow I was, and plant

over my grave the oar I used to row with when I was yet alive and with

my messmates.' And I said, 'My poor fellow, I will do all that you

have asked of me.'

"Thus, then, did we sit and hold sad talk with one another, I on the

one side of the trench with my sword held over the blood, and the

ghost of my comrade saying all this to me from the other side. Then

came the ghost of my dead mother Anticlea, daughter to Autolycus. I

had left her alive when I set out for Troy and was moved to tears when

I saw her, but even so, for all my sorrow I would not let her come

near the blood till I had asked my questions of Teiresias.

"Then came also the ghost of Theban Teiresias, with his golden

sceptre in his hand. He knew me and said, 'Ulysses, noble son of

Laertes, why, poor man, have you left the light of day and come down

to visit the dead in this sad place? Stand back from the trench and

withdraw your sword that I may drink of the blood and answer your

questions truly.'

"So I drew back, and sheathed my sword, whereon when he had drank of

the blood he began with his prophecy.

"You want to know,' said he, 'about your return home, but heaven

will make this hard for you. I do not think that you will escape the

eye of Neptune, who still nurses his bitter grudge against you for

having blinded his son. Still, after much suffering you may get home

if you can restrain yourself and your companions when your ship

reaches the Thrinacian island, where you will find the sheep and

cattle belonging to the sun, who sees and gives ear to everything.

If you leave these flocks unharmed and think of nothing but of getting

home, you may yet after much hardship reach Ithaca; but if you harm

them, then I forewarn you of the destruction both of your ship and

of your men. Even though you may yourself escape, you will return in

bad plight after losing all your men, [in another man's ship, and

you will find trouble in your house, which will be overrun by

high-handed people, who are devouring your substance under the pretext

of paying court and making presents to your wife.

"'When you get home you will take your revenge on these suitors; and

after you have killed them by force or fraud in your own house, you

must take a well-made oar and carry it on and on, till you come to a

country where the people have never heard of the sea and do not even

mix salt with their food, nor do they know anything about ships, and

oars that are as the wings of a ship. I will give you this certain

token which cannot escape your notice. A wayfarer will meet you and

will say it must be a winnowing shovel that you have got upon your

shoulder; on this you must fix the oar in the ground and sacrifice a

ram, a bull, and a boar to Neptune. Then go home and offer hecatombs

to an the gods in heaven one after the other. As for yourself, death

shall come to you from the sea, and your life shall ebb away very

gently when you are full of years and peace of mind, and your people

shall bless you. All that I have said will come true].'

"'This,' I answered, 'must be as it may please heaven, but tell me

and tell me and tell me true, I see my poor mother's ghost close by

us; she is sitting by the blood without saying a word, and though I am

her own son she does not remember me and speak to me; tell me, Sir,

how I can make her know me.'

"'That,' said he, 'I can soon do Any ghost that you let taste of the

blood will talk with you like a reasonable being, but if you do not

let them have any blood they will go away again.'

"On this the ghost of Teiresias went back to the house of Hades, for

his prophecyings had now been spoken, but I sat still where I was

until my mother came up and tasted the blood. Then she knew me at once

and spoke fondly to me, saying, 'My son, how did you come down to this

abode of darkness while you are still alive? It is a hard thing for

the living to see these places, for between us and them there are

great and terrible waters, and there is Oceanus, which no man can

cross on foot, but he must have a good ship to take him. Are you all

this time trying to find your way home from Troy, and have you never

yet got back to Ithaca nor seen your wife in your own house?'

"'Mother,' said I, 'I was forced to come here to consult the ghost

of the Theban prophet Teiresias. I have never yet been near the

Achaean land nor set foot on my native country, and I have had nothing

but one long series of misfortunes from the very first day that I

set out with Agamemnon for Ilius, the land of noble steeds, to fight

the Trojans. But tell me, and tell me true, in what way did you die?

Did you have a long illness, or did heaven vouchsafe you a gentle easy

passage to eternity? Tell me also about my father, and the son whom

I left behind me; is my property still in their hands, or has some one

else got hold of it, who thinks that I shall not return to claim it?

Tell me again what my wife intends doing, and in what mind she is;

does she live with my son and guard my estate securely, or has she

made the best match she could and married again?'

"My mother answered, 'Your wife still remains in your house, but she

is in great distress of mind and spends her whole time in tears both

night and day. No one as yet has got possession of your fine property,

and Telemachus still holds your lands undisturbed. He has to entertain

largely, as of course he must, considering his position as a

magistrate, and how every one invites him; your father remains at

his old place in the country and never goes near the town. He has no

comfortable bed nor bedding; in the winter he sleeps on the floor in

front of the fire with the men and goes about all in rags, but in

summer, when the warm weather comes on again, he lies out in the

vineyard on a bed of vine leaves thrown anyhow upon the ground. He

grieves continually about your never having come home, and suffers

more and more as he grows older. As for my own end it was in this

wise: heaven did not take me swiftly and painlessly in my own house,

nor was I attacked by any illness such as those that generally wear

people out and kill them, but my longing to know what you were doing

and the force of my affection for you- this it was that was the

death of me.'

"Then I tried to find some way of embracing my mother's ghost.

Thrice I sprang towards her and tried to clasp her in my arms, but

each time she flitted from my embrace as it were a dream or phantom,

and being touched to the quick I said to her, 'Mother, why do you

not stay still when I would embrace you? If we could throw our arms

around one another we might find sad comfort in the sharing of our

sorrows even in the house of Hades; does Proserpine want to lay a

still further load of grief upon me by mocking me with a phantom


"'My son,' she answered, 'most ill-fated of all mankind, it is not

Proserpine that is beguiling you, but all people are like this when

they are dead. The sinews no longer hold the flesh and bones together;

these perish in the fierceness of consuming fire as soon as life has

left the body, and the soul flits away as though it were a dream. Now,

however, go back to the light of day as soon as you can, and note

all these things that you may tell them to your wife hereafter.'

"Thus did we converse, and anon Proserpine sent up the ghosts of the

wives and daughters of all the most famous men. They gathered in

crowds about the blood, and I considered how I might question them

severally. In the end I deemed that it would be best to draw the

keen blade that hung by my sturdy thigh, and keep them from all

drinking the blood at once. So they came up one after the other, and

each one as I questioned her told me her race and lineage.

"The first I saw was Tyro. She was daughter of Salmoneus and wife of

Cretheus the son of Aeolus. She fell in love with the river Enipeus

who is much the most beautiful river in the whole world. Once when she

was taking a walk by his side as usual, Neptune, disguised as her

lover, lay with her at the mouth of the river, and a huge blue wave

arched itself like a mountain over them to hide both woman and god,

whereon he loosed her virgin girdle and laid her in a deep slumber.

When the god had accomplished the deed of love, he took her hand in

his own and said, 'Tyro, rejoice in all good will; the embraces of the

gods are not fruitless, and you will have fine twins about this time

twelve months. Take great care of them. I am Neptune, so now go

home, but hold your tongue and do not tell any one.'

"Then he dived under the sea, and she in due course bore Pelias

and Neleus, who both of them served Jove with all their might.

Pelias was a great breeder of sheep and lived in Iolcus, but the other

lived in Pylos. The rest of her children were by Cretheus, namely,

Aeson, Pheres, and Amythaon, who was a mighty warrior and charioteer.

"Next to her I saw Antiope, daughter to Asopus, who could boast of

having slept in the arms of even Jove himself, and who bore him two

sons Amphion and Zethus. These founded Thebes with its seven gates,

and built a wall all round it; for strong though they were they

could not hold Thebes till they had walled it.

"Then I saw Alcmena, the wife of Amphitryon, who also bore to Jove

indomitable Hercules; and Megara who was daughter to great King Creon,

and married the redoubtable son of Amphitryon.

"I also saw fair Epicaste mother of king OEdipodes whose awful lot

it was to marry her own son without suspecting it. He married her

after having killed his father, but the gods proclaimed the whole

story to the world; whereon he remained king of Thebes, in great grief

for the spite the gods had borne him; but Epicaste went to the house

of the mighty jailor Hades, having hanged herself for grief, and the

avenging spirits haunted him as for an outraged mother- to his ruing

bitterly thereafter.

"Then I saw Chloris, whom Neleus married for her beauty, having

given priceless presents for her. She was youngest daughter to Amphion

son of Iasus and king of Minyan Orchomenus, and was Queen in Pylos.

She bore Nestor, Chromius, and Periclymenus, and she also bore that

marvellously lovely woman Pero, who was wooed by all the country

round; but Neleus would only give her to him who should raid the

cattle of Iphicles from the grazing grounds of Phylace, and this was a

hard task. The only man who would undertake to raid them was a certain

excellent seer, but the will of heaven was against him, for the

rangers of the cattle caught him and put him in prison; nevertheless

when a full year had passed and the same season came round again,

Iphicles set him at liberty, after he had expounded all the oracles of

heaven. Thus, then, was the will of Jove accomplished.

"And I saw Leda the wife of Tyndarus, who bore him two famous

sons, Castor breaker of horses, and Pollux the mighty boxer. Both

these heroes are lying under the earth, though they are still alive,

for by a special dispensation of Jove, they die and come to life

again, each one of them every other day throughout all time, and

they have the rank of gods.

"After her I saw Iphimedeia wife of Aloeus who boasted the embrace

of Neptune. She bore two sons Otus and Ephialtes, but both were

short lived. They were the finest children that were ever born in this

world, and the best looking, Orion only excepted; for at nine years

old they were nine fathoms high, and measured nine cubits round the

chest. They threatened to make war with the gods in Olympus, and tried

to set Mount Ossa on the top of Mount Olympus, and Mount Pelion on the

top of Ossa, that they might scale heaven itself, and they would

have done it too if they had been grown up, but Apollo, son of Leto,

killed both of them, before they had got so much as a sign of hair

upon their cheeks or chin.

"Then I saw Phaedra, and Procris, and fair Ariadne daughter of the

magician Minos, whom Theseus was carrying off from Crete to Athens,

but he did not enjoy her, for before he could do so Diana killed her

in the island of Dia on account of what Bacchus had said against her.

"I also saw Maera and Clymene and hateful Eriphyle, who sold her own

husband for gold. But it would take me all night if I were to name

every single one of the wives and daughters of heroes whom I saw,

and it is time for me to go to bed, either on board ship with my crew,

or here. As for my escort, heaven and yourselves will see to it."

Here he ended, and the guests sat all of them enthralled and

speechless throughout the covered cloister. Then Arete said to them:

"What do you think of this man, O Phaecians? Is he not tall and good

looking, and is he not Clever? True, he is my own guest, but all of

you share in the distinction. Do not he a hurry to send him away,

nor niggardly in the presents you make to one who is in such great

need, for heaven has blessed all of you with great abundance."

Then spoke the aged hero Echeneus who was one of the oldest men

among them, "My friends," said he, "what our august queen has just

said to us is both reasonable and to the purpose, therefore be

persuaded by it; but the decision whether in word or deed rests

ultimately with King Alcinous."

"The thing shall be done," exclaimed Alcinous, "as surely as I still

live and reign over the Phaeacians. Our guest is indeed very anxious

to get home, still we must persuade him to remain with us until

to-morrow, by which time I shall be able to get together the whole sum

that I mean to give him. As regards- his escort it will be a matter

for you all, and mine above all others as the chief person among you."

And Ulysses answered, "King Alcinous, if you were to bid me to

stay here for a whole twelve months, and then speed me on my way,

loaded with your noble gifts, I should obey you gladly and it would

redound greatly to my advantage, for I should return fuller-handed

to my own people, and should thus be more respected and beloved by all

who see me when I get back to Ithaca."

"Ulysses," replied Alcinous, "not one of us who sees you has any

idea that you are a charlatan or a swindler. I know there are many

people going about who tell such plausible stories that it is very

hard to see through them, but there is a style about your language

which assures me of your good disposition. Moreover you have told

the story of your own misfortunes, and those of the Argives, as though

you were a practised bard; but tell me, and tell me true, whether

you saw any of the mighty heroes who went to Troy at the same time

with yourself, and perished there. The evenings are still at their

longest, and it is not yet bed time- go on, therefore, with your

divine story, for I could stay here listening till to-morrow

morning, so long as you will continue to tell us of your adventures."

"Alcinous," answered Ulysses, "there is a time for making

speeches, and a time for going to bed; nevertheless, since you so

desire, I will not refrain from telling you the still sadder tale of

those of my comrades who did not fall fighting with the Trojans, but

perished on their return, through the treachery of a wicked woman.

"When Proserpine had dismissed the female ghosts in all

directions, the ghost of Agamemnon son of Atreus came sadly up tome,

surrounded by those who had perished with him in the house of

Aegisthus. As soon as he had tasted the blood he knew me, and

weeping bitterly stretched out his arms towards me to embrace me;

but he had no strength nor substance any more, and I too wept and

pitied him as I beheld him. 'How did you come by your death,' said

I, 'King Agamemnon? Did Neptune raise his winds and waves against

you when you were at sea, or did your enemies make an end of you on

the mainland when you were cattle-lifting or sheep-stealing, or

while they were fighting in defence of their wives and city?'

"'Ulysses,' he answered, 'noble son of Laertes, was not lost at

sea in any storm of Neptune's raising, nor did my foes despatch me

upon the mainland, but Aegisthus and my wicked wife were the death

of me between them. He asked me to his house, feasted me, and then

butchered me most miserably as though I were a fat beast in a

slaughter house, while all around me my comrades were slain like sheep

or pigs for the wedding breakfast, or picnic, or gorgeous banquet of

some great nobleman. You must have seen numbers of men killed either

in a general engagement, or in single combat, but you never saw

anything so truly pitiable as the way in which we fell in that

cloister, with the mixing-bowl and the loaded tables lying all

about, and the ground reeking with our-blood. I heard Priam's daughter

Cassandra scream as Clytemnestra killed her close beside me. I lay

dying upon the earth with the sword in my body, and raised my hands to

kill the slut of a murderess, but she slipped away from me; she

would not even close my lips nor my eyes when I was dying, for there

is nothing in this world so cruel and so shameless as a woman when she

has fallen into such guilt as hers was. Fancy murdering her own

husband! I thought I was going to be welcomed home by my children

and my servants, but her abominable crime has brought disgrace on

herself and all women who shall come after- even on the good ones.'

"And I said, 'In truth Jove has hated the house of Atreus from first

to last in the matter of their women's counsels. See how many of us

fell for Helen's sake, and now it seems that Clytemnestra hatched

mischief against too during your absence.'

"'Be sure, therefore,' continued Agamemnon, 'and not be too friendly

even with your own wife. Do not tell her all that you know perfectly

well yourself. Tell her a part only, and keep your own counsel about

the rest. Not that your wife, Ulysses, is likely to murder you, for

Penelope is a very admirable woman, and has an excellent nature. We

left her a young bride with an infant at her breast when we set out

for Troy. This child no doubt is now grown up happily to man's estate,

and he and his father will have a joyful meeting and embrace one

another as it is right they should do, whereas my wicked wife did

not even allow me the happiness of looking upon my son, but killed

me ere I could do so. Furthermore I say- and lay my saying to your

heart- do not tell people when you are bringing your ship to Ithaca,

but steal a march upon them, for after all this there is no trusting

women. But now tell me, and tell me true, can you give me any news

of my son Orestes? Is he in Orchomenus, or at Pylos, or is he at

Sparta with Menelaus- for I presume that he is still living.'

"And I said, 'Agamemnon, why do you ask me? I do not know whether

your son is alive or dead, and it is not right to talk when one does

not know.'

"As we two sat weeping and talking thus sadly with one another the

ghost of Achilles came up to us with Patroclus, Antilochus, and Ajax

who was the finest and goodliest man of all the Danaans after the

son of Peleus. The fleet descendant of Aeacus knew me and spoke

piteously, saying, 'Ulysses, noble son of Laertes, what deed of daring

will you undertake next, that you venture down to the house of Hades

among us silly dead, who are but the ghosts of them that can labour no


"And I said, 'Achilles, son of Peleus, foremost champion of the

Achaeans, I came to consult Teiresias, and see if he could advise me

about my return home to Ithaca, for I have never yet been able to

get near the Achaean land, nor to set foot in my own country, but have

been in trouble all the time. As for you, Achilles, no one was ever

yet so fortunate as you have been, nor ever will be, for you were

adored by all us Argives as long as you were alive, and now that you

are here you are a great prince among the dead. Do not, therefore,

take it so much to heart even if you are dead.'

"'Say not a word,' he answered, 'in death's favour; I would rather

be a paid servant in a poor man's house and be above ground than

king of kings among the dead. But give me news about son; is he gone

to the wars and will he be a great soldier, or is this not so? Tell me

also if you have heard anything about my father Peleus- does he

still rule among the Myrmidons, or do they show him no respect

throughout Hellas and Phthia now that he is old and his limbs fail

him? Could I but stand by his side, in the light of day, with the same

strength that I had when I killed the bravest of our foes upon the

plain of Troy- could I but be as I then was and go even for a short

time to my father's house, any one who tried to do him violence or

supersede him would soon me it.'

"'I have heard nothing,' I answered, 'of Peleus, but I can tell

you all about your son Neoptolemus, for I took him in my own ship from

Scyros with the Achaeans. In our councils of war before Troy he was

always first to speak, and his judgement was unerring. Nestor and I

were the only two who could surpass him; and when it came to

fighting on the plain of Troy, he would never remain with the body

of his men, but would dash on far in front, foremost of them all in

valour. Many a man did he kill in battle- I cannot name every single

one of those whom he slew while fighting on the side of the Argives,

but will only say how he killed that valiant hero Eurypylus son of

Telephus, who was the handsomest man I ever saw except Memnon; many

others also of the Ceteians fell around him by reason of a woman's

bribes. Moreover, when all the bravest of the Argives went inside

the horse that Epeus had made, and it was left to me to settle when we

should either open the door of our ambuscade, or close it, though

all the other leaders and chief men among the Danaans were drying

their eyes and quaking in every limb, I never once saw him turn pale

nor wipe a tear from his cheek; he was all the time urging me to break

out from the horse- grasping the handle of his sword and his

bronze-shod spear, and breathing fury against the foe. Yet when we had

sacked the city of Priam he got his handsome share of the prize

money and went on board (such is the fortune of war) without a wound

upon him, neither from a thrown spear nor in close combat, for the

rage of Mars is a matter of great chance.'

"When I had told him this, the ghost of Achilles strode off across a

meadow full of asphodel, exulting over what I had said concerning

the prowess of his son.

"The ghosts of other dead men stood near me and told me each his own

melancholy tale; but that of Ajax son of Telamon alone held aloof-

still angry with me for having won the cause in our dispute about

the armour of Achilles. Thetis had offered it as a prize, but the

Trojan prisoners and Minerva were the judges. Would that I had never

gained the day in such a contest, for it cost the life of Ajax, who

was foremost of all the Danaans after the son of Peleus, alike in

stature and prowess.

"When I saw him I tried to pacify him and said, 'Ajax, will you

not forget and forgive even in death, but must the judgement about

that hateful armour still rankle with you? It cost us Argives dear

enough to lose such a tower of strength as you were to us. We

mourned you as much as we mourned Achilles son of Peleus himself,

nor can the blame be laid on anything but on the spite which Jove bore

against the Danaans, for it was this that made him counsel your

destruction- come hither, therefore, bring your proud spirit into

subjection, and hear what I can tell you.'

"He would not answer, but turned away to Erebus and to the other

ghosts; nevertheless, I should have made him talk to me in spite of

his being so angry, or I should have gone talking to him, only that

there were still others among the dead whom I desired to see.

"Then I saw Minos son of Jove with his golden sceptre in his hand

sitting in judgement on the dead, and the ghosts were gathered sitting

and standing round him in the spacious house of Hades, to learn his

sentences upon them.

"After him I saw huge Orion in a meadow full of asphodel driving the

ghosts of the wild beasts that he had killed upon the mountains, and

he had a great bronze club in his hand, unbreakable for ever and ever.

"And I saw Tityus son of Gaia stretched upon the plain and

covering some nine acres of ground. Two vultures on either side of him

were digging their beaks into his liver, and he kept on trying to beat

them off with his hands, but could not; for he had violated Jove's

mistress Leto as she was going through Panopeus on her way to Pytho.

"I saw also the dreadful fate of Tantalus, who stood in a lake

that reached his chin; he was dying to quench his thirst, but could

never reach the water, for whenever the poor creature stooped to

drink, it dried up and vanished, so that there was nothing but dry

ground- parched by the spite of heaven. There were tall trees,

moreover, that shed their fruit over his head- pears, pomegranates,

apples, sweet figs and juicy olives, but whenever the poor creature

stretched out his hand to take some, the wind tossed the branches back

again to the clouds.

"And I saw Sisyphus at his endless task raising his prodigious stone

with both his hands. With hands and feet he' tried to roll it up to

the top of the hill, but always, just before he could roll it over

on to the other side, its weight would be too much for him, and the

pitiless stone would come thundering down again on to the plain.

Then he would begin trying to push it up hill again, and the sweat ran

off him and the steam rose after him.

"After him I saw mighty Hercules, but it was his phantom only, for

he is feasting ever with the immortal gods, and has lovely Hebe to

wife, who is daughter of Jove and Juno. The ghosts were screaming

round him like scared birds flying all whithers. He looked black as

night with his bare bow in his hands and his arrow on the string,

glaring around as though ever on the point of taking aim. About his

breast there was a wondrous golden belt adorned in the most marvellous

fashion with bears, wild boars, and lions with gleaming eyes; there

was also war, battle, and death. The man who made that belt, do what

he might, would never be able to make another like it. Hercules knew

me at once when he saw me, and spoke piteously, saying, my poor

Ulysses, noble son of Laertes, are you too leading the same sorry kind

of life that I did when I was above ground? I was son of Jove, but I

went through an infinity of suffering, for I became bondsman to one

who was far beneath me- a low fellow who set me all manner of labours.

He once sent me here to fetch the hell-hound- for he did not think

he could find anything harder for me than this, but I got the hound

out of Hades and brought him to him, for Mercury and Minerva helped


"On this Hercules went down again into the house of Hades, but I

stayed where I was in case some other of the mighty dead should come

to me. And I should have seen still other of them that are gone

before, whom I would fain have seen- Theseus and Pirithous glorious

children of the gods, but so many thousands of ghosts came round me

and uttered such appalling cries, that I was panic stricken lest

Proserpine should send up from the house of Hades the head of that

awful monster Gorgon. On this I hastened back to my ship and ordered

my men to go on board at once and loose the hawsers; so they

embarked and took their places, whereon the ship went down the

stream of the river Oceanus. We had to row at first, but presently a

fair wind sprang up.


"After we were clear of the river Oceanus, and had got out into

the open sea, we went on till we reached the Aeaean island where there

is dawn and sunrise as in other places. We then drew our ship on to

the sands and got out of her on to the shore, where we went to sleep

and waited till day should break.

"Then, when the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, I

sent some men to Circe's house to fetch the body of Elpenor. We cut

firewood from a wood where the headland jutted out into the sea, and

after we had wept over him and lamented him we performed his funeral

rites. When his body and armour had been burned to ashes, we raised

a cairn, set a stone over it, and at the top of the cairn we fixed the

oar that he had been used to row with.

"While we were doing all this, Circe, who knew that we had got

back from the house of Hades, dressed herself and came to us as fast

as she could; and her maid servants came with her bringing us bread,

meat, and wine. Then she stood in the midst of us and said, 'You

have done a bold thing in going down alive to the house of Hades,

and you will have died twice, to other people's once; now, then,

stay here for the rest of the day, feast your fill, and go on with

your voyage at daybreak tomorrow morning. In the meantime I will

tell Ulysses about your course, and will explain everything to him

so as to prevent your suffering from misadventure either by land or


"We agreed to do as she had said, and feasted through the livelong

day to the going down of the sun, but when the sun had set and it came

on dark, the men laid themselves down to sleep by the stern cables

of the ship. Then Circe took me by the hand and bade me be seated away

from the others, while she reclined by my side and asked me all

about our adventures.

"'So far so good,' said she, when I had ended my story, 'and now pay

attention to what I am about to tell you- heaven itself, indeed,

will recall it to your recollection. First you will come to the Sirens

who enchant all who come near them. If any one unwarily draws in too

close and hears the singing of the Sirens, his wife and children

will never welcome him home again, for they sit in a green field and

warble him to death with the sweetness of their song. There is a great

heap of dead men's bones lying all around, with the flesh still

rotting off them. Therefore pass these Sirens by, and stop your

men's ears with wax that none of them may hear; but if you like you

can listen yourself, for you may get the men to bind you as you

stand upright on a cross-piece half way up the mast, and they must

lash the rope's ends to the mast itself, that you may have the

pleasure of listening. If you beg and pray the men to unloose you,

then they must bind you faster.

"'When your crew have taken you past these Sirens, I cannot give you

coherent directions as to which of two courses you are to take; I will

lay the two alternatives before you, and you must consider them for

yourself. On the one hand there are some overhanging rocks against

which the deep blue waves of Amphitrite beat with terrific fury; the

blessed gods call these rocks the Wanderers. Here not even a bird

may pass, no, not even the timid doves that bring ambrosia to Father

Jove, but the sheer rock always carries off one of them, and Father

Jove has to send another to make up their number; no ship that ever

yet came to these rocks has got away again, but the waves and

whirlwinds of fire are freighted with wreckage and with the bodies

of dead men. The only vessel that ever sailed and got through, was the

famous Argo on her way from the house of Aetes, and she too would have

gone against these great rocks, only that Juno piloted her past them

for the love she bore to Jason.

"'Of these two rocks the one reaches heaven and its peak is lost

in a dark cloud. This never leaves it, so that the top is never

clear not even in summer and early autumn. No man though he had twenty

hands and twenty feet could get a foothold on it and climb it, for

it runs sheer up, as smooth as though it had been polished. In the

middle of it there is a large cavern, looking West and turned

towards Erebus; you must take your ship this way, but the cave is so

high up that not even the stoutest archer could send an arrow into it.

Inside it Scylla sits and yelps with a voice that you might take to be

that of a young hound, but in truth she is a dreadful monster and no

one- not even a god- could face her without being terror-struck. She

has twelve mis-shapen feet, and six necks of the most prodigious

length; and at the end of each neck she has a frightful head with

three rows of teeth in each, all set very close together, so that they

would crunch any one to death in a moment, and she sits deep within

her shady cell thrusting out her heads and peering all round the rock,

fishing for dolphins or dogfish or any larger monster that she can

catch, of the thousands with which Amphitrite teems. No ship ever

yet got past her without losing some men, for she shoots out all her

heads at once, and carries off a man in each mouth.

"'You will find the other rocks lie lower, but they are so close

together that there is not more than a bowshot between them. [A

large fig tree in full leaf grows upon it], and under it lies the

sucking whirlpool of Charybdis. Three times in the day does she

vomit forth her waters, and three times she sucks them down again; see

that you be not there when she is sucking, for if you are, Neptune

himself could not save you; you must hug the Scylla side and drive

ship by as fast as you can, for you had better lose six men than

your whole crew.'

"'Is there no way,' said I, 'of escaping Charybdis, and at the

same time keeping Scylla off when she is trying to harm my men?'

"'You dare-devil,' replied the goddess, you are always wanting to

fight somebody or something; you will not let yourself be beaten

even by the immortals. For Scylla is not mortal; moreover she is

savage, extreme, rude, cruel and invincible. There is no help for

it; your best chance will be to get by her as fast as ever you can,

for if you dawdle about her rock while you are putting on your armour,

she may catch you with a second cast of her six heads, and snap up

another half dozen of your men; so drive your ship past her at full

speed, and roar out lustily to Crataiis who is Scylla's dam, bad

luck to her; she will then stop her from making a second raid upon


"'You will now come to the Thrinacian island, and here you will

see many herds of cattle and flocks of sheep belonging to the sun-god-

seven herds of cattle and seven flocks of sheep, with fifty head in

each flock. They do not breed, nor do they become fewer in number, and

they are tended by the goddesses Phaethusa and Lampetie, who are

children of the sun-god Hyperion by Neaera. Their mother when she

had borne them and had done suckling them sent them to the

Thrinacian island, which was a long way off, to live there and look

after their father's flocks and herds. If you leave these flocks

unharmed, and think of nothing but getting home, you may yet after

much hardship reach Ithaca; but if you harm them, then I forewarn

you of the destruction both of your ship and of your comrades; and

even though you may yourself escape, you will return late, in bad

plight, after losing all your men.'

"Here she ended, and dawn enthroned in gold began to show in heaven,

whereon she returned inland. I then went on board and told my men to

loose the ship from her moorings; so they at once got into her, took

their places, and began to smite the grey sea with their oars.

Presently the great and cunning goddess Circe befriended us with a

fair wind that blew dead aft, and stayed steadily with us, keeping our

sails well filled, so we did whatever wanted doing to the ship's gear,

and let her go as wind and helmsman headed her.

"Then, being much troubled in mind, I said to my men, 'My friends,

it is not right that one or two of us alone should know the prophecies

that Circe has made me, I will therefore tell you about them, so

that whether we live or die we may do so with our eyes open. First she

said we were to keep clear of the Sirens, who sit and sing most

beautifully in a field of flowers; but she said I might hear them

myself so long as no one else did. Therefore, take me and bind me to

the crosspiece half way up the mast; bind me as I stand upright,

with a bond so fast that I cannot possibly break away, and lash the

rope's ends to the mast itself. If I beg and pray you to set me

free, then bind me more tightly still.'

"I had hardly finished telling everything to the men before we

reached the island of the two Sirens, for the wind had been very

favourable. Then all of a sudden it fell dead calm; there was not a

breath of wind nor a ripple upon the water, so the men furled the

sails and stowed them; then taking to their oars they whitened the

water with the foam they raised in rowing. Meanwhile I look a large

wheel of wax and cut it up small with my sword. Then I kneaded the wax

in my strong hands till it became soft, which it soon did between

the kneading and the rays of the sun-god son of Hyperion. Then I

stopped the ears of all my men, and they bound me hands and feet to

the mast as I stood upright on the crosspiece; but they went on rowing

themselves. When we had got within earshot of the land, and the ship

was going at a good rate, the Sirens saw that we were getting in shore

and began with their singing.

"'Come here,' they sang, 'renowned Ulysses, honour to the Achaean

name, and listen to our two voices. No one ever sailed past us without

staying to hear the enchanting sweetness of our song- and he who

listens will go on his way not only charmed, but wiser, for we know

all the ills that the gods laid upon the Argives and Trojans before

Troy, and can tell you everything that is going to happen over the

whole world.'

"They sang these words most musically, and as I longed to hear

them further I made by frowning to my men that they should set me

free; but they quickened their stroke, and Eurylochus and Perimedes

bound me with still stronger bonds till we had got out of hearing of

the Sirens' voices. Then my men took the wax from their ears and

unbound me.

"Immediately after we had got past the island I saw a great wave

from which spray was rising, and I heard a loud roaring sound. The men

were so frightened that they loosed hold of their oars, for the

whole sea resounded with the rushing of the waters, but the ship

stayed where it was, for the men had left off rowing. I went round,

therefore, and exhorted them man by man not to lose heart.

"'My friends,' said I, 'this is not the first time that we have been

in danger, and we are in nothing like so bad a case as when the

Cyclops shut us up in his cave; nevertheless, my courage and wise

counsel saved us then, and we shall live to look back on all this as

well. Now, therefore, let us all do as I say, trust in Jove and row on

with might and main. As for you, coxswain, these are your orders;

attend to them, for the ship is in your hands; turn her head away from

these steaming rapids and hug the rock, or she will give you the

slip and be over yonder before you know where you are, and you will be

the death of us.'

"So they did as I told them; but I said nothing about the awful

monster Scylla, for I knew the men would not on rowing if I did, but

would huddle together in the hold. In one thing only did I disobey

Circe's strict instructions- I put on my armour. Then seizing two

strong spears I took my stand on the ship Is bows, for it was there

that I expected first to see the monster of the rock, who was to do my

men so much harm; but I could not make her out anywhere, though I

strained my eyes with looking the gloomy rock all over and over

"Then we entered the Straits in great fear of mind, for on the one

hand was Scylla, and on the other dread Charybdis kept sucking up

the salt water. As she vomited it up, it was like the water in a

cauldron when it is boiling over upon a great fire, and the spray

reached the top of the rocks on either side. When she began to suck

again, we could see the water all inside whirling round and round, and

it made a deafening sound as it broke against the rocks. We could

see the bottom of the whirlpool all black with sand and mud, and the

men were at their wit's ends for fear. While we were taken up with

this, and were expecting each moment to be our last, Scylla pounced

down suddenly upon us and snatched up my six best men. I was looking

at once after both ship and men, and in a moment I saw their hands and

feet ever so high above me, struggling in the air as Scylla was

carrying them off, and I heard them call out my name in one last

despairing cry. As a fisherman, seated, spear in hand, upon some

jutting rock throws bait into the water to deceive the poor little

fishes, and spears them with the ox's horn with which his spear is

shod, throwing them gasping on to the land as he catches them one by

one- even so did Scylla land these panting creatures on her rock and

munch them up at the mouth of her den, while they screamed and

stretched out their hands to me in their mortal agony. This was the

most sickening sight that I saw throughout all my voyages.

"When we had passed the [Wandering] rocks, with Scylla and

terrible Charybdis, we reached the noble island of the sun-god,

where were the goodly cattle and sheep belonging to the sun

Hyperion. While still at sea in my ship I could bear the cattle lowing

as they came home to the yards, and the sheep bleating. Then I

remembered what the blind Theban prophet Teiresias had told me, and

how carefully Aeaean Circe had warned me to shun the island of the

blessed sun-god. So being much troubled I said to the men, 'My men,

I know you are hard pressed, but listen while I tell you the

prophecy that Teiresias made me, and how carefully Aeaean Circe warned

me to shun the island of the blessed sun-god, for it was here, she

said, that our worst danger would lie. Head the ship, therefore,

away from the island.'

"The men were in despair at this, and Eurylochus at once gave me

an insolent answer. 'Ulysses,' said he, 'you are cruel; you are very

strong yourself and never get worn out; you seem to be made of iron,

and now, though your men are exhausted with toil and want of sleep,

you will not let them land and cook themselves a good supper upon this

island, but bid them put out to sea and go faring fruitlessly on

through the watches of the flying night. It is by night that the winds

blow hardest and do so much damage; how can we escape should one of

those sudden squalls spring up from South West or West, which so often

wreck a vessel when our lords the gods are unpropitious? Now,

therefore, let us obey the of night and prepare our supper here hard

by the ship; to-morrow morning we will go on board again and put out

to sea.'

"Thus spoke Eurylochus, and the men approved his words. I saw that

heaven meant us a mischief and said, 'You force me to yield, for you

are many against one, but at any rate each one of you must take his

solemn oath that if he meet with a herd of cattle or a large flock

of sheep, he will not be so mad as to kill a single head of either,

but will be satisfied with the food that Circe has given us.'

"They all swore as I bade them, and when they had completed their

oath we made the ship fast in a harbour that was near a stream of

fresh water, and the men went ashore and cooked their suppers. As soon

as they had had enough to eat and drink, they began talking about

their poor comrades whom Scylla had snatched up and eaten; this set

them weeping and they went on crying till they fell off into a sound


"In the third watch of the night when the stars had shifted their

places, Jove raised a great gale of wind that flew a hurricane so that

land and sea were covered with thick clouds, and night sprang forth

out of the heavens. When the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn,

appeared, we brought the ship to land and drew her into a cave wherein

the sea-nymphs hold their courts and dances, and I called the men

together in council.

"'My friends,' said I, 'we have meat and drink in the ship, let us

mind, therefore, and not touch the cattle, or we shall suffer for

it; for these cattle and sheep belong to the mighty sun, who sees

and gives ear to everything. And again they promised that they would


"For a whole month the wind blew steadily from the South, and

there was no other wind, but only South and East. As long as corn

and wine held out the men did not touch the cattle when they were

hungry; when, however, they had eaten all there was in the ship,

they were forced to go further afield, with hook and line, catching

birds, and taking whatever they could lay their hands on; for they

were starving. One day, therefore, I went up inland that I might

pray heaven to show me some means of getting away. When I had gone far

enough to be clear of all my men, and had found a place that was

well sheltered from the wind, I washed my hands and prayed to all

the gods in Olympus till by and by they sent me off into a sweet


"Meanwhile Eurylochus had been giving evil counsel to the men,

'Listen to me,' said he, 'my poor comrades. All deaths are bad

enough but there is none so bad as famine. Why should not we drive

in the best of these cows and offer them in sacrifice to the

immortal Rods? If we ever get back to Ithaca, we can build a fine

temple to the sun-god and enrich it with every kind of ornament; if,

however, he is determined to sink our ship out of revenge for these

homed cattle, and the other gods are of the same mind, I for one would

rather drink salt water once for all and have done with it, than be

starved to death by inches in such a desert island as this is.'

"Thus spoke Eurylochus, and the men approved his words. Now the

cattle, so fair and goodly, were feeding not far from the ship; the

men, therefore drove in the best of them, and they all stood round

them saying their prayers, and using young oak-shoots instead of

barley-meal, for there was no barley left. When they had done

praying they killed the cows and dressed their carcasses; they cut out

the thigh bones, wrapped them round in two layers of fat, and set some

pieces of raw meat on top of them. They had no wine with which to make

drink-offerings over the sacrifice while it was cooking, so they

kept pouring on a little water from time to time while the inward

meats were being grilled; then, when the thigh bones were burned and

they had tasted the inward meats, they cut the rest up small and put

the pieces upon the spits.

"By this time my deep sleep had left me, and I turned back to the

ship and to the sea shore. As I drew near I began to smell hot roast

meat, so I groaned out a prayer to the immortal gods. 'Father Jove,' I

exclaimed, 'and all you other gods who live in everlasting bliss,

you have done me a cruel mischief by the sleep into which you have

sent me; see what fine work these men of mine have been making in my


"Meanwhile Lampetie went straight off to the sun and told him we had

been killing his cows, whereon he flew into a great rage, and said

to the immortals, 'Father Jove, and all you other gods who live in

everlasting bliss, I must have vengeance on the crew of Ulysses' ship:

they have had the insolence to kill my cows, which were the one

thing I loved to look upon, whether I was going up heaven or down

again. If they do not square accounts with me about my cows, I will go

down to Hades and shine there among the dead.'

"'Sun,' said Jove, 'go on shining upon us gods and upon mankind over

the fruitful earth. I will shiver their ship into little pieces with a

bolt of white lightning as soon as they get out to sea.'

"I was told all this by Calypso, who said she had heard it from

the mouth of Mercury.

"As soon as I got down to my ship and to the sea shore I rebuked

each one of the men separately, but we could see no way out of it, for

the cows were dead already. And indeed the gods began at once to

show signs and wonders among us, for the hides of the cattle crawled

about, and the joints upon the spits began to low like cows, and the

meat, whether cooked or raw, kept on making a noise just as cows do.

"For six days my men kept driving in the best cows and feasting upon

them, but when Jove the son of Saturn had added a seventh day, the

fury of the gale abated; we therefore went on board, raised our masts,

spread sail, and put out to sea. As soon as we were well away from the

island, and could see nothing but sky and sea, the son of Saturn

raised a black cloud over our ship, and the sea grew dark beneath

it. We not get on much further, for in another moment we were caught

by a terrific squall from the West that snapped the forestays of the

mast so that it fell aft, while all the ship's gear tumbled about at

the bottom of the vessel. The mast fell upon the head of the

helmsman in the ship's stern, so that the bones of his head were

crushed to pieces, and he fell overboard as though he were diving,

with no more life left in him.

"Then Jove let fly with his thunderbolts, and the ship went round

and round, and was filled with fire and brimstone as the lightning

struck it. The men all fell into the sea; they were carried about in

the water round the ship, looking like so many sea-gulls, but the

god presently deprived them of all chance of getting home again.

"I stuck to the ship till the sea knocked her sides from her keel

(which drifted about by itself) and struck the mast out of her in

the direction of the keel; but there was a backstay of stout

ox-thong still hanging about it, and with this I lashed the mast and

keel together, and getting astride of them was carried wherever the

winds chose to take me.

"[The gale from the West had now spent its force, and the wind got

into the South again, which frightened me lest I should be taken

back to the terrible whirlpool of Charybdis. This indeed was what

actually happened, for I was borne along by the waves all night, and

by sunrise had reacfied the rock of Scylla, and the whirlpool. She was

then sucking down the salt sea water, but I was carried aloft toward

the fig tree, which I caught hold of and clung on to like a bat. I

could not plant my feet anywhere so as to stand securely, for the

roots were a long way off and the boughs that overshadowed the whole

pool were too high, too vast, and too far apart for me to reach

them; so I hung patiently on, waiting till the pool should discharge

my mast and raft again- and a very long while it seemed. A juryman

is not more glad to get home to supper, after having been long

detained in court by troublesome cases, than I was to see my raft

beginning to work its way out of the whirlpool again. At last I let go

with my hands and feet, and fell heavily into the sea, bard by my raft

on to which I then got, and began to row with my hands. As for Scylla,

the father of gods and men would not let her get further sight of

me- otherwise I should have certainly been lost.]

"Hence I was carried along for nine days till on the tenth night the

gods stranded me on the Ogygian island, where dwells the great and

powerful goddess Calypso. She took me in and was kind to me, but I

need say no more about this, for I told you and your noble wife all

about it yesterday, and I hate saying the same thing over and over



Thus did he speak, and they all held their peace throughout the

covered cloister, enthralled by the charm of his story, till presently

Alcinous began to speak.

"Ulysses," said he, "now that you have reached my house I doubt

not you will get home without further misadventure no matter how

much you have suffered in the past. To you others, however, who come

here night after night to drink my choicest wine and listen to my

bard, I would insist as follows. Our guest has already packed up the

clothes, wrought gold, and other valuables which you have brought

for his acceptance; let us now, therefore, present him further, each

one of us, with a large tripod and a cauldron. We will recoup

ourselves by the levy of a general rate; for private individuals

cannot be expected to bear the burden of such a handsome present."

Every one approved of this, and then they went home to bed each in

his own abode. When the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn,

appeared, they hurried down to the ship and brought their cauldrons

with them. Alcinous went on board and saw everything so securely

stowed under the ship's benches that nothing could break adrift and

injure the rowers. Then they went to the house of Alcinous to get

dinner, and he sacrificed a bull for them in honour of Jove who is the

lord of all. They set the steaks to grill and made an excellent

dinner, after which the inspired bard, Demodocus, who was a

favourite with every one, sang to them; but Ulysses kept on turning

his eyes towards the sun, as though to hasten his setting, for he

was longing to be on his way. As one who has been all day ploughing

a fallow field with a couple of oxen keeps thinking about his supper

and is glad when night comes that he may go and get it, for it is

all his legs can do to carry him, even so did Ulysses rejoice when the

sun went down, and he at once said to the Phaecians, addressing

himself more particularly to King Alcinous:

"Sir, and all of you, farewell. Make your drink-offerings and send

me on my way rejoicing, for you have fulfilled my heart's desire by

giving me an escort, and making me presents, which heaven grant that I

may turn to good account; may I find my admirable wife living in peace

among friends, and may you whom I leave behind me give satisfaction to

your wives and children; may heaven vouchsafe you every good grace,

and may no evil thing come among your people."

Thus did he speak. His hearers all of them approved his saying and

agreed that he should have his escort inasmuch as he had spoken

reasonably. Alcinous therefore said to his servant, "Pontonous, mix

some wine and hand it round to everybody, that we may offer a prayer

to father Jove, and speed our guest upon his way."

Pontonous mixed the wine and handed it to every one in turn; the

others each from his own seat made a drink-offering to the blessed

gods that live in heaven, but Ulysses rose and placed the double cup

in the hands of queen Arete.

"Farewell, queen," said he, "henceforward and for ever, till age and

death, the common lot of mankind, lay their hands upon you. I now take

my leave; be happy in this house with your children, your people,

and with king Alcinous."

As he spoke he crossed the threshold, and Alcinous sent a man to

conduct him to his ship and to the sea shore. Arete also sent some

maid servants with him- one with a clean shirt and cloak, another to

carry his strong-box, and a third with corn and wine. When they got to

the water side the crew took these things and put them on board,

with all the meat and drink; but for Ulysses they spread a rug and a

linen sheet on deck that he might sleep soundly in the stern of the

ship. Then he too went on board and lay down without a word, but the

crew took every man his place and loosed the hawser from the pierced

stone to which it had been bound. Thereon, when they began rowing

out to sea, Ulysses fell into a deep, sweet, and almost deathlike


The ship bounded forward on her way as a four in hand chariot

flies over the course when the horses feel the whip. Her prow curveted

as it were the neck of a stallion, and a great wave of dark blue water

seethed in her wake. She held steadily on her course, and even a

falcon, swiftest of all birds, could not have kept pace with her.

Thus, then, she cut her way through the water. carrying one who was as

cunning as the gods, but who was now sleeping peacefully, forgetful of

all that he had suffered both on the field of battle and by the

waves of the weary sea.

When the bright star that heralds the approach of dawn began to

show. the ship drew near to land. Now there is in Ithaca a haven of

the old merman Phorcys, which lies between two points that break the

line of the sea and shut the harbour in. These shelter it from the

storms of wind and sea that rage outside, so that, when once within

it, a ship may lie without being even moored. At the head of this

harbour there is a large olive tree, and at no distance a fine

overarching cavern sacred to the nymphs who are called Naiads. There

are mixing-bowls within it and wine-jars of stone, and the bees hive

there. Moreover, there are great looms of stone on which the nymphs

weave their robes of sea purple- very curious to see- and at all times

there is water within it. It has two entrances, one facing North by

which mortals can go down into the cave, while the other comes from

the South and is more mysterious; mortals cannot possibly get in by

it, it is the way taken by the gods.

Into this harbour, then, they took their ship, for they knew the

place, She had so much way upon her that she ran half her own length

on to the shore; when, however, they had landed, the first thing

they did was to lift Ulysses with his rug and linen sheet out of the

ship, and lay him down upon the sand still fast asleep. Then they took

out the presents which Minerva had persuaded the Phaeacians to give

him when he was setting out on his voyage homewards. They put these

all together by the root of the olive tree, away from the road, for

fear some passer by might come and steal them before Ulysses awoke;

and then they made the best of their way home again.

But Neptune did not forget the threats with which he had already

threatened Ulysses, so he took counsel with Jove. "Father Jove,"

said he, "I shall no longer be held in any sort of respect among you

gods, if mortals like the Phaeacians, who are my own flesh and

blood, show such small regard for me. I said I would Ulysses get

home when he had suffered sufficiently. I did not say that he should

never get home at all, for I knew you had already nodded your head

about it, and promised that he should do so; but now they have brought

him in a ship fast asleep and have landed him in Ithaca after

loading him with more magnificent presents of bronze, gold, and

raiment than he would ever have brought back from Troy, if he had

had his share of the spoil and got home without misadventure."

And Jove answered, "What, O Lord of the Earthquake, are you

talking about? The gods are by no means wanting in respect for you. It

would be monstrous were they to insult one so old and honoured as

you are. As regards mortals, however, if any of them is indulging in

insolence and treating you disrespectfully, it will always rest with

yourself to deal with him as you may think proper, so do just as you


"I should have done so at once," replied Neptune, "if I were not

anxious to avoid anything that might displease you; now, therefore,

I should like to wreck the Phaecian ship as it is returning from its

escort. This will stop them from escorting people in future; and I

should also like to bury their city under a huge mountain."

"My good friend," answered Jove, "I should recommend you at the very

moment when the people from the city are watching the ship on her way,

to turn it into a rock near the land and looking like a ship. This

will astonish everybody, and you can then bury their city under the


When earth-encircling Neptune heard this he went to Scheria where

the Phaecians live, and stayed there till the ship, which was making

rapid way, had got close-in. Then he went up to it, turned it into

stone, and drove it down with the flat of his hand so as to root it in

the ground. After this he went away.

The Phaeacians then began talking among themselves, and one would

turn towards his neighbour, saying, "Bless my heart, who is it that

can have rooted the ship in the sea just as she was getting into port?

We could see the whole of her only moment ago."

This was how they talked, but they knew nothing about it; and

Alcinous said, "I remember now the old prophecy of my father. He

said that Neptune would be angry with us for taking every one so

safely over the sea, and would one day wreck a Phaeacian ship as it

was returning from an escort, and bury our city under a high mountain.

This was what my old father used to say, and now it is all coming

true. Now therefore let us all do as I say; in the first place we must

leave off giving people escorts when they come here, and in the next

let us sacrifice twelve picked bulls to Neptune that he may have mercy

upon us, and not bury our city under the high mountain." When the

people heard this they were afraid and got ready the bulls.

Thus did the chiefs and rulers of the Phaecians to king Neptune,

standing round his altar; and at the same time Ulysses woke up once

more upon his own soil. He had been so long away that he did not

know it again; moreover, Jove's daughter Minerva had made it a foggy

day, so that people might not know of his having come, and that she

might tell him everything without either his wife or his fellow

citizens and friends recognizing him until he had taken his revenge

upon the wicked suitors. Everything, therefore, seemed quite different

to him- the long straight tracks, the harbours, the precipices, and

the goodly trees, appeared all changed as he started up and looked

upon his native land. So he smote his thighs with the flat of his

hands and cried aloud despairingly.

"Alas," he exclaimed, "among what manner of people am I fallen?

Are they savage and uncivilized or hospitable and humane? Where

shall I put all this treasure, and which way shall I go? I wish I

had stayed over there with the Phaeacians; or I could have gone to

some other great chief who would have been good to me and given me

an escort. As it is I do not know where to put my treasure, and I

cannot leave it here for fear somebody else should get hold of it.

In good truth the chiefs and rulers of the Phaeacians have not been

dealing fairly by me, and have left me in the wrong country; they said

they would take me back to Ithaca and they have not done so: may

Jove the protector of suppliants chastise them, for he watches over

everybody and punishes those who do wrong. Still, I suppose I must

count my goods and see if the crew have gone off with any of them."

He counted his goodly coppers and cauldrons, his gold and all his

clothes, but there was nothing missing; still he kept grieving about

not being in his own country, and wandered up and down by the shore of

the sounding sea bewailing his hard fate. Then Minerva came up to

him disguised as a young shepherd of delicate and princely mien,

with a good cloak folded double about her shoulders; she had sandals

on her comely feet and held a javelin in her hand. Ulysses was glad

when he saw her, and went straight up to her.

"My friend," said he, "you are the first person whom I have met with

in this country; I salute you, therefore, and beg you to be will

disposed towards me. Protect these my goods, and myself too, for I

embrace your knees and pray to you as though you were a god. Tell

me, then, and tell me truly, what land and country is this? Who are

its inhabitants? Am I on an island, or is this the sea board of some


Minerva answered, "Stranger, you must be very simple, or must have

come from somewhere a long way off, not to know what country this

is. It is a very celebrated place, and everybody knows it East and

West. It is rugged and not a good driving country, but it is by no

means a bid island for what there is of it. It grows any quantity of

corn and also wine, for it is watered both by rain and dew; it

breeds cattle also and goats; all kinds of timber grow here, and there

are watering places where the water never runs dry; so, sir, the

name of Ithaca is known even as far as Troy, which I understand to

be a long way off from this Achaean country."

Ulysses was glad at finding himself, as Minerva told him, in his own

country, and he began to answer, but he did not speak the truth, and

made up a lying story in the instinctive wiliness of his heart.

"I heard of Ithaca," said he, "when I was in Crete beyond the

seas, and now it seems I have reached it with all these treasures. I

have left as much more behind me for my children, but am flying

because I killed Orsilochus son of Idomeneus, the fleetest runner in

Crete. I killed him because he wanted to rob me of the spoils I had

got from Troy with so much trouble and danger both on the field of

battle and by the waves of the weary sea; he said I had not served his

father loyally at Troy as vassal, but had set myself up as an

independent ruler, so I lay in wait for him and with one of my

followers by the road side, and speared him as he was coming into town

from the country. my It was a very dark night and nobody saw us; it

was not known, therefore, that I had killed him, but as soon as I

had done so I went to a ship and besought the owners, who were

Phoenicians, to take me on board and set me in Pylos or in Elis

where the Epeans rule, giving them as much spoil as satisfied them.

They meant no guile, but the wind drove them off their course, and

we sailed on till we came hither by night. It was all we could do to

get inside the harbour, and none of us said a word about supper though

we wanted it badly, but we all went on shore and lay down just as we

were. I was very tired and fell asleep directly, so they took my goods

out of the ship, and placed them beside me where I was lying upon

the sand. Then they sailed away to Sidonia, and I was left here in

great distress of mind."

Such was his story, but Minerva smiled and caressed him with her

hand. Then she took the form of a woman, fair, stately, and wise,

"He must be indeed a shifty lying fellow," said she, "who could

surpass you in all manner of craft even though you had a god for

your antagonist. Dare-devil that you are, full of guile, unwearying in

deceit, can you not drop your tricks and your instinctive falsehood,

even now that you are in your own country again? We will say no

more, however, about this, for we can both of us deceive upon

occasion- you are the most accomplished counsellor and orator among

all mankind, while I for diplomacy and subtlety have no equal among

the gods. Did you not know Jove's daughter Minerva- me, who have

been ever with you, who kept watch over you in all your troubles,

and who made the Phaeacians take so great a liking to you? And now,

again, I am come here to talk things over with you, and help you to

hide the treasure I made the Phaeacians give you; I want to tell you

about the troubles that await you in your own house; you have got to

face them, but tell no one, neither man nor woman, that you have

come home again. Bear everything, and put up with every man's

insolence, without a word."

And Ulysses answered, "A man, goddess, may know a great deal, but

you are so constantly changing your appearance that when he meets

you it is a hard matter for him to know whether it is you or not. This

much, however, I know exceedingly well; you were very kind to me as

long as we Achaeans were fighting before Troy, but from the day on

which we went on board ship after having sacked the city of Priam, and

heaven dispersed us- from that day, Minerva, I saw no more of you, and

cannot ever remember your coming to my ship to help me in a

difficulty; I had to wander on sick and sorry till the gods

delivered me from evil and I reached the city of the Phaeacians, where

you encouraged me and took me into the town. And now, I beseech you in

your father's name, tell me the truth, for I do not believe I am

really back in Ithaca. I am in some other country and you are

mocking me and deceiving me in all you have been saying. Tell me

then truly, have I really got back to my own country?"

"You are always taking something of that sort into your head,"

replied Minerva, "and that is why I cannot desert you in your

afflictions; you are so plausible, shrewd and shifty. Any one but

yourself on returning from so long a voyage would at once have gone

home to see his wife and children, but you do not seem to care about

asking after them or hearing any news about them till you have

exploited your wife, who remains at home vainly grieving for you,

and having no peace night or day for the tears she sheds on your

behalf. As for my not coming near you, I was never uneasy about you,

for I was certain you would get back safely though you would lose

all your men, and I did not wish to quarrel with my uncle Neptune, who

never forgave you for having blinded his son. I will now, however,

point out to you the lie of the land, and you will then perhaps

believe me. This is the haven of the old merman Phorcys, and here is

the olive tree that grows at the head of it; [near it is the cave

sacred to the Naiads;] here too is the overarching cavern in which you

have offered many an acceptable hecatomb to the nymphs, and this is

the wooded mountain Neritum."

As she spoke the goddess dispersed the mist and the land appeared.

Then Ulysses rejoiced at finding himself again in his own land, and

kissed the bounteous soil; he lifted up his hands and prayed to the

nymphs, saying, "Naiad nymphs, daughters of Jove, I made sure that I

was never again to see you, now therefore I greet you with all

loving salutations, and I will bring you offerings as in the old days,

if Jove's redoubtable daughter will grant me life, and bring my son to


"Take heart, and do not trouble yourself about that," rejoined

Minerva, "let us rather set about stowing your things at once in the

cave, where they will be quite safe. Let us see how we can best manage

it all."

Therewith she went down into the cave to look for the safest

hiding places, while Ulysses brought up all the treasure of gold,

bronze, and good clothing which the Phaecians had given him. They

stowed everything carefully away, and Minerva set a stone against

the door of the cave. Then the two sat down by the root of the great

olive, and consulted how to compass the destruction of the wicked


"Ulysses," said Minerva, "noble son of Laertes, think how you can

lay hands on these disreputable people who have been lording it in

your house these three years, courting your wife and making wedding

presents to her, while she does nothing but lament your absence,

giving hope and sending your encouraging messages to every one of

them, but meaning the very opposite of all she says'

And Ulysses answered, "In good truth, goddess, it seems I should

have come to much the same bad end in my own house as Agamemnon did,

if you had not given me such timely information. Advise me how I shall

best avenge myself. Stand by my side and put your courage into my

heart as on the day when we loosed Troy's fair diadem from her brow.

Help me now as you did then, and I will fight three hundred men, if

you, goddess, will be with me."

"Trust me for that," said she, "I will not lose sight of you when

once we set about it, and I would imagine that some of those who are

devouring your substance will then bespatter the pavement with their

blood and brains. I will begin by disguising you so that no human

being shall know you; I will cover your body with wrinkles; you

shall lose all your yellow hair; I will clothe you in a garment that

shall fill all who see it with loathing; I will blear your fine eyes

for you, and make you an unseemly object in the sight of the

suitors, of your wife, and of the son whom you left behind you. Then

go at once to the swineherd who is in charge of your pigs; he has been

always well affected towards you, and is devoted to Penelope and

your son; you will find him feeding his pigs near the rock that is

called Raven by the fountain Arethusa, where they are fattening on

beechmast and spring water after their manner. Stay with him and

find out how things are going, while I proceed to Sparta and see

your son, who is with Menelaus at Lacedaemon, where he has gone to try

and find out whether you are still alive."

"But why," said Ulysses, "did you not tell him, for you knew all

about it? Did you want him too to go sailing about amid all kinds of

hardship while others are eating up his estate?"

Minerva answered, "Never mind about him, I sent him that he might be

well spoken of for having gone. He is in no sort of difficulty, but is

staying quite comfortably with Menelaus, and is surrounded with

abundance of every kind. The suitors have put out to sea and are lying

in wait for him, for they mean to kill him before he can get home. I

do not much think they will succeed, but rather that some of those who

are now eating up your estate will first find a grave themselves."

As she spoke Minerva touched him with her wand and covered him

with wrinkles, took away all his yellow hair, and withered the flesh

over his whole body; she bleared his eyes, which were naturally very

fine ones; she changed his clothes and threw an old rag of a wrap

about him, and a tunic, tattered, filthy, and begrimed with smoke; she

also gave him an undressed deer skin as an outer garment, and

furnished him with a staff and a wallet all in holes, with a twisted

thong for him to sling it over his shoulder.

When the pair had thus laid their plans they parted, and the goddess

went straight to Lacedaemon to fetch Telemachus.


Ulysses now left the haven, and took the rough track up through

the wooded country and over the crest of the mountain till he

reached the place where Minerva had said that he would find the

swineherd, who was the most thrifty servant he had. He found him

sitting in front of his hut, which was by the yards that he had

built on a site which could be seen from far. He had made them

spacious and fair to see, with a free ran for the pigs all round them;

he had built them during his master's absence, of stones which he

had gathered out of the ground, without saying anything to Penelope or

Laertes, and he had fenced them on top with thorn bushes. Outside

the yard he had run a strong fence of oaken posts, split, and set

pretty close together, while inside lie had built twelve sties near

one another for the sows to lie in. There were fifty pigs wallowing in

each sty, all of them breeding sows; but the boars slept outside and

were much fewer in number, for the suitors kept on eating them, and

die swineherd had to send them the best he had continually. There were

three hundred and sixty boar pigs, and the herdsman's four hounds,

which were as fierce as wolves, slept always with them. The

swineherd was at that moment cutting out a pair of sandals from a good

stout ox hide. Three of his men were out herding the pigs in one place

or another, and he had sent the fourth to town with a boar that he had

been forced to send the suitors that they might sacrifice it and

have their fill of meat.

When the hounds saw Ulysses they set up a furious barking and flew

at him, but Ulysses was cunning enough to sit down and loose his

hold of the stick that he had in his hand: still, he would have been

torn by them in his own homestead had not the swineherd dropped his ox

hide, rushed full speed through the gate of the yard and driven the

dogs off by shouting and throwing stones at them. Then he said to

Ulysses, "Old man, the dogs were likely to have made short work of

you, and then you would have got me into trouble. The gods have

given me quite enough worries without that, for I have lost the best

of masters, and am in continual grief on his account. I have to attend

swine for other people to eat, while he, if he yet lives to see the

light of day, is starving in some distant land. But come inside, and

when you have had your fill of bread and wine, tell me where you

come from, and all about your misfortunes."

On this the swineherd led the way into the hut and bade him sit

down. He strewed a good thick bed of rushes upon the floor, and on the

top of this he threw the shaggy chamois skin- a great thick one- on

which he used to sleep by night. Ulysses was pleased at being made

thus welcome, and said "May Jove, sir, and the rest of the gods

grant you your heart's desire in return for the kind way in which

you have received me."

To this you answered, O swineherd Eumaeus, "Stranger, though a still

poorer man should come here, it would not be right for me to insult

him, for all strangers and beggars are from Jove. You must take what

you can get and be thankful, for servants live in fear when they

have young lords for their masters; and this is my misfortune now, for

heaven has hindered the return of him who would have been always

good to me and given me something of my own- a house, a piece of land,

a good looking wife, and all else that a liberal master allows a

servant who has worked hard for him, and whose labour the gods have

prospered as they have mine in the situation which I hold. If my

master had grown old here he would have done great things by me, but

he is gone, and I wish that Helen's whole race were utterly destroyed,

for she has been the death of many a good man. It was this matter that

took my master to Ilius, the land of noble steeds, to fight the

Trojans in the cause of kin Agamemnon."

As he spoke he bound his girdle round him and went to the sties

where the young sucking pigs were penned. He picked out two which he

brought back with him and sacrificed. He singed them, cut them up, and

spitted on them; when the meat was cooked he brought it all in and set

it before Ulysses, hot and still on the spit, whereon Ulysses

sprinkled it over with white barley meal. The swineherd then mixed

wine in a bowl of ivy-wood, and taking a seat opposite Ulysses told

him to begin.

"Fall to, stranger," said he, "on a dish of servant's pork. The

fat pigs have to go to the suitors, who eat them up without shame or

scruple; but the blessed gods love not such shameful doings, and

respect those who do what is lawful and right. Even the fierce

free-booters who go raiding on other people's land, and Jove gives

them their spoil- even they, when they have filled their ships and got

home again live conscience-stricken, and look fearfully for judgement;

but some god seems to have told these people that Ulysses is dead

and gone; they will not, therefore, go back to their own homes and

make their offers of marriage in the usual way, but waste his estate

by force, without fear or stint. Not a day or night comes out of

heaven, but they sacrifice not one victim nor two only, and they

take the run of his wine, for he was exceedingly rich. No other

great man either in Ithaca or on the mainland is as rich as he was; he

had as much as twenty men put together. I will tell you what he had.

There are twelve herds of cattle upon the mainland, and as many flocks

of sheep, there are also twelve droves of pigs, while his own men

and hired strangers feed him twelve widely spreading herds of goats.

Here in Ithaca he runs even large flocks of goats on the far end of

the island, and they are in the charge of excellent goatherds. Each

one of these sends the suitors the best goat in the flock every day.

As for myself, I am in charge of the pigs that you see here, and I

have to keep picking out the best I have and sending it to them."

This was his story, but Ulysses went on eating and drinking

ravenously without a word, brooding his revenge. When he had eaten

enough and was satisfied, the swineherd took the bowl from which he

usually drank, filled it with wine, and gave it to Ulysses, who was

pleased, and said as he took it in his hands, "My friend, who was this

master of yours that bought you and paid for you, so rich and so

powerful as you tell me? You say he perished in the cause of King

Agamemnon; tell me who he was, in case I may have met with such a

person. Jove and the other gods know, but I may be able to give you

news of him, for I have travelled much."

Eumaeus answered, "Old man, no traveller who comes here with news

will get Ulysses' wife and son to believe his story. Nevertheless,

tramps in want of a lodging keep coming with their mouths full of

lies, and not a word of truth; every one who finds his way to Ithaca

goes to my mistress and tells her falsehoods, whereon she takes them

in, makes much of them, and asks them all manner of questions,

crying all the time as women will when they have lost their

husbands. And you too, old man, for a shirt and a cloak would

doubtless make up a very pretty story. But the wolves and birds of

prey have long since torn Ulysses to pieces, or the fishes of the

sea have eaten him, and his bones are lying buried deep in sand upon

some foreign shore; he is dead and gone, and a bad business it is

for all his friends- for me especially; go where I may I shall never

find so good a master, not even if I were to go home to my mother

and father where I was bred and born. I do not so much care,

however, about my parents now, though I should dearly like to see them

again in my own country; it is the loss of Ulysses that grieves me

most; I cannot speak of him without reverence though he is here no

longer, for he was very fond of me, and took such care of me that

whereever he may be I shall always honour his memory."

"My friend," replied Ulysses, "you are very positive, and very

hard of belief about your master's coming home again, nevertheless I

will not merely say, but will swear, that he is coming. Do not give me

anything for my news till he has actually come, you may then give me a

shirt and cloak of good wear if you will. I am in great want, but I

will not take anything at all till then, for I hate a man, even as I

hate hell fire, who lets his poverty tempt him into lying. I swear

by king Jove, by the rites of hospitality, and by that hearth of

Ulysses to which I have now come, that all will surely happen as I

have said it will. Ulysses will return in this self same year; with

the end of this moon and the beginning of the next he will be here

to do vengeance on all those who are ill treating his wife and son."

To this you answered, O swineherd Eumaeus, "Old man, you will

neither get paid for bringing good news, nor will Ulysses ever come

home; drink you wine in peace, and let us talk about something else.

Do not keep on reminding me of all this; it always pains me when any

one speaks about my honoured master. As for your oath we will let it

alone, but I only wish he may come, as do Penelope, his old father

Laertes, and his son Telemachus. I am terribly unhappy too about

this same boy of his; he was running up fast into manhood, and bade

fare to be no worse man, face and figure, than his father, but some

one, either god or man, has been unsettling his mind, so he has gone

off to Pylos to try and get news of his father, and the suitors are

lying in wait for him as he is coming home, in the hope of leaving the

house of Arceisius without a name in Ithaca. But let us say no more

about him, and leave him to be taken, or else to escape if the son

of Saturn holds his hand over him to protect him. And now, old man,

tell me your own story; tell me also, for I want to know, who you

are and where you come from. Tell me of your town and parents, what

manner of ship you came in, how crew brought you to Ithaca, and from

what country they professed to come- for you cannot have come by


And Ulysses answered, "I will tell you all about it. If there were

meat and wine enough, and we could stay here in the hut with nothing

to do but to eat and drink while the others go to their work, I

could easily talk on for a whole twelve months without ever

finishing the story of the sorrows with which it has pleased heaven to

visit me.

"I am by birth a Cretan; my father was a well-to-do man, who had

many sons born in marriage, whereas I was the son of a slave whom he

had purchased for a concubine; nevertheless, my father Castor son of

Hylax (whose lineage I claim, and who was held in the highest honour

among the Cretans for his wealth, prosperity, and the valour of his

sons) put me on the same level with my brothers who had been born in

wedlock. When, however, death took him to the house of Hades, his sons

divided his estate and cast lots for their shares, but to me they gave

a holding and little else; nevertheless, my valour enabled me to marry

into a rich family, for I was not given to bragging, or shirking on

the field of battle. It is all over now; still, if you look at the

straw you can see what the ear was, for I have had trouble enough

and to spare. Mars and Minerva made me doughty in war; when I had

picked my men to surprise the enemy with an ambuscade I never gave

death so much as a thought, but was the first to leap forward and

spear all whom I could overtake. Such was I in battle, but I did not

care about farm work, nor the frugal home life of those who would

bring up children. My delight was in ships, fighting, javelins, and

arrows- things that most men shudder to think of; but one man likes

one thing and another another, and this was what I was most

naturally inclined to. Before the Achaeans went to Troy, nine times

was I in command of men and ships on foreign service, and I amassed

much wealth. I had my pick of the spoil in the first instance, and

much more was allotted to me later on.

"My house grew apace and I became a great man among the Cretans, but

when Jove counselled that terrible expedition, in which so many

perished, the people required me and Idomeneus to lead their ships

to Troy, and there was no way out of it, for they insisted on our

doing so. There we fought for nine whole years, but in the tenth we

sacked the city of Priam and sailed home again as heaven dispersed us.

Then it was that Jove devised evil against me. I spent but one month

happily with my children, wife, and property, and then I conceived the

idea of making a descent on Egypt, so I fitted out a fine fleet and

manned it. I had nine ships, and the people flocked to fill them.

For six days I and my men made feast, and I found them many victims

both for sacrifice to the gods and for themselves, but on the

seventh day we went on board and set sail from Crete with a fair North

wind behind us though we were going down a river. Nothing went ill

with any of our ships, and we had no sickness on board, but sat

where we were and let the ships go as the wind and steersmen took

them. On the fifth day we reached the river Aegyptus; there I

stationed my ships in the river, bidding my men stay by them and

keep guard over them while I sent out scouts to reconnoitre from every

point of vantage.

"But the men disobeyed my orders, took to their own devices, and

ravaged the land of the Egyptians, killing the men, and taking their

wives and children captive. The alarm was soon carried to the city,

and when they heard the war cry, the people came out at daybreak

till the plain was filled with horsemen and foot soldiers and with the

gleam of armour. Then Jove spread panic among my men, and they would

no longer face the enemy, for they found themselves surrounded. The

Egyptians killed many of us, and took the rest alive to do forced

labour for them. Jove, however, put it in my mind to do thus- and I

wish I had died then and there in Egypt instead, for there was much

sorrow in store for me- I took off my helmet and shield and dropped my

spear from my hand; then I went straight up to the king's chariot,

clasped his knees and kissed them, whereon he spared my life, bade

me get into his chariot, and took me weeping to his own home. Many

made at me with their ashen spears and tried to kil me in their

fury, but the king protected me, for he feared the wrath of Jove the

protector of strangers, who punishes those who do evil.

"I stayed there for seven years and got together much money among

the Egyptians, for they all gave me something; but when it was now

going on for eight years there came a certain Phoenician, a cunning

rascal, who had already committed all sorts of villainy, and this

man talked me over into going with him to Phoenicia, where his house

and his possessions lay. I stayed there for a whole twelve months, but

at the end of that time when months and days had gone by till the same

season had come round again, he set me on board a ship bound for

Libya, on a pretence that I was to take a cargo along with him to that

place, but really that he might sell me as a slave and take the

money I fetched. I suspected his intention, but went on board with

him, for I could not help it.

"The ship ran before a fresh North wind till we had reached the

sea that lies between Crete and Libya; there, however, Jove counselled

their destruction, for as soon as we were well out from Crete and

could see nothing but sea and sky, he raised a black cloud over our

ship and the sea grew dark beneath it. Then Jove let fly with his

thunderbolts and the ship went round and round and was filled with

fire and brimstone as the lightning struck it. The men fell all into

the sea; they were carried about in the water round the ship looking

like so many sea-gulls, but the god presently deprived them of all

chance of getting home again. I was all dismayed; Jove, however,

sent the ship's mast within my reach, which saved my life, for I clung

to it, and drifted before the fury of the gale. Nine days did I

drift but in the darkness of the tenth night a great wave bore me on

to the Thesprotian coast. There Pheidon king of the Thesprotians

entertained me hospitably without charging me anything at all for

his son found me when I was nearly dead with cold and fatigue, whereon

he raised me by the hand, took me to his father's house and gave me

clothes to wear.

"There it was that I heard news of Ulysses, for the king told me

he had entertained him, and shown him much hospitality while he was on

his homeward journey. He showed me also the treasure of gold, and

wrought iron that Ulysses had got together. There was enough to keep

his family for ten generations, so much had he left in the house of

king Pheidon. But the king said Ulysses had gone to Dodona that he

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

after so long an absence he should return to Ithaca openly, or in

secret. Moreover the king swore in my presence, making drink-offerings

in his own house as he did so, that the ship was by the water side,

and the crew found, that should take him to his own country. He sent

me off however before Ulysses returned, for there happened to be a

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

and he told those in charge of her to be sure and take me safely to

King Acastus.

"These men hatched a plot against me that would have reduced me to

the very extreme of misery, for when the ship had got some way out

from land they resolved on selling me as a slave. They stripped me

of the shirt and cloak that I was wearing, and gave me instead the

tattered old clouts in which you now see me; then, towards

nightfall, they reached the tilled lands of Ithaca, and there they

bound me with a strong rope fast in the ship, while they went on shore

to get supper by the sea side. But the gods soon undid my bonds for

me, and having drawn my rags over my head I slid down the rudder

into the sea, where I struck out and swam till I was well clear of

them, and came ashore near a thick wood in which I lay concealed. They

were very angry at my having escaped and went searching about for

me, till at last they thought it was no further use and went back to

their ship. The gods, having hidden me thus easily, then took me to

a good man's door- for it seems that I am not to die yet awhile."

To this you answered, O swineherd Eumaeus, "Poor unhappy stranger, I

have found the story of your misfortunes extremely interesting, but

that part about Ulysses is not right; and you will never get me to

believe it. Why should a man like you go about telling lies in this

way? I know all about the return of my master. The gods one and all of

them detest him, or they would have taken him before Troy, or let

him die with friends around him when the days of his fighting were

done; for then the Achaeans would have built a mound over his ashes

and his son would have been heir to his renown, but now the storm

winds have spirited him away we know not whither.

"As for me I live out of the way here with the pigs, and never go to

the town unless when Penelope sends for me on the arrival of some news

about Ulysses. Then they all sit round and ask questions, both those

who grieve over the king's absence, and those who rejoice at it

because they can eat up his property without paying for it. For my own

part I have never cared about asking anyone else since the time when I

was taken in by an Aetolian, who had killed a man and come a long

way till at last he reached my station, and I was very kind to him. He

said he had seen Ulysses with Idomeneus among the Cretans, refitting

his ships which had been damaged in a gale. He said Ulysses would

return in the following summer or autumn with his men, and that he

would bring back much wealth. And now you, you unfortunate old man,

since fate has brought you to my door, do not try to flatter me in

this way with vain hopes. It is not for any such reason that I shall

treat you kindly, but only out of respect for Jove the god of

hospitality, as fearing him and pitying you."

Ulysses answered, "I see that you are of an unbelieving mind; I have

given you my oath, and yet you will not credit me; let us then make

a bargain, and call all the gods in heaven to witness it. If your

master comes home, give me a cloak and shirt of good wear, and send me

to Dulichium where I want to go; but if he does not come as I say he

will, set your men on to me, and tell them to throw me from yonder

precepice, as a warning to tramps not to go about the country

telling lies."

"And a pretty figure I should cut then," replied Eumaeus, both now

and hereafter, if I were to kill you after receiving you into my hut

and showing you hospitality. I should have to say my prayers in good

earnest if I did; but it is just supper time and I hope my men will

come in directly, that we may cook something savoury for supper."

Thus did they converse, and presently the swineherds came up with

the pigs, which were then shut up for the night in their sties, and

a tremendous squealing they made as they were being driven into

them. But Eumaeus called to his men and said, "Bring in the best pig

you have, that I may sacrifice for this stranger, and we will take

toll of him ourselves. We have had trouble enough this long time

feeding pigs, while others reap the fruit of our labour."

On this he began chopping firewood, while the others brought in a

fine fat five year old boar pig, and set it at the altar. Eumaeus

did not forget the gods, for he was a man of good principles, so the

first thing he did was to cut bristles from the pig's face and throw

them into the fire, praying to all the gods as he did so that

Ulysses might return home again. Then he clubbed the pig with a billet

of oak which he had kept back when he was chopping the firewood, and

stunned it, while the others slaughtered and singed it. Then they

cut it up, and Eumaeus began by putting raw pieces from each joint

on to some of the fat; these he sprinkled with barley meal, and laid

upon the embers; they cut the rest of the meat up small, put the

pieces upon the spits and roasted them till they were done; when

they had taken them off the spits they threw them on to the dresser in

a heap. The swineherd, who was a most equitable man, then stood up

to give every one his share. He made seven portions; one of these he

set apart for Mercury the son of Maia and the nymphs, praying to

them as he did so; the others he dealt out to the men man by man. He

gave Ulysses some slices cut lengthways down the loin as a mark of

especial honour, and Ulysses was much pleased. "I hope, Eumaeus," said

he, "that Jove will be as well disposed towards you as I am, for the

respect you are showing to an outcast like myself."

To this you answered, O swineherd Eumaeus, "Eat, my good fellow, and

enjoy your supper, such as it is. God grants this, and withholds that,

just as he thinks right, for he can do whatever he chooses."

As he spoke he cut off the first piece and offered it as a burnt

sacrifice to the immortal gods; then he made them a drink-offering,

put the cup in the hands of Ulysses, and sat down to his own

portion. Mesaulius brought them their bread; the swineherd had

bought this man on his own account from among the Taphians during

his master's absence, and had paid for him with his own money

without saying anything either to his mistress or Laertes. They then

laid their hands upon the good things that were before them, and

when they had had enough to eat and drink, Mesaulius took away what

was left of the bread, and they all went to bed after having made a

hearty supper.

Now the night came on stormy and very dark, for there was no moon.

It poured without ceasing, and the wind blew strong from the West,

which is a wet quarter, so Ulysses thought he would see whether

Eumaeus, in the excellent care he took of him, would take off his

own cloak and give it him, or make one of his men give him one.

"Listen to me," said he, "Eumaeus and the rest of you; when I have

said a prayer I will tell you something. It is the wine that makes

me talk in this way; wine will make even a wise man fall to singing;

it will make him chuckle and dance and say many a word that he had

better leave unspoken; still, as I have begun, I will go on. Would

that I were still young and strong as when we got up an ambuscade

before Troy. Menelaus and Ulysses were the leaders, but I was in

command also, for the other two would have it so. When we had come

up to the wall of the city we crouched down beneath our armour and lay

there under cover of the reeds and thick brush-wood that grew about

the swamp. It came on to freeze with a North wind blowing; the snow

fell small and fine like hoar frost, and our shields were coated thick

with rime. The others had all got cloaks and shirts, and slept

comfortably enough with their shields about their shoulders, but I had

carelessly left my cloak behind me, not thinking that I should be

too cold, and had gone off in nothing but my shirt and shield. When

the night was two-thirds through and the stars had shifted their their

places, I nudged Ulysses who was close to me with my elbow, and he

at once gave me his ear.

"'Ulysses,' said I, 'this cold will be the death of me, for I have

no cloak; some god fooled me into setting off with nothing on but my

shirt, and I do not know what to do.'

"Ulysses, who was as crafty as he was valiant, hit upon the

following plan:

"'Keep still,' said he in a low voice, 'or the others will hear

you.' Then he raised his head on his elbow.

"'My friends,' said he, 'I have had a dream from heaven in my sleep.

We are a long way from the ships; I wish some one would go down and

tell Agamemnon to send us up more men at once.'

"On this Thoas son of Andraemon threw off his cloak and set out

running to the ships, whereon I took the cloak and lay in it

comfortably enough till morning. Would that I were still young and

strong as I was in those days, for then some one of you swineherds

would give me a cloak both out of good will and for the respect due to

a brave soldier; but now people look down upon me because my clothes

are shabby."

And Eumaeus answered, "Old man, you have told us an excellent story,

and have said nothing so far but what is quite satisfactory; for the

present, therefore, you shall want neither clothing nor anything

else that a stranger in distress may reasonably expect, but

to-morrow morning you have to shake your own old rags about your

body again, for we have not many spare cloaks nor shirts up here,

but every man has only one. When Ulysses' son comes home again he will

give you both cloak and shirt, and send you wherever you may want to


With this he got up and made a bed for Ulysses by throwing some

goatskins and sheepskins on the ground in front of the fire. Here

Ulysses lay down, and Eumaeus covered him over with a great heavy

cloak that he kept for a change in case of extraordinarily bad


Thus did Ulysses sleep, and the young men slept beside him. But

the swineherd did not like sleeping away from his pigs, so he got

ready to go and Ulysses was glad to see that he looked after his

property during his master's absence. First he slung his sword over

his brawny shoulders and put on a thick cloak to keep out the wind. He

also took the skin of a large and well fed goat, and a javelin in case

of attack from men or dogs. Thus equipped he went to his rest where

the pigs were camping under an overhanging rock that gave them shelter

from the North wind.


But Minerva went to the fair city of Lacedaemon to tell Ulysses' son

that he was to return at once. She found him and Pisistratus

sleeping in the forecourt of Menelaus's house; Pisistratus was fast

asleep, but Telemachus could get no rest all night for thinking of his

unhappy father, so Minerva went close up to him and said:

"Telemachus, you should not remain so far away from home any longer,

nor leave your property with such dangerous people in your house; they

will eat up everything you have among them, and you will have been

on a fool's errand. Ask Menelaus to send you home at once if you

wish to find your excellent mother still there when you get back.

Her father and brothers are already urging her to marry Eurymachus,

who has given her more than any of the others, and has been greatly

increasing his wedding presents. I hope nothing valuable may have been

taken from the house in spite of you, but you know what women are-

they always want to do the best they can for the man who marries them,

and never give another thought to the children of their first husband,

nor to their father either when he is dead and done with. Go home,

therefore, and put everything in charge of the most respectable

woman servant that you have, until it shall please heaven to send

you a wife of your own. Let me tell you also of another matter which

you had better attend to. The chief men among the suitors are lying in

wait for you in the Strait between Ithaca and Samos, and they mean

to kill you before you can reach home. I do not much think they will

succeed; it is more likely that some of those who are now eating up

your property will find a grave themselves. Sail night and day, and

keep your ship well away from the islands; the god who watches over

you and protects you will send you a fair wind. As soon as you get

to Ithaca send your ship and men on to the town, but yourself go

straight to the swineherd who has charge your pigs; he is well

disposed towards you, stay with him, therefore, for the night, and

then send him to Penelope to tell her that you have got back safe from


Then she went back to Olympus; but Telemachus stirred Pisistratus

with his heel to rouse him, and said, "Wake up Pisistratus, and yoke

the horses to the chariot, for we must set off home."

But Pisistratus said, "No matter what hurry we are in we cannot

drive in the dark. It will be morning soon; wait till Menelaus has

brought his presents and put them in the chariot for us; and let him

say good-bye to us in the usual way. So long as he lives a guest

should never forget a host who has shown him kindness."

As he spoke day began to break, and Menelaus, who had already risen,

leaving Helen in bed, came towards them. When Telemachus saw him he

put on his shirt as fast as he could, threw a great cloak over his

shoulders, and went out to meet him. "Menelaus," said he, "let me go

back now to my own country, for I want to get home."

And Menelaus answered, "Telemachus, if you insist on going I will

not detain you. not like to see a host either too fond of his guest or

too rude to him. Moderation is best in all things, and not letting a

man go when he wants to do so is as bad as telling him to go if he

would like to stay. One should treat a guest well as long as he is

in the house and speed him when he wants to leave it. Wait, then, till

I can get your beautiful presents into your chariot, and till you have

yourself seen them. I will tell the women to prepare a sufficient

dinner for you of what there may be in the house; it will be at once

more proper and cheaper for you to get your dinner before setting

out on such a long journey. If, moreover, you have a fancy for

making a tour in Hellas or in the Peloponnese, I will yoke my

horses, and will conduct you myself through all our principal

cities. No one will send us away empty handed; every one will give

us something- a bronze tripod, a couple of mules, or a gold cup."

"Menelaus," replied Telemachus, "I want to go home at once, for when

I came away I left my property without protection, and fear that while

looking for my father I shall come to ruin myself, or find that

something valuable has been stolen during my absence."

When Menelaus heard this he immediately told his wife and servants

to prepare a sufficient dinner from what there might be in the

house. At this moment Eteoneus joined him, for he lived close by and

had just got up; so Menelaus told him to light the fire and cook

some meat, which he at once did. Then Menelaus went down into his

fragrant store room, not alone, but Helen went too, with

Megapenthes. When he reached the place where the treasures of his

house were kept, he selected a double cup, and told his son

Megapenthes to bring also a silver mixing-bowl. Meanwhile Helen went

to the chest where she kept the lovely dresses which she had made with

her own hands, and took out one that was largest and most

beautifully enriched with embroidery; it glittered like a star, and

lay at the very bottom of the chest. Then they all came back through

the house again till they got to Telemachus, and Menelaus said,

"Telemachus, may Jove, the mighty husband of Juno, bring you safely

home according to your desire. I will now present you with the

finest and most precious piece of plate in all my house. It is a

mixing-bowl of pure silver, except the rim, which is inlaid with gold,

and it is the work of Vulcan. Phaedimus king of the Sidonians made

me a present of it in the course of a visit that I paid him while I

was on my return home. I should like to give it to you."

With these words he placed the double cup in the hands of

Telemachus, while Megapenthes brought the beautiful mixing-bowl and

set it before him. Hard by stood lovely Helen with the robe ready in

her hand.

"I too, my son," said she, "have something for you as a keepsake

from the hand of Helen; it is for your bride to wear upon her

wedding day. Till then, get your dear mother to keep it for you;

thus may you go back rejoicing to your own country and to your home."

So saying she gave the robe over to him and he received it gladly.

Then Pisistratus put the presents into the chariot, and admired them

all as he did so. Presently Menelaus took Telemachus and Pisistratus

into the house, and they both of them sat down to table. A maid

servant brought them water in a beautiful golden ewer, and poured it

into a silver basin for them to wash their hands, and she drew a clean

table beside them; an upper servant brought them bread and offered

them many good things of what there was in the house. Eteoneus

carved the meat and gave them each their portions, while Megapenthes

poured out the wine. Then they laid their hands upon the good things

that were before them, but as soon as they had had had enough to eat

and drink Telemachus and Pisistratus yoked the horses, and took

their places in the chariot. They drove out through the inner

gateway and under the echoing gatehouse of the outer court, and

Menelaus came after them with a golden goblet of wine in his right

hand that they might make a drink-offering before they set out. He

stood in front of the horses and pledged them, saying, "Farewell to

both of you; see that you tell Nestor how I have treated you, for he

was as kind to me as any father could be while we Achaeans were

fighting before Troy."

"We will be sure, sir," answered Telemachus, "to tell him everything

as soon as we see him. I wish I were as certain of finding Ulysses

returned when I get back to Ithaca, that I might tell him of the

very great kindness you have shown me and of the many beautiful

presents I am taking with me."

As he was thus speaking a bird flew on his right hand- an eagle with

a great white goose in its talons which it had carried off from the

farm yard- and all the men and women were running after it and

shouting. It came quite close up to them and flew away on their

right hands in front of the horses. When they saw it they were glad,

and their hearts took comfort within them, whereon Pisistratus said,

"Tell me, Menelaus, has heaven sent this omen for us or for you?"

Menelaus was thinking what would be the most proper answer for him

to make, but Helen was too quick for him and said, "I will read this

matter as heaven has put it in my heart, and as I doubt not that it

will come to pass. The eagle came from the mountain where it was

bred and has its nest, and in like manner Ulysses, after having

travelled far and suffered much, will return to take his revenge- if

indeed he is not back already and hatching mischief for the suitors."

"May Jove so grant it," replied Telemachus; "if it should prove to

be so, I will make vows to you as though you were a god, even when I

am at home."

As he spoke he lashed his horses and they started off at full

speed through the town towards the open country. They swayed the

yoke upon their necks and travelled the whole day long till the sun

set and darkness was over all the land. Then they reached Pherae,

where Diocles lived who was son of Ortilochus, the son of Alpheus.

There they passed the night and were treated hospitably. When the

child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, they again yoked their

horses and their places in the chariot. They drove out through the

inner gateway and under the echoing gatehouse of the outer court. Then

Pisistratus lashed his horses on and they flew forward nothing

loath; ere long they came to Pylos, and then Telemachus said:

"Pisistratus, I hope you will promise to do what I am going to ask

you. You know our fathers were old friends before us; moreover, we are

both of an age, and this journey has brought us together still more

closely; do not, therefore, take me past my ship, but leave me

there, for if I go to your father's house he will try to keep me in

the warmth of his good will towards me, and I must go home at once."

Pisistratus thought how he should do as he was asked, and in the end

he deemed it best to turn his horses towards the ship, and put

Menelaus's beautiful presents of gold and raiment in the stern of

the vessel. Then he said, "Go on board at once and tell your men to do

so also before I can reach home to tell my father. I know how

obstinate he is, and am sure he will not let you go; he will come down

here to fetch you, and he will not go back without you. But he will be

very angry."

With this he drove his goodly steeds back to the city of the Pylians

and soon reached his home, but Telemachus called the men together

and gave his orders. "Now, my men," said he, "get everything in

order on board the ship, and let us set out home."

Thus did he speak, and they went on board even as he had said. But

as Telemachus was thus busied, praying also and sacrificing to Minerva

in the ship's stern, there came to him a man from a distant country, a

seer, who was flying from Argos because he had killed a man. He was

descended from Melampus, who used to live in Pylos, the land of sheep;

he was rich and owned a great house, but he was driven into exile by

the great and powerful king Neleus. Neleus seized his goods and held

them for a whole year, during which he was a close prisoner in the

house of king Phylacus, and in much distress of mind both on account

of the daughter of Neleus and because he was haunted by a great sorrow

that dread Erinyes had laid upon him. In the end, however, he

escaped with his life, drove the cattle from Phylace to Pylos, avenged

the wrong that had been done him, and gave the daughter of Neleus to

his brother. Then he left the country and went to Argos, where it

was ordained that he should reign over much people. There he

married, established himself, and had two famous sons Antiphates and

Mantius. Antiphates became father of Oicleus, and Oicleus of

Amphiaraus, who was dearly loved both by Jove and by Apollo, but he

did not live to old age, for he was killed in Thebes by reason of a

woman's gifts. His sons were Alcmaeon and Amphilochus. Mantius, the

other son of Melampus, was father to Polypheides and Cleitus.

Aurora, throned in gold, carried off Cleitus for his beauty's sake,

that he might dwell among the immortals, but Apollo made Polypheides

the greatest seer in the whole world now that Amphiaraus was dead.

He quarrelled with his father and went to live in Hyperesia, where

he remained and prophesied for all men.

His son, Theoclymenus, it was who now came up to Telemachus as he

was making drink-offerings and praying in his ship. "Friend'" said he,

"now that I find you sacrificing in this place, I beseech you by

your sacrifices themselves, and by the god to whom you make them, I

pray you also by your own head and by those of your followers, tell me

the truth and nothing but the truth. Who and whence are you? Tell me

also of your town and parents."

Telemachus said, "I will answer you quite truly. I am from Ithaca,

and my father is 'Ulysses, as surely as that he ever lived. But he has

come to some miserable end. Therefore I have taken this ship and got

my crew together to see if I can hear any news of him, for he has been

away a long time."

"I too," answered Theoclymenus, am an exile, for I have killed a man

of my own race. He has many brothers and kinsmen in Argos, and they

have great power among the Argives. I am flying to escape death at

their hands, and am thus doomed to be a wanderer on the face of the

earth. I am your suppliant; take me, therefore, on board your ship

that they may not kill me, for I know they are in pursuit."

"I will not refuse you," replied Telemachus, "if you wish to join

us. Come, therefore, and in Ithaca we will treat you hospitably

according to what we have."

On this he received Theoclymenus' spear and laid it down on the deck

of the ship. He went on board and sat in the stern, bidding

Theoclymenus sit beside him; then the men let go the hawsers.

Telemachus told them to catch hold of the ropes, and they made all

haste to do so. They set the mast in its socket in the cross plank,

raised it and made it fast with the forestays, and they hoisted

their white sails with sheets of twisted ox hide. Minerva sent them

a fair wind that blew fresh and strong to take the ship on her

course as fast as possible. Thus then they passed by Crouni and


Presently the sun set and darkness was over all the land. The vessel

made a quick pass sage to Pheae and thence on to Elis, where the

Epeans rule. Telemachus then headed her for the flying islands,

wondering within himself whether he should escape death or should be

taken prisoner.

Meanwhile Ulysses and the swineherd were eating their supper in

the hut, and the men supped with them. As soon as they had had to

eat and drink, Ulysses began trying to prove the swineherd and see

whether he would continue to treat him kindly, and ask him to stay

on at the station or pack him off to the city; so he said:

"Eumaeus, and all of you, to-morrow I want to go away and begin

begging about the town, so as to be no more trouble to you or to

your men. Give me your advice therefore, and let me have a good

guide to go with me and show me the way. I will go the round of the

city begging as I needs must, to see if any one will give me a drink

and a piece of bread. I should like also to go to the house of Ulysses

and bring news of her husband to queen Penelope. I could then go about

among the suitors and see if out of all their abundance they will give

me a dinner. I should soon make them an excellent servant in all sorts

of ways. Listen and believe when I tell you that by the blessing of

Mercury who gives grace and good name to the works of all men, there

is no one living who would make a more handy servant than I should- to

put fresh wood on the fire, chop fuel, carve, cook, pour out wine, and

do all those services that poor men have to do for their betters."

The swineherd was very much disturbed when he heard this. "Heaven

help me," he exclaimed, "what ever can have put such a notion as

that into your head? If you go near the suitors you will be undone

to a certainty, for their pride and insolence reach the very

heavens. They would never think of taking a man like you for a

servant. Their servants are all young men, well dressed, wearing

good cloaks and shirts, with well looking faces and their hair

always tidy, the tables are kept quite clean and are loaded with

bread, meat, and wine. Stay where you are, then; you are not in

anybody's way; I do not mind your being here, no more do any of the

others, and when Telemachus comes home he will give you a shirt and

cloak and will send you wherever you want to go."

Ulysses answered, "I hope you may be as dear to the gods as you

are to me, for having saved me from going about and getting into

trouble; there is nothing worse than being always ways on the tramp;

still, when men have once got low down in the world they will go

through a great deal on behalf of their miserable bellies. Since

however you press me to stay here and await the return of

Telemachus, tell about Ulysses' mother, and his father whom he left on

the threshold of old age when he set out for Troy. Are they still

living or are they already dead and in the house of Hades?"

"I will tell you all about them," replied Eumaeus, "Laertes is still

living and prays heaven to let him depart peacefully his own house,

for he is terribly distressed about the absence of his son, and also

about the death of his wife, which grieved him greatly and aged him

more than anything else did. She came to an unhappy end through sorrow

for her son: may no friend or neighbour who has dealt kindly by me

come to such an end as she did. As long as she was still living,

though she was always grieving, I used to like seeing her and asking

her how she did, for she brought me up along with her daughter

Ctimene, the youngest of her children; we were boy and girl

together, and she made little difference between us. When, however, we

both grew up, they sent Ctimene to Same and received a splendid

dowry for her. As for me, my mistress gave me a good shirt and cloak

with a pair of sandals for my feet, and sent me off into the

country, but she was just as fond of me as ever. This is all over now.

Still it has pleased heaven to prosper my work in the situation

which I now hold. I have enough to eat and drink, and can find

something for any respectable stranger who comes here; but there is no

getting a kind word or deed out of my mistress, for the house has

fallen into the hands of wicked people. Servants want sometimes to see

their mistress and have a talk with her; they like to have something

to eat and drink at the house, and something too to take back with

them into the country. This is what will keep servants in a good


Ulysses answered, "Then you must have been a very little fellow,

Eumaeus, when you were taken so far away from your home and parents.

Tell me, and tell me true, was the city in which your father and

mother lived sacked and pillaged, or did some enemies carry you off

when you were alone tending sheep or cattle, ship you off here, and

sell you for whatever your master gave them?"

"Stranger," replied Eumaeus, "as regards your question: sit still,

make yourself comfortable, drink your wine, and listen to me. The

nights are now at their longest; there is plenty of time both for

sleeping and sitting up talking together; you ought not to go to bed

till bed time, too much sleep is as bad as too little; if any one of

the others wishes to go to bed let him leave us and do so; he can then

take my master's pigs out when he has done breakfast in the morning.

We two will sit here eating and drinking in the hut, and telling one

another stories about our misfortunes; for when a man has suffered

much, and been buffeted about in the world, he takes pleasure in

recalling the memory of sorrows that have long gone by. As regards

your question, then, my tale is as follows:

"You may have heard of an island called Syra that lies over above

Ortygia, where the land begins to turn round and look in another

direction. It is not very thickly peopled, but the soil is good,

with much pasture fit for cattle and sheep, and it abounds with wine

and wheat. Dearth never comes there, nor are the people plagued by any

sickness, but when they grow old Apollo comes with Diana and kills

them with his painless shafts. It contains two communities, and the

whole country is divided between these two. My father Ctesius son of

Ormenus, a man comparable to the gods, reigned over both.

"Now to this place there came some cunning traders from Phoenicia

(for the Phoenicians are great mariners) in a ship which they had

freighted with gewgaws of all kinds. There happened to be a Phoenician

woman in my father's house, very tall and comely, and an excellent

servant; these scoundrels got hold of her one day when she was washing

near their ship, seduced her, and cajoled her in ways that no woman

can resist, no matter how good she may be by nature. The man who had

seduced her asked her who she was and where she came from, and on

this she told him her father's name. 'I come from Sidon,' said she,

'and am daughter to Arybas, a man rolling in wealth. One day as I

was coming into the town from the country some Taphian pirates

seized me and took me here over the sea, where they sold me to the man

who owns this house, and he gave them their price for me.'

"The man who had seduced her then said, 'Would you like to come

along with us to see the house of your parents and your parents

themselves? They are both alive and are said to be well off.'

"'I will do so gladly,' answered she, 'if you men will first swear

me a solemn oath that you will do me no harm by the way.'

"They all swore as she told them, and when they had completed

their oath the woman said, 'Hush; and if any of your men meets me in

the street or at the well, do not let him speak to me, for fear some

one should go and tell my master, in which case he would suspect

something. He would put me in prison, and would have all of you

murdered; keep your own counsel therefore; buy your merchandise as

fast as you can, and send me word when you have done loading. I will

bring as much gold as I can lay my hands on, and there is something

else also that I can do towards paying my fare. I am nurse to the

son of the good man of the house, a funny little fellow just able to

run about. I will carry him off in your ship, and you will get a great

deal of money for him if you take him and sell him in foreign parts.'

"On this she went back to the house. The Phoenicians stayed a

whole year till they had loaded their ship with much precious

merchandise, and then, when they had got freight enough, they sent

to tell the woman. Their messenger, a very cunning fellow, came to

my father's house bringing a necklace of gold with amber beads

strung among it; and while my mother and the servants had it in

their hands admiring it and bargaining about it, he made a sign

quietly to the woman and then went back to the ship, whereon she

took me by the hand and led me out of the house. In the fore part of

the house she saw the tables set with the cups of guests who had

been feasting with my father, as being in attendance on him; these

were now all gone to a meeting of the public assembly, so she snatched

up three cups and carried them off in the bosom of her dress, while

I followed her, for I knew no better. The sun was now set, and

darkness was over all the land, so we hurried on as fast as we could

till we reached the harbour, where the Phoenician ship was lying. When

they had got on board they sailed their ways over the sea, taking us

with them, and Jove sent then a fair wind; six days did we sail both

night and day, but on the seventh day Diana struck the woman and she

fell heavily down into the ship's hold as though she were a sea gull

alighting on the water; so they threw her overboard to the seals and

fishes, and I was left all sorrowful and alone. Presently the winds

and waves took the ship to Ithaca, where Laertes gave sundry of his

chattels for me, and thus it was that ever I came to set eyes upon

this country."

Ulysses answered, "Eumaeus, I have heard the story of your

misfortunes with the most lively interest and pity, but Jove has given

you good as well as evil, for in spite of everything you have a good

master, who sees that you always have enough to eat and drink; and you

lead a good life, whereas I am still going about begging my way from

city to city."

Thus did they converse, and they had only a very little time left

for sleep, for it was soon daybreak. In the meantime Telemachus and

his crew were nearing land, so they loosed the sails, took down the

mast, and rowed the ship into the harbour. They cast out their mooring

stones and made fast the hawsers; they then got out upon the sea

shore, mixed their wine, and got dinner ready. As soon as they had had

enough to eat and drink Telemachus said, "Take the ship on to the

town, but leave me here, for I want to look after the herdsmen on

one of my farms. In the evening, when I have seen all I want, I will

come down to the city, and to-morrow morning in return for your

trouble I will give you all a good dinner with meat and wine."

Then Theoclymenus said, 'And what, my dear young friend, is to

become of me? To whose house, among all your chief men, am I to

repair? or shall I go straight to your own house and to your mother?"

"At any other time," replied Telemachus, "I should have bidden you

go to my own house, for you would find no want of hospitality; at

the present moment, however, you would not be comfortable there, for I

shall be away, and my mother will not see you; she does not often show

herself even to the suitors, but sits at her loom weaving in an

upper chamber, out of their way; but I can tell you a man whose

house you can go to- I mean Eurymachus the son of Polybus, who is held

in the highest estimation by every one in Ithaca. He is much the

best man and the most persistent wooer, of all those who are paying

court to my mother and trying to take Ulysses' place. Jove, however,

in heaven alone knows whether or no they will come to a bad end before

the marriage takes place."

As he was speaking a bird flew by upon his right hand- a hawk,

Apollo's messenger. It held a dove in its talons, and the feathers, as

it tore them off, fell to the ground midway between Telemachus and the

ship. On this Theoclymenus called him apart and caught him by the

hand. "Telemachus," said he, "that bird did not fly on your right hand

without having been sent there by some god. As soon as I saw it I knew

it was an omen; it means that you will remain powerful and that

there will be no house in Ithaca more royal than your own."

"I wish it may prove so," answered Telemachus. "If it does, I will

show you so much good will and give you so many presents that all

who meet you will congratulate you."

Then he said to his friend Piraeus, "Piraeus, son of Clytius, you

have throughout shown yourself the most willing to serve me of all

those who have accompanied me to Pylos; I wish you would take this

stranger to your own house and entertain him hospitably till I can

come for him."

And Piraeus answered, "Telemachus, you may stay away as long as

you please, but I will look after him for you, and he shall find no

lack of hospitality."

As he spoke he went on board, and bade the others do so also and

loose the hawsers, so they took their places in the ship. But

Telemachus bound on his sandals, and took a long and doughty spear

with a head of sharpened bronze from the deck of the ship. Then they

loosed the hawsers, thrust the ship off from land, and made on towards

the city as they had been told to do, while Telemachus strode on as

fast as he could, till he reached the homestead where his countless

herds of swine were feeding, and where dwelt the excellent

swineherd, who was so devoted a servant to his master.


Meanwhile Ulysses and the swineherd had lit a fire in the hut and

were were getting breakfast ready at daybreak for they had sent the

men out with the pigs. When Telemachus came up, the dogs did not bark,

but fawned upon him, so Ulysses, hearing the sound of feet and

noticing that the dogs did not bark, said to Eumaeus:

"Eumaeus, I hear footsteps; I suppose one of your men or some one of

your acquaintance is coming here, for the dogs are fawning urn him and

not barking."

The words were hardly out of his mouth before his son stood at the

door. Eumaeus sprang to his feet, and the bowls in which he was mixing

wine fell from his hands, as he made towards his master. He kissed his

head and both his beautiful eyes, and wept for joy. A father could not

be more delighted at the return of an only son, the child of his old

age, after ten years' absence in a foreign country and after having

gone through much hardship. He embraced him, kissed him all over as

though he had come back from the dead, and spoke fondly to him saying:

"So you are come, Telemachus, light of my eyes that you are. When

I heard you had gone to Pylos I made sure I was never going to see you

any more. Come in, my dear child, and sit down, that I may have a good

look at you now you are home again; it is not very often you come into

the country to see us herdsmen; you stick pretty close to the town

generally. I suppose you think it better to keep an eye on what the

suitors are doing."

"So be it, old friend," answered Telemachus, "but I am come now

because I want to see you, and to learn whether my mother is still

at her old home or whether some one else has married her, so that

the bed of Ulysses is without bedding and covered with cobwebs."

"She is still at the house," replied Eumaeus, "grieving and breaking

her heart, and doing nothing but weep, both night and day


As spoke he took Telemachus' spear, whereon he crossed the stone

threshold and came inside. Ulysses rose from his seat to give him

place as he entered, but Telemachus checked him; "Sit down, stranger."

said he, "I can easily find another seat, and there is one here who

will lay it for me."

Ulysses went back to his own place, and Eumaeus strewed some green

brushwood on the floor and threw a sheepskin on top of it for

Telemachus to sit upon. Then the swineherd brought them platters of

cold meat, the remains from what they had eaten the day before, and he

filled the bread baskets with bread as fast as he could. He mixed wine

also in bowls of ivy-wood, and took his seat facing Ulysses. Then they

laid their hands on the good things that were before them, and as soon

as they had had enough to eat and drink Telemachus said to Eumaeus,

"Old friend, where does this stranger come from? How did his crew

bring him to Ithaca, and who were they?-for assuredly he did not

come here by land"'

To this you answered, O swineherd Eumaeus, "My son, I will tell

you the real truth. He says he is a Cretan, and that he has been a

great traveller. At this moment he is running away from a

Thesprotian ship, and has refuge at my station, so I will put him into

your hands. Do whatever you like with him, only remember that he is

your suppliant."

"I am very much distressed," said Telemachus, "by what you have just

told me. How can I take this stranger into my house? I am as yet

young, and am not strong enough to hold my own if any man attacks

me. My mother cannot make up her mind whether to stay where she is and

look after the house out of respect for public opinion and the

memory of her husband, or whether the time is now come for her to take

the best man of those who are wooing her, and the one who will make

her the most advantageous offer; still, as the stranger has come to

your station I will find him a cloak and shirt of good wear, with a

sword and sandals, and will send him wherever he wants to go. Or if

you like you can keep him here at the station, and I will send him

clothes and food that he may be no burden on you and on your men;

but I will not have him go near the suitors, for they are very

insolent, and are sure to ill-treat him in a way that would greatly

grieve me; no matter how valiant a man may be he can do nothing

against numbers, for they will be too strong for him."

Then Ulysses said, "Sir, it is right that I should say something

myself. I am much shocked about what you have said about the

insolent way in which the suitors are behaving in despite of such a

man as you are. Tell me, do you submit to such treatment tamely, or

has some god set your people against you? May you not complain of your

brothers- for it is to these that a man may look for support,

however great his quarrel may be? I wish I were as young as you are

and in my present mind; if I were son to Ulysses, or, indeed,

Ulysses himself, I would rather some one came and cut my head off, but

I would go to the house and be the bane of every one of these men.

If they were too many for me- I being single-handed- I would rather

die fighting in my own house than see such disgraceful sights day

after day, strangers grossly maltreated, and men dragging the women

servants about the house in an unseemly way, wine drawn recklessly,

and bread wasted all to no purpose for an end that shall never be


And Telemachus answered, "I will tell you truly everything. There is

no emnity between me and my people, nor can I complain of brothers, to

whom a man may look for support however great his quarrel may be. Jove

has made us a race of only sons. Laertes was the only son of

Arceisius, and Ulysses only son of Laertes. I am myself the only son

of Ulysses who left me behind him when he went away, so that I have

never been of any use to him. Hence it comes that my house is in the

hands of numberless marauders; for the chiefs from all the

neighbouring islands, Dulichium, Same, Zacynthus, as also all the

principal men of Ithaca itself, are eating up my house under the

pretext of paying court to my mother, who will neither say point blank

that she will not marry, nor yet bring matters to an end, so they

are making havoc of my estate, and before long will do so with

myself into the bargain. The issue, however, rests with heaven. But do

you, old friend Eumaeus, go at once and tell Penelope that I am safe

and have returned from Pylos. Tell it to herself alone, and then

come back here without letting any one else know, for there are many

who are plotting mischief against me."

"I understand and heed you," replied Eumaeus; "you need instruct

me no further, only I am going that way say whether I had not better

let poor Laertes know that you are returned. He used to superintend

the work on his farm in spite of his bitter sorrow about Ulysses,

and he would eat and drink at will along with his servants; but they

tell me that from the day on which you set out for Pylos he has

neither eaten nor drunk as he ought to do, nor does he look after

his farm, but sits weeping and wasting the flesh from off his bones."

"More's the pity," answered Telemachus, "I am sorry for him, but

we must leave him to himself just now. If people could have everything

their own way, the first thing I should choose would be the return

of my father; but go, and give your message; then make haste back

again, and do not turn out of your way to tell Laertes. Tell my mother

to send one of her women secretly with the news at once, and let him

hear it from her."

Thus did he urge the swineherd; Eumaeus, therefore, took his

sandals, bound them to his feet, and started for the town. Minerva

watched him well off the station, and then came up to it in the form

of a woman- fair, stately, and wise. She stood against the side of the

entry, and revealed herself to Ulysses, but Telemachus could not see

her, and knew not that she was there, for the gods do not let

themselves be seen by everybody. Ulysses saw her, and so did the dogs,

for they did not bark, but went scared and whining off to the other

side of the yards. She nodded her head and motioned to Ulysses with

her eyebrows; whereon he left the hut and stood before her outside the

main wall of the yards. Then she said to him:

"Ulysses, noble son of Laertes, it is now time for you to tell

your son: do not keep him in the dark any longer, but lay your plans

for the destruction of the suitors, and then make for the town. I will

not be long in joining you, for I too am eager for the fray."

As she spoke she touched him with her golden wand. First she threw a

fair clean shirt and cloak about his shoulders; then she made him

younger and of more imposing presence; she gave him back his colour,

filled out his cheeks, and let his beard become dark again. Then she

went away and Ulysses came back inside the hut. His son was

astounded when he saw him, and turned his eyes away for fear he

might be looking upon a god.

"Stranger," said he, "how suddenly you have changed from what you

were a moment or two ago. You are dressed differently and your

colour is not the same. Are you some one or other of the gods that

live in heaven? If so, be propitious to me till I can make you due

sacrifice and offerings of wrought gold. Have mercy upon me."

And Ulysses said, "I am no god, why should you take me for one? I am

your father, on whose account you grieve and suffer so much at the

hands of lawless men."

As he spoke he kissed his son, and a tear fell from his cheek on

to the ground, for he had restrained all tears till now. but

Telemachus could not yet believe that it was his father, and said:

"You are not my father, but some god is flattering me with vain

hopes that I may grieve the more hereafter; no mortal man could of

himself contrive to do as you have been doing, and make yourself old

and young at a moment's notice, unless a god were with him. A second

ago you were old and all in rags, and now you are like some god come

down from heaven."

Ulysses answered, "Telemachus, you ought not to be so immeasurably

astonished at my being really here. There is no other Ulysses who will

come hereafter. Such as I am, it is I, who after long wandering and

much hardship have got home in the twentieth year to my own country.

What you wonder at is the work of the redoubtable goddess Minerva, who

does with me whatever she will, for she can do what she pleases. At

one moment she makes me like a beggar, and the next I am a young man

with good clothes on my back; it is an easy matter for the gods who

live in heaven to make any man look either rich or poor."

As he spoke he sat down, and Telemachus threw his arms about his

father and wept. They were both so much moved that they cried aloud

like eagles or vultures with crooked talons that have been robbed of

their half fledged young by peasants. Thus piteously did they weep,

and the sun would have gone down upon their mourning if Telemachus had

not suddenly said, "In what ship, my dear father, did your crew

bring you to Ithaca? Of what nation did they declare themselves to be-

for you cannot have come by land?"

"I will tell you the truth, my son," replied Ulysses. "It was the

Phaeacians who brought me here. They are great sailors, and are in the

habit of giving escorts to any one who reaches their coasts. They took

me over the sea while I was fast asleep, and landed me in Ithaca,

after giving me many presents in bronze, gold, and raiment. These

things by heaven's mercy are lying concealed in a cave, and I am now

come here on the suggestion of Minerva that we may consult about

killing our enemies. First, therefore, give me a list of the

suitors, with their number, that I may learn who, and how many, they

are. I can then turn the matter over in my mind, and see whether we

two can fight the whole body of them ourselves, or whether we must

find others to help us."

To this Telemachus answered, "Father, I have always heard of your

renown both in the field and in council, but the task you talk of is a

very great one: I am awed at the mere thought of it; two men cannot

stand against many and brave ones. There are not ten suitors only, nor

twice ten, but ten many times over; you shall learn their number at

once. There are fifty-two chosen youths from Dulichium, and they

have six servants; from Same there are twenty-four; twenty young

Achaeans from Zacynthus, and twelve from Ithaca itself, all of them

well born. They have with them a servant Medon, a bard, and two men

who can carve at table. If we face such numbers as this, you may

have bitter cause to rue your coming, and your revenge. See whether

you cannot think of some one who would be willing to come and help


"Listen to me," replied Ulysses, "and think whether Minerva and

her father Jove may seem sufficient, or whether I am to try and find

some one else as well."

"Those whom you have named," answered Telemachus, "are a couple of

good allies, for though they dwell high up among the clouds they

have power over both gods and men."

"These two," continued Ulysses, "will not keep long out of the fray,

when the suitors and we join fight in my house. Now, therefore, return

home early to-morrow morning, and go about among the suitors as

before. Later on the swineherd will bring me to the city disguised

as a miserable old beggar. If you see them ill-treating me, steel your

heart against my sufferings; even though they drag me feet foremost

out of the house, or throw things at me, look on and do nothing beyond

gently trying to make them behave more reasonably; but they will not

listen to you, for the day of their reckoning is at hand.

Furthermore I say, and lay my saying to your heart, when Minerva shall

put it in my mind, I will nod my head to you, and on seeing me do this

you must collect all the armour that is in the house and hide it in

the strong store room. Make some excuse when the suitors ask you why

you are removing 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. But leave a sword and a spear

apiece for yourself and me, and a couple oxhide shields so that we can

snatch them up at any moment; Jove and Minerva will then soon quiet

these people. There is also another matter; if you are indeed my son

and my blood runs in your veins, let no one know that Ulysses is

within the house- neither Laertes, nor yet the swineherd, nor any of

the servants, nor even Penelope herself. Let you and me exploit the

women alone, and let us also make trial of some other of the men

servants, to see who is on our side and whose hand is against us."

"Father," replied Telemachus, "you will come to know me by and by,

and when you do you will find that I can keep your counsel. I do not

think, however, the plan you propose will turn out well for either

of us. Think it over. It will take us a long time to go the round of

the farms and exploit the men, and all the time the suitors will be

wasting your estate with impunity and without compunction. Prove the

women by all means, to see who are disloyal and who guiltless, but I

am not in favour of going round and trying the men. We can attend to

that later on, if you really have some sign from Jove that he will

support you."

Thus did they converse, and meanwhile the ship which had brought

Telemachus and his crew from Pylos had reached the town of Ithaca.

When they had come inside the harbour they drew the ship on to the

land; their servants came and took their armour from them, and they

left all the presents at the house of Clytius. Then they sent a

servant to tell Penelope that Telemachus had gone into the country,

but had sent the ship to the town to prevent her from being alarmed

and made unhappy. This servant and Eumaeus happened to meet when

they were both on the same errand of going to tell Penelope. When they

reached the House, the servant stood up and said to the queen in the

presence of the waiting women, "Your son, Madam, is now returned

from Pylos"; but Eumaeus went close up to Penelope, and said privately

that her son had given bidden him tell her. When he had given his

message he left the house with its outbuildings and went back to his

pigs again.

The suitors were surprised and angry at what had happened, so they

went outside the great wall that ran round the outer court, and held a

council near the main entrance. Eurymachus, son of Polybus, was the

first to speak.

"My friends," said he, "this voyage of Telemachus's is a very

serious matter; we had made sure that it would come to nothing. Now,

however, let us draw a ship into the water, and get a crew together to

send after the others and tell them to come back as fast as they can."

He had hardly done speaking when Amphinomus turned in his place

and saw the ship inside the harbour, with the crew lowering her sails,

and putting by their oars; so he laughed, and said to the others,

"We need not send them any message, for they are here. Some god must

have told them, or else they saw the ship go by, and could not

overtake her.

On this they rose and went to the water side. The crew then drew the

ship on shore; their servants took their armour from them, and they

went up in a body to the place of assembly, but they would not let any

one old or young sit along with them, and Antinous, son of

Eupeithes, spoke first.

"Good heavens," said he, "see how the gods have saved this man

from destruction. We kept a succession of scouts upon the headlands

all day long, and when the sun was down we never went on shore to

sleep, but waited in the ship all night till morning in the hope of

capturing and killing him; but some god has conveyed him home in spite

of us. Let us consider how we can make an end of him. He must not

escape us; our affair is never likely to come off while is alive,

for he is very shrewd, and public feeling is by no means all on our

side. We must make haste before he can call the Achaeans in

assembly; he will lose no time in doing so, for he will be furious

with us, and will tell all the world how we plotted to kill him, but

failed to take him. The people will not like this when they come to

know of it; we must see that they do us no hurt, nor drive us from our

own country into exile. Let us try and lay hold of him either on his

farm away from the town, or on the road hither. Then we can divide

up his property amongst us, and let his mother and the man who marries

her have the house. If this does not please you, and you wish

Telemachus to live on and hold his father's property, then we must not

gather here and eat up his goods in this way, but must make our offers

to Penelope each from his own house, and she can marry the man who

will give the most for her, and whose lot it is to win her."

They all held their peace until Amphinomus rose to speak. He was the

son of Nisus, who was son to king Aretias, and he was foremost among

all the suitors from the wheat-growing and well grassed island of

Dulichium; his conversation, moreover, was more agreeable to

Penelope than that of any of the other for he was a man of good

natural disposition. "My friends," said he, speaking to them plainly

and in all honestly, "I am not in favour of killing Telemachus. It

is a heinous thing to kill one who is of noble blood. Let us first

take counsel of the gods, and if the oracles of Jove advise it, I will

both help to kill him myself, and will urge everyone else to do so;

but if they dissuade us, I would have you hold your hands."

Thus did he speak, and his words pleased them well, so they rose

forthwith and went to the house of Ulysses where they took their

accustomed seats.

Then Penelope resolved that she would show herself to the suitors.

She knew of the plot against Telemachus, for the servant Medon had

overheard their counsels and had told her; she went down therefore

to the court attended by her maidens, and when she reached the suitors

she stood by one of the bearing-posts supporting the roof of the

cloister holding a veil before her face, and rebuked Antinous saying:

"Antinous, insolent and wicked schemer, they say you are the best

speaker and counsellor of any man your own age in Ithaca, but you

are nothing of the kind. Madman, why should you try to compass the

death of Telemachus, and take no heed of suppliants, whose witness

is Jove himself? It is not right for you to plot thus against one

another. Do you not remember how your father fled to this house in

fear of the people, who were enraged against him for having gone

with some Taphian pirates and plundered the Thesprotians who were at

peace with us? They wanted to tear him in pieces and eat up everything

he had, but Ulysses stayed their hands although they were

infuriated, and now you devour his property without paying for it, and

break my heart by his wooing his wife and trying to kill his son.

Leave off doing so, and stop the others also."

To this Eurymachus son of Polybus answered, "Take heart, Queen

Penelope daughter of Icarius, and do not trouble yourself about

these matters. The man is not yet born, nor never will be, who shall

lay hands upon your son Telemachus, while I yet live to look upon

the face of the earth. I say- and it shall surely be- that my spear

shall be reddened with his blood; for many a time has Ulysses taken me

on his knees, held wine up to my lips to drink, and put pieces of meat

into my hands. Therefore Telemachus is much the dearest friend I have,

and has nothing to fear from the hands of us suitors. Of course, if

death comes to him from the gods, he cannot escape it." He said this

to quiet her, but in reality he was plotting against Telemachus.

Then Penelope went upstairs again and mourned her husband till

Minerva shed sleep over her eyes. In the evening Eumaeus got back to

Ulysses and his son, who had just sacrificed a young pig of a year old

and were ready; helping one another to get supper ready; Minerva

therefore came up to Ulysses, turned him into an old man with a stroke

of her wand, and clad him in his old clothes again, for fear that

the swineherd might recognize him and not keep the secret, but go

and tell Penelope.

Telemachus was the first to speak. "So you have got back,

Eumaeus," said he. "What is the news of the town? Have the suitors

returned, or are they still waiting over yonder, to take me on my

way home?"

"I did not think of asking about that," replied Eumaeus, "when I was

in the town. I thought I would give my message and come back as soon

as I could. I met a man sent by those who had gone with you to

Pylos, and he was the first to tell the new your mother, but I can say

what I saw with my own eyes; I had just got on to the crest of the

hill of Mercury above the town when I saw a ship coming into harbour

with a number of men in her. They had many shields and spears, and I

thought it was the suitors, but I cannot be sure."

On hearing this Telemachus smiled to his father, but so that Eumaeus

could not see him.

Then, when they had finished their work and the meal was ready, they

ate it, and every man had his full share so that all were satisfied.

As soon as they had had enough to eat and drink, they laid down to

rest and enjoyed the boon of sleep.


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

Telemachus bound on his sandals and took a strong spear that suited

his hands, for he wanted to go into the city. "Old friend," said he to

the swineherd, "I will now go to the town and show myself to my

mother, for she will never leave off grieving till she has seen me. As

for this unfortunate stranger, take him to the town and let him beg

there of any one who will give him a drink and a piece of bread. I

have trouble enough of my own, and cannot be burdened with other

people. If this makes him angry so much the worse for him, but I

like to say what I mean."

Then Ulysses said, "Sir, I do not want to stay here; a beggar can

always do better in town than country, for any one who likes can

give him something. I am too old to care about remaining here at the

beck and call of a master. Therefore let this man do as you have

just told him, and take me to the town as soon as I have had a warm by

the fire, and the day has got a little heat in it. My clothes are

wretchedly thin, and this frosty morning I shall be perished with

cold, for you say the city is some way off."

On this Telemachus strode off through the yards, brooding his

revenge upon the When he reached home he stood his spear against a

bearing-post of the cloister, crossed the stone floor of the

cloister itself, and went inside.

Nurse Euryclea saw him long before any one else did. She was putting

the fleeces on to the seats, and she burst out crying as she ran up to

him; all the other maids came up too, and covered his head and

shoulders with their kisses. Penelope came out of her room looking

like Diana or Venus, and wept as she flung her arms about her son. She

kissed his forehead and both his beautiful eyes, "Light of my eyes,"

she cried as she spoke fondly to him, "so you are come home again; I

made sure I was never going to see you any more. To think of your

having gone off to Pylos without saying anything about it or obtaining

my consent. But come, tell me what you saw."

"Do not scold me, mother,' answered Telemachus, "nor vex me,

seeing what a narrow escape I have had, but wash your face, change

your dress, go upstairs with your maids, and promise full and

sufficient hecatombs to all the gods if Jove will only grant us our

revenge upon the suitors. I must now go to the place of assembly to

invite a stranger who has come back with me from Pylos. I sent him

on with my crew, and told Piraeus to take him home and look after

him till I could come for him myself."

She heeded her son's words, washed her face, changed her dress,

and vowed full and sufficient hecatombs to all the gods if they

would only vouchsafe her revenge upon the suitors.

Telemachus went through, and out of, the cloisters spear in hand-

not alone, for his two fleet dogs went with him. Minerva endowed him

with a presence of such divine comeliness that all marvelled at him as

he went by, and the suitors gathered round him with fair words in

their mouths and malice in their hearts; but he avoided them, and went

to sit with Mentor, Antiphus, and Halitherses, old friends of his

father's house, and they made him tell them all that had happened to

him. Then Piraeus came up with Theoclymenus, whom he had escorted

through the town to the place of assembly, whereon Telemachus at

once joined them. Piraeus was first to speak: "Telemachus," said he,

"I wish you would send some of your women to my house to take awa

the presents Menelaus gave you."

"We do not know, Piraeus," answered Telemachus, "what may happen. If

the suitors kill me in my own house and divide my property among them,

I would rather you had the presents than that any of those people

should get hold of them. If on the other hand I manage to kill them, I

shall be much obliged if you will kindly bring me my presents."

With these words he took Theoclymenus to his own house. When they

got there they laid their cloaks on the benches and seats, went into

the baths, and washed themselves. When the maids had washed and

anointed them, and had given them cloaks and shirts, they took their

seats at table. A maid servant then brought them water in a

beautiful golden ewer, and poured it into a silver basin for them to

wash their hands; and she drew a clean table beside them. An upper

servant brought them bread and offered them many good things of what

there was in the house. Opposite them sat Penelope, reclining on a

couch by one of the bearing-posts of the cloister, and spinning.

Then they laid their hands on the good things that were before them,

and as soon as they had had enough to eat and drink Penelope said:

"Telemachus, I shall go upstairs and lie down on that sad couch,

which I have not ceased to water with my tears, from the day Ulysses

set out for Troy with the sons of Atreus. You failed, however, to make

it clear to me before the suitors came back to the house, whether or

no you had been able to hear anything about the return of your


"I will tell you then truth," replied her son. "We went to Pylos and

saw Nestor, who took me to his house and treated me as hospitably as

though I were a son of his own who had just returned after a long

absence; so also did his sons; but he said he had not heard a word

from any human being about Ulysses, whether he was alive or dead. He

sent me, therefore, with a chariot and horses to Menelaus. There I saw

Helen, for whose sake so many, both Argives and Trojans, were in

heaven's wisdom doomed to suffer. Menelaus asked me what it was that

had brought me to Lacedaemon, and I told him the whole truth,

whereon he said, 'So, then, these cowards would usurp a brave man's

bed? A hind might as well lay her new-born young in the lair of a

lion, and then go off to feed in the forest or in some grassy dell.

The lion, when he comes back to his lair, will make short work with

the pair of them, and so will Ulysses with these suitors. By father

Jove, Minerva, and Apollo, if Ulysses is still the man that he was

when he wrestled with Philomeleides in Lesbos, and threw him so

heavily that all the Greeks cheered him- if he is still such, and were

to come near these suitors, they would have a short shrift and a sorry

wedding. As regards your question, however, I will not prevaricate nor

deceive you, but what the old man of the sea told me, so much will I

tell you in full. He said he could see Ulysses on an island

sorrowing bitterly in the house of the nymph Calypso, who was

keeping him prisoner, and he could not reach his home, for he had no

ships nor sailors to take him over the sea.' This was what Menelaus

told me, and when I had heard his story I came away; the gods then

gave me a fair wind and soon brought me safe home again."

With these words he moved the heart of Penelope. Then Theoclymenus

said to her:

"Madam, wife of Ulysses, Telemachus does not understand these

things; listen therefore to me, for I can divine them surely, and will

hide nothing from you. May Jove the king of heaven be my witness,

and the rites of hospitality, with that hearth of Ulysses to which I

now come, that Ulysses himself is even now in Ithaca, and, either

going about the country or staying in one place, is enquiring into all

these evil deeds and preparing a day of reckoning for the suitors. I

saw an omen when I was on the ship which meant this, and I told

Telemachus about it."

"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."

Thus did they converse. Meanwhile the suitors were throwing discs,

or aiming with spears at a mark on the levelled ground in front of the

house, and behaving with all their old insolence. But when it was

now time for dinner, and the flock of sheep and goats had come into

the town from all the country round, with their shepherds as usual,

then Medon, who was their favourite servant, and who waited upon

them at table, said, "Now then, my young masters, you have had

enough sport, so come inside that we may get dinner ready. Dinner is

not a bad thing, at dinner time."

They left their sports as he told them, and when they were within

the house, they laid their cloaks on the benches and seats inside, and

then sacrificed some sheep, goats, pigs, and a heifer, all of them fat

and well grown. Thus they made ready for their meal. In the meantime

Ulysses and the swineherd were about starting for the town, and the

swineherd said, "Stranger, I suppose you still want to go to town

to-day, as my master said you were to do; for my own part I should

have liked you to stay here as a station hand, but I must do as my

master tells me, or he will scold me later on, and a scolding from

one's master is a very serious thing. Let us then be off, for it is

now broad day; it will be night again directly and then you will

find it colder."

"I know, and understand you," replied Ulysses; "you need say no

more. Let us be going, but if you have a stick ready cut, let me

have it to walk with, for you say the road is a very rough one."

As he spoke he threw his shabby old tattered wallet over his

shoulders, by the cord from which it hung, and Eumaeus gave him a

stick to his liking. The two then started, leaving the station in

charge of the dogs and herdsmen who remained behind; the swineherd led

the way and his master followed after, looking like some broken-down

old tramp as he leaned upon his staff, and his clothes were all in

rags. When they had got over the rough steep ground and were nearing

the city, they reached the fountain from which the citizens drew their

water. This had been made by Ithacus, Neritus, and Polyctor. There was

a grove of water-loving poplars planted in a circle all round it,

and the clear cold water came down to it from a rock high up, while

above the fountain there was an altar to the nymphs, at which all

wayfarers used to sacrifice. Here Melanthius son of Dolius overtook

them as he was driving down some goats, the best in his flock, for the

suitors' dinner, and there were two shepherds with him. When he saw

Eumaeus and Ulysses he reviled them with outrageous and unseemly

language, which made Ulysses very angry.

"There you go," cried he, "and a precious pair you are. See how

heaven brings birds of the same feather to one another. Where, pray,

master swineherd, are you taking this poor miserable object? It

would make any one sick to see such a creature at table. A fellow like

this never won a prize for anything in his life, but will go about

rubbing his shoulders against every man's door post, and begging,

not for swords and cauldrons like a man, but only for a few scraps not

worth begging for. If you would give him to me for a hand on my

station, he might do to clean out the folds, or bring a bit of sweet

feed to the kids, and he could fatten his thighs as much as he pleased

on whey; but he has taken to bad ways and will not go about any kind

of work; he will do nothing but beg victuals all the town over, to

feed his insatiable belly. I say, therefore and it shall surely be- if

he goes near Ulysses' house he will get his head broken by the

stools they will fling at him, till they turn him out."

On this, as he passed, he gave Ulysses a kick on the hip out of pure

wantonness, but Ulysses stood firm, and did not budge from the path.

For a moment he doubted whether or no to fly at Melanthius and kill

him with his staff, or fling him to the ground and beat his brains

out; he resolved, however, to endure it and keep himself in check, but

the swineherd looked straight at Melanthius and rebuked him, lifting

up his hands and praying to heaven as he did so.

"Fountain nymphs," he cried, "children of Jove, if ever Ulysses

burned you thigh bones covered with fat whether of lambs or kids,

grant my prayer that heaven may send him home. He would soon put an

end to the swaggering threats with which such men as you go about

insulting people-gadding all over the town while your flocks are going

to ruin through bad shepherding."

Then Melanthius the goatherd answered, "You ill-conditioned cur,

what are you talking about? Some day or other I will put you on

board ship and take you to a foreign country, where I can sell you and

pocket the money you will fetch. I wish I were as sure that Apollo

would strike Telemachus dead this very day, or that the suitors

would kill him, as I am that Ulysses will never come home again."

With this he left them to come on at their leisure, while he went

quickly forward and soon reached the house of his master. When he

got there he went in and took his seat among the suitors opposite

Eurymachus, who liked him better than any of the others. The

servants brought him a portion of meat, and an upper woman servant set

bread before him that he might eat. Presently Ulysses and the

swineherd came up to the house and stood by it, amid a sound of music,

for Phemius was just beginning to sing to the suitors. Then Ulysses

took hold of the swineherd's hand, and said:

"Eumaeus, this house of Ulysses is a very fine place. No matter

how far you go you will find few like it. One building keeps following

on after another. The outer court has a wall with battlements all

round it; the doors are double folding, and of good workmanship; it

would be a hard matter to take it by force of arms. I perceive, too,

that there are many people banqueting within it, for there is a

smell of roast meat, and I hear a sound of music, which the gods

have made to go along with feasting."

Then Eumaeus said, "You have perceived aright, as indeed you

generally do; but let us think what will be our best course. Will

you go inside first and join the suitors, leaving me here behind

you, or will you wait here and let me go in first? But do not wait

long, or some one may you loitering about outside, and throw something

at you. Consider this matter I pray you."

And Ulysses answered, "I understand and heed. Go in first and

leave me here where I am. I am quite used to being beaten and having

things thrown at me. I have been so much buffeted about in war and

by sea that I am case-hardened, and this too may go with the rest. But

a man cannot hide away the cravings of a hungry belly; this is an

enemy which gives much trouble to all men; it is because of this

that ships are fitted out to sail the seas, and to make war upon other


As they were thus talking, a dog that had been lying asleep raised

his head and pricked up his ears. This was Argos, whom Ulysses had

bred before setting out for Troy, but he had never had any work out of

him. In the old days he used to be taken out by the young men when

they went hunting wild goats, or deer, or hares, but now that his

master was gone he was lying neglected on the heaps of mule and cow

dung that lay in front of the stable doors till the men should come

and draw it away to manure the great close; and he was full of

fleas. As soon as he saw Ulysses standing there, he dropped his ears

and wagged his tail, but he could not get close up to his master. When

Ulysses saw the dog on the other side of the yard, dashed a tear

from his eyes without Eumaeus seeing it, and said:

"Eumaeus, what a noble hound that is over yonder on the manure heap:

his build is splendid; is he as fine a fellow as he looks, or is he

only one of those dogs that come begging about a table, and are kept

merely for show?"

"This hound," answered Eumaeus, "belonged to him who has died in a

far country. If he were what he was when Ulysses left for Troy, he

would soon show you what he could do. There was not a wild beast in

the forest that could get away from him when he was once on its

tracks. But now he has fallen on evil times, for his master is dead

and gone, and the women take no care of him. Servants never do their

work when their master's hand is no longer over them, for Jove takes

half the goodness out of a man when he makes a slave of him."

As he spoke he went inside the buildings to the cloister where the

suitors were, but Argos died as soon as he had recognized his master.

Telemachus saw Eumaeus long before any one else did, and beckoned

him to come and sit beside him; so he looked about and saw a seat

lying near where the carver sat serving out their portions to the

suitors; he picked it up, brought it to Telemachus's table, and sat

down opposite him. Then the servant brought him his portion, and

gave him bread from the bread-basket.

Immediately afterwards Ulysses came inside, looking like a poor

miserable old beggar, leaning on his staff and with his clothes all in

rags. He sat down upon the threshold of ash-wood just inside the doors

leading from the outer to the inner court, and against a

bearing-post of cypress-wood which the carpenter had skillfully

planed, and had made to join truly with rule and line. Telemachus took

a whole loaf from the bread-basket, with as much meat as he could hold

in his two hands, and said to Eumaeus, "Take this to the stranger, and

tell him to go the round of the suitors, and beg from them; a beggar

must not be shamefaced."

So Eumaeus went up to him and said, "Stranger, Telemachus sends

you this, and says you are to go the round of the suitors begging, for

beggars must not be shamefaced."

Ulysses answered, "May King Jove grant all happiness to

Telemachus, and fulfil the desire of his heart."

Then with both hands he took what Telemachus had sent him, and

laid it on the dirty old wallet at his feet. He went on eating it

while the bard was singing, and had just finished his dinner as he

left off. The suitors applauded the bard, whereon Minerva went up to

Ulysses and prompted him to beg pieces of bread from each one of the

suitors, that he might see what kind of people they were, and tell the

good from the bad; but come what might she was not going to save a

single one of them. Ulysses, therefore, went on his round, going

from left to right, and stretched out his hands to beg as though he

were a real beggar. Some of them pitied him, and were curious about

him, asking one another who he was and where he came from; whereon the

goatherd Melanthius said, "Suitors of my noble mistress, I can tell

you something about him, for I have seen him before. The swineherd

brought him here, but I know nothing about the man himself, nor

where he comes from."

On this Antinous began to abuse the swineherd. "You precious idiot,"

he cried, "what have you brought this man to town for? Have we not

tramps and beggars enough already to pester us as we sit at meat? Do

you think it a small thing that such people gather here to waste

your master's property and must you needs bring this man as well?"

And Eumaeus answered, "Antinous, your birth is good but your words

evil. It was no doing of mine that he came here. Who is likely to

invite a stranger from a foreign country, unless it be one of those

who can do public service as a seer, a healer of hurts, a carpenter,

or a bard who can charm us with his Such men are welcome all the world

over, but no one is likely to ask a beggar who will only worry him.

You are always harder on Ulysses' servants than any of the other

suitors are, and above all on me, but I do not care so long as

Telemachus and Penelope are alive and here."

But Telemachus said, "Hush, do not answer him; Antinous has the

bitterest tongue of all the suitors, and he makes the others worse."

Then turning to Antinous he said, "Antinous, you take as much care

of my interests as though I were your son. Why should you want to

see this stranger turned out of the house? Heaven forbid; take'

something and give it him yourself; I do not grudge it; I bid you take

it. Never mind my mother, nor any of the other servants in the

house; but I know you will not do what I say, for you are more fond of

eating things yourself than of giving them to other people."

"What do you mean, Telemachus," replied Antinous, "by this

swaggering talk? If all the suitors were to give him as much as I

will, he would not come here again for another three months."

As he spoke he drew the stool on which he rested his dainty feet

from under the table, and made as though he would throw it at Ulysses,

but the other suitors all gave him something, and filled his wallet

with bread and meat; he was about, therefore, to go back to the

threshold and eat what the suitors had given him, but he first went up

to Antinous and said:

"Sir, give me something; you are not, surely, the poorest man

here; you seem to be a chief, foremost among them all; therefore you

should be the better giver, and I will tell far and wide of your

bounty. 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. He sent me with

a band of roving robbers to Egypt; it was a long voyage and I was

undone by it. I stationed my bade ships in the river Aegyptus, and

bade my men stay by them and keep guard over them, while sent out

scouts to reconnoitre from every point of vantage.

"But the men disobeyed my orders, took to their own devices, and

ravaged the land of the Egyptians, killing the men, and taking their

wives and children captives. The alarm was soon carried to the city,

and when they heard the war-cry, the people came out at daybreak

till the plain was filled with soldiers horse and foot, and with the

gleam of armour. Then Jove spread panic among my men, and they would

no longer face the enemy, for they found themselves surrounded. The

Egyptians killed many of us, and took the rest alive to do forced

labour for them; as for myself, they gave me to a friend who met them,

to take to Cyprus, Dmetor by name, son of Iasus, who was a great man

in Cyprus. Thence I am come hither in a state of great misery."

Then Antinous said, "What god can have sent such a pestilence to

plague us during our dinner? Get out, into the open part of the court,

or I will give you Egypt and Cyprus over again for your insolence

and importunity; you have begged of all the others, and they have

given you lavishly, for they have abundance round them, and it is easy

to be free with other people's property when there is plenty of it."

On this Ulysses began to move off, and said, "Your looks, my fine

sir, are better than your breeding; if you were in your own house

you would not spare a poor man so much as a pinch of salt, for

though you are in another man's, and surrounded with abundance, you

cannot find it in you to give him even a piece of bread."

This made Antinous very angry, and he scowled at him saying, "You

shall pay for this before you get clear of the court." With these

words he threw a footstool at him, and hit him on the right

shoulder-blade near the top of his back. Ulysses stood firm as a

rock and the blow did not even stagger him, but he shook his head in

silence as he brooded on his revenge. Then he went back to the

threshold and sat down there, laying his well-filled wallet at his


"Listen to me," he cried, "you suitors of Queen Penelope, that I may

speak even as I am minded. A man knows neither ache nor pain if he

gets hit while fighting for his money, or for his sheep or his cattle;

and even so Antinous has hit me while in the service of my miserable

belly, which is always getting people into trouble. Still, if the poor

have gods and avenging deities at all, I pray them that Antinous may

come to a bad end before his marriage."

"Sit where you are, and eat your victuals in silence, or be off

elsewhere," shouted Antinous. "If you say more I will have you dragged

hand and foot through the courts, and the servants shall flay you


The other suitors were much displeased at this, and one of the young

men said, "Antinous, you did ill in striking that poor wretch of a

tramp: it will be worse for you if he should turn out to be some

god- and we know the gods go about disguised in all sorts of ways as

people from foreign countries, and travel about the world to see who

do amiss and who righteously."

Thus said the suitors, but Antinous paid them no heed. Meanwhile

Telemachus was furious about the blow that had been given to his

father, and though no tear fell from him, he shook his head in silence

and brooded on his revenge.

Now when Penelope heard that the beggar had been struck in the

banqueting-cloister, she said before her maids, "Would that Apollo

would so strike you, Antinous," and her waiting woman Eurynome

answered, "If our prayers were answered not one of the suitors would

ever again see the sun rise." Then Penelope said, "Nurse, I hate every

single one of them, for they mean nothing but mischief, but I hate

Antinous like the darkness of death itself. A poor unfortunate tramp

has come begging about the house for sheer want. Every one else has

given him something to put in his wallet, but Antinous has hit him

on the right shoulder-blade with a footstool."

Thus did she talk with her maids as she sat in her own room, and

in the meantime Ulysses was getting his dinner. Then she called for

the swineherd and said, "Eumaeus, go and tell the stranger to come

here, I want to see him and ask him some questions. He seems to have

travelled much, and he may have seen or heard something of my

unhappy husband."

To this you answered, O swineherd Eumaeus, "If these Achaeans,

Madam, would only keep quiet, you would be charmed with the history of

his adventures. I had him three days and three nights with me in my

hut, which was the first place he reached after running away from

his ship, and he has not yet completed the story of his misfortunes.

If he had been the most heaven-taught minstrel in the whole world,

on whose lips all hearers hang entranced, I could not have been more

charmed as I sat in my hut and listened to him. He says there is an

old friendship between his house and that of Ulysses, and that he

comes from Crete where the descendants of Minos live, after having

been driven hither and thither by every kind of misfortune; he also

declares that he has heard of Ulysses as being alive and near at

hand among the Thesprotians, and that he is bringing great wealth home

with him."

"Call him here, then," said Penelope, "that I too may hear his

story. As for the suitors, let them take their pleasure indoors or out

as they will, for they have nothing to fret about. Their corn and wine

remain unwasted in their houses with none but servants to consume

them, while they keep hanging about our house day after day

sacrificing our oxen, sheep, and fat goats for their banquets, and

never giving so much as a thought to the quantity of wine they

drink. No estate can stand such recklessness, for we have now no

Ulysses to protect us. If he were to come again, he and his son

would soon have their revenge."

As she spoke Telemachus sneezed so loudly that the whole house

resounded with it. Penelope laughed when she heard this, and said to

Eumaeus, "Go and call the stranger; did you not hear how my son

sneezed just as I was speaking? This can only mean that all the

suitors are going to be killed, and that not one of them shall escape.

Furthermore I say, and lay my saying to your heart: if I am

satisfied that the stranger is speaking the truth I shall give him a

shirt and cloak of good wear."

When Eumaeus heard this he went straight to Ulysses and said,

"Father stranger, my mistress Penelope, mother of Telemachus, has sent

for you; she is in great grief, but she wishes to hear anything you

can tell her about her husband, and if she is satisfied that you are

speaking the truth, she will give you a shirt and cloak, which are the

very things that you are most in want of. As for bread, you can get

enough of that to fill your belly, by begging about the town, and

letting those give that will."

"I will tell Penelope," answered Ulysses, "nothing but what is

strictly true. I know all about her husband, and have been partner

with him in affliction, but I am afraid of passing. through this crowd

of cruel suitors, for their pride and insolence reach heaven. Just

now, moreover, as I was going about the house without doing any

harm, a man gave me a blow that hurt me very much, but neither

Telemachus nor any one else defended me. Tell Penelope, therefore,

to be patient and wait till sundown. Let her give me a seat close up

to the fire, for my clothes are worn very thin- you know they are, for

you have seen them ever since I first asked you to help me- she can

then ask me about the return of her husband."

The swineherd went back when he heard this, and Penelope said as she

saw him cross the threshold, "Why do you not bring him here,

Eumaeus? Is he afraid that some one will ill-treat him, or is he shy

of coming inside the house at all? Beggars should not be shamefaced."

To this you answered, O swineherd Eumaeus, "The stranger is quite

reasonable. He is avoiding the suitors, and is only doing what any one

else would do. He asks you to wait till sundown, and it will be much

better, madam, that you should have him all to yourself, when you

can hear him and talk to him as you will."

"The man is no fool," answered Penelope, "it would very likely be as

he says, for there are no such abominable people in the whole world as

these men are."

When she had done speaking Eumaeus went back to the suitors, for

he had explained everything. Then he went up to Telemachus and said in

his ear so that none could overhear him, "My dear sir, I will now go

back to the pigs, to see after your property and my own business.

You will look to what is going on here, but above all be careful to

keep out of danger, for there are many who bear you ill will. May Jove

bring them to a bad end before they do us a mischief."

"Very well," replied Telemachus, "go home when you have had your

dinner, and in the morning come here with the victims we are to

sacrifice for the day. Leave the rest to heaven and me."

On this Eumaeus took his seat again, and when he had finished his

dinner he left the courts and the cloister with the men at table,

and went back to his pigs. As for the suitors, they presently began to

amuse themselves with singing and dancing, for it was now getting on

towards evening.


Now there came a certain common tramp who used to go begging all

over the city of Ithaca, and was notorious as an incorrigible

glutton and drunkard. This man had no strength nor stay in him, but he

was a great hulking fellow to look at; his real name, the one his

mother gave him, was Arnaeus, but the young men of the place called

him Irus, because he used to run errands for any one who would send

him. As soon as he came he began to insult Ulysses, and to try and

drive him out of his own house.

"Be off, old man," he cried, "from the doorway, or you shall be

dragged out neck and heels. Do you not see that they are all giving me

the wink, and wanting me to turn you out by force, only I do not

like to do so? Get up then, and go of yourself, or we shall come to


Ulysses frowned on him and said, "My friend, I do you no manner of

harm; people give you a great deal, but I am not jealous. There is

room enough in this doorway for the pair of us, and you need not

grudge me things that are not yours to give. You seem to be just

such another tramp as myself, but perhaps the gods will give us better

luck by and by. Do not, however, talk too much about fighting or you

will incense me, and old though I am, I shall cover your mouth and

chest with blood. I shall have more peace to-morrow if I do, for you

will not come to the house of Ulysses any more."

Irus was very angry and answered, "You filthy glutton, you run on

trippingly like an old fish-fag. I have a good mind to lay both

hands about you, and knock your teeth out of your head like so many

boar's tusks. Get ready, therefore, and let these people here stand by

and look on. You will never be able to fight one who is so much

younger than yourself."

Thus roundly did they rate one another on the smooth pavement in

front of the doorway, and when Antinous saw what was going on he

laughed heartily and said to the others, "This is the finest sport

that you ever saw; heaven never yet sent anything like it into this

house. The stranger and Irus have quarreled and are going to fight,

let us set them on to do so at once."

The suitors all came up laughing, and gathered round the two

ragged tramps. "Listen to me," said Antinous, "there are some goats'

paunches down at the fire, which we have filled with blood and fat,

and set aside for supper; he who is victorious and proves himself to

be the better man shall have his pick of the lot; he shall be free

of our table and we will not allow any other beggar about the house at


The others all agreed, but Ulysses, to throw them off the scent,

said, "Sirs, an old man like myself, worn out with suffering, cannot

hold his own against a young one; but my irrepressible belly urges

me on, though I know it can only end in my getting a drubbing. You

must swear, however that none of you will give me a foul blow to

favour Irus and secure him the victory."

They swore as he told them, and when they had completed their oath

Telemachus put in a word and said, "Stranger, if you have a mind to

settle with this fellow, you need not be afraid of any one here.

Whoever strikes you will have to fight more than one. I am host, and

the other chiefs, Antinous and Eurymachus, both of them men of

understanding, are of the same mind as I am."

Every one assented, and Ulysses girded his old rags about his loins,

thus baring his stalwart thighs, his broad chest and shoulders, and

his mighty arms; but Minerva came up to him and made his limbs even

stronger still. The suitors were beyond measure astonished, and one

would turn towards his neighbour saying, "The stranger has brought

such a thigh out of his old rags that there will soon be nothing

left of Irus."

Irus began to be very uneasy as he heard them, but the servants

girded him by force, and brought him [into the open part of the court]

in such a fright that his limbs were all of a tremble. Antinous

scolded him and said, "You swaggering bully, you ought never to have

been born at all if you are afraid of such an old broken-down creature

as this tramp is. I say, therefore- and it shall surely be- if he

beats you and proves himself the better man, I shall pack you off on

board ship to the mainland and send you to king Echetus, who kills

every one that comes near him. He will cut off your nose and ears, and

draw out your entrails for the dogs to eat."

This frightened Irus still more, but they brought him into the

middle of the court, and the two men raised their hands to fight. Then

Ulysses considered whether he should let drive so hard at him as to

make an end of him then and there, or whether he should give him a

lighter blow that should only knock him down; in the end he deemed

it best to give the lighter blow for fear the Achaeans should begin to

suspect who he was. Then they began to fight, and Irus hit Ulysses

on the right shoulder; but Ulysses gave Irus a blow on the neck

under the ear that broke in the bones of his skull, and the blood came

gushing out of his mouth; he fell groaning in the dust, gnashing his

teeth and kicking on the ground, but the suitors threw up their

hands and nearly died of laughter, as Ulysses caught hold of him by

the foot and dragged him into the outer court as far as the

gate-house. There he propped him up against the wall and put his staff

in his hands. "Sit here," said he, "and keep the dogs and pigs off;

you are a pitiful creature, and if you try to make yourself king of

the beggars any more you shall fare still worse."

Then he threw his dirty old wallet, all tattered and torn, over

his shoulder with the cord by which it hung, and went back to sit down

upon the threshold; but the suitors went within the cloisters,

laughing and saluting him, "May Jove, and all the other gods," said

they, 'grant you whatever you want for having put an end to the

importunity of this insatiable tramp. We will take him over to the

mainland presently, to king Echetus, who kills every one that comes

near him."

Ulysses hailed this as of good omen, and Antinous set a great goat's

paunch before him filled with blood and fat. Amphinomus took two

loaves out of the bread-basket and brought them to him, pledging him

as he did so in a golden goblet of wine. "Good luck to you," he

said, "father stranger, you are very badly off at present, but I

hope you will have better times by and by."

To this Ulysses answered, "Amphinomus, you seem to be a man of

good understanding, as indeed you may well be, seeing whose son you

are. I have heard your father well spoken of; he is Nisus of

Dulichium, a man both brave and wealthy. They tell me you are his son,

and you appear to be a considerable person; listen, therefore, and

take heed to what I am saying. Man is the vainest of all creatures

that have their being upon earth. As long as heaven vouchsafes him

health and strength, he thinks that he shall come to no harm

hereafter, and even when the blessed gods bring sorrow upon him, he

bears it as he needs must, and makes the best of it; for God

Almighty gives men their daily minds day by day. I know all about

it, for I was a rich man once, and did much wrong in the

stubbornness of my pride, and in the confidence that my father and

my brothers would support me; therefore let a man fear God in all

things always, and take the good that heaven may see fit to send him

without vainglory. Consider the infamy of what these suitors are

doing; see how they are wasting the estate, and doing dishonour to the

wife, of one who is certain to return some day, and that, too, not

long hence. Nay, he will be here soon; may heaven send you home

quietly first that you may not meet with him in the day of his coming,

for once he is here the suitors and he will not part bloodlessly."

With these words he made a drink-offering, and when he had drunk

he put the gold cup again into the hands of Amphinomus, who walked

away serious and bowing his head, for he foreboded evil. But even so

he did not escape destruction, for Minerva had doomed him fall by

the hand of Telemachus. So he took his seat again at the place from

which he had come.

Then Minerva put it into the mind of Penelope to show herself to the

suitors, that she might make them still more enamoured of her, and win

still further honour from her son and husband. So she feigned a

mocking laugh and said, "Eurynome, I have changed my and have a

fancy to show myself to the suitors although I detest them. I should

like also to give my son a hint that he had better not have anything

more to do with them. They speak fairly enough but they mean


"My dear child," answered Eurynome, "all that you have said is true,

go and tell your son about it, but first wash yourself and anoint your

face. Do not go about with your cheeks all covered with tears; it is

not right that you should grieve so incessantly; for Telemachus,

whom you always prayed that you might live to see with a beard, is

already grown up."

"I know, Eurynome," replied Penelope, "that you mean well, but do

not try and persuade me to wash and to anoint myself, for heaven

robbed me of all my beauty on the day my husband sailed; nevertheless,

tell Autonoe and Hippodamia that I want them. They must be with me

when I am in the cloister; I am not going among the men alone; it

would not be proper for me to do so."

On this the old woman went out of the room to bid the maids go to

their mistress. In the meantime Minerva bethought her of another

matter, and sent Penelope off into a sweet slumber; so she lay down on

her couch and her limbs became heavy with sleep. Then the goddess shed

grace and beauty over her that all the Achaeans might admire her.

She washed her face with the ambrosial loveliness that Venus wears

when she goes dancing with the Graces; she made her taller and of a

more commanding figure, while as for her complexion it was whiter than

sawn ivory. When Minerva had done all this she went away, whereon

the maids came in from the women's room and woke Penelope with the

sound of their talking.

"What an exquisitely delicious sleep I have been having," said

she, as she passed her hands over her face, "in spite of all my

misery. I wish Diana would let me die so sweetly now at this very

moment, that I might no longer waste in despair for the loss of my

dear husband, who possessed every kind of good quality and was the

most distinguished man among the Achaeans."

With these words she came down from her upper room, not alone but

attended by two of her maidens, and when she reached the suitors she

stood by one of the bearing-posts supporting the roof of the cloister,

holding a veil before her face, and with a staid maid servant on

either side of her. As they beheld her the suitors were so overpowered

and became so desperately enamoured of her, that each one prayed he

might win her for his own bed fellow.

"Telemachus," said she, addressing her son, "I fear you are no

longer so discreet and well conducted as you used to be. When you were

younger you had a greater sense of propriety; now, however, that you

are grown up, though a stranger to look at you would take you for

the son of a well-to-do father as far as size and good looks go,

your conduct is by no means what it should be. What is all this

disturbance that has been going on, and how came you to allow a

stranger to be so disgracefully ill-treated? What would have

happened if he had suffered serious injury while a suppliant in our

house? Surely this would have been very discreditable to you."

"I am not surprised, my dear mother, at your displeasure," replied

Telemachus, "I understand all about it and know when things are not as

they should be, which I could not do when I was younger; I cannot,

however, behave with perfect propriety at all times. First one and

then another of these wicked people here keeps driving me out of my

mind, and I have no one to stand by me. After all, however, this fight

between Irus and the stranger did not turn out as the suitors meant it

to do, for the stranger got the best of it. I wish Father Jove,

Minerva, and Apollo would break the neck of every one of these

wooers of yours, some inside the house and some out; and I wish they

might all be as limp as Irus is over yonder in the gate of the outer

court. See how he nods his head like a drunken man; he has had such

a thrashing that he cannot stand on his feet nor get back to his home,

wherever that may be, for has no strength left in him."

Thus did they converse. Eurymachus then came up and said, "Queen

Penelope, daughter of Icarius, if all the Achaeans in Iasian Argos

could see you at this moment, you would have still more suitors in

your house by tomorrow morning, for you are the most admirable woman

in the whole world both as regards personal beauty and strength of


To this Penelope replied, "Eurymachus, heaven robbed me of all my

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 both be more respected and 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. My husband

foresaw it all, and when he was leaving home he took my right wrist in

his hand- 'Wife, 'he said, 'we shall not all of us come safe home

from Troy, for the Trojans fight well both with bow and spear. They

are excellent also at fighting from chariots, and nothing decides

the issue of a fight sooner than this. I know not, therefore,

whether heaven will send me back to you, or whether I may not fall

over there at Troy. In the meantime do you look after things here.

Take care of my father and mother as at present, and even more so

during my absence, but when you see our son growing a beard, then

marry whom you will, and leave this your present home. This is what he

said and now it is all coming true. A night will come when I shall

have to yield myself to a marriage which I detest, for Jove has

taken from me all hope of happiness. This further grief, moreover,

cuts me to the very heart. You suitors are not wooing me after the

custom of my country. When men are courting a woman who they think

will be a good wife to them and who is of noble birth, and when they

are each trying to win her for himself, they usually bring oxen and

sheep to feast the friends of the lady, and they make her

magnificent presents, instead of eating up other people's property

without paying for it."

This was what she said, and Ulysses was glad when he heard her

trying to get presents out of the suitors, and flattering them with

fair words which he knew she did not mean.

Then Antinous said, "Queen Penelope, daughter of Icarius, take as

many presents as you please from any one who will give them to you; it

is not well to refuse a present; but we will not go about our business

nor stir from where we are, till you have married the best man among

us whoever he may be."

The others applauded what Antinous had said, and each one sent his

servant to bring his present. Antinous's man returned with a large and

lovely dress most exquisitely embroidered. It had twelve beautifully

made brooch pins of pure gold with which to fasten it. Eurymachus

immediately brought her a magnificent chain of gold and amber beads

that gleamed like sunlight. Eurydamas's two men returned with some

earrings fashioned into three brilliant pendants which glistened

most beautifully; while king Pisander son of Polyctor gave her a

necklace of the rarest workmanship, and every one else brought her a

beautiful present of some kind.

Then the queen went back to her room upstairs, and her maids brought

the presents after her. Meanwhile the suitors took to singing and

dancing, and stayed till evening came. They danced and sang till it

grew dark; they then brought in three braziers to give light, and

piled them up with chopped firewood very and dry, and they lit torches

from them, which the maids held up turn and turn about. Then Ulysses


"Maids, servants of Ulysses who has so long been absent, go to the

queen inside the house; sit with her and amuse her, or spin, and

pick wool. I will hold the light for all these people. They may stay

till morning, but shall not beat me, for I can stand a great deal."

The maids looked at one another and laughed, while pretty Melantho

began to gibe at him contemptuously. She was daughter to Dolius, but

had been brought up by Penelope, who used to give her toys to play

with, and looked after her when she was a child; but in spite of all

this she showed no consideration for the sorrows of her mistress,

and used to misconduct herself with Eurymachus, with whom she was in


"Poor wretch," said she, "are you gone clean out of your mind? Go

and sleep in some smithy, or place of public gossips, instead of

chattering here. Are you not ashamed of opening your mouth before your

betters- so many of them too? Has the wine been getting into your

head, or do you always babble in this way? You seem to have lost

your wits because you beat the tramp Irus; take care that a better man

than he does not come and cudgel you about the head till he pack you

bleeding out of the house."

"Vixen," replied Ulysses, scowling at her, "I will go and tell

Telemachus what you have been saying, and he will have you torn limb

from limb."

With these words he scared the women, and they went off into the

body of the house. They trembled all aver, for they thought he would

do as he said. But Ulysses took his stand near the burning braziers,

holding up torches and looking at the people- brooding the while on

things that should surely come to pass.

But Minerva would not let the suitors for one moment cease their

insolence, for she wanted Ulysses to become even more bitter against

them; she therefore set Eurymachus son of Polybus on to gibe at him,

which made the others laugh. "Listen to me," said he, "you suitors

of Queen Penelope, that I may speak even as I am minded. It is not for

nothing that this man has come to the house of Ulysses; I believe

the light has not been coming from the torches, but from his own head-

for his hair is all gone, every bit of it."

Then turning to Ulysses he said, "Stranger, will you work as a

servant, if I send you to the wolds and see that you are well paid?

Can you build a stone fence, or plant trees? I will have you fed all

the year round, and will find you in shoes and clothing. Will you

go, then? Not you; for you have got into bad ways, and do not want

to work; you had rather fill your belly by going round the country


"Eurymachus," answered Ulysses, "if you and I were to work one

against the other in early summer when the days are at their

longest- give me a good scythe, and take another yourself, and let

us see which will fast the longer or mow the stronger, from dawn

till dark when the mowing grass is about. Or if you will plough

against me, let us each take a yoke of tawny oxen, well-mated and of

great strength and endurance: turn me into a four acre field, and

see whether you or I can drive the straighter furrow. If, again, war

were to break out this day, give me a shield, a couple of spears and a

helmet fitting well upon my temples- you would find me foremost in the

fray, and would cease your gibes about my belly. You are insolent

and cruel, and think yourself a great man because you live in a little

world, ind that a bad one. If Ulysses comes to his own again, the

doors of his house are wide, but you will find them narrow when you

try to fly through them."

Eurymachus was furious at all this. He scowled at him and cried,

"You wretch, I will soon pay you out for daring to say such things

to me, and in public too. Has the wine been getting into your head

or do you always babble in this way? You seem to have lost your wits

because you beat the tramp Irus. With this he caught hold of a

footstool, but Ulysses sought protection at the knees of Amphinomus of

Dulichium, for he was afraid. The stool hit the cupbearer on his right

hand and knocked him down: the man fell with a cry flat on his back,

and his wine-jug fell ringing to the ground. The suitors in the

covered cloister were now in an uproar, and one would turn towards his

neighbour, saying, "I wish the stranger had gone somewhere else, bad

luck to hide, for all the trouble he gives us. We cannot permit such

disturbance about a beggar; if such ill counsels are to prevail we

shall have no more pleasure at our banquet."

On this Telemachus came forward and said, "Sirs, are you mad? Can

you not carry your meat and your liquor decently? Some evil spirit has

possessed you. I do not wish to drive any of you away, but you have

had your suppers, and the sooner you all go home to bed the better."

The suitors bit their lips and marvelled at the boldness of his

speech; but Amphinomus the son of Nisus, who was son to Aretias, said,

"Do not let us take offence; it is reasonable, so let us make no

answer. Neither let us do violence to the stranger nor to any of

Ulysses' servants. Let the cupbearer go round with the

drink-offerings, that we may make them and go home to our rest. As for

the stranger, let us leave Telemachus to deal with him, for it is to

his house that he has come."

Thus did he speak, and his saying pleased them well, so Mulius of

Dulichium, servant to Amphinomus, mixed them a bowl of wine and

water and handed it round to each of them man by man, whereon they

made their drink-offerings to the blessed gods: Then, when they had

made their drink-offerings and had drunk each one as he was minded,

they took their several ways each of them to his own abode.


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


"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


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


"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


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


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.


Ulysses slept in the cloister upon an undressed bullock's hide, on

the top of which he threw several skins of the sheep the suitors had

eaten, and Eurynome threw a cloak over him after he had laid himself

down. There, then, Ulysses lay wakefully brooding upon the way in

which he should kill the suitors; and by and by, the women who had

been in the habit of misconducting themselves with them, left the

house giggling and laughing with one another. This made Ulysses very

angry, and he doubted whether to get up and kill every single one of

them then and there, or to let them sleep one more and last time

with the suitors. His heart growled within him, and as a bitch with

puppies growls and shows her teeth when she sees a stranger, so did

his heart growl with anger at the evil deeds that were being done: but

he beat his breast and said, "Heart, be still, you had worse than this

to bear on the day when the terrible Cyclops ate your brave

companions; yet you bore it in silence till your cunning got you

safe out of the cave, though you made sure of being killed."

Thus he chided with his heart, and checked it into endurance, but he

tossed about as one who turns a paunch full of blood and fat in

front of a hot fire, doing it first on one side and then on the other,

that he may get it cooked as soon as possible, even so did he turn

himself about from side to side, thinking all the time how, single

handed as he was, he should contrive to kill so large a body of men as

the wicked suitors. But by and by Minerva came down from heaven in the

likeness of a woman, and hovered over his head saying, "My poor

unhappy man, why do you lie awake in this way? This is your house:

your wife is safe inside it, and so is your son who is just such a

young man as any father may be proud of."

"Goddess," answered Ulysses, "all that you have said is true, but

I am in some doubt as to how I shall be able to kill these wicked

suitors single handed, seeing what a number of them there always

are. And there is this further difficulty, which is still more

considerable. Supposing that with Jove's and your assistance I succeed

in killing them, I must ask you to consider where I am to escape to

from their avengers when it is all over."

"For shame," replied Minerva, "why, any one else would trust a worse

ally than myself, even though that ally were only a mortal and less

wise than I am. Am I not a goddess, and have I not protected you

throughout in all your troubles? I tell you plainly that even though

there were fifty bands of men surrounding us and eager to kill us, you

should take all their sheep and cattle, and drive them away with

you. But go to sleep; it is a very bad thing to lie awake all night,

and you shall be out of your troubles before long."

As she spoke she shed sleep over his eyes, and then went back to


While Ulysses was thus yielding himself to a very deep slumber

that eased the burden of his sorrows, his admirable wife awoke, and

sitting up in her bed began to cry. When she had relieved herself by

weeping she prayed to Diana saying, "Great Goddess Diana, daughter

of Jove, drive an arrow into my heart and slay me; or let some

whirlwind snatch me up and bear me through paths of darkness till it

drop me into the mouths of overflowing Oceanus, as it did the

daughters of Pandareus. The daughters of Pandareus lost their father

and mother, for the gods killed them, so they were left orphans. But

Venus took care of them, and fed them on cheese, honey, and sweet

wine. Juno taught them to excel all women in beauty of form and

understanding; Diana gave them an imposing presence, and Minerva

endowed them with every kind of accomplishment; but one day when Venus

had gone up to Olympus to see Jove about getting them married (for

well does he know both what shall happen and what not happen to

every one) the storm winds came and spirited them away to become

handmaids to the dread Erinyes. Even so I wish that the gods who

live in heaven would hide me from mortal sight, or that fair Diana

might strike me, for I would fain go even beneath the sad earth if I

might do so still looking towards Ulysses only, and without having

to yield myself to a worse man than he was. Besides, no matter how

much people may grieve by day, they can put up with it so long as they

can sleep at night, for when the eyes are closed in slumber people

forget good and ill alike; whereas my misery haunts me even in my

dreams. This very night methought there was one lying by my side who

was like Ulysses as he was when he went away with his host, and I

rejoiced, for I believed that it was no dream, but the very truth


On this the day broke, but Ulysses heard the sound of her weeping,

and it puzzled him, for it seemed as though she already knew him and

was by his side. Then he gathered up the cloak and the fleeces on

which he had lain, and set them on a seat in the cloister, but he took

the bullock's hide out into the open. He lifted up his hands to

heaven, and prayed, saying "Father Jove, since you have seen fit to

bring me over land and sea to my own home after all the afflictions

you have laid upon me, give me a sign out of the mouth of some one

or other of those who are now waking within the house, and let me have

another sign of some kind from outside."

Thus did he pray. Jove heard his prayer and forthwith thundered high

up among the from the splendour of Olympus, and Ulysses was glad

when he heard it. At the same time within the house, a miller-woman

from hard by in the mill room lifted up her voice and gave him another

sign. There were twelve miller-women whose business it was to grind

wheat and barley which are the staff of life. The others had ground

their task and had gone to take their rest, but this one had not yet

finished, for she was not so strong as they were, and when she heard

the thunder she stopped grinding and gave the sign to her master.

"Father Jove," said she, "you who rule over heaven and earth, you have

thundered from a clear sky without so much as a cloud in it, and

this means something for somebody; grant the prayer, then, of me

your poor servant who calls upon you, and let this be the very last

day that the suitors dine in the house of Ulysses. They have worn me

out with the labour of grinding meal for them, and I hope they may

never have another dinner anywhere at all."

Ulysses was glad when he heard the omens conveyed to him by the

woman's speech, and by the thunder, for he knew they meant that he

should avenge himself on the suitors.

Then the other maids in the house rose and lit the fire on the

hearth; Telemachus also rose and put on his clothes. He girded his

sword about his shoulder, bound his sandals on his comely feet, and

took a doughty spear with a point of sharpened bronze; then he went to

the threshold of the cloister and said to Euryclea, "Nurse, did you

make the stranger comfortable both as regards bed and board, or did

you let him shift for himself?- for my mother, good woman though she

is, has a way of paying great attention to second-rate people, and

of neglecting others who are in reality much better men."

"Do not find fault child," said Euryclea, "when there is no one to

find fault with. The stranger sat and drank his wine as long as he

liked: your mother did ask him if he would take any more bread and

he said he would not. When he wanted to go to bed she told the

servants to make one for him, but he said he was re such wretched

outcast that he would not sleep on a bed and under blankets; he

insisted on having an undressed bullock's hide and some sheepskins put

for him in the cloister and I threw a cloak over him myself."

Then Telemachus went out of the court to the place where the

Achaeans were meeting in assembly; he had his spear in his hand, and

he was not alone, for his two dogs went with him. But Euryclea

called the maids and said, "Come, wake up; set about sweeping the

cloisters and sprinkling them with water to lay the dust; put the

covers on the seats; wipe down the tables, some of you, with a wet

sponge; clean out the mixing-jugs and the cups, and for water from the

fountain at once; the suitors will be here directly; they will be here

early, for it is a feast day."

Thus did she speak, and they did even as she had said: twenty of

them went to the fountain for water, and the others set themselves

busily to work about the house. The men who were in attendance on

the suitors also came up and began chopping firewood. By and by the

women returned from the fountain, and the swineherd came after them

with the three best pigs he could pick out. These he let feed about

the premises, and then he said good-humouredly to Ulysses,

"Stranger, are the suitors treating you any better now, or are they as

insolent as ever?"

"May heaven," answered Ulysses, "requite to them the wickedness with

which they deal high-handedly in another man's house without any sense

of shame."

Thus did they converse; meanwhile Melanthius the goatherd came up,

for he too was bringing in his best goats for the suitors' dinner; and

he had two shepherds with him. They tied the goats up under the

gatehouse, and then Melanthius began gibing at Ulysses. "Are you still

here, stranger," said he, "to pester people by begging about the

house? Why can you not go elsewhere? You and I shall not come to an

understanding before we have given each other a taste of our fists.

You beg without any sense of decency: are there not feasts elsewhere

among the Achaeans, as well as here?"

Ulysses made no answer, but bowed his head and brooded. Then a third

man, Philoetius, joined them, who was bringing in a barren heifer

and some goats. These were brought over by the boatmen who are there

to take people over when any one comes to them. So Philoetius made his

heifer and his goats secure under the gatehouse, and then went up to

the swineherd. "Who, Swineherd," said he, "is this stranger that is

lately come here? Is he one of your men? What is his family? Where

does he come from? Poor fellow, he looks as if he had been some

great man, but the gods give sorrow to whom they will- even to kings

if it so pleases them

As he spoke he went up to Ulysses and saluted him with his right

hand; "Good day to you, father stranger," said he, "you seem to be

very poorly off now, but I hope you will have better times by and

by. Father Jove, of all gods you are the most malicious. We are your

own children, yet you show us no mercy in all our misery and

afflictions. A sweat came over me when I saw this man, and my eyes

filled with tears, for he reminds me of Ulysses, who I fear is going

about in just such rags as this man's are, if indeed he is still among

the living. If he is already dead and in the house of Hades, then,

alas! for my good master, who made me his stockman when I was quite

young among the Cephallenians, and now his cattle are countless; no

one could have done better with them than I have, for they have bred

like ears of corn; nevertheless I have to keep bringing them in for

others to eat, who take no heed of his son though he is in the

house, and fear not the wrath of heaven, but are already eager to

divide Ulysses' property among them because he has been away so

long. I have often thought- only it would not be right while his son

is living- of going off with the cattle to some foreign country; bad

as this would be, it is still harder to stay here and be ill-treated

about other people's herds. My position is intolerable, and I should

long since have run away and put myself under the protection of some

other chief, only that I believe my poor master will yet return, and

send all these suitors flying out of the house."

"Stockman," answered Ulysses, "you seem to be a very well-disposed

person, and I can see that you are a man of sense. Therefore I will

tell you, and will confirm my words with an oath: by Jove, the chief

of all gods, and by that hearth of Ulysses to which I am now come,

Ulysses shall return before you leave this place, and if you are so

minded you shall see him killing the suitors who are now masters


"If Jove were to bring this to pass," replied the stockman, "you

should see how I would do my very utmost to help him."

And in like manner Eumaeus prayed that Ulysses might return home.

Thus did they converse. Meanwhile the suitors were hatching a plot

to murder Telemachus: but a bird flew near them on their left hand- an

eagle with a dove in its talons. On this Amphinomus said, "My friends,

this plot of ours to murder Telemachus will not succeed; let us go

to dinner instead."

The others assented, so they went inside and laid their cloaks on

the benches and seats. They sacrificed the sheep, goats, pigs, and the

heifer, and when the inward meats were cooked they served them

round. They mixed the wine in the mixing-bowls, and the swineherd gave

every man his cup, while Philoetius handed round the bread in the

breadbaskets, and Melanthius poured them out their wine. Then they

laid their hands upon the good things that were before them.

Telemachus purposely made Ulysses sit in the part of the cloister

that was paved with stone; he gave him a shabby-looking seat at a

little table to himself, and had his portion of the inward meats

brought to him, with his wine in a gold cup. "Sit there," said he,

"and drink your wine among the great people. I will put a stop to

the gibes and blows of the suitors, for this is no public house, but

belongs to Ulysses, and has passed from him to me. Therefore, suitors,

keep your hands and your tongues to yourselves, or there will be


The suitors bit their lips, and marvelled at the boldness of his

speech; then Antinous said, "We do not like such language but we

will put up with it, for Telemachus is threatening us in good earnest.

If Jove had let us we should have put a stop to his brave talk ere


Thus spoke Antinous, but Telemachus heeded him not. Meanwhile the

heralds were bringing the holy hecatomb through the city, and the

Achaeans gathered under the shady grove of Apollo.

Then they roasted the outer meat, drew it off the spits, gave

every man his portion, and feasted to their hearts' content; those who

waited at table gave Ulysses exactly the same portion as the others

had, for Telemachus had told them to do so.

But Minerva would not let the suitors for one moment drop their

insolence, for she wanted Ulysses to become still more bitter

against them. Now there happened to be among them a ribald fellow,

whose name was Ctesippus, and who came from Same. This man,

confident in his great wealth, was paying court to the wife of

Ulysses, and said to the suitors, "Hear what I have to say. The

stranger has already had as large a portion as any one else; this is

well, for it is not right nor reasonable to ill-treat any guest of

Telemachus who comes here. I will, however, make him a present on my

own account, that he may have something to give to the bath-woman,

or to some other of Ulysses' servants."

As he spoke he picked up a heifer's foot from the meat-basket in

which it lay, and threw it at Ulysses, but Ulysses turned his head a

little aside, and avoided it, smiling grimly Sardinian fashion as he

did so, and it hit the wall, not him. On this Telemachus spoke

fiercely to Ctesippus, "It is a good thing for you," said he, "that

the stranger turned his head so that you missed him. If you had hit

him I should have run you through with my spear, and your father would

have had to see about getting you buried rather than married in this

house. So let me have no more unseemly behaviour from any of you,

for I am grown up now to the knowledge of good and evil and understand

what is going on, instead of being the child that I have been

heretofore. I have long seen you killing my sheep and making free with

my corn and wine: I have put up with this, for one man is no match for

many, but do me no further violence. Still, if you wish to kill me,

kill me; I would far rather die than see such disgraceful scenes day

after day- guests insulted, and men dragging the women servants

about the house in an unseemly way."

They all held their peace till at last Agelaus son of Damastor said,

"No one should take offence at what has just been said, nor gainsay

it, for it is quite reasonable. Leave off, therefore, ill-treating the

stranger, or any one else of the servants who are about the house; I

would say, however, a friendly word to Telemachus and his mother,

which I trust may commend itself to both. 'As long,' I would say,

'as you had ground for hoping that Ulysses would one day come home, no

one could complain of your waiting and suffering the suitors to be

in your house. It would have been better that he should have returned,

but it is now sufficiently clear that he will never do so; therefore

talk all this quietly over with your mother, and tell her to marry the

best man, and the one who makes her the most advantageous offer.

Thus you will yourself be able to manage your own inheritance, and

to eat and drink in peace, while your mother will look after some

other man's house, not yours."'

To this Telemachus answered, "By Jove, Agelaus, and by the sorrows

of my unhappy father, who has either perished far from Ithaca, or is

wandering in some distant land, I throw no obstacles in the way of

my mother's marriage; on the contrary I urge her to choose

whomsoever she will, and I will give her numberless gifts into the

bargain, but I dare not insist point blank that she shall leave the

house against her own wishes. Heaven forbid that I should do this."

Minerva now made the suitors fall to laughing immoderately, and

set their wits wandering; but they were laughing with a forced

laughter. Their meat became smeared with blood; their eyes filled with

tears, and their hearts were heavy with forebodings. Theoclymenus

saw this and said, "Unhappy men, what is it that ails you? There is

a shroud of darkness drawn over you from head to foot, your cheeks are

wet with tears; the air is alive with wailing voices; the walls and

roof-beams drip blood; the gate of the cloisters and the court

beyond them are full of ghosts trooping down into the night of hell;

the sun is blotted out of heaven, and a blighting gloom is over all

the land."

Thus did he speak, and they all of them laughed heartily. Eurymachus

then said, "This stranger who has lately come here has lost his

senses. Servants, turn him out into the streets, since he finds it

so dark here."

But Theoclymenus said, "Eurymachus, you need not send any one with

me. I have eyes, ears, and a pair of feet of my own, to say nothing of

an understanding mind. I will take these out of the house with me, for

I see mischief overhanging you, from which not one of you men who

are insulting people and plotting ill deeds in the house of Ulysses

will be able to escape."

He left the house as he spoke, and went back to Piraeus who gave him

welcome, but the suitors kept looking at one another and provoking

Telemachus fly laughing at the strangers. One insolent fellow said

to him, "Telemachus, you are not happy in your guests; first you

have this importunate tramp, who comes begging bread and wine and

has no skill for work or for hard fighting, but is perfectly

useless, and now here is another fellow who is setting himself up as a

prophet. Let me persuade you, for it will be much better, to put

them on board ship and send them off to the Sicels to sell for what

they will bring."

Telemachus gave him no heed, but sat silently watching his father,

expecting every moment that he would begin his attack upon the


Meanwhile the daughter of Icarius, wise Penelope, had had had a rich

seat placed for her facing the court and cloisters, so that she

could hear what every one was saying. The dinner indeed had been

prepared amid merriment; it had been both good and abundant, for

they had sacrificed many victims; but the supper was yet to come,

and nothing can be conceived more gruesome than the meal which a

goddess and a brave man were soon to lay before them- for they had

brought their doom upon themselves.


Minerva now put it in Penelope's mind to make the suitors try

their skill with the bow and with the iron axes, in contest among

themselves, as a means of bringing about their destruction. She went

upstairs and got the store room key, which was made of bronze and

had a handle of ivory; she then went with her maidens into the store

room at the end of the house, where her husband's treasures of gold,

bronze, and wrought iron were kept, and where was also his bow, and

the quiver full of deadly arrows that had been given him by a friend

whom he had met in Lacedaemon- Iphitus the son of Eurytus. The two

fell in with one another in Messene at the house of Ortilochus,

where Ulysses was staying in order to recover a debt that was owing

from the whole people; for the Messenians had carried off three

hundred sheep from Ithaca, and had sailed away with them and with

their shepherds. In quest of these Ulysses took a long journey while

still quite young, for his father and the other chieftains sent him on

a mission to recover them. Iphitus had gone there also to try and

get back twelve brood mares that he had lost, and the mule foals

that were running with them. These mares were the death of him in

the end, for when he went to the house of Jove's son, mighty Hercules,

who performed such prodigies of valour, Hercules to his shame killed

him, though he was his guest, for he feared not heaven's vengeance,

nor yet respected his own table which he had set before Iphitus, but

killed him in spite of everything, and kept the mares himself. It

was when claiming these that Iphitus met Ulysses, and gave him the bow

which mighty Eurytus had been used to carry, and which on his death

had been left by him to his son. Ulysses gave him in return a sword

and a spear, and this was the beginning of a fast friendship, although

they never visited at one another's houses, for Jove's son Hercules

killed Iphitus ere they could do so. This bow, then, given him by

Iphitus, had not been taken with him by Ulysses when he sailed for

Troy; he had used it so long as he had been at home, but had left it

behind as having been a keepsake from a valued friend.

Penelope presently reached the oak threshold of the store room;

the carpenter had planed this duly, and had drawn a line on it so as

to get it quite straight; he had then set the door posts into it and

hung the doors. She loosed the strap from the handle of the door,

put in the key, and drove it straight home to shoot back the bolts

that held the doors; these flew open with a noise like a bull

bellowing in a meadow, and Penelope stepped upon the raised

platform, where the chests stood in which the fair linen and clothes

were laid by along with fragrant herbs: reaching thence, she took down

the bow with its bow case from the peg on which it hung. She sat

down with it on her knees, weeping bitterly as she took the bow out of

its case, and when her tears had relieved her, she went to the

cloister where the suitors were, carrying the bow and the quiver, with

the many deadly arrows that were inside it. Along with her came her

maidens, bearing a chest that contained much iron and bronze which her

husband had won as prizes. When she reached the suitors, she stood

by one of the bearing-posts supporting the roof of the cloister,

holding a veil before her face, and with a maid on either side of her.

Then she said:

"Listen to me you suitors, who persist in abusing the hospitality of

this house because its owner has been long absent, and without other

pretext than that you want to marry me; this, then, being the prize

that you are contending for, I will bring out the mighty bow of

Ulysses, and whomsoever of you shall string it most easily and send

his arrow through each one of 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


As she spoke, she told Eumaeus to set the bow and the pieces of iron

before the suitors, and Eumaeus wept as he took them to do as she

had bidden him. Hard by, the stockman wept also when he saw his

master's bow, but Antinous scolded them. "You country louts," said he,

"silly simpletons; why should you add to the sorrows of your

mistress by crying in this way? She has enough to grieve her in the

loss of her husband; sit still, therefore, and eat your dinners in

silence, or go outside if you want to cry, and leave the bow behind

you. We suitors shall have to contend for it with might and main,

for we shall find it no light matter to string such a bow as this

is. There is not a man of us all who is such another as Ulysses; for I

have seen him and remember him, though I was then only a child."

This was what he said, but all the time he was expecting to be

able to string the bow and shoot through the iron, whereas in fact

he was to be the first that should taste of the arrows from the

hands of Ulysses, whom he was dishonouring in his own house- egging

the others on to do so also.

Then Telemachus spoke. "Great heavens!" he exclaimed, "Jove must

have robbed me of my senses. Here is my dear and excellent mother

saying she will quit this house and marry again, yet I am laughing and

enjoying myself as though there were nothing happening. But,

suitors, as the contest has been agreed upon, let it go forward. It is

for a woman whose peer is not to be found in Pylos, Argos, or

Mycene, nor yet in Ithaca nor on the mainland. You know this as well

as I do; what need have I to speak in praise of my mother? Come on,

then, make no excuses for delay, but let us see whether you can string

the bow or no. I too will make trial of it, for if I can string it and

shoot through the iron, I shall not suffer my mother to quit this

house with a stranger, not if I can win the prizes which my father won

before me."

As he spoke he sprang from his seat, threw his crimson cloak from

him, and took his sword from his shoulder. First he set the axes in

a row, in a long groove which he had dug for them, and had Wade

straight by line. Then he stamped the earth tight round them, and

everyone was surprised when they saw him set up so orderly, though

he had never seen anything of the kind before. This done, he went on

to the pavement to make trial of the bow; thrice did he tug at it,

trying with all his might to draw the string, and thrice he had to

leave off, though he had hoped to string the bow and shoot through the

iron. He was trying for the fourth time, and would have strung it

had not Ulysses made a sign to check him in spite of all his

eagerness. So he said:

"Alas! I shall either be always feeble and of no prowess, or I am

too young, and have not yet reached my full strength so as to be

able to hold my own if any one attacks me. You others, therefore,

who are stronger than I, make trial of the bow and get this contest


On this he put the bow down, letting it lean against the door

[that led into the house] with the arrow standing against the top of

the bow. Then he sat down on the seat from which he had risen, and

Antinous said:

"Come on each of you in his turn, going towards the right from the

place at which the. cupbearer begins when he is handing round the


The rest agreed, and Leiodes son of OEnops was the first to rise. He

was sacrificial priest to the suitors, and sat in the corner near

the mixing-bowl. He was the only man who hated their evil deeds and

was indignant with the others. He was now the first to take the bow

and arrow, so he went on to the pavement to make his trial, but he

could not string the bow, for his hands were weak and unused to hard

work, they therefore soon grew tired, and he said to the suitors,

"My friends, I cannot string it; let another have it; this bow shall

take the life and soul out of many a chief among us, for it is

better to die than to live after having missed the prize that we

have so long striven for, and which has brought us so long together.

Some one of us is even now hoping and praying that he may marry

Penelope, but when he has seen this bow and tried it, let him woo

and make bridal offerings to some other woman, and let Penelope

marry whoever makes her the best offer and whose lot it is to win


On this he put the bow down, letting it lean against the door,

with the arrow standing against the tip of the bow. Then he took his

seat again on the seat from which he had risen; and Antinous rebuked

him saying:

"Leiodes, what are you talking about? Your words are monstrous and

intolerable; it makes me angry to listen to you. Shall, then, this bow

take the life of many a chief among us, merely because you cannot bend

it yourself? True, you were not born to be an archer, but there are

others who will soon string it."

Then he said to Melanthius the goatherd, "Look sharp, light a fire

in the court, and set a seat hard by with a sheep skin on it; bring us

also a large ball of lard, from what they have in the house. Let us

warm the bow and grease it we will then make trial of it again, and

bring the contest to an end."

Melanthius lit the fire, and set a seat covered with sheep skins

beside it. He also brought a great ball of lard from what they had

in the house, and the suitors warmed the bow and again made trial of

it, but they were none of them nearly strong enough to string it.

Nevertheless there still remained Antinous and Eurymachus, who were

the ringleaders among the suitors and much the foremost among them


Then the swineherd and the stockman left the cloisters together, and

Ulysses followed them. When they had got outside the gates and the

outer yard, Ulysses said to them quietly:

"Stockman, and you swineherd, I have something in my mind which I am

in doubt whether to say or no; but I think I will say it. What

manner of men would you be to stand by Ulysses, if some god should

bring him back here all of a sudden? Say which you are disposed to do-

to side with the suitors, or with Ulysses?"

"Father Jove," answered the stockman, "would indeed that you might

so ordain it. If some god were but to bring Ulysses back, you should

see with what might and main I would fight for him."

In like words Eumaeus prayed to all the gods that Ulysses might

return; when, therefore, he saw for certain what mind they were of,

Ulysses said, "It is I, Ulysses, who am here. I have suffered much,

but at last, in the twentieth year, I am come back to my own

country. I find that you two alone of all my servants are glad that

I should do so, for I have not heard any of the others praying for

my return. To you two, therefore, will I unfold the truth as it

shall be. If heaven shall deliver the suitors into my hands, I will

find wives for both of you, will give you house and holding close to

my own, and you shall be to me as though you were brothers and friends

of Telemachus. I will now give you convincing proofs that you may know

me and be assured. See, here is the scar from the boar's tooth that

ripped me when I was out hunting on Mount Parnassus with the sons of


As he spoke he drew his rags aside from the great scar, and when

they had examined it thoroughly, they both of them wept about Ulysses,

threw their arms round him and kissed his head and shoulders, while

Ulysses kissed their hands and faces in return. The sun would have

gone down upon their mourning if Ulysses had not checked them and


"Cease your weeping, lest some one should come outside and see us,

and tell those who a are within. When you go in, do so separately, not

both together; I will go first, and do you follow afterwards; Let this

moreover be the token between us; the suitors will all of them try

to prevent me from getting hold of the bow and quiver; do you,

therefore, Eumaeus, place it in my hands when you are carrying it

about, and tell the women to close the doors of their apartment. If

they hear any groaning or uproar as of men fighting about the house,

they must not come out; they must keep quiet, and stay where they

are at their work. And I charge you, Philoetius, to make fast the

doors of the outer court, and to bind them securely at once."

When he had thus spoken, he went back to the house and took the seat

that he had left. Presently, his two servants followed him inside.

At this moment the bow was in the hands of Eurymachus, who was

warming it by the fire, but even so he could not string it, and he was

greatly grieved. He heaved a deep sigh and said, "I grieve for

myself and for us all; I grieve that I shall have to forgo the

marriage, but I do not care nearly so much about this, for there are

plenty of other women in Ithaca and elsewhere; what I feel most is the

fact of our being so inferior to Ulysses in strength that we cannot

string his bow. This will disgrace us in the eyes of those who are yet


"It shall not be so, Eurymachus," said Antinous, "and you know it

yourself. To-day is the feast of Apollo throughout all the land; who

can string a bow on such a day as this? Put it on one side- as for the

axes they can stay where they are, for no one is likely to come to the

house and take them away: let the cupbearer go round with his cups,

that we may make our drink-offerings and drop this matter of the

bow; we will tell Melanthius to bring us in some goats to-morrow-

the best he has; we can then offer thigh bones to Apollo the mighty

archer, and again make trial of the bow, so as to bring the contest to

an end."

The rest approved his words, and thereon men servants poured water

over the hands of the guests, while pages filled the mixing-bowls with

wine and water and handed it round after giving every man his

drink-offering. Then, when they had made their offerings and had drunk

each as much as he desired, Ulysses craftily said:

"Suitors of the illustrious queen, listen that I may speak even as I

am minded. I appeal more especially to Eurymachus, and to Antinous who

has just spoken with so much reason. Cease shooting for the present

and leave the matter to the gods, but in the morning let heaven give

victory to whom it will. For the moment, however, give me the bow that

I may prove the power of my hands among you all, and see whether I

still have as much strength as I used to have, or whether travel and

neglect have made an end of it."

This made them all very angry, for they feared he might string the

bow; Antinous therefore rebuked him fiercely saying, "Wretched

creature, you have not so much as a grain of sense in your whole body;

you ought to think yourself lucky in being allowed to dine unharmed

among your betters, without having any smaller portion served you than

we others have had, and in being allowed to hear our conversation.

No other beggar or stranger has been allowed to hear what we say among

ourselves; the wine must have been doing you a mischief, as it does

with all those drink immoderately. It was wine that inflamed the

Centaur Eurytion when he was staying with Peirithous among the

Lapithae. When the wine had got into his head he went mad and did

ill deeds about the house of Peirithous; this angered the heroes who

were there assembled, so they rushed at him and cut off his ears and

nostrils; then they dragged him through the doorway out of the

house, so he went away crazed, and bore the burden of his crime,

bereft of understanding. Henceforth, therefore, there was war

between mankind and the centaurs, but he brought it upon himself

through his own drunkenness. In like manner I can tell you that it

will go hardly with you if you string the bow: you will find no

mercy from any one here, for we shall at once ship you off to king

Echetus, who kills every one that comes near him: you will never get

away alive, so drink and keep quiet without getting into a quarrel

with men younger than yourself."

Penelope then spoke to him. "Antinous," said she, "it is not right

that you should ill-treat any guest of Telemachus who comes to this

house. If the stranger should prove strong enough to string the mighty

bow of Ulysses, can you suppose that he would take me home with him

and make me his wife? Even the man himself can have no such idea in

his mind: none of you need let that disturb his feasting; it would

be out of all reason."

"Queen Penelope," answered Eurymachus, "we do not suppose that

this man will take you away with him; it is impossible; but we are

afraid lest some of the baser sort, men or women among the Achaeans,

should go gossiping about and say, 'These suitors are a feeble folk;

they are paying court to the wife of a brave man whose bow not one

of them was able to string, and yet a beggarly tramp who came to the

house strung it at once and sent an arrow through the iron.' This is

what will be said, and it will be a scandal against us."

"Eurymachus," Penelope answered, "people who persist in eating up

the estate of a great chieftain and dishonouring his house must not

expect others to think well of them. Why then should you mind if men

talk as you think they will? This stranger is strong and well-built,

he says moreover that he is of noble birth. Give him the bow, and

let us see whether he can string it or no. I say- and it shall

surely be- that if Apollo vouchsafes him the glory of stringing it,

I will give him a cloak and shirt of good wear, with a javelin to keep

off dogs and robbers, and a sharp sword. I will also give him sandals,

and will see him sent safely whereever he wants to go."

Then Telemachus said, "Mother, I am the only man either in Ithaca or

in the islands that are over against Elis who has the right to let any

one have the bow or to refuse it. No one shall force me one way or the

other, not even though I choose to make the stranger a present of

the bow outright, and let him take it away with him. Go, then,

within the house and busy yourself with your daily duties, your

loom, your distaff, and the ordering of your servants. This bow is a

man's matter, and mine above all others, for it is I who am master


She went wondering back into the house, and laid her son's saying in

her heart. Then going upstairs with her handmaids into her room, she

mourned her dear husband till Minerva sent sweet sleep over her


The swineherd now took up the bow and was for taking it to

Ulysses, but the suitors clamoured at him from all parts of the

cloisters, and one of them said, "You idiot, where are you taking

the bow to? Are you out of your wits? If Apollo and the other gods

will grant our prayer, your own boarhounds shall get you into some

quiet little place, and worry you to death."

Eumaeus was frightened at the outcry they all raised, so he put

the bow down then and there, but Telemachus shouted out at him from

the other side of the cloisters, and threatened him saying, "Father

Eumaeus, bring the bow on in spite of them, or young as I am I will

pelt you with stones back to the country, for I am the better man of

the two. I wish I was as much stronger than all the other suitors in

the house as I am than you, I would soon send some of them off sick

and sorry, for they mean mischief."

Thus did he speak, and they all of them laughed heartily, which

put them in a better humour with Telemachus; so Eumaeus brought the

bow on and placed it in the hands of Ulysses. When he had done this,

he called Euryclea apart and said to her, "Euryclea, Telemachus says

you are to close the doors of the women's apartments. If they hear any

groaning or uproar as of men fighting about the house, they are not to

come out, but are to keep quiet and stay where they are at their


Euryclea did as she was told and closed the doors of the women's


Meanwhile Philoetius slipped quietly out and made fast the gates

of the outer court. There was a ship's cable of byblus fibre lying

in the gatehouse, so he made the gates fast with it and then came in

again, resuming the seat that he had left, and keeping an eye on

Ulysses, who had now got the bow in his hands, and was turning it

every way about, and proving it all over to see whether the worms

had been eating into its two horns during his absence. Then would

one turn towards his neighbour saying, "This is some tricky old

bow-fancier; either he has got one like it at home, or he wants to

make one, in such workmanlike style does the old vagabond handle it."

Another said, "I hope he may be no more successful in other things

than he is likely to be in stringing this bow."

But Ulysses, when he had taken it up and examined it all over,

strung it as easily as a skilled bard strings a new peg of his lyre

and makes the twisted gut fast at both ends. Then he took it in his

right hand to prove the string, and it sang sweetly under his touch

like the twittering of a swallow. The suitors were dismayed, and

turned colour as they heard it; at that moment, moreover, Jove

thundered loudly as a sign, and the heart of Ulysses rejoiced as he

heard the omen that the son of scheming Saturn had sent him.

He took an arrow that was lying upon the table- for those which

the Achaeans were so shortly about to taste were all inside the

quiver- he laid it on the centre-piece of the bow, and drew the

notch of the arrow and the string toward him, still seated on his

seat. When he had taken aim he let fly, and his arrow pierced every

one of the handle-holes of the axes from the first onwards till it had

gone right through them, and into the outer courtyard. Then he said to


"Your guest has not disgraced you, Telemachus. I did not miss what I

aimed at, and I was not long in stringing my bow. I am still strong,

and not as the suitors twit me with being. Now, however, it is time

for the Achaeans to prepare supper while there is still daylight,

and then otherwise to disport themselves with song and dance which are

the crowning ornaments of a banquet."

As he spoke he made a sign with his eyebrows, and Telemachus

girded on his sword, grasped his spear, and stood armed beside his

father's seat.


Then Ulysses tore off his rags, and sprang on to the broad

pavement with his bow and his quiver full of arrows. He shed the

arrows on to the ground at his feet and said, "The mighty contest is

at an end. I will now see whether Apollo will vouchsafe it to me to

hit another mark which no man has yet hit."

On this he aimed a deadly arrow at Antinous, who was about to take

up a two-handled gold cup to drink his wine and already had it in

his hands. He had no thought of death- who amongst all the revellers

would think that one man, however brave, would stand alone among so

many and kill him? The arrow struck Antinous in the throat, and the

point went clean through his neck, so that he fell over and the cup

dropped from his hand, while a thick stream of blood gushed from his

nostrils. He kicked the table from him and upset the things on it,

so that the bread and roasted meats were all soiled as they fell

over on to the ground. The suitors were in an uproar when they saw

that a man had been hit; they sprang in dismay one and all of them

from their seats and looked everywhere towards the walls, but there

was neither shield nor spear, and they rebuked Ulysses very angrily.

"Stranger," said they, "you shall pay for shooting people in this way:

om yi you shall see no other contest; you are a doomed man; he whom

you have slain was the foremost youth in Ithaca, and the vultures

shall devour you for having killed him."

Thus they spoke, for they thought that he had killed Antinous by

mistake, and did not perceive that death was hanging over the head

of every one of them. But Ulysses glared at them and said:

"Dogs, did you think that I should not come back from Troy? You have

wasted my substance, have forced my women servants to lie with you,

and have wooed my wife while I was still living. You have feared

neither Cod nor man, and now you shall die."

They turned pale with fear as he spoke, and every man looked round

about to see whither he might fly for safety, but Eurymachus alone


"If you are Ulysses," said he, "then what you have said is just.

We have done much wrong on your lands and in your house. But

Antinous who was the head and front of the offending lies low already.

It was all his doing. It was not that he wanted to marry Penelope;

he did not so much care about that; what he wanted was something quite

different, and Jove has not vouchsafed it to him; he wanted to kill

your son and to be chief man in Ithaca. Now, therefore, that he has

met the death which was his due, spare the lives of your people. We

will make everything good among ourselves, and pay you in full for all

that we have eaten and drunk. Each one of us shall pay you a fine

worth twenty oxen, and we will keep on giving you gold and bronze till

your heart is softened. Until we have done this no one can complain of

your being enraged against us."

Ulysses again glared at him and said, "Though you should give me all

that you have in the world both now and all that you ever shall

have, I will not stay my hand till I have paid all of you in full. You

must fight, or fly for your lives; and fly, not a man of you shall."

Their hearts sank as they heard him, but Eurymachus again spoke


"My friends, this man will give us no quarter. He will stand where

he is and shoot us down till he has killed every man among us. Let

us then show fight; draw your swords, and hold up the tables to shield

you from his arrows. Let us have at him with a rush, to drive him from

the pavement and doorway: we can then get through into the town, and

raise such an alarm as shall soon stay his shooting."

As he spoke he drew his keen blade of bronze, sharpened on both

sides, and with a loud cry sprang towards Ulysses, but Ulysses

instantly shot an arrow into his breast that caught him by the

nipple and fixed itself in his liver. He dropped his sword and fell

doubled up over his table. The cup and all the meats went over on to

the ground as he smote the earth with his forehead in the agonies of

death, and he kicked the stool with his feet until his eyes were

closed in darkness.

Then Amphinomus drew his sword and made straight at Ulysses to try

and get him away from the door; but Telemachus was too quick for

him, and struck him from behind; the spear caught him between the

shoulders and went right through his chest, so that he fell heavily to

the ground and struck the earth with his forehead. Then Telemachus

sprang away from him, leaving his spear still in the body, for he

feared that if he stayed to draw it out, some one of the Achaeans

might come up and hack at him with his sword, or knock him down, so he

set off at a run, and immediately was at his father's side. Then he


"Father, let me bring you a shield, two spears, and a brass helmet

for your temples. I will arm myself as well, and will bring other

armour for the swineherd and the stockman, for we had better be


"Run and fetch them," answered Ulysses, "while my arrows hold out,

or when I am alone they may get me away from the door."

Telemachus did as his father said, and went off to the store room

where the armour was kept. He chose four shields, eight spears, and

four brass helmets with horse-hair plumes. He brought them with all

speed to his father, and armed himself first, while the stockman and

the swineherd also put on their armour, and took their places near

Ulysses. Meanwhile Ulysses, as long as his arrows lasted, had been

shooting the suitors one by one, and they fell thick on one another:

when his arrows gave out, he set the bow to stand against the end wall

of the house by the door post, and hung a shield four hides thick

about his shoulders; on his comely head he set his helmet, well

wrought with a crest of horse-hair that nodded menacingly above it,

and he grasped two redoubtable bronze-shod spears.

Now there was a trap door on the wall, while at one end of the

pavement there was an exit leading to a narrow passage, and this

exit was closed by a well-made door. Ulysses told Philoetius to

stand by this door and guard it, for only one person could attack it

at a time. But Agelaus shouted out, "Cannot some one go up to the trap

door and tell the people what is going on? Help would come at once,

and we should soon make an end of this man and his shooting."

"This may not be, Agelaus," answered Melanthius, "the mouth of the

narrow passage is dangerously near the entrance to the outer court.

One brave man could prevent any number from getting in. But I know

what I will do, I will bring you arms from the store room, for I am

sure it is there that Ulysses and his son have put them."

On this the goatherd Melanthius went by back passages to the store

room of Ulysses, house. There he chose twelve shields, with as many

helmets and spears, and brought them back as fast as he could to

give them to the suitors. Ulysses' heart began to fail him when he saw

the suitors putting on their armour and brandishing their spears. He

saw the greatness of the danger, and said to Telemachus, "Some one

of the women inside is helping the suitors against us, or it may be


Telemachus answered, "The fault, father, is mine, and mine only; I

left the store room door open, and they have kept a sharper look out

than I have. Go, Eumaeus, put the door to, and see whether it is one

of the women who is doing this, or whether, as I suspect, it is

Melanthius the son of Dolius."

Thus did they converse. Meanwhile Melanthius was again going to

the store room to fetch more armour, but the swineherd saw him and

said to Ulysses who was beside him, "Ulysses, noble son of Laertes, it

is that scoundrel Melanthius, just as we suspected, who is going to

the store room. Say, shall I kill him, if I can get the better of him,

or shall I bring him here that you may take your own revenge for all

the many wrongs that he has done in your house?"

Ulysses answered, "Telemachus and I will hold these suitors in

check, no matter what they do; go back both of you and bind

Melanthius' hands and feet behind him. Throw him into the store room

and make the door fast behind you; then fasten a noose about his body,

and string him close up to the rafters from a high bearing-post,

that he may linger on in an agony."

Thus did he speak, and they did even as he had said; they went to

the store room, which they entered before Melanthius saw them, for

he was busy searching for arms in the innermost part of the room, so

the two took their stand on either side of the door and waited. By and

by Melanthius came out with a helmet in one hand, and an old

dry-rotted shield in the other, which had been borne by Laertes when

he was young, but which had been long since thrown aside, and the

straps had become unsewn; on this the two seized him, dragged him back

by the hair, and threw him struggling to the ground. They bent his

hands and feet well behind his back, and bound them tight with a

painful bond as Ulysses had told them; then they fastened a noose

about his body and strung him up from a high pillar till he was

close up to the rafters, and over him did you then vaunt, O

swineherd Eumaeus, saying, "Melanthius, you will pass the night on a

soft bed as you deserve. You will know very well when morning comes

from the streams of Oceanus, and it is time for you to be driving in

your goats for the suitors to feast on."

There, then, they left him in very cruel bondage, and having put

on their armour they closed the door behind them and went back to take

their places by the side of Ulysses; whereon the four men stood in the

cloister, fierce and full of fury; nevertheless, those who were in the

body of the court were still both brave and many. Then Jove's daughter

Minerva came up to them, having assumed the voice and form of

Mentor. Ulysses was glad when he saw her and said, "Mentor, lend me

your help, and forget not your old comrade, nor the many good turns he

has done you. Besides, you are my age-mate."

But all the time he felt sure it was Minerva, and the suitors from

the other side raised an uproar when they saw her. Agelaus was the

first to reproach her. "Mentor," he cried, "do not let Ulysses beguile

you into siding with him and fighting the suitors. This is what we

will do: when we have killed these people, father and son, we will

kill you too. You shall pay for it with your head, and when we have

killed you, we will take all you have, in doors or out, and bring it

into hotch-pot with Ulysses' property; we will not let your sons

live in your house, nor your daughters, nor shall your widow

continue to live in the city of Ithaca."

This made Minerva still more furious, so she scolded Ulysses very

angrily. "Ulysses," said she, "your strength and prowess are no longer

what they were when you fought for nine long years among the Trojans

about the noble lady Helen. You killed many a man in those days, and

it was through your stratagem that Priam's city was taken. How comes

it that you are so lamentably less valiant now that you are on your

own ground, face to face with the suitors in your own house? Come

on, my good fellow, stand by my side and see how Mentor, son of

Alcinous shall fight your foes and requite your kindnesses conferred

upon him."

But she would not give him full victory as yet, for she wished still

further to prove his own prowess and that of his brave son, so she

flew up to one of the rafters in the roof of the cloister and sat upon

it in the form of a swallow.

Meanwhile Agelaus son of Damastor, Eurynomus, Amphimedon,

Demoptolemus, Pisander, and Polybus son of Polyctor bore the brunt

of the fight upon the suitors' side; of all those who were still

fighting for their lives they were by far the most valiant, for the

others had already fallen under the arrows of Ulysses. Agelaus shouted

to them and said, "My friends, he will soon have to leave off, for

Mentor has gone away after having done nothing for him but brag.

They are standing at the doors unsupported. Do not aim at him all at

once, but six of you throw your spears first, and see if you cannot

cover yourselves with glory by killing him. When he has fallen we need

not be uneasy about the others."

They threw their spears as he bade them, but Minerva made them all

of no effect. One hit the door post; another went against the door;

the pointed shaft of another struck the wall; and as soon as they

had avoided all the spears of the suitors Ulysses said to his own men,

"My friends, I should say we too had better let drive into the

middle of them, or they will crown all the harm they have done us by

us outright."

They therefore aimed straight in front of them and threw their

spears. Ulysses killed Demoptolemus, Telemachus Euryades, Eumaeus

Elatus, while the stockman killed Pisander. These all bit the dust,

and as the others drew back into a corner Ulysses and his men rushed

forward and regained their spears by drawing them from the bodies of

the dead.

The suitors now aimed a second time, but again Minerva made their

weapons for the most part without effect. One hit a bearing-post of

the cloister; another went against the door; while the pointed shaft

of another struck the wall. Still, Amphimedon just took a piece of the

top skin from off Telemachus's wrist, and Ctesippus managed to graze

Eumaeus's shoulder above his shield; but the spear went on and fell to

the ground. Then Ulysses and his men let drive into the crowd of

suitors. Ulysses hit Eurydamas, Telemachus Amphimedon, and Eumaeus

Polybus. After this the stockman hit Ctesippus in the breast, and

taunted him saying, "Foul-mouthed son of Polytherses, do not be so

foolish as to talk wickedly another time, but let heaven direct your

speech, for the gods are far stronger than men. I make you a present

of this advice to repay you for the foot which you gave Ulysses when

he was begging about in his own house."

Thus spoke the stockman, and Ulysses struck the son of Damastor with

a spear in close fight, while Telemachus hit Leocritus son of Evenor

in the belly, and the dart went clean through him, so that he fell

forward full on his face upon the ground. Then Minerva from her seat

on the rafter held up her deadly aegis, and the hearts of the

suitors quailed. They fled to the other end of the court like a herd

of cattle maddened by the gadfly in early summer when the days are

at their longest. As eagle-beaked, crook-taloned vultures from the

mountains swoop down on the smaller birds that cower in flocks upon

the ground, and kill them, for they cannot either fight or fly, and

lookers on enjoy the sport- even so did Ulysses and his men fall

upon the suitors and smite them on every side. They made a horrible

groaning as their brains were being battered in, and the ground

seethed with their blood.

Leiodes then caught the knees of Ulysses and said, "Ulysses I

beseech you have mercy upon me and spare me. I never wronged any of

the women in your house either in word or deed, and I tried to stop

the others. I saw them, but they would not listen, and now they are

paying for their folly. I was their sacrificing priest; if you kill

me, I shall die without having done anything to deserve it, and

shall have got no thanks for all the good that I did."

Ulysses looked sternly at him and answered, "If you were their

sacrificing priest, you must have prayed many a time that it might

be long before I got home again, and that you might marry my wife

and have children by her. Therefore you shall die."

With these words he picked up the sword that Agelaus had dropped

when he was being killed, and which was lying upon the ground. Then he

struck Leiodes on the back of his neck, so that his head fell

rolling in the dust while he was yet speaking.

The minstrel Phemius son of Terpes- he who had been forced by the

suitors to sing to them- now tried to save his life. He was standing

near towards the trap door, and held his lyre in his hand. He did

not know whether to fly out of the cloister and sit down by the

altar of Jove that was in the outer court, and on which both Laertes

and Ulysses had offered up the thigh bones of many an ox, or whether

to go straight up to Ulysses and embrace his knees, but in the end

he deemed it best to embrace Ulysses' knees. So he laid his lyre on

the ground the ground between the mixing-bowl and the silver-studded

seat; then going up to Ulysses he caught hold of his knees and said,

"Ulysses, I beseech you have mercy on me and spare me. You will be

sorry for it afterwards if you kill a bard who can sing both for

gods and men as I can. I make all my lays myself, and heaven visits me

with every kind of inspiration. I would sing to you as though you were

a god, do not therefore be in such a hurry to cut my head off. Your

own son Telemachus will tell you that I did not want to frequent

your house and sing to the suitors after their meals, but they were

too many and too strong for me, so they made me."

Telemachus heard him, and at once went up to his father. "Hold!"

he cried, "the man is guiltless, do him no hurt; and we will Medon

too, who was always good to me when I was a boy, unless Philoetius

or Eumaeus has already killed him, or he has fallen in your way when

you were raging about the court."

Medon caught these words of Telemachus, for he was crouching under a

seat beneath which he had hidden by covering himself up with a freshly

flayed heifer's hide, so he threw off the hide, went up to Telemachus,

and laid hold of his knees.

"Here I am, my dear sir," said he, "stay your hand therefore, and

tell your father, or he will kill me in his rage against the suitors

for having wasted his substance and been so foolishly disrespectful to


Ulysses smiled at him and answered, "Fear not; Telemachus has

saved your life, that you may know in future, and tell other people,

how greatly better good deeds prosper than evil ones. Go, therefore,

outside the cloisters into the outer court, and be out of the way of

the slaughter- you and the bard- while I finish my work here inside."

The pair went into the outer court as fast as they could, and sat

down by Jove's great altar, looking fearfully round, and still

expecting that they would be killed. Then Ulysses searched the whole

court carefully over, to see if anyone had managed to hide himself and

was still living, but he found them all lying in the dust and

weltering in their blood. They were like fishes which fishermen have

netted out of the sea, and thrown upon the beach to lie gasping for

water till the heat of the sun makes an end of them. Even so were

the suitors lying all huddled up one against the other.

Then Ulysses said to Telemachus, "Call nurse Euryclea; I have

something to say to her."

Telemachus went and knocked at the door of the women's room. "Make

haste," said he, "you old woman who have been set over all the other

women in the house. Come outside; my father wishes to speak to you."

When Euryclea heard this she unfastened the door of the women's room

and came out, following Telemachus. She found Ulysses among the

corpses bespattered with blood and filth like a lion that has just

been devouring an ox, and his breast and both his cheeks are all

bloody, so that he is a fearful sight; even so was Ulysses

besmirched from head to foot with gore. When she saw all the corpses

and such a quantity of blood, she was beginning to cry out for joy,

for she saw that a great deed had been done; but Ulysses checked

her, "Old woman," said he, "rejoice in silence; restrain yourself, and

do not make any noise about it; it is an unholy thing to vaunt over

dead men. Heaven's doom and their own evil deeds have brought these

men to destruction, for they respected no man in the whole world,

neither rich nor poor, who came near them, and they have come to a bad

end as a punishment for their wickedness and folly. Now, however, tell

me which of the women in the house have misconducted themselves, and

who are innocent."

"I will tell you the truth, my son," answered Euryclea. "There are

fifty women in the house whom we teach to do things, such as carding

wool, and all kinds of household work. Of these, twelve in all have

misbehaved, and have been wanting in respect to me, and also to

Penelope. They showed no disrespect to Telemachus, for he has only

lately grown and his mother never permitted him to give orders to

the female servants; but let me go upstairs and tell your wife all

that has happened, for some god has been sending her to sleep."

"Do not wake her yet," answered Ulysses, "but tell the women who

have misconducted themselves to come to me."

Euryclea left the cloister to tell the women, and make them come

to Ulysses; in the meantime he called Telemachus, the stockman, and

the swineherd. "Begin," said he, "to remove the dead, and make the

women help you. Then, get sponges and clean water to swill down the

tables and seats. When you have thoroughly cleansed the whole

cloisters, take the women into the space between the domed room and

the wall of the outer court, and run them through with your swords

till they are quite dead, and have forgotten all about love and the

way in which they used to lie in secret with the suitors."

On this the women came down in a body, weeping and wailing bitterly.

First they carried the dead bodies out, and propped them up against

one another in the gatehouse. Ulysses ordered them about and made them

do their work quickly, so they had to carry the bodies out. When

they had done this, they cleaned all the tables and seats with sponges

and water, while Telemachus and the two others shovelled up the

blood and dirt from the ground, and the women carried it all away

and put it out of doors. Then when they had made the whole place quite

clean and orderly, they took the women out and hemmed them in the

narrow space between the wall of the domed room and that of the

yard, so that they could not get away: and Telemachus said to the

other two, "I shall not let these women die a clean death, for they

were insolent to me and my mother, and used to sleep with the


So saying he made a ship's cable fast to one of the bearing-posts

that supported the roof of the domed room, and secured it all around

the building, at a good height, lest any of the women's feet should

touch the ground; and as thrushes or doves beat against a net that has

been set for them in a thicket just as they were getting to their

nest, and a terrible fate awaits them, even so did the women have to

put their heads in nooses one after the other and die most

miserably. Their feet moved convulsively for a while, but not for very


As for Melanthius, they took him through the cloister into the inner

court. There they cut off his nose and his ears; they drew out his

vitals and gave them to the dogs raw, and then in their fury they

cut off his hands and his feet.

When they had done this they washed their hands and feet and went

back into the house, for all was now over; and Ulysses said to the

dear old nurse Euryclea, "Bring me sulphur, which cleanses all

pollution, and fetch fire also that I may burn it, and purify the

cloisters. Go, moreover, and tell Penelope to come here with her

attendants, and also all the maid servants that are in the house."

"All that you have said is true," answered Euryclea, "but let me

bring you some clean clothes- a shirt and cloak. Do not keep these

rags on your back any longer. It is not right."

"First light me a fire," replied Ulysses.

She brought the fire and sulphur, as he had bidden her, and

Ulysses thoroughly purified the cloisters and both the inner and outer

courts. Then she went inside to call the women and tell them what

had happened; whereon they came from their apartment with torches in

their hands, and pressed round Ulysses to embrace him, kissing his

head and shoulders and taking hold of his hands. It made him feel as

if he should like to weep, for he remembered every one of them.


Euryclea now went upstairs laughing to tell her mistress that her

dear husband had come home. Her aged knees became young again and

her feet were nimble for joy as she went up to her mistress and bent

over her head to speak to her. "Wake up Penelope, my dear child,"

she exclaimed, "and see with your own eyes something that you have

been wanting this long time past. Ulysses has at last indeed come home

again, and has killed the suitors who were giving so much trouble in

his house, eating up his estate and ill-treating his son."

"My good nurse," answered Penelope, "you must be mad. The gods

sometimes send some very sensible people out of their minds, and

make foolish people become sensible. This is what they must have

been doing to you; for you always used to be a reasonable person.

Why should you thus mock me when I have trouble enough already-

talking such nonsense, and waking me up out of a sweet sleep that

had taken possession of my eyes and closed them? I have never slept so

soundly from the day my poor husband went to that city with the

ill-omened name. Go back again into the women's room; if it had been

any one else, who had woke me up to bring me such absurd news I should

have sent her away with a severe scolding. As it is, your age shall

protect you."

"My dear child," answered Euryclea, "I am not mocking you. It is

quite true as I tell you that Ulysses is come home again. He was the

stranger whom they all kept on treating so badly in the cloister.

Telemachus knew all the time that he was come back, but kept his

father's secret that he might have his revenge on all these wicked


Then Penelope sprang up from her couch, threw her arms round

Euryclea, and wept for joy. "But my dear nurse," said she, "explain

this to me; if he has really come home as you say, how did he manage

to overcome the wicked suitors single handed, seeing what a number

of them there always were?"

"I was not there," answered Euryclea, "and do not know; I only heard

them groaning while they were being killed. We sat crouching and

huddled up in a corner of the women's room with the doors closed, till

your son came to fetch me because his father sent him. Then I found

Ulysses standing over the corpses that were lying on the ground all

round him, one on top of the other. You would have enjoyed it if you

could have seen him standing there all bespattered with blood and

filth, and looking just like a lion. But the corpses are now all piled

up in the gatehouse that is in the outer court, and Ulysses has lit

a great fire to purify the house with sulphur. He has sent me to

call you, so come with me that you may both be happy together after

all; for now at last the desire of your heart has been fulfilled; your

husband is come home to find both wife and son alive and well, and

to take his revenge in his own house on the suitors who behaved so

badly to him."

"'My dear nurse," said Penelope, "do not exult too confidently

over all this. You know how delighted every one would be to see

Ulysses come home- more particularly myself, and the son who has

been born to both of us; but what you tell me cannot be really true.

It is some god who is angry with the suitors for their great

wickedness, and has made an end of them; for they respected no man

in the whole world, neither rich nor poor, who came near them, who

came near them, and they have come to a bad end in consequence of

their iniquity. Ulysses is dead far away from the Achaean land; he

will never return home again."

Then nurse Euryclea said, "My child, what are you talking about? but

you were all hard of belief and have made up your mind that your

husband is never coming, although he is in the house and by his own

fire side at this very moment. Besides I can give you another proof;

when I was washing him I perceived the scar which the wild boar gave

him, and I wanted to tell you about it, but in his wisdom he would not

let me, and clapped his hands over my mouth; so come with me and I

will make this bargain with you- if I am deceiving you, you may have

me killed by the most cruel death you can think of."

"My dear nurse," said Penelope, "however wise you may be you can

hardly fathom the counsels of the gods. Nevertheless, we will go in

search of my son, that I may see the corpses of the suitors, and the

man who has killed them."

On this she came down from her upper room, and while doing so she

considered whether she should keep at a distance from her husband

and question him, or whether she should at once go up to him and

embrace him. When, however, she had crossed the stone floor of the

cloister, she sat down opposite Ulysses by the fire, against the

wall at right angles [to that by which she had entered], while Ulysses

sat near one of the bearing-posts, looking upon the ground, and

waiting to see what his wife would say to him when she saw him. For

a long time she sat silent and as one lost in amazement. At one moment

she looked him full in the face, but then again directly, she was

misled by his shabby clothes and failed to recognize him, till

Telemachus began to reproach her and said:

"Mother- but you are so hard that I cannot call you by such a

name- why do you keep away from my father in this way? Why do you

not sit by his side and begin talking to him and asking him questions?

No other woman could bear to keep away from her husband when he had

come back to her after twenty years of absence, and after having

gone through so much; but your heart always was as hard as a stone."

Penelope answered, "My son, I am so lost in astonishment that I

can find no words in which either to ask questions or to answer

them. I cannot even look him straight in the face. Still, if he really

is Ulysses come back to his own home again, we shall get to understand

one another better by and by, for there are tokens with which we two

are alone acquainted, and which are hidden from all others."

Ulysses smiled at this, and said to Telemachus, "Let your mother put

me to any proof she likes; she will make up her mind about it

presently. She rejects me for the moment and believes me to be

somebody else, because I am covered with dirt and have such bad

clothes on; let us, however, consider what we had better do next. When

one man has killed another, even though he was not one who would leave

many friends to take up his quarrel, the man who has killed him must

still say good bye to his friends and fly the country; whereas we have

been killing the stay of a whole town, and all the picked youth of

Ithaca. I would have you consider this matter."

"Look to it yourself, father," answered Telemachus, "for they say

you are the wisest counsellor in the world, and that there is no other

mortal man who can compare with you. We will follow you with right

good will, nor shall you find us fail you in so far as our strength

holds out."

"I will say what I think will be best," answered Ulysses. "First

wash and put your shirts on; tell the maids also to go to their own

room and dress; Phemius shall then strike up a dance tune on his lyre,

so that if people outside hear, or any of the neighbours, or some

one going along the street happens to notice it, they may think

there is a wedding in the house, and no rumours about the death of the

suitors will get about in the town, before we can escape to the

woods upon my own land. Once there, we will settle which of the

courses heaven vouchsafes us shall seem wisest."

Thus did he speak, and they did even as he had said. First they

washed and put their shirts on, while the women got ready. Then

Phemius took his lyre and set them all longing for sweet song and

stately dance. The house re-echoed with the sound of men and women

dancing, and the people outside said, "I suppose the queen has been

getting married at last. She ought to be ashamed of herself for not

continuing to protect her husband's property until he comes home."

This was what they said, but they did not know what it was that

had been happening. The upper servant Eurynome washed and anointed

Ulysses in his own house and gave him a shirt and cloak, while Minerva

made him look taller and stronger than before; she also made the

hair grow thick on the top of his head, and flow down in curls like

hyacinth blossoms; she glorified him about the head and shoulders just

as a skilful workman who has studied art of all kinds under Vulcan

or Minerva- and his work is full of beauty- enriches a piece of silver

plate by gilding it. He came from the bath looking like one of the

immortals, and sat down opposite his wife on the seat he had left. "My

dear," said he, "heaven has endowed you with a heart more unyielding

than woman ever yet had. No other woman could bear to keep away from

her husband when he had come back to her after twenty years of

absence, and after having gone through so much. But come, nurse, get a

bed ready for me; I will sleep alone, for this woman has a heart as

hard as iron."

"My dear," answered Penelope, "I have no wish to set myself up,

nor to depreciate you; but I am not struck by your appearance, for I

very well remember what kind of a man you were when you set sail

from Ithaca. Nevertheless, Euryclea, take his bed outside the bed

chamber that he himself built. Bring the bed outside this room, and

put bedding upon it with fleeces, good coverlets, and blankets."

She said this to try him, but Ulysses was very angry and said,

"Wife, I am much displeased at what you have just been saying. Who has

been taking my bed from the place in which I left it? He must have

found it a hard task, no matter how skilled a workman he was, unless

some god came and helped him to shift it. There is no man living,

however strong and in his prime, who could move it from its place, for

it is a marvellous curiosity which I made with my very own hands.

There was a young olive growing within the precincts of the house,

in full vigour, and about as thick as a bearing-post. I built my

room round this with strong walls of stone and a roof to cover them,

and I made the doors strong and well-fitting. Then I cut off the top

boughs of the olive tree and left the stump standing. This I dressed

roughly from the root upwards and then worked with carpenter's tools

well and skilfully, straightening my work by drawing a line on the

wood, and making it into a bed-prop. I then bored a hole down the

middle, and made it the centre-post of my bed, at which I worked

till I had finished it, inlaying it with gold and silver; after this I

stretched a hide of crimson leather from one side of it to the

other. So you see I know all about it, and I desire to learn whether

it is still there, or whether any one has been removing it by

cutting down the olive tree at its roots."

When she heard the sure proofs Ulysses now gave her, she fairly

broke down. She flew weeping to his side, flung her arms about his

neck, and kissed him. "Do not be angry with me Ulysses," she cried,

"you, who are the wisest of mankind. We have suffered, both of us.

Heaven has denied us the happiness of spending our youth, and of

growing old, together; do not then be aggrieved or take it amiss

that I did not embrace you thus as soon as I saw you. I have been

shuddering all the time through fear that someone might come here

and deceive me with a lying story; for there are many very wicked

people going about. Jove's daughter Helen would never have yielded

herself to a man from a foreign country, if she had known that the

sons of Achaeans would come after her and bring her back. Heaven put

it in her heart to do wrong, and she gave no thought to that sin,

which has been the source of all our sorrows. Now, however, that you

have convinced me by showing that you know all about our bed (which no

human being has ever seen but you and I and a single maid servant, the

daughter of Actor, who was given me by my father on my marriage, and

who keeps the doors of our room) hard of belief though I have been I

can mistrust no longer."

Then Ulysses in his turn melted, and wept as he clasped his dear and

faithful wife to his bosom. As the sight of land is welcome to men who

are swimming towards the shore, when Neptune has wrecked their ship

with the fury of his winds and waves- a few alone reach the land,

and these, covered with brine, are thankful when they find

themselves on firm ground and out of danger- even so was her husband

welcome to her as she looked upon him, and she could not tear her

two fair arms from about his neck. Indeed they would have gone on

indulging their sorrow till rosy-fingered morn appeared, had not

Minerva determined otherwise, and held night back in the far west,

while she would not suffer Dawn to leave Oceanus, nor to yoke the

two steeds Lampus and Phaethon that bear her onward to break the day

upon mankind.

At last, however, Ulysses said, "Wife, we have not yet reached the

end of our troubles. I have an unknown amount of toil still to

undergo. It is long and difficult, but I must go through with it,

for thus the shade of Teiresias prophesied concerning me, on the day

when I went down into Hades to ask about my return and that of my

companions. But now let us go to bed, that we may lie down and enjoy

the blessed boon of sleep."

"You shall go to bed as soon as you please," replied Penelope,

"now that the gods have sent you home to your own good house and to

your country. But as heaven has put it in your mind to speak of it,

tell me about the task that lies before you. I shall have to hear

about it later, so it is better that I should be told at once."

"My dear," answered Ulysses, "why should you press me to tell you?

Still, I will not conceal it from you, though you will not like

it. I do not like it myself, for Teiresias bade me travel far and

wide, carrying an oar, till I came to a country where the people

have never heard of the sea, and do not even mix salt with their food.

They know nothing about ships, nor oars that are as the wings of a

ship. He gave me this certain token which I will not hide from you. He

said that a wayfarer should meet me and ask me whether it was a

winnowing shovel that I had on my shoulder. On this, I was to fix my

oar in the ground and sacrifice a ram, a bull, and a boar to

Neptune; after which I was to go home and offer hecatombs to all the

gods in heaven, one after the other. As for myself, he said that death

should come to me from the sea, and that my life should ebb away

very gently when I was full of years and peace of mind, and my

people should bless me. All this, he said, should surely come to


And Penelope said, "If the gods are going to vouchsafe you a happier

time in your old age, you may hope then to have some respite from


Thus did they converse. Meanwhile Eurynome and the nurse took

torches and made the bed ready with soft coverlets; as soon as they

had laid them, the nurse went back into the house to go to her rest,

leaving the bed chamber woman Eurynome to show Ulysses and Penelope to

bed by torch light. When she had conducted them to their room she went

back, and they then came joyfully to the rites of their own old bed.

Telemachus, Philoetius, and the swineherd now left off dancing, and

made the women leave off also. They then laid themselves down to sleep

in the cloisters.

When Ulysses and Penelope had had their fill of love they fell

talking with one another. She told him how much she had had to bear in

seeing the house filled with a crowd of wicked suitors who had

killed so many sheep and oxen on her account, and had drunk so many

casks of wine. Ulysses in his turn told her what he had suffered,

and how much trouble he had himself given to other people. He told her

everything, and she was so delighted to listen that she never went

to sleep till he had ended his whole story.

He began with his victory over the Cicons, and how he thence reached

the fertile land of the Lotus-eaters. He told her all about the

Cyclops and how he had punished him for having so ruthlessly eaten his

brave comrades; how he then went on to Aeolus, who received him

hospitably and furthered him on his way, but even so he was not to

reach home, for to his great grief a hurricane carried him out to

sea again; how he went on to the Laestrygonian city Telepylos, where

the people destroyed all his ships with their crews, save himself

and his own ship only. Then he told of cunning Circe and her craft,

and how he sailed to the chill house of Hades, to consult the ghost of

the Theban prophet Teiresias, and how he saw his old comrades in arms,

and his mother who bore him and brought him up when he was a child;

how he then heard the wondrous singing of the Sirens, and went on to

the wandering rocks and terrible Charybdis and to Scylla, whom no

man had ever yet passed in safety; how his men then ate the cattle

of the sun-god, and how Jove therefore struck the ship with his

thunderbolts, so that all his men perished together, himself alone

being left alive; how at last he reached the Ogygian island and the

nymph Calypso, who kept him there in a cave, and fed him, and wanted

him to marry her, in which case she intended making him immortal so

that he should never grow old, but she could not persuade him to let

her do so; and how after much suffering he had found his way to the

Phaeacians, who had treated him as though he had been a god, and

sent him back in a ship to his own country after having given him

gold, bronze, and raiment in great abundance. This was the last

thing about which he told her, for here a deep sleep took hold upon

him and eased the burden of his sorrows.

Then Minerva bethought her of another matter. When she deemed that

Ulysses had had both of his wife and of repose, she bade

gold-enthroned Dawn rise out of Oceanus that she might shed light upon

mankind. On this, Ulysses rose from his comfortable bed and said to

Penelope, "Wife, we have both of us had our full share of troubles,

you, here, in lamenting my absence, and I in being prevented from

getting home though I was longing all the time to do so. Now, however,

that we have at last come together, take care of the property that

is in the house. As for the sheep and goats which the wicked suitors

have eaten, I will take many myself by force from other people, and

will compel the Achaeans to make good the rest till they shall have

filled all my yards. I am now going to the wooded lands out in the

country to see my father who has so long been grieved on my account,

and to yourself I will give these instructions, though you have little

need of them. At sunrise it will at once get abroad that I have been

killing the suitors; go upstairs, therefore, and stay there with

your women. See nobody and ask no questions."

As he spoke he girded on his armour. Then he roused Telemachus,

Philoetius, and Eumaeus, and told them all to put on their armour

also. This they did, and armed themselves. When they had done so, they

opened the gates and sallied forth, Ulysses leading the way. It was

now daylight, but Minerva nevertheless concealed them in darkness

and led them quickly out of the town.


Then Mercury of Cyllene summoned the ghosts of the suitors, and in

his hand he held the fair golden wand with which he seals men's eyes

in sleep or wakes them just as he pleases; with this he roused the

ghosts and led them, while they followed whining and gibbering

behind him. As bats fly squealing in the hollow of some great cave,

when one of them has fallen out of the cluster in which they hang,

even so did the ghosts whine and squeal as Mercury the healer of

sorrow led them down into the dark abode of death. When they had

passed the waters of Oceanus and the rock Leucas, they came to the

gates of the sun and the land of dreams, whereon they reached the

meadow of asphodel where dwell the souls and shadows of them that

can labour no more.

Here they found the ghost of Achilles son of Peleus, with those of

Patroclus, Antilochus, and Ajax, who was the finest and handsomest man

of all the Danaans after the son of Peleus himself.

They gathered round the ghost of the son of Peleus, and the ghost of

Agamemnon joined them, sorrowing bitterly. Round him were gathered

also the ghosts of those who had perished with him in the house of

Aeisthus; and the ghost of Achilles spoke first.

"Son of Atreus," it said, "we used to say that Jove had loved you

better from first to last than any other hero, for you were captain

over many and brave men, when we were all fighting together before

Troy; yet the hand of death, which no mortal can escape, was laid upon

you all too early. Better for you had you fallen at Troy in the

hey-day of your renown, for the Achaeans would have built a mound over

your ashes, and your son would have been heir to your good name,

whereas it has now been your lot to come to a most miserable end."

"Happy son of Peleus," answered the ghost of Agamemnon, "for

having died at Troy far from Argos, while the bravest of the Trojans

and the Achaeans fell round you fighting for your body. There you

lay in the whirling clouds of dust, all huge and hugely, heedless

now of your chivalry. We fought the whole of the livelong day, nor

should we ever have left off if Jove had not sent a hurricane to

stay us. Then, when we had borne you to the ships out of the fray,

we laid you on your bed and cleansed your fair skin with warm water

and with ointments. The Danaans tore their hair and wept bitterly

round about you. Your mother, when she heard, came with her immortal

nymphs from out of the sea, and the sound of a great wailing went

forth over the waters so that the Achaeans quaked for fear. They would

have fled panic-stricken to their ships had not wise old Nestor

whose counsel was ever truest checked them saying, 'Hold, Argives, fly

not sons of the Achaeans, this is his mother coming from the sea

with her immortal nymphs to view the body of her son.'

"Thus he spoke, and the Achaeans feared no more. The daughters of

the old man of the sea stood round you weeping bitterly, and clothed

you in immortal raiment. The nine muses also came and lifted up

their sweet voices in lament- calling and answering one another; there

was not an Argive but wept for pity of the dirge they chaunted. Days

and nights seven and ten we mourned you, mortals and immortals, but on

the eighteenth day we gave you to the flames, and many a fat sheep

with many an ox did we slay in sacrifice around you. You were burnt in

raiment of the gods, with rich resins and with honey, while heroes,

horse and foot, clashed their armour round the pile as you were

burning, with the tramp as of a great multitude. But when the flames

of heaven had done their work, we gathered your white bones at

daybreak and laid them in ointments and in pure wine. Your mother

brought us a golden vase to hold them- gift of Bacchus, and work of

Vulcan himself; in this we mingled your bleached bones with those of

Patroclus who had gone before you, and separate we enclosed also those

of Antilochus, who had been closer to you than any other of your

comrades now that Patroclus was no more.

"Over these the host of the Argives built a noble tomb, on a point

jutting out over the open Hellespont, that it might be seen from far

out upon the sea by those now living and by them that shall be born

hereafter. Your mother begged prizes from the gods, and offered them

to be contended for by the noblest of the Achaeans. You must have been

present at the funeral of many a hero, when the young men gird

themselves and make ready to contend for prizes on the death of some

great chieftain, but you never saw such prizes as silver-footed Thetis

offered in your honour; for the gods loved you well. Thus even in

death your fame, Achilles, has not been lost, and your name lives

evermore among all mankind. But as for me, what solace had I when

the days of my fighting were done? For Jove willed my destruction on

my return, by the hands of Aegisthus and those of my wicked wife."

Thus did they converse, and presently Mercury came up to them with

the ghosts of the suitors who had been killed by Ulysses. The ghosts

of Agamemnon and Achilles were astonished at seeing them, and went

up to them at once. The ghost of Agamemnon recognized Amphimedon son

of Melaneus, who lived in Ithaca and had been his host, so it began to

talk to him.

"Amphimedon," it said, "what has happened to all you fine young men-

all of an age too- that you are come down here under the ground? One

could pick no finer body of men from any city. Did Neptune raise his

winds and waves against you when you were at sea, or did your

enemies make an end of you on the mainland when you were

cattle-lifting or sheep-stealing, or while fighting in defence of

their wives and city? Answer my question, for I have been your

guest. Do you not remember how I came to your house with Menelaus,

to persuade Ulysses to join us with his ships against Troy? It was a

whole month ere we could resume our voyage, for we had hard work to

persuade Ulysses to come with us."

And the ghost of Amphimedon answered, "Agamemnon, son of Atreus,

king of men, I remember everything that you have said, and will tell

you fully and accurately about the way in which our end was brought

about. Ulysses had been long gone, and we were courting his wife,

who did not say point blank that she would not marry, nor yet bring

matters to an end, for she meant to compass our destruction: this,

then, was the trick she played us. She set up a great tambour frame in

her room and began to work on an enormous piece of fine needlework.

'Sweethearts,' said she, '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 completed a pall

for the hero Laertes, 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 is what she said, and we assented; whereupon

we could see her working upon her great web all day long, but at night

she would unpick the stitches again by torchlight. She fooled us in

this way for three years without our finding it out, but as time

wore on and she was now in her fourth year, in the waning of moons and

many days had been accomplished, one of her maids who knew what she

was doing told us, and we caught her in the act of undoing her work,

so she had to finish it whether she would or no; and when she showed

us the robe she had made, after she had had it washed, its splendour

was as that of the sun or moon.

"Then some malicious god conveyed Ulysses to the upland farm where

his swineherd lives. Thither presently came also his son, returning

from a voyage to Pylos, and the two came to the town when they had

hatched their plot for our destruction. Telemachus came first, and

then after him, accompanied by the swineherd, came Ulysses, clad in

rags and leaning on a staff as though he were some miserable old

beggar. He came so unexpectedly that none of us knew him, not even the

older ones among us, and we reviled him and threw things at him. He

endured both being struck and insulted without a word, though he was

in his own house; but when the will of Aegis-bearing Jove inspired

him, he and Telemachus took the armour and hid it in an inner chamber,

bolting the doors behind them. Then he cunningly made his wife offer

his bow and a quantity of iron to be contended for by us ill-fated

suitors; and this was the beginning of our end, for not one of us

could string the bow- nor nearly do so. When it was about to reach the

hands of Ulysses, we all of us shouted out that it should not be given

him, no matter what he might say, but Telemachus insisted on his

having it. When he had got it in his hands he strung it with ease

and sent his arrow through the iron. Then he stood on the floor of the

cloister and poured his arrows on the ground, glaring fiercely about

him. First he killed Antinous, and then, aiming straight before him,

he let fly his deadly darts and they fell thick on one another. It was

plain that some one of the gods was helping them, for they fell upon

us with might and main throughout the cloisters, and there was a

hideous sound of groaning as our brains were being battered in, and

the ground seethed with our blood. This, Agamemnon, is how we came

by our end, and our bodies are lying still un-cared for in the house

of Ulysses, for our friends at home do not yet know what has happened,

so that they cannot lay us out and wash the black blood from our

wounds, making moan over us according to the offices due to the


"Happy Ulysses, son of Laertes," replied the ghost of Agamemnon,

"you are indeed blessed in the possession of a wife endowed with

such rare excellence of understanding, and so faithful to her wedded

lord as Penelope the daughter of Icarius. The fame, therefore, of

her virtue shall never die, and the immortals shall compose a song

that shall be welcome to all mankind in honour of the constancy of

Penelope. How far otherwise was the wickedness of the daughter of

Tyndareus who killed her lawful husband; her song shall be hateful

among men, for she has brought disgrace on all womankind even on the

good ones."

Thus did they converse in the house of Hades deep down within the

bowels of the earth. Meanwhile Ulysses and the others passed out of

the town and soon reached the fair and well-tilled farm of Laertes,

which he had reclaimed with infinite labour. Here was his house,

with a lean-to running all round it, where the slaves who worked for

him slept and sat and ate, while inside the house there was an old

Sicel woman, who looked after him in this his country-farm. When

Ulysses got there, he said to his son and to the other two:

"Go to the house, and kill the best pig that you can find for

dinner. Meanwhile I want to see whether my father will know me, or

fail to recognize me after so long an absence."

He then took off his armour and gave it to Eumaeus and Philoetius,

who went straight on to the house, while he turned off into the

vineyard to make trial of his father. As he went down into the great

orchard, he did not see Dolius, nor any of his sons nor of the other

bondsmen, for they were all gathering thorns to make a fence for the

vineyard, at the place where the old man had told them; he therefore

found his father alone, hoeing a vine. He had on a dirty old shirt,

patched and very shabby; his legs were bound round with thongs of

oxhide to save him from the brambles, and he also wore sleeves of

leather; he had a goat skin cap on his head, and was looking very

woe-begone. When Ulysses saw him so worn, so old and full of sorrow,

he stood still under a tall pear tree and began to weep. He doubted

whether to embrace him, kiss him, and tell him all about his having

come home, or whether he should first question him and see what he

would say. In the end he deemed it best to be crafty with him, so in

this mind he went up to his father, who was bending down and digging

about a plant.

"I see, sir," said Ulysses, "that you are an excellent gardener-

what pains you take with it, to be sure. There is not a single

plant, not a fig tree, vine, olive, pear, nor flower bed, but bears

the trace of your attention. I trust, however, that you will not be

offended if I say that you take better care of your garden than of

yourself. You are old, unsavoury, and very meanly clad. It cannot be

because you are idle that your master takes such poor care of you,

indeed your face and figure have nothing of the slave about them,

and proclaim you of noble birth. I should have said that you were

one of those who should wash well, eat well, and lie soft at night

as old men have a right to do; but tell me, and tell me true, whose

bondman are you, and in whose garden are you working? Tell me also

about another matter. Is this place that I have come to really Ithaca?

I met a man just now who said so, but he was a dull fellow, and had

not the patience to hear my story out when I was asking him about an

old friend of mine, whether he was still living, or was already dead

and in the house of Hades. Believe me when I tell you that this man

came to my house once when I was in my own country and never yet did

any stranger come to me whom I liked better. He said that his family

came from Ithaca and that his father was Laertes, son of Arceisius.

I received him hospitably, making him welcome to all the abundance

of my house, and when he went away I gave him all customary

presents. I gave him seven talents of fine gold, and a cup of solid

silver with flowers chased upon it. I gave him twelve light cloaks,

and as many pieces of tapestry; I also gave him twelve cloaks of

single fold, twelve rugs, twelve fair mantles, and an equal number

of shirts. To all this I added four good looking women skilled in

all useful arts, and I let him take his choice."

His father shed tears and answered, "Sir, you have indeed come to

the country that you have named, but it is fallen into the hands of

wicked people. All this wealth of presents has been given to no

purpose. If you could have found your friend here alive in Ithaca,

he would have entertained you hospitably and would have required

your presents amply when you left him- as would have been only right

considering what you have already given him. But tell me, and tell

me true, how many years is it since you entertained this guest- my

unhappy son, as ever was? Alas! He has perished far from his own

country; the fishes of the sea have eaten him, or he has fallen a prey

to the birds and wild beasts of some continent. Neither his mother,

nor I his father, who were his parents, could throw our arms about him

and wrap him in his shroud, nor could his excellent and richly dowered

wife Penelope bewail her husband as was natural upon his death bed,

and close his eyes according to the offices due to the departed. But

now, tell me truly for I want to know. Who and whence are you- tell me

of your town and parents? Where is the ship lying that has brought you

and your men to Ithaca? Or were you a passenger on some other man's

ship, and those who brought you here have gone on their way and left


"I will tell you everything," answered Ulysses, "quite truly. I come

from Alybas, where I have a fine house. I am son of king Apheidas, who

is the son of Polypemon. My own name is Eperitus; heaven drove me

off my course as I was leaving Sicania, and I have been carried here

against my will. As for my ship it is lying over yonder, off the

open country outside the town, and this is the fifth year since

Ulysses left my country. Poor fellow, yet the omens were good for

him when he left me. The birds all flew on our right hands, and both

he and I rejoiced to see them as we parted, for we had every hope that

we should have another friendly meeting and exchange presents."

A dark cloud of sorrow fell upon Laertes as he listened. He filled

both hands with the dust from off the ground and poured it over his

grey head, groaning heavily as he did so. The heart of Ulysses was

touched, and his nostrils quivered as he looked upon his father;

then he sprang towards him, flung his arms about him and kissed him,

saying, "I am he, father, about whom you are asking- I have returned

after having been away for twenty years. But cease your sighing and

lamentation- we have no time to lose, for I should tell you that I

have been killing the suitors in my house, to punish them for their

insolence and crimes."

"If you really are my son Ulysses," replied Laertes, "and have

come back again, you must give me such manifest proof of your identity

as shall convince me."

"First observe this scar," answered Ulysses, "which I got from a

boar's tusk when I was hunting on Mount Parnassus. You and my mother

had sent me to Autolycus, my mother's father, to receive the

presents which when he was over here he had promised to give me.

Furthermore I will point out to you the trees in the vineyard which

you gave me, and I asked you all about them as I followed you round

the garden. We went over them all, and you told me their names and

what they all were. You gave me thirteen pear trees, ten apple

trees, and forty fig trees; you also said you would give me fifty rows

of vines; there was corn planted between each row, and they yield

grapes of every kind when the heat of heaven has been laid heavy

upon them."

Laertes' strength failed him when he heard the convincing proofs

which his son had given him. He threw his arms about him, and

Ulysses had to support him, or he would have gone off into a swoon;

but as soon as he came to, and was beginning to recover his senses, he

said, "O father Jove, then you gods are still in Olympus after all, if

the suitors have really been punished for their insolence and folly.

Nevertheless, I am much afraid that I shall have all the townspeople

of Ithaca up here directly, and they will be sending messengers

everywhere throughout the cities of the Cephallenians."

Ulysses answered, "Take heart and do not trouble yourself about

that, but let us go into the house hard by your garden. I have already

told Telemachus, Philoetius, and Eumaeus to go on there and get dinner

ready as soon as possible."

Thus conversing the two made their way towards the house. When

they got there they found Telemachus with the stockman and the

swineherd cutting up meat and mixing wine with water. Then the old

Sicel woman took Laertes inside and washed him and anointed him with

oil. She put him on a good cloak, and Minerva came up to him and

gave him a more imposing presence, making him taller and stouter

than before. When he came back his son was surprised to see him

looking so like an immortal, and said to him, "My dear father, some

one of the gods has been making you much taller and better-looking."

Laertes answered, "Would, by Father Jove, Minerva, and Apollo,

that I were the man I was when I ruled among the Cephallenians, and

took Nericum, that strong fortress on the foreland. If I were still

what I then was and had been in our house yesterday with my armour on,

I should have been able to stand by you and help you against the

suitors. I should have killed a great many of them, and you would have

rejoiced to see it."

Thus did they converse; but the others, when they had finished their

work and the feast was ready, left off working, and took each his

proper place on the benches and seats. Then they began eating; by

and by old Dolius and his sons left their work and came up, for

their mother, the Sicel woman who looked after Laertes now that he was

growing old, had been to fetch them. When they saw Ulysses and were

certain it was he, they stood there lost in astonishment; but

Ulysses scolded them good-naturedly and said, "Sit down to your

dinner, old man, and never mind about your surprise; we have been

wanting to begin for some time and have been waiting for you."

Then Dolius put out both his hands and went up to Ulysses. "Sir,"

said he, seizing his master's hand and kissing it at the wrist, "we

have long been wishing you home: and now heaven has restored you to us

after we had given up hoping. All hail, therefore, and may the gods

prosper you. But tell me, does Penelope already know of your return,

or shall we send some one to tell her?"

"Old man," answered Ulysses, "she knows already, so you need not

trouble about that." On this he took his seat, and the sons of

Dolius gathered round Ulysses to give him greeting and embrace him one

after the other; then they took their seats in due order near Dolius

their father.

While they were thus busy getting their dinner ready, Rumour went

round the town, and noised abroad the terrible fate that had

befallen the suitors; as soon, therefore, as the people heard of it

they gathered from every quarter, groaning and hooting before the

house of Ulysses. They took the dead away, buried every man his own,

and put the bodies of those who came from elsewhere on board the

fishing vessels, for the fishermen to take each of them to his own

place. They then met angrily in the place of assembly, and when they

were got together Eupeithes rose to speak. He was overwhelmed with

grief for the death of his son Antinous, who had been the first man

killed by Ulysses, so he said, weeping bitterly, "My friend, this

man has done the Achaeans great wrong. He took many of our best men

away with him in his fleet, and he has lost both ships and men; now,

moreover, on his return he has been killing all the foremost men among

the Cephallenians. Let us be up and doing before he can get away to

Pylos or to Elis where the Epeans rule, or we shall be ashamed of

ourselves for ever afterwards. It will be an everlasting disgrace to

us if we do not avenge the murder of our sons and brothers. For my own

part I should have no mote pleasure in life, but had rather die at

once. Let us be up, then, and after them, before they can cross over

to the mainland."

He wept as he spoke and every one pitied him. But Medon and the bard

Phemius had now woke up, and came to them from the house of Ulysses.

Every one was astonished at seeing them, but they stood in the

middle of the assembly, and Medon said, "Hear me, men of Ithaca.

Ulysses did not do these things against the will of heaven. I myself

saw an immortal god take the form of Mentor and stand beside him. This

god appeared, now in front of him encouraging him, and now going

furiously about the court and attacking the suitors whereon they

fell thick on one another."

On this pale fear laid hold of them, and old Halitherses, son of

Mastor, rose to speak, for he was the only man among them who knew

both past and future; so he spoke to them plainly and in all

honesty, saying,

"Men of Ithaca, it is all your own fault that things have turned out

as they have; you would not listen to me, nor yet to Mentor, when we

bade you check the folly of your sons who were doing much wrong in the

wantonness of their hearts- wasting the substance and dishonouring the

wife of a chieftain who they thought would not return. Now, however,

let it be as I say, and do as I tell you. Do not go out against

Ulysses, or you may find that you have been drawing down evil on

your own heads."

This was what he said, and more than half raised a loud shout, and

at once left the assembly. But the rest stayed where they were, for

the speech of Halitherses displeased them, and they sided with

Eupeithes; they therefore hurried off for their armour, and when

they had armed themselves, they met together in front of the city, and

Eupeithes led them on in their folly. He thought he was going to

avenge the murder of his son, whereas in truth he was never to return,

but was himself to perish in his attempt.

Then Minerva said to Jove, "Father, son of Saturn, king of kings,

answer me this question- What do you propose to do? Will you set

them fighting still further, or will you make peace between them?"

And Jove answered, "My child, why should you ask me? Was it not by

your own arrangement that Ulysses came home and took his revenge

upon the suitors? Do whatever you like, but I will tell you what I

think will be most reasonable arrangement. Now that Ulysses is

revenged, let them swear to a solemn covenant, in virtue of which he

shall continue to rule, while we cause the others to forgive and

forget the massacre of their sons and brothers. Let them then all

become friends as heretofore, and let peace and plenty reign."

This was what Minerva was already eager to bring about, so down

she darted from off the topmost summits of Olympus.

Now when Laertes and the others had done dinner, Ulysses began by

saying, "Some of you go out and see if they are not getting close up

to us." So one of Dolius's sons went as he was bid. Standing on the

threshold he could see them all quite near, and said to Ulysses, "Here

they are, let us put on our armour at once."

They put on their armour as fast as they could- that is to say

Ulysses, his three men, and the six sons of Dolius. Laertes also and

Dolius did the same- warriors by necessity in spite of their grey

hair. When they had all put on their armour, they opened the gate

and sallied forth, Ulysses leading the way.

Then Jove's daughter Minerva came up to them, having assumed the

form and voice of Mentor. Ulysses was glad when he saw her, and said

to his son Telemachus, "Telemachus, now that are about to fight in

an engagement, which will show every man's mettle, be sure not to

disgrace your ancestors, who were eminent for their strength and

courage all the world over."

"You say truly, my dear father," answered Telemachus, "and you shall

see, if you will, that I am in no mind to disgrace your family."

Laertes was delighted when he heard this. "Good heavens, he

exclaimed, "what a day I am enjoying: I do indeed rejoice at it. My

son and grandson are vying with one another in the matter of valour."

On this Minerva came close up to him and said, "Son of Arceisius-

best friend I have in the world- pray to the blue-eyed damsel, and

to Jove her father; then poise your spear and hurl it."

As she spoke she infused fresh vigour into him, and when he had

prayed to her he poised his spear and hurled it. He hit Eupeithes'

helmet, and the spear went right through it, for the helmet stayed

it not, and his armour rang rattling round him as he fell heavily to

the ground. Meantime Ulysses and his son fell the front line of the

foe and smote them with their swords and spears; indeed, they would

have killed every one of them, and prevented them from ever getting

home again, only Minerva raised her voice aloud, and made every one

pause. "Men of Ithaca," she cried, cease this dreadful war, and settle

the matter at once without further bloodshed."

On this pale fear seized every one; they were so frightened that

their arms dropped from their hands and fell upon the ground at the

sound of the goddess's voice, and they fled back to the city for their

lives. But Ulysses gave a great cry, and gathering himself together

swooped down like a soaring eagle. Then the son of Saturn sent a

thunderbolt of fire that fell just in front of Minerva, so she said to

Ulysses, "Ulysses, noble son of Laertes, stop this warful strife, or

Jove will be angry with you."

Thus spoke Minerva, and Ulysses obeyed her gladly. Then Minerva

assumed the form and voice of Mentor, and presently made a covenant of

peace between the two contending parties.




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