The whistling wind began to blow, and swiftly along the swarming water sped our ships, and touched at night Geraestus, where on Poseidon's altar we laid many thighs of bulls, thank- ful that we had compassed the wide sea. It was the fourth day when the crews of Diomed the horseman, son of Tydeus, moored their trim ships at Argos. I still held on toward Pylos, nor did the breeze once fall after the god first sent it forth to blow.
But all III. Safely, they say, returned the spearmen of the Myrmidons, whom the proud son of fierce Achilles led ; safely, too, Philoctetes, the gallant son of Poias ; and back to Crete Idomeneus brought all his men, — all who escaped the war, the sea took not a man. About the son of Atreus you yourselves have heard, though you live far away ; how he returned, and how Aegisthus plotted his mournfid death. And yet a fearfid reckoning Aegisthus paid!
When a man dies, how good it is to leave a son! That son took vengeance on the slayer, wily Aegisthus, who had slain his famous father. But no such boon the gods bestowed on me and on my father. Now, therefore, all must simply be endured.
Pray tell me, do you willingly submit, or are the peo- ple of your land adverse to you, led by some voice of God? Who knows but yet Odysseus may return and recompense their crimes, either alone, or all the Achaeans with him? For I never knew the gods to show such open friendship as Pallas Athene showed in standing by Odysseus. If now to you she would be such a friend and heartily give aid, it might be some of these men here would cease to think of mar- riage.
Too great is what you say ; I am astonished. Hope what I might, such things could never be, not if the gods should will them. Easily may a god, who will, bring a man safe from far. But I myself would gladly meet a multitude of woes, if thvis I might go home and see my day of coming, and not return and fall beside my hearth as Agamemnon fell, under the plottings of his own wife and Aegisthus. Yet death, the common lot, gods have no power to turn even from one they love, when the fell doom of death that lays men low once overtakes him. For him no real return can ever be ; long time ago the immortals fixed his death and his dark doom.
At present I would trace a different story and question Nestor, since beyond all men else he knows the right and wise. Three generations of mankind they say that he has ruled, and as I now behold him he seems like an im- mortal. O Nestor, son of Neleus, relate to me the truth! How did the son of Atreus die, wide-ruling III.
And where was Menelaus? What was the deadly plot wily Aegisthus laid to kill a man much braver than himself? Was Menelaus absent from Achaean Argos, traveling to men afar, that so Aegis- thus, taking courage, did the murder? In- deed, you yourself guess how it had fallen out if the son of Atreus, light-haired Menelaus, had found Ae- gisthus living in the palace when he returned from Troy.
Then over dead Aegisthus, men had heaped no mound of earth, but dogs and birds had feasted on him where he lay upon the plain outside the town, and no Achaean woman had made lament for him ; for monstrous was the deed he wrought. At Troy we tarried, bringing to fulfillment many toils, while he, at ease, hidden in grazing Argos, strove hard to win the wife of Agamemnon by his words.
At first, indeed, she scorned ill-doing, this royal Clytaemnestra, being of upright mind. Moreover, a bard was with her whom the son of Atreus strictly charged, on setting forth for Troy, to guard his wife. But when at last the doom of gods constrained her to her ruin, then did Aeofisthus take the bard to a lone island and leave him there the prey and prize of birds, while her, as willing as himself, he led to his own home. And many a thigh-piece did he burn upon the sacred altars of the gods, and many an offering render, woven stuffs and gold, at having achieved such monstrous deed as in his heart he had not hoped.
So Menelaus tarried, though eager for his journey, to bury his companion and to pay the funeral rites. But when he also, sailing in his hollow ships over the wine- dark sea, reached in his course the steep height of Maleia, from that point on far-seeing Zeus gave him a grievous way.
He poured forth blasts of whistling winds and swollen waves as huge as mountains. Here is a cliff, smooth and steep toward the water, at the border land of Gortyn, on the misty sea, where the south wind drives in the heavy waves on the west- ern point toward Phaestus, and this small rock holds back the heavy waves.
Some came in here, and the men themselves hardly escaped destruction ; their ships the waves crushed on the ledges. But the five other dark-bowed ships wind and wave bore to Egyjjt. So Menelaus gathered there much substance and much gold, coasting about on ship-board to men of alien speech ; and all this time at home Aegisthus foully plotted. Seven years he reigned in rich My- cene when he had slain the son of Atreus. The peo- ple were held down. But in the eighth ill came ; for royal Orestes came from Athens and slew the slayer, wily Aegisthus, who had slain his famous father.
The slaughter done, he held a funeral banquet for the Argives, over his hateful mother and spiritless Aegis- thus, and on that self-same day came Menelaus, good at the war-cry, bringing a store of treasure, all the freight his ships could bear. And yet, I say, go visit Menelaus. Indeed, I bid you go ; for he is lately come from foreign lands and from those nations whence one could not really hope to come, when once the storms had swept him off into so vast a sea, — a sea from which birds travel not within a year, so vast it is and fearful.
Go then at once with your own ship and crew, or if you like by land ; chariot and horses are ready for you, and ready too my sons to be your guides to sacred Lacedaemon, where lives light-haired Menelaus. Falsehood he will not speak ; truly up- right is he. But come, cut up the tongues and mix the wine, that after we have poured libations to Poseidon and the rest of the immortals we seek our rest, since it is time for that. For now the day has turned to dusk, and surely it is not well to tarry long at the gods' feast ; rather to rise and go.
Pages poured water on their hands ; young men brimmed bowls with drink and served to all, with a first pious portion for the cup ; they them- selves threw the tongues into the flame and, rising, poured libations. Telemachus set off together for their hollow ship. But Nestor checked them and rebuked them, say- ing: " Zeus and the other immortal gods forbid that you should leave my house and turn to a swift ship!
As if I were a man quite without clothes and poor, a man who had not robes and rugs enough at home for him- self and friends to sleep in comfort! But in my house are goodly robes and rugs. And never, surely, shall the son of that Odysseus lie on ship's deck while I am living, or while within my halls children remain to entertain such guests as visit house of mine. Nay, he shall now attend you and sleep within your halls.
But as for me, I go to the black ship to cheer my men and tell their duties, for I am the only man of years among them all ; the others, younger men, follow me out of friendship, and all are of the age of bold Telemachus. There would I lay me down by the black hollow ship to-night ; but in the morn- ing I will go to the bold Cauconians where there are debts now due me, not recent ones nor small.
As for Telemachus who stays with you, send him upon his way by chariot with your son, and give him horses that have swiftest speed and best endurance. Awe fell on all who saw. The old man marveled as he gazed, grasped by the hand Telemachus, and said as he addressed him : "Dear friend, you will not prove, I trust, a base man, lacking spirit, if when so young the gods be- come your guides. This is none else of those who III. Ah, queen, be gracious and vouchsafe me fair renown, — me and my children and my honored wife, — and I will give to thee a glossy heifer, broad of brow, unbroken, one no man ever brought beneath the yoke.
Her I will give, Jiipping her horns with gold. Then the Gerenian horseman Nestor led sons and sons- in-law to his fair palace. And they on reaching the far-famed palace of the king, took seats in order on couches and on chairs ; and the old man mixed at their coming a vessel of sweet wine, which, now eleven years old, the housewife opened, loosening the lid.
A bowl of this the old man mixed, and fervently he prayed, pouring libation to Athene, daughter of aegis- bearing Zeus. Then after they had poured and drunk as their hearts would, desiring rest, they each departed home- ward ; but in the house itself the Gerenian horseman Nestor prepared the bed of Telemachus, the son of princely Odysseus, upon a well-bored bedstead beneath the echoing portico.
By him he placed Peisistratus, that sturdy spearman, one ever foremost, he who was still the bachelor among the sons at home. But Nestor slept in the recess of the high hall ; his wife, the Queen, making her bed beside him. Soon as the early rosy-fingered dawn appeared, the Gerenian horseman Nestor rose from bed, and coming forth sat down on the smooth stones which stood be- fore his lofty gate, white, glistening as with oil.
Round him his sons collected in a group, on com- ing from their chambers, — Echephron and Stratius, Perseus, Aretus, and gallant Thrasymedes, and sixth and last came lord Peisistratus. Then thej led for- ward godlike Telemachus, and set him by their side, and thus began the Gerenian horseman Nestor : " Hasten, dear children, and fulfill my vow ; that first of all the gods I satisfy Athene, who came to me in open presence at the gods' high feast. Go one among you to the field and have a heifer quickly brought, and let the neat-herd drive her up.
One go to the black ship of bold Telemachus, and bring here all his crew. Leave only two behind. Let one again summon the smith Laerces hither, to tip with gold the heifer's horns. The rest of you stay here together. But tell the maids within our famous palace to spread a feast, to fetch some seats, some logs of wood, and some fresh water. And now there came the heifer from the field ; there came from the swift balanced ship the crew of brave Te- lemachus ; there came the smith, with his smith's tools in hand, his implements of art, anvil and hammer and the shapely tongs, with which he works the gold ; there came Athene, too, to meet the sacrifice.
Then the old horseman Nestor furnished gold, and so that other welded it round the heifer's horns, smoothing it till the goddess might be pleased to view the offering. Then the old horseman Nestor began the opening rites, of washing hands and sprinkling meal. And fervently he prayed Athene at beginning, casting the forelocks in the fire. So after they had prayed and strewn the barley- meal, forthwith the son of Nestor, ardent Thrasymedes, drew near and dealt the blow.
The axe cut through the sinews of the neck and broke the heifer's power. A cry went up from the daughters of Nestor, the sons' wives, and his own honored wife, Eurydice, the eldest of the daughters of Clymenus. The sons then raised the beast up from the trodden earth and held her so, the while Peisistratus, ever the foremost, cut the throat. And after the black blood had flowed and life had left the carcase, they straightway laid it open, quickly cut out the thighs, all in due order, wrapped them in fat in double layers and placed raw flesh thereon.
On billets of wood the old man burned them, and poured upon them sparkling wine, while young men by his side held five-pronged forks. So after the thighs were burned and the inward parts were tasted, they sliced the rest, and stuck it on the forks and roasted all, holding the pointed forks in hand. Meanwhile to Telemachus fair Polycaste gave a bath, she who was youngest daughter of Nestor, son of Ne- leus. And after she had bathed him and anointed him with oil and put upon him a goodly robe and tunic, forth from the bath he came, in bearing like the immortals ; and he went and sat by Nestor, the shep- herd of the people.
The others, too, when they had roasted the outer flesh and drawn it off, sat down and fell to feasting. So after they had stayed desire for drink and food, then thus began the Gerenian horseman Nestor ; " My sons, go fetch the f ull-maned horses for Telemachus and yoke them to the car, that he may make his journey. Quickly they harnessed the swift horses to the car. The housewife put in bread and wine and dainties, such things as heaven-descended princes eat. And now Telemachus mounted the goodly chariot, and Nestor's son Peisistratus, ever the foremost, mounted the chariot too, and took the reins in hand.
He cracked the whip to start, and not unwillingly the pair flew off into the plain, left the steep citadel of Pylos, and all day long they shook the yoke they bore be- tween them. Now the sun sank and all the ways grew dark, and the men arrived at Pherae, before the house of Diodes, the son of Orsilochus, whose father was Alpheius. There for the night they rested ; he gave them enter- tainment. Then as the early rosy-fingered dawn appeared, they harnessed the horses, mounted the gay chariot, and off they drove from porch and echoing portico. Peisistratus cracked the whip to start, and not unwil- lingly the pair flew off.
So into the plain they came where grew the grain ; and through this, by and by, they reached their journey's ending. So fast their horses sped them. Then the sun sank and all the ways grew dark. Into the low land now they came of caverned Lace- daemon and drove to the palace of famous Menelaus.
They found him holding a wedding feast for all his kin in honor of the son and gentle daughter of his house. To the son of Achilles, that breaker of men's ranks, he gave his daughter ; for long ago, at Troy, he pledged himself to give her, and now the gods brought round their wedding.https://eagdiwajou.cf
‘V’ Is for Victory
Accordingly to-day with horses and with chariots he sent her forth to the famed city of the Myrmidons, whose king her bridegroom was. Then for his son he took to wife Alector's daughter out of Sparta, his son being now full grown, strong Megapenthes, the child of a slave mother. Thus at the feast in the great high-roofed house, neighbors and kinsmen of famous Menelaus sat and made merry.
Among them sang the sacred bard and touched his lyre; a pair of dancers went whirling- down the middle as he began the song. Now at the palace gate two youths and their horses stopped, princely Telemachus and the proud son of Nestor. Say, shall we unharness their swift horses, or shall we send them forth for some one else to entertain? Only because as guests we often had our food of strangers, are we here ; and we must look to Zeus henceforth to keep us safe from harm.
They took the sweating horses from the yoke, tied them securely at the mangers, threw them some corn and mixed therewith white barley, then tipped the chariot up against the bright face-wall, and brought the men into the lordly house. And they, beholding, marveled at the dwelling of the heaven-descended king ; for a sheen as of the sun or moon played through the high- roofed house of famous Menelaus. Now after they had satisfied their eyes with gazing, they went to the polished baths and bathed. And when the maids had bathed them and anointed them with oil, arid put upon them fleecy coats and tunics, they took their seats by Menelaus, son of Atreus.
And water for the hands a servant brought in a beautiful pitcher made of gold, and poured it out over a silver basin for their washing, and spread a polished table by their side. Then the grave housekeeper brought bread and placed before them, setting out food of IV. The carver, too, took platters of meat and placed before them, meat of all kinds, and set their golden goblets ready. And greeting the pair said light-haired Menelaus : " Break bread, and have good cheer! Surely the parent line suffers no loss in yon ; but you are of some line of heaven-descended sceptred kings.
For common men have no such children. But after they had stayed desire for drink and food, Telemachus said to Nestor's son, — his head bent close, that others might not hear : " O son of Nestor, my heart's delight, notice the blaze of bronze throughout the echoing halls, the gold, the amber, silver, and ivory! The court of Olympian Zeus within must be like this. What untold wealth is here! No mortal man could vie with Zeus ; eternal are his halls and his possessions ; but one of humankind to vie with me in wealth there may or may not be.
Through many woes and wanderings I brought it in my ships, and I was eight years on the way. Cyprus, Phoenicia, Egypt, I wandered over ; I came to the Ethiopians, Sidonians, and Erembians, and into Libya, where the lambs are full-horned at their birth. Three times a year the flocks bear young. While I was gathering there- abouts much wealth and wandering on, a stranger slew my brother while off his guard, by stealth, and through the craft of his accursed wife. Here too I have no joy as lord of my possessions. But from your fathers you will have heard that tale, whoever they may be ; for great was my affliction, and deso- late my house which once stood fair and stored with many blessings.
Would I were here at home with but the third part of my wealth, and they were safe to-day who fell on the plain of Troy, far off from grazing Argos! But no! Now with a sigh I ease my heart, then check myself ; soon comes a sur- feit of benumbing sorrow. Yet in my grief it is not all I so much mourn as one alone, who makes me loathe my sleep and food when I remember him ; for no Achaean met the contests that Odysseus met and won.
For him now mourn the old Laertes, steadfast Penelope, and Telemachus, whom he left at home a new-born child. Tears from liis eyelids dropped upon the ground when he heard his father's name, and he held with both his hands his purple cloak be- fore his eyes. This Menelaus noticed, and hesitated in his mind and heart whether to leave him to make mention of his father or first to question him and prove him through and through.
While he thus doubted in his mind and heart, forth from her frao:rant high-roofed chamber Helen came. For her, Aclraste placed a carven chair ; Alcipjie brought a covering of soft wool, and Phylo a silver basket which Aleandra gave, the wife of Polybus, who lived at Thebes in Egypt, where abundant wealth is in the houses. He a'ave to Menelaus two silver bath-tubs, a pair of kettles, and ten talents of gold.
And then, besides, his wife gave Helen beautiful gifts ; she gave a golden distaff and a basket upon rollers, fashioned of silver, and its rim finished with gold. This her attendant Phylo now brought and set beside her, filled with a fine-spun yarn ; across it lay the distaff, charged with dark wool. Seated upon her chair, — upon whose lower part there was a rest for feet, — she straightway questioned thus her husband closely : "Do we know, heaven - descended Menelaus, who these men here assert themselves to be?
Shall I dis- guise my thought or speak it plainly? My heart bids speak. None have I ever seen, I think, so like another — no man, no woman ; amazed am I to see! And even now, as I began to call to mind Odysseus and to tell what grievous toils he bore in my behalf, this youth let fall a bitter tear from under his brows and held his purple cloak be- fore his eyes.
The Gerenian horseman, Nestor, sent me forth to be his guide ; for he desired to see you, hoping that you might give him aid by word or deed. Ah, many a grief the son of an absent father meets at home, when other heljjers are not by. So with Telemachus ; the one is gone, and others there are none throughout the land to ward off iU. Is there then within my house the son of one so dear, one who for me bore many a conflict! I used to say I should rejoice over his coming home far more than over that of all the other Ai-gives, if through the seas Olympian far-seeing Zeus let our swift ships find passage.
In Argos I would have granted him a city, and would here have built his house, and I would have brought him out of Ithaca, — him and his goods, his child, and all his people, — clearing its dwellers from some single city that lies within my neighbor- hood and owns me as its lord. So living here we had been much together ; and nothing further could have parted then our joyous friendship till death's dark cloud closed round. But God himself must have been envious of a life like this, and made that hapless man alone to fail of comins:.
Then Argive Helen wept, the child of Zeus ; Telema- chus too wept, and Menelaus, son of Atreus ; nor yet did Nestor's son keep his eyes tearless. For in his mind he mused on good Antilochus, whom the illus- IV. Remembering whom, he spoke in winged words : " O son of Ati'eus, that you were wase beyond the wont of men okl Nestor used to say, when we woukl mention you at home, talking with one another. And now if it is well, give heed to me ; for after a feast I do not like to sit and grieve. There is to-mor- row. Not that I think it ill to weep for one who dies, when he has met his doom.
It is the only honor sorrowing men can pay, to cut the hair and let the tear fall down the cheek. A brother of mine once died, one not the meanest of the Argives. You must have known him. I never myself looked on his face and never knew him ; but Antiloclms, they say, was very swift of foot, a famous fighter. Easily is his offspring known to whom the son of Kronos allots a boon in birth and marriage.
And thus has he blessed Nestor continually, all his days, granting him hale old age at home and children who are youths of wisdom, mighty with the spear. Let us then check the lamentation which arose a while ago and turn once more to feasting. Let them pour water on our hands. Again, to-morrow, for Telema- chus and me there will be tales to tell. Now elsewhere Helen turned her thoughts, the child of Zeus.
He who should taste it, mingled in the bowl, would not that day let tears fall down his cheeks although his mother and his father died, although before his door a brother or dear son fell by the sword and his own eyes beheld. Such cimning drugs had the daughter of Zeus, drugs of a healing virtue, which Polydamna gave, the wife of Thon, in Egypt, where the fruitful soil yields drugs of every kind, some that when mixed are healing, others deadly. There every one is a physician, skillful be- yond all humankind ; for they are of the race of Paeon. So after she had cast the drug into the bowl and bidden pour, then once more taking ujj the word, she said : " Heaven-descended son of Atreus, Menelaus, and you too, you sons of worthy men, though Zeus to one in one way, to another in another, distributes good and ill and is almighty, yet for the present sit and feast within the hall and cheer yourselves with tales.
One fitting well the time I will relate. Fully I can- not tell, nor even name the many feats of hardy Odysseus. But this is the sort of deed that brave man did and dared there in the Trojan land where you Achaeans suffered. Marring himself with cruel blows, casting a wretched garment round his shoul- ders, and looking like a slave, he entered the wide- wayed city of his foes ; and other than his own true self he made himself ajjpear in this disguise, even like a beggar, far as he was from such an one at the Achaean ships. In such a guise, he entered the Tro- jans' town ; they took no notice, one and all ; I alone kncAV him for the man he was and questioned him.
He shrewdly tried to foil me. But after I had bathed IV. So, slaying many Trojans with his trenchant sword, he went off to the Argives and carried back much knowledge. Thereat the other Trojan women raised a loud lament. My soul was glad ; for my heart already turned toward going home again, and I would mourn the blindness Aphrodite brought when she lured me thither from my native land and bade me leave my daughter, my chamber, and my husband, — a man who lacked for nothing, either in mind or person. I have in days gone by tested the wisdom and the will of many heroes, and I have traveled over many lands ; but never have I beheld a soid so true as hardy Odysseus.
This also is the sort of deed that brave man did and dared within the wooden horse where all we Argive chiefs were lying, bearing to the Trojans death and doom.
Erelong you passed that way, — some god must have impelled you who sought to bring the Trojans honor ; godlike Dei'phobus was following after. Thrice walking round our hollow ambush, touching it here and there, you called by name the Danaan chiefs, feigning the voice of every Argive's wife. Now I and the son of Tydeus and royal Odysseus, crouched in the middle, heard your call, and we two, starting up, were minded to go forth, or else to answer straightway from within ; but Odys- seus held us back and stayed our madness.
Then all the other sons of the Achaeans held their peace. Anticlus only was determined to make answer to your words ; but Odysseus firndy closed his mouth with his strong hands, and so saved all the Achaeans. All through that time he held him thus, till Pallas Athene led you off. Nay, bring us to our beds, that so at last, lulled in sweet sleep, we be at ease. So the maids left the hall, with torches in their hands, and spread the bed ; and a page led forth the strangers.
Thus in the porch slept prince Telemachus and the illustrious son of Nestor. But the son of Atreus slept in the recess of the high hall, and by him long- robed Helen lay, a queen of women. Soon as the early rosy-fingered dawn appeared, Menelaus, good at the war-cry, rose from bed, put on his clothes, slung his sharp sword about his shoulder, under his shining feet bound his fair sandals, and came forth from his chamber in bearing like a god. Then seating himself beside Telemachus, he thus ad- dressed him, saying : "What is it that has brought you here, my lord Telemachus, to sacred Lacedaemon on the broad ocean-ridges?
A public need or private? Tell me the very truth. My home is swallowed up, my rich estate is wasted ; with men of evil hearts my house is filled, men who continually butcher my thronging flocks and swing- paced, crook-horned oxen, — the suitors of my mother, overweening in their pride. Therefore I now come hither to your knees to ask if you will tell me of my father's mournful death, in case you saw it for your- self with your own eyes or from some other heard the story of his wanderings ; for to exceeding grief his mother bore him. I do entreat you, if ever my father, good Odysseus, in word or deed kept covenant with you there in the Trojan land where you Achaeans suf- fered, be mindful of it now ; tell me the very truth.
In a very brave man's bed they sought to lie, the weaklings! As when in the den of a strong lion a hind has laid asleep her new-born sucking fawns, then roams the slopes and grassy hollows seeking food, and by and by into his lair the lion comes and on both hind and fawns brings ghastly doom ; so shall Odysseus bring a ghastly doom on these. Ah, father Zeus, Athene, and Apollo! But as to what you ask thus urgently, I will not turn to talk of other things, and so deceive you ; but what the unerring old man of the sea told me, in not a word will I disguise or hide from you.
Now in the surging sea an island lies, — Pharos they call it, — distant as far from the Egyptian stream as a hollow ship runs in a day when a whistling wind blows after. By it there lies a bay with a good anchorage, from which they send the trim ships off to sea after supplying them with drinking water. Here the gods kept me twenty days ; not once came winds that blow along the sea and serve for aid to ships on the broad ocean-ridges. So all my stores would have been spent and my men's courage, had not a certain goddess pitied and pre- served me.
This was Eidothea, the daughter of mighty Proteus, the old man of the sea ; for I deeply moved her heart as she met me on my solitary way apart from my companions ; for they were ever roam- ing round the island, fishing with crooked hooks, and hunger pinched their bellies. She, drawing near me, spoke and thus she said : ' Are you so very helpless, stranger, and unnerved, or do you willingly give way, taking a pleasure in your pains? So long you have been pent within the island, unable to discover an es- cape, while fainter grows the courage of your com- rades.
Rather tell me, — for gods know all, — which of the immortals chains me here and bars my progress ; and tell me of my homeward way, how I may pass along the swarming sea. There haunts this place a certain old man of the sea, unerring and immortal, Proteus of Egypt, who knows the depths of every sea, and is Poseidon's minister. He is, men say, my father, who begot me. If you could only lie in wait and seize on him, he would tell you of your course, the stages of your journey, and of your homeward way, how you may pass along the swarming sea. And he would tell you, heaven- descended man, if you desire, all that has happened at your home, of good or ill, while you have wandered on your long and toilsome way.
Hard is a god for mortal man to master. When now the sun has reached mid-heaven, forth from the water comes the unerring old man of the sea at a puff of the west wind and veiled in the dark ripple. When he is come, he lays him down under the caverned cliffs ; while round him seals, the brood of a fair sea nymph, huddle and sleep, on rising from the foaming water, and pungent is the scent they breathe of the unfathomed sea. There will I bring you at the dawn of day and lay you in the line.
Meantime do you choose carefully for comrades the three best men you have among the well-benched ships. And I will tell you all the old man's magic arts. First he will count the seals and go their round ; and when he has told them off by fives and found them all, he will lie down among them like a shepherd with his flock.
He will make trial of you, turning into whatsoever moves on earth, to water even, and heaven- kindled fire ; yet hold unflinchingly and clasp the more. But when at length he questions you in his own shape, — in the same shape as when you saw him sleeping, — then, hero, cease from violence and set the old man free, but ask what god afflicts you, and ask about your homeward way, how you may pass along the swarming sea.
I to the ships which lay along the sands turned me away, and as I went my heart grew very dark. But when I came to the ship and to the sea and we had made our supper and the immortal night drew near, we laid us down to sleep upon the beach. Then as the early rosy-fingered dawn appeared, along the shore of the wide-stretching sea I went with many supplications to the gods.
I took three comrades with me, men whom I trusted most in every undertaking. She had scooped hollows in the sands, and sat awaiting us. Near her we drew. She made us all lie down in order and threw a skin on each. Then might our ambuscade have proved a hard one ; for the pestilent stench of the sea-born seals oppressed us sorely. And who would make his bed beside a monster of the sea?
But she preserved us and contrived for us great ease. Under the nose of each she set ambrosia, very sweet of smell, and this de- stroyed the creature's stench. So all the morning did IV. At last the seals came trooping from the sea and soon lay down in order on the beach. At noon out of the sea came the old man, found his fat seals, went over all, and told their num- ber, telling us first among the creatures, and never in his heart suspected there was fraud.
At length he too lay down. Then with a shout we sprang and threw our arms about him, and the old man did not forget his crafty wiles : for first he turned into a bearded lion, then to a dragon, leoj ard, and huge boar ; he turned into liquid water, into a branching tree ; still we held firm, with patient hearts. But when at last the old man wearied, skillful though he was in magic arts, in open speech he questioned me and said : " ' Which of the gods, O son of Atreus, aided your plot to seize me here against my will, by ambuscade?
What would you have? Then shall the gods grant you the course which you desire. Yet still I answered thus and said : ' Old man, all that you bid me I will do. Only declare me this and plainly tell, did all the Achaeans with their ships re- turn unharmed, whom Nestor and I left on our set- ting forth from Troy? Did any die by grievous death at sea or in the arms of friends when the skein of war was wound? Bet- ter it were you should not see nor comprehend my knowledge ; for certainly you will not long be free from tears after you learn the truth.
Yes, many were cut off and many spared. Of leaders, only two among the mailed Achaeans died on the journey home, — as for the battle, you yourself were there, — and one, still living, lingers yet on the wide sea. And so he might have escaped his doom, though hated by Athene, had he not uttered overween- ing words, puffed up with pride ; for he said he had escaped the great gulf of the sea in spite of gods. Poseidon heard his haughty boasting, and straightway, grasping the trident in his sturdy hands, he smote the rock of Gyrae, splitting it open. One part still held its place ; the broken piece fell in the sea.
It was on this Ajax at first had sat, puffed up with pride. It bore him down into the boundless surging deep. So there he died, drinking the briny water. But when he was about to reach the steep height of Maleia, a sweeping storm bore him once more along the swarming sea, loudly lamenting, to the confines of that country where Thyestes dwelt in former days, but where now dwelt Thyestes' son, Aegisthus.
But from a tower a watchman spied him, whom wily Aegisthus posted there and promised him for pay two talents of gold. He had been keeping guard throughout the year, lest unobserved the king might come and try the force of arms. He hastened to the house to tell the shepherd of the people, and soon Aegisthus planned his treacherous craft.
Selecting twenty of the bravest in the land, he laid an ambush ; and just across the hall bade that a feast be spread. Then he went to welcome Agamemnon, the shepherd of the people, with horses and with chariots, while medita- ting crimes. He led him up imheeding to his death and slew him at the feast, even as one kills the ox be- fore the manger. Not a follower of the son of Atreus lived, nor a follower of Aegisthus ; all died within the hall.
Seek rather with all speed to reach your native land ; for either you will find Aegisthus still alive, or Orestes will have slain him, so forestalling you, and you may join the funeral feast. I saw him on an island, letting the big tears fall, in the hall of the nymph Calypso, who holds him there by force. No power has he to reach his native land, for he has no ships fitted with oars, nor crews to bear him over the broad ocean-ridges.
As for yourself, heaven- favored Menelaus, it is not destined you shall die and meet your doom in grazing Argos ; but to the Ely- sian plain and the earth's limits the immortal gods shall bring you, where fair-haired Rhadamanthus dwells. Here utterly at ease passes the life of men. No snow is here, no winter long, no rain, but the loud- blowing breezes of the west the Ocean-stream sends up to bring men coolness ; for you have Helen and are counted son-in-law of Zeus. I with my gallant comrades turned to our ships, and as I went my heart grew very dark.
But when we came to the ship and to the sea, and we had made our sup- per, and the immortal night drew near, we laid us down to sleep upon the beach. Then as the early rosy- IV. So back again to Egypt's waters, to its heaven-descended stream, I brought my ships and made the offerings due. And after appeasing the anger of the gods that live for- ever, I raised a mound to Agamemnon, that his fame might never die. This done, I sailed away ; the gods gave wind and brought me swiftly to my native land.
But come, remain awhile here at my hall until eleven or twelve days pass. Then I will send you forth with honor, giving you splendid gifts, three horses and a polished car. Moreover, I will give a goodly chalice, that as you pour libations to the immortal gods you may be mindful all your days of me. But already friends at hallowed Pylos are uneasy, and you still hold me here. As for the gift that you would give, pray let it be some keepsake. Horses I will not take to Ithaca, but leave them as an honor here for you ; for you rule open plains, where lotus is abundant, marsh-grass and wheat and corn, and the white broad- eared barley.
In Ithaca there are no open runs, no meadows ; a land for goats, and pleasanter than graz- ing country. Not one of the islands is a place to drive a horse, none has good meadows, of all that rest upon the sea ; Ithaca least of all. Yes, I will make the change, for well I can.
And out of all the gifts stored in my house as trea- sures I will give you that which is most beautiful and precious : I will give a well-wrought bowl. It is of solid silver, its rim finished with gold, the work of Hephaestus. Lord Phaedimus, the king of the Si- donians, gave it to me, when his house sheltered me upon my homeward way. And now to you I gladly give it. So they conversed together. But banqueters were coming to the palace of the noble king.
Men drove up sheep, and brought the cheering wine, and their veiled wives sent bread. Thus they were busied with their dinner in the hall. Meanwhile before the palace of Odysseus the sui- tors were making merry, throwing the discus and the hunting spear upon the level pavement, holding riot as of old. Here sat Antinoiis and god-like Eurymachus, the leaders of the suitors ; for they in manly excel- lence were quite the best of all.
To them Noenion, son of Phronius, now drew near ; and questioning Antinoiis thus he spoke : " Antinoiis, do we know, or do we not, when Tele- machus will come from sandy Pylos? He took a ship of mine and went away, and now I need her for cross- ing to broad Elis where I keep my twelve brood mares. The hardy mules, their foals, are still unbroken ; one I would fetch away and break him in. The others were amazed. They did not think Telemachus was gone to Pylos, to the land of Neleus ; they thought he still was somewhere at the farm, among the flocks, or with the swineherd.
Picked men of Ithaca, or did he take his hirelings and slaves? That indeed he might do! And tell me truly this, that I may know it well ; did he with violence, against your will, take the black ship? Or did you give it willingly, because he begged? What coidd one do when a man like him, with troubles on his heart, entreated?
Hard would it be to keep from giving. The youths who next to us are noblest in the land are his companions. I marked their captain as he went on board, and it was Mentor or a god exactly like him. Yet this is strange. Here I saw noble Mentor yesterday in the morning ; and there he was embarking on the ship for Pylos. But the proud spirits of the two were stirred. They made the suitors seat themselves and stop their sports. And then Antinoiis, Eupeithes' son, addressed them in dis- pleasure.
With great passion was his dark soul filled. His eyes were like bright fire. Here is a monstrous action im- pudently brought to pass, this journey of Telemachus. We said it should not be ; and here in spite of all of us this young boy simply goes, launching a ship and picking out the best men of the land. Before we think, he will begin to be our bane. But may Zeus blast his power before he reaches man's estate! Come then, and give me a swift ship with twenty comrades, and I will lie in wait upon his way, and guard the strait twixt Ithaca and rugged Samos. So to his grief he cruises off to find his father.
And presently they rose and entered the hall of Odysseus. But now Penelojje, no long time after, learned of the plans on which the suitors' hearts were brooding. For the page Medon told her, who overheard the plot as he stood outside the court, while they within it framed their scheme. He hastened through the palace with the tidings to Penelope ; and as he crossed her threshold Penelope thus spoke : " Page, why have the lordly suitors sent you here? Was it to tell the maids of princely Odysseus to put by work and lay their table? Oh that they had not wooed or gathered here, or that they here to-day might eat their last and latest meal!
You troop about and squander all our living, even all the estate of wise Telemachus. To your fathers of old you gave no heed when you were children, nor heard what sort of man Odysseus was among your elders, how he did no wrong by deed or word to any in the land. And that is the common way with high-born kings ; one man they hate and love another.
But he wrought no iniquity to any man. Yet what your disposition is, and what your shameful deeds, is plain to see. There is no gratitude for good deeds done. They have resolved to slay Telemachus with the keen sword, as he sails home. He went away for tidings of his father, to hallowed Pylos and to sacred Lace- daemon. Long time a speechless stupor held her ; IV. But at the last she answered thus and said : " Page, why is my child gone? What need had he to mount the coursing ships, which serve men for sea-horses and cross the mightv flood?
Was it to leave no name among men here? But upon her heart-eating anguish fell. No longer had she power to sit upon a chair, though many were in the room, but down she sank upon the floor of her rich chamber, pitifully moaning.
Round about, her maids were sobbing — all her household, young and old. And with repeated cries, Penelope thus spoke : " Listen, dear maids! Surely the Olympian gave me exceeding sorrow, beyond all women born and bred my mates. For I in former days lost my good husband, a man of lion heart, for every excellence honored among the Danaans — good man I his fame is wide through Hellas and mid-Argos. Moreover now my darling son the winds have snatched away, silently, from my halls ; I heard not of his going. Hard-hearted maids!
No one of you took thought to rouse me from my bed, though well your own hearts knew when he embai-ked on the black hollow ship. Ah, had I learned that he was purposing this jour- ney, surely he would have stayed, however eager for the journey, or else he should have left me dead within the hall. I knew of all. I gave him what he wanted, bread and sweet wine. But he exacted from me a iplemn oath to speak no word to you until twelve, days were past, or until you should miss him and hear that he was gone, that so you might not stain your beautiful face with tears.
Now therefore bathe, and putting on fresh garments, go to your upper chamber with your maids, and offer prayer to Athene, daughter of aegis- bearing Zeus ; for thus she may preserve him safe from death. Vex not an old man, vexed already. Surely I cannot think the Arceisian line is wholly hateful to the blessed gods. Nay, one shall still sur- vive to hold the high-roofed house and the fat fields around. Penelope bathed, and putting on fresh garments went to her upper chamber with her maids, took barley in a basket, and thus she prayed Athene : " Hear me, thou child of segis-bearing Zeus, un- wearied one I If ever wise Odysseus when at home burned the fat thighs of ox or sheep to thee, thereof be mindful now ; preserve me my dear son.
Guard him against the cruel suitors' wrongs. But the suitors broke into IV. Little she thinks that for her son death is in waiting. And now Antinoiis addressed them, saying : " Good sirs, beware of haughty talk of every kind, or some one may report it indoors too. Come, rather, let us rise and quietly as we may let us effect the scheme which pleased the hearts of all.
Stately squires carried their armor. Out in the stream they moored the boat, they themselves disembarked, took supper there, and waited for the evening to come on. But in her upper chamber heedful Penelope still lay fasting, tasting neither food nor drink, anxious whether her gentle son would escape death, or by the audacious suitors be borne down ; as doubts a lion in a crowd of men, in terror as they draw the crafty cir- cle round him. To her in such anxiety sweet slumber came, and lying back she slept and every joint re- laxed.
She shaped a phantom fashioned in a wo- man's form, even like Iphthime, daughter of brave Icarius, her whom Eumelus married, that had his home at Pherae. It came into the chamber past the bolt- strap, stood by her head and thus addressed her : "Are you asleep, Penelope, dear troubled heart? No, never shall the gods that live at ease leave you to weep and pine ; for still your son is destined to re- turn, since in the gods' sight he is no trangressor.
You never before were with me, because your home is very far away. And you bid me cease from grief and all the pangs that vex my mind and heart, nle who in former days lost my good husband, a man of lion heart, for every excellence honored among the Danaans — good man! Moreover now my darling son is gone on a hoUow ship, a mere boy too, but little skilled in cares and counsels. Therefore for him I mourn even more than for that other.
For him I tremble, and I fear that he may meet with ill, either from those within the land where he is gone, or on the sea. For many evil-minded men now plot against him and seek to cut him off before he gains his native land. So true a guide goes with him as other men have prayed for aid — for powerful is she — Pallas Athene. See- ing you grieve, she pities you, and it was she who sent me here to tell you so. To speak vain words is ill. And out of sleep awoke Icarius' daughter, and her very soul was warmed, so clear a dream was sent her in the dead of nisht.
Meanwhile the suitors, embarking in their ship, sailed on their watery journey, purposing in their minds the speedy murder of Telemachus. Now in mid-sea there is a rocky island, midway from Ithaca to rugged Samos — Star Islet called — of no great size. It has a harbor, safe for ships, on either side ; and here it was the Achaeans waited, watching.
With them was Zeus, who thunders from on high, whose power is over all ; and to them Athene, ever mindful of Odysseus, told of his many woes ; for she was troubled by his stay at the dwelling of the nymph. Let him instead ever be stern and work unrighteous deeds ; since none remembers princely Odysseus among the people whom he ruled, kind father though he was. Upon an island now he lies, deeply distressed, at the hall of the nymph Ca- lypso, who holds him there by force. No power has he to reach his native land, for he has no ships fitted with oars, nor crews to bear him over the broad ocean- ridges.
Now, too, men seek to slay his darling son, as he sails home. He went away for tidings of his father, to hallowed Pylos and to sacred Lacedaemon. As for Telemachus, aid him upon his way with wisdom, — V. There shall they greatly honor him, as if he were a god, and bring him on his way by ship to his own native land, giving him stores of bronze and gold and clothing, more than Odysseus would have won from Troy itself, had he returned unharmed with his due share of spoil.
Thus, then, it is his lot to see his friends and reach his high-roofed house and native land. He took the wand with which he charms to sleep the eyes of whom he will, while again whom he will he wakens out of slumber. With this in hand, the powerful Speedy-comer began his flight. On coming to Pieria, out of the upper air he dropped down on the deep and skimmed along the water like a bird, a gull, which down the fearful hol- lows of the barren sea, snatching at fish, dips its thick plumage in the spray.
In such wise, through the mul- titude of waves, moved Hermes. He found she was within. Upon the hearth a great fire blazed, and far along the island the fragrance of cleft cedar and of sandal-wood sent perfume as they burned. In- doors, and singing with sweet voice, she tended her loom and wove with golden shuttle.
Around the grotto, trees grew luxuriantly, alder and poplar and sweet- scented cypress, where long-winged birds had nests, — owls, hawks, and sea-crows ready-tongued, that ply their business in the waters. Here too was trained over the hollow grotto a thrifty vine, luxuriant with clusters ; and four springs in a row were running with clear water, making their way from one another here and there.
On every side soft meadows of violet and parsley bloomed. Here, therefore, even an im- mortal who should come might gaze at what he saw, and in his heart be glad. Here stood and gazed the guide, the Speedy-comer. Then after he had gazed to his heart's fill on all, straightway he entered the wide- mouthed grotto, and at a glance Calypso, the heavenly goddess, failed not to know it was he ; for not un- known to one another are immortal gods, although they have their dwellings far apart.
But brave Odys- seus he did not find within ; for he sat weeping on the shore, where, as of old, with tears and groans and griefs racking his heart, he watched the barren sea and poured forth tears. You were not often with me hitherto. Speak what you have in mind ; my heart bids me to do it, if I can do V. But follow me first, and let me give you entertainment," So saying', the goddess laid a table, loading it with ambrosia and mixing ruddy nectar ; and so the guide, the Speedy-comer, drank and ate.
But when he had eaten dinner and stayed his heart with food, then thus he answered her and said : " Goddess, you question me, a god, about my com- ing hither, and I will truly tell my story as you bid. Zeus ordered me to come, against my will. Who of his own accord would cross such stretches of salt sea? And no city of men at hand to make an offering to the gods and bring them chosen heca- tombs. Nevertheless the will of aegis-bearing Zeus no god may cross or set at naught. He says a man is with you, the most unfortunate of all who fought for Priam's town nine years and in the tenth de- stroyed the city and departed home.
They on their homeward way offended Athene, who raised ill winds against them and a heavy sea. Thus all the rest of his good comrades perished, but wind and water brought him here. This is the man whom Zeus now bids you send away, and quickly too, for it is not ordained that he shall perish far from friends ; it is his lot to see his friends once more and reach his high- roofed house and native land. When, too, fair-liairecl Demeter, fol- lowing her heart, lay with lasion in the thrice- ploughed field, not long was Zeus unmindful ; for he slew him, hurling his gleaming bolt.
So now again, you gods grudge me the mortal tarrying here. Yet it was I who saved him, as he rode astride his keel alone, when Zeus with a gleaming bolt smote his swift ship and wrecked it in the middle of the wine-dark sea. There all the rest of his good comrades perished, but wind and water brought him here. I loved and cherished him, and often said that I would make him an immortal, young forever.
But since the will of aegis-bearing Zeus no god may cross or set at naught, let him depart, if Zeus commands and bids it, over the barren sea! Only I will not aid him on his way, for I have no ships fitted with oars, nor crews to bear him over the broad ocean-ridges ; but I will freely give him counsel and not hide how he may come unharmed to his own native land. Beware the wrath of Zeus! Let not his anger by and by grow hot against you! She found him sitting on the shore, and from his eyes the tears were never dried ; his sweet life ebbed away in longings for his home, because the nymph pleased him no more.
And yet by night he always lay, though by constraint, within the hollow grotto, unwilling by her willing side ; but in the daytime, sitting on the rocks and sands, with tears and groans and griefs racking his heart, he watched the barren sea and poured forth tears. Seeing Telemachus, who was a homebred youth, still hanging back, in dread of that august presence, Mentor renewed his friendly remonstrances, "What, still tongue-tied? Knowest thou not that thou art a child of great hopes, and a favourite of heaven? When they came to the place where Nestor was seated with his sons, they found them busy preparing the feast which followed the sacrifice.
As soon as those of Nestor's company saw the strangers they came forward in a body to greet them, and made them sit down in places of honour, where soft fleeces were heaped up on the level sand. A youth, about the same age as Telemachus, placed a goblet of gold in Mentor's hand, and gave him that portion of the flesh which was set apart as an offering to the gods.
And when thou hast prayed, give the cup to thy young companion, who has been bred, methinks, as I have, to deeds of piety. Mentor first asked a blessing on their hosts, and then prayed for a prosperous issue to their own adventure. After him Telemachus uttered his prayer in similar words, and then they all sat down to meat. When they had finished, Nestor looked earnestly at them, and asked them who they were, and what was the purpose of their journey. Telemachus, cheered by good fare, and encouraged by the kind manner of Nestor, answered confidently, and explained the nature of his errand.
Therefore, if thou hast aught to tell, I beseech thee by thy friendship with my father, let me know all, and soften not the tale, out of kindness or pity to me. Ill-fated land of Troy! There lies heroic Ajax, there lies Achilles, and Patroclus, sage in counsel, and there lies Antilochus, my own dear son, fleet of foot and strong of hand. And art thou indeed the son of Odysseus, whom none could match in craft and strategy? But why do I ask? When thou speakest, I seem to hear the very tones of his voice. He was my friend, one with me in mind and heart, and during all the time of the siege we took counsel together for the weal of Greece.
But when the war was over disasters came thick and fast upon the host. And first, division arose between the two sons of Atreus; Agamemnon wished to abide in Troy until sacrifice had been offered to appease the anger of Athene, but Menelaus advised immediate departure. The party of Menelaus, of whom I was one, launched their ships and sailed to Tenedos; there Odysseus, who had set sail with us, put back to the mainland of Asia, wishing to do a favour to Agamemnon. Thus it happened that I was not witness of the good or evil fortunes of the other Greeks on their voyage home, and know only by rumour how they fared.
Happy the father who has such a son! And such, methinks, art thou. But do not despair! Who knows but that Odysseus will yet return, and make them drink the cup which they have filled? It may well come to pass, if Athene continues to thy house the favour which she showed thy father, plain for all eyes to see, in the land of Troy. Heaven will guide him yet to his own door, though now he be at the uttermost parts of the earth.
Telemachus shook his head as he answered: "No more of that, I pray thee; it can never be. Where was Menelaus when that foul deed was done? And had the return of Menelaus not been delayed, vengeance would have been forestalled by many years. Yea, the dogs would have eaten the flesh of that vile churl, and not a tear would have been shed for him. For a long while she refused to hearken to his base proposals, for she was of a good understanding, and moreover there was ever at her side a minstrel, into whose care Agamemnon had given her when he went to Troy. There Menelaus lost his steersman, who was visited by Apollo with sudden death, as he sat by the helm; so he remained there to bury his comrade.
But his misfortunes were not yet over; for when he reached the steep headland at Malea a violent storm arose, and parted his fleet. Some of his ships ran into Crete for shelter, while he himself was carried away to Egypt, where he remained many days, and gathered store of wealth. But in the eighth year came Orestes, and cut him off in the fulness of his sin; and on that very day Menelaus came to him, loaded with the treasures of Egypt. Leave not thy house unguarded, while so many foes are gathered against thee, lest when thou return thou find thyself stripped of all.
But to Menelaus I would have thee go; him thou must by all means consult; for who knows what he may have learnt on that wondrous voyage? Vast is the space of water over which he has travelled, not to be measured in one year by a bird in her speediest flight. If thou wilt, thou canst go to Sparta in thy ship, or if thou choose to go by land, my chariots and my horses are thine for this service, and my sons shall guide you on the way.
Amid such talk as this, with many a brave story "of moving accidents by flood and field," and many a pithy saw from the white-haired Nestor, who had lived so long and seen so much, the hours glided swiftly by, and the red sun was stooping to the horizon when Mentor rose from his seat and said: "We must be going; the hour of rest is at hand, and to-morrow we have far to go.
And after that, if ye are fain to sleep, ye shall have fit lodging in my house. Heaven forbid that I should suffer such guests as you to sleep on the cold deck, covered with dew, as if I were some needy wretch, with never a blanket to spare for a friend. May the gods preserve me from such a reproach! But for me, I pray thee have me excused. My place is on the ship, that I may give an eye to the crew, for I am the only man of experience among them.
And to-morrow I must go to Elis, to recover a debt of long standing due to me there. I leave Telemachus to thy care, that thou mayest cherish him and speed him on his way. As he said these words, while all eyes were fixed upon him, the speaker vanished from sight, and in his stead a great sea-eagle rose into the air, and sped westwards towards the setting sun. Long they sat speechless and amazed, and Nestor was the first to break the silence. This was none other than Jove's mighty daughter, Athene, who honoured thy father so highly among the Greeks.
Be gracious to us, our queen, and let thy blessing rest on me and on my house! To thee will I sacrifice her, when I have made gilt her horns with gold. Then Nestor led the way to his house, and Telemachus sat down with him and his sons in the hall. And they filled a bowl with wine eleven years old, exceeding choice, which was reserved for honoured guests. And after they had finished the bowl, and offered prayer to Athene, they parted for the night.
For Telemachus a bed was prepared in the portico, and close by him slept Pisistratus, the youngest of Nestor's sons. When Telemachus rose next morning he found his host already afoot, giving orders to his sons to prepare the sacrifice to Athene. One was sent to fetch the heifer, another to summon the goldsmith, and a third to bring up the crew of Telemachus' ship, while the rest busied themselves in raising the altar and making all ready for the sacrifice. Presently the heifer was driven lowing into the courtyard, and the goldsmith followed with the instruments of his art. Nestor gave him gold, and the smith beat it into thin leaf with his hammer, and laid it skilfully over the horns of the heifer.
A handmaid brought pure water, and barley-meal in a basket, while one of Nestor's sons stood ready with an axe, and another held a bowl to catch the blood. Then Nestor dipped his hands in the water, took barley-meal from the basket and sprinkled it on the head of the beast, and cutting a tuft of hair from the forehead cast it into the fire. The prayer was spoken, and all due rites being ended he who held the axe smote the heifer on the head, just behind the horns. The women raised the sacrificial cry as the heifer dropped to the ground; and next they whose office it was lifted up the victim's head, and Pisistratus cut the throat.
When the last quiver of life was over they flayed the carcass, cut strips of flesh from the thighs, and enveloping them in fat, burnt them on the altar. The gods had now their share of the feast; the rest was cut into slices, and broiled over the live embers. While the meal was preparing, Telemachus enjoyed the refreshment of a bath; and Polycaste, the youngest of Nestor's daughters, waited on him; for such was the patriarchal simplicity of those days. When he had bathed, and finished his morning meal, the chariot was brought out, and a strong pair of horses led under the yoke. And the house-dame came with a basket, loaded with wine and delicate viands, and placed it behind the seat.
Telemachus took his place by the side of Pisistratus, who was to drive the horses; the last farewells were spoken, Pisistratus cracked his whip, and away they went under the echoing gateway, and on through the streets of Pylos. That night they slept at the house of a friend, and early next day they continued their journey.
The way grew steep and difficult, great masses of mountains rose near at hand, and at length they entered a wide valley, covered with waving fields of corn. By sunset they reached the end of their journey, and drew up before the stately portals of King Menelaus. Menelaus was keeping the double marriage feast of his son and daughter, and his house was thronged with wedding guests. All sat silent and attentive, listening to the strains of a harper, and watching the gambols of a pair of tumblers, who were whirling in giddy reels round the hall.
Presently voices were heard at the entrance, and one of the squires of Menelaus came and informed his master that two strangers of noble mien were standing without, craving hospitality. Unyoke the horses, and bid our new guests enter. Four or five servants hastened to do his bidding. The horses, covered with sweat from their hard journey, were unyoked and led into the stable, and Telemachus, with his companion, was ushered with all courtesy into the great hall of Menelaus.
The palace was one of the wealthiest and most splendid in Greece; and Telemachus, accustomed to a much humbler style of dwelling, stood amazed at the glories which met his eyes. After bathing and changing their raiment they returned to the hall, and were assigned places close to the chair of Menelaus. The prince greeted them kindly, and said: "Welcome to our halls, young sirs.
Ye are, as I see, of no mean descent, for Zeus has set his stamp on your faces, 4 and none can mistake the signs of kingly birth. When ye have eaten, we will inquire of you further. A plentiful and delicate meal was promptly set before the young travellers, and they ate and drank with keen appetite. When they had finished, Telemachus said to Pisistratus, speaking low, that he might not be overheard: "Dear son of Nestor, is not this a brave place! Hast thou ever seen such lavish ornament of silver, and gold, and ivory? Surely such is the dwelling of Olympian Zeus; more magnificent it can hardly be.
The quick ear of Menelaus caught his last words, and he answered, smiling: "Nay, my friend, no mortal may vie with the everlasting glories of Zeus. But whether any man can equal me in riches, I know not. There the ewes bring forth young three times a year, and the poorest shepherd has abundance of cheese, and flesh, and milk. From all these lands I gathered many a costly freight, and now I dwell in the midst of plenty. Nevertheless my heart is sad, when I think of all that I have lost. Had I returned home straight from Troy, I should have come back a poor man, for my house had gone to waste in my absence; but I should not have had to mourn for the death of my brother, struck down, as doubtless ye have heard, by a murderer's hand.
And then the thought lies heavy upon me of all those who fell in my cause at Troy, and especially of one who was dear to me above all, Odysseus, ever the foremost in every toil and adventure. His image haunts me by day and by night, marring my slumbers, and making my food taste bitter in my mouth. He was a man of many woes, and sorrowful is the lot of his wife Penelope and Telemachus his son.
At this mention of his father Telemachus could not control his tears, but covered his face with his mantle, and wept without restraint. Menelaus saw his emotion, and began to suspect who he was; but for the present he said nothing.
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A slight stir was now heard at the back of the hall, and a low murmur went round among the guests, who whispered to each other: "The Queen! The Queen! Her wondrous beauty was now ripened into matronly perfection, but now and then a shadow seemed to pass over her face, like the ghost of an old sin, long repented and forgiven. A handmaid set a chair for her, throwing over it a soft rug, and brought a footstool for her feet, while another bare a silver basket, with rims of gold, and placed it ready, filled with purple yarn. When Helen was seated, she gazed long and earnestly at Telemachus, and then, turning to her husband, she said; "Menelaus, shall I utter the thought which is in my heart?
Nay, speak I must. Ne'er saw I such a likeness, either in man or woman, as is the likeness of this fair youth to Odysseus. Surely this is Telemachus, whom he left an infant in Ithaca when the host was summoned to Troy to fight in a worthless woman's cause.
Moreover, when I made mention of Odysseus he covered his face, and wept full sore. Telemachus was still too much distressed to speak, and Pisistratus had to answer for him: "Thou sayest truly, my lord; it is Telemachus himself.
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Nestor sent me with him to inquire of thee, and crave counsel of thy wisdom. He is left like an orphan in his home, with none to aid him, and take his father's place. Then Menelaus drew near to Telemachus, and taking his hand kindly said: "Welcome again, and thrice welcome to these halls, thou son of my trustiest friend and helper! It was the dream of my life to bring Odysseus and all his household from Ithaca, and give him a home and a city in this land, that we might grow old together in friendship and loving-kindness, never to be parted until death.
But envious heaven has blighted my hopes and hindered his return. At these sad words every eye was moist, and all sat silent, absorbed in sorrowful memories. Pisistratus was the first to speak, and his words roused the rest from their melancholy mood. The dead, indeed, claim their due, and he would be hard-hearted who would grudge them the poor tribute of a tear. But we cannot mourn for ever, even for such a one as my brother Antilochus, whom I never saw, but thou knewest him well, stout in battle, and swift in the pursuit.
Happy is he, beyond the common lot of men, and smooth and fair runs the thread of his Destiny. He dwells in a green old age in his father's house, and sees his sons growing up around him, true heirs of his valour and prudence. Now let us banish care, and get to our supper, for the day is far spent, and we have matter for talk which will last us all the morrow.
When they had finished eating, and the cups were about to be replenished, Helen rose from her seat, and, whispering a few words to the cupbearer, left the hall. In a few minutes she returned, carrying in her hand a small phial, whose contents she poured into the great mixing-bowl from which the cups were filled. I have poured into the wine a drug of wondrous potency and virtue, which was given me in Egypt by Polydamna, the wife of Thon.
Many such drugs the soil of Egypt bears, some baneful and some good. And the Egyptians are skilled in such craft beyond all mankind. He who drinks of this drug will be armed for that day against all the assaults of sorrow, and will not shed one tear, though his father and mother were to die, no, not though he saw his brother or his son slain before his eyes.
So mighty is the virtue of this drug. Come, let me tell you a story, one among many, of the deeds and the hardihood of Odysseus. It was in the days of the siege, and the Trojans were kept close prisoners in their city by the leaguer of the Greeks. Then he disguised himself as a beggar, clothed himself in filthy rags, and marred his goodly person with cruel stripes. In such fashion he entered the foemen's walls, as if he were a slave flying from a hard master.
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So I brought him to my house, and began to question him; but he made as if he understood not. But when I entertained him as an honoured guest, and swore a solemn oath not to betray him, he trusted me, and declared all the purpose of the Greeks. At dead of night he stole out into the town, and, having slain many of the Trojans with the edge of the sword, he went back to the camp, and brought much information to his friends. It was the time when I and the other champions were shut up in the wooden horse; and Odysseus was with us. Then thou camest thither, led, I suppose, by some god, hostile to Greece, who wished to work our ruin; and Deiphobus followed thee.
Three times thou didst pace around our hollow ambush, feeling it with thy hands, and calling aloud to the princes of Greece by name; and thy voice was like the voice of all their wives. There we sat, I, and Diomede, and the rest, and heard thee calling. Now I and Diomede were minded to answer thee, or to go forth and confer with thee; but Odysseus suffered it not, and when one of our number was about to lift up his voice he pressed his hands on that foolish mouth, and restrained him by force until thou hadst left the place.
And so he saved all our lives. But what has it availed him? It could not save him from ruin. Howbeit, no more of this; 'tis time to go to rest and forget our cares in sleep. Early next morning Telemachus found his host sitting by his bedside; and as soon as he was dressed Menelaus led him to a quiet place, and inquired the reason of his coming. He listened with attention while Telemachus explained the purpose of his visit; but when he heard of the suitors, and their riot and waste, he was filled with indignation. Their lot shall be the lot of a pair of fawns, left by the mother hind in a lion's lair.
The hind goes forth to pasture, and in her absence the lion returns, and devours them where they lie. Even so shall Odysseus return, and bring swift destruction on the whole crew. I must go back to the time when I lay wind-bound with my ships in a little island off the mouth of the Nile. The island is called Pharos, and it is distant a day's voyage from the river's mouth. I had lain there twenty days, and still not a breath of air ruffled the glassy surface of the sea. All our stores were consumed, and we had nothing to eat but the fish which my men caught with rudely fashioned hooks and lines.
One day I left my men busy with their angling, and wandered away along the shore, full of sad thoughts, and wondering how all this would end. Suddenly I heard a light footstep on the pebbles, and there stepped forth from behind a tall rock a young maiden in white, flowing robes. Full of dread I saw her coming towards me; for I knew that she was no mortal woman. But her look was gracious, and her voice was sweet; so I took courage as she said: 'Who art thou, stranger, and why lingerest thou with thy company in this desert place? I am Eidothea, daughter of Proteus, the ancient one of the sea; and I am ready to help thee, if thou wilt tell me thy need.
No secrets are hidden from him, neither on earth nor in the sea; and he can tell thee all that hath befallen in thy house in the long years of thine absence. Now hearken, and I will tell thee how thou mayest wring from him all his secrets. Every day at noon he comes forth from the sea, and lays him down to sleep in a rocky cave; and about him are couched his herd of seals. I will bring thee to the place in the early morning, and set thee in ambush to await his coming.
Choose three of the stoutest of thy men to aid thee in the adventure, and as soon as thou seest him asleep rush upon him and hold him fast. He will struggle hard, and take a hundred different shapes; but loose him not until he return to his own form, and then will he reveal to thee all that he has to tell. Next morning I went with three picked men to the appointed place, and soon Eidothea arrived, bearing four hides of seals, freshly flayed.
Then she hollowed out four pits in the sand for us to lie in, and clothed us in the skins, and couched us together. Now that bed had like to have been our last, for we were stifled by the dreadful stench of the seabred seals. But the goddess saw our distress, and found a remedy; for she brought ambrosia and set it beneath our nostrils, and that heavenly perfume overpowered the noisome stench.
Last of all came Proteus, and counted his herd, reckoning us among their number, with no suspicion of guile. We waited until he was fast asleep, and then we rushed from our ambush and seized him hand and foot. Long and hard was the struggle, and many the shapes which he took. First he became a bearded lion, then a snake, then a leopard, then a huge boar; after these he turned into running water and a tall, leafy tree. But we only held him the more firmly, and at last he grew weary and spake to me in his own shape: 'What wouldst thou have, son of Atreus, and who has taught thee to outwit me and take me captive by craft?
Tell me rather how I may find release from my present strait'. Not a victim bled, not a prayer was offered, when thou didst embark on this voyage. Go back to Egypt, to the holy waters of Nile, and there pay thy vows, and offer a great sacrifice to their offended deity; thus, and thus only, canst thou win thy return to thine own country and thy stately home. Nevertheless I consented to take that journey, for I saw no other way of escape. And after I had promised to obey him, I began to inquire further of the fate of Nestor and the rest, whom I left behind me on my way home.
Many have been taken and many left. Two only perished in returning, and one is still living, a prisoner of the sea. Ajax has paid his debt to Athene, whose shrine he polluted; and this was the manner of his death: when his vessel was shattered by that great tempest, he himself escaped to a rock, for Poseidon came to his aid.
But even the peril which he had just escaped could not subdue his haughtiness and his pride, and he uttered an impious vaunt, boasting that in despite of heaven he had escaped a watery grave. Then Poseidon was wroth, and smote the rock with his trident, and that half of the rock on which Ajax was sitting fell into the sea, bearing him with it. So he died, when he had drunk the brine. After a long and stormy voyage he at length brought his shattered vessels safe into harbour, and set foot on his native soil at Argos.
With tears of joy and thankfulness he fell on his knees and kissed the sod, trusting that now his sorrows were passed. A whole year he watched, for he had been promised a great reward. And when he saw the king's face he went with all speed to tell his master. Then he went to meet Agamemnon with horses and with chariots, and brought him to his house, and made good cheer.
And when he had feasted him he smote and slew him, as a man slaughters an ox in his stall. Long I lay mourning, as one who had lost all hope, but at last Proteus checked the torrent of my passion, and bade me take thought of my own homecoming. Haste thee to take vengeance, if so be that Orestes hath not forestalled thee, and slain his father's murderer. I myself saw him on an island, in the house of the nymph Calypso; and sore he wept because he could not leave the goddess, who holds him in thrall, and will not suffer him to return to his country. Therefore it is not appointed for thee to die, but when thine hour is come the gods shall convey thee to the Elysian fields, where dwell the elect spirits in everlasting blessedness.
There falls not snow nor rain, there blows no rude blast, but the fresh cool breath of the west comes softly from Ocean to refresh them that dwell in that happy clime. Thus happily ended the story of the Spartan prince's wanderings. And when he had finished, he pressed Telemachus to prolong his visit; but that prudent youth declined the invitation, pleading the necessity of a speedy return to Ithaca, that he might keep an eye on the doings of the suitors.
Menelaus was compelled to allow the justice of his plea, and accordingly all things were made ready for a speedy departure. We must now return to Ithaca, and see what reception was preparing for Telemachus when he came back from his adventurous journey. Two or three days after he left Ithaca the suitors were gathered before the doors of Odysseus, playing at quoits, or hurling their javelins at a mark.
Presently a young noble came up to the group, and addressing Antinous, who was watching the sport, asked him if he had heard aught of Telemachus. Know ye when he is to return from Pylos? Antinous heard him with amazement; for neither he nor any other of the suitors knew that Telemachus had sailed from Ithaca, supposing him to be absent on his farm. So he questioned the youth closely as to the time and manner of that voyage, how the crew was composed, and whether the vessel was lent willingly, or taken by force.
As to the crew, they were all picked men, and well born; and the captain was Mentor, or some god in his likeness; for I saw Mentor yesterday in the town, and not a ship has touched at Ithaca since they sailed. When he who had lent the ship was departed the suitors left their sports, and drawing close together began to converse in low tones.
They were full of anger against Telemachus because of this journey, which gave the lie to their malicious prophecies, and was not without prospect of danger to themselves. Accordingly Antinous found ready hearers when he stood up and spoke as follows:—"This forward boy must be put down, or he will mar our wooing. It is a great deed which he has done, and he will not stop here, unless we find means to cut short his adventures. Now hear what I advise: let us man a ship and moor her in the narrow sea between Ithaca and Samos, and lie in wait for him there. This cruise of his is like to cost him dear.
The plan was highly approved, and the whole body rose and entered the house together, resolved to act at once on the advice of Antinous. Before long news of their wicked designs came to the ears of Penelope, who was still ignorant of her son's departure; for Eurycleia had kept her counsel well. The evil tidings were brought by Medon, a servant in the house of Odysseus, who had overheard the suitors plotting together, while he stood concealed behind a buttress of the courtyard fence.
Without delay he went in search of Penelope, whom he found sitting with her handmaids in her chamber. As soon as he appeared on the threshold Penelope looked at him reproachfully, and said: "What message bringest thou from thy fair masters? Is it their pleasure that my maidens should leave their tasks and spread the board for them?
Out on your feasting and your wooing! May this be the last morsel that ye ever taste! Ungrateful men, have ye forgotten all the good deeds that were wrought here by the hands of Odysseus, and all the kindness that ye received from him? Yes, all is forgotten; ye have no thought in your hearts but to grow fat at his cost, and devour his living.
But I am the bearer of heavier news than this. Telemachus has sailed to Pylos, to inquire concerning his father, and the suitors have plotted to slay him on his way home. Long Penelope sat without a word, struck dumb by this cruel blow. Then, as if seized by a sudden thought, she rose from her seat, and took two paces towards the door.
But her strength failing her she tottered backward, and sank down upon the ground, leaning against the wall. Her handmaids gathered round her, and would have lifted her up, but she waved them off and at last gave utterance to her feelings in wailing and broken tones:. First, I lost my lion-hearted lord, rich in every excellent gift, a hero among heroes; and now the powers of the air 6 have carried off my child, my well-beloved, without one word of farewell. Hearts of stone, why did ye not tell me of his going?
Had I known his purpose I would have prevailed on him to stay, or he must have left me dead in these halls. Go, one of you, and call Dolius, the keeper of my garden and orchard, and send him to tell all to Laertes, if haply he may devise some way to turn the hearts of the people, and save his race from being utterly cut off.
I was privy to this journey, and Telemachus made me swear a solemn oath not to reveal it to thee until twelve days were passed, or thou hadst heard of it from others. For he feared that thou wouldst waste thy fair cheeks with weeping. But be not cast down; I am sure that the gods hate not so utterly the house of Odysseus, nor purpose to destroy it altogether.
Vex not the old man Laertes in his sorrow, but go wash thyself, put on clean raiment, and go up and pray to Athene in thy upper chamber to guard and keep thy son from harm. Then Penelope was comforted, and dried her tears, and went up with her handmaids to the upper chamber. There she made her offering before the shrine of Athene, and lifted up her voice in prayer: "Daughter of Zeus, stern warrior maiden, if ever my lord Odysseus offered acceptable sacrifice to thee, remember now his service, save my son, and let not the wooers work evil against him. After that they left her, and she sank down on a couch, exhausted by her emotions, and full of anxious thought.
At length she ceased her weary tossing, and fell into a quiet and refreshing sleep. Athene had heard her prayer, and being full of pity for the sorely tried lady she resolved to find means to soothe her troubled spirit. And the phantom came to the house of Penelope, and entering her chamber by the keyhole, stood by her bedside and spake to her thus: "Sorrow not at all, nor vex thy soul for the sake of Telemachus.
The gods love thy son, and will bring him safe home. Then wise Penelope made answer, slumbering right sweetly at the gates of dreams: "Dear sister, what has brought thee hither from thy far distant home? Thou biddest me take comfort, but my heart is torn with fear and grief for my brave lord, and yet more for Telemachus, who is encompassed with perils by sea and by land.
Meanwhile Antinous had taken steps to carry out his villainous design. At nightfall he went down to the sea with twenty picked men, boarded the vessel which had been prepared for their use, and sailed out to a little island which lies in the middle of the strait between Samos and Ithaca. There they anchored in a sheltered bay, and waited for the coming of Telemachus. In Homer, all kings and their families are supposed to be descended from Zeus.
Compare the stratagem of Zopyrus, in "Stories from Greek History. We have waited long for the appearancef of Odysseus, and at last he is about to enter the scene, which he will never leave again until the final act of the great drama is played out. Hitherto he has been pursued by the malice of Poseidon, who wrecked his fleet, drowned all his men, and kept him confined for seven years in Calypso's island, in vengeance for the blinding of his son Polyphemus. But now the prayers of Athene have prevailed, and Hermes, the messenger of the gods, is on his way from Olympus, bearing a peremptory summons to Calypso to let Odysseus depart.
Arrived there, he went straight to the great cavern where Calypso dwelt; and he found her there, walking about her room, weaving with a golden shuttle, and singing sweetly at her work. A great fire was blazing on the hearth, sending forth a sweet odour of cedar and sandal-wood. Round about the cavern grew a little wood of blossoming trees, "alder and poplar tall, and cypress sweet of smell"; and there owls and hawks and cormorants built their nests. Over the threshold was trained a wide-branching vine, with many a purple cluster and wealth of rustling leaves.
Four springs of clear water welled up before the cave, and wandered down to the meadows where the violet and parsley grew. It was a choice and cool retreat, meet dwelling for a lovely nymph. Calypso greeted her visitor kindly, bade him be seated, and set nectar and ambrosia before him. And when he had refreshed himself, he told his message. It is said that thou keepest with thee a man of many woes, who has suffered more than any of those who fought at Troy.
Him thou art commanded to send away from thee with all speed; for it is not destined for him to end his days here, but the hour has come when he must go back to his home and country, Zeus has spoken, and thou must obey. This was bitter news to Calypso, for she loved Odysseus, and would have made him immortal, that he might abide with her for ever.
She wrung her hands, and said in a mournful voice: "Now I know of a truth that the gods are a jealous race, and will not suffer one of their kind to wed with a mortal mate. Therefore Orion fell by the unseen arrows of Artemis, when fair Aurora chose him for her lord; and therefore Zeus slew Iasion with his lightning, because he was loved of Demeter. Is not Odysseus mine? Did I not save him and cherish him when he was flung naked and helpless on these shores? But since no other deity may evade or frustrate the will of Zeus, let him go, and I will show him how he may reach his own country without scathe.
When he had heard Calypso's answer, Hermes took leave of her, and returned to Olympus, and the nymph went down to the part of the shore where she knew Odysseus was accustomed to sit. There he would remain all day, gazing tearfully over the barren waste of waters, and wearing out his soul with ceaseless lamentation. For he had long grown weary of his soft slavery in Calypso's cave, and yearned with exceeding great desire for the familiar hills of Ithaca, so rugged, but so dear.
And there Calypso found him now, sitting on a rock with dejected mien. She sat down at his side, and said: "A truce to thy complaints, thou man of woes! Thou hast thy wish; I will let thee go with all good-will, and I will show thee how to build a broad raft, which shall bear thee across the misty deep. I will victual her with corn and wine, and clothe thee in new garments, and send a breeze behind thee to waft thee safe.
Thus am I commanded by the gods, whose dwelling is in the wide heaven, and their will I do. Up now and fell me yon tall trees for timber to make the raft. Odysseus was by nature a very shrewd and cautious man, and he feared that Calypso was contriving some mischief against him, in revenge for his coldness. He looked at her doubtfully, and answered: "I fear thee, nymph, and I mistrust thy purpose.
How shall a man cross this dreadful gulf, where no ship is ever seen, on a raft? And though that were possible, I will never leave thee against thy will. Swear to me now that thou intendest me no harm. Calypso smiled at his suspicions, and patted him on the shoulder as she answered: "Thou art a sad rogue, and very deep of wit, as anyone may see by these words of thine.
Now hear me swear: Witness, thou earth, and the wide heaven above us, and the dark waterfall of Styx, the greatest and most awful thing by which a god may swear, that I intend no ill, but only good, to this man. Having sworn that oath Calypso rose, and bidding Odysseus follow led the way to her cave. There she set meat before him, such as mortal men eat, and wine to drink; but she herself was served by her handmaids with immortal food, and nectar, the wine of the gods.
When they had supped, Calypso looked at Odysseus and said: "And wilt thou indeed leave me, thou strange man? Am I not tall and fair, and worthy to be called a daughter of heaven? And is thy Penelope so rare a dame, that thou preferrest her to me! Nevertheless go, if go thou must, and my blessing go with thee.
Her words were kind, but some anger lurked in her tone, which Odysseus hastened to appease. I know that thou art more lovely far than my wife Penelope; for thou art divine, and she is but a mortal woman. Nevertheless I long day and night to see her face, and to sit beneath the shadow of my own rooftree.
And if I be stricken again by the hand of Heaven on the purple sea, I will bear it, for I have a very patient heart. Long have I toiled, and much have I suffered, amid waves and wars. If more remains, I will endure that also. At early dawn, when the eastern wave was just silvered by the dim light, Calypso roused Odysseus, and equipped him for the task of the day.
First she gave him a weighty two-edged axe, well balanced on its haft of olive-wood, and an adze, freshly ground; then she showed him where the tall trees grew, and bade him fall to work with the axe. Twenty great trees fell beneath his sturdy strokes, and he trimmed the trunks with the axe, and stripped off the bark.
Meanwhile Calypso had brought him an augur, and he bored the timbers, and fitted them together, and fastened them with bolts and cross-pieces. So the raft grew under his hands, broad as the floor of a stout merchantship. And he fenced her with bulwarks, piling up blocks of wood to steady them. Last of all he made mast and sail and rigging; and when all was ready he thrust the frail vessel with rollers and levers down to the sea.
Four times the sun had risen and set before his labour was ended; and on the fifth day Calypso brought him provisions for the voyage, a great goatskin bottle full of water, and a smaller one of wine, and a sack of corn, with other choice viands as a relish to his bread. A joyful man was Odysseus when he spread his sail, and took his place at the helm, and waved a last farewell to his gentle friend.
A fair breeze wafted him swiftly from the shore, and ere long that lovely island, at once his home and his prison for seven long years, became a mere shadow in the distance. For the goddess Calypso had bidden him keep that star on the left hand as he sailed the seas. Thus he voyaged for seventeen days, and on the eighteenth he saw afar off, dimly outlined, a range of hills, rising, like the back of a shield, above the horizon's verge.
Now Poseidon, his great enemy, had been absent for many days on a far journey, and thus had taken no part in the council at Olympus when Zeus had issued his order for the release of Odysseus. Just at this time he was on his way back to Olympus, and caught sight of the bold voyager steering towards the nearest land.
Thy wanderings are well-nigh over, poor wretch! But thou shalt taste once more of my vengeance, before thou reachest yonder shore. So saying the lord of ocean took his trident and stirred up the deep; and the clouds came trooping at his call, covering the sky with a black curtain. Soon a great tempest broke loose, blowing in violent and fitful blasts from all the four quarters of heaven. Then pale fear got hold of Odysseus, as he saw the great curling billows heaving round his frail craft. Surely the goddess spoke truth, when she foretold me that I should perish amid the waves, and never see my home again.
Here I lie helpless, given over to destruction, the sport of all the winds of heaven.
Happy, thrice happy, were my comrades who fell fighting bravely and found honourable burial in the soil of Troy! Would that I had died on that great day when the battle raged fiercest over the body of Pelides; then should I have found death with honour, but now I am doomed to a miserable and dishonoured end. The words were hardly uttered when a huge toppling wave struck the raft with tremendous force, carrying away mast and sail, and hurling Odysseus into the sea. Deep down he sank, and the waters darkened over his head, for he was encumbered by the weight of his clothes.
At last he rose to the surface, gasping, and spitting out the brine, and though sore spent, he swam towards the raft, and hauled himself on board. There he sat clinging to the dismasted and rudderless vessel, which was tossed to and fro from wave to wave, as the winds of autumn sport with the light thistledown and drive it hither and thither. But help was at hand. There was a certain ocean nymph, named Ino, daughter of Cadmus, who had once been a mortal woman, but now was numbered among the immortal powers. She saw and pitied Odysseus, and boarding the raft addressed him in this wise: "Poor man, why is Poseidon so wroth with thee that he maltreats thee thus?
Yet shall he not destroy thee, for all his malice. Only do as I bid thee, and thou shalt get safely to land: take this veil, and when thou hast stripped off thy garments, bind it across thy breast. Then leave the raft to its fate, and swim manfully to land; and when thou art safe fling the veil back into the sea, and go thy way. So saying the goddess sank beneath the waves, leaving Odysseus with her veil in his hand.
But that cautious veteran did not at once act on her advice, for he feared that some treachery was intended against him. He resolved therefore to remain on the raft as long as her timbers held together, and only to have recourse to the veil in the last extremity. He had just taken this prudent resolution, when another wave, more huge than the last, thundered down on the raft, scattering her timbers, as the wind scatters a heap of chaff. Odysseus clung fast to one beam and, mounting it, sat astride as on a horse, until he had stripped off his clothes.
Then he bound the veil round him, flung himself head foremost into the billows, and swam lustily towards land. The storm was now subsiding, and a steady breeze succeeded, blowing from the north, which helped that much-tried hero in his struggle for life. Yet for two days and two nights he battled with the waves, and when day broke on the third day he found himself close under a frowning wall of cliffs, at whose foot the sea was breaking with a noise like thunder.
Odysseus ceased swimming, and trod the water, looking anxiously round for an opening in the cliffs where he might land. While he hesitated, a great foaming wave came rushing landward, threatening to sweep him against that rugged shore; but Odysseus saw his danger in time, and succeeded in gaining a rocky mass which stood above the surface just before him, and clutching it with hands and knees, contrived to keep his hold until the huge billow was past. In another moment he was caught by the recoil of the wave, and flung back into the boiling surf, with fingers torn and bleeding.
With desperate exertions he fought his way out into the comparatively calm water, outside the line of breakers, and swam parallel to the shore, until he saw with delight a sheltered inlet, whence a river flowed into the sea. Murmuring a prayer to the god of the river he steered for land, and a few strokes brought him to a smooth sandy beach, where he lay for a long time without sense or motion.
All his flesh was swollen by his long immersion in the water, the skin was stripped from his hands, and when his breath came back to him he felt as weak as a child. Then a deadly nausea came over him, and the water which he had swallowed gushed up through his mouth and nostrils. Somewhat relieved by this, he rose to his feet, and tottering to the river's brink loosed the veil from his waist, and dropped it into the flowing water.
For he remembered the request of Ino, to whom he owed his life. He had indeed escaped the sea; but his position seemed almost hopeless. There he lay, naked, and more dead than alive, without food or shelter, in a strange land, without a sign of human habitation in view. Crawling painfully to a bed of rushes he lay down and considered what was best for him to do. He could not remain where he was, for it was an exposed place, with no protection from the dew, and open to the chill breeze from the river, which blows at early dawn.
A few hours of such a vigil would certainly kill him in his exhausted state. If, on the other hand, he sought the shelter of the woods, he feared that he would fall a prey to some prowling beast. At last he determined to face the less certain peril, and made his way into a thicket not far from the river side. Searching for a place where he might lie he soon came upon two dense bushes of olive, whose leaves and branches were so closely interwoven that they formed a sort of natural arbour, impenetrable by sun, or rain, or wind. There he lay down, and piled the leaves high over him.
And as a careful housewife in some remote farmhouse, where there are no neighbours near, covers up a burning brand among the ashes, so that it may last all night, and preserve the seed of fire; so lay Odysseus, nursing the spark of life, in his deep bed of leaves. And soon he forgot all his troubles in a deep and dreamless sleep. Defended by strong walls they were now safe against all attacks, and they soon grew rich and prosperous in the exercise of a thriving trade.
Wouldst thou be wedded in soiled attire, and have all thy friends clad unseemly, to put thee to shame? These are a woman's cares, by which she wins a good report among men, and gladdens her mother's heart. Arise, therefore, at break of day, and beg thy father to let harness the mules to the wain, that thou mayest take the linen to the place of washing, far away by the river's side. I will go with thee, and help thee in the work. And when she had done her errand the goddess went back to Olympus, where is the steadfast, everlasting seat of the blessed gods, not shaken of any wind, nor wet with rain, nor chilled by snow, but steeped for ever in cloudless, sunny air.
There the gods abide for ever and take their delight. Inquiring for her father she learnt that he had but that moment gone forth to attend the council of elders, and hastening after him she found him before the doors of the house. Thou thyself hast ever need of clean garments when thou goest to the council, and my brothers will reproach me if they lack clean raiment when they go to the dance. Thus spake the maiden, being ashamed to make mention of her own marriage. But Alcinous knew, and smiled to himself, as he ordered his thralls to prepare the waggon. And her mother brought a basket with food for the midday meal and oil for her daughter and the other maidens when they took their bath.
After a pleasant drive, they came to the place where stood a row of cisterns on the river's bank. There they unharnessed the mules, and left them to crop the sweet clover in the water-meadows. Then they unloaded the waggon, threw the garments into washing-troughs, and trod them with their feet until they were thoroughly cleansed, and having wrung them out, they spread them on the white pebbly beach to dry.
While the garments were bleaching in the wholesome sun and air, they took their bath, and afterwards sat down to the midday meal. When that was ended, they threw off their veils, and stood up to play at ball. It was a pretty and graceful sight; they were all comely maidens, glowing with youth and health.
The girl missed the ball, and it fell into the middle of the river, whereupon the whole company set up a sharp cry. The sound came to the ears of Odysseus, and woke him from his long slumber. He sat up in his bed of leaves and communed with himself: "Behold I hear the shrill cry of women, or perhaps of the nymphs who haunt this wild place.
Now may I learn of what sort are the natives of this land, whether they be fierce and inhospitable, or gentle and kind to strangers. Grim and dreadful he looked, like a hungry lion, buffeted by rain and wind, who goes forth in a tempest to seek his prey; for he was haggard with long fasting, and sore disfigured by his battle with the sea; his eyes glared with famine, and his hair and beard hung ragged and unkempt about his face.
When he was still some way off he stopped, fearing to offend her delicacy if he came nearer. If thou art a goddess, thou seemest to me most like to Artemis, daughter of great Zeus, both in face, and in stature, and in form. But if thou art mortal, then thrice blessed are thy father and mother, and thrice blessed thy brethren, and their spirits are refreshed because of thee, when thou goest, a very rose of beauty, to the dance.
Happy the man who wins thee for his bride! Never yet have I seen the like of thee among all the children of men. Only once have I beheld aught to compare unto thee, a young palm-tree which I saw growing tall and straight by the altar of Apollo at Delos. I saw it, and was amazed, for it was wondrous fair; and even so is my soul filled with wonder and dread when I look upon thy face, so that I am afraid to draw near unto thee, though sore is my need.
Yesterday I was flung naked on thy coast, after a voyage of twenty days. Many things have I suffered, and more, I ween, remains for me in store; for I am a man of many woes. Have compassion on me, dread lady! I am thy suppliant, and to thee first I address my prayer. Show me the way to the city, and give me a cloth to wrap round me, that I may go among the people without shame. And may the gods give thee all, whatsoever thy heart desireth, a husband and a home, and happy wedded love, shedding warmth in thine house, and a strong defence against all ills from without, but above all a sacred treasure in thy husband's heart, and in thine.