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hunger. Come, therefore, let us sacrifice to
the gods in heaven the best of the oxen of the
Sun. And we will vow to build to the Sun,
when we shall reach the land of Ithaca, a great
temple which we will adorn with gifts many
and precious. But if, indeed, he be minded to
sink our ship, being wroth for his oxen's sake,
verily, I would rather die, meeting the waves
with open mouth, than waste slowly to death
upon this island.'

" To this they all gave consent. Then


Eurylochus drave the fattest of the kine, for
they ever grazed near the ship, and the men
sacrificed it to the gods. But when they had
done according to custom, sprinkling green
leaves, for barley they had none, and pouring
out libations of water instead of wine, and
making prayers to the gods, and had burnt the
thigh-bones with the fat, and had tasted the
inner parts, then sleep forsook my eyes, and I
went my way to the shore. But ere I reached
the place of the ship, the savour of the flesh
greeted me. And when I perceived it, I cried
aloud, ' O Zeus, this is a deadly sleep where-
with ye lulled me to rest, for my comrades in
their folly have grievously offended the Sun.'

" And even while I spake one of the nymphs
that herded the kine flew to the Sun with tid-
ings of that which had been done. Then
spake the Sun among the other gods : ' Avenge
me now on the guilty comrades of Ulysses ; for
they have slain the herds which I delight to
see both when I mount the heavens and when
I descend therefrom. Verily, if they pay not
the due penalty for their wrong-doing, I will go


down and give my light to the regions of the

" Then Zeus made answer : ' Shine, thou
Sun, as aforetime, on the earth. Verily, my
bolt can easily reach the bark of these sinners,
and break it in the middle of the sea.'

" All these things I heard afterwards from
the nymph Calypso, and she had heard them
from Hermes, the messenger.

" With angry words did I rebuke my com-
rades, but found no remedy for their wrong-
doing, seeing that the kine were dead. Then

cV O

followed awful signs from heaven ; for the skins
of the kine crept, and the flesh bellowed upon
the spits, as if it had the voice of living creat-
ures. For six days my friends feasted on the
cattle of the Sun ; but when the seventh day
came, we launched our ship upon the sea, and
set sail.

" When we were now out of sight of the
island of the Three Capes, and no other land
appeared, Zeus hung a dark cloud over us, and
suddenly the west wind came fiercely down
upon the ship, and snapped the shrouds on


either side. Thereupon the mast fell back-
ward and brake the skull of a pilot, so that he
plunged, as a diver plunges, into the sea.
Meantime Zeus hurled his thunderbolt into
the ship, filling it with sulphur from end to
end. Then my comrades fell from the ship;
I saw them carried about it like to sea-gulls ;
so did the srods baulk them of their return.


But I still abode on the ship, till the sides were
parted from the keel ; then I bound myself with
a leathern thonsr to the mast and the keel for


these were fastened together. On these I sat,
being driven by the \vind. All night long was
I driven ; and with the morning I came a^ain

O o

to Scylla and to Charybdis. It was the time
when she sucked in the waves ; but I, borne
upward by a wave, took fast hold of the branches
of the wild fig tree that grew upon the rock.
To this I clung for a long time, but knew not
how to climb higher up. So I watched till she
should vomit forth again the keel and the mast,
for these she had swallowed up. And when I
saw them again, then I plunged down from the
rock, and caught hold of them, and seated


myself on them ; I rowed hard with the palms
of my hands ; and the father of the gods suf-
fered not Scylla to espy me, else had I surely
perished. For nine days I floated, and on the
tenth the gods carried me to the island of

" But how I fared there ye know already, for
I have already told the tale to thee and to thy
wife. But yesterday I told it ; but to say again
that which has been once spoken is another
thing, and I like it not."




WHEN Ulysses had ended his tale there was
silence for a space throughout the hall. And
after awhile King Alcinolis spake, saying:
" Ulysses, now thou art come to my house,
thou shalt no longer be baulked of thy return.
And on you, chiefs of the Phaeacians, that
drink wine continually and listen to the sing-
ing of the minstrel within my hall, I lay
this command. Garments, and gold, skilfully
wrought, and such gifts besides as the princes
have given him, are already stored for this
stranger in a chest. Let us now, also, give
him each a great tripod and a caldron. We
will give them to him, and afterwards w r e will
gather the price of them from among the
people ; for such a burden should not be laid
upon one man."

This saying pleased the princes, and they


went each man to his house ; and the next
day they brought the gifts \ and the King
himself bestowed them under the benches, that
the rowers might not be hindered in their

When these things were finished, the
princes betook them to the palace of the
King; and he sacrificed an ox to Zeus, and
they feasted, and the minstrel sang. But still
Ulysses would ever look to the sun, as if he
would have hastened his going down ; for
indeed he was very desirous to return ; as a
man desireth his supper, when he hath been
driving the plough all day through a fallow
field with a yoke of oxen before him, and is
right glad when the sun sinketh in the west,
so Ulysses was glad at the passing of the
daylight. And he spake, saying :

" Pour out, now 7 , the drink-offering, my lord,
the King, and send me on my way. Now do
I bid you farewell, for ye have given me all
that my heart desired, to wit, noble gifts and
escort to my home. May the gods give me
with them good luck, and grant, also, that I


may find my wife and my friends in my home
unharmed ! And may ye abide here in joy
with your wives and children, and may ye have
all manner of good things and may no evil
come near you."

Then spake the King to his squire : " Mix,
now, the bowl, Pontonous, and serve out the
wine, that we may pray to Zeus, and send
the stranger on his way."

So Pontonous mixed the wine, and served
it out ; and they all made libation, and prayed.

Then Ulysses rose in his place, and placed
the cup in the hand of Arete, the Queen, and
spake : " Fare thee well, O Queen, till old age
and death, which no man may escape, shall
come upon thee ! I go to my home ; and do
thou rejoice in thy children and in thy people,
and in thy husband, the King."

When he had so said, he stepped over the
threshold. And Alcinolis sent with him a
squire to guide him to the ship, and Arete
sent maidens, bearing one a fresh robe and a
tunic, and another carrying the coffer, and yet
another with bread and wine. When they


came to the ship, the rowers took the things,
and laid them in the hold. Also they spread for
Ulysses a rug and a linen sheet in the hinder
part of the ship, that his sleep might be sound.

When these things were ended Ulysses
climbed on board, and lay down ; and the men
sat upon the benches, and unbound the hawser.
And it came to pass that so soon as they
touched the water with the oars, a deep sleep
fell upon him. As four horses carry a chariot
quickly over the plain, so quick did the ship
pass over the waves. Not even a hawk, that
is the swiftest of all flying things, could have
kept pace with it.

And when the star that is the herald of the
morning came up in the heaven, then did the
ship approach the island. There is a certain
harbour in Ithaca, the harbour of Phorcys, the
sea-god, where two great cliffs on either side
break the force of the waves ; a ship that can
win her way into it can ride safely without
moorings. And at the head of this harbour
there is an olive tree, and a cave hard by that
is sacred to the nymphs. Two gates hath the


cave, one looking towards the north, by which
men may enter, and one towards the south,
which pertaineth only to the gods. To this
place the Phaeacians guided the ship, for they
knew it well. Half the length of the keel did


they run her ashore, so quickly did they row
her. Then they lifted Ulysses out of the stern
as he lay in the sheet and the rug which the
Queen had given him. And still he slept.
They took out also the gifts which the princes
of the Phaeacians had given him, and laid them
in a heap by the trunk of the olive tree, a little
way from the road, lest some passer-by should
come and spoil them while Ulysses slept.
After this they departed homeward.

But Poseidon still remembered his anger,
and said to Zeus, " Now shall I be held in dis-
honour among the gods, for mortal men, even
these Phaeacians, who are of my own kindred,
pay me no regard. I said that this Ulysses
should return in great affliction to his home ;
and now they have carried him safely across
the sea, with such a store of gifts as he never
would have won out of Troy, even had he



















come back unharmed with all his share of the

To him Zeus made answer: "What is that
thou sayest, lord of the sea? How can the
gods dishonour thee, who art the eldest among
them ? And if men withhold from thee the
worship that is due, thou canst punish them
after thy pleasure. Do, therefore, as thou
wilt. '

Then said Poseidon : " I had done so long
since, but that I feared thy wrath. But now I
will smite this ship of the Phasacians as she
cometh back from carrying this man to his
home. So shall they learn not to give hence-
forth safe carriage to men ; and their city will
I overshadow with a great mountain."

And Zeus made answer to him, u Do as
thou wilt."

Then Poseidon came down to the land of
the Phaeacians, and there he tarried till the
ship came near, speeding swiftly on her way.
Thereupon he struck her, changing her into a
stone, and rooting her to the bottom of the


But the Phaeacians said one to another:
" Who is this that hath hindered our ship, as
she journeyed homeward ? Even now she was
plain to see."

But King Alcinoiis spake, saying : " Now
are the oracles fulfilled which my father was
wont to speak. For he said that Poseidon was
wroth with us because we carried men safely
across the sea, and that one day the god would
smite one of our ships, and change it into a
stone, and that he would overshadow also our
city with a great mountain. Now, therefore,
let us cease from conveying men to their
homes, and let us do sacrifice to Poseidon,
slaying twelve bulls, that he overshadow not
our city with a great mountain."

So the King spake, and the princes did as he
commanded them.

Meanwhile Ulysses awoke in the land of
Ithaca, and he knew not the place, for Athene
had spread a great mist about it, doing it, as
will be seen, with a good purpose, that he
might safely accomplish that which it was in
his heart to do. Then Ulysses started up, and


made lament, saying: "Woe is me! To what
land am I come ? Are the men barbarous and
unjust, or are they hospitable and righteous ?
Whither shall I carry these riches of mine?
And whither shall I go myself? Surely the
Phaeacians have dealt unfairly with me, for
they promised that they would carry me back
to my own country, but now they have taken
me to a strange land. May Zeus, who is the
defender of the suppliant, punish them there-
for ! But let me first see to my goods, and
reckon them up, lest haply the men should
have taken somewhat of them."

Thereupon he numbered the tripods, and
the caldrons, and the raiment, and the gold,
and found that nothing W as wanting to the tale

o o

of the things. But not the less did he bewail
him for his country.

But as he walked, lamenting, by the shore,
Athene met him, having the semblance of a
young shepherd, fair to look upon, such as are
the sons of kings. Ulysses was glad when he
saw her, though he knew her not, and said :
" Friend, thou art the first man that I have


seen in this land. Now, therefore, I pray thee
to save my substance, and myself also. But
first, tell me true what land is this to which
I am come, and what is the people ? Is it an
island, or a portion of the mainland ? '

And the false shepherd said : " Thou art
loolish, or, may be, hast come from very far, not
to know this country. Many men know it,
both in the east and in the west. Rocky it is,
not fit for horses, nor is it very broad ; but it
is fertile land, and good for wine ; nor does it
want for rain, and a good pasture it is for oxen
and goats ; and men call it Ithaca. Even in
Troy, which is very far, they say, from this land
of Greece, men have heard of Ithaca."

This Ulysses was right glad to hear. Yet
he was not minded to say who he was, but
rather to feign a tale.

So he said : " Yes, of a truth, I heard of this
Ithaca in Crete, from which I am newly come,
with all this wealth, leaving also as much
behind for my children. For I slew Orsilo-
chus, son of Idomeneus, the King, because he
would have taken from me my spoil. Where-


fore I slew him, lying in wait for him by the
way. Then made I covenant with certain
Phoenicians that they should take me to Pylos
or to Elis ; which thing, indeed, they were
minded to do, only the wind drave them hither,
and while I slept they put me upon the shore,
and my possessions with me, and departed to

This pleased Athene much, and she changed
her shape, becoming like to a woman, tall and
fair, and said to Ulysses :

" Right cunning would he be who could
cheat thee. Even now in thy native country
ceasest thou not from cunning words and
deceits ! But let these things be ; for thou, I
trow, art the wisest of mortal men, and I excel
among the gods in counsel. For I am Athene,
daughter of Zeus, who am ever wont to stand
by thee and help thee. And now we will hide
these possessions of thine ; and thou must be
silent, nor tell to any one who thou art, and
endure many things, so that thou mayest come
to thine own ao;ain.'


To her Ulysses made answer : " Hardly


may a mortal man discern thee, O goddess,
however wise he may be, for thou takest many
shapes. While I was making war against
Troy with the other Greeks, thou wast ever
kindly to me. But from the time that we took
the city of Priam, and set sail for our homes,
I saw thee not, until thou didst meet me in
the land of the Phaeacians, comforting me, and
guiding me thyself into the city. And now I
beseech, by thy Father Zeus, to tell me truly :
is this Ithaca that I see, for it seems to me
that I have come to some other country, and
that thou dost mock me. Tell me, therefore,
w r h ether in very deed I am come to mine own

Then Athene answered him : " Never will I
leave thee, for indeed thou art wise and pru-
dent above all others. For any other man, so
coming back after many wanderings, would
have hastened to see his wife and his children ;

but thou wiliest to make trial first of thy wife.


But as for this, that thou didst not ever see
me in thy wanderings, know that I was not
minded to be at enmity with Poseidon, my


father's brother ; for he was angry with thee
because thou didst blind the Cyclops, his son.
But come now, I will show thee this land of
Ithaca, that thou mayest be assured in thy
heart. Lo ! here is the harbour of Phorcys ;
here at the harbour's head is the olive tree ;
here also is the pleasant cave that is sacred to
the nymphs, and there, behold, is the wooded
hill of Neriton."

Then the goddess scattered the mist, so
that he saw the land. Then, indeed, he knew
it for Ithaca, and he kneeled down and kissed
the ground, and prayed to the nymphs, saying:
" Never did I think to see you again ; but
now I greet you lovingly. Many gifts also
will I give you, if Athene be minded, of her
grace, to bring me to my own again."

Then said Athene : " Take heart, and be
not troubled. But first let us put away thy
goods safely in the secret place of the cave."

Then Ulysses brought up the brass, and the
gold, and the raiment that the Phaeacians had
given him, and they two stored it in the cave,
and Athene laid a great stone upon the mouth.


And Athene said : " Think, man of many
devices, how thou wilt lay hands on these men,
suitors of thy wife, who for three years have
sat in thy house devouring thy substance. And
she hath answered them craftily, making many
promises, but still waiting for thy coming."

Then Ulysses said : " Truly I had perished,
even as Agamemnon perished, but for thee.
But do thou help me, as of old in Troy, for
with thee at my side I would fight with three
hundred men."

Then said Athene : " Lo ! I will cause that

no man shall know thee, for I will wither the
fair flesh on thy limbs, and take the bright hair
from thy head, and make thine eyes dull. And
the suitors shall take no account of thee, neither
shall thy wife nor thy son know thee. But go
to the swineherd Eumasus, where he dwells by
the fountain of Arethusa, for he is faithful to
thee and to thy house. And I will hasten to
Sparta, to the house of Menelaiis, to fetch
Telemachus, for he went thither, seeking news
of thee."

But Ulysses said to the goddess : " Why


didst thou not tell him, seeing that thou knewest
all ? Was it that he too might wander over the
seas in great affliction, and that others mean-
while might consume his goods ? '

o o

Then Athene made reply : " Trouble not
thyself concerning him. I guided him myself
that he might earn a good report, as a son
searching for his father. Now he sitteth in
peace in the hall of Menelaiis. And though
there are some that lie in wait for him to slay
him, yet shall they not have their will. Rather
shall they perish themselves and others with
them that have devoured thy goods."

Then she touched him with her rod. She
caused his skin to wither, and wasted the hair
upon his head, and made his skin as the skin
of an old man, and dimmed his eyes. His
garments she changed so that they became
torn and filthy and defiled with smoke. Over
all she cast the skin of a great sta^ from which

o o

the hair was worn. A staff also she gave him,
and a tattered wallet, and a rope wherewith to
fasten it.




ATHENE departed to Lacedasma that she
might fetch Telemachus, and Ulysses went to
the house of Eumaeus, the swineherd. A great


courtyard there was, and twelve sties for the
sows, and four watch-dogs, fierce as wild beasts,
for such did the swineherd breed. In each sty
were penned fifty swine ; but the hogs were
fewer in number, for the suitors ever devoured
them at their feasts. There w r ere but three
hundred and threescore in all. The swineherd
himself was shaping sandals, and of his men
three were with the swine in the fields, and
one was driving a fat beast to the city, to be
meat for the suitors. But when Ulysses came
near, the dogs ran upon him, and he dropped
his staff and sat down, and yet would have suf-
fered harm, even on his own threshold ; but
the swineherd ran forth and drave away w r ith









stones, and spake unto his lord, though, in-
deed, he knew him not, saying :

" Old man, the dogs came near to kill thee.
That would, indeed, have been a shame and a
grief to me ; and, verily, I have other griefs in
plenty. Here I sit and sorrow for my lord,
and rear the fat swine for others to devour,
while he, perchance, wanders hungry over the
deep, or in the land of strangers, if, indeed, Ire
lives. But come now, old man, to my house,
and tell me who thou art, and w r hat sorrows
thou hast thyself endured."

Then the swineherd led him to his dwelling,
and set him down on a seat of brushwood, with
the hide of a wild goat spread on it. The hide
was both large and soft, and he was wont him-
self to sleep on it.

Greatly did Ulysses rejoice at this welcome,
and he said, " Now may Zeus and the other
gods grant thee thy heart's desire, with such
kindness hast thou received me ! '

The swineherd made answer : " It were a
wicked tiling in me to slight a stranger, for the

o o o

stranger and the beggar are from Zeus. But


from us that are thralls and in fear of our
master, even a little gift is precious. And
the gods have stayed the return of my mas-
ter. Surely had he come back he would have
given me a house, and a portion of land, and a
fair wife withal ; for such things do lords give
to servants that serve them well, in whose hand
their substance increaseth, as verily, it hath in-
creased in mine. Well would my lord have
rewarded me, had he tarried at home. But he
hath perished as I would that all the race of
Helen might perish, so many valiant sons of
the Greeks hath she brought to death. For
he, too, went to Troy, that Agamemnon and
Menelalis, his brother, might work their ven-
geance on the Trojans."

Then he went away to the sties, and brought
from thence two young pigs, and singed them,
and cut them into pieces, and broiled them
upon spits. And when he had cooked
them, he set them before the beggar man.
He also mixed wine in a bowl of ivy-wood, and
sat down over against his oriest, and bade him

o o

eat, saying : " Eat now such food as I can give


thee ; as for the fat hogs, them the suitors
devour. Truly these men have no pity, nor
fear of the gods. They must have heard that
my lord is dead, so wickedly do they behave
themselves, fearing no recompense for their
evil deeds. They do not woo as other suitors
woo, nor do they go back to their own houses,
but they sit at ease, and devour our wealth
without stint. Verily, every day and night,
they kill, not one victim or two, but many, and
the wine they waste right wantonly. Once my
lord had possessions beyond all counting ;
none in Ithaca nor on the mainland had so
much. Hear now the sum of them : On the
mainland twenty herds of kine, and flocks of
sheep as many, and droves of swine as many,
and as many herds of goats. Also here at this
island's end he had eleven flocks of goats.
Day by day do they take one of the goats for
the suitors, and I take for them the best of the

So he spake, and Ulysses ate flesh and
drank wine the while ; but not a word did he
speak, for he was planning the suitors' death.


But at the last he spake : " My friend, who was
this, thy lord, of whom thou speakest ? Thou
sayest that he perished, seeking to get ven-
geance for King Menelalis. Tell me now, for
it may be that I have seen him, for I have
wandered far."

But Eumaeus said : " Nay, old man, thus do
all wayfarers talk, yet we hear no truth from
them. Not a vagabond fellow comes to this
island but our Queen must see him, and ask
him many things, weeping the while. And
thou, I doubt not, for a cloak or a tunic, would
tell a wondrous tale. But Ulysses, I know, is
dead, and either the fowls of the air devour
him, or the fishes of the sea."

But the false beggar said : " Hearken now, I
tell thee, and that not lightly, but confirming
my words with an oath, that Ulysses will re-
turn. And so soon as this shall come to pass
thou shalt let me have the reward of good
tidings. A mantle and a tunic shalt thou give
me. But before it shall happen, ! will take
nothing, though my need be sore ; I hate that
man who speaks guileful words under con-


strain! of poverty, even as I hate the gates of
death. Now Zeus be my witness, and this
hospitable hearth of Ulysses to which I am
come, that all these things shall come to pass
even as I have said. This year shall Ulysses
return ; yea, while the moon waneth he shall
come, and take vengeance on all who dishonour
his name."

But Eumseus made answer: " It is not I, old
man, that shall ever pay the reward of good
tidings. Truly, Ulysses will never more come
back to his home. But let us turn our thought
to other things. Bring thou not these to my

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Online LibraryAlfred John ChurchThe story of the Odyssey → online text (page 8 of 15)