The Odyssey of Homer in English verse online

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The interval which has elapsed since the second edition of this
work was exhausted has been so great that I seem to owe an
apology to the public for the fact that, in spite of a steady demand
for the book, it has long been out of print. I was reluctant to
bring out a third edition without first subjecting the translation to
a thorough revision, conscious as I was of the existence of many
defects in a work, the first half at least of which was produced in a
fire of enthusiasm, and, owing to intense concentration, at great
speed. For that revision I have now found time : it has not been
hurried ; and it has been as thorough as I could make it. Though
the alterations are very numerous, I have not removed any of the
essential features of the work, which gave it what freshness and
originality my readers found in it ; but I have endeavoured to
remove all traces of carelessness, and of undue licence in rhyme,
and to bring the version closer to the original ; and have given
special attention to the technique of the rhythm, recasting all such
lines as did not seem to " read themselves."




Book I ..... i

How a Goddess came to the halls of the Isle-King,
and beheld the riot of froward men.

Book II . . . 13

How Telemachus was defied by the suitors in
presence of the isle-folk, and thereafter sailed

Book III . . . . .25

How the prince communed with the ancient king,
and heard tales of the war.

Book IV . . . -38

How Telemachus had tidings of his father, and
how the suitors laid the snare for his life.

Book V . . . .60

Of the lone isle of Calypso, and how Odysseus
sailed thence, and was shipwrecked.

Book VI . . . -73

How a princess went to the linen-washing, and
had pity on Odysseus.

Book VII . . . . .82

How Odysseus came unto the halls of the Sea-king.

Book VIII . . . . .91

How Odysseus was at the sports and the feasting
of the sea-folk.

Book IX . . . . 106

Odysseus telleth the tale of his wanderings. Of
the Cave-giant and his blinding.

Book X .... 121

How Circe by her spells changed the hero's men
into swine, and how he delivered them.

viii Contents.


Book XI . . • .137

How Odysseus went unto Hades, and spake with
the mighty dead.

Book XII . . . . .154

Of Scylla, the Crag-fiend, and the whirlpit

Charybdis ; of the kine of the Sun, and the
swift vengeance for sacrilege.

Book XIII . . . • .167

How Odysseus came back to his own land, and
had counsel and help of Athene.

Book XIV . . . . .178

How Odysseus tarried in the hut of the swineherd.

Book XV . . . . .192

How Telemachus came home again from Sparta,
and escaped the death-snare.

Book XVI ..... 206

How Odysseus was made known to his son.

Book XVII . . . . .218

How Odysseus came to his halls in guise of a

Book XVIII . . . . -234

How Odysseus fought with Irus the giant beggar.
Of the gifts to Penelope, and the flouts cast on

Book XIX ..... 246

How Penelope knew not Odysseus, but the old
nurse knew, by the scar.

Book XX ..... 262

Of the last banquet of the suitors, and the death-
bodings that came in the midst of their rioting.

Book XXI ..... 273
Of the ordeal of the bow.

Book XXII . . . . .285

Of the Slaying of the Suitors.
Book XXIII ..... 299

Of the meeting of the husband and wife long

Book XXIV ..... 309
How the suitors were brought down into Hades,
and Odysseus and the kin of the slain were set
at one again.



teoto a d5ot)t)C00 came to tljc Ijalte of tljc g^lc^inn;, ano
bcljclo tljc riot of frotoara men.

THE Hero of craft-renown, O Song-goddess, chant me his fame,
Who, when low he had laid Troy-town, unto many a far land
And many a city beheld he, and knew the hearts of their folk,, [came,
And by woes of the sea was unquelled, o'er the rock of his spirit

that broke, ,

When he fain would have won for a prey his life and his friends'

, return,
Yet never they saw that day, howsoever his heart might yearn,
But they perished every one, by their own mad deeds did they fall,
For they slaughtered the kine of the Sun, and devoured them, —

fools we're they all.

So in anger their home-coming day did the God take away for their

„ , guilt. * , [10

O Goddess, inspire my lay with their tale : take it up as thou wilt.

Now all the rest of the host, through the jaws of destruction

that passed,
Battle-buffeted, tempest-tossed, were safe in their homes at last.
But the hero Odysseus only was kept from his wife and his rest
By a Goddess in duress lonely, Calypso the beautiful-tressed ;
And she longed in her grotto-home to have him her husband for aye.
But at last, when the season was come, as the years rolled slowly

away, [isle,

When the Gods had his doom-thread spun to return unto Ithaca's
To his home, yet he had not won unto that sweet rest from his toil,
Nor yet with his friends was he, and with ruth were the Gods all

filled, [stilled 20

Save Poseidon, the Lord of the Sea, but his fury would not be

• »

2 Wqt 4Dbp00C£ BOOK I.

Against godlike Odysseus, before to his fatherland-isle he had won.
But now to the far-off shore of the Aethiops Poseidon was gone, —
The Aethiops, sundered in twain, of all men farthest away,
These where the sun in the main sinks, those by the fountains of

Where the bulls and the fat rams slain for the mighty hecatomb lay.
There did he taste the delight of the banquet, enthroned thereat.
But the rest on Olympus' height in debate with the Thunderer sat.
And the Father of Gods and men to the rest of the Blessed began, —
For his heart in him brooded then on the fate of a high-born man,
Aegisthus, slain so late by Orestes, son of the dead, — 30

And calling to mind his fate, to the Deathless the Thunderer said :
" Out on it ! see how these mortals are wont us Gods to upbraid,
Saying that trouble and sorrow from us are upon them laid !
Yet they of their own blind folly have woes that were never or-
dained ;
Even as Aegisthus now hath o'erleapt his fate, and hath stained
The couch of Atreides, and slain him even as he entered his home,
With vengeance full in his sight, for we told him of that which

should come,
For we warned him by Hermes, the Slayer of Argus, the Watcher

That he neither should murder the king of men, neither tempt the

For that vengeance for Atreus' son should be dealt by Orestes' hand.
So soon as he grew unto manhood, and longed for his native land.
So Hermes spake, but the soul of Aegisthus would not give heed
To the kindly warning : now doth he reap the reward of his deed."

Then unto him did Athene the grey-eyed make reply :
" Our Father, Kronos' son, who dost rule over princes on high,
Yea, of a truth laid low in fitting destruction he is, —
So perish all other hereafter who dareth a- deed like this !
But mine heart for Odysseus the subtle of soul is riven in twain,
For the evil-starred, who hath long been suffering exile pain
In the sea-girt navel-isle of the measureless-wide sea-swell, 50

A forest-clad island it is, and a Goddess therein doth dwell.
The daughter of Atlas the weirdly- wise, who hath knowledge of all,
Even all the abysses of sea, and upbeareth the pillars tall
That keep the plain of the earth and the arch of the heavens

apart : —
That daughter is keeping him mourning and sighing for anguish of

And ever with winning and wily words doth the Goddess essay
To bewitch him, and make him forget his home ; but Odysseus, aye
Yearning to have but a sight of the smoke springing up through

the air
In Ithaca, longeth to die ; but thou, thou dost not care, [60

Thine heart is not turned unto pity, Olympian ! — what, did he ne'er

book i. of Isomer. 3

By the side of the ships of the Argives the fat of the sacrifice burn
In broad Troy-land ? Why, Zeus, is thy wrath upon him so stern ? "
Answered her Zeus, of whose hands the clouds through the wel-
kin are swept :
" Daughter, what saying is this through the fence of thy teeth that

hath leapt ?
How shall I forget Odysseus, the godlike man, who is wise
Beyond all mortal folk, and hath done more sacrifice
Unto the deathless Gods who dwell in the broad-arched heaven ?
But the soul of Poseidon the Girder of Earth hath never forgiven
The thing that he did to the Cyclops, robbing the giant of sight,
Polyphemus the god-strong monster, greatest in bodily might 70
Of all the Cyclopes ; he of the sea-god Phorcys' daughter,
Thoosa, was born by the sound of the dash of the deep sea-water :
For in hollow caverns the Lord of the Sea to his breast had caught

Since then, Earth-shaker Poseidon, seeing he may not slay,
Maketh Odysseus afar from his fatherland-shore to stray.
But come, let us that be here take counsel with one consent
How he may win to his home, and Poseidon shall then relent
From his anger, for surely he will not be able alone to fight
With us all, nor to take his revenge in the deathless Gods' despite."
Then unto him did Athene the grey-eyed make reply : 80

" Our Father, Kronos' son, who dost rule over princes on high,
If this doth in truth seem good in the eyes of the Gods ever-blest
That Odysseus the subtle of soul shall win to his home and his rest,
Hermes then let us send, the Slayer of Argus, the Guide,
Unto where Ogygia lies in the midst of the lone sea-tide.
Let him there to the fair-tressed nymph our sure decree declare,
That Odysseus the steadfast-hearted back to his home may fare.
But I will away unto Ithaca's island, and there will I fill [will,

With courage the breast of his son, and will give him a masterful
That he to a folkmote may call the Achaeans with long-flowing
hair, go

And before them may bid the insolent suitors all beware,
Who are slaying his sheep and his trail-foot wreath-horned kine

And then will I send him to Sparta, and Pylos, the sandy shore,
Tidings to seek of the father he loveth, if aught he may learn ;
And so fair guerdon of glory of men that son shall earn."

Then under her white feet tied the Goddess her sandals' pride,
Ambrosial, golden-gleaming, which bore her over the main
Swift as the winds far-streaming, and o'er earth's limitless plain.
And she grasped her war-spear strong, whose point with the keen

brass shone,
Ponderous, sturdy, and long, wherewithal are the ranks over-
thrown 100
Of heroes that kindle the ire of the Child of a mighty Sire.


4 Vlty jaDDytfiafep book i.

From the crest of Olympus adown hath she flashed through the

voids of the air ;
And in Ithaca's land and town, by Odysseus' palace fair,
She stood by the forecourt door ; in her hand was the lance of brass ;
And a guest-friend's shape she wore, the Taphian Mentes he was.
And the suitors therebeside she found, and the dice they threw,
Sitting on many a hide of the kine that they lawlessly slew.
And the henchmen and serving-men were hastening hither and

thither ;
There were some that were mingling then the wine and the water

together ; [no

And with sponges of manifold mesh some washed the tables over,
And they set them forth, and with flesh in abundance the board

did they cover.
Then was godlike Telemachus ware of Athene before the rest ;
For he sat mid the suitors there with a burden of pain on his breast,
Beholding his sire in his heart, ever looking to see him come
And scatter the suitors apart, and drive them afar from his home,
And, enthroned in his kingly pride, be lord as of old of his own.
So dreaming, the sad son spied a stranger unheeded, alone :
And he ran to the porch with speed, for his heart was indignant to see
How none to a guest gave heed : to the stranger's side came he,
And with greeting her hand he pressed, and the brazen spear did

he take ; 120

And thus to the unknown guest the son of the hero spake :
" Hail to thee, stranger : fair welcome be thine unto this mine

home !
First taste of our cheer ere thou tell us thy need for the which

thou art come."
Then Telemachus led the way, and the Goddess followed him ;
And anon in the hall stood they, 'neath the roof-beams lofty and

dim ;
Then took he the spear of his guest, and against a column's height
Placed in a javelin-rest, where many a spear gleamed bright
That in days of yore Odysseus bore through the storm of the fight.
And on to a throne he led her, a cunningly dight fair seat [130

And linen thereover he spread, and a footstool he set for her feet.
And a high-seat apart from the rest of the suitors he set in quiet,
Giving heed lest the stranger-guest, being vexed by their manner-
less riot,
No joy of the feast might have, in the midst of an insolent throng ;
And moreover some news would he crave of his father, lost so long.
And the bright spring water was brought by a maiden, and poured

from a ewer,
Golden, beautiful-wrought, into laver of silver pure
To wash withal, and she spread a table of polished sheen
By their side, and served was the bread by the stewardess modest

of mien,

book i. of Corner. 5

With all things dainty to eat, given freely of all her store ;
And to these all manner of meat in platters the carver bore. 140
And bright on the board at their side did the golden chalices shine,
And the henchman his office plied, outpouring the flame-flushed

Then into the feast-hall pressed the suitors, an arrogant throng,
And they sat them down to the feast on the high-seats ranged along.
And water the henchmen poured, o'er the banqueters' hands was it

And the maidens set forth on the board the heaped-up maunds of

bread :
And the boys with the wine filled up the bowls, and they crowned

each cup.
So they put forth their hands to eat of the things on the board that

But when the desire of meat and of drink was clean done away,
The minds of the suitor-throng unto other delights gave place, 150
Even to the dance and the song, the banquet's garland of grace.
And then did a henchman bring to the minstrel a beautiful lyre,
For to them wont Phemius to sing, in despite of his heart's desire ;
And his fingers swept the string, and the fountain of song 'gan flow.

Then to her of the bright grey eye Telemachus spake full low,
Bending his head full nigh, lest the others should hear, and know :
" Wilt thou have indignation, stranger, at that which my lips shall

say ?
Pleasant to these men's hearts are the sound of the lyre and the lay,
Lightly enow, for they feast upon cheer for which he must pay [160
Whose bones, I ween, in the rain are bleaching and rotting away,
Lying on land, or tumbled and rolled by the waves to and fro !
Ah, if they saw him returning to Ithaca's isle, I trow,
For swiftness of flying feet would the rabble of dastards pray
More fervently far than for treasure of gold and of gallant array !
But now he hath perished, hath perished by fate most wretched,

and we
Smile not, nor are glad, if men, any dwellers on earth that be, [day !
Tell us, 'Lo, he is coming!' — ah no, but lost is his home-coming
But come now, answer me this that I ask, and without fail say :
Who art thou, and whence among men ? Thy city and parents

declare, [bear 170

In what manner of ship didst thou come, and how did the shipmen
Thee unto Ithaca's shore ? What land do they boast for their own ?
For I doubt thou hast scarcely come hitherward faring on foot and

And prithee declare to me this in truth, to the end I may know ;
Dost thou now first come, or art thou a friend of long ago [then.
Of my father's ? — for many they were that came to our dwelling
In the days overpast, for my sire had dealings with many men."
Made answer to him Athene, the Maid of the flashing eye :

6 ^t flDbpgjefep book i.

" As touching all this will I make unto thee an unfeigned reply.
Mentes am I, the son of Anchialus wise and brave ; [180

I am king of the Taphian folk, of the nation that loveth the wave.
And now am I come, as ye see, o'er the wine-dark waters to you,
Sailing to alien folk with my ship, even I and my crew,
Unto Temesa sailing for brass, and of flashing iron is my freight ;
And yonder my ship off shore afar from the city doth wait,
In Reithrus' haven, where Neius' forests look down on the sea.
And thy father and I, old friends, and the sons of friends, are we
From the first ; for witness, go and enquire of the old man hoar,
Laertes the hero : he cometh, they say, to the city no more ;
But far away on his farm is he suffering trouble and care,
With none save a handmaiden old his meat and his drink to pre-
pare, 190
When weariness seizeth his limbs, as to and fro he goes,
Cheerlessly creeping along the slope of his vineyard-close.
But I came as looking to find him at home, — for so did they say, —
Thy sire ; but the Gods are letting him yet from his homeward way.
For Odysseus the godlike, not yet dead upon earth is he,
But somewhere is prisoned still alive in the midst of the sea,
In a wave-washed isle, and hard fierce men are his jailors there,
Holding him captive and chafing sore in caged despair.
But list to my prophecy now, as the Gods have spoken the thing
Unto my soul, and this to fulfilment, I know, shall they bring, 200
W T hat though no seer I be, nor cunning to know bird-lore ; —
Not much longer shall he be withheld from his fatherland-shore,
Not though encompassed about with fetters of iron he be,
He will find out a way to escape them, for manifold shifts hath he.
But come now, answer me this, and without fail tell me all,
If the son of Odysseus himself thou be, so goodly and tall.
Strangely like him dost thou seem both in head and in beautiful

eyes ;
For often and often we twain forgathered in friendly wise
Or ever he passed unto Troy, whither many another beside [210
Of the chiefs of the Argives in hollow galleys went over the tide,
Since then hath he not seen me, nor I have Odysseus espied."

Then unto her wise-witted Telemachus answered again :
" Yea, this will I tell to thee, stranger, in truth, and I will not feign.
Begotten of him, saith my mother, am I, but I know not this
Of myself, — there never was mortal that knew his father, I wis.
O had I been sprung from a happier man, whom eld might have

At peace in his home, with his friends and all his possessions

around !
But he that is most ill-fated of all men on earth that be,
Of him, say they, was I born, seeing this thou hast asked of me."

Then unto him Athene the grey-eyed answered again : 220

" Nay, but by grace of the Gods thou art come of a glorious strain,

book i. of Corner. 7

Which yet shall be famed, since Penelope bare such a son as thou.
But come, declare unto me, and unfeignedly answer me now :
What feasting is this ? what meaneth the throng ? how toucheth

it thee ?
A banquet ? — a bridal ? — a fellowship-feast it cannot be.
Overbearingly insolent seemeth their riot and revel to me
In the hall as they banquet ; in sooth, if a wise man hitherward

And saw it, his wrath would be kindled, beholding such deeds of

Then unto her in reply wise-witted Telemachus spake :
" Stranger, since thou dost enquire of this, mine answer take. 230
Once, ah once, this house might wealthy and princely have been
In the long-ago days, when he in the midst of his people was seen ;
But now those hopes by the evil resolve of the Gods are banished,
For he, by their doing, beyond all men is clean gone, vanished ;
For if that he were but dead, I should not be heart-stricken so,
If he with his comrades had been in the land of Troy laid low,
Or had died in the arms of his friends, when the toils of his warfare

were ended ;
Then had Achaia done honour to him with death-rites splendid ;
Yea, he had won great fame for his son for the unborn days.
But now have the Storm-fiends snatched him away, he hath left no

trace ; 240

He is gone beyond sight, beyond hearing, hath left me in anguish

to groan.
Yea, and it is not for him, him only I make my moan,
For another burden of cares have the Gods on my shoulders thrown.
For all the chieftains that rule in the islands lying around,
Dulichium, Same, Zakynthus moreover, the forest-crowned,
And all the princes that dwell in Ithaca's rugged isle,
All these come wooing my mother, the house they devour and spoil.
And she neither refuseth the hateful marriage, nor yet can she end
Their wooing, and ever the wealth of mine house do they recklessly

spend ;
And soon these ravening beasts shall turn upon me and rend." 250

Then with indignant voice did Pallas Athene reply :
" O verily sore is thy need that the far-away hero were by,
That the shameless suitors might feel the weight of his mighty

For if now he should come, and there on the house's threshold stand,
With his shield, and the lances twain, and the helm-crest nodding

The Odysseus of old, as he was when first I looked upon him
Drinking and tasting delight of the feast in our Taphian home,
When from Ephyre-land, from Ilus, Mermerus' son, he had come ; —
For thitherward first did Odysseus his fleet-flying galley steer [260
In quest of the murderous poison his brass-headed arrows to smear.

8 ^fje flDH^^ep BOOK I.

But he granted it not, for the ever-abiding Gods feared he ;
But my father gave him thereof, for he loved him exceedingly ; —
Ah, in such guise if Odysseus amidst of the suitors were seen,
Swift would the doom of them all be, bitter the bridal, I ween.
But in sooth on the knees of the Gods lieth all whereof we speak,
Whether or no he shall come back again, meet vengeance to wreak
Here in his palace-halls. But I bid thee counsel thine heart
How from thy doors the suitors to thrust, that the herd may depart.
Now therefore, hearken to that which I say, and give ear to my
rede : [stead ; 270

To-morrow the men of the land summon thou to the folkmote-
And speak thou the word unto all, and call thou to witness the Gods.
Bid the suitors to scatter their several ways to their own abodes :
And thy mother, if so it should hap that to wed be her heart's desire,
Let her turn again, and depart to the hall of her mighty sire ;
And her kinsfolk shall order the bridal, and store of gifts shall array,
Even such as befit when a princess in marriage is given away.
And to thee thyself will I give good counsel, if thou wilt heed :
Make ready a galley of twenty rowers, thy swiftest for speed,
And go and enquire concerning thy father, long lost to his home,
If perchance any mortal will tell thee, or heaven-sent rumour come,
Such as speedeth with tidings to men, but is trackless as lightning-
Go first unto Pylos, and ask thou of Nestor concerning thy sire :
Thence unto Sparta, to see Menelaus the golden-tressed,
Who of brass-mailed Greeks hath been last to find from his wan-
derings rest.
If so of thy father's life and his home-coming feet thou shalt hear,
Surely, howe'er woe-worn, thou couldst bear up yet for a year.
But and if thou shalt hear of him dead, in the land of the living

no more,
Thereafter turn thou again, going back to thy fatherland shore,
And heap him a barrow, and all the befitting death-rites pay
To his shade : to a husband then give thou thy mother away. 290
But when thou hast done these things, and the work to an end hast

Counsel thy spirit thereafter, and bid thy soul take thought
How thou shalt slay these suitors by force or by subtlety,
Ridding thine house of the spoilers : behold, it is time for thee
To have done with the things of a child, for thy childhood is over

and gone.
Hast thou not heard what glory the godlike Orestes hath won
In all men's sight, by slaying the man that murdered his sire,
How he gave to Aegisthus the treacherous-souled his iniquity's hire ?
And thou, my friend, who art stately of form and goodly of face,
Be valiant, and they that are yet for to come shall speak thy praise.
But now must I hence unto where my good ship rocks on the sea,

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