The Odyssey of Homer : rendered into English blank verse online

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M. B.


The object of the translator is two-fold : to
assist backward students in mastering the ori-
ginal, and to give English readers a simple
and unambitious version, often differing little
from mere prose. He has therefore made it as
literal as the requirements of metre would
allow, except, for obvious reasons, in two or
three passages. " Virginibus puerisque canto."

The liberty has been taken of sometimes
omitting formulaic epithets, and of varying the
names of Deities and the patronymics of men.

The marginal numeration of the lines refers
to the original. The passages enclosed in
brackets are of doubtful authenticity. The


absence of the translator from England may
excuse a few errors or inconsistencies of punc-
tuation, for which he and not the printer is
responsible. It had been at first intended to
publish the work in two volumes, but it now
appears in only one. This will account for the
blank page before the thirteenth book, and for
the numbering of the pages in the latter part.

Villa Carabacel, Nice.

April 1876.



Muse ! tell me of the man with much resource,
Who wandered far, when sacred Troy he sacked ;
Saw towns of many men, learned all they knew,
Winning his own life and his friends' return. 5

Yet the in he saved not, earnest though he was,
For by their own temerity they died.
Fools ! who devoured the oxen of the sun,
Who from them took the day of their return.
[Muse, child of Jove! from some source tell us this.] 10

The others, all who sudden death escaped,
Flying from war and sea, were now at home.
Him only, yearning for his home and wife,
Calypso, nymph adorable, detained
In hollow caves, and woo'd him for her spouse. 15

When with revolving years the year was come
In which the gods had fated his return
To Ithaca (nor there he toils escaped
Even among his friends), then all the gods,
Neptune except, compassion on him took. 20

He 'gainst Ulysses raged unceasingly,


Before that to his native land he came.

To the far ^Ethiopians he had gone,

The ^Ethiopians most remote of men ;

Some near the setting, some the rising sun,

To take a hecatomb of bulls and lambs. 25

There sitting he enjoyed the feast. The rest

Were in the house of the Olympian Jove.

The sire of gods and men began a speech,

Calling the famed iEgisthus to his mind,

Whom Agamemnon's son, Orestes, slew. 30

Rememb'ring him, th' immortals he addressed :'

* strange it is how mortals blame the gods !
' They say their evils are from us, while they
' By their own folly have unfated woes.

' Thus, contrary to fate, yEgisthus took 35

' Atrides' wife, and slew him when returned ;

' Though knowing his own fate, as him we w r arned

* (And Hermes, w T atchful Argeiphontes, sent),
' Neither to kill him nor to woo his wife ;

' For that revenge would from Orestes come, 40

' When he grew up and claimed his own domains.
' This Hermes told him, but did not persuade,
' Though well he counselled him, ^Egisthus' mind.
1 Now for all this the penalty he pays.'

Minerva, blue -eyed goddess, answered him :
' father ! son of Saturn ! chief of kings ! 45

1 In a befitting death full well he lies.
' So perish every one who does such deeds !
' But for the wise Ulysses aches my heart ;
' Ill-fated, far from friends, and suffering woes
' On th' island, where 's the centre of the sea ; 50


1 A woody island, where a goddess dwells,
' The daughter of sagacious Atlas, who
' Knows of all seas the depth, and bears himself
1 The pillars which support the earth and sky.

* His daughter that sad mourning man detains, 55
1 And soothes with soft delusive words, that he

1 May Ithaca forget. Ulysses longs

* Of his dear country but the rising smoke

' To see, and then to die ; but still thine heart,

* Olympian Jove ! relents not. Did not he 60
1 Bring grateful offerings by the Grecian ships

* In the wide Troy ? then why so angry, Jove 1 '

The cloud-compelling Jove replied : ' My child !
1 What word has passed the barrier of thy teeth ?

* Could I divine Ulysses e'er forget, 65

* First among men in wisdom, first to pay
' Kites to immortals dwelling in the sky 1

1 But earth-surrounding Neptune is enraged
' Inflexibly, because the Cyclops' eye

* He blinded, Polypheme, of greatest strength 70

* Among the Cyclops. Him Thoosa bare,

* Daughter of Phorcys, ruler of the sea,
1 Allied with Neptune in a hollow cave.

* Since then earth-shaking Neptune does not kill

* Ulysses, but detains him from his home. 75
' But come, let all of us deliberate

' For his return. Neptune shall moderate

* His rage, nor will be able 'gainst the will
1 Of all th' immortals to contend alone.'

Minerva, blue-eyed goddess, answered him : 80

1 father ! son of Saturn ! chief of kings !


6 If 'tis the pleasure of the blessed gods

4 That wise Ulysses to his home return,

' Let us send Mercury, the messenger,

' Slayer of Argus, to th' Ogygian isle, 85

' That he may quickly tell the fair-haired nymph

' Our purpose that Ulysses home return.

1 But I to Ithaca will go, and urge

1 His son, and courage in his mind will place,

' That, having to a council called the Greeks, 90

' He warn the suitors off, who constantly

1 Slay his fat sheep and slowly-trailing beeves.

1 To Sparta and to sandy Pylos I

* Will send him to enquire what he may hear

1 Of his dear sire returning to his home,

( And among men may have a noble fame.' 95

She spake, and bound fair sandals on her feet,
[Ambrosial, golden, which o'er earth and sea
Bore her as swift as breezes of the wind;
And then her spear, tipped with a brazen point,
Strong, weighty, firm, she took, wherewith the ranks 100
Of heroes in her anger she subdues.]
Down from Olympus' tops she rushed, and stood
In Ithaca, close to Ulysses' porch,
Upon the palace threshold. In her hand
(Likening herself to Mentes, as a guest, 105

A Taphian chief), she held a brazen spear.
She found the noble suitors ; they their minds,
Before the doors, were solacing with dice,
Sitting on hides of beeves which they had slain.
By them were heralds and attendants quick ;
Some mingled wine and water in the bowls ; 'no


And some with sponges, pierced with many holes,
The tables wiped and decked ; some carved the flesh.
Her much the first Telemachus descried,
For 'mong the suitors sad at heart he sate,
Beholding his brave father in his mind, 115

Should he but come the suitors to disperse,
His rank maintain, and rule his own domains.
Full of these thoughts, he left them when he saw
Minerva, and went straightway from the porch,
Vexed in his mind that at the gates so long 120

A guest should stand. Approaching her he took
Her right hand, and received her brazen spear,
And then addressed her with these winged words :
1 Hail, guest ! kind treatment thou shalt have from us,
1 And after supper shalt thy wants declare.'

He led the way : Minerva followed him, 125

And when they were the lofty house within,
Against a column tall he placed the spear
In a well-polished case, wherein there stood
Of brave Ulysses many other spears.
He led her to a throne, and placed a cloth 130

Embroidered fair, with footstool for her feet.
Then from the suitors placed a couch apart,
Lest by their clamorous din the guest annoyed
Dislike the meal in such proud company,
And that about his father he might ask. 135

From a fair golden ewer a maiden filled
A bowl, above a silver cauldron placed,
To wash, and laid a polished table near.
A venerable housekeeper brought bread,
[Piling up divers cates in full supply. 140


Dishes of various meats the carver set,

And by their side the golden cups arranged.]

And oft a herald went and poured out wine.

The noble suitors entered then, and sate
In order due upon the seats and thrones. 145

The heralds poured out water on their hands ;
The maidens high in baskets heaped the bread ;
The young men crowned the goblets with the wine j
And on the feast prepared their hands they laid.
But when for drink and food their appetite 150

They satisfied, to other thoughts they turned ;
To song and dance, which ornament a feast.
A herald gave to Phemius a lyre,
And he reluctant to the suitors played ;
But though he harped he yet delayed to sing. 155

Then to Minerva said Telemachus,
Holding his head close lest the rest should hear :
' Dear stranger, wilt be angry at my words?
1 To these men harp and song are easy cares ;
1 For they the substance of another eat 160

1 Without their cost ; the property of one
1 Whose whitened bones are weltering in the rain,
Or on the land, or rolling in the wave.
' But if to Ithaca they saw him come,
' They all would pray to be more light of foot,
1 Rather than richer be in gold and vests. 165

' He now by evil fate has died j no comfort is
' To us, e'en though some man on earth should say
' He will return : of that all hope is lost.
' Now tell me this, and let thy speech be true,
' Who art thou? whence? what city, parents thine? 170


' In what ship didst thou come to Ithaca 1

* Why did the sailors bring thee ? who are they 1
1 For thou by land most surely couldst not come.
' And tell me truly this, that I may know ;

* New comer art thou, or my father's guest 1 175

* For many others to our house have come,
'And he was very conversant with men.'

Minerva, blue-eyed goddess, answered him :
1 Aye ! I will truly tell thee all these things.

I Mentes, the son of brave Anchialus, 180

I I am, and rule the Taphians, fond of oars.

1 Now hither with my ship and friends I come

* To strangers, o'er the dark sea sailing, bound
' To Temesa for brass ; and bright steel bring.

1 Far from the town in Rheithron's harbour lies 335

1 My ship, beneath the woody Lei'on.

' Hereditary friends we claim to be

' From times of old ; if thou wilt go and ask

' Laertes, aged hero, who, they say,

' To the town comes not, but in distant fields 190

4 Endures calamities ; and on him waits

1 An aged housekeeper, who food and drink,

' When weariness comes o'er his limbs, supplies,

1 As through his vineyard's fertile plot he creeps.

' I came because they told me that thy sire

' Was here, whose homeward road the gods obstruct. 195

1 For upon earth Ulysses is not dead,

' But, living, by the broad sea is detained

1 Within a sea-girt island. Cruel men

* Hold and restrain him far against his will.

'But I will prophesy, as to my mind 200


* The gods suggest, and as I think will be,

' Although no prophet, nor in birds well-skilled :

1 Not from his dear paternal land will he

1 Be absent long, though iron chains may bind.

' Man of much craft, he'll plan for his return. 205

1 But tell me this, and let thy speech be true,

6 If thou, so stalwart, art Ulysses' son.

' Much thou resemblest him in head and eyes ;

* For we repeatedly together met

* Before he went to Troy, where other chiefs 210
' Went of the Grecians in their hollow ships;

1 Him from that time I saw not nor he me.'

Prudent Telemachus to her replied :
' Guest ! I will speak to thee with perfect truth.
' My mother says that I'm his son, but I 215

Know not, nor any son his father knows.
4 The son I should be of a wealthy man,
' Whom of his own domains old age finds lord.
' But now of one beyond all men distrest

* They call me son ; since this thou dost enquire.' 220

Minerva, blue-eyed goddess, spake again :

* The gods have not inglorious made thy birth,
' Whom, such a son, Penelope has borne.

' But tell me this, and let thy words be true :
' What is this feast, this concourse ! and what need 225
' For thee] what banquet, or what marriage -day?
1 Not one where all a contribution make,
1 For with proud insolence they seem to feast ;
' And any prudent man would angry be,
' Who should come near and such foul deeds behold.'
The wise Telemachus replied and said : 230



1 Guest ! since these questions thou dost ask and urge,
1 There was a time when this house used to be
1 Honoured and rich, while that man was at home.
1 Now the gods, planning ills, have changed its state,

I And have of all men left him most obscure. 235

I I should not grieve so much if he had died .^ ^
4 Among his own companions, slain at Troy,

' Or in his friends' hands, when the war was done.

1 Then would the Greeks have built his tomb, and he

1 Both for himself and son have earned renown. 240

' Whirlwinds ingloriously have borne him off;

' Unknown, unheard of, he is gone, and left

' Nothing behind for me but griefs and groans.

' Nor for him only do I weep and w T ail,

' For evil cares on me the gods have brought.

' As many chiefs as o'er the islands rule, 245

1 Samos, Zacynthus, and Dulichium,

1 And who bear sway in rocky Ithaca,

' All woo my mother, and despoil the house.

* And she the hateful marriage nor denies

' Nor can conclude. They gluttonously waste 250
' My house, and quickly will destroy myself.'

Pallas Minerva said indignantly :
' shame ! Ulysses' absence well thou may'st
' Iiegret, for on the shameless suitors he
1 Would lay his hands. E'en at the entrance gates 955

* Were he to stand with helm, shield and two spears,
1 Such as when first I knew him in our house,

' [In revelry and joy, from Ephyra

1 And Ilus, son of Mermerus, returned.

1 Ulysses thither in his swift ship went, 2G0


1 To seek for deadly poison to besmear

' His brazen arrows, but he gave it not,

' Fearing the anger of th' immortal gods ;

' My father gave it, for he loved him much.]

1 If such Ulysses met the suitors now, 265

' Swift death and bitter wooing they would have.

' But in the gods' lap all these things repose,

' Whether for vengeance he return or not

1 To his own house. I bid thee to reflect

1 How thou canst drive the suitors from thine house. 270

' Come then, consider and regard my words.

' To-morrow to a council call the Greeks,

' Harangue them all, and let the gods attest j

' The suitors bid thou to their homes disperse.

' To wedlock if thy mother's mind inclines, . 275

' Let her to her great father's house return.

1 The marriage they will fix ; the bridal gifts,

* As for a daughter dear are fit, prepare.

1 Thyself I'll counsel, if thou wilt obey :

' With twenty rowers thy best ship supply, 280

' And thy long absent father go to seek,

' If men can tell thee, or from Jove the voice,

' Which chiefest brings report to men, thou hear'st.

1 Go first to JJvJqs, and of Nestor ask ;|n

1 To Sparta next and Menelaus fair, 285

' For he of well-armed Greeks has come the last,

i If thou canst learn thy sire's return and life ;

' And there, however vexed, remain a year.

1 If thou shouldst hear that he is dead, nor more

' Alive, to thy dear native land return \ 290

' To him erect a monument, and pay,


' As is befitting, all funereal rites,

* And to another spouse thy mother give.

' And when all this thou hast completely done,
1 Then counsel take within thy mind and thought,
1 How thou may'st slay the suitors in thine house, 295
1 By craft or openly : it is not fit

* To play a child's game when no longer such.

* Hast thou not heard what fame Orestes gained

* From all, who killed his father's murderer,

' Crafty ^Egisthus, slayer of his sire 1 300

1 And thou, dear youth, whom fair and strong I see,
' Be brave, that future men may speak of thee.
1 But to my swift ship I will now go down,

* And to my friends who wait for me and grieve.

* Take thou good heed, and think upon my words.' 305

To her the wise Telemachus replied :

* Guest ! thou hast spoken with kind thoughts, as might
1 Father to son, and I will ne'er forget,

1 But stay thou now, though eager to depart,

i That, having bathed and gratified thine heart, 310

* Thou to thy ship may'st with a present go
' Rejoicing, very precious, beautiful,

'A keepsake, such as hosts to loved guests give.'

Minerva, blue-eyed goddess, answered him :
' Stay me not now when eager to depart, 315

' As to the gift which thy kind mind suggests,
' Give it on my return to carry home,
' And I will give one worthy of exchange.'

Blue-eyed Minerva spake and sped away,
Swift as an eagle flies ; and in his heart 320

Put strength and courage, calling to his mind,


More than before, his father; and he thought
Admiringly, and deemed it was a god.
Then to the suitors went the god-like man.

To them a bard was singing, of renown. 325

They sate and listened silently, while he
Was hymning the return of Greeks from Troy,
Which Pallas had decreed should mournful be.
From her high chamber heard the song divine
Icarius' daughter, wise Penelope,
And on the lofty stair, but not alone, 330

Came down ; two maidens followed in her steps.
When to the suitors came the noble dame,
She by a column of the well-wrought roof
Stood with a shining kerchief o'er her cheeks,
While on each side a modest maiden stood, 335

And weeping thus the bard divine addressed :

* Phemius ! thou knowest other songs

1 Which mortals charm, the deeds of Gods and men,
1 Which bards recite : sit there and sing them one
1 Of those, and let them listen, as they drink 340

* Their wine ; but cease from this lugubrious song,
1 Which always vexes in this breast my heart ;

1 For on me comes my unforgotten grief.

* So long I for, and in my mem'ry hold

* That man whose fame o'er Greece and Argos spreads.'

The wise Telemachus in answer said : 345

' Mother ! why grudgest thou the much loved bard

* To charm us at his will 1 for not the bards
' Are to be blamed, but Jove is blameable,

1 Who gives inventive men whate'er he wills.

1 To him no blame who sings the Grecians' fate. 350


' Men on that song confer the most renown
' Which is the newest to them as they hear.

* Ulysses not alone lost his return

* In Troy ; for many other men have died. 355

* Enter the house, and thine own works control,
1 The loom and distaff, and command thy maids

* To ply their tasks. Speech is the part of men,
'And specially of him who rules the house.'

She wond'ring went again within the house, 360
And pondered in her mind her son's wise speech.
With maids attendant, to the upper room
She climbed, and there her husband dear bewailed,
Till on her eyes sweet sleep Minerva shed.
The suitors shouted through the shady halls, g&

And they all prayed to lie beside her couch.
To them the wise Telemachus began :

* Ye suitors of my mother ! haughty ! proud !
' Let us enjoy the feast ; let clamour cease.

1 'Tis good that we should listen to a bard 370

1 Like this, an equal to the gods in voice.

1 Let us to-morrow in a council sit,

' That I may fearlessly command you all

* To leave this house. Go, look for other feasts,

1 Consuming your own goods from house to house ; 375

' But, if it seems to you a better thing

' That one man's substance perish unavenged,

' Waste it ! but I th' immortal gods will pray

' That Jove may grant these deeds to be repaid,

1 And in this house ye unavenged may die.' 380

He spake : they all, with teeth fixed in their lips,
Admired what boldly spoke Telemachus.


Antinous, Eupeithes' son, replied :
1 Thee, Telemachus ! the gods themselves
4 Teach to be proud and confident in speech. 385

' Never in sea-girt Ithaca may Jove
1 Make thee the king, by thy paternal right ! '
V Prudent Telemachus again replied :
4 Wilt thou, Antinous, at what I say
4 Be angry I This, if Jove would grant, I wish. 390

* Dost thou think this the worst thing among men ?
4 'Tis no bad thing to govern. A king's house

* Is rich, and he is honoured above all.
4 Yet many other Grecian princes are

4 In sea-girt Ithaca, both young and old. 395

* Let one of them take this, since now is dead

* Divine Ulysses. I will be the king

1 Of our own house, and of the servants whom
4 Divine Ulysses as a booty gained.'
Eurymachus, the son of Polybus,
Eeplied : ' Telemachus ! these things are laid 400

4 In the gods' lap, who of the Greeks shall reign
4 In sea-girt Ithaca. Do thou retain

* Thine own possessions, and thine own house rule.
1 Ne'er may the man come who against thy will

' May rob thee, while men dwell in Ithaca !

' But, friend ! I wish to ask about the guest : 405

4 Whence is this man 1 from what land does he boast

4 To be 1 what race 1 what his paternal soil 1

4 Brings he a message of thy coming sire,

4 Or comes he seeking objects of his own 1 ?

4 He rushed away, and stayed not to be known, 410

1 Resembling no mean man in countenance.'


Prudent Telemachus to him replied :
* Euryruachus ! my sire's return is lost ;
' No tidings can I trust that he will come,
1 Nor heed what soothsaying my mother seeks, 415
' When she invites some prophet to the house.
1 Friend of my father and myself, the guest,
' Mentes, from Taphos comes, and boasts to be
' Son of Anchialus, well-skilled in war ;
' And o'er the Taphian mariners he rules.'

So spake Telemachus, but in his mind 420

Th' immortal goddess knew . They to the dance
And to the charming song delighted turned,
And stayed till ev'ning came and on them there,
Still revelling, the dusky ev'ning came.
Then each went home with purpose of repose.
Telemachus, whose lofty chamber was 425

Built in the hall, a place seen far around,
Went to his couch with many thoughts and cares.
Euryclea, skilled housekeeper, brought lights,
Daughter of Ops, who was Peisenor's son.
Her with his wealth Laertes bought of yore, 4.30

Yet in her prime, and twenty oxen gave.
Her he respected like his own good wife,
Shunning whose wrath he went not to her couch.
The flaming torch she bore ; of all the maids
She loved him most, and nursed him when a babe. 435
He opened then the well-made chamber doors,
And sitting on the couch he doffed his vest,
And placed it in the careful matron's hands.
The vest she smoothed, and folded up and hung
Upon a peg beside the well-turned bed, 440


And from the chamber went : the door she closed
With, silver ring and with a thong-tied bolt.
There, covered with a fleece of wool, all night
He deeply thought on what Minerva said.


When new-born rosy-fingered morn appeared,

Ulysses' dear son from his couch up-sprang ;

Dressed, and his sharp sword o'er his shoulder placed,

Bound his fair sandals on his shining feet,

And from his chamber like a god came forth. 5

Forthwith the loud-voiced heralds he desired

To call to council all the long-haired Greeks :

They called them, and they all assembled quick.

When gath'ring they in full assembly were,

He to the council went, and in his hand 10

He held a brazen jav'lin ; not alone,

For two swift dogs accompanied his steps.

A grace divine Minerva o'er him shed ;

And as he went the people all admired.

He took his father's seat : old men gave way.

Egyptius, the hero, then began, 15

Bowed down by age and knowing many things ;

For with divine Ulysses his dear son

Went in the hollow ships to well-horsed Troy,

The warlike Antiphus ; him Cyclops fierce

Slew in the cave, and feasted on him last. 20


Three more there were ; one joined the suitors' band,

Eurynomus ; two tilled their father's fields.

Still in deep grief he ne'er forgot his son ;

So, shedding tears, he thus harangued and said :

' Listen, ye Ithacans ! to what I say. 25

1 Nor council nor assembly has there been

* Since in his hollow ships Ulysses went.

1 Who calls us now 1 on whom comes so much need,

* Or of the older or the younger men 1

1 What tidings of the army has he heard, 30

* Which, first to learn, he may reveal to us 1
' What public news does he declare and tell 1

* He must be good ; may he be gratified !

1 Jove grant him all the purpose of his mind ! '

He spake ; at th' omen joyed Ulysses' son, 35

Nor long he sate, for he desired to speak.

In the mid concourse of the crowd he stood.

A herald, well in prudent counsels skilled,

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