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"When they had eaten and drunk to their hearts' content, she waved her wand over them, and at once the poor wretches were changed into grunting pigs, which she shut up in pigsties and threw acorns and other food fit for swine before them. Although thus transformed and covered with bristles, they still retained the human mind."--Odyssey

"Thus they sang, and their songs thrilled me. A great desire came over me to stop and listen to them, and with nods I entreated my comrades to set me free. But they sprang up and bound other cords about me, so that I struggled in vain. Then all the men plied their oars until the water was white with foam, and when we were out of sight of the island and could no longer hear the songs of the Sirens, my men set me free, and I took the wax from their ears."--Odyssey

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The Odyssey (Greek Οδύσσεια (Odússeia)) is one of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to the Ionian poet Homer. The poem is commonly dated circa 800 to circa 600 BC. The poem is, in part, a sequel to Homer's Iliad and mainly centers on the Greek hero Odysseus (or Ulysses in Latin, which is what the Romans called him after they were told of his journeys) and his long journey home to Ithaca, following the fall of Troy.




The Odyssey begins ten years after the end of the ten-year Trojan War, and Odysseus has still not returned home from the war. Odysseus' son Telemachus is 20 and is sharing his absent father’s house on the island of Ithaca with his mother Penelope and a crowd of 108 boisterous young men, "the Suitors", whose aim is to persuade Penelope to marry one of them, all the while enjoying the hospitality of Odysseus' household and eating up his wealth.

Odysseus’ protectress, the goddess Athena, discusses his fate with Zeus, king of the gods, at a moment when Odysseus' enemy, the god of the sea Poseidon, is absent from Mount Olympus. Then, disguised as a Taphian chieftain named Mentes (otherwise known as “Mentor”), she visits Telemachus to urge him to search for news of his father. He offers her hospitality; they observe the Suitors dining rowdily while the bard Phemius performs a narrative poem for them. Penelope objects to Phemius' theme, the "Return from Troy" because it reminds her of her missing husband, but Telemachus rebuts her objections.

That night Athena, disguised as Telemachus, finds a ship and crew for the true Telemachus. The next morning, Telemachus calls an assembly of citizens of Ithaca to discuss what should be done with the suitors. Accompanied by Athena (still disguised as Mentor), he departs for the Greek mainland and the household of Nestor, most venerable of the Greek warriors at Troy, now at home in Pylos. From there, Telemachus rides overland, accompanied by Nestor's son, Peisistratus, to Sparta, where he finds Menelaus and Helen, now reconciled. He is told that they returned to Sparta after a long voyage by way of Egypt. There, on the island of Pharos, Menelaus encountered the old sea-god Proteus, who told him that Odysseus was a captive of the nymph Calypso. Incidentally, Telemachus learns the fate of Menelaus’ brother Agamemnon, king of Mycenae and leader of the Greeks at Troy: he was murdered on his return home by his wife Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus.

Escape to the Phaeacians

Then the story of Odysseus is told. He has spent seven years in captivity on Calypso's island, Ogygia. Calypso falls deeply in love with him but he has consistently spurned her advances. She is persuaded to release him by Odysseus' great-grandfather, the messenger god Hermes, who has been sent by Zeus in response to Athena's plea. Odysseus builds a raft and is given clothing, food and drink by Calypso. When Poseidon finds out that Odysseus has escaped, he wrecks the raft, but Odysseus swims ashore on the island of Scherie (helped by a veil given by the sea nymph Ino), the home of the Phaeacians, where, naked and exhausted, he hides in a pile of leaves and falls asleep. The next morning, awakened by the laughter of girls, he sees the young Nausicaa, who has gone to the seashore with her maids to wash clothes, after Athena appeared to her in a dream and told her to do so. He appeals to her for help. She encourages him to seek the hospitality of her parents, Arete and Alcinous, or Alkinous. Odysseus is welcomed and is not at first asked for his name. He remains for several days, takes part in a pentathlon, and hears the blind singer Demodocus perform two narrative poems. The first is an otherwise obscure incident of the Trojan War, the "Quarrel of Odysseus and Achilles"; the second is the amusing tale of a love affair between two Olympian gods, Ares and Aphrodite. Finally, Odysseus asks Demodocus to return to the Trojan War theme and tell of the Trojan Horse, a stratagem in which Odysseus had played a leading role. Unable to hide his emotion as he relives this episode, Odysseus at last reveals his identity. He then begins to tell the story of his return from Troy.

Odysseus' account of his adventures

After a piratical raid on Ismaros in the land of the Cicones, he and his twelve ships were driven off course by storms. They visited the lethargic Lotus-Eaters who gave two of his men their fruit which caused them to forget their homecoming, and then were captured by the Cyclops Polyphemus, escaping by blinding him with a wooden stake. While they were escaping, however, Odysseus foolishly told Polyphemus his identity, and Polyphemus told his father, Poseidon, that Odysseus had blinded him. Poseidon then curses Odysseus to wander the sea for ten years, during which he would lose all his crew and return home through the aid of others. After their escape, they stayed with Aeolus, the master of the winds and he gave Odysseus a leather bag containing all the winds, except the west wind, a gift that should have ensured a safe return home. However, the sailors foolishly opened the bag while Odysseus slept, thinking that it contained gold. All of the winds flew out and the resulting storm drove the ships back the way they had come, just as Ithaca came into sight.

After unsuccessfully pleading with Aeolus to help them again, they re-embarked and encountered the cannibalistic Laestrygonians. All of Odysseus’s ships except his own entered the harbor of the Laestrygonians’ Island and were immediately destroyed. He sailed on and visited the witch-goddess Circe. She turned half of his men into swine after feeding them cheese and wine. Hermes warned Odysseus about Circe and gave Odysseus a drug called moly which gave him resistance to Circe’s magic. Circe, being attracted to Odysseus' resistance, agreed to bargain with him. She agreed to change his men back to their human form in exchange for Odysseus' love. They remained with her on the island for one year, while they feasted and drank. Finally, guided by Circe's instructions, Odysseus and his crew crossed the ocean and reached a harbor at the western edge of the world, where Odysseus sacrificed to the dead and summoned the spirit of the old prophet Tiresias to advise him of how to appease the gods upon his return home. Next Odysseus met the spirit of his own mother, who had died of grief during his long absence. From her, he learned for the first time news of his own household, threatened by the greed of the Suitors. Here, too, he met the spirits of famous women and famous men. Notably he encountered the spirit of Agamemnon, of whose murder he now learned, and Achilles, who told him about the woes of the land of the dead (for Odysseus' encounter with the dead, see also Nekuia).

Returning to Circe’s island, they were advised by her on the remaining stages of the journey. They skirted the land of the Sirens, who sang an enchanting song that normally caused passing sailors to steer toward the rocks, only to hit them and sink. All of the sailors except for Odysseus, who was tied to the mast, had their ears plugged up with beeswax. They then passed between the six-headed monster Scylla and the whirlpool Charybdis, and landed on the island of Thrinacia. There, Odysseus’ men ignored the warnings of Tiresias and Circe, and hunted down the sacred cattle of the sun god Helios. This sacrilege was punished by a shipwreck in which all but Odysseus drowned. He was washed ashore on the island of Calypso, where she compelled him to remain as her lover for seven years before she was ordered by Zeus to release Odysseus.

Return to Ithaca

Having listened with rapt attention to his story, the Phaeacians, who are skilled mariners, agree to help Odysseus get home. They deliver him at night, while he is fast asleep, to a hidden harbour on Ithaca. He finds his way to the hut of one of his own former slaves, the swineherd Eumaeus. Athena disguises Odysseus as a wandering beggar in order to learn how things stand in his household. After dinner, he tells the farm laborers a fictitious tale of himself: he was born in Crete, had led a party of Cretans to fight alongside other Greeks in the Trojan War, and had then spent seven years at the court of the king of Egypt; finally he had been shipwrecked in Thesprotia and crossed from there to Ithaca.

Meanwhile, Telemachus sails home from Sparta, evading an ambush set by the Suitors. He disembarks on the coast of Ithaca and makes for Eumaeus’s hut. Father and son meet; Odysseus identifies himself to Telemachus (but still not to Eumaeus) and they determine that the suitors must be killed. Telemachus gets home first. Accompanied by Eumaeus, Odysseus now returns to his own house, still pretending to be a beggar. He is ridiculed by the suitors in his own home, especially by one extremely impertinent man named Antinous. His son is beaten up by the larger men to show his "transition to manhood", and Odysseus attempts to stop the fight; as a result, Antinous throws a chair at him and laughs at him. Odysseus meets Penelope and tests her intentions with an invented story of his birth in Crete, where, he says, he once met Odysseus. Closely questioned, he adds that he had recently been in Thesprotia and had learned something there of Odysseus’s recent wanderings. Odysseus’s identity is discovered by the housekeeper, Eurycleia, as she is washing his feet and discovers an old scar Odysseus had received during a boar hunt. He had received the scar when he was hunting with the sons of Autolycus. They had been told to go boar hunting so that they could prepare a meal with the meat. The three climbed Mount Parnassus and eventually came across a boar in a large and deep meadow. Because of the meadow's depth, the three hunters were ambushed by the seemingly invisible boar and when Odysseus first saw the animal, he rushed at it but the animal was too fast and slashed him in the right thigh. Despite being gored by the boar, Odysseus still hit his mark and stabbed the boar through the shoulder. Odysseus' bleeding was staunched by a spell that was chanted by the sons of Autolycus and he received great glory and treasure for his bravery. Having seen this scar, Eurycleia tries to tell Penelope about Odysseus' true identity, but Athena makes sure that Penelope cannot hear Eurycleia. Meanwhile, Odysseus swears her to secrecy, and she promises not to tell.

Slaying of the Suitors

The next day, at Athena’s prompting, Penelope maneuvers the Suitors into competing for her hand with an archery competition using Odysseus' bow. The man who can string the bow and shoot it through a dozen axe heads would win. Odysseus takes part in the competition himself: he alone is strong enough to string the bow and shoot it through the dozen axe heads, making him the winner. He then turns his arrows on the Suitors and with the help of Athena, Telemachus, Eumaeus and Philoteus the cowherd, he kills all the Suitors. Odysseus and Telemachus hang twelve of their household maids, who had betrayed Penelope or had sex with the Suitors, or both; they mutilate and kill the goatherd Melanthius, who had mocked and abused Odysseus. Now at last, Odysseus identifies himself to Penelope. She is hesitant, but accepts him when he mentions that their bed was made from an olive tree still rooted to the ground. Many modern and ancient scholars take this to be the original ending of the Odyssey, and the rest to be an interpolation.

The next day he and Telemachus visit the country farm of his old father Laertes, who likewise accepts his identity only when Odysseus correctly describes the orchard that Laertes had previously given him.

The citizens of Ithaca have followed Odysseus on the road, planning to avenge the killing of the Suitors, their sons. Their leader points out that Odysseus has now caused the deaths of two generations of the men of Ithaca: his sailors, not one of whom survived; and the Suitors, whom he has now executed. The goddess Athena intervenes and persuades both sides to give up the vendetta, a deus ex machina. After this, Ithaca is at peace once more, concluding the Odyssey.

Cultural impact

Themes in the Odyssey

There is a strong theme of homecoming (nostos) in the Odyssey, because Odysseus is on a journey home after the Trojan war has finally ended.

The theme of temptation as a psychological peril is portrayed by the sirens who lure sailors to their deaths by seduction. They represent the ideal audience—they sing about the most glorious moment of your life, thus tempting you to stay the hero or warrior they are portraying you as. Your own weakness makes you vulnerable; your greatest weakness comes from inside you.

Another significant theme is that of disguise, in the case of the gods; they disguise themselves so that they can interact with mortals. Athena in particular assumes many disguises including a shepherd, a girl, Telemachus, and Mentor. Odysseus is also able to disguise his identity, though not physically, by telling Polyphemus his name is ‘Nobody’ so that he will not be identified as the one who blinded the Cyclops. He also disguises himself as a beggar when he returns to Ithaca to protect himself from being killed by the Suitors.

Hospitality (xenia) is also a recurring theme as fundamental as the heroic code in the Odyssey. During that time, beggars or travelers often knocked on a stranger’s door in hopes of procuring a place to stay. There are specific steps for proper hospitality beginning with the feeding of the guest, which is of utmost importance since food is rare at that time and beggars beg for food, not money. Before the food is given, a bath is offered to the stranger, done by a woman or a servant—often different depending on the status of the visitor. After the food is given, the beggar is asked who he is and where he is from and stories are exchanged. Next, they are offered a bed to sleep on and it is understood that they can stay overnight and at the most another night. When the beggar is leaving, there is an exchange of gifts, if the beggar does not have a gift to give, they will still be given one.

Finally, identity and exile are also themes present in the poem.

See also

Odyssey (disambiguation)

Full text[1]


It has long been the opinion of many of the more progressive teachers of the United States that, next to Herakles, Odysseus is the hero closest to child-life, and that the stories from the "Odyssey" are the most suitable for reading-lessons. These conclusions have been reached through independent experiments not related to educational work in foreign countries.

While sojourning in Athens I had the pleasure of visiting the best schools, both public and private, and found the reading especially spirited. I examined the books in use and found the regular reading-books to consist of the classic tales of the country, the stories of Herakles, Theseus, Perseus, and so forth, in the reader succeeding the primer, and the stories of Odysseus, or Ulysses, as we commonly call him, following as a third book, answering to our second or third reader. This book I brought home with me and had a careful, literal translation made. I submitted this translation to that notable scholar, Zenaïde A. Ragozin, with whom I faithfully traversed the ground, word by word and sentence by sentence. This version I have carefully compared with Bryant and rewritten, making the language as simple as could be consistent with the dignity of the subject-matter.

The introduction to the original book as I found it in Greece contains many interesting points, since it shows that educators in foreign countries, notably in Germany, had come to the same conclusion with our best American teachers. The editor of the little Greek reading-book says:

"In editing this work we have made use not only of Homer's 'Odyssey,' but also of that excellent reader which is used in the public schools of Germany, Willman's 'Lesebuch aus Homer.' We have divided the little volume into three parts, the first of which gives a short resumé of the war against Troy and the destruction of that city, the second the wanderings of Odysseus till his arrival in Ithaca, the third his arrival and the killing of the wooers. We have no apology to make in presenting this book to the public as a school-book, since many people superior to us have shown the need of such books in school-work. The new public schools, as is well known, have a mission of the highest importance. They do not aim, as formerly, at absolute knowledge pounded into the heads of children in a mechanical way. Their aim is the mental and ethical development of the pupils. Reading and writing lead but half way to this goal. With all nations the readers used in the public schools are a collection of the noblest thoughts of their authors."

The Greek editor had never read the inane rat and cat stories of American school "readers" when he wrote that. He continues:

"Happily the Greek nation, more than any other, abounds in literary masterpieces. Nearly all of the Greek writings contain an abundance of practical wisdom and virtue. Their worth is so great that even the most advanced European nations do not hesitate to introduce them into their schools. The Germans do this, although their habits and customs are so different from ours. They especially admire Homer's works. These books, above all others, afford pleasure to the young, and the reason for it is clearly set forth by the eminent educator Herbart:

"'The little boy is grieved when told that he is little. Nor does he enjoy the stories of little children. This is because his imagination reaches out and beyond his environments. I find the stories from Homer to be more suitable reading for young children than the mass of juvenile books, because they contain grand truths.'

"Therefore these stories are held in as high esteem by the German children as by the Greek. In no other works do children find the grand and noble traits in human life so faithfully and charmingly depicted as in Homer. Here all the domestic, civic, and religious virtues of the people are marvellously brought to light and the national feeling is exalted. The Homeric poetry, and especially the 'Odyssey,' is adapted to very young children, not only because it satisfies so well the needs which lead to mental development, but also for another reason. As with the people of olden times bravery was considered the greatest virtue, so with boys of this age and all ages. No other ethical idea has such predominance as that of prowess. Strength of body and a firm will characterize those whom boys choose as their leaders. Hence the pleasure they derive from the accounts of celebrated heroes of yore whose bravery, courage, and prudence they admire."

The editor further extols the advantages arising from the study of Homer, it making the youthful students acquainted with the earliest periods of Greek history, the manners and customs of the people, and he ends by quoting from Herbart:

"Boys must first get acquainted with the noisy market-place of Ithaca and then be led to the Athens of Miltiades and Themistokles."

With equal truth the American can say that the child whose patriotism is kindled by the Homeric fire will the more gladly respond to the ideals set forth in the history of a Columbus or a Washington.




On the northern shore of Asia Minor there lies a plateau watered by many small rivers and surrounded on all sides by mountains, only on the north it slopes gently to the sea. On this plateau, between the Simois and Scamandros rivers, in the oldest times there stood a very rich and powerful city, whose name was Troy. It was the capital of a large and fertile district, known as the Troad.

There, about 1200 B.C., reigned a king by the name of Priam, possessed of great power and boundless wealth. He had many sons and daughters. It was said, indeed, that he had fifty sons who were all married and living in their own homes, which they had built by the king's wish around the royal palace.

They were all handsome and heroic young men. One of the youngest, Paris, also named Alexandros, surpassed the others in beauty. He was a restless youth and not fond of his home, as were the others. He had set his heart on travelling and seeing strange countries and cities. King Priam was extremely fond of his large family, and took pride in having all his children about him, so that at first he was greatly opposed to the wishes of Paris.

But the youth was so persistent and unhappy that the king at last consented to let him go. Without delay, Paris called together a few friends with tastes as adventurous as his own. They embarked in a new ship well provided with all that travellers need, and set sail for the famous land on the shores of the Ægean Sea, of which they had heard so many wonderful things, and which was called Hellas.

Nearly in the middle of the plain which forms the southern part of Hellas was the city of Sparta. It was on the river Eurotas, and was the capital of a large district called Lacedæmon, and it was to this city that Paris came.

Now, there was a mysterious reason for this strange desire of Paris—his passionate longing to travel. In his early youth, while he was still minding his herds on the rich pastures of Mount Ida, he received a visit from the three greatest goddesses of Olympos.

Hera, the queen of Heaven and consort of Zeus—Athena, the goddess of wisdom, and Zeus's favorite daughter—and Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, had a dispute among themselves.

Each thought herself the most beautiful of the three, and they would have come to high words about it had not Athena proposed that they should ask the handsomest man in the world to settle the question. This happened to be the young royal shepherd, Paris. So the three goddesses floated down to the slope of Mount Ida on a snowy cloud and placed the question before him, each promising to reward him royally if he gave his verdict in her favor.

Paris, as might have been expected, decided in favor of Aphrodite, who had promised him that the fairest woman living in the whole world should be his wife. This promise had to be kept, being given by a goddess, but it was the source of endless misfortune, for Paris had a young and lovely wife who was tenderly attached to him, while the fairest of living women—acknowledged as such by fame in all known countries—was Queen Helen of Sparta, herself the wife of another man.

Her husband was one of the most renowned heroes of Hellas, King Menelaos, a son of Atreus and brother of the leader of the Greek chiefs, Agamemnon, King of Mycenæ. It was Aphrodite, then, who inspired Paris with an insane desire to forsake his parents, brothers, and wife. It was her secret guidance which led him across the seas and through the dangers lurking among the hundreds of islands of the Archipelagos straight to the land of Lacedæmon. This is the central of the three peninsulas in which the Peloponnesus ends, and might be called the middle finger of that large hand of which Arcadia is the palm.

Paris landed, with all his companions, on the shores of Lacedæmon, where the people received him kindly and helped him on his journey to Sparta, where Menelaos and Helen gave him a cordial welcome.


Aphrodite, while leading Paris to the shores of Lacedæmon, had not forgotten her promise, and in Sparta itself she was at work at its fulfilment. She inspired Queen Helen with a growing discontent and restlessness of spirit. Menelaos had not noticed any change in her, and it was with an utterly unsuspicious mind that he received the fatal strangers and made them welcome guests in his land and home.

More than that, having heard the news from Crete that his presence there was desirable on account of some urgent business, he did not hesitate to set sail for that island, in the expectation of finding Paris and his companions still enjoying the hospitality of his palace after a short absence.

This was the chance which wily Aphrodite had contrived for Paris. He took the hint and carried Helen away to his ship, together with as much treasure as they could lay hands on, and then they sailed for Troy. Little did he heed, in his mad desire to call the most beautiful woman in the world his wife, that she was already the wife of a hero who had received him as an honored guest in his house, and that he was about to destroy the peace and honor of his host.

As soon as Menelaos heard of the flight of his wife, he hastened back to Sparta, where he found his palace deserted and his treasure-house robbed.

Then his heart was filled with great wrath. He set out at once to see his brother, Agamemnon, to consult with him about what was to be done. Agamemnon was ruler over Mycenæ, and highly respected in all Hellas on account of his power and riches.

After the two brothers had talked over this grave affair, they announced to all the leaders in Hellas the great and detestable crime, and asked them for their assistance. All the king's chiefs of Hellas lent a willing ear to this demand, for in this breach of hospitality, committed against one of them, each felt himself personally aggrieved and bound to help in the punishment of what, in those times, was considered the most unpardonable of all crimes. Only one of the kings held back for awhile and needed much persuasion to join the league. This was Odysseus of Ithaca, who could well consider himself at the time the happiest of mortals, for he had lately married Penelope, one of the fairest and most virtuous maidens of Greece. He had an infant son of great beauty and promise, and he owned much land and countless herds of cattle, sheep, and swine. Added to that, all the petty nobles of the island acknowledged him as their chief.

But a soothsayer, or seer, had greatly disturbed him by informing him that if he went to a great war he would be kept away from his home for the space of twenty years, and even then return to it in the guise of a beggar, after having suffered wrecks, captivity, endless wanderings, and loss of comrades.

No one could doubt that Odysseus was brave, but no one could blame him for wishing to be excused from taking part in the war against Troy. Menelaos and his brother, however, would accept no excuse from him, as he was the wisest and craftiest of all the leaders, and when Odysseus finally consented to join them he set about arming and directing the young Greek warriors with all his heart and soul.

There was another young prince whom it was absolutely necessary to secure, for a much venerated oracle had given it as a decree of the gods that Troy could never be taken without his help. This was Achilles, son of Peleus, king of the Myrmidons in Thessaly, and of the beauteous ocean nymph, Thetis. Notwithstanding his extreme youth, his father would not disappoint the whole country, and he let him go with those who came for him. But he sent along with him his adopted son, Patroklos, who was several years older, and to whom the boy was passionately attached, and also his oldest and most trusted servant, Phoenix. These two, the old man and the youth, he charged, as they hoped for the mercy of Zeus, to keep watchful guard over Achilles, whose exceedingly impetuous and reckless temper exposed him to many dangers which might be averted by a sensible and loving word spoken in time.

THE SILVER-FOOTED THETIS RISING FROM THE WAVES THE SILVER-FOOTED THETIS RISING FROM THE WAVES The Greeks took counsel together, and it was resolved that Menelaos should go in person to Troy and demand back his wife, Helen, as well as his treasure and a suitable apology for the wrong done to him and to all Hellas. He chose for his companion the cunning Odysseus. On their arrival in Troy, Menelaos and Odysseus presented themselves before Priam and demanded the return of Helen and the treasures.

The king at once called his people together to deliberate upon the matter, and the two Greek kings bravely denounced the mean act of Paris. But the Trojans, stirred up by that youth, abused the ambassadors and drove them out of their city.


The kings and chieftains of Hellas, having heard that Odysseus and Menelaos had been driven out of Troy, hastened to call together their fleets and armies at Aulis, a city of Boeotia on a ridge of rock running out into the sea between two little bays, each of which was a harbor for many ships. A hundred thousand men and a thousand ships were gathered there under the leadership of the celebrated and heroic chiefs. The commander-in-chief of the whole army was Agamemnon.

Among the renowned leaders were Menelaos, the sagacious Odysseus, Ajax, and many others. Just as they were offering a sacrifice to the gods, in order to start out to the war with their good will, a great miracle happened. A fearful snake crept from under the altar and climbed a tree in which there was a sparrow's nest nearly hidden by the leaves. There were eight young sparrows in the nest, nine birds with the mother. The snake devoured the fluttering little birds, around which the mother circled as if overcome by grief.

Then the snake darted at the mother-bird and swallowed it, when Zeus changed the reptile into a stone. The Greeks wondered at the sight, but the soothsayer, Calchas, said to them: "Why do ye wonder at this? The all-powerful Zeus has sent us this sign because our deeds shall live forever in the minds of men. Just as the snake has devoured the eight little sparrows and their mother, so shall the war swallow up the nine coming years, and in the tenth we shall overcome Troy."

The ships of the Greeks lay in the bays of Aulis while the warriors waited impatiently to set sail. But the winds were contrary; they would not blow, and the boats waited there year after year; for a sacred hind had been slain by Agamemnon, one that belonged to the goddess Artemis, and it was ordered by that goddess that no wind should arise to take them on toward Troy until her wrath had been appeased.

So Agamemnon went to Calchas, the seer, and asked his advice, whereupon the old prophet told him to send for his lovely young daughter, Iphigeneia, and offer her up on the altar as the only acceptable sacrifice to Artemis. When he had placed her upon the altar and the priest was raising his knife, the goddess took pity on Agamemnon and carried the girl away in a cloud, leaving a fine white doe instead.

ODYSSEUS AND MENELAOS PERSUADING AGAMEMNON TO SACRIFICE IPHIGENEIA ODYSSEUS AND MENELAOS PERSUADING AGAMEMNON TO SACRIFICE IPHIGENEIA And now arose a favorable wind, and the Greeks arrived safely before Troy. How they fought with the Trojans, how many of the heroes outlived the struggle, and how many fell in the battle, all this we can learn from an old book called the "Iliad." We shall select from it only those things which refer to our hero, Odysseus; and to complete the history of that hero we shall go to another book, called the "Odyssey."

Both of these books are the work of the great poet Homer, who lived many years after the war with Troy. That we may understand better what happened later on, we must give a short account of the fall of Troy and of the return of Menelaos and Agamemnon to their own country.


The war lasted nine years, and in the tenth the Greeks conquered Troy, not in battle, but by means of a trick which had come into the mind of Odysseus. He told a skilful carpenter to build a wooden horse of gigantic size, and in it he hid the bravest Greek warriors. When he had done this he advised all the other Greeks to depart without leaving anything behind them, and so lead the Trojans to believe that they had given up the fight and gone home.

So the Greeks burned their tents and put off to sea, while the Trojans from their walls watched them with great joy, thinking themselves well rid of an enemy. When the last ship had gone, the Trojans threw open the gates of their city and rushed down into the plain where the Greeks had had their camp, to see how the place looked.

There they found the wooden horse, and one of the Greeks tied to a tree, who told them he was left there as a punishment, and that the wooden horse was an offering to the gods. The Trojans made up their minds to carry it into their city and give it the best place on their highest hill.

Then Laocoön, a priest of Apollo, stepped forth, and said to them: "Unhappy people! what madness possesses you? Do ye think the enemy gone? Do ye know Odysseus so little? There are Greek warriors hidden in this horse, or else some other mischief is lurking there. Fear the Greeks even when they bring gifts."

With these words, he thrust his spear into the flank of the horse, and the arms of the hidden enemy clashed with a loud noise. Just then two snakes of great size, sent by Athena, rose from the sea, and sprang upon Laocoön and his two sons, and, coiling around them, bit them to death. The Trojans, in great fear at the sight, took this as a sign from the gods that the horse was sacred and that they must protect it, and they moved it at once into their city, breaking down a part of their wall to get it in.

Having done this, they gave themselves up to feasting and making merry, without the slightest thought that any evil was in store for them. But when night had come, and all were in a deep sleep, the ships of the Greeks, which had been hiding all the while behind a neighboring island, came back. The warriors who were concealed in the wooden horse sprang out and rushing wildly through the city, slew the Trojans right and left without mercy. From all sides came wailings and groans, and the flames of the burning city rose up to the sky.

A deadly struggle took place between the Trojans and the Greeks. Priam was slain, and Paris and many other heroes. The victory was to the Greeks. Troy fell never to rise again, and the women and children were led off to become slaves to their conquerors.

Thus was destroyed in one night the great and glorious city of Troy, all on account of the crime which Paris had committed against the laws of hospitality.

The trials of the Greeks were not yet at an end. After their victory at Troy they embarked in their ships and started eagerly for their homes. But Zeus prepared a sad fate for them, because Ajax had violently dragged Cassandra, the beautiful daughter of Priam, from the altar of Athena and had made her his slave. Thus many of the leaders perished in the sea far from home, and some were cast on foreign shores to die.

Menelaos was thrown by wind and waves on the island of Crete, and he lost many of the ships on the cliffs. Thence he strayed to the island of Cyprus, noted for its mines; and he roved through other lands until he came to Egypt, where he wandered about for eight years, when he returned to Sparta, taking Helen with him. He became reconciled to his wife, and they lived a quiet life far removed from the enchantments of the wily Aphrodite.

But the saddest fate of all overtook Agamemnon, who met his death in his own house at the hands of his wife and brother.

Agamemnon, without any accident at sea, reached his native land. Full of gratitude, he kissed the earth and wept tears of joy at the thought of meeting his wife and son.

He entered his home with a glad heart, and his faithless wife came to meet him, but she had prepared a hot bath for him, and there he met his death, entangled in a net which she threw over him, for she had not forgotten the loss of her beautiful daughter, Iphigeneia, whom she believed to have been offered up as a sacrifice on the altar of Artemis.

She was assisted in this dreadful deed by her husband's brother, who became ruler over the land, holding sway eight years, when Orestes, the son of Agamemnon, slew him and regained the kingdom.

And now we come to the return of Odysseus, the wisest of the Greeks, who wandered to the remotest part of the earth and learned the customs of many people, and who suffered terrible things by land and sea.



All the Greeks who had escaped from the destruction of Troy and had been spared the terrors of the sea returned to their homes. But the unfortunate Odysseus was delayed by the fair nymph Calypso on her island, where she made her home in a cool and beautiful grotto. There he wept and mourned, desiring to see his wife again and his native land. Each of the gods save one, Poseidon, god of the sea, wished to help him to find the way home. Odysseus had brought Poseidon's wrath upon himself through inflicting a terrible injury upon the favorite son of that deity, and for that reason the wrath of the god fell on him and he was wrecked. One day all the other gods had assembled in the hall of Zeus, on Mount Olympos, when Athena, the favorite daughter of Zeus and firm friend of Odysseus, knowing that her father in his heart was well-disposed toward the hero, began to plead for him in a way to excite greater pity still.

"O my father, thou great king among the gods," she said, "my heart is troubled on account of the wise Odysseus, who lingers on an island, far away from home, and suffers greatly; for a nymph lives on the island, the daughter of great Atlas, and with sweet words she strives to make Odysseus forget his native land. But he bewails his fate and is full of sorrow, his only wish being to have a glimpse of the smoke of his beloved country."

Zeus thereupon ordered Hermes to depart at once for the island and tell the nymph to send Odysseus to his home without delay. Hermes obeyed quickly. He bound his winged sandals to his feet, and, taking his golden wand in his hand, flew like a meteor over land and sea till he reached the island where the nymph Calypso made her abode. He found her within the grotto, singing sweetly while she wove a fine web on a golden loom.

All about the grotto there was a grove of cypress-trees in which birds of gay colors were sporting and springs of pure water bubbling, and the fragrance of strange flowers filled the air. When Hermes had gazed upon these wonders he entered the grotto. It was bright with a blazing fire on a spacious hearth, and fragrant with the odor of burning cedar and cypress.

Calypso saw him as he came in and knew him. She bade him sit down on a throne dazzling with jewels, and, placing a table before him laden with nectar and ambrosia, invited him to eat and drink. After he had finished his repast, Hermes told her that Zeus had sent him to her with the command that she should send Odysseus without delay to his native land. Having given this message, he disappeared, leaving Calypso in great grief.

Odysseus in the meantime sat by the shore mourning and gazing out upon the sea. Calypso found him there, sitting alone, weeping and longing for his home. She stood by him and said: "Odysseus, my unhappy friend, do not waste thy life any longer in sorrow. The end of thy grief has come. Arise and prepare to depart for thy home. Build thee a raft of the trunks of trees which thou shalt hew down. I will put bread and water and delicate wine on board; and I will clothe thee in comfortable garments, and send a favorable wind that thou mayest safely reach thy native land."

Thus spoke the lovely goddess, but Odysseus could hardly believe her, and said: "I fear, O goddess, that thou hast some other thought in thy mind, and that thou dost not wish to send me home when thou biddest me sail over this stormy and dangerous sea. I shall never go on to the raft against thy wish, and thou must swear the great oath of the gods that no harm shall come to me."

The goddess smiled at these words, and, taking the hero by the hand, rejoined: "Thou art a wise man, and thy answer is well made. I will pledge thee a solemn oath, by the heavens and the earth, and the waters of the Styx, that I have no plan of evil against thee. And I advise thee to do as I have instructed thee, to be ready for any crisis."

Speaking thus, the goddess went into the grotto and Odysseus followed her. When he had come into the spacious hall, he sat down on his throne and the nymph brought him rich food and wine. Then she took a seat opposite him, and her attendants brought her ambrosia and nectar, which she would gladly have shared with Odysseus, that he, too, might become an immortal.

When the repast was over, Calypso narrated to him all the trials he would have to undergo before he could reach his native land. While she was relating these things the sun sank down, and darkness came upon the island, and all who had their abode in the grotto sought rest and slumber.


At daybreak the goddess gave Odysseus a large axe and a sharp adze, and led him to the heights of the island, where the largest trees grew. He went to work at once and cut down twenty trees, which he hewed into proper shape, and then tied them together with ropes which he himself made of bark.

In this way he built a raft which was very large and strong enough to stand the onset of the waves. He wove a railing of willow and fitted it around the sides of the raft, to protect himself against the dashing waves; and he raised a strong mast with sails shaped to it, and tightly bound by cords and ropes. He filled the crevices of the raft with wax and pitch and attached a rudder.

At the end of the fourth day his work was all done, and his little ship was ready to be launched. On the fifth day the beautiful goddess prepared the hero a bath and gave him new garments fragrant with perfumes. She went down to the boat with him and put on board a skin of dark-red wine, a larger one full of water, and a bag of dainty food. Then she bade Odysseus a kind farewell, and sent a gentle and friendly wind to waft him over the waves.

Odysseus was wild with joy at the thought that he was really on his way home once more. He spread his sails to catch the breeze and took his seat at the helm, steering the vessel with great skill. He did not dare to take any sleep, for he had to watch the sky and stars constantly and use them as guides on his course. He sailed along in this way seventeen days. On the eighteenth he spied land in the distance. It was the land of the Phæacians, lying like a dark spot off in the sea.

Then Poseidon, who was returning from Ethiopia, saw him, and his wrath grew hot against the hero. He raised up his head and said to himself: "Alas! the gods have strangely changed their minds about Odysseus during my absence in Africa. Behold! in a little while he will be in the land of the Phæacians, where he will find an end to his troubles. Nevertheless, it is in my power to chastise him."

Speaking thus, Poseidon called the clouds together, and seizing his trident he stirred up the sea; then he set loose all the winds until there was a general hurricane, and he wrapped heaven and earth in the thick darkness of night.

The mighty waves dashed over the raft, and Odysseus sank on his knees and trembled. With a deep groan he said: "Ah me, unhappy! Am I to bear more disasters? I fear that the warning of the goddess was too true, and that I shall be for a long time cast about on the waves before I reach home. With what dark clouds Zeus has shrouded the sky! The storm grows wild. What terrible waves are these! Helplessly I must perish. Happy the Greeks who fell before Troy, fighting for their country! Would that I, too, had met death the day when the Trojans hurled their spears at me as they strove to take the body of Achilles. If I had died then, the Greeks would have buried me with great honors. Now I shall die an inglorious death."

As he spoke a huge wave struck the raft with such terrible force that it whirled it around and overturned it. The helm was wrung from his hand and he fell into the angry breakers. The mast was snapped in two and the ropes and sails flew off into the sea.

Odysseus was under water a long time, striving in vain to come to the surface. Finally he rose, spitting the bitter brine out of his mouth. Although he was in such a desperate plight, his mind was on the raft. Battling bravely with the waves he reached it, and springing on board sat down in the middle of it. Thus he escaped death.

The angry waves tossed him hither and thither as the wind scatters the leaves over a field. Then Ino, the daughter of Cadmus, saw him and took pity on him. She took the form of a bird, and, perching on his raft, she said to him: "O, luckless man! why is Poseidon so angry with thee? Fear nothing, however; he cannot take thy life. Obey me and thou shalt not suffer much longer. Lay aside thy clothes, leave the raft to the mercy of the winds and waves, and swim to the land. Take my veil and wind it about thy breast, and thou shalt not have anything to fear. As soon as thou hast reached the land, take it off and throw it back into the sea. Then hurry away inland."

Odysseus hesitated to follow Ino's advice, fearing some treachery. But Poseidon sent a huge wave which struck him and scattered the raft as if it were dry chaff. Then Odysseus at once got astride of the swimming timber. He bound the veil around his breast and bravely plunged into the boiling waters.

Poseidon saw him, and shaking his head he said: "I verily believe thou wilt come out alive from the sea. But the sea has had thee long enough, so that thou wilt know its power hereafter and fear it." Saying this he lashed up his horses and drove off.


Athena, the daughter of Zeus, seeing Odysseus struggling through the waves, pitied him, and bade the winds become quiet. Two days and two nights Odysseus floated about, but on the third the wind calmed down and the sea became smooth.

In a short time he found himself near land once more. But the shore was wild and full of sharp rocks and high cliffs. He could see no place on which to set foot, and he grew downhearted. His knees gave way, and, groaning deeply, he cried out: "O, luckless one! In vain have I braved the dangers of the sea to escape death. Now all hope has abandoned me, since there is no way for me to get out of the water. I fear that when I try to approach the land the waves will throw me against the cliffs, and should I try to find a safe landing-place by swimming, the surf may carry me back into the wild sea, where some sea-monster will swallow me up. Whatever I may do, I see no help for me."

While he pondered over these things a huge wave cast him on the foamy shore. His bones were nearly broken, and he lay exhausted until the wave returned, when he was hurled again with great force back into the sea. Now the unfortunate wanderer took to swimming as his last resort, and reached the mouth of a river, where he was able to land.

Too tired to breathe or speak, he sank down in a swoon. His knees and arms trembled, and his whole body was bruised and swollen. When his senses returned he rose and untied the veil that Ino had given him and cast it back into the sea. Then he knelt down and kissed the earth, and moved to a sheltered spot where a wild and a tame olive-tree were standing close together, whose branches had mingled with one another, and there he found a safe hiding-place.

Then the godlike Odysseus lay down on a bed of dry leaves, covering himself up as one does an ember, lest it should go out. Athena came and poured sweet sleep over his eyes, that he might find quiet rest after all his toils.


While Odysseus lay in a deep sleep, the goddess Athena went to the royal dwelling of the king of the Phæacians, Alkinoös, in order to hasten the return of Odysseus to his native land. She entered the house, where she found Nausicaä, the king's daughter, sleeping in her beautiful chamber. Near her lay two maids who served her.

Athena came as softly as a breath of air, and caused the maiden to dream that her marriage-day was near and that it was her duty to arise and hasten to the place by the river where they washed their clothing. In her dream the princess seemed to hear Athena say: "Nausicaä, why art thou so slothful? Thy beautiful robes lie neglected and thy wedding-day is at hand, on which thou surely shouldst wear garments of dazzling whiteness, and thou shouldst give such garments to those maidens who lead thee forth to thy bridegroom. Therefore, as soon as day breaks thou must ask thy father to give thee a pair of mules, and we will hasten to the washing-place down by the river."

At the first dawn of day Nausicaä went in haste to her father and mother to tell them of her dream. She found them in their splendid hall. Her mother sat with her maidens spinning, and the king stood on the threshold, just going forth to meet his chiefs in council. The princess approached her father and said: "Dearest father, I pray that thou wilt give me two mules and a wagon, that I may go with my maids to the river and take all the clothes that need washing, for it becomes the king and his sons to wear clean garments when they go to the council of the chiefs. Thou hast five sons, three of whom are youths not wedded, and they should be provided with fresh robes; they will need them in the dance."

The king smiled, for he saw what was in her mind, and he ordered the mules. Then his beautiful daughter brought from the linen-room the soiled garments and put them on the wagon, while the queen prepared a goodly lunch of cold meat and bread and a skin of sweet wine.

Nausicaä further received from her mother a bottle of fragrant oil with which to anoint herself after the washing. Then she mounted the wagon, seized the whip and reins, and drove out of the city, the maidens of her train following her on foot.

When they came to the place where the river was flowing bright and clear, they unhitched the mules and let them browse along the bank. Then they took their garments down from the wagon and tossed them into the marble vats which they had filled with the limpid water of the stream. When they had washed them clean they spread them on the white pebbles to dry. Having finished the task, they took a bath and anointed themselves with oil. Then they sat down on the shore and ate their lunch.

The repast over, they began to play ball. First the white-armed Nausicaä threw the ball. She looked as tall and royal among her maids as did Artemis, the daughter of Zeus, among her nymphs.

Nausicaä sang a song as they frolicked on the sand.

When it was time to go home they put the clean garments upon the wagon and harnessed up the mules. Just as they started, Nausicaä once more threw the ball to one of the maidens, who failed to catch it. The ball rebounded from the rocks and fell into the river, at which the girls raised such a shout that Odysseus, who was sleeping close by, awoke.

He opened his eyes and sat up, saying to himself: "Woe is me! Have I reached a country where people dwell? Are they wild and inhospitable, or friendly to the stranger and god-fearing? It seems to me I heard cries of women. Perhaps they were those of the nymphs who inhabit the mountain heights, the springs of rivers, and the green meadows, or those of people who live near by. But I will see who they are."

So Odysseus clothed himself as best he could, by winding slender branches covered with leaves about him, and left the thicket where he was hidden. He went in the direction of the voices, stalking along like a great lion. When the girls saw him they shrieked and scattered in every direction. Nausicaä alone stood her ground, for Athena gave her courage. When Odysseus saw her he wondered which would be the better, to throw himself at the feet of the maiden and beg her to give him some clothes and to show him the way to the city, or to speak to her with more formality.

It seemed better to him to remain at a distance, and so he addressed her gently, saying: "O queen, I know not whether thou art a goddess or a woman. If thou art a goddess, I should take thee to be Artemis, because thou art so tall and graceful. If, however, thou art a mortal, thrice happy thy father and honored mother. Greatly must they rejoice when they see their beautiful child in the choral dance. But he will be the happiest who shall win thee for a bride.

"I once saw a young palm-tree growing up beside Apollo's altar in the island of Delos. It was the most beautiful tree the earth ever produced, and I gazed upon it with wonder and reverence. So am I amazed at thy beauty, and I fear to approach thee and throw myself as a suppliant at thy feet, although I am in sore distress, for great misfortunes have befallen me.

"It was only last night that I escaped from the sea. On my way from Calypso's isle I was driven about for twenty days by the angry waves in a violent storm. Now some god has cast me on this shore to make me undergo new trials, for I do not believe my sufferings have come to an end. Have pity on me, O queen, because thou art the first human being I have met after so many misfortunes.

"I do not know one person in this country. Show me thy city, I pray, and give me an old robe to wear, no matter how coarse and poor, and may the gods bestow all blessings upon thee."

Nausicaä looked at Odysseus in pity and answered: "Stranger, thou dost not seem to me to be a man of mean birth or breeding, and thou art surely in distress. But it is Zeus who distributes gifts to mortals, both the good and the evil things of life, and thou must submit to his will with patience.

"Since thou hast come into our land devoid of all things, even garments, and art helpless, I will give thee clothing and tell thee the way to the city. And I will tell thee about the people living in it, for I am the daughter of the king, Alkinoös, who reigns over this island." When Nausicaä had spoken thus to Odysseus, she turned to her maids and commanded them not to flee from the wanderer, but to bring him food and drink, since Zeus sent the poor and the stranger to be cared for.

And she told them to lead him to some lonely spot by the side of the river, where he might bathe at his ease. So the maids came back and led the hero to a sheltered place and laid a cloak and tunic on the sand, and the bottle of oil which the queen had given Nausicaä, that Odysseus might anoint and clothe himself after his bath; then they ran back to the princess.

Odysseus bathed in the fresh water of the river and washed the salt sea-foam from his hair, and when the bath was over he put on the robes that Nausicaä had sent. Athena shed a halo of beauty over him and caused him to look taller and stronger than before.

As he walked along the beach to rejoin the maidens, they admired his noble and kingly bearing, and Nausicaä said to her maids: "Surely this man does not come among our godlike brothers against the will of the gods. I thought him rough and homely, but now he seems like one of the immortals. I would that I might call a man like him my husband. Make haste to give him food and wine, for he has fasted a long time."

The maids hastened to obey. They looked over what was left of the abundant lunch and bade Odysseus eat and drink, which he was glad to do. The princess then yoked up the mules and they started for home.


After Nausicaä had mounted to her seat on the cart, she said to Odysseus: "Get ready now, stranger, and we will lead thee to my father's palace, where thou wilt meet the chiefs of the Phæacians. If thou art wise, take well to heart what I shall say to thee. As long as we are at a good distance from the city there is no harm in going along with us. Just follow close to the wagon with my maids.

"But when we come near to the town thou must go more slowly and tarry behind a little, till we have reached my father's hall, because I dread the gossip of the baser sort of people whom we may meet. After thou hast seen us enter the city, then thou mayest enter it also and inquire the way to the king's palace. It is very beautiful. Thou mayest easily find it by thyself, for there is no other house in the city as large as ours.

"Enter at once and find my mother and sue to her for protection and help, that thou mayest reach thy native land and thy dear ones again."

Having spoken these words, Nausicaä touched the mules with her long whip and they quickly left the river, wending their way toward the city. They reached it at sunset, but Odysseus sat down in the sacred grove of Athena, outside of the city to wait, and prayed to the goddess that he might receive pity from the people of Phæacia.

While he prayed, the damsels went on and soon reached the king's palace. Nausicaä's brothers came out and welcomed them, and unhitched the mules. When Odysseus had given them time to get home, he arose and found his way to the town. He had hardly entered it when Athena, in the form of a young girl carrying a pitcher of water, met him.

"My daughter," Odysseus said to her, "canst thou show me the way to the king's palace? I am a stranger, and here for the first time." Athena answered him: "With pleasure, stranger; the king is our neighbor. Follow me, and I will lead thee thither. But on the way do not greet anyone or ask questions, for the people here are not fond of those who come from other lands."

Thus spoke Athena and pursued her way with Odysseus following her. She threw a veil of darkness over the hero to hide him from rude gazers. Odysseus beheld the beautiful port with astonishment—the large ships, the great market-place, and the high walls of the city.

When they reached the palace, the girl stopped and said: "This is the house of the king. Go in without any fear, for they love brave men, even when they come from afar. The first thing to do is to find the queen, whose name is Aretè.

"She is greatly honored by the king, and all the people treat her as if she were a goddess, on account of her gentleness and virtue. In case the queen looks upon thee with favor, thou mayest be sure of safely reaching home."

Having spoken these words, the goddess took a friendly leave of the hero, and he entered the outer hall of Alkinoös, where he was bewildered by the splendor. The walls were of brass, the doors of gold, and the thresholds and lintels of pure silver. On each side of the main entrance gold and silver dogs stood guard. They were endowed with life and were immortal, the work and gift of the divine Hephæstus.

There were two rows of splendid seats in the large dining-hall. They were covered with costly mats, and the Phæacian leaders were wont to sit there and enjoy themselves. Golden statues of boys with lighted torches in their hands stood on beautiful pedestals and spread light over the merry banquets. There were fifty maid-servants in the palace. Some of them were grinding corn in the mill. Some spent their time in spinning and weaving, for as the men were renowned sailors, the women also were famous for making fine cloth.

There was a large orchard all around the palace, surrounded by a thick hedge. In the orchard there was a great variety of fruit-trees—pear, apple, pomegranate, olive, and fig. The trees were never bare of fruit, either in summer or in winter, for an ever-blowing west wind created such a mild climate that the trees were constantly blooming and ripening their fruit.

There was to be seen a tree full of blossoms, while another bent down under the load of ripe fruit. Thus it was with the grape-vines in the vineyard close to the orchard. Some were blooming, others had only begun to form fruit-buds, while some were loaded with ripe clusters ready for the wine-press. At the end of the orchard there was a magnificent flower-garden, in which the most fragrant flowers were blooming. Two springs also bubbled from the ground. One watered the orchard, and the other ran to the very door of the palace, and all the people filled their pitchers there. Such were the gifts Alkinoös had received from the gods.


After Odysseus had contemplated these wonders to his heart's content, he entered the main hall. There he found the leaders of the Phæacians bringing offerings of wine to Hermes, as the hour of sleep had arrived, and this was always their last ceremony before seeking slumber. No one saw Odysseus as he crossed the spacious room and came close to the king and queen, for he was still concealed in the thick mist which Athena had thrown round him. Suddenly the cloud vanished, and Odysseus threw himself at the feet of Aretè, and raised his voice in supplication.

"Aretè," he prayed, "I have come to thy husband and to thy feet through many hardships and sorrows. May the gods give thee a long and happy life. For many years I have been a wanderer from home and all I love. I beg that thou wilt give me a guide and send me to my own land."

When Odysseus had spoken these words he sat down amidst the ashes, close to the fire, and all the guests grew silent and looked at him with wonder. Then the oldest of the chiefs arose and said: "Alkinoös, this is not a royal seat for a stranger, among the cinders of the hearth. I pray thee, raise him up and place him on a throne, and order the heralds to fill a cup with wine, that we may pour a libation to Zeus, the protector of suppliants, and bid the guest welcome to our good cheer."

Then Alkinoös arose and took Odysseus by the hand. He led him to a splendid throne but little lower than his own, while the herald placed a table before him loaded with dainty food. When Odysseus had eaten and drunk, the attendants filled the cups to pour libations in honor of Zeus, and Alkinoös said to them: "Listen, ye leaders and chiefs of the Phæacians. To-morrow we shall greet the stranger in our palace with honors and offer a great sacrifice to the gods. And then we will consider the best way of sending him home. But if we should find that he is a god instead of a mortal, we will do what seems best, for the gods do sometimes visit us in human shape."

Then said Odysseus: "Nay, Alkinoös, I am not a god, nor like the gods in form or looks. I am only a wanderer, and I could tell of fearful sorrows; and I would willingly die if I could only see my home once more."

The guests all greeted Odysseus with approving words, and promised to aid him. Then they rose, and each man went to his own home.

Odysseus remained in the hall with Aretè and Alkinoös. As they conversed, the queen noticed the garments of Odysseus, because she had woven them herself, and she said to him: "Stranger, who art thou, and from what land? Didst thou not say thou hadst come here after many wanderings and voyages on the stormy sea? Who gave thee garments of my weaving?"

Odysseus answered her: "It would not be easy, gracious queen, to tell about all my hardships and sufferings. Yet I will do thy bidding. I was shipwrecked long since, and thrown upon an island far out in the sea, where Calypso, the daughter of Atlas, lives. She cared for me most kindly, and would have made me, like herself, an immortal, but I chose instead the hope of seeing my own native land.

"The goddess detained me seven long years on her island before she bade me start for home. I built a raft, which she stored with food, and she sent a pleasant breeze to carry me across the waters. But Poseidon stirred the winds and waves against me, and I was thrown upon the shores of this island, near the lavers, where thy daughter and her maids went to wash the household linen. There the princess found me, and supplied me with food and the garments I have on."

"One duty my daughter left undone," Alkinoös said. "She should have brought thee home with her." "Do not blame her, I entreat," replied Odysseus, "for she bade me come with her maids, but I lingered in a grove to offer a prayer to Athena." When Alkinoös had heard this tale from Odysseus, he promised once more to give him a ship and sailors to escort him home.

Meanwhile the queen bade her servants prepare a bed for the hero out on the portico, and they covered a couch with shaggy rugs and purple tapestries, where he could rest. With a grateful heart Odysseus arose, and, thanking the king for his generous hospitality, sought the bed, where he gave himself to happy dreams.

Odysseus rose early the next morning and went with Alkinoös to the market-place, close to the sea, where all the Phæacians had assembled. The people gazed with admiration at their stranger-guest, for Athena lent him greater dignity and beauty, and she went among the crowds, moving their hearts to sympathy with him.

Alkinoös then addressed the assembled multitude: "Hear me, ye chiefs of the Phæacians," he said. "This stranger has come to our land after many wanderings and adventures. And he asks me to send him back to his own country. Let us fit out a ship for him quickly and launch it, and give him fifty-two young men from among our best sailors, who shall get everything ready for the long journey.

"While they are doing this the stranger shall come to my halls with the chiefs and princes, where we will make a great banquet. Summon also the bard, Demodokos, that he may enliven the festival with his harp and songs."

Having spoken, Alkinoös rose and led his guest back to the palace, the princes following him. Fifty-two youths were soon chosen from among the best seamen, and they launched a ship speedily and went up to the royal palace.


Alkinoös now ordered a sumptuous feast in honor of his guest. When the table was spread, the herald who had gone for Demodokos came in leading the bard, who was blind. The gods had deprived him of sight, but had bestowed upon him the gift of song. They gave him a seat on a silver throne, amid the guests, and hung his harp against a lofty pillar, close above his head, where he could easily reach it.

When all had eaten and drunk as much as they desired, Demodokos took his lyre and began to sing about the heroes of Troy. It was a song whose fame had reached over the whole world, the story of a friendly strife between Achilles and Odysseus before Troy, in which Achilles held that Troy would fall by force, but Odysseus maintained that it would come to an end through the cunning of a few brave Greeks.

All the guests enjoyed listening to the thrilling song, but Odysseus was deeply touched, and tears fell from his eyes. He brushed them away stealthily, so that no one should observe them, and drew a large purple veil over his face until the song was finished, when he put it away and took a goblet of wine, which he poured out on the ground as a libation to the gods.

Again the minstrel took his harp and sang, and again Odysseus wept. Alkinoös noticed that the song of Demodokos moved Odysseus to tears, and thought it might be well to stay the music awhile and begin the games, that the stranger might witness the athletic skill of the Phæacians. All the princes instantly arose and walked down to the market-place, the king leading and the people following.

When the chiefs had taken their seats a great number of young men hastened forward to begin the games. Some of them darted over the plain in a foot-race, raising a cloud of dust. Others strove with all their might in wrestling-matches, while some threw the quoit or played at boxing and leaping. After they had enjoyed looking at the games, Laodamas, a son of Alkinoös, said to his friends: "Let us ask the stranger to take part in the games. His strong arms and legs and powerful neck show that he is no weakling. Nor has he lost his youthful vigor after all his hardships, although nothing tires a man so much as being tossed about on the sea."

Then the friends of Laodamas advised him to challenge Odysseus to take part in the games; and this seemed right to the prince, so he said to him: "Father, I think thou must be skilful in these games. Let us see thee try them. We will not delay thee long. Thy ship is ready for thee on the sea, and the crew is there, waiting. But there is no greater glory or pleasure for a man than to excel in swiftness of foot and strength of muscle."

Odysseus answered him: "Why dost thou urge me, O Laodamas? How can I take part in the games or find any pleasure in them after all that I have suffered? Here I sit, a suppliant, praying to be sent back to my wife and home." Then Euryalos scoffed at him, saying: "Thou art right, stranger, for thy countenance shows thou art anything but an athlete.

"Methinks thou art the owner of some merchant-vessel. Thou art a trader, whose head is full of bargains. Such men can take heed of nothing except how to increase wealth."

These mocking words vexed Odysseus, and he retorted: "My friend, thou dost not speak like a man of good mind. The gods do not bestow their gifts equally on all men. To thee they have given great beauty, but they have denied thee wit. Thy words carry no weight. Learn, then, that I am not unskilled in the games. When I was young and strong I was one of the best athletes. But even now, after all my shipwrecks and hardships, I will strive with thee, for thy words are offensive and challenge me to the proof."

Having said this, Odysseus seized a much larger and heavier quoit than the Phæacian prince could use, and swinging it in his powerful hand he hurled it forth. The stone whirred through the air and fell to the ground away beyond the marks of the other disks. Then Athena took the form of a Phæacian and set a mark where the quoit fell, and exclaimed as she did so: "Stranger, even a blind man could easily find thy mark, for it is far beyond the others. Sit down in peace and do not fear that anybody else can throw so far." Odysseus was pleased when he heard these friendly words. With a light heart he said to the Phæacian youths: "Reach my mark, if you can, young men, and I will send a stone farther yet. But if you cannot reach it, and prefer a match at boxing or wrestling or foot-race, come forth. I am ready to try any of the games with you. I can throw a spear farther than any of you can shoot an arrow. I fear nothing unless it may be the foot-race, for I have lost my strength with want of food and being tossed by the waves."

He ended, and King Alkinoös stepped forward, for the young men were all silent. "Stranger," he said, "thou art our dearly loved guest, and no one can doubt thy bravery. We do not boast that we are fine boxers or wrestlers. We excel in the dance and are unsurpassed in sailing ships. Come, then, young men, show your skill in dancing, that our guest may tell his people when he reaches his home how much we outdo all others in that art. And let a herald hasten to the palace and bring the lyre of Demodokos, which has been left there."

The young men arranged themselves in two rows on the polished floors and began the dance, while the minstrel, standing in their midst, played on the lyre and sang most sweetly. Odysseus looked on and greatly admired the swift and rhythmical movements of their feet. All danced very well; but two of the sons of the king came out and danced alone, for none of the others equalled them. One of them held a golden ball in his hand, and bending backward threw it so high that it seemed to touch the clouds. The other sprang up and caught it easily before it touched the ground.

They both danced, going through intricate and rhythmical figures, while the other young men stood around in a circle and clapped their hands, keeping time. Then Odysseus said to Alkinoös: "Truly, no one excels the Phæacian princes in dancing. I see the twinkling of their feet with amazement."

These words pleased Alkinoös greatly, and he said to his people: "Listen, my chiefs, for our guest seems to be a wise man. It becomes us now to bestow upon him the gifts of hospitality. In this land there are twelve kings. I am the thirteenth. Let each one of us bring a fine cloak, and a tunic, and a talent of gold, that our guest may see them before he partakes of the evening banquet. And let Euryalos, who spoke such scoffing words to him, try to win back his friendship and bring a costly gift." All the chiefs approved the words of King Alkinoös, and each one sent a servant to his house to bring a valuable present.

Euryalos cheerfully obeyed the king. He brought a brass sword with a silver hilt to Odysseus, and said: "My father, if I have uttered any offensive word to thee, may the winds scatter all remembrance of it. May the gods grant thee a speedy return to thy country, where thou shalt see thy wife and friends from whom thou hast so long been separated."

Odysseus answered: "Hail to thee, also, my friend! May the gods give thee all that there is good, and may no need of this sword ever come to thee." Odysseus took the sword and threw it across his shoulders.

The sun had set, and the servants carried the gifts to the royal palace, where the queen took care of them. King Alkinoös led the way to the palace, his guest at his side and the princes following. When they had taken their seats on high thrones, the king told his wife to lay the royal presents in a chest, adding a much richer cloak and tunic than anyone else had given as a gift from himself.

Aretè did as her husband wished, and placed a beautiful cup of gold also in the chest, and led Odysseus up to look at the presents. Then she taught him how to lock the chest and unlock it, and her maids called him to a warm bath, after which he anointed himself with fragrant oil and put on fresh garments.

While he was wending his way to the men who sat before their wine, he met Nausicaä in her goddess-like beauty, standing near a pillar. "Stranger, farewell," she said. "I wish thee joy and a safe return to thy native land. Do not forget that I was the first to befriend thee in the land of the Phæacians."

Odysseus answered: "May the gods be as sure to favor my return to my home as I shall be to make a prayer daily in thy behalf, fair maiden, who hath saved my life." Then Odysseus entered the great hall and took his place at the feast.


When they had all eaten and drunk to their hearts' content, the hero begged Demodokos to sing about the invention of the wooden horse with which Odysseus had artfully tricked the Trojans to their own destruction.

The minstrel felt the inspiration of the song, and began where the Greeks threw firebrands into their own tents and sailed away from Troy, pretending that they had given up the war.

He told how the Trojans wondered what to do with the huge wooden horse which the enemy had left in their city, whether to hew it to pieces and burn it, or to drag it to the edge of a high rock and throw it over, or whether to spare it as an act of reverence to the gods. This last was done, and in the night Odysseus and his men came out of the great wooden trap and set fire to the city while the men of Troy slept.

As Demodokos sang, tears rolled down the cheeks of Odysseus. but no one noticed his weeping except the king, who said: "It is better to stop the song of Demodokos, as it does not delight us all. Ever since the bard began to sing, our guest has been weeping. He carries some great trouble in his heart. Let the song cease, and let us all make merry. Let no grief mar our banquet. And, honored stranger, tell us the name of thy father, and the city which is thy home. Our seamen shall take thee safely to thine own land, although there is a prophecy that one of our good ships shall be changed into a high rock, to stand forever in front of our city, if we show such courtesies to strangers.

"Tell us truly who thou art and whither thou hast roamed, what tribes of men thou hast seen, and why thou dost weep when the minstrel sings of Troy. Didst thou lose a noble kinsman there, or a dear friend? For a friend is often dearer than a brother." Odysseus replied: "In truth, O king, it is a pleasant thing to listen to a bard like Demodokos, for his voice is as sweet as the voice of a god.

"And I cannot think of anything more delightful than the joy of a contented people listening to a great poet and singer while seated at a feast in a royal hall. But I pine to be at home, and I will declare my name and tell the story of my sufferings.

"I am the chieftain Odysseus, son of Laertes, and widely known to fame. I dwell in sunny Ithaca, whose high mountains are seen from afar, covered with rustling trees. Around it are many smaller islands, full of people. Ithaca has low shores on the east. It is a rugged island, but it is the sweetest land on earth, and has a noble race of mortals. When the Trojan war was at an end, I started for home with my twelve ships, but a contrary wind drove us to Ismaros, the city of the Kikonians.

"We captured it and put the inhabitants to the sword. Then I exhorted my comrades to fly, but, like madmen, they remained on the sea-shore. Then they slaughtered a large number of sheep and oxen and made a feast. The Kikonians called on their strong neighbors to come and help them, and they came in swarms with their brazen spears. They fell upon our men and killed six of them from each ship, and drove the rest back to their boats.

"Brisk handling of our oars soon carried us out into the sea, but Jove sent a hurricane that tore our sails and split our masts, so that our sailors drew them into the ships in fear. Two days and nights we lay helpless in our boats, worn out with fear and grief, but the third day the sun shone on us again, and we raised the masts and sails to take the breeze, hoping to reach our own land."


"We sailed onward in a westerly direction, heading for the Grecian shore, and thought our trials would soon be at an end. But in this we were disappointed, for when we were about to round the cape at the southern point of Greece, we met an evil wind which always blows there, and it drove us far to the east, beyond the island of Cythera.

"Nine days and nine nights we were driven about on the sea by the violent storm, and on the tenth we reached the land of the Lotus-eaters. These men eat flowers that look like water-lilies, and they have no other food. We landed on the shore of the mainland, and my comrades took their evening meal close to the boats.

"When our hunger was satisfied, I sent out two of the best men to explore the country about and find out what sort of people the Lotus-eaters were. I sent a herald with them, whom they might send back with the news.

"They soon found themselves among the Lotus-eaters, who were gentle and friendly, and gave them the lotus plant to eat. This food is pleasant to the taste, but dangerous; for anyone who eats of it loses all desire to return to his own home. He forgets his cares and troubles, but also his friends.

"As soon as my comrades had eaten of the lotus, they became attached to the Lotus-eaters, and desired to remain with them. They wept bitterly when I commanded them to return to the ships, and I was obliged to force them to go.

"I bound them down to the benches in the ships, and the whole company went on board in haste lest they should never think of their homes again. Each man bent to his oars, and the waves were soon white with the beating of the ships against them as we sailed with all haste in the direction of our own land.

"We sailed about on unknown seas and with sorrowing hearts until we came to the land of the Cyclops. They are a wild people who have no laws. They never plough the fields nor plant them, for everything grows of its own accord—wheat, and barley, and the vine. The grapes yield good wine. The Cyclops do not come together in a friendly way, but live in caves near the mountain tops, each one in his own den. They do not care much for one another, and each rules his wife and children as he likes.

"There is a little woody island lying at the entrance to the land of the Cyclops, on which swarm numberless wild goats, never disturbed by human beings, for the Cyclops have no ships to take them over. This island is very fertile, but there are no sheep to eat the grass and no people to plough the fields. The goats are the only inhabitants. The island has a harbor which is safe, and the ships that enter it have no need of anchors or fastenings.

"In the midst of the harbor there is a cliff, from which bubbles forth a spring of excellent water, and poplar-trees grow all around it. The soil is so rich it might bear all kinds of fruit, if there were anyone to plant them. There are beautiful meadows all along the coast, which are gay with yellow fruit and pink blossoms.

"We were shaping our course toward this island, and a good breeze brought us there on a dark night. The moon did not shine and none of the crew saw the land until we were upon the shore. We lowered our sails and rested there until morning. When daylight appeared we beheld with wonder the island where the wild goats abounded. My comrades walked around, admiring the beauty of the place, while the nymphs, daughters of Zeus, roused the goats that they might give us milk. We took our bows and arrows from the ships immediately and, forming three hunting-parties, killed a great number of the nimble creatures. Each of my twelve ships received nine goats as its share, but mine received ten. The remainder of the day we passed in eating and drinking."


"The next day I started with twelve men, the crew of my own ship, to find out what kind of men inhabited the country opposite us, leaving all the other boats and their men on the island. When we sailed up to the coast of the mainland, we heard the voices of giants, and the bleating of their sheep and goats. And we saw a cave with a high roof, over whose entrance grew laurel shrubs, and many cattle, sheep, and goats were lying around at rest. We found an enclosure of rough stone in the form of a court, with tall pines and leafy oaks at the mouth of the cave.

"The largest giant of all the race of Cyclops dwelt there and took care of his cattle all alone. Usually he spent his time prowling all by himself around the mountains. He had nothing to do with his neighbors, but led a solitary life, plotting wicked deeds. He looked more like a huge mountain top, with shaggy overhanging forests, towering above other mountains, than a human being.

"We were soon inside the cave, but we did not find the owner at home. We had carried with us a wine-skin full of wine which a priest of Apollo had given us. The wine was very fragrant and so pleasant that no one who had once tasted it, could let it alone. We had taken along a basket of food also, for fear of meeting with men of great strength and no sense of the courtesy due to strangers.

"As we looked around the cave we wondered at what we saw. There were baskets all about heaped with cheeses, and pens of lambs separated into three folds, the older in one pen, the younger in another, and the youngest in a third. And there were pails full of whey, and buckets of milk. My companions ate as much of the cheese as they liked, after which they begged to drive all the lambs and kids down to the ship.

"But I would not allow this. It was my wish to stay there and see the cave-dweller and find out what kind of a man he was. I thought he would give me a handsome present, according to the laws of hospitality. It was cold in the cave, so we lit a fire and sat down to wait for the owner to arrive.

"He came toward evening, carrying a load of wood on his back, which he threw down with such a crash that my men ran with terror into the corners of the cave. The giant drove all such sheep and goats as would give him milk into the cave, leaving the others in the outside court, and then closed up the entrance with a rock so large that twenty-four four-wheeled wagons could not have moved it. Having done this, he sat down and milked the sheep and goats and gave to each its young one.

"Next, he curdled half of the milk and put the curd into woven baskets, but he kept the other half for his evening meal. When he had ended this work he lit a fire, and seeing the strangers he began to ask them questions, to find out who they were. His voice was deep and frightful, like the rumbling of a volcano, and our hearts trembled, but I found words to answer him: 'We are Greeks, and come from Troy. It was our intention to return home, but contrary winds have driven us on this shore.

"'We belong to the army of Agamemnon, whose fame is very great because he has overcome a strong city and conquered many nations. But now we throw ourselves at thy feet and pray that thou wilt receive us as guests, or else give us the gifts that are due to strangers, lest the gods avenge us.'

"Having said this, I stopped, but the Cyclops told us that we were fools to believe in the gods. 'The Cyclops,' he said, 'care nothing for the gods. We are better than they are. If I spare thee it will be of my own free will, and not for fear of the gods. But where are thy ships? Are they near here or far off?' This he said hoping to deceive us, but I saw through his trick, and replied: 'The storm has thrown our ships upon the cliffs and broken them to pieces, and we had to swim for our lives.'

"The cruel monster did not answer me again, but he seized two of my companions and dashed them to the ground with such force that they died on the spot. He devoured them as a lion devours his prey. He left nothing of them, neither bones nor flesh nor hair. We wept aloud and prayed to Zeus with our hearts full of despair."


"When the monster had filled himself with food, he stretched out on the floor of the cave to sleep. Then the thought came to me to thrust a sword into his heart. But this was not a wise course to take, because we should never have been able to remove the stone from the entrance to the cave.

"We passed the night in mourning and lamentations. As soon as daylight appeared, the Cyclops woke up and lit a fire and milked his sheep again. Then he seized two more of my companions and devoured them. When his morning meal was done he rolled the stone back from the door and drove his beasts out, not forgetting to secure the entrance. We could hear his noisy shouts afar off as he led his flocks over the grassy heights, and we began to make plans to destroy him.

"We found a great club of green olive-wood in the cave; one that the Cyclops had cut for his own use. It was as large as the mast of a ship, and he had laid it away to dry. I cut off a fathom's length from this club and handed the piece to my companions, who smoothed off its sides and sharpened it at one end. This being done, I put the sharp end of it into the fire. The stick became very hard, and then I hid the weapon under a heap of litter which was piled up in the cave. We cast lots to see who should assist me to put out the eye of the Cyclops when he was asleep.

"When evening came the Cyclops returned to the cave with his fat sheep and kids. He seemed to suspect that there was mischief afoot, for he did not leave any of them outside. After milking the ewes and goats he again seized two of my companions and made his supper of them. But I filled a large drinking-vessel with the wine from our wine-skin and stepped boldly out and said to him: 'Here is a cup of wine which I brought, hoping that thou wouldst spare my life, O Cyclops, for thy wrath is boundless.' He took the cup and drank. The wine delighted him greatly, and he handed me the cup after emptying it and said: 'Give me another draught and tell me thy name. I will give thee a generous gift, such as becomes a host. We, too, have wine, but not such as yours. That tastes like nectar and ambrosia.'

"Three times I filled the cup and brought it to him, and three times the Cyclops drank it like a madman. When the wine had overpowered him, I said to him: 'Cyclops, thou dost wish to know my name, and I will tell it, but thou must give me the present thou hast promised. My name is Nobody. My father and mother gave me this name and my friends all call me by it.' 'Then,' said the Cyclops, 'I shall eat Nobody last of all. This is my present.'

"After these words he fell asleep and, being very drunk, he began to spew out the wine and flesh he had taken. I took the piece of olive-wood which my men had sharpened and put the point of it into the fire and held it there until it was a glowing coal. My comrades stood near me and I encouraged them with brave words. We thrust the burning stick into the Cyclops' eye and put it out. He howled with pain, and, stung to madness, he seized the stick and flung it across the cave.

"He called to the other Cyclops, who lived in divers caves on the surrounding mountains, while we hid ourselves in fear in the most remote corners of the cave. The giants heard him and came running to help him, but they could not get into the cave. They stood near the stone, close to the door, and called out: 'What ails thee, Polyphemus? Is anyone trying to kill thee?' 'Woe is me!' cried Polyphemus, 'Nobody is trying to kill me.' 'Then why dost thou shout and cry for help?' said they. 'If nobody hurts thee, then thou art not hurt.'

"With these words they went off, and we rejoiced greatly that my trick had deceived them."


"Polyphemus, groaning with pain, tried to feel his way with his hands to the mouth of the cavern. Having succeeded in this, he rolled back the stone and sat down at the entrance and stretched out his hands in order to catch us if we should happen to try to get out among the sheep.

"But we were not so foolish as to be caught in this way. There were in the cave a number of stout and woolly rams. Of these I put three abreast and tied them together with twigs that happened to be in the cave. Under each middle ram I tied one of my companions. The two sheep, one on each side of him, hid the man completely. For myself I selected the stoutest ram of the flock, and, seizing his long shaggy wool with my hands, held fast to him with my knees and arms.

"The sun rose and the animals began to hasten out to the pastures. The Cyclops, though nearly exhausted with pain, passed his hands over the backs of the sheep to find out whether any of us were trying to ride out of the cave. He did not find out our trick, and my companions all escaped safely. Last of all, the ram that carried me came to the door, because I was so heavy that he could hardly walk with me hanging to him.

"Polyphemus felt of his back and recognized him at once as his favorite ram, and said: 'Dearest of all my sheep, why dost thou go last? Commonly thou wert the first of the flock to hasten to the rich pasture and the cool spring, just as thou wert the first in the evening to return to thy manger. But to-day thou art last of all. Dost thou grieve because thy master hath lost his eye, which Nobody has put out? But wait a little. He shall not escape death. Couldst thou only speak, my ram, thou wouldst tell me at once where the scoundrel is; then thou shouldst see how I would dash him against the rocks.'

"Speaking such words as these, he let the ram go. When we were safely out of the cave, we gladly took to our feet and drove the fat sheep down to our boat with all haste. Our friends received us with tears of joy, for they thought we had surely perished. I made signs to them not to weep aloud, and to hurry the sheep on board the ship. They did this with all haste, and each man took his place at the oars.

"When we were beyond the reach of the Cyclops, I called out to tease him, 'Ha! Cyclops, Cyclops, thou hast not been entertaining a coward. Zeus and the other gods have avenged the brave men whom thou didst so cruelly destroy.'

"The Cyclops heard my words and grew furious. He seized a large rock and threw it with all his might toward the place where he had heard my voice.

"The rock fell in front of my ship, and the waves which it raised carried us back on shore. I seized a large pole and shoved the boat back into the water, commanding my men to ply their oars vigorously, that we might escape destruction. My companions begged me not to excite the dangerous monster further; but when we were a long way out I shouted to him: 'Cyclops, if ever anybody asks thee who put out thine eye, tell him it was Odysseus, the son of Laertes, conqueror of Troy.'

"When Polyphemus heard these words he gave a deep groan, and said to me: 'Truly did the wise seer, Telemos, foretell that I was to be blinded by Odysseus. But I thought there would come a large and powerful man, not such an insignificant little fellow who would cheat me with wine. Come back, Odysseus, and let me bestow upon you the gifts which are due to strangers. I will pray to my father, Poseidon, to give thee a safe and speedy return to thy native land. He can restore my eye whenever he will, so I cherish no anger against thee.'

"I knew his deceit, however, and replied: 'I would rather take thy life, and send thee down to the dark halls of the dead, where thy father could never restore thy sight.'

"As soon as Polyphemus heard this, he raised his hands to heaven and prayed to Poseidon, 'My father,' he said, 'hear me, if in truth I am thy son. Grant me this prayer. May Odysseus never return to his own country, or, if it be thy will that he reach home and friends again, let his return be late and sorrowful. May his comrades all be lost, and may he go back in a borrowed ship, and find new troubles waiting for him in his house.'

"Poseidon was moved to wrath against me by this prayer, and determined to take vengeance on me. The Cyclops seized another stone, much larger than the last, and swinging it round, threw it at us with tremendous strength. It fell close to the ship, but this time it drove the boat out into the sea and in the direction of the island where we first landed.

"When we reached the island we found the friends we had left there waiting anxiously for our return. My men drew their boat up on to the smooth sand and stepped upon the beach, taking the sheep along with them. Each man took an equal share, but they gave me the ram which had saved my life. We took him out upon the beach and offered him up as a sacrifice to Zeus.

"But sacrifices were vain, for Zeus had more evil for us in his mind. We spent the rest of the day on the island, eating and drinking, and when the sun went down we camped on the shore for the night. In the morning I called my men to climb the decks and cut the ropes that kept us fastened to the shore. With all speed they went aboard and took their oars in hand and set sail for home, glad to escape, but sorrowing for our lost companions."


"We sailed about on unknown seas for many days, when we reached the island where Æolus made his abode. This island was surrounded by smooth rocks and guarded by a wall of shining brass.

"Æolus had twelve children, six sons and six daughters, and they banqueted on an endless variety of meats from day to day all the year round. Æolus was a kindly, genial god; he was master of the winds, and one could hear the music of sweet pipes in his halls all day, and the air was fresh and fragrant there.

"Æolus welcomed us hospitably and kept us with him a whole month. He inquired of the fate of all our companions in the war with Troy, and we stated what had happened to them. Then we prayed him to send us home, and the god very kindly gave us a sack made of skin in which he had tied up all the contrary winds, leaving only the west wind free to carry us safely home.

"I took the great bag of winds and bound it fast to the main mast of the ship with a silver chain, so that no rude wind could escape and blow us out of our way. We sailed along nine days and nine nights, blown by the friendly breeze from the west, and on the tenth we saw in the distance the mountain tops of Ithaca and the fires along the shore.

"And now I was overcome by a heavy sleep, for I had been guiding the ship, not daring to trust it to the hand of any of the crew. While I lay unconscious of what was going on, my companions talked among themselves and said they believed that the bag which Æolus had given me contained vast amounts of gold and silver. And they spoke with great jealousy of the prizes which I had received wherever we had landed, while they went empty-handed.

"The more they talked to one another the more jealous and angry they grew. They untied the sack and the winds rushed out, much to their astonishment, and seized the ship, driving it round and round in a furious storm. I started out of my sleep suddenly and found the bag open I had so carefully guarded and my companions weeping bitterly.

"For a moment I had a mind to throw myself into the sea and make an end of my troubles forever. But the thought came to me that such an action would not be noble, so I hid my head in my mantle and lay down in the bottom of the ship while the violent winds and towering waves drove us back to the island we had left. We landed there again, and, having partaken of some food and wine, I sought the halls of Æolus.

"I found the king and his wife and children at table taking their evening meal. When Æolus saw me he was amazed, and asked me what had happened to me. I told him about the senseless action of my companions, and begged him to assist me once more. But with a terrible voice he replied: 'Begone as fast as thou canst out of my island. I will not befriend a man who is hated of the gods.' In this unkind way he sent me off, and we sadly entered our ships and made for the open sea, trusting to the mercy of the winds."


"For six days and six nights we sailed without interruption, but on the seventh day we reached the city of the Læstrygonians. There the pastures are so rich in grass that the fields, which are grazed by one flock of sheep during the day, yield abundant food for another flock by night. The inhabitants were not only inhospitable, but they received us with a shower of stones, which they hurled at us and at our galleys. They broke our ships and killed my companions, spearing them like fish. Then they carried them ashore to be devoured. With the greatest difficulty I succeeded in saving one ship and a few companions from the hands of these giants, and I fled with them out to the high sea.

"Sadly we continued our course until we reached an island, where the goddess Circè, a daughter of the Sun and Ocean, lived. We landed silently, and gave two days and nights to rest, for we were worn out with toil and grief. On the third day I climbed to the top of a high hill and looked over the island. Down below I saw a marble palace, surrounded by a thick forest. There was smoke rising from the grounds, so I resolved to return to my men and send out some of them to look about and explore.

"A large stag ran down into my path, on his way to a river to drink, and I thrust my spear through him and flung him across my neck and took him to the ship. I threw him at the feet of my men, who were astonished at his size. They prepared a banquet at once, and we feasted upon the meat.

"That night we slept on the shore again, and in the morning I told them that I had seen a palace standing in a thick wood, and that I wanted to send several men there to try to get food. When my companions thought of all their comrades who had been slain they wept aloud. But their tears were useless. I divided them into two equal bands, and we cast lots to see which party should make the adventure.

"The lot fell to Eurylochos and his band of men. They started forth, and soon came to a beautiful valley, in which was the splendid house of Circè, which was built of well-hewn stone. There were beasts of prey, lions and wolves, around it. The animals were tame; they wagged their tails and fawned like dogs, but the men were afraid of them. Circè was weaving in the palace and singing a beautiful song. She had bright, sunny hair and a sweet voice. The men heard her as she went back and forth weaving, and they called aloud. She came to the door and threw it wide open and bade them enter.

"Eurylochos alone did not go in, for he feared that some evil would come of it. The others followed her, and Circè seated them on thrones and gave them food and wine, but in the wine she had secretly infused a magic juice which made them forget home and friends and all desire to see their native land.

"When they had eaten and drunk to their hearts' content, she waved her wand over them, and at once the poor wretches were changed into grunting pigs, which she shut up in pigsties and threw acorns and other food fit for swine before them. Although thus transformed and covered with bristles, they still retained the human mind.

"Eurylochos stayed a long time outside awaiting the return of his companions. But as they tarried so long, he hastened back to the ship to tell the news. Thereupon I quickly hung my sword over my shoulder and, taking my bow and arrows, hurried off alone, and soon found myself not far from Circè's palace."


"As I lingered in that dangerous valley there appeared to me a youth whom I knew at once to be Hermes, the messenger of the gods. He gently took hold of my hand and, looking compassionately on me, said: 'Thou most unhappy man! Why art thou roaming alone in these wild parts? Or art thou bound on the errand of delivering thy friends who have all been changed by Circè into swine? Much do I fear that thou mayest meet with the same fate. Listen to my words and heed them well if thou wouldst destroy the treacherous schemes of Circè.

"'Take this little flower. Its name is Moly among the gods, and no wicked sorcery can hurt the man who treasures it carefully. Its root is black. Its blossom is as white as milk, and it is hard for men to tear it from the ground. Take this herb and go fearlessly into the dwelling of the sorceress; it will guard thee against all mishap. She will bring thee a bowl of wine mingled with the juice of enchantment, but do not fear to eat or drink anything she may offer thee, and when she touches thy head with her magic wand, then rush upon her quickly with drawn sword as though about to slay her. She will crouch in fear and entreat thee with soft words to spare her. But do not give way to her until she has pledged herself by the great oath of the gods to do thee no harm.'

"When Hermes had spoken thus he left me, to return to high Olympos, and I walked to the house of Circè with a braver heart. As I came near the palace I called out to the goddess with a loud voice, and she threw open the doors for me to enter. She bade me sit down on a beautiful throne and placed a golden foot-stool under my feet. Then she gave me the dangerous cup and I drank it off, but her charm did not work.

"Scarcely had I drained the cup when the goddess struck me with her wand and said: 'Off with you! Go to the pigsty, where friends await thy coming!' In a twinkling I had my sword in hand and rushed upon her as if to kill her. Circè shrieked with fear and fell on her knees to implore my mercy. 'Who art thou and whence dost thou come?' said Circè. 'Thou art the first man over whom my magic wine has had no power. Art thou really that Odysseus of whom Hermes told me that he was to come here after many wanderings? But put up thy sword and cease to be angry with me and let us trust each other.'

"I answered her: 'O, goddess, how can I have faith in thy words, since thou hast changed my companions into swine and dost plot the same fate for me? Swear me the great oath that thou wilt not harm me, and I shall trust thy words.'

"Circè at once took the great oath, that she would never again try to do me any harm, and she ordered her servants to spread a feast before me. But I had no desire to eat. I sat down in silence, my mind full of grief and doubt.

"When Circè saw that I did not touch the food she said: 'Why art thou so quiet and speechless? And why dost thou not taste the food and wine? I have pledged myself by the great oath to do thee no harm!' But I answered: 'What man with a loyal heart, O goddess, could eat and drink with any pleasure while his comrades are kept in bondage and degradation? If thou art really kind and wouldst have me enjoy this bounteous feast, O let me see my dear companions free once more!'

"The goddess took her wand and went to the pen and drove out the swine. She then anointed them with a magic ointment, and their bristles fell off and they stood up and were men again. They knew me, and each one seized my hand, shedding tears of joy. Then I sent for the rest of my men at the ship, who eagerly came up, and together we entered the halls of Circè, all of us weeping with joy.

"Circè's heart was softened also, and she said to me: 'Son of Laertes, noble Odysseus, do not weep and grieve any longer. I know what hardships thou hast endured on land and sea. Take courage, for thy sufferings will soon be at an end. Go down to the sea and hide thy boat near the shore and come back to my halls, thou and all thy men, where I will make it a happy home for all until thou art rested and ready to sail again for thy native land.'

"We stayed a whole year on the island of Circè, feasting and enjoying ourselves, and fully recovered our strength. The desire of reaching my beloved Ithaca grew stronger within me day by day, and at last I begged Circè to allow us to depart. 'I am not willing, O son of Laertes,' Circè answered, 'that thou shouldst remain here against thy wish, but it is necessary that thou shouldst, before departing from my island, descend into Hades, to the palace of Pluto and Persephone, to consult the spirit of the Theban seer, Tiresias, on whom Persephone has bestowed the priceless gift of preserving his memory even in Hades, whereas all the other souls are moving about as empty shadows.'

"Hearing this, I grew desperate and no longer had any desire to live or see the light of day. I said to the goddess: 'Who will show me the way to Hades? for no living mortal has ever gone there before.' She replied: 'Do not worry about a guide, Odysseus, for there will be no need of one. Launch thy boat, unfurl the sails, and quietly sit down. The north wind will waft thee to the shore of Hades. There flows the river Styx, black and terrible. It flows between the poplars and willows in the groves of Persephone, and meets the broad waters of Okeanos. Sail up its dark stream until thou dost reach the rock where its two branches meet and swirl and roar. There leave thy boat and dig a ditch in the ground, a foot deep and a foot wide, in which thou shalt pour honey, milk, wine, and water as an offering to the dead.

"'At the same time pray to the gods of Hades, and promise the shades of the dead that after thou hast arrived in Ithaca thou wilt sacrifice to them a whole heifer, the best of thy flock, and to Tiresias especially a black ram. Then take two sheep, a male and a female, kill them, and burn them as a sacrifice to the nations of the dead.

"'At once there will arrive the souls of the departed. They will come by thousands, anxious to drink of the blood, that they may have their minds again. But draw thy sword and hold them back until the spirit of Tiresias arrives. He will tell thee how to get back to thy native land.'

"As Circè said this the daylight appeared, and I woke my companions and told them to make ready to go with me. We started at once for our ship, and got everything in readiness to leave. I told them that before setting out for our own country we had, by the advice of Circè, to go down to Hades in order to consult the seer Tiresias about our journey. When they heard this they sat down, and wept, and began to tear the hair from their heads.

"Circè meantime came up by stealth, and put two sheep into the ship, and we sailed sadly away."


"With a heavy heart we sailed from Circè's island bound for the gloomy Hades. As the wind was favorable, we soon reached the place of which the goddess had told us. There we left the ship and did those things which Circè had counselled us to do. As soon as the dark blood of the sheep began to flow into the trench countless souls came flocking from Hades and begged to taste of the blood, that their mortal minds might be restored to them.

"Young wives and girls, old men and young warriors who had fallen in battle, airy forms, ghosts of all kinds of people, flitted like bats around me in that dark place with fearful cries, and I turned pale with fear. I drew my sword and waved them back until I should question the soul of Tiresias.

"But first came the soul of Elpenor, one of my companions who had gone with me to the palace of Circè. We had left him dead in the halls of the goddess, since we had no time to bury him. Now, when I saw him a great pity stirred my heart, and I shed tears and said to him: 'Elpenor, how didst thou come into these dread regions of darkness? Thou hast come more quickly on foot than I in my quick ship.'

"The phantom knew me, for, being as yet unburied, he was not one of the shades, and had not lost his memory or voice, nor did he need to drink of the blood. He moaned and replied: 'Noble Odysseus, it was an evil fate which the gods had decreed for me. I drank too much wine and that caused my death. I lay down to sleep on the roof of Circè's palace and could not remember the way to the stairs when thou didst call us to the ships. In my haste I fell from the roof and broke my neck, and my soul came down to Hades.

"'I pray thee now by all those whom thou dost love—thy wife, thy father, and thy son—that thou leave not my body unburied in the palace halls, lest I bring on thee the anger of the gods. But on thy return to Circè's isle burn my body, together with my armor, and pile up a mound of earth over my ashes. Plant my oar upon my tomb—the oar with which I used to row while I was living.'

"I made the promise, but at this moment the soul of my mother, whom I had left hale and strong among the living when I went to the war, approached and tried to get at the trench. I wept to see her, but with a heavy heart I forbade her coming nearer until I had spoken with Tiresias. At this moment troops of souls came flocking out of Hades, and from the countless throng the Theban seer came leaning on a golden staff, and he ordered me to lay aside my sword and permit him to drink of the blood.

"When he had drunk, he spoke to me and said: 'Odysseus, man of many woes, why dost thou leave the light of the sun and come down among the dead? Doubtless thy heart's desire is to return safely home. But much suffering is in store for thee. Poseidon will not permit it, because thou hast blinded his son, Polyphemus. Still, thou mayest overcome all difficulties and see Ithaca at last, if thou dost not harm the cattle and fat sheep of the Sun on the island of Trinacria.

"'But if thou dost kill them and eat of their flesh, I warn thee that nothing will save thy comrades or thy ships. Even then thou mayest be saved, but it will be on a strange ship, alone, and after dreadful sufferings. And at home thou wilt find other misfortunes awaiting thee.

"'There will be a mob of lawless men rioting in thy house, squandering thy riches, and trying to get thy wife to marry one of them. Thou shalt kill these violent men in thy halls by craft or in open fight. After that thou shalt reach a good and prosperous old age, and find a peaceful death far away from the sea. All that I tell thee shall surely happen.'"


"When Tiresias had gone, my mother came back to the dark trench and drank of the blood. She knew me at once and cried out: 'Oh, my child, how didst thou ever come down to this gloomy place alive? Art thou on thy way home from Troy? And hast thou not seen Ithaca yet, nor thy wife and child?'

"I answered her: 'Dear mother, I was compelled to come down here in order to consult the soul of the prophet Tiresias about my return; for I have not yet touched foot to Grecian soil. I have been driven about on strange seas from year to year, and have suffered misfortune after misfortune. Oh, tell me, my mother, how didst thou die? Did some lingering disease waste thy life, or didst thou meet a sudden, painless death?

"'Tell me of my father and of my son. Do they still hold rule over Ithaca? Or has someone snatched it away from them, thinking I was never to return? How fares my wife, Penelope? Is she still faithful to the husband of her youth, or has she married another?'

"To all this my mother answered: 'My son, Penelope is in the home where thou didst leave her, and she weeps for thee day and night. Nobody has usurped thy kingdom, and Telemachos has charge of thy royal estates. But thy father dwells on thy farm, and shares the life of the servants. He seldom goes down to the city. The grief he feels for loss of thee has made him old, and will hasten his death, as it caused mine, for I could not live without thee.'

"So spake my mother, and I longed to clasp her to my heart. Three times I threw my arms around her, and three times she passed through them like a shadow. Then I cried out in sorrow: 'Oh, my dear mother! why can I not clasp thee to my heart and hold thee in my arms, that we may lose for a while our sense of loneliness and misery?'

"My mother spoke and said: 'It is the lot of all our race when they are dead. When life departs we have no bones and flesh, but the soul flies off and flits about from one place to another. Hasten back to the pleasant daylight, and when thou dost reach home tell thy wife what I have said.'

"When my mother had gone, I saw the soul of Agamemnon approaching, together with the shades of those of his companions who had perished with him. The moment he had drunk of the blood he knew me and raised a loud wail. He stretched out his hands to me, and I tried to seize them, but I clutched only the empty air.

"Then I began to weep, too, and said to him: 'Famous son of Atreus, King Agamemnon, tell me how thou didst die. Did Poseidon wreck thee on the sea in a terrible storm, or didst thou fall in war, fighting on the land?'

"Whereupon the king told me the dire story of his home-coming and his death at traitors' hands. 'When I trod my native soil again after a long absence,' he said, 'I was overcome with joy at the thought of seeing my wife and children once more. But I was slain in my own home, and my wife did not even close my eyes as my soul came on its way to these dark realms.'

"I answered: 'Alas! how the gods must hate the family of Atreus on account of the unfaithfulness of its women!'

"Agamemnon replied: 'Oh, son of Laertes, thou art a fortunate man, for thou hast a faithful wife. Penelope is wise and virtuous. I remember, when we were ready to start for Troy she was a young wife with a little babe in her arms, which she pressed to her bosom. He must be a man now. Thou art a happy father. Thou wilt see thy son at home in Ithaca.

"'No such good fortune can ever come to me. My wife did not even let me see my son before she slew me. Tell me about him, I beseech thee, how he is. Does he still live in Sparta?'

"'Son of Atreus,' I said, 'do not ask me where thy son is. I cannot tell whether he is alive or not, and this is no time for idle conjectures;' and we wept as I spoke."


"While we were conversing thus, the shades of Achilles and Patroklos came near. The soul of Achilles recognized me, and he said: 'Odysseus, son of Laertes, how darest thou descend into the gloomy habitation of the dead? This is the greatest labor thou hast undertaken.'

"I answered: 'Godlike Achilles, I came here to consult the seer Tiresias about my return to my own country, for I have never yet reached Grecian soil, but have wandered about suffering great misfortunes. No one is happier than thou art, O Achilles. When thou wert alive all men honored thee as if thou wert a god, and now thou art a king and rulest over the dead.'

"Then he replied: 'Do not try to console me, Odysseus. I would rather be the slave of a poor man, and in the light of the sun, than to be in Hades and rule over all the dead. But tell me, Odysseus, how fares my noble son? Does he fight in the wars, and is he in the front ranks? And Peleus, my aged father, tell me of him. Is he still king of the Myrmidons? Or do they hold him in contempt, now that he is old, and I am not there to uphold him?'

"I answered him: 'I know nothing about thy aged father, O Achilles, but I have many things to tell thee about thy son. I brought him from Skyros, myself, in a ship to Troy, and placed him in the Greek army. There he surpassed everyone except Nestor and myself in the wisdom of his advice, and when we went forth to battle he fought among the foremost, slaying many illustrious foes.

"'Above all, his powers shone forth when we were hidden in the wooden horse. All the other leaders of the Greeks gave signs of fear. They grew white and shed tears; but his face never turned pale, and no tear came into his eyes. He called on me to leave the horse and rush upon the foe, and he smote the Trojans, carrying death and destruction among them. When we finally subdued the city, thy son took rich booty and safely reached his own country.'

"As soon as Achilles heard this news he rejoiced. He strode proudly off over the field of Elysian asphodels, well pleased that he had left such a mighty son on earth.

"After Achilles had departed, many other souls came and talked with me. Only the soul of Ajax kept aloof, still angry over a victory which I gained near the ships when I took the weapons of Achilles as my share of the booty. Little did that victory and the arms please me, since they caused the grave to close over such a hero as Ajax.

"I spoke to his soul in gentle words: 'Ajax, son of Telamon, did not even death appease the anger against me which thou didst feel on account of my receiving the arms that brought such a calamity upon the Greeks? For thou wast our tower of strength, and the weapons proved fatal to thee. Come nearer and speak to me, for I bewail thy death.' I spoke soothingly yet Ajax gave no answer. His spirit vanished away among the other spirits.

"Then I beheld Minos, the lawgiver of Crete, who held a golden sceptre in his hand and judged the dead. He had under him the great wrong-doers of one part of Hades. With him I saw Tantalos, who stood in a pool of water, suffering at the same time a painful thirst. As often as he tried to put his lips to the water it sank down away from him so that he could not reach it.

"I saw Sisyphos, also, who suffered great punishment, for he rolled a large rock uphill with both hands, straining every muscle of his body to the utmost to move it. No sooner had he pushed it to the top of the hill than it rolled back with deafening noise to the bottom of the valley. Again the unfortunate man toiled to move it upward, the sweat covering his body and clouds of dust hovering over his head.

"Then I saw the shade of Herakles, but the hero himself sits among the gods on Mount Olympos. And there came myriads of souls, making a terrible noise, which filled me with dread, lest I might look upon the Gorgon, and I hastened back to the ship. I ordered the crew to go on board, and they took their oars and rowed until we reached the open sea, where favorable winds caught by the sails wafted us back to Circè's isle."


"When we reached Circè's isle, we dragged our vessel up on to the beach, and lay down to sleep on the shore. At break of day I sent my comrades forth to bring the body of Elpenor from the palace. We took it out to a rocky place on the shore, and cut down trees to build a funeral pyre. There we burned the body and performed the funeral rites, and we built a tomb and placed an oar at the top of it.

"All this was done quietly, but Circè saw us and came with her maids, bringing a generous supply of food and wine. Standing in our midst, she said: 'Brave men, who living have gone down to Hades, all men die once, but you are permitted to die twice. Take food, eat and drink all day long, and to-morrow at daylight depart for your native land. I will show you the way and teach you how to avoid all danger.'

"We spent the whole day on the shore, eating and drinking, but when the sun sank down and the earth was covered with darkness my companions went near the ship to seek rest. But I sat down by Circè, who questioned me about my visit to Hades. After I had told her everything, she said: 'Odysseus, so far all is well, but there are a great many new dangers ahead. Listen carefully to what I say. First, thou must pass the Sirens, who bewitch with their melodious voices all who listen to them. Woe to him who allows his ship to go near them! He will never reach his native land, or see his wife and children again. The Sirens sit in a green field and sing, while the bones of dead men lie in heaps near them. Do not listen to them, but pass them by unnoticed.

"'Or, if thou wouldst enjoy the matchless singing and not pay the forfeit with thy life, let thy men bind thee hand and foot to the mast of thy ship, so that thou canst not by any effort stir a limb when the great longing seizes thee. And give thy men strict orders to make thy bonds tighter shouldst thou entreat them to loose thee. Before thou art bound, thou shalt knead soft wax in thy palms and fill the ears of thy companions with it, that no sound may enter.

"'Thence thou wilt come to the narrows where Skylla and Charybdis dwell. On each side of the narrows is a steep cliff, one of which is so high that its sharp top reaches the sky. It is so slippery that no one is able to climb up or down its sides, nor could he if he had twenty hands and feet. Not even a bird can safely perch on it.

"'No boat has ever come to the spot and left it without being wrecked, except Jason's, when he was in search of the Golden Fleece, and he escaped because a goddess was his guide, to pilot him through. A dark gray fog forever broods over the head of the cliff, and on its western side there yawns a fearful cave, where Skylla lives.

"'She is a terrible monster that barks like a savage dog, day and night. She has twelve shapeless feet, and six heads set on long necks. Each of her mouths shows three rows of deadly teeth. Half of her body is hidden in the rock, but she thrusts out her heads and snatches her prey, fish, whales, dolphins, or men. No sailor escapes, or, indeed, any living creature that passes that way.

"'The other cliff is not so high, but is still more dangerous. There, under the foliage of a wild fig-tree, Charybdis dwells, who sucks in the dark waters of the sea three times a day and belches them forth again three times with a terrible noise. Woe to thee if thou art near when she sucks the waters down, for not even Poseidon himself could save thee. It would be better far to steer close to Skylla, for then only six of thy men would be snatched from the benches, but if Charybdis seizes thy ship all must perish.

"'These pests are immortal. Do not try to overcome them. They cannot die. It is better to fly from them with all haste. It would be rashness and not courage to attack them.

"'Next in thy voyage thou wilt come to the island of Trinacria, where the fine flocks of Helios are feeding. Two shining nymphs, daughters of the Sun, tend them. There are seven herds of oxen and seven herds of sheep, fifty in each herd and flock. These creatures are immortal, and greatly beloved of Helios, who will send destruction to thy ship and crew if any harm come to them. Forbid thy men to touch the cattle, even though suffering for food. If thou art wise enough to escape these dangers, thou shalt reach thy home without further mischance.'

"As the goddess finished, day broke. Circè sought her own dwelling, while we put to sea with a favorable wind, and soon the island faded from our sight."


"When I saw that we were near the home of the Sirens, I said to my men: 'It is not wise that only one of us should know the oracles of Circè, and I will tell you all she said to me, that ye may escape from the perils before us; and I disclosed her sayings to them. Then I took a handful of wax and warmed it in the sun until it was soft, and carefully clogged up their ears.

"They, in turn, tied me to the mast, hand and foot, so firmly that I could not stir a limb, having first received my command that they should not loose my bonds on any account. Then they bent to their oars, and rowed close to the Sirens, so that they could see me and I could hear their bewitching songs.

"'Come to us, O renowned Odysseus,' they sang; 'pride of the Greeks, come and listen to our voices. No one ever yet passed us without stopping and admiring our sweet songs. Come, that we may sing to thee about Troy and thy friends, for we know everything that is going on in the whole world.'

"Thus they sang, and their songs thrilled me. A great desire came over me to stop and listen to them, and with nods I entreated my comrades to set me free. But they sprang up and bound other cords about me, so that I struggled in vain. Then all the men plied their oars until the water was white with foam, and when we were out of sight of the island and could no longer hear the songs of the Sirens, my men set me free, and I took the wax from their ears.

"Hardly had we escaped from the Sirens when we beheld a black fog and towering waves and heard a frightful noise. My men were so scared that the oars fell from their hands and the ship stood still. I hastened from one end of the boat to the other, speaking cheerful words to each rower. 'My dear friends,' I said, 'have no fear. This is not the first time we have encountered danger. We have been saved from the hands of the Cyclops through our own valor and clever devices, and we are not going to break down now. Listen, and I will tell you what is to be done. Keep your seats and ply your oars with all your might; but thou, O helmsman, steer thy ship clear of that fog and the whirling waves.' Thus I spoke, and they willingly obeyed my words.

"Yet I said nothing to them about Skylla, lest they should lose heart and hide in the bottom of the ship. Thus we passed in between the two cliffs, the one of which harbored Skylla and the other Charybdis, who, with a terrible noise, swallowed the brine of the sea and belched it out again with a roar like the mingling of fire and water.

"But I forgot the command of Circè to fly from these monsters without fighting. I put on my shining armor and took a spear in each hand, and went on deck, and stood in warlike attitude ready to attack Skylla if she should raise a hand to seize one of my men. I looked for a long time, but I could not see her.

"We sailed on, the uproar increasing. My men grew white with fear. The salt waters whirled so that we could look into a deep watery pit and see the blue sand. The rocks were hidden by a thick mist. Suddenly Skylla thrust forth a mighty hand and snatched six of my brave men, as a fisherman pulls out fish with a hook. I saw their hands outstretched toward me as they were lifted up into the air, and I heard their cries for help. Woe is me! This sight will haunt me as long as I have life."


"When we had escaped from the terrible Skylla and Charybdis, we came to the island of Helios, the island of the Sun, and heard from afar the lowing of the cattle and the bleating of the sheep. Then I remembered the words of Tiresias and Circè, and I advised my companions not to land there at all, but to go right on, lest we suffer some new disaster.

"My crew would not listen to me. They commanded me to land on the isle. I then made them take an oath not even to look at any of the cattle. We prepared our evening meal, and when it was over we talked of our dear companions whom Skylla had devoured, and we mourned over them until we fell asleep.

"We remained a whole month on this island, on account of unfavorable winds. We found the roomy grot where the nymphs danced, and the seats where they sat—the nymphs who tended the flocks of Helios.

"As long as we had a plenty of bread and wine my comrades were satisfied and spared the cattle. But when our store of food was exhausted they roamed all over the island to see what they could get to appease their hunger. They snared birds and caught fish with hooks, and lived on them or anything else that came to hand. But they grew poor and lean with hunger and nearly starved. I went off alone into the island, where I had found a quiet nook, and sent up prayers to the gods to show us the way out of our difficulties. There I fell asleep.

"While I slumbered, Eurylochos called my men together, and said: 'All kinds of death are bad enough, my brave friends, but death by starvation is the worst. Let us kill the best of these cattle and offer sacrifices to the gods, and then eat and live. If we ever get to Ithaca we will make restitution, for we will build altars to the Sun and place costly gifts upon his shrine. But if it is his will to destroy us in his anger, then let us die amid the billows of the deep, for that is better than to die by famine.'

"Thus spoke Eurylochos, and the others lent a willing ear. They seized the best of the cattle at once, and slaughtered them, and prepared a hearty meal. They offered up petitions to the gods, standing round their victims with young oak-leaves in their hands. Then they covered the thighs with caul, and laid slices of fat over these, and poured on water and roasted it until it was consumed. All the rest was cut into smaller portions and scorched on iron prongs.

"At this moment I awoke and hurried down to the ship, and with horror found the dreadful meal prepared. One of the nymphs, immortal shepherdess, flew to the Sun to tell him that my men had slain his cattle. Helios was deeply angered, and spoke thus before the assembled gods: 'Father Zeus and all ye immortal gods, behold the comrades of Odysseus! They have slaughtered my heifers, which gladdened my heart as I went up to heaven and down to earth.

"'If they do not pay me well for this great wrong, I shall go down among the dead and give them light, but I will give no light to the living.' 'Shine on, O Sun, in the bright sky,' said Zeus, 'for I will cut their ship to pieces with a thunder-bolt, as it tosses on a black sea.' I could only chide my comrades. I could not think of any sufficient redress, for the cattle were dead.

"And here happened a wonder which amazed my comrades. The skins of the dead animals crawled over the ground, and the flesh lowed as they had done when alive. Nevertheless, my companions continued to kill and eat the best oxen in the herds for six days, when a favorable wind sprang up, and we went on board and set sail once more.

"After we had lost sight of land, and nothing was before us but sky and sea, a sudden darkness shrouded the heavens, and there arose a violent storm. The vessel was hurled hither and thither by the towering billows; the hurricane tore the sails and dashed the mast against the pilot's head, crushing the bones, and he was cast headlong into the sea.

"Then Zeus sent a thunder-bolt into the ship, and broke it nearly in two. The boat was filled with a sulphurous smoke, and my comrades were shaken off into the sea and drowned. They floated round me, but I moved about in the ship until the bottom and the sides had broken away from each other and the mast had snapped off at its base. I took the mast, which had a thong of bull's-hide round it, and tied it to the keel. I took my seat upon this frail craft, and the storm whirled me about.

"After awhile the west wind ceased, and the south wind began to blow, which was still worse for me, since it took me back to dread Charybdis. All night long I was tossed on the waves, and at dawn I drew near to Charybdis. As the monster was swallowing the salt brine, I caught hold of the fig-tree and clung to it like a bat till she should throw up my poor raft. I waited long, but at last the timbers were thrown out of the whirlpool, and I dropped down upon them, and sat on them and rowed with my hands. I floated about on the waters for nine long days, and on the tenth I came to Calypso's island. She welcomed me, and detained me seven years, as I have already told thee, O Aretè, and why should I repeat a tale already narrated?"


All the guests had listened with deep attention to the recital of Odysseus; all were greatly interested, and when he ended they did not stir or speak a word. Alkinoös was the first to break the silence, and he said: "Renowned Odysseus, since thou hast come to our country, I hope that thy sufferings are at an end and that thou wilt reach thy native land safely and soon." Then the King turned to his guests and addressed them: "Phæacians, let us each present one more gift, a large tripod and a vase, to the hero who has come among us."

The Phæacians received his words approvingly, and each went at once to his home to sleep. But when morning came they all sent their gifts to the ship, where they were packed carefully under the benches by the King himself, and the guests returned to the palace, where a banquet was spread for them.

Alkinoös sacrificed an ox to Zeus, and they sat down at the table. The enjoyment ran high, and the old poet, Demodokos, sang sweet songs. They feasted all day, and when the sun was near its setting Odysseus said: "King Alkinoös, let us pour out the last libation and offer up the last prayer, for all things have come to pass that my soul desired. May the gods bless thy gifts. May I find my home, my wife and child, and friends. I pray the gods to grant thee all that is good, and may no evil ever befall thy land. Be pleased to send me hence, and fare thee well."

Thus he spoke, right glad that the day was done and eager to set sail. The people approved his timely words, and seizing their goblets they poured out wine on to the ground, an offering to the gods, and they wished godspeed to their guest. Odysseus arose and placed a goblet in the hands of the Queen, addressing her thus: "Farewell, O Queen, I wish thee a long and happy life, a peaceful old age down to the grave, from which no one may escape; rejoice in the possession of thy home, thy people, thy children, and the King, thy husband."

So spoke Odysseus, and left the hall. The King sent a herald to show him the way to the port where the ship was waiting for him. At the same time Aretè also sent down some maids, who carried a new cloak and tunic, a well-wrought coffer full of gifts, and an abundance of food for the journey.

These things the crew took from their hands and stowed away in the hold of the vessel. They spread a nice bed for him on the deck, where he might sleep quietly. When every thing was ready, Odysseus embarked, and the sailors slipped the cables and took their seats at the oars. Odysseus fell into a deep, sweet slumber, but the ship flew forward faster than a bird could fly, making rapid headway toward the island of Ithaca.


When the morning star arose the ship reached Ithaca. It entered a harbor called Phorkys, where there was a grotto sacred to the nymphs, and it was shaded at the entrance by an olive-tree. Stone vases stood around in the grotto, and there bees had stored up honey. The nymphs spun their fine thread from stone spindles there, and wove their sea-purple robes. Springs of cool water flowed through the grotto, and there was an entrance for mortals and one which was kept holy for the gods.

When the ship touched the beach the sailors disembarked and carried the sleeping Odysseus on a rug on to the shore and laid him down. They brought his presents also from under the ship's benches and laid them under the olive-tree, a short distance from the road, for fear that some evil-minded person would take them before Odysseus woke up.

Then the crew sailed homeward, but Poseidon saw them and was angry because his purpose to cause Odysseus endless suffering had been thwarted. He at once complained to Zeus that the Phæacians had restored Odysseus to his native land, with gifts finer and more valuable than anything he could have brought from Troy. Zeus listened to his complaint and gave him authority to destroy the Phæacian boat and its crew. Poseidon promptly repaired to the island of Scheria, and when the ship came in sight of the town he transformed it into a towering rock, that it might hide the island from mariners and the Phæacians would no longer be tempted to escort strangers to their homes.

The ship had gone, and it was broad daylight when Odysseus awoke. He did not recognize his own country, he had been away from it for such a long time, and besides that, Athena had spread a dense fog over it. His first thought was that the Phæacians had deceived him and left him on an unknown shore. He began to accuse them of treachery, and prayed to Zeus to punish them. He looked around and found that his gifts had been carefully placed, so he knew that he had not been robbed. He counted his gifts and examined them.

There were tripods and vases of gold and brass and beautiful hand-woven garments. He paced up and down the shore and wept and wailed aloud. Then Athena appeared to him disguised as a shepherd lad.

When Odysseus saw her, he hastened to her and said: "Hail, fair youth! I am a stranger and find myself for the first time in this place. I entreat thee to tell me the name of this country, and what kind of people inhabit it." The goddess answered him: "Truly, stranger, thou must come from a far-off land that thou dost not know Ithaca, which is known from the rising to the setting of the sun.

"It is indeed a stony island but it is not barren, nor is it a good place for raising horses. It is rich in grain and grapes. It has an abundance of dew and rain, and most delicious wine is made here. Nowhere can be found handsomer goats or finer cattle. Every kind of tree grows in its forests, and its springs are never dry. The fame of Ithaca has reached even as far as Troy itself which, I am told, lies far from Hellas."

Odysseus was overjoyed to find that he was in his own country. But he did not venture to tell his name to the shepherd, nor whence he came. Instead of that he told a long story that he came from Crete, which he had been obliged to leave because he had killed the King's son, who had robbed him.

Athena smiled and, assuming the form of a beautiful woman, took him by the hand and said: "Thou crafty man, why dost thou tell such lies? Dost thou not know Athena, daughter of Zeus, who has protected thee everywhere and saved thee from all danger? I have just come again to assist thee in hiding thy treasures and to tell thee what thou must encounter in thine own palace. But thou must not repeat anything which I tell thee, nor make thyself known to any man or woman. And thou must bear many indignities in silence until the right time comes, for there are many violent men in thy halls."

Odysseus's heart was filled with joy. He knelt down and kissed the soil of his native land. "Tell me, is it true," he said, "that I am in my own beloved Ithaca? I pray thee, goddess, do not jest with me."

"Thy native land! Such ever is thy thought," answered the goddess. "Any other man would have hastened with all speed to his wife and home. But thou must wait and come not at once into the presence of Penelope. She sits within thy palace, weeping night and day because thou dost not come. Hide thy gifts here in this grotto, and I will tell thee what to do next."

With a glad heart Odysseus saluted the nymphs of the cave and spring: "Hail to you, nymphs of my native land, daughters of Zeus! I thought I should never see you again. I shall bring you rich gifts in days to come, if it please Athena to keep me from harm." After he had carried the presents into the grotto and carefully hidden them, he sat down with the goddess among the gnarled roots of the olive-tree, and they laid plots to destroy Penelope's impudent suitors. Athena told him about the trouble they had caused her; how they had established themselves in her own home, trying to win her for a wife. For three years the noble Penelope had kept these arrogant men in suspense, deluded with empty hopes, while she waited for her husband's return. When Odysseus heard these words he was greatly disturbed, and said: "Woe is me! I might have been slain in my own home but for these timely words. Now I am forearmed. Stand by me, I pray, in my great need, and give me strength to meet my enemies. If thou art my helper, I can resist, single-handed, three hundred foes."

"Take courage," said the goddess. "But to carry out our plans I must change thee to a miserable old man with a wrinkled face and clad in ragged garments, so that no one can recognize thee.

"Then must thou go to thy faithful swineherd, Eumaios, who loves thy wife and child and thy whole house.

"Thou wilt find him as he feeds the swine on acorns in a field near the mountain, Korax, and the spring, Arethusa. He will tell thee all the doings in thy house. Meantime I will take my way to Sparta. Telemachos, thy son, is there. He went to visit Menelaos and try to find out if there were any news of thee. I will call him to return to Ithaca."

The goddess touched Odysseus with her magic wand. At once he shrank and withered into a wrinkled, shabby, old beggar. Then she gave him a staff and a tattered sack and sent him to his loyal swineherd while she took her way to Sparta.



Odysseus left the haven by a narrow stony path and took his way to the dwelling of his faithful swineherd, who thought more of the welfare of his master than did all the rest of the servants whom Odysseus had. He found him seated in the yard which he himself had made of stone for the swine of the absent King, and had enclosed with a thick hedge of thorns. He had driven strong posts of oak around it, also. Inside the yard he had made twelve sties, and in each sty there were fifty sows with their little ones. The males were kept outside and were fewer in number, for Eumaios was compelled to send a very fat one to the suitors every day, and therefore there were only eighteen score.

Near them were four large savage dogs as guards. They were more like wolves than dogs. Eumaios was busy making a pair of sandals from an ox-hide, for his own use. The other swineherds had gone on errands, three of them to drive pigs to pasture, while the fourth had taken a hog to the suitors in the city.

When the dogs saw Odysseus they barked and rushed upon him, and they would have torn him to pieces, but Eumaios drove them off with stones and said: "Thou poor old man, the dogs came very near tearing thee limb from limb, and that would have been a great shame and sorrow to me.

"The gods have already sent me trouble enough. Here I sit weeping and mourning for my beloved master, and take care of his swine in order that strangers may eat them. Who knows where he may be wandering as a beggar among people who speak another tongue? But come, old man, let us go into my lodge and eat, and then thou mayest tell me who thou art and what misfortunes thou hast suffered."

Odysseus followed the swineherd into the cabin. Eumaios threw an armful of rushes on the floor and covered it with a rug of goat-skin and bade his guest be seated.

Odysseus was gratified at this kind reception, and said to the swineherd: "May Zeus and all the other immortal gods give thee, my host, all the good of earth for thy hospitality."

The good swineherd answered him: "My guest, I should consider it a great sin not to receive a stranger hospitably, even if he looked more miserable than thou. Strangers and beggars are children of Zeus. The hospitality I can extend to thee is slight but sincere, for servants have little to offer, especially when, like me, they have new masters. Odysseus loved me much. Would that the gods might send him back to us. He would have paid me for my toil. He would have given me a home, a little land, and a wife. But he is dead. May the whole race of Helen be destroyed, for it was she who brought noble men to destruction."

The swineherd drew his belt around him and hastened to the pen where the pigs were shut up. He seized two little pigs and slew them and roasted them on a spit over the fire. He sprinkled salt over the savory meat and brought it to Odysseus. And he brought delicate wine in a wooden cup, as well.

Then he said: "Eat, stranger, for this is the best I have to give. The suitors, who fear neither god nor man, eat the fat hogs. They gorge themselves with the costliest food in the house, both wine and meat, and only these little lean porkers are left for us. Yet there is still an abundance, for my master was very rich. He had twelve herds of horned cattle and as many swine on the mainland, and twelve flocks of sheep and goats. Here, on the island, graze eleven flocks of goats, tended by as many trusty herdsmen, each of whom has to send a fattened goat for the table of the suitors every day. As for myself, I take care of these swine, and each day I choose the best to send to the city."

Odysseus ate the flesh and drank the wine while Eumaios was telling him these things, and could hardly keep from giving vent to his anger. But he kept silence and meditated vengeance on the suitors. When the meal was done he said: "Tell me, I pray thee, all about thy rich and kind master. Thou didst say that he went out with Agamemnon to fight the Trojans. Perhaps I know him and can give thee some information concerning him."

The noble swineherd answered: "Be silent, aged man, for we have ceased to believe the tales told us by wanderers. Every beggar who comes this way calls on my mistress and tells her falsehoods about seeing Odysseus, and tries to make her think that he will come home in a short time. Then she treats him kindly and loads him with gifts.

"How shall we know but thou dost make up just such a story in order to receive a tunic and a mantle? It is a fact that my master does not return. Who knows on what spot of the earth his bones are mouldering, or what dogs and birds have devoured him? I shall never cease to grieve for him. He loved me as he would have loved a son. I shall never find such a kind master again. Even my father and mother were not so good to me. Although he will never be with us any more, I keep on doing his will."

THE SWINEHERD TELLING HIS STORY TO ODYSSEUS THE SWINEHERD TELLING HIS STORY TO ODYSSEUS Odysseus replied: "Thou dost see that I am half naked for want of clothing, but I will never take a reward, even though I am in rags, until Odysseus is really here. I hate the wretch who tells lies to enrich himself as I hate death. I call Zeus to witness, and this hospitable board and the hearth of Odysseus, that what I tell thee will come true. Odysseus will be here at the end of this month, and he will be avenged on those men who have robbed him and insulted his wife and son."

"And yet I will not give thee any reward for thy news, old man," said Eumaios, "for Odysseus is dead. He will never come again. Drink in peace and let us talk of other things. Do not take this great oath, as much as we wish—Laertes, Penelope, Telemachos, and I—that Odysseus might come. But now, as if we had not troubles enough, a new one has come upon us. I know not what evil demon put it into the mind of Telemachos to go to Sparta to inquire about his father. And the ungodly suitors have sent out a ship to watch for him, and kill him on his return. We shall lose him, too, if Zeus does not hold a protecting hand over him.

"But tell me, dear old man, from what country dost thou come? Who are thy parents? Tell me of thy toils and sufferings."

The time had not yet come when Odysseus thought it best to reveal himself. He wanted to stay with the swineherd until his son should return, and he had had the opportunity of making the best plan for ridding his house of the suitors. So he told the swineherd a long string of stories. He said he was a son of the King of Crete; that he went to Troy, where he met Odysseus and fought by his side. Returning, he wandered about, and, after many adventures, met Odysseus again getting ready to return to Ithaca. As for himself, he had been robbed even to his clothing and cast on this island.

He told the tale so well that the swineherd believed him, and even killed a fat hog in his honor. And he made him welcome to his lodge and prepared a good bed for him near the fire, and covered him with goat-skins. The night was cold and damp, and a cutting wind was blowing outside. The other servants lay down near Odysseus to sleep, but Eumaios took a sharp sword and thick mantle and went out near the pens to watch the swine all night. Odysseus saw with gratitude how faithfully this servant attended to his duty.



At the time when Odysseus was wrecked, after his comrades had eaten of the cattle of Helios, and he was cast up on to the island of Calypso, Athena prayed to Zeus, her mighty sire, that he might be restored to Ithaca, his native land. She prayed that Hermes, the messenger of the gods, might be sent to Calypso with the express command that she should send Odysseus home. Zeus smiled and granted the request.

Then Athena tied golden sandals under her feet and taking a long, heavy spear, she rushed like a whirlwind down from the heights of Olympos and stood at the doorway of Odysseus' house, among the men of Ithaca. She found the haughty suitors assembled there eating and drinking.

Telemachos saw the goddess before anyone else. She was disguised to resemble Mentor, a wise chief who had led the Taphians in the Trojan war. Telemachos rose at once, like a gracious host, and took the right hand of the stranger and gave him a hearty welcome. Athena saw with anger how the ungodly wooers ate and drank and rioted gluttonously, while the servants of Telemachos were obliged to administer to their wants. Some of them were kept mixing the wines and water in large craters; others had to clear and clean the tables, and others again prepared and carved the meats and carried them round to the suitors.

Telemachos led the stranger away from this noisy hall, that he might not be annoyed by their boisterous behavior. He bade him sit down on a throne, and placed a foot-stool under his feet. Then he drew his own chair from among the suitors and sat near the stranger, hoping to hear news of his absent father. A maid brought a silver pitcher and basin and let the stranger wash his hands. A table was placed before him, laden with the choicest viands, while a herald filled a goblet with wine for him. When they had enjoyed their meal, Telemachos asked the stranger his name and country.

"I am Mentor, son of the Taphian King," said Athena. "I came here in my ship with a crew of friends, on a journey to the Isle of Cyprus, in search of copper, and I brought iron to give in exchange. I am an old friend of Odysseus. I have left my ship in the bay, back of the forest. Laertes will tell thee who I am. It is said that he does not come to the palace any more, but lives alone in the country, mourning over the loss of his son day and night. It seems that the gods have long delayed Odysseus. Who knows where he is? I am sure that he is not dead. And now tell me, what feast is going on here, and who are these men? Are they invited guests? Is it a banquet I see, or is there to be a wedding? It is not a pleasant sight in any case, for the men are coarse in their actions and ungodly in their speech. Every friend of Odysseus must feel sad to see them in this place."

"As long as my father was here," answered Telemachos, "our house was respectable and rich. But the gods have forsaken us, and we are destined to destruction. No news of my father's death has ever reached us; nevertheless, all the young men of the first families of Ithaca and the surrounding isles flock to our house and seek my mother for a wife and squander my father's riches. My mother does not favor the idea of another marriage, and has not promised herself to any of the suitors. She fears them, and so she does not reject their suits, yet she will not end the trouble by marrying one of them. They will not go away, but make themselves at home here and eat up my inheritance. They only want a favorable opportunity to kill me."

Athena grew angry at this, and said: "I would that Odysseus might come this very moment to chastise these atrocious fellows. Woe to them if he should appear at the door with his helmet and shield and two tough spears, just as he looked when I first beheld him in my own home. Then these suitors would find a bitter marriage-feast and a speedy end. Vengeance, however, rests with the gods.

"Now, let me consider the best way to get these suitors out of the house. As an old friend of thy father, let me advise thee. To-morrow call thy people together in council and tell the suitors to depart. If thy mother has any inclination to wed again, send her to her father's house. He is rich and powerful, and can give her a splendid wedding, such as is suitable for the daughter of a king, and bestow an ample dower.

"Then launch thy finest ship. Man it with twenty good oarsmen and put out to sea in search of thy father. Sail to Pylos first and consult with Nestor, and go to Sparta next and see Menelaos, who has returned from Troy recently. Stay with him awhile if he can assure thee that thy father lives. But if he tells thee that thy father is surely dead, return as quickly as possible and build a mound to him, and cause the altar to be piled high with sacrifices and the funeral games to take place. Then let thy mother marry again.

"Thou art no longer a child, and it is not seemly to allow such indignities. Be brave and act without fear, that men may honor thee. When thou hast performed these deeds, let thy care be to drive out the suitors. But now I must return to my ship, for my companions will be uneasy over my long absence."

"Thou hast spoken to me as a father speaks to a son," answered Telemachos. "I shall bear thy words in mind. And now I pray thee stay awhile to rest and bathe. I cannot let thee go to thy ship without some handsome gift, such as one always bestows upon an honored guest."

"Telemachos, do not detain me longer," replied Athena. "I must depart at once. Keep thy gift until I return, and then I will take it to my home." She vanished as she spoke, and all that Telemachos saw was a fleet-winged bird flying upward high in the air. Telemachos was astonished, and knew that he had been talking face to face with some deity. He thought over all that the goddess had told him, and resolved to do exactly as he had been instructed.


The feast continued. The wooers ate and drank but were silent, for an illustrious bard was singing to them of the Trojan war. Telemachos walked forth in the midst of them, his heart inspired with courage. Penelope had heard the song as she sat in her chamber over the hall, and she came down the lofty stairway attended by two maids. She implored the bard, with tears to change the song, since it was the one most sacred to her and made her sad.

Then said Telemachos: "My mother, let thy heart be strong to bear this song which all men love. The bard must sing the song with which he is inspired. Retire now, I pray thee, to thy room, and take thy maids with thee. There teach them to spin and weave—a task meet for a princess. But leave to me the ordering of the feast and the care of the suitors. Such a duty belongs to a man, and the authority is mine." Penelope was amazed at his words. She withdrew to her own rooms with her attendants and wept and mourned for her absent lord until she fell asleep.

When the minstrel had finished his song, the suitors began to be noisy and riotous again. Telemachos could no longer restrain himself. "Ye insolent suitors of my mother," he said to them, "cease your uproar. Your lawlessness knows no bounds. To-morrow I will call a general assembly of all the Ithacans and warn you to depart. If ye remain in my house wasting my goods and eating food that is not your own I will call down vengeance from the gods, and ye shall die in this very palace."

The suitors were astonished at his courage and his words. He had never before spoken out with authority. Antinoös and Eurymachos, the most insolent of them, began to ridicule him and excite the others to make fun of him. And they asked Telemachos what guest he had been entertaining so secretly and what news he had brought from his father. The suitors danced and sang, eating and drinking, until evening, before they went home.

Telemachos then sought his own couch. His old nurse, Eurycleia, led the way with two torches. She had been a faithful servant since Laertes, in his early manhood, had bought her for the price of a hundred oxen.

Telemachos sat down on his bed, and removing his tunic handed it to the nurse, who folded it and smoothed it and hung it up. He lay down and covered himself with soft fleeces, while Eurycleia went out and carefully locked the door. But sleep did not come to him. All night he thought of what the coming day would bring.


The next morning, at dawn of day, Telemachos rose from his bed and put on his garments. He hung his sword over his shoulder and fastened his sandals on his feet and strode bravely forth. He summoned his heralds at once and bade them call a council of the Ithacans. The people came at the appointed time, and Telemachos, sceptre in hand, took his place before the assembly and called it to order.

"I have not summoned you, my friends," he said, "in order that ye may see some entertaining show, but out of dire necessity. I bring no news of war and I have nothing to say that concerns the public good. You all know the grief which has befallen me on account of my father, your king and leader, who loved you as a parent loves his children. But Odysseus is gone and there is no hope of his return. This misfortune is not enough, for every day the young men of the leading families of Ithaca and the surrounding isles meet in my house and vex my mother with unseemly and importunate offers of marriage.

"There they are now installed, eating our food, drinking our wine, and wasting our money, for Odysseus is not here to drive them out. I have no way of expelling them from my home. My friends, consider these wrongs and help me to drive these robbers from the house of your king. It would be a shame to the people of Ithaca if it were noised around that they left the son of their chief in the hands of plunderers without giving him help."

Thus spoke Telemachos, the tears running down his cheeks, and he threw the sceptre on the ground. The people were greatly moved, and felt pity for the youth who had to suffer such wrongs, but they were silent. Only Antinoös, the most insolent of the suitors, took up the word and said: "Shameless Telemachos, how dost thou dare to chide us for this state of things! Thy mother is the one to blame. She has been leading us on for three whole years. She is skilful and crafty. She promised, three years ago, to choose one of us for a husband as soon as she should finish the winding-sheets for old Laertes in case of his death.

"Then she began to weave upon her loom a dainty web of vast length and width. And she said to each one of us: 'Do not urge me to marry, I pray, until I finish these shrouds for the hero Laertes, when his hour of death shall come. I have spun an abundance of fine thread, and it must not be wasted. Besides that, the dames of Greece would speak ill of me if I should leave my husband's father without a shroud, for he has had great wealth all his life.' In this way Penelope gave us hope, and we were too generous to persist in forcing her to choose at once.

"She went on in this way, weaving the great web by day, and every night she unravelled by torchlight all that she had woven by sunlight. She has deceived us long enough. We have discovered her fraud; for a woman who has seen her unravelling the web has told us all about it. She must finish the work and make her choice among her suitors. If thou dost wish us to leave thy house, thou shalt send thy mother to her parents and let her father command her to marry one of us, according to her choice. When this is done no one will disturb thee any longer.

"If, however, Penelope prefers to treat the noble sons of Greece with such malice and craft, we will go right on consuming thy goods. She will thus make a great name for herself, but she will impoverish thee."

"I shall never send my mother away from her husband's house," rejoined Telemachos. "Living or dead, my father is in distant lands, and if I should dismiss his wife of my own will, I should invite the hatred of the gods on my guilty head. She would call upon the Furies to haunt me; all men would curse me; and her father would demand ample satisfaction of me. I will never speak the word to send her forth. Now, get you gone and cease squandering my riches or I will call down the wrath of the gods on you."

Having said this, Telemachos sat down, and Zeus sent two eagles flying over the heads of the wooers, close to each other. They looked down upon the crowd of people and tore each other's heads and vanished. The Ithacans saw the deadly omen, and a venerable prophet among them stood up and said: "Noble youths, I advise you seriously to depart from this royal house, for this is a sign that Odysseus is coming home. Woe to you if he finds you in his palace. You will all meet a direful end."

Eurymachos answered him: "Old man, keep thy advice and thy forebodings for thine own children. We do not need them. Advise Telemachos to change his mind and send his mother home to her father, instead of prating foolishly to us. As long as he keeps her here we shall continue to consume his wealth, until he has nothing left. And we will punish thee severely if thou dost incite this young man to violence."

Telemachos, thinking it best to be discreet, replied: "Now hear me, Eurymachos, and all ye suitors. Give me a good ship and twenty men, that I may go from land to land in search of my father. If I find that he lives and may return, I will wait one year longer for him to reach home. But if I hear that he is not alive, I will come back and build a mound to his memory and give him a funeral worthy of such a king. Then shall my mother make her choice and wed."

Mentor, the stanch friend and adviser of Odysseus, sat among the Ithacans in the assembly. When he saw how Telemachos was put to shame, he grew angry. He rose to his feet, and addressed the people: "No king ever again should be wise and good. He should be hard and unjust, since no one of you has enough love for Odysseus to stand by his son. I am less ashamed of the impudent suitors, than I am of the weaklings who see what they are doing and who dare not interfere."

"Foolish old Mentor," said one of the suitors, "what art thou saying! If Odysseus, himself, should come hither, he would not be able to drive us out. If anyone thinks himself strong enough to do it, let him try it. Ye Ithacans disperse to your homes, and leave Mentor to provide the boy with a ship." So saying he dispersed the crowd, and the wooers all went into the palace to continue their revelry.


Telemachos left the assembly and went down to the sea-shore alone, and washing his hands in the surf called on the goddess who had appeared to him the day before to come to his assistance. At once Athena stood by his side in the guise and with the voice of Mentor. She urged him to hasten his journey. Telemachos took new courage, and returned at once to his house where he found his old nurse, Eurycleia, alone. He revealed to her his intention, and asked her to assist him in getting everything ready for the journey. He bade her draw twelve jars of the best wine, and twelve skins of the finest meal to put aboard the ship.

When the old nurse heard this she wept and beat her breast. "Dear child," she said, "who has put such a thought into thy mind? Why shouldst thou, an only son and well beloved, wander off to a distant land? Be warned by what thy father had to suffer because he left his own country. The suitors will plot to kill thee and divide thy wealth. Stay here, at home; there is no need that thou shouldst venture over the fearful sea."

Telemachos answered her: "Take courage, my good nurse; this journey is advised of a god. Do not let my mother know of my departure for eleven or twelve days, lest she weep and mourn."

The nurse promised most solemnly that she would keep his secret and execute his orders. She drew the wine into the jars and filled the strong skins with meal. Meantime, Athena, blue-eyed goddess, taking the form of Telemachos, went through the city and urged the men to repair to the ships at sundown, for she had chosen the best boats in Ithaca for the youth, and found for him a crew that was glad to serve him.

Then the blue-eyed maid went to the palace and poured sleep upon the eyelids of the drunken suitors. They gladly sought their beds in their own homes. Taking the form of Mentor, she next appeared to Telemachos and bade him follow her to the beach. When they reached the galley, he found his comrades waiting. They hurried up to the palace for the wine and meal, which they soon brought to the ship and stored in the hold. Then the crew slipped the cables which held the ship to the shore. Athena took her seat at the stern and Telemachos sat near her. The sails were spread and the sailors began to ply their oars. Athena raised a favorable breeze and the vessel glided forward cutting her way through the roaring waters.


At sunrise the ship arrived at Pylos. The people of that town were all assembled on the shore, where they were sacrificing coal-black oxen to Poseidon. Some were burning fat upon the altar, and others were distributing food among those who were offering up the sacrifices, while all were eating.

The Ithacans touched land. Telemachos and Athena disembarked, leaving the crew to guard the ship, and went up to the crowd. On the way Athena cheered Telemachos and advised him what to say to the people. When they had come near enough to the inhabitants to be seen by them, the people rose and came to meet the strangers. First of all, the son of Nestor, Peisistratos, approached and took each of them by the hand and led them to the feast. He bade them be seated near his father and brought them the choicest meat.

After the strangers had eaten, Peisistratos filled a golden goblet with wine, and handed it to Mentor, as the elder. Mentor was pleased with the young man's good breeding and he took the goblet and poured out a part of it on the ground as a sacrifice to Poseidon, with a prayer for a safe return. Then he handed the goblet to Telemachos, and he did likewise.

When the feast was over, Nestor, the King of Pylos, said to his guests: "The time has come, dear strangers, when it is fitting to ask your names, and from what land you come. Do you roam the seas as pirates, or do you come on an errand?"

"We are Greeks," said Telemachos. "We come from Ithaca to seek tidings of my father, the unfortunate Odysseus, who went to war against Troy with thee and the other Greek chiefs. We have never heard anything of him during all these long years and do not know whether he is living or dead. I pray thee tell me anything thou may'st know about him, and conceal nothing."

"My son," Nestor replied, "thou dost call to mind the great sufferings borne by the men of Greece ere we succeeded in conquering Priam's town. It would take years to tell thee of the brave deeds of the Greeks, how they fought and where they fell. We passed nine years in worrying the enemy, and there was no man who gave better counsel or performed nobler deeds than did Odysseus. Art thou then his son? I look on thee in wonder. Yes, thou art like him. How strange to hear so young a man speak as he did!

"After the destruction of Troy, the surviving Greeks embarked, and we set out for home. But when we reached Tenedos, thy father returned to Troy to join Agamemnon and the others, who had stayed behind, to appease the wrath of Athena, for a Greek had committed sacrilege in her temple.

"Our voyage was prosperous, and we all reached home except Menelaos, who wandered about in Crete and Egypt for a long time. It is said that the noble son of Achilles returned home safely, and that Agamemnon was slain in his own house, and his son took vengeance on his murderers. There is a rumor, too, that many suitors hang about thy mother, and, in spite of thy remonstrances, consume thy riches. Be brave, my son, and yield not. Odysseus may come again. Go at once to Menelaos, for he may have news of thy father. I will give thee swift horses and a chariot, and my sons will drive."

All day Telemachos discoursed with Nestor, and when the sun went down, they poured wine on the earth and burned an offering to the gods. Telemachos and Mentor arose to retire to their ship, but Nestor begged them to be his guests and go to the royal palace. Mentor, as the elder of the two, excused himself, in order to join the crew, and suddenly disappeared. Nestor recognized that Telemachos was attended by the goddess, and offered a prayer to her. The assembly dispersed, and Nestor, with his guest and his sons, retired to his palace.


Before the sun was fairly up, they all arose and seated themselves on the smooth stone benches that loomed up in the gloaming, white and shining, before the gates of the palace. Nestor bade one of his sons to prepare an offering to Athena, of the best heifer in the fields. He sent another son to call a skilled workman to plate the heifer's horns with gold, and two others yet to bring the crew from the ship. He told the remaining two sons to bid the maids prepare a sumptuous feast in honor of their guest.

In a moment there was a busy scene. The heifer was brought up from the fields, and her horns were adorned with pure gold in hopes that Athena would see it and be pleased. The sailors came from the ship, except two who were left as guards. The heifer was slain and parts were burned as an offering to the goddess, and cakes and wine also were thrown into the flames to complete the sacrifice. They roasted the flesh on long iron forks with five prongs, and feasted upon it.

Then Nestor said to his sons: "Bring now the chariot and horses and let our guest depart in search of news concerning his renowned father." The horses were soon harnessed to the car, which was stored with wine and bread and dainties fit for a prince. Telemachos climbed into the seat. Peisistratos took his place beside him and grasped the reins. The horses dashed off in high spirit, and Pylos was soon left in the distance. All day the horses sped along. At night they rested by the way and early the next morning went on again as swiftly as before. As the sun went down they found themselves in Sparta, the land of plenty, and at the gates of Menelaos, the king.

Here they found many guests assembled at the wedding banquet of Hermione, the daughter of Menelaos. That day she had been given as a bride to Neoptolemos, the son of Achilles. A minstrel was playing a harp and singing, while two dancers performed graceful feats to give life to the feast.

One of the attendants of Menelaos saw the strangers drive up, and stepped out to see who was coming. Then he hastened back to Menelaos and told him that two strangers of princely bearing were at the palace gate, and asked if he should unharness their horses or send them on their way. Menelaos was vexed that any of his servants should be so lax in hospitality, and told him he had acted like a foolish child, and reminded him of the gifts that had been showered on them when they wandered so long in foreign lands. And he bade him hasten to unharness the steeds, and give them oats and barley, and bid the strangers welcome to the feast.

Telemachos and Peisistratos were amazed at the beauty of the palace. They bathed in the marble baths, rubbed themselves with oil and put on the splendid tunics that were brought them. After that they entered the great hall, where each was seated on a throne near the king. A handmaid brought a golden pitcher and a silver bowl for their hands, and a table was placed before them laden with choice food. When they had eaten enough, golden beakers of wine were handed them, and then the monarch gave his hand to each of them, saying: "Ye have come in good time, my friends. As soon as ye have finished your feast, I will ask your names and whence ye come, for ye look like sons of kings."

As they sat there Telemachos, bending his head toward Peisistratos, said, in a low tone, so that he thought no one else would hear: "Surely, O son of Nestor, the Olympian home of Zeus himself could not be more glorious than this palace. See the gold and ivory, and shining brass. These things are beyond price in richness." Menelaos caught the words, although he spoke so low, and said: "My sons, there is no palace that can compare with the home of the gods. The riches which you look at in astonishment I collected while wandering in Egypt and in Crete. I find no pleasure in them, however, for I found my brother, King Agamemnon slain when I reached home. Would that the men who fought before Troy had their share of this wealth! I often weep and mourn for them in my palace, and am unable to eat or sleep on account of the misery I have brought upon my friends.

"For none of them do I mourn so much as I do for Odysseus, who suffered the most of all on my behalf. I would gladly give all my wealth, if I only knew him to be safe. But we do not know whether he is dead or living. How much his old father must have grieved for him. How many tears his wife, Penelope, must have shed, and his high-minded son, Telemachos, what sorrow he has suffered."

New despair filled the heart of Telemachos, and tears fell from his eyes. He held his purple mantle to hide his grief and wept in silence. When Menelaos saw this, he at once suspected that the young man was no other than the sorrowing son of Odysseus, and he felt perplexed for want of suitable words. He could not decide whether to question him about his father, or to wait and let the youth speak out of his own will.

Just then Helen entered the hall from her high-roofed chamber, looking like a goddess in her dazzling beauty. She sat down at her husband's feet, while servants ran to bring the mat which she was weaving and the distaff filled with fine-spun purple thread. Her fingers flew over the dainty work while she questioned the king: "Didst thou ask the strangers their names? It is not possible that there can be any man so like to Odysseus except his son, as is this youth! I see him with astonishment. His father left him at home a little babe, when the Greeks went forth to war for my sake. Is it not true that this is Telemachos?"

Menelaos replied: "My wife, I think thou hast spoken truly. The young man has the hands, the feet, and the features of Odysseus, and he cannot hide his grief at the mention of that hero's name." Peisistratos took up the word and said: "He is, indeed, the son of Odysseus, O king! My father, Nestor, sent me with him to inquire what you might know of the long-lost chieftain, and to beg you to give him advice, for he has to suffer great wrongs in his house and there is no one to assist him."

Menelaos was heartily glad to hear that his guest was really Telemachos. But the remembrance of his old friend overcame him and he wept bitter tears. "I thought when I was in Troy," he said, "that I should one day welcome Odysseus to my home. I would have given him land and cities and brought to Sparta all his people and his wealth. Then we would always have lived close together and nothing could have parted us. But he has never returned." The tears fell from his eyes and Helen wept as well. Peisistratos then said to Menelaos: "Son of Atreus, my father says that thou art good and wise. Let us not, I entreat, continue this sad discourse, since this is a day that should not be given to lamentations. I lost a brother, also, at Troy. But we will honor these heroes at a proper time, with tears and by cutting off our locks. Let us not spoil the feast with mourning."

They spent the rest of the day in making the festival as cheerful as if there were no grief to be hidden, and when night came the Argive Helen ordered the servants to prepare beds for them in the portico and cover them with tapestries, while she poured for them a soothing wine and dismissed them to their slumbers. The heralds led them to their couches, where they found a welcome rest.


The next morning Menelaos rose from his couch very early, put on his garments, hung his sword over his shoulder, laced his sandals, and went into his hall looking like a god. He sat down near Telemachos, and asked him to tell him frankly why he had come to Sparta.

Telemachos then told him of the evil deeds of the suitors, and besought him to give him every possible clew to his father's whereabouts. Menelaos was indignant over the young man's wrongs.

"Shame on the cowards who wish to rule over thy father's house," he said. "Let Odysseus return and he will tear them to pieces as a lion tears a young deer. Grant, O father Zeus, and Athena, and Apollo, that Odysseus may yet give those ungodly suitors a bitter wedding feast. But I will tell thee of my travels and what was told me by the Ancient Spirit of the sea.

"It happened that the gods detained me many days in Egypt to sacrifice and do penance, for I had forgotten to make proper offerings to them. The island of Pharos lies just off the coast of Egypt. There I remained until the daughter of the Ancient Sea King, seeing my distress, came to my rescue.

"My men and I had wandered over the island in search of food until we were nearly starved, when she discovered us, and told us that our efforts would be useless unless we consulted with her father. 'If thou canst ensnare him and hold him in thy grasp,' she said, 'he will tell thee how to reach thy home. He is a seer, and can tell thee all that has taken place there during thy absence. At noon-tide he comes out from the ocean caves covered with brine, and lies down among the sea-calves, rank with the smell of salt. He counts them five at a time, and then he stretches himself out among them and goes to sleep. He is very shrewd, and when thou hast caught him he will struggle and take all sorts of forms to escape thee. He will turn into a reptile, and into fire and then will change to water. But hold him fast, and when he looks as he did when first perceived by thee, ask him how to find thy home.'

"The next morning, I sought the aged sea-god as I had been bidden. I took three old comrades whom I knew to be trusty, and we went down into the depths of the sea. The goddess brought us four fresh hides that had just been taken from sea-calves newly slaughtered, and we dressed ourselves in them to deceive her father. She scooped out places for us to lie in on the sands and we waited for him to come. The smell was sickening and beyond endurance, so the goddess put ambrosia under our noses. When the sun was highest in the heavens, the sea-calves came in groups and ranged themselves around in rows on the sand. The old seer came out and counted all, and did not notice our fraud. Then he lay down to sleep. At once, we rushed upon him and caught him. He began to take all kinds of shapes. First, he was a lion; then a serpent, a panther, a boar, a fountain of water, and a tree. We held on until he was tired of trying to escape.

"At last he took his proper form, and began to question me. 'Son of Atreus,' he said, 'who hath taught thee how to make me a prisoner? What is it thou wouldst know?' 'Tell me what god is angry with me, O Proteus,' I replied. 'Why am I detained on this island? Why can I not reach my home?' 'Thou didst not make acceptable sacrifices to Zeus,' said Proteus. 'And thou wilt never see thy home again until thou hast offered up a hundred oxen to the immortal gods.'

"'I will perform that rite speedily, oh prophet,' I replied. 'But tell me about my comrades in the Trojan war. Did they reach home in safety?'

"Then Proteus told me all; how Ajax died amid his ships; how Agamemnon was slain in his own hall; and of Laertes' son he said that he had seen him sitting in a grotto on Calypso's Isle. There upon the rocks or at the ocean-side he weeps and mourns day after day, and gazes out upon the deep. His comrades are lost, and he has no ship with which to return to Ithaca. And after he had spoken he plunged into the sea while I returned to my ships, offered up the hundred oxen to Zeus and sailed for home. And now, Telemachos, I pray thee remain awhile with me, and I will dismiss thee with a chariot and swift horses, and a cup of priceless worth with which to pour libations to the gods."

Telemachos took new courage when he heard that his father still lived, and begged that he might go back at once to Pylos to join his crew. In a moment all were busy in the palace of Menelaos preparing gifts and a feast that the youths might depart on the morrow.


One day while Telemachos was in Sparta, the guest of Menelaos, the suitors were more riotous than usual. They diverted themselves in the palace of Odysseus by throwing the discus and javelin. Only Antinoös and the handsome Eurymachos kept apart from them. Then Noëmon, who had given Telemachos his ship a few days before, approached them and said: "Antinoös, I would gladly know when Telemachos will return from Pylos. I lent him my ship, and I need it for I intend to go to Elis, where I have business."

The suitors were completely taken by surprise, for they had not heard that Telemachos had gone to Pylos. They thought that he was out at the farm with his swineherd. Antinoös asked: "When did Telemachos sail, and what crew did he take? Did he use force in getting thy ship or didst thou lend it willingly?"

"He was welcome to the ship," replied Noëmon. "Who would not have done such a service to a man who has had so much to endure? The young men who went with him belong to the best families of Ithaca." Noëmon could not get any news of Telemachos, so he went home; but the suitors conspired to kill Telemachos. They decided that Antinoös should man a ship with a crew of twenty men, and lie in ambush in the waters near Ithaca, in order that they might catch Telemachos, on his return.

This wicked plot of the suitors was betrayed to the queen, by her faithful herald, Medon. Penelope was overcome with grief, and wept bitterly, and her loyal attendants mourned with her. "What new grief is this which befalls me now?" she said. "Is it not enough that death has robbed me of my husband? Am I also to lose my only child, without even having seen him before his departure? Alas! why did no one tell me he was going, that I might have prevented his journey? Haste ye to Laertes and tell him what has happened, that he may make some plan to upset this plot to destroy his heir, the son of Odysseus."

Then Eurycleia, the nurse, tried to console her with these soothing words: "My daughter, I will not hide the truth from thee any longer. I gave Telemachos a generous supply of food and wine, all that he could use on his journey. And I promised him solemnly that I would not tell thee of his departure, since he had a great dread that thou wouldst weep and mourn, and spoil thy lovely face and injure thy health. Now dry thy tears and bathe, and put on fresh robes. Then go to thine altar in the upper chamber with thy maids. There pray to Athena and burn incense to her. Do not alarm good old Laertes needlessly."

Penelope followed the old nurse's advice. She went to the altar, at the highest part of the house, and there she prayed to Athena: "Hear me, daughter of Zeus! If ever my beloved husband has sacrificed to thee the fat limbs of oxen or sheep, and has built thee altars, save my son, Telemachos, and destroy the suitors, who fain would destroy him." The goddess heard her prayer, and sent sweet slumber and a pleasant dream to assuage her grief. In her sleep she saw her sister, who said to her: "Be of good cheer, Penelope; no harm will come to thy son, for a god goes with him." To her, the wise Penelope, yet dreaming, answered: "My sister, why is it thou hast never come to me before? Thy home is far away. I weep because I have lost my noble husband, and now his enemies conspire to slay my only son." The dream replied: "Take heart. Do not fear. Athena sent me to tell thee that she will protect thy son."

"Oh, tell me," cried the queen, in her dreams, "tell me if my husband lives, since thou art sent by a goddess." But the shadow vanished through the closed door, and mingled with the air. Penelope awoke with a glad heart, cheered by the prophetic dream.

In the meantime the suitors spoke among themselves, for they were too foolish to understand the spirit of the queen. "Surely," they said, "Penelope is making ready for her wedding. She does not suspect that we have planned to kill her son." "Do not deceive yourselves, my friends," said Antinoös. "Be silent and act." Then he chose twenty men, and they went down to a well-fitted ship, and took their places at the oars. They waited until it was dark, when they quietly rowed out into a narrow strait, through which, they thought, Telemachos was sure to sail on his return, and there they waited.


Having encouraged Penelope, the goddess Athena sped to Sparta, where she found Telemachos, with Nestor's son, asleep upon the porch. She stood beside his bed, and warned him that he ought to return home, since Penelope's father had given her counsel to wed the richest of the suitors, and had promised a generous dower. "Do not delay," the goddess said to him; "no one can tell what a woman will do to help the man she is to marry.

"And also beware of the suitors, whom thou hast offended. They lie in wait in the narrow passage between Samos and Ithaca. They hope to catch thee on thy way home and slay thee. Do not go that way. Sail only when it is dark. A god will watch over thee. When thou dost come to the first harbor in Ithaca, disembark, and let thy crew go on in the ship and take it back to the town. But thou shalt make thy way to the hut of thy loyal swineherd, and he will take tidings of thy safe return to thy mother."

Athena said this and vanished. Telemachos turned to Peisistratos and said: "Let us arise and set forth on our journey with all haste, oh son of Nestor." But Peisistratos begged him to wait until it was fairly light. Menelaos had slept lightly, he was so agitated with the great event of seeing his beloved comrade's son, and he rose as soon as it was light. Telemachos heard him approaching, and hastily threw on his tunic and cloak and went to meet him.

Telemachos urged a hasty departure and Menelaos did not think it proper to try to detain him. He said: "A host is hateful who is too affectionate. It is as wrong to keep a guest who is in a hurry to go as it is to thrust a stranger out when he wants to stay. Let me bring thee costly gifts, and when thou hast had thy morning meal I will hasten thee on thy way." The car was heaped with gifts, a golden goblet, a silver beaker, a robe that glistened with hand-wrought embroidery, the work of Helen, a goblet of silver with golden lips. Peisistratos gazed with wonder at their beauty as he placed them in the car.

They washed their hands in a silver bowl and ate and drank from the bounty which had been placed before them. Then they mounted the car which had been brought to the palace gates. Nestor's son took the reins, Menelaos poured wine on the ground, an offering to the gods for their safety and prosperity, and off they sped over the plain. Two birds flew on before them, an eagle that had clutched a goose and bore it off in its talons, a sign that Odysseus would come and put an end to the suitors, and this omen cheered Telemachos.

All day the horses bounded on shaking their splendid harness. The son of Nestor plied the lash. At night they rested in a friendly lodge and the second day they reached Pylos. They drove directly to the ship, lest Nestor, in his great love for his guest, should detain him. With an offering and a prayer to Athena he set sail. A prospering breeze swept over the sea and bore them rapidly along. At night Telemachos landed at the nearest port and sent the crew on to take the ship to the town.


When daylight appeared Odysseus and Eumaios rose from their beds and sent the serving men out into the fields with their swine, but they themselves remained at home and prepared breakfast. In a little while they heard footsteps outside. The dogs pricked up their ears and wagged their tails without barking.

Odysseus, perceiving this, said to the swineherd: "There must be some friend of thine coming, since the dogs do not bark." The words had hardly passed his lips when Telemachos entered the hut. Eumaios started to his feet and hastened to welcome his young master. He took him in his arms as a father would a son who had been away a long time, and kissed his face and hands.

Tears dropped from his eyes and he said: "My dear Telemachos, I did not dare to hope ever to behold thee again. Come in that I may rejoice with all my heart at seeing thee once more enter my cabin after thy return from a strange country. Seldom dost thou come to see thy servants, for thou dost live in town, where thou must watch the suitor train consume thy wealth day by day."

To this Telemachos made answer: "This is quite true, my father; but I come here to learn of thee how matters are at the palace. Is my mother there, or has some wooer won her for a bride?"

"Thy mother is still at home," replied the sturdy swineherd. "She has a loyal heart, but she wastes her life in weeping." Saying this he took the lance from the young prince, who had come farther into the cabin. Odysseus arose to give him his seat, but Telemachos said to him: "Keep thy seat, stranger, I will sit elsewhere."

Odysseus sat down again. The swineherd took an armful of twigs and covered it with fleeces, and Telemachos seated himself upon it. Next he brought bread and meat and set them before his young master, who, when he had eaten, asked his faithful servant who the stranger was and whence he came.

"The stranger says that he came from Crete," answered Eumaios. "Lately he has run away from a ship where he was robbed, and has come here. I leave him to thee, however; do with him as thou dost like." "Thy words do not please me, Eumaios," said Telemachos. "How can I receive a stranger in my house, since I cannot protect him there if any of the godless wooers insult him. It would be better for him to stay here; and lest he be a burden to you I will send out food and clothes for him, and I will help him to go wherever he wishes."

To him the sagacious Odysseus replied: "My friend, I hear with grief the story of thy wrongs. Art thou willing to let this go on? If I were as young as thou art I would lose my life before I would suffer such things—thy guests insulted, thy servants beaten, thy riches thrown away, thy food consumed by gluttons."

"Thy words are sharp, dear stranger, and I shall answer them with the truth," said Telemachos. "Thou dost not yet understand that there is a great crowd of suitors; not simply five or ten. What can I do single-handed against such a multitude? But you, Eumaios, hasten to the city, secretly, and tell my mother that I have returned and am staying here. Then come back at once and let no one know where I am, for the lovers are plotting a bloody death for me." The swineherd hastily bound his sandals on to his feet, took his staff, and hurried off.


It was not long after Eumaios had left the cabin when Athena, in the guise of a beautiful woman, appeared to Odysseus and beckoned him to come outside. Telemachos was opposite to her, but he did not see her, for the gods are not visible to all. Only Odysseus and the dogs were conscious of her presence. The dogs did not bark but ran into a corner of the cabin, crouching and whining. Odysseus left the room and stood before the goddess, who spoke to him in these words: "Son of Laertes, of noble birth and great wisdom, make thyself known to thy son. Tell him all the truth. Advise with him how to put an end to that insolent crowd of suitors. I shall never be far from thee myself and will help thee. I long to see them attacked."

When she had finished speaking she touched Odysseus with her golden wand. That touch changed him instantly into a handsome, well-made man in the full vigor of robust manhood. His rags became seemly garments. His cheeks flushed with renewed health and the heavy beard on his chin grew dark again. After the goddess had done this she vanished and Odysseus went back into the lodge. His son glanced at him in amazement and then turned his eyes away from him lest he should irreverently look upon a god.

"Stranger," he said, "I think thou art an immortal whose home is in the heavens, for thou hast been transformed in looks and garb. Let me bring a sacrifice and offer it to thee, together with beautiful gifts, and perhaps thou wilt be gracious to us and keep us from harm."

Odysseus replied: "Nay, I am not a god, nor like the gods. I am thy father, he for whom thou hast mourned and endured so many sufferings." Saying this he kissed his son and wept.

"I pray thee do not deceive me," said Telemachos. "Thou surely art a deity and not my father. No mortal could change from a ragged old beggar to a young and stately man in a moment."

Odysseus answered him: "Telemachos, it is not like a son to gaze upon thy father with astonishment. No other Odysseus will ever come into this cabin. I am thy father. I have wandered twenty years in foreign lands, and now have come to my own home. Thou hast seen a miracle which Athena wrought, for she makes me look like a beggar or a king as she pleases. The gods have all power to put men in high places or to humble them."

Odysseus sat down and his dear son approached him and threw his arms around him in a loving embrace, and together they wept tears of joy. At last Telemachos inquired: "Dear father, in what ship hast thou come, and what sailors brought thee hither? Thou couldst not have come on foot."

"The Phæacians brought me across the sea and left me sleeping on the shore in Ithaca," replied Odysseus. "And they gave me rich presents of gold, and silver, and brass, and embroidered garments hand-woven from their own looms.

"These have I hidden, and Athena has sent me to advise with thee how best to destroy the arrogant crew of suitors that so long has robbed my house and vexed my wife. Tell me now how many there are and what kind of men, so that I can judge whether we two alone may attack them, or whether we need the help of others."

"My father," answered Telemachos, "thy sweet fame has resounded through our halls, my whole life long. How often have I heard of thy courage and the strength of thy powerful arm. But how is it possible for us two to fight against such a multitude? Fifty-two of the wooers come from one town with six servants. Twenty-four come from Samos, and twenty more from Zakynthos, and twelve from Ithaca. If we attack them all I fear that we shall come to grief. It is better for us to look around and find an ally."

Again Odysseus made reply: "Dear son, take courage. Zeus and Athena, most powerful of the gods, are on our side. Early to-morrow thou must go to the city and mingle with the suitors. The swineherd shall lead me disguised as an old beggar to my palace. Keep down thy wrath if the wooers speak insultingly to me. Do not resent it except to administer a gentle reproof, though they strike me with their spears and abuse me with bad language. The day of their death is at hand. When Athena gives me the sign, I will nod to thee and thou shalt remove my weapons from the great hall to an upper room. Tell the suspicious suitors that the arms gather too much dust where they now hang on the walls, and besides that, a god has warned thee that in their drunken brawls, the wooers may harm each other. Let no one know of my arrival, not even Laertes, Eumaios, or my wife, Penelope."

All day the illustrious father and his son conversed and laid their plans. At noon they killed a yearling pig, and roasted it and made a hearty lunch. Once more Athena touched Odysseus with her wand and changed him into a poor old beggar, that Eumaios should not recognize him. At evening the swineherd returned. On entering his cabin he told his young master that the suitors had learned of his safe return to Ithaca. Then he prepared a supper for them, and they ate and drank to their hearts' content, when they retired to rest.


Early the next morning Telemachos rose, tied his shining sandals under his feet, took his spear and stood ready to go to the city. He called the swineherd to him, and said: "Eumaios, I am going back to the town to see my mother. I know that she will not cease to be anxious about me until she sees me in my own home. Take this stranger there, too, where he may beg, and thus supply his wants. I cannot receive every poor man into my own house; my trials are too great. It makes no difference to me whether he likes it or not. I am forced to tell the truth about it."

"My friend," said Odysseus, "I do not care to stay any longer. I think myself it is better for me to go to the city, where a beggar may have a fair chance. I am too old to be of service here. Go thy way, my son, and let thy servant lead me hence, as thou hast commanded. But let me first warm me at the fire, for I am cold and the way is long."

Then Telemachos went out of the lodge and sped toward the city. His old nurse, Eurycleia, was the first to see him, and she ran out to welcome him, and the other servants came around rejoicing. Next came Penelope, as beautiful as Artemis, and threw her arms about her son, and kissed him on his brow and eyes. "Hast thou indeed returned, Telemachos, my son? I never hoped to see thee again. Tell me about thy father. Hast thou any news of him? What has happened? What hast thou seen?" So did the queen greet her son.

"Dear mother, do not waken my grief again," Telemachos replied. "I have barely escaped a cruel death. But go to thy bath and put fresh garments on, and then pray to the gods and promise them great sacrifices if Zeus will avenge our wrongs." Penelope willingly did her son's bidding, but Telemachos betook himself to the market place to show himself to the people.

When Telemachos came into the public square the suitors thronged around him with smooth speeches, but in their hearts they kept on plotting his death. He wanted them to see that he was in Ithaca, but he did not care to be in their company, so he took his place among some friends of his father. One of the crew came up to ask where he might deposit the splendid gifts of Menelaos, and Telemachos told him to hide them until the suitors had been defeated or had won the victory.

Then Telemachos came back to the palace in company with a stranger who had joined his crew at Pylos, and they sat down near the queen, who was spinning. The servants brought them wine and food, and after they had eaten, Penelope begged that her son would recite to her the story of his journey. In the meantime Odysseus and Eumaios had started for the city. When they reached the spring where the citizens of the city went for water, they encountered Melanthios, a goatherd, driving goats into town. Two servants followed, helping him. As soon as he saw Eumaios and his guest, he said: "Look! There is one knave leading another. Verily, the gods bring like and like together. Thou miserable swineherd, whither dost thou take that worthless beggar, this vagabond who rubs his shoulders on every door-post, asking for crusts, eating gluttonously, and telling tales of woe?

"Just hand him over to me to guard my stables and clean my yard, and I will give him whey to drink, which will fatten his limbs. But work does not suit such a fellow. He would rather ramble idly about and beg for food to fill his empty stomach. Let him once come to the palace of Odysseus and the guests that woo the queen will fling footstools at him." With that Melanthios kicked him in the thigh. Odysseus hesitated a moment and considered whether it were better to slay the goatherd with a blow from his staff, or whether he should submit to the indignity in silence. The latter seemed the better course.

But Eumaios grew angry and said: "Melanthios, wait till Odysseus returns. He will give thee thy deserts, thou villain! All day long dost thou loaf in the city, leaving thy master's flocks to take care of themselves." Melanthios answered him: "Just hear what this cur has to say! I shall take him off and sell him for a slave some day. Would that Telemachos might die this moment under the hands of the suitors, and go down to Hades to join his father!" With these words he hurried off to the house of his master where he sat down among the crowd of wooers.


After awhile Odysseus and Eumaios came to the house. As they drew near they waited a little to listen to the music, for a minstrel had begun a song, and while singing he played the lyre. "Surely, Eumaios," said Odysseus, "anyone would know that this is the palace of a king. See how stately the structure is, and how spacious the court beyond the massive gates! And there are walls and towers and countless rooms. No one but Odysseus could have built such a fortress. I hear the sound of the lute and perceive the tempting odor of roasting meat, and there are crowds of guests coming and going. There must be a banquet within."

Eumaios replied: "True, my friend, this is the house of Odysseus. Now, let us consider what we are to do. Shall I take the lead and go in first, or wilt thou go first and let me follow?" Odysseus, the sagacious, made answer: "Go in before me, and I will follow by and by."

They were standing near the stable doors while talking. The filth from the stalls of the mules and oxen had been piled there by slovenly servants, who should have removed it day by day to fertilize the fields. There, on the unwholesome heap, a poor, neglected dog was lying, devoured by noxious insects and vermin. It was Argus, whom Odysseus himself had raised before he went to Troy. In times gone by, the young men of Ithaca had made him most useful in the chase. He had scented the stag, the hare, and the wild goat for them many a time. But now that he was old no one cared for him, and he was left to die.

As soon as he saw Odysseus drawing near he pricked up his ears and wagged his tail. But he had not strength enough to get up and come to his master, although he moved as if he would gladly have done so. Odysseus saw this and burst into tears, but he turned his face away in hopes that Eumaios would not notice it.

But the good swineherd saw it and so Odysseus questioned him: "Eumaios, what dog is this that lies upon this filth? He is well built, and surely is of a fine stock. Is he fleet in the chase or a mere house-dog kept for show?"

"This dog, stranger," answered Eumaios, "belongs to my dear master. If thou hadst only seen him before Odysseus went to Troy thou wouldst have been astonished at his swiftness. He performed wonders in the chase. No wild animal was able to escape him. But his master has died far from home, and the careless servants will not even throw him a bone."

The swineherd passed on into the hall where the suitors sat, but Odysseus stood looking at the faithful beast, the only creature that had recognized him. The joy of seeing his old master was too great, and Argus sank down and died.


Telemachos was the first to notice the swineherd entering the hall, and he made a sign for him to come and sit by him. Presently Odysseus, too, entered in the guise of a forlorn old beggar, and sat down near the door. Telemachos handed Eumaios a whole loaf of bread and as much meat as he could hold in his two hands, and bade him take it to the beggar. And he told him to tell the poor old man to ask a pittance from every suitor present.

Odysseus took the food, and after thanking Telemachos, prayed to the gods to give him everything good. Then he placed his food in a wallet on the ground, and began to eat, while a minstrel entertained the assembly with sweet music. When the bard ceased his singing, the suitors began a noisy conversation, and having a signal from Athena, Odysseus arose and went from one wooer to another asking alms. Each one gave him something, and asked him who he was and whence he came.

Melanthios, the goatherd, and the favorite of Eurymachos, wishing to make mischief, told them that Eumaios had brought the old man along but did not, himself, know who he was. Antinoös hearing this, said: "Eumaios, foolish swineherd, why didst thou bring that vile beggar here? Are there not beggars enough to eat up the wealth of thy master without him?"

Eumaios answered him most courteously: "Antinoös, though thou art high born thou art not well bred. Thou hast always spoken contemptuously to all the servants of Odysseus, but chiefly to me. Beggars come as they like. No one expects to invite them. Only people of rank are invited to a feast. But I heed not thy abuse so long as I can serve the wise Penelope and her powerful son."

Then Telemachos, seeing that a quarrel was brewing, interposed: "Hold thy peace, Eumaios, make no words with Antinoös. He takes delight in ugly words. Nothing pleases him more than to stir up ill-feeling. Surely Antinoös, thou art a father to me when thou dost bid me turn a stranger into the street and insult him. Pray let the old beggar approach thee and receive a pittance, for thou shouldst not feast on the food belonging to others and never bestow any gifts. All the suitors except thyself have given him a dole."

Antinoös made response: "Telemachos, thou boaster, if each suitor would bestow upon him such a gift as I will make, he would not come here again very soon." With that he seized a footstool and held it up where all could see it. The beggar approached him with a pitiful story of wanderings and hardships. Antinoös spurned him saying: "What demon hath brought this chattering beggar to spoil our pleasure? Get thee gone, or thou wilt soon be much the worse for coming. Thou art a bold and impudent old beggar."

Odysseus withdrew, saying as he went: "How strange it is that so fine a form can conceal so foul a mind. Thou wouldst not give even salt to a suppliant, nor a crust of bread from thine own table, without begrudging it. But thou dost feed gluttonously at the table of an absent chief." Antinoös grew more angry, and rejoined: "Thou insolent beggar, thou shalt not leave this hall unpunished." With that he raised the footstool and struck Odysseus on the shoulder. The chief stood like a rock, not in the least disturbed. But he made menacing motions with his head and retired to the door, where he put down his wallet and lifted up his voice to call down vengeance from the gods.

Antinoös spoke again with insulting words, and one of the guests rebuked him. He was so angry, however, that he did not heed it. Telemachos saw the blow, and could hardly restrain his anger. Word was carried to Penelope that a penniless stranger had been insulted and struck in her halls, and she said to her maids: "I would that Apollo with his bow might strike Antinoös down."

Then she called the swineherd to her apartment and said: "Bring the beggar hither. I should like to speak with him. It may be that he has seen Odysseus, for he seems to have wandered far."

The swineherd took the queen's message to the stranger, but he begged that he might not comply with the request until the suitors had left the house. "I knew Odysseus well," he said, "but I dread these violent men. Therefore, ask Penelope to let me wait until sunset when I can sit by the fire and warm myself, and tell her all that she shall inquire."

The queen thought the beggar's answer was a prudent one, and was satisfied. At sundown the swineherd left the palace to return to his hut. The suitors kept up the revel until late in the evening, and then went home leaving Odysseus in his own palace.


After the revellers had left the palace, Odysseus said to his son: "Now is the time to hide all these weapons where the suitors cannot find them, when their hour of need shall come. If they ask for them tell them that the arms were losing their polish in these smoky rooms, and also that the gods had warned thee to remove them since some dispute might arise in which the wooers heated with wine and anger would attack each other."

Telemachos at once obeyed. He called his old nurse to see that the servants were in their own apartments and the doors of the palace made fast while he removed the arms to an upper room. Then he retired to rest, leaving Odysseus sitting by the hearth in the large dining-hall awaiting the arrival of Penelope. She was not long in coming. Her maids placed a chair, inlaid with silver and ivory, for her near the fire, and threw a large woolly rug before it for her feet.

The queen, stately as a goddess, took her seat there while her maids carried away the dishes and food left by the suitors. They heaped great logs on the fire. Then Melantho, an impudent maid, said to Odysseus: "Art thou here, thou beggar! Begone, or I will take a firebrand and drive thee out!" Odysseus rejoined: "Such is the fate of beggars. They must wander far and take abuse. It is true that I am ragged, but I am not unclean. Once I was rich and had my own palace. I often gave to beggars and I had many servants. But it pleased the gods to make me poor. Thou pert woman, surely the queen, Penelope, never taught thee, and thy bad conduct will not escape the eye of Telemachos."

Penelope saw and heard all this and the high-breeding of the beggar did not escape her keen notice. She turned to the saucy maid and said: "Shame on thee, thou bold creature. Thou dost know full well that this stranger has remained here at my own request, that I might inquire if he knows aught of my husband."

Then the queen asked her matron to spread a rug for the poor old man. Odysseus sat down and Penelope began to question him. "Who art thou, stranger?" she asked. "Where is thy home? Whence hast thou come?" Odysseus answered her: "My gracious queen, I am the son of a king and I come from Crete. I am a man of sorrows and have wandered far. But do not ask me of these things, for I do not wish to lament over unhappy days.

"Strong ties of friendship bind me to Odysseus. Twenty years ago, when he went to Troy, I received him as a guest in my house, because contrary winds and a stormy sea had thrown him upon my island. I led him to my palace and gave him the best of food and wine. Twelve days he remained with me, both himself and his companions. On the thirteenth a favorable wind arose and they went on to Troy."

Odysseus kept on inventing one tale after another, such as might seem probable, and the tears rolled down Penelope's cheeks. Odysseus could have wept, too, when he saw how deep her loyalty and affection were rooted. The lady had no doubt of the genuine character of her guest, but she cautiously strove to prove the truth of his words, so she questioned him yet farther, asking him to describe Odysseus and his comrades—how he looked and what dress he wore.

Odysseus responded truthfully: "He wore a cloak of purple wool, with two clasps of gold, hand-wrought. The pattern showed a hound struggling with a spotted fawn, intent to kill it. Besides this he had on a delicate tunic of shining cloth, spun, doubtless, by his queen, for the women gazed at it in wonder.

"He was accompanied by a herald named Eurybates, a hunchback with a dark complexion, but Odysseus seemed to value him above all the rest, for he was a clever and a faithful man."

When Odysseus had finished speaking, Penelope exclaimed, with a burst of passionate grief: "Stranger, I was moved to pity when I first saw thee in my halls, but thou shalt be held as an honored guest from this time forward. Thou hast spoken truly of the garments, for I shaped the folds in them myself and put on the clasps. Alas! I shall never see him again. It was a cruel fate that took him from me."

Odysseus was deeply moved, and tried to speak consoling words. "Weep not," he said, "for grief will wear away thy beauty and thy health. Odysseus lives and will return. I met him lately on his homeward way, laden with wealth which he had gathered in the country of the Thesprotians.

"He will come alone, for his comrades were destroyed off the island of Trinacria, for they had slain the oxen of the Sun. He would have arrived here before me, only that he stopped to consult an oracle whether to come secretly or not. He is safe and will not long remain away from thee. Here I take the great oath that Odysseus will come within a month."

The wise queen answered him: "I would that thy words might prove true, O stranger, but the thought is deep in my heart that Odysseus is no more. My maidens, lead this guest to the bath and spread a couch for him where he can rest quietly, and to-morrow he shall share the morning meal with Telemachos."

Then said Odysseus to her: "Fair queen, I care not for fine covers and soft beds. Wilt thou permit me to lie down on the floor near the fire, as I am used to do? I care not for the bath, either, unless there is some old servant who knows how to give a foot-bath to aged feet."


Penelope admired the prudence of the poor old beggar, and called Eurycleia, bidding her to bathe the stranger's feet as carefully as if they were the feet of her master. The nurse filled a bright brass basin with warm water and knelt down to execute the command of her royal mistress, saying: "My poor Odysseus! My heart is sore for him. Who knows but he may be wandering like thee, weary and footsore! Perhaps he is an object of ridicule among serving-women who will not suffer him to come near the bath.

"Stranger, I will wash thy feet for the sake of my absent master, and to please that gracious queen who has commanded me to do so; but most of all because thou art in need of it through suffering. Surely I never saw anyone who bore so close a resemblance to my lord as thou."

Odysseus replied: "It has often been said that I look like Odysseus by those who knew us both, O aged dame." Then he turned his feet away from the light, for fear that Eurycleia would recognize a scar and discover who he was. But it was in vain, for as soon as she passed her hand over it she knew it. It was a scar that came where a wild boar had once torn the flesh when Odysseus was hunting on Parnassos.

The old servant was so overcome with joy that she laughed and cried at the same time. She let his foot fall against the basin, which was upset with a loud clang, while the water was spilled over the floor. She laid her hand on Odysseus' beard, and said in a voice trembling with emotion: "Dear son, thou art Odysseus. I knew thee the moment that I touched the scar."

Then Eurycleia turned to tell Penelope that her lord had come, for the queen had not seen the upsetting of the basin. But Odysseus laid his finger on the old servant's lips, and with his left hand drew her closer and said: "Be silent. Let no one know that I have come, for I must slay the suitors by stratagem. If they know that I am here they will prevent me and destroy us all."

The loyal handmaid arose to bring another basin of water. She bathed his feet and anointed them. And he moved to the fire and took his seat, while he pulled his ragged garments over the scar to hide it, lest it might betray him.


When Odysseus was again seated by the hearth, Penelope began to speak to him further: "Stranger, one more question I must ask thee, and then I will leave thee, for the hour of sleep is near. All day long I keep at my tasks to try to forget my grief, for the gods have visited me with sore misfortunes. I teach my maids to spin and weave and care for the palace. But when night comes strange dreams flit through my mind, and new sorrows spring up in my heart.

"There are from day to day assembled in my home all the young men of the best families of Ithaca and the neighboring isles, who insist that I shall choose one of them for a husband. But as I am not willing to comply, they remain in my house and destroy my property. I am not able to drive them out, and do not know how to help myself. Listen to a dream I had the other night. Perhaps thou canst explain it to me.

"I dreamt that there was a flock of twenty geese in my court-yard, and they picked corn out of the water and ate greedily. Suddenly an eagle swooped down upon them from above and broke their necks and tore them to pieces. Then he flew off, leaving them scattered about the yard. I bitterly bewailed the loss of my geese, and so did my maids. After awhile the eagle came back and, perching on the roof, said to me: 'Take courage, Penelope, this is no dream. The geese are the wooers, but I, the eagle, am thy husband, and I have come to kill those impudent robbers that vex thee.'"

Odysseus answered her: "The eagle gave the right explanation, O lady. The dream could not have had any other meaning. Odysseus will come and slay the wooers, and not one shall escape him."

"Dreams do not always come to pass," rejoined Penelope, "but I heartily wish that this might be fulfilled. Be patient a little longer, for I have one thing more to say. To-morrow is a decisive day, for it may be the one that drives me from the palace. I shall propose a contest for my hand. Twenty years ago Odysseus set up twelve axes, one behind the other, in the court. Through the rings of the handles he shot an arrow, although he stood at a great distance. I will challenge the suitors to take the same bow and send the arrow through the rings as Odysseus did. He who succeeds shall lead me forth a bride, to his own palace."

Odysseus responded: "Do not let the contest be put off. Odysseus will be at hand a long time before any of the suitors can bend his bow."

"Thy words, O stranger, are comforting," said Penelope. "I could sit and listen to thee all night. But as thou art in need of rest, I will retire to my apartment, and the maids shall spread rugs before the fire for thee." Penelope, having said this, went up to her room, her maids following her, and she wept, thinking of her royal lord, until Athena closed her eyes in sleep.


Odysseus was lying on his bed, but he could not sleep, for he was thinking how he might destroy the suitors. Suddenly Athena appeared to him, and said: "Odysseus, why dost thou lie awake? Thou art in thine own house and near thy wife and child." "All this is true, O goddess," answered Odysseus. "But I am only one and the suitors are many. How shall I, single-handed, meet this multitude of men?"

"Sleep in peace, Odysseus," returned Athena. "To lie awake saps the life and strength of men. The time has come when all thy sufferings shall end. The gods protect thee and they are stronger than armed warriors." Thus spoke the goddess, and, closing his eyelids with sweet slumber, she flew up to Olympos.

While Odysseus was sleeping, his wife had waked, and, sitting on her bed, addressed a prayer to Artemis: "Rather let me die, O goddess, than become the wife of any other man than Odysseus. The very thought vexes me day and night. Just now I had a dream. I seemed to see Odysseus just as he was when he started out for Troy. I was so glad that I could not believe that it was not a reality."

She prayed aloud, and soon daylight appeared. Odysseus heard the voice and it filled his heart with anxiety. He arose and hastily placed the rugs on which he had slept on a bench in the palace. Then he went out into the open air. Telemachos had risen also, and he went forth to the market-place. Eurycleia called the servants together and ordered them to be quick about their work, for a festival was to be celebrated that day and the wooers would come early.

There was a busy time. The menials obeyed, some bringing water, some sweeping the floors, others polishing the benches and covering them with royal tapestries. The servants of the suitors came also and cut wood for the fires. Eumaios arrived early, driving three fat hogs. He saluted Odysseus and asked him if he were well treated by the suitors, or if they continued to scoff at him. Odysseus answered him: "May the gods punish the ruthless men who perpetrate such wrongs in a stranger's home." While they were talking together the goatherd joined him, and repeated the sneers and abuse of the preceding day. Odysseus took no notice of it, except to shake his head as one who plans direful things.

The master herdsman now came along with a fat heifer and choice goats for the day's banquet. Offering his hand to Odysseus, he exclaimed: "Hail to thee, stranger! A long and happy life be thine! Methinks my master must be clothed in rags and wandering like thee. Thou dost bring his image to my mind. I hope he may return and drive these suitors out of his palace." "Be sure that he will come, herdsman; thou wilt see him with thine own eyes, when he slays the ruthless suitors, and then thou wilt know who is lord of the palace," replied Odysseus.

The suitors were talking apart from the rest and conspiring to take the life of Telemachos, when an eagle wheeled over their heads, tearing a timid dove. With hearts foreboding ill at this omen, they went into the hall to begin the banquet, while the herdsman went his way first saying, "When Odysseus comes, call on me, and I will show how strong my arm is to deal a blow at his enemies."


The suitors had now arrived in the great banquet-hall and taken their places at the tables. The servants brought bread and meat and placed it before them, while Melanthios filled their goblets with wine. Telemachos placed Odysseus near the door, and gave him an ample supply of food, saying: "Eat and drink, stranger, without fear. None of the wooers shall assail thee, for I will stand guard."

One of the suitors, an evil-minded man with a rich father, said to his companions: "My friends, this stranger enjoys his meal greatly. It does not become any one of us to begrudge good things to the guests of Telemachos. I, too, wish to give him a present, which he in turn may bestow on some other beggar." With that he seized an ox's foot and hurled it at Odysseus.

Odysseus dodged it by holding down his head. Telemachos grew angry and rebuked the suitor in these words: "Ktesippos, thou hast escaped death. It is well that this stranger avoided thy blow, for if thou hadst struck him, my sharp spear would have pinned thee to the wall, and thy father would have prepared a burial instead of a wedding for thee."

Dreadful forebodings of woe began to fill the hearts of the suitors. Their speech became rambling and they laughed insanely. They ate and drank like men deranged.

Penelope now entered the great hall and took her seat upon a magnificent throne, right in front of the suitors. She heard the maudlin laughter and saw the gluttonous feasting as the revel ran high. Then Athena came and moved her mind to immediate action, and she went up to the farthest chamber with her maids, where the arms of Odysseus were stored. His bow and deadly arrows, so long unused, were there, with rich treasures and perfumed garments. She wept as she took the bow from its case and went out, followed by the servants, who carried down costly prizes, such as Odysseus gave when festivals with games were held in his halls.

She took her place, standing before the suitors, and addressed them: "Ye noble suitors, listen to my words. Cease to eat and drink and come to the contest. Too long have ye lived at my table, giving as an excuse that ye would win me as a bride. The suitor who can bend this bow and send this arrow through these twelve axes shall claim me as his wife, and I will follow him to his home."

Penelope called to the swineherd and the herdsmen to place the rings and carry the bow to the suitors. Each in turn tried to do so, but were overcome with grief at seeing their master's weapons, and laid them down.

Antinoös lifted up his voice and chid them: "Ye foolish peasants, must your eyes flow with tears at this feast? Bring the bow or leave the palace. Methinks we shall have hard work to bend this bow, for none of us have such sinews as had Odysseus."

Then Telemachos took up the bow and laughed. "I must have lost my wits," he said, "for I am glad that this contest will take place. There is not such another woman in Greece as my stately mother. Make no delay then. I long to see the man who can bend the bow. I would that I might bend it myself and win the right to keep her in her own home. Then I should be spared the grief of losing her."

Telemachos took off his cloak and laid his sword aside. He placed the axes in a row and took the bow and made three attempts to bend it, but did not succeed. He would have accomplished the feat if he had made one more effort, but Odysseus made a sign to him to desist, so he set the bow against the wall and went back to his seat.

The first suitor to make the trial had never been pleased with the insolence of the wooers, and had great foresight and was called their seer. His hands were soft and delicate. He could not bend the bow, but he predicted that it would be the instrument to bring death to the whole crew.

Antinoös reproached him for his prophecies, and ordered Melanthios to light a fire and bring a slice of fat, that the bow might be warmed and oiled to make it pliable. They warmed it and rubbed it with oil, and tried to bend it. One after another, each in turn, they made trials, but all in vain.

In the meantime Odysseus went to the swineherd and the master of the herds, who had displayed such loyalty. He said to them: "My friends, what if Odysseus should come; would you take part with him, or join the crowd of suitors? Speak truly." The two men answered, appealing to the gods to bear witness, that they would stand by their master to the end.

"Behold," said Odysseus, "I am the master that you love. I have come to my own land after twenty years of suffering, and among all my servants I hear none pray for my return save you two. And now that you may surely recognize me I will show you the scar made by a boar on Parnassos." He raised his ragged tunic for a moment and they looked at the scar. They recognized their long-lost master, and threw their arms around him and wept, and kissed his hands and feet.

Odysseus begged them to desist, lest the suitors should notice it and discover him. And he instructed them to bring the bow to him and place it in his hands, after all the wooers had failed to bend it. And he told them to shut and lock the doors, so that the maid-servants could not hear the groans of the dying men, for they might run out and warn the town.

Eurymachos and Antinoös were the last to make trial of the bow. Eurymachos sat before the fire and warmed it on both sides, but he could not bend it. He was vexed beyond measure, and said: "It is not that I care for Penelope, for there are other women that would suit me just as well, but if we are weaker than Odysseus our sons will hear of it in future times and be ashamed of us."

Antinoös took up the word: "Eurymachos," he said, "this is a day held sacred to Apollo, god of the silver bow. He should have no rival. Let the bow alone, lest the god be angry and leave the axes standing in a row. No one will dare to touch them. Let Melanthios bring goats, and we will offer up sacrifices to the god and invite his aid. Then we shall have strength to win in this struggle."


The suitors approved the words of Antinoös. The heralds filled their cups with wine, and the wise Odysseus waited until they had drunk to their hearts' content.

Then he lifted up his voice and said: "Hear me, ye suitors of Penelope, while I advise that you defer this trial of your strength until another day. Apollo will then bestow the power on one of you to triumph over the others. Let me practise with the bow to-day, to see if I have any of my youthful strength, or if I have lost it through suffering and want."

The suitors were moved with desperate fear and anger. "Thou senseless beggar," said Antinoös, "is it not enough that we allow thee to sit at a banquet with the proudest men alive? Thou art drunk and thy mind wanders. What would come to thee if thou shouldst bend this bow? Verily we would sell thee for a slave to the great enemy of men."

Then said Penelope: "Indeed, Antinoös, it is not large-minded to deny this poor old man the pleasure of trying the bow.

"Dost thou think I would go forth as the wife of a beggar? Nay, the stranger has no hope of that. Do not let your minds be teased with such thoughts."

Eurymachos, the leading suitor, rejoined: "Our care is not that thou wilt wed this man. But we fear the ridicule of the people, who will say, 'These are great men, indeed, who are outdone in strength and skill by a miserable old beggar.' It would be a never-ending shame to us."

"Nay, Eurymachos," replied Penelope, "real shame comes on him who robs a good man and brings trouble to his family. This beggar claims to be of good blood, and his arm is sinewy. Let him try the bow. I make a solemn promise that if Apollo grant him the honor of bending the bow, I shall do no less than bestow upon him a tunic and a cloak, and sandals, and I will give him a sword with which he can defend himself. Then he can go where he likes."

Telemachos saw that the great crisis was at hand. "Mother," he said, "it rests with me to give the bow or withhold it. Such matters belong to men, and in this palace the authority is mine. Take thy maids, then, and retire to thy apartments, and ply the tasks most suitable to women."

The queen recognized her son's wisdom, and withdrew with her maids to the upper rooms. There she wept for the beloved monarch, her absent lord, until Athena sent a soothing sleep to comfort her.

In the meanwhile the swineherd took up the bow and undertook to carry it to Odysseus. The suitors shouted their disapproval, and he became confused and set it down. Telemachos called out above the clamor and gave command for him to carry it along. The suitors laughed to hear the young man's voice ring out like a trumpet and drown all other noises. Odysseus took the bow and turned it from side to side, examining it in every part. Telemachos, in a low tone, bade Eurycleia make fast all the doors, and the master herdsman tied the gates of the outer court with a ship's cable.

The suitors grew uneasy, and one of them said to another: "See the beggar, how he turns the bow this way and that! He would have us think that he is an expert in the use of bows." Odysseus stretched the cord and made it fast from end to end. He put it to his ear to try its tenseness as a minstrel tunes his harp. It sang like a bird. With perfect ease he drew the cord and let the arrow fly. It screamed like a swallow and went through every ring from the first one to the last. The suitors turned pale. Zeus sent a loud thunder-clap and Odysseus rejoiced at the omen. He sprang to the threshold with his bow in hand and a quiver full of arrows at his side, and shouted: "The contest is ended. Now I will choose another target."

Antinoös had just put a golden goblet to his lips, and was about to drink the delicious wine. An arrow pierced his throat. He dropped the cup and fell to the ground, and as he fell his feet struck the table. The bread and meat were scattered in every direction over the floor. The suitors sprang to their feet and looked for the weapons on the walls. The spears were gone, and the lances and all the armor.

Even yet they were blind to the fact that the stranger had slain Antinoös purposely. They poured out threats. "Fool," they said, "what art thou doing? How couldst thou be so careless! Thou hast slain the noblest man in Ithaca. Dogs and vultures shall devour thee. Never again shalt thou be allowed a trial with the bow."

"Dogs," cried Odysseus, "ye little thought your chief would ever return from Troy, and therefore ye have robbed me of my wealth and vexed my wife with offers of marriage, regardless of the laws of god and man. But now the hour of your death has come and your doom is certain."

The suitors trembled and looked for some open door through which to fly for safety. Only Eurymachos took courage to make a defence. "If thou art indeed Odysseus, thou hast good cause to complain of wrongs," he said. "But thou hast slain the leader, Antinoös, who prompted us to do these wrongs. He had no thought of love for thy wife. He wanted to gain thy land and rule over thy people. Spare the rest of us and we will make ample restitution."

A dreadful frown spread over Odysseus' face, and he replied: "Eurymachos, I will not take thy wealth nor will I spare thy life. Now choose between the two, either to fight or fly from death. Be sure no suitor shall escape my vengeance."

The suitors all grew faint with fear. Eurymachos cried out to them: "Ye Ithacans, this man will stand there at the door and shoot us all down one by one. Out with your swords! Hold up the tables for shields, and rush upon him, all of you, at once. Drive him out of the gates, and then hurry through the city and give a general alarm."

With a fearful shout Eurymachos then drew his own sword and sprang toward Odysseus. A deadly arrow from the famous bow met him and he fell upon the table, upsetting it, and he went spinning round with it on the paved floor, while the food and cup of wine were scattered all about. His head struck upon a stone and his feet against a chair. Death closed his eyes.

Another suitor drew his sword and rushed toward Odysseus. Telemachos met him with a lance and slew him. Then Telemachos sprang to his father's side and said: "My father, I will bring thee javelins and a shield, and I will arm myself and the swineherd and the master herdsmen." "Make haste, my son," responded Odysseus, "for I have but few arrows left."

Telemachos hastened to the room where the arms had been stored and clothed himself in brass. His loyal herdsmen also put on splendid armor, and they hastened back to Odysseus with a complete outfit for him. The chief had used up his arrows, and now he dressed himself in armor and took the lances. Just then he perceived that the suitors had by some means been supplied with armor also. He called to Telemachos, who had left the door ajar leading to the apartment where the arms had been placed for safety.

Melanthios, the goatherd, had sneaked in and was slyly bringing shields and helmets down to them. Telemachos saw him, and gave orders to the herdsmen to lock the doors of the armory and secure the spy. They hastened to the armory and found Melanthios, who had come back for a second load. They cast him on the floor and tied his arms down so that he could not move them. Then they took a rope and made two loops in it and swung him safely to the timbers in the roof, saying: "Melanthios, thou hast a soft bed, and it is where thou canst keep watch. In the morning thou canst drive thy goats to the suitors' banquet." They locked the doors and left him there and took their places at Odysseus' side.


The combat grew more stubborn. Athena, in the guise of Mentor, stood near Odysseus and cheered him on. "Woe unto thee, Mentor, if thou dost dare to help Odysseus," cried one of the suitors. "We will not spare thee when we have slain him. More yet, we will drive thy wife and children out of Ithaca and keep thy wealth." The goddess, in great anger at this audacity, turned toward Odysseus and said: "Thou art not so swift and terrible in fighting, O Chieftain, as thou wert before the walls of Troy."

Athena said this to spur Odysseus on, but she did not remain at his side. She changed herself into a swallow and perched upon a rafter of the great hall, to put his prowess to a greater test. When she had gone, the suitors grew braver and threw their spears at Odysseus thick and fast. But their aim was uncertain, and they struck pillars and panels and the wall, for the goddess turned their shafts aside.

Odysseus and Telemachos and their faithful servants hurled their lances, and the weapons always hit the mark. The cowherd struck Ktesippos in the breast and exclaimed, as the suitor fell: "Ktesippos, I give thee this spear in exchange for the ox's foot which thou didst throw at Odysseus as a gift when he asked alms of thee."

Four of the wooers fell to the ground at once and the remainder retreated to the farthest corner of the hall. Still they rallied for another onset. Odysseus rushed in upon them and cut them down right and left, while Athena from above shook her fearful ægis. The surviving wooers were stricken with terror and ran about like a herd of oxen chased by a swarm of gadflies. Only the minstrel Phemios and the herald Medon were spared. Both of them had served the suitors most unwillingly and had secretly advised with Telemachos.

Odysseus searched up and down the hall to see if any suitor could be found alive. As fishes lie upon the beach when they have been poured out from the nets upon the sand, so lay the multitude of wooers. Not one survived.

Then Odysseus called Eurycleia and bade her summon all of the impudent and unfaithful servants who had taken sides with the suitors. They came into the hall and with loud laments took up the slain and carried them out as they were commanded, and placed them in a walled court. Then they cleaned the hall with water and sponges, and polished the wood and set everything in order.

When this was done, they were driven like a flock of birds into a narrow place outside and hung to a beam to die wretchedly. Melanthios also was brought down from the armory and cast among the dogs to die.

The palace now was purged with the smoke of sulphur, and the air was purified with incense. The loyal servants crowded about their chieftain and welcomed him with glad salutations. They kissed his hands and face, and wept and laughed for joy. Odysseus was deeply moved and sobbed aloud.


Eurycleia, with an exulting heart, now hurried up the lofty stairs and stood by the queen in her royal chamber. "Penelope," she cried, "my child, Odysseus has come. Thy husband is here, and he has slain the whole crew of insolent suitors who squandered his riches and scoffed at his son." Prudent Penelope answered her: "Eurycleia, thou art mad. The gods have taken thy wits away. Do not mock me with such idle tales. If any other maid had come on such an errand and waked me from sleep, I would have dismissed her with anger."

"Nay, dear child, I do not mock thee; Odysseus has come and is now sitting by the hearth. The beggar whom they scoffed at in the hall was Odysseus. Telemachos knew it, but dared not tell thee until the suitors should be slain."

Penelope rose from her couch and seized Eurycleia by the hands.

"Tell me, dear nurse," she said, "tell me truly, if in fact my husband has returned, how was it possible that he alone could destroy such a multitude of haughty men!" "I did not see it," responded the old nurse, "but I heard the groans of the dying men as I sat with the other maids in our own rooms. The doors were locked to bar us from the hall. When Telemachos called me, I found Odysseus surrounded by the slain. When we had washed the hall and purged it with smoke and purified the air with incense, thy husband ordered me to call thee. Follow me now, my child, that your heart may be gladdened after it has been oppressed so long with sorrows."

Penelope replied again: "Nay, I cannot believe it. The gods may have slain the suitors under the guise of Odysseus, but he has perished far away from home and never will return."

"My daughter," said the aged nurse, "what words are these? I recognized Odysseus myself by the well-known scar made by the boar's tusk. I turned to tell thee, but he laid his finger on my lips and said: 'Be silent. Let no one know that I am here until the suitors all are slain, or else they will destroy me.' Now follow me. I pledge my life that I speak the truth."

Penelope descended from her royal bower uncertain how to meet her lord. She crossed the threshold and sat down at the hearth, opposite Odysseus, who was seated beside a stately column in the blazing light of the fire. He did not lift his eyes to look at his wife, but waited for her to make the way open for him to speak. Penelope was speechless. She looked at her husband and seemed sometimes to recognize him, and then the resemblance faded out and he did not seem at all like Odysseus.

Telemachos became impatient and spoke to her, chiding her. "Mother," he said, "thou art hard-hearted and unkind. Any other woman would extend a hearty welcome to her husband after he had suffered so many years of hardship, wandering in foreign lands. Take thy place at my father's side and question him. Verily thy heart is harder than a stone." "My son," answered Penelope, "I seem to have lost the power to speak. I am dazed and cannot even command myself to look at him. If this is indeed Odysseus we soon shall know each other, for there are secrets known to us two only."

Odysseus smiled and said: "My son, be patient, and let thy mother put me to the test. She does not know me in these rags, but she will soon be convinced that I am Odysseus. It is more important now to prevent the news that the suitors have been slain from spreading. They have friends all over the city. Who knows but what they may rise up against us. I deem it best that we bathe and put on fresh garments, and let the servants do the same.

"And let the minstrel bring his lyre and strike up such music as prompts the dance, so that those living near us may report that a wedding is being celebrated. Then we may safely venture forth and see what is to be done."

Thus spoke the monarch, and his commands were gladly obeyed. Telemachos and the servants went their way to the baths and arrayed themselves in splendid clothing. The bard took his harp and woke the pleasing strains, and the palace halls resounded with mirth and dancing.

After awhile those outside were heard to say: "Shame on Penelope! She weds a second time, and does not even know whether her absent lord is dead or living. She might have waited for him to return."

Meantime Odysseus followed a servant to the bath, and when he had been bathed and anointed he put on garments suitable for a king. Athena gave him a more majestic appearance, and caused his hair to fall in heavy curls, like the petals of the hyacinth. When he came back to the great hall and stood before the queen, he looked like an immortal.

"Lady," he said, "the gods have given thee a stubborn heart. Any other woman would have given a glad welcome to her husband after he had been absent twenty years." To this Penelope responded: "Not so; I have no pride nor a cold heart. But I should be unworthy of my lord if I accepted a stranger without putting him to the proof. I remember well when thou didst go to Troy. Thou didst command Eurycleia to carry thy massive bed out into the open air and cover it with fleeces."

"Nay, woman, no living man could perform such a feat. I built that massive frame myself. It was a tall olive-tree that grew within one of the courts. Round it I built a royal bower, and, cutting off the great limbs of the tree, shaped them and fastened them to the trunk. In this wise I built the frame, and no one could move it without dragging the tree out by the roots. That is a secret known only to thee and me."

Penelope had put the final test, and knew that this was surely Odysseus. She rose from where she sat and ran to him and threw her arms about his neck and kissed his brow. "Odysseus, do not be angry with me," she said. "Many are they who have tried to practise deception upon me. Thou hast made me believe in thee." These words pierced Odysseus' heart and brought him the relief of tears. He pressed his faithful wife to his bosom again and again.


Early the next morning Odysseus dressed himself in his splendid armor and bade his son and servants accompany him to the farm. They took their weapons and went forth, Odysseus leading the way. It was not long before they came to the green fields which were cared for by Laertes. He had built his house there, and surrounded it with cabins, where his servants slept.

Odysseus was anxious to know whether his father would recognize him or not, so he said to one of the men: "Go into the house and call my father. Let me see whether he will know me, after I have been so long away." Placing his weapons in their hands, he went down into the orchard. There were no servants about, for they had all gone off to gather thorns with which to build a fence.

There Odysseus saw his father working around a young tree that he had just planted. He was clad in old, coarse clothes that had been repeatedly patched, a goat-skin cap, and gloves to protect his hands from the briers.

It was pitiful to see the want of hope in the old man's face as he moved about brooding over his troubles. Odysseus was uncertain whether he should throw his arms about his father's neck and clasp him to his heart and kiss him, or whether it were better to question him.

He approached Laertes gently and, having greeted him, said: "My friend, thou art a skilful farmer. Every fig and vine and pear and olive has been carefully trained. But no one seems to care for thee. Thy master treats thee badly, for thou art ill-clad and unkempt. An old man deserves better things. Thy face does not look like the face of a servant. Indeed one might take thee for a king. Now tell me, who owns this orchard? And tell me also if this land is Ithaca. I desire to learn what became of Odysseus, the son of Laertes. He was once my guest and one that I made most welcome."

Laertes wept. "Thou art indeed in Ithaca, O stranger," he said. "But thou dost seek in vain for Odysseus. The land is full of wicked men, and there is no host to load thee with generous gifts, a recompense for thy hospitality. Oh, tell me of my son; when did he lodge with thee? Woe is me! The beasts and birds have long since devoured him. No mother folded his shroud about him, nor did his father or his loyal wife weep upon his bier. Tell me, what is thy name? Where is thy ship? How didst thou come here?"

Odysseus was overcome with pity, and invented a tale to prepare Laertes for his unexpected coming. Then he clasped the dear old man in his arms and kissed his trembling hands, and said: "I am thy son, my father; I am the Odysseus of whom thou dost inquire. Here is the scar given me by the wild boar as I hunted on Parnassos. And for further proof I will tell thee of the orchard-trees thou gavest me when I was a child. There were thirteen pear-trees, forty fig-trees, and ten apple-trees. Forbear thy weeping and cease to mourn. I have slain the suitor-robbers who were destroying my riches, and I have taken possession of my house again."

Overwhelmed with joy, the old king trembled from head to foot. The sturdy chieftain, Odysseus, saw it and drew him to his heart to keep him from fainting, and held him there until his strength came back. Then they went up to the house, where a supper had been prepared, and Telemachos was waiting. Laertes went to the bath and came back clad like a king. The grief had left his face, and he took on his old majestic appearance. As they sat at the banquet, relating the experiences of the past years, Dolius and his sons, the servants who had gone in search of thorns, returned. Dolius recognized Odysseus and seized him by the hand and saluted him with joyful greetings, and his sons gathered round the chieftain eager to take his hand.

Meantime the souls of the suitors had gone down to the abode of Pluto. Hermes led them, and they followed, crying and wailing like bats in a dark cave. The shades of Achilles, Agamemnon, Ajax, and other heroes saw them and constrained them to relate the mishaps that had brought them there. Then Agamemnon's ghost responded: "Fortunate Odysseus! His fame shall last forever, and poets shall sing the praises of Penelope in all the coming ages."

Ere Odysseus and Laertes had finished their feast, the news of the dreadful death of the suitors spread over the city. The wooers had many friends, and they came to the palace weeping and mourning, ready to avenge their slaughter. Finding that Odysseus was not at home, they proceeded to the market-place. The father of Antinoös arose and lifted up his voice crying for vengeance, but Medon, the herald, warned them that a god had taken part against them and that strife would be useless.

Halitherses, a wise and reverend citizen, took up the word: "Ye men of Ithaca," he said, "give ear to what I have to say. Odysseus was not the cause of your misfortunes, but you, yourselves. Ye would not check the insolence of the suitors, even when Mentor bade you do it. Contend not with Odysseus nor bring down his wrath upon us."

The Ithacans were now divided against themselves. Half of them took up arms to make war on Odysseus, and started for his father's house. In this adversity Athena did not forget her favorite chief, but armed herself, and, taking on the guise of Mentor, placed herself at Odysseus' side. A son of Dolius was first to announce that a crowd was marching against them, when they all arose quickly, donned their armor, and went outside.

Then Odysseus cried out to Telemachos: "Now is the moment to show thyself a hero, my son. Do not bring disgrace upon thy forefathers, for they are renowned over the whole world for their bravery." Telemachos responded: "There is no danger of that, my dear father, as I shall show thee presently." When Laertes heard this he rejoiced and said: "This is a happy day for me. How blest am I to see my son and grandson rivals in brave deeds."

Athena now drew near to the old king, and inspired him with youthful courage. He swung his spear aloft and threw it at the leader of the host and smote him to the earth. Odysseus and Telemachos rushed into the fray with double-edged swords. They would have made an end of the whole multitude, but Athena called aloud: "People of Ithaca, cease from fighting! Retire at once from this contest and shed no more blood."

The Ithacans grew pale with fright at hearing the voice of the goddess. They threw down their weapons and ran toward the city in a panic of fear. Odysseus shouted in triumph as he gave chase, but Zeus sent a thunder-bolt down as a sign to Athena that she should restrain him. The goddess called to him to cease the pursuit, and, taking the guise of Mentor, she moved the minds of Odysseus and his enemies to mutual pledges of peace and good-will.


A chil' les—also called Pelides, the hero of the "Iliad." He was the son of Peleus (king of Phthia in Thessaly) and the sea-nymph, Thetis.

Æ ge' an—a sea east of Greece.

Æ' o lus—the keeper of the winds, and king of Lipara, one of the Æolian isles north of Sicily.

Ag a mem' non—leader of all the Greek chiefs in the Trojan war.

A' jax, or Aias—king of Salamis and cousin of Achilles. He was the son of Telamon and was called Ajax the Greater.

Al ex [)a]n' dr[)o]s—Paris, son of Priam.

Al kin' [)o] ös—king of Scheria, father of Nausicaä. He gave aid to Odysseus when he was stranded on the island.

An tin' o ös—the boldest of the suitors.

Aph ro d[=i]' te—Venus, the goddess of love and beauty. The island of Kythera (Cythera), south of Greece, was the seat of her worship.

A p[)o]l' lo—the Sun-god, brother of Artemis and son of Zeus and Leto. The island of Delos was his mythical birthplace and his principal oracle was at Delphi.

Ar ca' di a, or Arkadia—the central district of the Peloponnesus.

A re' tè (ä r[=a]' t[=a])—wife of Alkinoös and queen of Scheria.

Ar e th[=u]' sa—a spring "where the swine of Eumaios ate 'abundance of acorns and drank the black water.'" (See Baedeker's Greece—Ithaca.) Arethusa was also the name of a water-nymph inhabiting the spring.

Ar' gus, or Argos—the most celebrated dog known to fame. He belonged to Odysseus.

Ar' te mis, or Diana—goddess of the moon and sister to Apollo. She was called the hunter-goddess and the protector of animals.

As' ph[=o] del—a flower sacred to Persephone. The souls of the departed were supposed to wander in meadows adorned with these beautiful flowers.

A th[=e]' n[=e], or Athena; Latin, Minerva—the patron deity of Athens. The city was named for her. Ruskin calls her the "Queen of the Air," and explains her real significance as being the inspiration of the soul, which corresponds to the physical vigor and life received by inhaling the pure air. She is always called the "Goddess of Wisdom."

A' treus (a' tr[=u]se)—son of Pelops and father of Agamemnon.

Au' lis—a bay and town on the coast of Greece, about thirty miles north of Athens. "The scanty ruins of Aulis lie on the rugged ridge of rock which stretches into the sea between the two bays. The little town never attained any importance, for its site was unfavorable for the development of a community; but the two sheltered bays were excellently adapted to be the rendezvous of a fleet." (See Baedeker's Greece—Aulis.)

Cad' mus, or Kadmos—the founder of Thebes in Boeotia. According to tradition, he came from Phoenicia and brought the alphabet to the Greeks and the knowledge of working in metals.

Cal' chas, or Kalchas—a soothsayer. He offended Agamemnon by declaring that the Greeks suffered from the wrath of the gods through his offences.

Ca lyp' so—the goddess of Silence, daughter of Oceanos and Tethys, and queen of Ogygia. She tried by every art to detain Odysseus on his way home from Troy.

Cas san' dra—a daughter of Priam, and a prophetess, taken captive in the Trojan war and awarded to Agamemnon.

Cha ryb' dis—a whirlpool off the coast of Sicily, a little to the north of Messina.

Cir' cè, or Kirk[=e]—the daughter of H[=e]lios, the Sun. She was an enchantress who lived on the island Ææa. She infused into the vine the intoxicating quality found in the juice of the grape. "The grave of Circe used to be pointed out on the island of St. George, close to Salamis." (See Baedeker's Greece—Salamis.)

Cy' clops, or Kyklops, also called Polyphemus—a monstrous one-eyed giant. He was the son of Poseidon. It was due to his prayer for revenge that Odysseus was kept so long wandering on the sea.

Cy the' ra, or Kythera—a rocky island lying south of Greece. It was the seat of the worship of Aphrodite.

D[=e]' los—an island about sixty miles southeast of Athens. It is the mythical birthplace of Apollo and Artemis.

D[=e] mod' o kos—a bard at the court of Alkinoös.

E' lis—a district and a city in the northwestern part of the Peloponnesus. Like Sparta, the city had no walls. It was protected by the sacred peace of Olympia.

The plain or precinct of Olympia is situated in the district of Elis. Pyrgos is the nearest railroad station. "Olympia owed its high importance throughout the entire Grecian world to the famous Olympic games in honor of Zeus, which took place periodically for centuries. Excavations there have brought to light many magnificent pieces of sculpture, among them the Hermes of Praxiteles."

El p[=e]' nor—one of the comrades of Odysseus. He fell from the roof of Circè's palace and was killed.

E lys' ian—pertaining to Elysium, the abode of dead heroes and other happy spirits.

Eu mai' os, or Eumæus—the swineherd of Odysseus.

Eu r[=o]' tas—a river of southern Greece.

Eu ry' a los—a son of Alkinoös.

Eu ry clei' a ([=u] ry cl[=i]' ä)—the nurse of Odysseus and Telemachos.

Eu ry' l[)o] chos, or Eurylochus—one of the companions of Odysseus.

Eu ry' ma chos, or Eurymachus—one of the suitors of Penelope.

Gor' gon—a monster of fearful aspect, a daughter of Phorkys and Ceto. Her hair was entwined with serpents, her hands were of brass, her body covered with scales, and anyone gazing upon her was turned into stone.

Hel' en, or Helen[=e]—a daughter of Tyndareus and Leda. She was the wife of Menelaos and was always called "the most beautiful woman in the world."

Hel' las—Greece, the land of the Hellenes.

H[=e]' li os—the god of the Sun.

He phais' tos, or Hephæstus—Vulcan. He was the blacksmith god, the god of fire, and a worker in metals.

H[=e]' ra, H[=e]r[=e]—Juno, the wife of Zeus. She was worshipped as the queen of heaven and was regarded as a model of womanly virtue. Argos was the chief centre of the worship of Hera.

H[=e]r' a kles, or Hercules—a celebrated hero whose deeds are connected with many localities. There is a cave near Nemea where he is said to have slain a lion, not far from Stymphalos, where he put the Harpies to flight, and Erymanthos, the scene of the killing of the Erymanthian boar. There are traditions of his heroism connected with Thessaly (Thebes) and Locris, also.

Her' bart—a German philosopher and pedagogian.

Her' m[=e]s, or Mercury—the messenger of the gods, also their herald.

Her mi' [)o] ne—the daughter of Menelaos and Helen.

Ho' mer—the greatest of the Greek poets and author of the "Iliad" and "Odyssey."

I' da—a mountain of Asia Minor, east of Troy.

Il' i ad—an epic poem, probably the greatest ever written, devoted to the deeds of Achilles, and taken by the best scholars of modern times as an interpretation of Greek life, Greek thought, and the Greek religion.

I' no, or Leucothea—a daughter of Cadmus, a sea-nymph who helped Odysseus by giving him an enchanted veil.

Iph i gen ei' a—the daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra. "Ulrichs has discovered the site of the famous Temple of Artemis or Diana, where Agamemnon was on the point of sacrificing his daughter Iphigeneia, before the departure of the Greek fleet for Troy." (See Baedeker's Greece—Aulis.) To appreciate the character of this famous woman one must read the "Iphigeneia in Aulis" of Euripides and the "Iphigeneia in Tauris" of Goethe.

Ith' a ca, or Ithaka, Greek Ithák[=e]—rocky island with an area of 37½ square miles and 12,500 inhabitants. "The world-wide fame of this little island is of course due to the Homeric epic of the Odyssey, in which the misfortunes and wiles, the wanderings, and home-coming of Ulysses (Odysseus), King of Ithaca, have been handed down to posterity in undying verse. Even if the person of the hero be relegated to the realm of myths, it is indisputable that the descriptions of the poem rest upon a more or less exact local knowledge; and this is evident not only in the account of the situation and general character of the island but also in numerous small details.... The island became almost entirely depopulated in the middle ages, in consequence of the raids of pirates and the Turkish wars, and did not begin to recover until the Venetian epoch. But similar conditions of life make the modern islanders resemble the ancient. To this day the Ithacans are distinguished by their bold seamanship, their love of home, and their hospitality." (See Baedeker's Greece—Ithaca.)

Ja' son, or Iason—the hero who undertook the expedition in search of the Golden Fleece.

Ktes ip' pos, or Ctesippus—one of the suitors of Penelope.

Lak e dai' mon, or Lacedæmon—a district in southeastern Greece. Sparta was its capital.

La ër' tes—the father of Odysseus.

La o' da màs—a son of Alkinoös.

La o' co ön, or Laokoön—a young priest of Apollo. He warned the Trojans not to accept the wooden horse left by the Greeks and was destroyed by a serpent.

Lo' tus—the Egyptian water-lily, also a tree. The lotus-eaters ate of the fruit of the lotus-tree and forgot their homes and friends.

Me l[)a]n' thi os—a servant of Odysseus, a goatherd who sympathized with the suitors and served them.

Men e l[=a]' os, or Menelaus—a son of Atreus and brother of Agamemnon. Menelaos was the king of Sparta and husband of Helen.

Men' tor—the wise counsellor of Telemachos.

Mil t[=i]' ä des—the hero of the battle of Marathon, fought 490 B.C. In this battle the Greeks, numbering 10,000 men, conquered ten times as many Persians.

Mi' nos—a son of Zeus and ruler over Crete.

Mo' ly—a fabulous plant having magic properties. It had a white blossom and a black root.

My c[=e]' næ, or Myk[=e]nai—an ancient city of Argolis, in the northeastern Peloponnesus. "Dr. Henry Schliemann, in 1876, made rich discoveries there, weapons, ornaments, vessels of gold, silver and clay," skeletons "surrounded by bands of gold, golden shovels engraved with battle-scenes," etc. (See Baedeker's Greece—Mycenæ and Athens.)

Myr' m[)i] d[)o]ns—a warlike people of Thrace, ruled by Achilles and taken by him to the Trojan war as followers.

Nau sic' a ä—the daughter of Alkinoös.

N[=e] [)o]p t[)o]l' [)e] m[)o]s—the son of Achilles.

N[)e]s' tor—the leader of the warriors of Pylos, in southwestern Greece.

O ke' a nos, or Oceanus—the god of the river Oceanus, and son of Heaven and Earth.

Od ys' seus (s[=u]se), or Ulysses—the son of Laertes and Anticleia and the hero of Homer's Odyssey. Being summoned to the Trojan war, he feigned madness, and harnessed a mule and a cow to a plough and began ploughing the sea-shore. Palamedes, to test his madness, placed his infant son, Telemachos, in front of the plough, and Odysseus quickly turned it aside. He became famous for his bravery and craft in the war. He is looked upon by critics as the most perfect type of adult Greek ideals.

ODYSSEUS FEIGNS MADNESS ODYSSEUS FEIGNS MADNESS O lymp' os, or Olympus—a mountain in Thrace. The home of the gods.

O r[)e]s' t[=e]s—the son of Agamemnon.

Par' is, or Alexandros—a son of Priam. At his birth there was a prophecy that he would be the ruin of his country; hence he was cast out upon Mount Ida, where he was found and rescued by a shepherd. (See Introduction.)

Par nas' sos—a mountain near the north coast of the Corinthian Gulf. It is 8,070 feet high and commands a view of Mount Olympos to the north, Euboea on the east, the islands of the Archipelago, the Peloponnesus, and even Mount Korax.

Pat' r[)o] klos, or Patroclus—the intimate friend of Achilles. His death at the hands of the Trojans provoked Achilles to action.

Pei sis' tra tos—a son of Nestor.

P[=e]' leus—the father of Achilles.

Pel op on n[=e]s' us—the peninsula of lower Greece.

Pe nel' o pe—the wife of Odysseus. The greatest heroine of ancient romance.

P[)e]r s[)e]ph' [=o] ne, or Proserpine—daughter of Demeter (Ceres). "She was the goddess of Spring and was allowed to spend two-thirds of the year with her mother, while the remaining time she dwelt with her husband, Hades, in his underground abode." Eleusis, twelve miles west of Athens, was the centre of the worship of Demeter and Persephone. (See Baedeker's Greece—Eleusis.)

Phai a' ki ans, or Phæacians—the people of the island of Scheria, over whom Alkinoös ruled.

Ph[=e]' mi os—a bard at the court of Odysseus.

Phor' kys—the harbor where the Phæacians landed Odysseus on his return to Ithaca. "The Bay of Vathy," says Baedeker, "disputes with the Bay of Dexiá the honor of being the Harbour of Phorkys."

Plu' to, or Hades—a son of Rhea and Kronos and brother of Zeus and Poseidon. Pluto was the ruler of the lower world.

Po sei' don, or Neptune—brother of Zeus and Hades. Poseidon was the ruler of the seas and was the first to train and employ horses.

Pol y phe' mus, or Polyphemos or Cyclops—the son of Poseidon. He was one of the Cyclops or Kyklops who were said to live in the heart of burning mountains, particularly in Mount Ætna.

Pri' am, or Priamos—king of Troy and father of Paris.

Pro' teus—an ocean deity who lived at the bottom of the sea. He took care of Poseidon's sea-calves and was famous for his evasiveness.

Py' los—a town (and bay) in the southwestern part of lower Greece. It was the centre of Nestor's kingdom.

Sa' mos—"at present a little village on the island of Cephalonia, the starting-point of the boats to Ithaca. In Homer, the island of Cephalonia, or its east part, is called Sam[=e]; and in the latter part of the Odyssey, Samos appears as belonging to the kingdom of Ithaca." (Baedeker.) Samos, a large island near Asia Minor, is not related to the Samos of the Odyssey.

Ska man' dros, or Scamander—a river of the Troad or plains of Troy.

Scher' i a—an island northwest of Greece. "The ancients identified Corfù with the Phæacian island of Scheria, mentioned in the 'Odyssey,' as ruled over by Alkinoös." (Baedeker.)

Skyl' la—a rock in southwestern Italy. It was supposed to be the abode of a monster with many heads and hands.

Sky' ros—a large island east of Greece.

Sim' o is—a river in the Troad, and a branch of the Scamander.

Si' rens—daughters of Achelöos and a Muse, or, according to another account, daughters of Phorkys. They failed to care for Persephone when Pluto seized her to carry her off, and Demeter took revenge by transforming them into monsters half woman and half bird.

Sis' y phos—a hero who secured a fountain to the citadel of Corinth by betraying Zeus. Sisyphos was punished by being obliged to roll stones up-hill in Hades.

Spar' ta—a town in the southern part of the Peloponnesus, on the Eurotas. It was the chief city of Lacedæmon and the home of Menelaos and Helen. It had no walls, but its acropolis was covered with temples. Ancient Sparta was noted for the bravery of its people. At present Sparta has about 3,600 inhabitants. There are few relics of its ancient greatness.

Styx—a stream of water in central lower Greece. "The thread of water descends from a huge cliff against a background of dark moss, which has earned for the brook the name of 'Black Water.' At the bottom of the cliff the water loses itself in a chaos of rocks. The ancients saw in the icy coldness of the water and in the barren tract around an image of the underworld." (See Baedeker's Greece.) To swear by the Styx was to take "the great oath of the gods."

Tan' ta los—a king of Phrygia punished by the gods for treachery and for cruelty to his son. He was doomed to suffer from hunger and thirst while standing close to food and water which he could not reach.

T[=e] l[)e]' ma chos—the son of Odysseus and Penelope.

Ten' e dos—an island in the neighborhood of Troy or Ilium.

Them is' to kles—a great statesman of Athens, and a leader of the Greeks in the Persian war when the Greeks won the battle of Salamis.

The' seus (Th[=e]' s[=u]se)—a son of Ægeus and Æthra. Like his counterpart Herakles, Theseus performed wonderful deeds, and finally became ruler of Athens.

Thes' sa ly—a large province of northern Greece.

Th[)e]' tis—a sea-nymph, the mother of Achilles.

Ti res' ias, or Teiresias—a Theban seer. He retained his consciousness after death, and Odysseus descended into Hades to consult with him before he could reach Ithaca.

Troy, Ilios, or Ilium—a city of Asia Minor and the scene of the Trojan war. Dr. Schliemann has identified the city with Hissarlik, and in his excavations there found many evidences of the war, such as spears, helmets, etc.

Zeus, or Jupiter—a son of Kronos and Rhea. His abode was supposed to be on Mount Olympos, in Thessaly. He was considered the highest of the gods, ruler of the heavens and the earth.

Za' kyn thos, or Zante—an island near Corfù.

[Transcriber's note: The publishers of this book used an unusual convention in which only a single pair of quotation marks surround a quote, even when the quote extends over multiple paragraphs or multiple chapters. This transcription has conventional usage of quotation mark

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