Menelaos and Nestor (page 663)

Chapter 17, The Return from Troy

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Homer, Odyssey 3.276-302

“Now we were sailing together on our way from Troy, the son of Atreus and I, in all friendship; but when we came to holy Sunium, the cape of Athens, there Phoebus Apollo [280] assailed with his gentle shafts and slew the helmsman of Menelaus, as he held in his hands the steering-oar of the speeding ship, even Phrontis, son of Onetor, who excelled the tribes of men in piloting a ship when the storm winds blow strong. So Menelaus tarried there, though eager for his journey, [285] that he might bury his comrade and over him pay funeral rites. But when he in his turn, as he passed over the wine-dark sea in the hollow ships, reached in swift course the steep height of Malea, then verily Zeus, whose voice is borne afar, planned for him a hateful path and poured upon him the blasts of shrill winds, [290] and the waves were swollen to huge size, like unto mountains. Then, parting his ships in twain, he brought some to Crete, where the Cydonians dwelt about the streams of Iardanus. Now there is a smooth cliff, sheer towards the sea, on the border of Gortyn in the misty deep, [295] where the Southwest Wind drives the great wave against the headland on the left toward Phaestus, and a little rock holds back a great wave. Thither came some of his ships, and the men with much ado escaped destruction, howbeit the ships the waves dashed to pieces against the reef. But the five other dark-prowed ships [300] the wind, as it bore them, and the wave brought to Egypt. So he was wandering there with his ships among men of strange speech, gathering much livelihood and gold;  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 4.81-85

For of a truth after many woes and wide wanderings I brought my wealth home in my ships and came in the eighth year. Over Cyprus and Phoenicia I wandered, and Egypt, and I came to the Ethiopians and the Sidonians and the Erembi, [85] and to Libya, where the lambs are horned from their birth.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 4.351-69

“In Egypt, eager though I was to journey hither, the gods still held me back, because I offered not to them hecatombs that bring fulfillment, and the gods ever wished that men should be mindful of their commands. Now there is an island in the surging sea [355] in front of Egypt, and men call it Pharos, distant as far as a hollow ship runs in a whole day when the shrill wind blows fair behind her. Therein is a harbor with good anchorage, whence men launch the shapely ships into the sea, when they have drawn supplies of black water. [360] There for twenty days the gods kept me, nor ever did the winds that blow over the deep spring up, which speed men’s ships over the broad back of the sea. And now would all my stores have been spent and the strength of my men, had not one of the gods taken pity on me and saved me, even Eidothea, [365] daughter of mighty Proteus, the old man of the sea; for her heart above all others had I moved. She met me as I wandered alone apart from my comrades, who were ever roaming about the island, fishing with bent hooks, for hunger pinched their bellies.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 440-46

and she made us to lie down in a row, and cast a skin over each. Then would our ambush have proved most terrible, for terribly did the deadly stench of the brine-bred seals distress us—who would lay him down by a beast of the sea?—but she of herself delivered us, and devised a great boon; [445] she brought and placed ambrosia of a very sweet fragrance beneath each man’s nose, and destroyed the stench of the beast.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 452-59

Among the creatures he counted us first, nor did his heart guess that there was guile; and then he too laid him down. Thereat we rushed upon him with a shout, and [455] threw our arms about him, nor did that old man forget his crafty wiles. Nay, at the first he turned into a bearded lion, and then into a serpent, and a leopard, and a huge boar; then he turned into flowing water, and into a tree, high and leafy; but we held on unflinchingly with steadfast heart.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 4.472-80

‘Nay, surely thou oughtest to have made fair offerings to Zeus and the other gods before embarking, that with greatest speed thou mightest have come to thy country, sailing over the wine-dark sea. [475] For it is not thy fate to see thy friends, and reach thy well-built house and thy native land, before that thou hast once more gone to the waters of Aegyptus, the heaven-fed river, and hast offered holy hecatombs to the immortal gods who hold broad heaven. [480] Then at length shall the gods grant thee the journey thou desirest.’  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 495-511

For many of them were slain, and many were left; but two chieftains alone of the brazen-coated Achaeans perished on their homeward way ( as for the fighting, thou thyself wast there), and one, I ween, still lives, and is held back on the broad deep. “‘Aias truly was lost amid his long-oared ships. [500] Upon the great rocks of Gyrae Poseidon at first drove him, but saved him from the sea; and he would have escaped his doom, hated of Athena though he was, had he not uttered a boastful word in great blindness of heart. He declared that it was in spite of the gods that he had escaped the great gulf of the sea; [505] and Poseidon heard his boastful speech, and straightway took his trident in his mighty hands, and smote the rock of Gyrae and clove it in sunder. And one part abode in its place, but the sundered part fell into the sea, even that on which Aias sat at the first when his heart was greatly blinded, [510] and it bore him down into the boundless surging deep. So there he perished, when he had drunk the salt water.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 521-37

then verily with rejoicing did Agamemnon set foot on his native land, and he clasped his land and kissed it, and many were the hot tears that streamed from his eyes, for welcome to him was the sight of his land. Now from his place of watch a watchman saw him, whom [525] guileful Aegisthus took and set there, promising him as a reward two talents of gold; and he had been keeping guard for a year, lest Agamemnon should pass by him unseen, and be mindful of his furious might. So he went to the palace to bear the tidings to the shepherd of the people, and Aegisthus straightway planned a treacherous device. [530] He chose out twenty men, the best in the land, and set them to lie in wait, but on the further side of the hall he bade prepare a feast. Then he went with chariot and horses to summon Agamemnon, shepherd of the people, his mind pondering a dastardly deed. So he brought him up all unaware of his doom, [535] and when he had feasted him he slew him, as one slays an ox at the stall. And not one of the comrades of the son of Atreus was left, of all that followed him, nor one of the men of Aegisthus, but they were all slain in the halls.’  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 4.555-60

It is the son of Laertes, whose home is in Ithaca. Him I saw in an island, shedding big tears, in the halls of the nymph Calypso, who keeps him there perforce, and he cannot come to his native land, for he has at hand no ships with oars and no comrades [560] to send him on his way over the broad back of the sea.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 4.581-84

So back again to the waters of Aegyptus, the heaven-fed river, I sailed, and there moored my ships and offered hecatombs that bring fulfillment. But when I had stayed the wrath of the gods that are forever, I heaped up a mound to Agamemnon, that his fame might be unquenchable.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 4.544-47

Nay, rather, with all the speed thou canst, [545] strive that thou mayest come to thy native land, for either thou wilt find Aegisthus alive, or haply Orestes may have forestalled thee and slain him, and thou mayest chance upon his funeral feast.’  Greek Text

♠ Nostoi Argumentum – Poetae Epici Graeci 1, p. 95, ed. A. Bernabé. Leipzig 1987

Literary sources edited by Elena Bianchelli, Retired Senior Lecturer of Classical Languages and Culture, Univ. of Georgia, February 2023

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