Odysseus (page 705)

Chapter 17, The Return from Troy

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Homer, Odyssey 11.134-36

And death shall come to thee thyself far from the sea, [135] a death so gentle, that shall lay thee low when thou art overcome with sleek old age, and thy people shall dwell in prosperity around thee.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 12.9-12

As soon as early Dawn appeared, the rosy-fingered, then I sent forth my comrades to the house of Circe [10] to fetch the body of the dead Elpenor. Straightway then we cut billets of wood and gave him burial where the headland runs furthest out to sea, sorrowing and shedding big tears.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 12.20-27

And the beautiful goddess stood in our midst, and spoke among us, saying: “‘Rash men, who have gone down alive to the house of Hades to meet death twice, while other men die but once. Nay, come, eat food and drink wine here this whole day through; but at the coming of Dawn [25] ye shall set sail, and I will point out the way and declare to you each thing, in order that ye may not suffer pain and woes through wretched ill-contriving either by sea or on land.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 12.166-200

Meanwhile the well-built ship speedily came to the isle of the two Sirens, for a fair and gentle wind bore her on. Then presently the wind ceased and there was a windless calm, and a god lulled the waves to sleep. [170] But my comrades rose up and furled the sail and stowed it in the hollow ship, and thereafter sat at the oars and made the water white with their polished oars of fir. But I with my sharp sword cut into small bits a great round cake of wax, and kneaded it with my strong hands, [175] and soon the wax grew warm, forced by the strong pressure and the rays of the lord Helios Hyperion. Then I anointed with this the ears of all my comrades in turn; and they bound me in the ship hand and foot, upright in the step of the mast, and made the ropes fast at the ends to the mast itself; [180] and themselves sitting down smote the grey sea with their oars. But when we were as far distant as a man can make himself heard when he shouts, driving swiftly on our way, the Sirens failed not to note the swift ship as it drew near, and they raised their clear-toned song: “‘Come hither, as thou farest, renowned Odysseus, great glory of the Achaeans; [185] stay thy ship that thou mayest listen to the voice of us two. For never yet has any man rowed past this isle in his black ship until he has heard the sweet voice from our lips. Nay, he has joy of it, and goes his way a wiser man. For we know all the toils that in wide Troy [190] the Argives and Trojans endured through the will of the gods, and we know all things that come to pass upon the fruitful earth.’ So they spoke, sending forth their beautiful voice, and my heart was fain to listen, and I bade my comrades loose me, nodding to them with my brows; but they fell to their oars and rowed on. [195] And presently Perimedes and Eurylochus arose and bound me with yet more bonds and drew them tighter. But when they had rowed past the Sirens, and we could no more hear their voice or their song, then straightway my trusty comrades took away the [200] wax with which I had anointed their ears and loosed me from my bonds.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 12.55-72

But when thy comrades shall have rowed past these, thereafter I shall not fully say on which side thy course is to lie, but do thou thyself ponder it in mind, and I will tell thee of both ways. For on the one hand are beetling crags, and against them [60] roars the great wave of dark-eyed Amphitrite; the Planctae1 do the blessed gods call these. Thereby not even winged things may pass, no, not the timorous doves that bear ambrosia to father Zeus, but the smooth rock ever snatches away one even of these, [65] and the father sends in another to make up the tale. And thereby has no ship of men ever yet escaped that has come thither, but the planks of ships and bodies of men are whirled confusedly by the waves of the sea and the blasts of baneful fire. One seafaring ship alone has passed thereby, [70] that Argo famed of all, on her voyage from Aeetes, and even her the wave would speedily have dashed there against the great crags, had not Here sent her through, for that Jason was dear to her.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 12.234-57

We then sailed on up the narrow strait with wailing. [235] For on one side lay Scylla and on the other divine Charybdis terribly sucked down the salt water of the sea. Verily whenever she belched it forth, like a cauldron on a great fire she would seethe and bubble in utter turmoil, and high over head the spray would fall on the tops of both the cliffs. [240] But as often as she sucked down the salt water of the sea, within she could all be seen in utter turmoil, and round about the rock roared terribly, while beneath the earth appeared black with sand; and pale fear seized my men. So we looked toward her and feared destruction; [245] but meanwhile Scylla seized from out the hollow ship six of my comrades who were the best in strength and in might. Turning my eyes to the swift ship and to the company of my men, even then I noted above me their feet and hands as they were raised aloft. To me they cried aloud, calling upon me [250] by name for that last time in anguish of heart. And as a fisher on a jutting rock, when he casts in his baits as a snare to the little fishes, with his long pole lets down into the sea the horn of an ox of the steading, and then as he catches a fish flings it writhing ashore, [255] even so were they drawn writhing up towards the cliffs. Then at her doors she devoured them shrieking and stretching out their hands toward me in their awful death-struggle.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 12.260-83

Now when we had escaped the rocks, and dread Charybdis and Scylla, presently then we came to the goodly island of the god, where were the fair kine, broad of brow, and the many goodly flocks of Helios Hyperion. Then while I was still out at sea in my black ship, [265] I heard the lowing of the cattle that were being stalled and the bleating of the sheep, and upon my mind fell the words of the blind seer, Theban Teiresias, and of Aeaean Circe, who very straitly charged me to shun the island of Helios, who gives joy to mortals. [270] Then verily I spoke among my comrades, grieved at heart: “‘Hear my words, comrades, for all your evil plight, that I may tell you the oracles of Teiresias and of Aeaean Circe, who very straitly charged me to shun the island of Helios, who gives joy to mortals; [275] for there, she said, was our most terrible bane. Nay, row the black ship out past the island.’ So I spoke, but their spirit was broken within them, and straightway Eurylochus answered me with hateful words: “‘Hardy art thou, Odysseus; thou hast strength beyond that of other men and thy limbs never [280] grow weary. Verily thou art wholly wrought of iron, seeing that thou sufferest not thy comrades, worn out with toil and drowsiness, to set foot on shore, where on this sea-girt isle we might once more make ready a savoury supper.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 12.320-338

‘Friends, in our swift ship is meat and drink; let us therefore keep our hands from those kine lest we come to harm, for these are the cows and goodly sheep of a dread god, even of Helios, who oversees all things and overhears all things.’ “So I spoke, and their proud hearts consented. [325] Then for a full month the South Wind blew unceasingly, nor did any other wind arise except the East and the South. “Now so long as my men had grain and red wine they kept their hands from the kine, for they were eager to save their lives. But when all the stores had been consumed from out the ship, [330] and now they must needs roam about in search of game, fishes, and fowl, and whatever might come to their hands—fishing with bent hooks, for hunger pinched their bellies—then I went apart up the island that I might pray to the gods in the hope that one of them might show me a way to go. [335] And when, as I went through the island, I had got away from my comrades, I washed my hands in a place where there was shelter from the wind, and prayed to all the gods that hold Olympus; but they shed sweet sleep upon my eyelids.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 12.339-44

And meanwhile Eurylochus began to give evil counsel to my comrades: [340] “‘Hear my words, comrades, for all your evil plight. All forms of death are hateful to wretched mortals, but to die of hunger, and so meet one’s doom, is the most pitiful. Nay, come, let us drive off the best of the kine of Helios and offer sacrifice to the immortals who hold broad heaven.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 12.397-98

For six days, then, my trusty comrades feasted on the best of the kine of Helios which they had driven off.   Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 12.374-89

Swiftly then to Helios Hyperion came [375] Lampetie of the long robes, bearing tidings that we had slain his kine; and straightway he spoke among the immortals, wroth at heart: “‘Father Zeus and ye other blessed gods that are for ever, take vengeance now on the comrades of Odysseus, son of Laertes, who have insolently slain my kine, in which I [380] ever took delight, when I went toward the starry heaven and when I turned back again to earth from heaven. If they do not pay me fit atonement for the kine I will go down to Hades and shine among the dead.’ “Then Zeus, the cloud-gatherer, answered him and said: [385] ‘Helios, do thou verily shine on among the immortals and among mortal men upon the earth, the giver of grain. As for these men I will soon smite their swift ship with my bright thunder-bolt, and shatter it to pieces in the midst of the wine-dark sea.’ “This I heard from fair-haired Calypso.”  Greek Text

♠ Homer, Odyssey 12.399-419

But when Zeus, the son of Cronos, brought upon us the seventh day, [400] then the wind ceased to blow tempestuously, and we straightway went on board, and put out into the broad sea when we had set up the mast and hoisted the white sail. “But when we had left that island and no other land appeared, but only sky and sea, [405] then verily the son of Cronos set a black cloud above the hollow ship, and the sea grew dark beneath it. She ran on for no long time, for straightway came the shrieking West Wind, blowing with a furious tempest, and the blast of the wind snapped both the fore-stays of the mast, [410] so that the mast fell backward and all its tackling was strewn in the bilge. On the stern of the ship the mast struck the head of the pilot and crushed all the bones of his skull together, and like a diver he fell from the deck and his proud spirit left his bones. [415] Therewith Zeus thundered and hurled his bolt upon the ship, and she quivered from stem to stern, smitten by the bolt of Zeus, and was filled with sulphurous smoke, and my comrades fell from out the ship. Like sea-crows they were borne on the waves about the black ship, and the god took from them their returning.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 12.420-25

But I kept pacing up and down the ship till the surge tore the sides from the keel, and the wave bore her on dismantled and snapped the mast off at the keel; but over the mast had been flung the back-stay fashioned of ox-hide; with this I lashed the two together, both keel and mast, [425] and sitting on these was borne by the direful winds.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 12.430-38

I came to the cliff of Scylla and to dread Charybdis. She verily sucked down the salt water of the sea, but I, springing up to the tall fig-tree, laid hold of it, and clung to it like a bat. Yet I could in no wise plant my feet firmly or climb upon the tree, [435] for its roots spread far below and its branches hung out of reach above, long and great, and overshadowed Charybdis. There I clung steadfastly until she should vomit forth mast and keel again, and to my joy they came at lengthGreek Text

Homer, Odyssey 12.447-50

Thence for nine days was I borne, and on the tenth night the gods brought me to Ogygia, where the fair-tressed Calypso dwells, dread goddess of human speech, [450] who gave me welcome and tendance.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 5.135-40

Him I welcomed kindly and gave him food, and said that I would make him immortal and ageless all his days. But since it is in no wise possible for any other god to evade or make void the will of Zeus who bears the aegis, let him go his way, if Zeus thus orders and commands, [140] over the unresting sea.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 5.265-72

On the raft the goddess put a skin of dark wine, and another, a great one, of water, and provisions, too, in a wallet. Therein she put abundance of dainties to satisfy his heart, and she sent forth a gentle wind and warm. Gladly then did goodly Odysseus spread his sail to the breeze; [270] and he sat and guided his raft skilfully with the steering-oar, nor did sleep fall upon his eyelids, as he watched the Pleiads, and late-setting Bootes, and the Bear.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 5.282-94

But the glorious Earth-shaker, as he came back from the Ethiopians, beheld him from afar, from the mountains of the Solymi: for Odysseus was seen of him sailing over the sea; and he waxed the more wroth in spirit, [285] and shook his head, and thus he spoke to his own heart: “Out on it! Surely the gods have changed their purpose regarding Odysseus, while I was among the Ethiopians. And lo, he is near to the land of the Phaeacians, where it is his fate to escape from the great bonds of the woe which has come upon him. [290] Aye, but even yet, methinks, I shall drive him to surfeit of evil.” So saying, he gathered the clouds, and seizing his trident in his hands troubled the sea, and roused all blasts of all manner of winds, and hid with clouds land and sea alike; and night rushed down from heaven.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 5.333-51

But the daughter of Cadmus, Ino of the fair ankles, saw him, even Leucothea, who of old was a mortal of human speech, [335] but now in the deeps of the sea has won a share of honor from the gods. She was touched with pity for Odysseus, as he wandered and was in sore travail, and she rose up from the deep like a sea-mew on the wing, and sat on the stoutly-bound raft, and spoke, saying: “Unhappy man, how is it that Poseidon, the earth-shaker, [340] has conceived such furious wrath against thee, that he is sowing for thee the seeds of many evils? Yet verily he shall not utterly destroy thee for all his rage. Nay, do thou thus; and methinks thou dost not lack understanding. Strip off these garments, and leave thy raft to be driven by the winds, but do thou swim with thy hands and so strive to reach [345] the land of the Phaeacians, where it is thy fate to escape. Come, take this veil, and stretch it beneath thy breast. It is immortal; there is no fear that thou shalt suffer aught or perish. But when with thy hands thou hast laid hold of the land, loose it from thee, and cast it into the wine-dark sea [350] far from the land, and thyself turn away.” So saying, the goddess gave him the veil.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 5.456-62

So he lay breathless and speechless, with scarce strength to move; for terrible weariness had come upon him. But when he revived, and his spirit returned again into his breast, then he loosed from him the veil of the goddess and let it fall into the river that murmured seaward; [460] and the great wave bore it back down the stream, and straightway Ino received it in her hands.  Greek Text

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

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