Odysseus (page 706)

Chapter 17, The Return from Troy

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Homer, Odyssey, 6.1ff

So he lay there asleep, the much-enduring goodly Odysseus, overcome with sleep and weariness; but Athena went to the land and city of the Phaeacians. These dwelt of old in spacious Hypereia [5] hard by the Cyclopes, men overweening in pride who plundered them continually and were mightier than they. From thence Nausithous, the godlike, had removed them, and led and settled them in Scheria far from men that live by toil. About the city he had drawn a wall, he had built houses [10] and made temples for the gods, and divided the ploughlands; but he, ere now, had been stricken by fate and had gone to the house of Hades, and Alcinous was now king, made wise in counsel by the gods. To his house went the goddess, flashing-eyed Athena, to contrive the return of great-hearted Odysseus. [15] She went to a chamber, richly wrought, wherein slept a maiden like the immortal goddesses in form and comeliness, Nausicaa, the daughter of great-hearted Alcinous; hard by slept two hand-maidens, gifted with beauty by the Graces, one on either side of the door-posts, and the bright doors were shut. [20] But like a breath of air the goddess sped to the couch of the maiden, and stood above her head, and spoke to her, taking the form of the daughter of Dymas, famed for his ships, a girl who was of like age with Nausicaa, and was dear to her heart. Likening herself to her, the flashing-eyed Athena spoke and said: [25] “Nausicaa, how comes it that thy mother bore thee so heedless? Thy bright raiment is lying uncared for; yet thy marriage is near at hand, when thou must needs thyself be clad in fair garments, and give other such to those who escort thee. It is from things like these, thou knowest, that good report goeth up among men, [30] and the father and honored mother rejoice. Nay, come, let us go to wash them at break of day, for I will follow with thee to aid thee, that thou mayest with speed make thee ready; for thou shalt not long remain a maiden. Even now thou hast suitors in the land, the noblest [35] of all the Phaeacians, from whom is thine own lineage. Nay, come, bestir thy noble father early this morning that he make ready mules and a wagon for thee, to bear the girdles and robes and bright coverlets. And for thyself, too, it is far more seemly [40] to go thus than on foot, for the washing tanks are far from the city.” So saying, the goddess, flashing-eyed Athena, departed to Olympus, where, they say, is the abode of the gods that stands fast forever. Neither is it shaken by winds nor ever wet with rain, nor does snow fall upon it, but the air [45] is outspread clear and cloudless, and over it hovers a radiant whiteness. Therein the blessed gods are glad all their days, and thither went the flashing-eyed one, when she had spoken all her word to the maidenContinue Reading  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 1.279-86

And to thyself will I give wise counsel, if thou wilt hearken. [280] Man with twenty rowers the best ship thou hast, and go to seek tidings of thy father, that has long been gone, if haply any mortal may tell thee, or thou mayest hear a voice from Zeus, which oftenest brings tidings to men. First go to Pylos and question goodly Nestor, [285] and from thence to Sparta to fair-haired Menelaus; for he was the last to reach home of the brazen-coated Achaeans.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey, 2.393-419

Then again the goddess, flashing-eyed Athena, took other counsel. She went her way to the house of divine Odysseus, [395] and there began to shed sweet sleep upon the wooers and made them to wander in their drinking, and from their hands she cast the cups. But they rose to go to their rest throughout the city, and remained no long time seated, for sleep was falling upon their eyelids. But to Telemachus spoke flashing-eyed Athena, [400] calling him forth before the stately hall, having likened herself to Mentor both in form and in voice: “Telemachus, already thy well-greaved comrades sit at the oar and await thy setting out. Come, let us go, that we may not long delay their journey.” [405] So saying, Pallas Athena led the way quickly, and he followed in the footsteps of the goddess. Now when they had come down to the ship and to the sea, they found on the shore their long-haired comrades, and the strong and mighty Telemachus spoke among them: [410] “Come, friends, let us fetch the stores, for all are now gathered together in the hall. My mother knows naught hereof, nor the handmaids either: one only heard my word.” Thus saying, he led the way, and they went along with him. So they brought and [415] stowed everything in the well-benched ship, as the dear son of Odysseus bade. Then on board the ship stepped Telemachus, and Athena went before him and sat down in the stern of the ship, and near her sat Telemachus, while the men loosed the stern cables and themselves stepped on board, and sat down upon the benches.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 3.4-6

and they came to Pylos, the well-built citadel of Neleus. [5] Here the townsfolk on the shore of the sea were offering sacrifice of black bulls to the dark-haired Earth-shaker.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 3.473-85

But when they had put from them the desire of food and drink, the horseman, Nestor of Gerenia, was first to speak, saying: [475] “My sons, up, yoke for Telemachus horses with beautiful mane beneath the car, that he may get forward on his journey.” So he spoke, and they readily hearkened and obeyed; and quickly they yoked beneath the car the swift horses. And the housewife placed in the car bread and wine [480] and dainties, such as kings, fostered of Zeus, are wont to eat. Then Telemachus mounted the beautiful car, and Peisistratus, son of Nestor, a leader of men, mounted beside him, and took the reins in his hands. He touched the horses with the whip to start them, and nothing loath the pair sped on [485] to the plain, and left the steep citadel of Pylos.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 4.1-4

And they came to the hollow land of Lacedaemon with its many ravines, and drove to the palace of glorious Menelaus. Him they found giving a marriage feast to his many kinsfolk for his noble son and daughter within his house.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 4.773-86

And Antinous addressed their company, and said: “Good sirs, shun haughty speech [775] of every kind alike, lest someone report your speech even within the house. Nay come, in silence thus let us arise and put into effect our plan which pleased us one and all at heart.” So he spoke, and chose twenty men that were best, and they went their way to the swift ship and the shore of the sea. [780] The ship first of all they drew down to the deep water, and set the mast and sail in the black ship, and fitted the oars in the leathern thole-straps, all in due order, and spread the white sail. And proud squires brought them their weapons. [785] Well out in the roadstead they moored the ship, and themselves disembarked. There then they took supper, and waited till evening should come.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 15.9-39

And flashing-eyed Athena stood near him, and said: [10] “Telemachus, thou dost not well to wander longer far from thy home, leaving behind thee thy wealth and men in thy house so insolent, lest they divide and devour all thy possessions, and thou shalt have gone on a fruitless journey. Nay, rouse with all speed Menelaus, good at the war-cry, [15] to send thee on thy way, that thou mayest find thy noble mother still in her home. For now her father and her brothers bid her wed Eurymachus, for he surpasses all the wooers in his presents, and has increased his gifts of wooing. Beware lest she carry forth from thy halls some treasure against thy will. [20] For thou knowest what sort of a spirit there is in a woman’s breast; she is fain to increase the house of the man who weds her, but of her former children and of the lord of her youth she takes no thought, when once he is dead, and asks no longer concerning them. Nay, go, and thyself put all thy possessions in the charge of whatsoever one [25] of the handmaids seems to thee the best, until the gods shall show thee a noble bride. And another thing will I tell thee, and do thou lay it to heart. The best men of the wooers lie in wait for thee of set purpose in the strait between Ithaca and rugged Samos, [30] eager to slay thee before thou comest to thy native land. But methinks this shall not be; ere that shall the earth cover many a one of the wooers that devour thy substance. But do thou keep thy well-built ship far from the islands, and sail by night as well as by day, and that [35] one of the immortals, who keeps and guards thee, will send a fair breeze in thy wake. But when thou hast reached the nearest shore of Ithaca, send thy ship and all thy comrades on to the city, but thyself go first of all to the swineherd who keeps thy swine, and withal has a kindly heart toward thee.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 15.271-81

Then godlike Theoclymenus answered him: “Even so have I, too, fled from my country, for that I slew a man, one of mine own kin. And many brethren and kinsmen of his there are in horse-pasturing Argos, and mightily do they bear sway over the Achaeans. [275] It is to shun death and black fate at their hands that I flee, for, I ween, it is my lot to be a wanderer among men. But do thou set me on thy ship, since in my flight I have made prayer to thee, lest they utterly slay me; for methinks they are in pursuit.” And wise Telemachus answered him: [280] “Then will I in no wise thrust thee from my shapely ship, since thou art eager to come. Nay, follow with us, and in our home shalt thou find entertainment such as we have.”  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 13.113-125

Here they rowed in, knowing the place of old; and the ship ran full half her length on the shore [115] in her swift course, at such pace was she driven by the arms of the rowers. Then they stepped forth from the benched ship upon the land, and first they lifted Odysseus out of the hollow ship, with the linen sheet and bright rug as they were, and laid him down on the sand, still overpowered by sleep. [120] And they lifted out the goods which the lordly Phaeacians had given him, as he set out for home, through the favour of great-hearted Athena. These they set all together by the trunk of the olive tree, out of the path, lest haply some wayfarer, before Odysseus awoke, might come upon them and spoil them. [125] Then they themselves returned home again. Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 13.159-64

Now when Poseidon, the earth-shaker, heard this [160] he went his way to Scheria, where the Phaeacians dwell, and there he waited. And she drew close to shore, the seafaring ship, speeding swiftly on her way. Then near her came the Earth-shaker and turned her to stone, and rooted her fast beneath by a blow of the flat of his hand, and then he was gone.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 13.171-87

Then Alcinous addressed their company and said: “Lo now, verily the oracles of my father, uttered long ago, have come upon me. He was wont to say that Poseidon was wroth with us because we give safe convoy to all men. [175] He said that some day, as a beautiful ship of the Phaeacians was returning from a convoy over the misty deep, Poseidon would smite her, and would fling a great mountain about our town. So that old man spoke, and lo, now all this is being brought to pass. But now come, as I bid let us all obey. [180] Cease ye to give convoy to mortals, when anyone comes to our city, and let us sacrifice to Poseidon twelve choice bulls, if haply he may take pity, and not fling a lofty mountain about our town.” So he spoke, and they were seized with fear and made ready the bulls. [185] Thus they were praying to the lord Poseidon, the leaders and counsellors of the land of the Phaeacians, as they stood about the altar.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 13.366-71

So saying, the goddess entered the shadowy cave and searched out its hiding-places. And Odysseus brought all the treasure thither, the gold and the stubborn bronze and the finely-wrought raiment, which the Phaeacians gave him. [370] These things he carefully laid away, and Pallas Athena, daughter of Zeus, who bears the aegis, set a stone at the door.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 14.48-59

So saying, the goodly swineherd led him to the hut, and brought him in, and made him sit, strowing beneath thick brushwood, [50] and thereon spreading the skin of a shaggy wild goat, large and hairy, on which he was himself wont to sleep. And Odysseus was glad that he gave him such welcome, and spoke, and addressed him: “Stranger, may Zeus and the other immortal gods grant thee what most thou desirest, since thou with a ready heart hast given me welcome.” [55] To him then, swineherd Eumaeus, didst thou make answer, and say: “Nay, stranger, it were not right for me, even though one meaner than thou were to come, to slight a stranger: for from Zeus are all strangers and beggars, and a gift, though small, is welcome from such as we.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 16.172-91

With this, Athena touched him with her golden wand. A well-washed cloak and a tunic she first of all cast about his breast, and she increased his stature and his youthful bloom. [175] Once more he grew dark of color, and his cheeks filled out, and dark grew the beard about his chin. Then, when she had wrought thus, she departed, but Odysseus went into the hut. And his dear son marvelled, and, seized with fear, turned his eyes aside, lest it should be a god. [180] And he spoke, and addressed him with winged words: “Of other sort thou seemest to me now, stranger, than awhile ago, and other are the garments thou hast on, and thy color is no more the same. Verily thou art a god, one of those who hold broad heaven. Nay then, be gracious, that we may offer to thee acceptable sacrifices [185] and golden gifts, finely wrought; but do thou spare us.” Then the much-enduring, goodly Odysseus answered him: “Be sure I am no god; why dost thou liken me to the immortals? Nay, I am thy father, for whose sake thou dost with groaning endure many griefs, and submittest to the violence of men.” [190] So saying, he kissed his son, and from his cheeks let fall a tear to earth, but before he ever steadfastly held them back.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 16.270-81

But for the present, do thou go at daybreak to thy house and join the company of the haughty wooers. As for me, the swineherd will lead me later on to the city in the likeness of a woeful and aged beggar. And if they shall put despite on me in the house, [275] let the heart in thy breast endure while I am evil entreated, even if they drag me by the feet through the house to the door, or hurl at me and smite me; still do thou endure to behold it. Thou shalt indeed bid them cease their folly, seeking to dissuade them with gentle words; yet in no wise [280] will they hearken to thee, for verily their day of doom is at hand.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 17-374ff

and Antinous rebuked the swineherd, saying: [375] “Notorious swineherd, why, pray, didst thou bring this man to the city? Have we not vagabonds enough without him, nuisances of beggars to mar our feast? Dost thou not think it enough that they gather here and devour the substance of thy master, that thou dost bid this fellow too?”  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 18.25-49

Then, waxing wroth, the vagrant Irus said to him: “Now see how glibly the filthy wretch talks, like an old kitchen-wife. But I will devise evil for him, smiting him left and right, and will scatter on the ground all the teeth from his jaws, as though he were a swine wasting the corn. [30] Gird thyself now, that these men, too, may all know our fighting. But how couldst thou fight with a younger man?” Thus on the polished threshold before the lofty doors they stirred one another’s rage right heartily. And the strong and mighty Antinous heard the two, [35] and, breaking into a merry laugh, he spoke among the wooers: “Friends, never before has such a thing come to pass, that a god has brought sport like this to this house. Yon stranger and Irus are provoking one another to blows. Come, let us quickly set them on.” [40] So he spoke, and they all sprang up laughing and gathered about the tattered beggars. And Antinous, son of Eupeithes, spoke among them, and said: “Hear me, ye proud wooers, that I may say somewhat. Here at the fire are goats’ paunches lying, which [45] we set there for supper, when we had filled them with fat and blood. Now whichever of the two wins and proves himself the better man, let him rise and choose for himself which one of these he will. And furthermore he shall always feast with us, nor will we suffer any other beggar to join our company and beg of us.”  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 19.102-360

Then the much-enduring, goodly Odysseus sat down upon it, and the wise Penelope spoke first, and said: “Stranger, this question will I myself ask thee first. [105] Who art thou among men, and from whence? Where is thy city, and where thy parents?” Then Odysseus of many wiles answered her, and said: “Lady, no one of mortals upon the boundless earth could find fault with thee, for thy fame goes up to the broad heaven, as does the fame of some blameless king, who with the fear of the gods in his heart, [110] is lord over many mighty men, upholding justice; and the black earth bears wheat and barley, and the trees are laden with fruit, the flocks bring forth young unceasingly, and the sea yields fish, all from his good leading; and the people prosper under him. [115] Wherefore question me now in thy house of all things else, but ask not concerning my race and my native land, lest thou fill my heart the more with pains, as I think thereon; for I am a man of many sorrows. Moreover it is not fitting [120] that I should sit weeping and wailing in another’s house, for it is ill to grieve ever without ceasing. I would not that one of thy maidens or thine own self be vexed with me, and say that I swim in tears because my mind is heavy with wine.” Then wise Penelope answered him: “Stranger, all excellence of mine, both of beauty and of form, [125] the immortals destroyed on the day when the Argives embarked for Ilios, and with them went my husband, Odysseus. If he might but come, and watch over this life of mine, greater would be my fame and fairer. But now I am in sorrow, so many woes has some god brought upon me. [130] For all the princes who hold sway over the islands—Dulichium and Same and wooded Zacynthus—and those who dwell around in clear-seen Ithaca itself, all these woo me against my will, and lay waste my house. Wherefore I pay no heed to strangers or to suppliants [135] or in any wise to heralds, whose trade is a public one; but in longing for Odysseus I waste my heart away. So these men urge on my marriage, and I wind a skein of wiles. First some god breathed the thought in my heart to set up a great web in my halls and fall to weaving a robe— [140] fine of thread was the web and very wide; and I straightway spoke among them: “‘Young men, my wooers, since goodly Odysseus is dead, be patient, though eager for my marriage, until I finish this robe—I would not that my spinning should come to naught—a shroud for the lord Laertes against the time when [145] the fell fate of grievous death shall strike him down; lest any one of the Achaean women in the land should be wroth with me, if he were to lie without a shroud, who had won great possessions.’  Continue Reading Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 19.392-475

So she drew near and began to wash her lord, and straightway knew the scar of the wound which long ago a boar had dealt him with his white tusk, when Odysseus had gone to Parnassus to visit Autolycus and the sons of Autolycus, [395] his mother’s noble father, who excelled all men in thievery and in oaths. It was a god himself that had given him this skill, even Hermes, for to him he was wont to burn acceptable sacrifices of the thighs of lambs and kids; so Hermes befriended him with a ready heart. Now Autolycus, on coming once to the rich land of Ithaca, [400] had found his daughter’s son a babe new-born, and when he was finishing his supper, Eurycleia laid the child upon his knees and spoke, and addressed him: “Autolycus, find now thyself a name to give to thy child’s own child; be sure he has long been prayed for.”  Continue Reading  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 19.576-81

Now then I shall set this contest before the wooers: whosoever shall most easily string the bow in his hands, and shoot an arrow through all twelve axes, with him will I go and forsake this house [580] of my wedded life, a house most fair and filled with livelihood, which, methinks, I shall ever remember even in my dreams.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 21.124-29

Then he [Telemachos] went and stood upon the threshold, and began to try the bow. [125] Thrice he made it quiver in his eagerness to draw it, and thrice he relaxed his effort, though in his heart he hoped to string the bow and shoot an arrow through the iron. And now at the last he would haply have strung it in his might, as for the fourth time he sought to draw up the string, but Odysseus nodded in dissent, and checked him in his eagerness.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 21.140-269

Then Antinous, son of Eupeithes, spoke among them: “Rise up in order, all you of our company, from left to right, beginning from the place where the cupbearer pours the wine.” So spoke Antinous, and his word was pleasing to them. Then first arose Leiodes, son of Oenops, [145] who was their soothsayer, and ever sat by the fair mixing-bowl in the innermost part of the hall; deeds of wanton folly were hateful to him alone, and he was full of indignation at all the wooers. He it was who now first took the bow and swift arrow, and he went and stood upon the threshold, and began to try the bow; [150] but he could not string it. Ere that might be his hands grew weary, as he sought to draw up the string, his unworn delicate hands; and he spoke among the wooers: “Friends, it is not I that shall string it; let another take it. For many princes shall this bow rob of spirit and of life, since verily it is better far [155] to die than to live on and fail of that for the sake of which we ever gather here, waiting expectantly day after day. Now many a man even hopes in his heart and desires to wed Penelope, the wife of Odysseus; but when he shall have made trial of the bow, and seen the outcome, thereafter let him woo [160] some other of the fair-robed Achaean women with his gifts, and seek to win her; then should Penelope wed him who offers most, and who comes as her fated lord.”  Continue Reading  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 21.359-79

Now the goodly swineherd had taken the curved bow and was bearing it, [360] but the wooers all cried out in the halls. And thus would one of the proud youths speak: “Whither, pray, art thou bearing the curved bow, miserable swineherd, thou man distraught? Soon by thy swine, alone and apart from men, shall the swift hounds devour thee—hounds thyself didst rear—if but Apollo [365] be gracious to us, and the other immortal gods.” So they spoke, and he set down the bow, as he bore it, in that very place, seized with fear because many men were crying out aloud in the halls. But Telemachus on the other side called out threateningly: “Father, bear the bow onward—soon shalt thou rue giving heed to all— [370] lest, younger though I am, I drive thee to the field, and pelt thee with stones; for in strength I am the better. I would that I were even so much better in strength and might than all the wooers that are in the house; then would I soon send many a one [375] forth from our house to go his way in evil case; for they devise wickedness.” So he spoke, but all the wooers laughed merrily at him, and relaxed the bitterness of their anger against Telemachus. Howbeit the swineherd bore the bow through the hall, and came up to wise Odysseus, and put it in his hands.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 21.404-23

So spoke the wooers, but Odysseus of many wiles, [405] as soon as he had lifted the great bow and scanned it on every side—even as when a man well-skilled in the lyre and in song easily stretches the string about a new peg, making fast at either end the twisted sheep-gut—so without effort did Odysseus string the great bow. [410] And he held it in his right hand, and tried the string, which sang sweetly beneath his touch, like to a swallow in tone. But upon the wooers came great grief, and the faces of them changed color, and Zeus thundered loud, shewing forth his signs. Then glad at heart was the much-enduring, goodly Odysseus [415] that the son of crooked-counselling Cronos sent him an omen, and he took up a swift arrow, which lay by him on the table, bare, but the others were stored within the hollow quiver, even those of which the Achaeans were soon to taste. This he took, and laid upon the bridge of the bow, and drew the bow-string and the notched arrow [420] even from the chair where he sat, and let fly the shaft with sure aim, and did not miss the end of the handle of one of the axes, but clean through and out at the end passed the arrow weighted with bronze.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 22.8-21

He spoke, and aimed a bitter arrow at Antinous. Now he was on the point of raising to his lips a fair goblet, [10] a two-eared cup of gold, and was even now handling it, that he might drink of the wine, and death was not in his thoughts. For who among men that sat at meat could think that one man among many, how strong soever he were, would bring upon himself evil death and black fate? [15] But Odysseus took aim, and smote him with an arrow in the throat, and clean out through the tender neck passed the point; he sank to one side, and the cup fell from his hand as he was smitten, and straightway up through his nostrils there came a thick jet of the blood of man; and quickly [20] he thrust the table from him with a kick of his foot, and spilled all the food on the floor, and the bread and roast flesh were befouled.  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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