Odysseus (page 707)

Chapter 17, The Return from Troy

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Homer, Odyssey 22.21-25

Then into uproar broke the wooers through the halls, as they saw the man fallen, and from their high seats they sprang, driven in fear through the hall, gazing everywhere along the well-built walls; [25] but nowhere was there a shield or mighty spear to seize.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 19.1-34

So goodly Odysseus was left behind in the hall, planning with Athena’s aid the slaying of the wooers, and he straightway spoke winged words to Telemachus: “Telemachus, the weapons of war thou must needs lay away within [5] one and all, and when the wooers miss them and question thee, thou must beguile them with gentle words, saying: ‘Out of the smoke have I laid them, since they are no longer like those which of old Odysseus left behind him, when he went forth to Troy, but are all befouled, so far as the breath of fire has reached them. [10] And furthermore this greater fear has a god put in my heart, lest haply, when heated with wine, you may set a quarrel afoot among you, and wound one another, and so bring shame on your feast and on your wooing. For of itself does the iron draw a man to it.’” So he spoke, and Telemachus hearkened to his dear father, [15] and calling forth the nurse Eurycleia, said to her: “Nurse, come now, I bid thee, shut up the women in their rooms, while I lay away in the store-room the weapons of my father, the goodly weapons which all uncared-for the smoke bedims in the hall since my father went forth, and I was still a child. [20] But now I am minded to lay them away, where the breath of the fire will not come upon them.” Then the dear nurse Eurycleia answered him: “Aye, child, I would thou mightest ever take thought to care for the house and guard all its wealth. But come, who then shall fetch a light and bear it for thee, [25] since thou wouldest not suffer the maids, who might have given light, to go before thee?” Then wise Telemachus answered her; “This stranger here; for I will suffer no man to be idle who touches my portion of meal, even though he has come from afar.” So he spoke, but her word remained unwinged, and she locked the doors of the stately hall. [30] Then the two sprang up, Odysseus and his glorious son, and set about bearing within the helmets and the bossy shields and the sharp-pointed spears; and before them Pallas Athena, bearing a golden lamp, made a most beauteous light.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 22.142-46

So saying, Melanthius, the goatherd, mounted up by the steps of the hall to the store-rooms of Odysseus. Thence he took twelve shields, as many spears, [145] and as many helmets of bronze with thick plumes of horsehair, and went his way, and quickly brought and gave them to the wooers.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 22.381-89

And Odysseus too gazed about all through his house to see if any man yet lived, and was hiding there, seeking to avoid black fate. But he found them one and all fallen in the blood and dust—all the host of them, like fishes that fishermen [385] have drawn forth in the meshes of their net from the grey sea upon the curving beach, and they all lie heaped upon the sand, longing for the waves of the sea, and the bright sun takes away their life; even so now the wooers lay heaped upon each other.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 22.354-60

So he [Phemius] spoke, and the strong and mighty Telemachus heard him, [355] and quickly spoke to his father, who was near: “Stay thy hand, and do not wound this guiltless man with the sword. Aye, and let us save also the herald, Medon, who ever cared for me in our house, when I was a child—unless perchance Philoetius has already slain him, or the swineherd, [360] or he met thee as thou didst rage through the house.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 22.446-73

So he spoke, and the women came all in a throng, wailing terribly and shedding big tears. First they bore forth the bodies of the slain and set them down beneath the portico of the well-fenced court, [450] propping them one against the other; and Odysseus himself gave them orders and hastened on the work, and they bore the bodies forth perforce. Then they cleansed the beautiful high seats and the tables with water and porous sponges. But Telemachus and the neatherd and the swineherd [455] scraped with hoes the floor of the well-built house, and the women bore the scrapings forth and threw them out of doors. But when they had set in order all the hall, they led the women forth from the well-built hall to a place between the dome and the goodly fence of the court, [460] and shut them up in a narrow space, whence it was in no wise possible to escape. Then wise Telemachus was the first to speak to the others, saying: “Let it be by no clean death that I take the lives of these women, who on my own head have poured reproaches and on my mother, and were wont to lie with the wooers.” [465] So he spoke, and tied the cable of a dark-prowed ship to a great pillar and flung it round the dome, stretching it on high that none might reach the ground with her feet. And as when long-winged thrushes or doves fall into a snare that is set in a thicket, [470] as they seek to reach their resting-place, and hateful is the bed that gives them welcome, even so the women held their heads in a row, and round the necks of all nooses were laid, that they might die most piteously. And they writhed a little while with their feet, but not long  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 22.474-77

Then forth they led Melanthius through the doorway and the court, [475] and cut off his nostrils and his ears with the pitiless bronze, and drew out his vitals for the dogs to eat raw, and cut off his hands and his feet in their furious wrath.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 23.184-201

Who has set my bed elsewhere? Hard would it be for one, [185] though never so skilled, unless a god himself should come and easily by his will set it in another place. But of men there is no mortal that lives, be he never so young and strong, who could easily pry it from its place, for a great token is wrought in the fashioned bed, and it was I that built it and none other. [190] A bush of long-leafed olive was growing within the court, strong and vigorous, and girth it was like a pillar. Round about this I built my chamber, till I had finished it, with close-set stones, and I roofed it over well, and added to it jointed doors, close-fitting. [195] Thereafter I cut away the leafy branches of the long-leafed olive, and, trimming the trunk from the root, I smoothed it around with the adze well and cunningly, and made it straight to the line, thus fashioning the bed-post; and I bored it all with the augur. Beginning with this I hewed out my bed, till I had finished it, [200] inlaying it with gold and silver and ivory, and I stretched on it a thong of ox-hide, bright with purple.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 23.225-30

But now, since thou hast told the clear tokens of our bed, which no mortal beside has ever seen save thee and me alone and one single handmaid, the daughter of Actor, whom my father gave me or ever I came hither, even her who kept the doors of our strong bridal chamber, [230] lo, thou dost convince my heart, unbending as it is.”  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 24.327-46

Then Laertes answered him again, and said: “If it is indeed as Odysseus, my son, that thou art come hither, tell me now some clear sign, that I maybe sure.” [330] And Odysseus of many wiles answered him and said: “This scar first do thou mark with thine eyes, the scar of the wound which a boar dealt me with his white tusk on Parnassus, when I had gone thither. It was thou that didst send me forth, thou and my honored mother, to Autolycus, my mother’s father, that I might get [335] the gifts which, when he came hither, he promised and agreed to give me. And come, I will tell thee also the trees in the well-ordered garden which once thou gavest me, and I, who was but a child, was following thee through the garden, and asking thee for this and that. It was through these very trees that we passed, and thou didst name them, and tell me of each one. [340] Pear-trees thirteen thou gavest me, and ten apple-trees, and forty fig-trees. And rows of vines too didst thou promise to give me, even as I say, fifty of them, which ripened severally at different times—and upon them are clusters of all sorts—whensoever the seasons of Zeus weighed them down from above.” [345] So he spoke, and his father’s knees were loosened where he stood, and his heart melted, as he knew the sure tokens which Odysseus told him.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 24.463-71

So he spoke, but they sprang up with loud cries, more than half of them, but the rest remained together in their seats; [465] for his speech was not to their mind, but they hearkened to Eupeithes, and quickly thereafter they rushed for their arms. Then when they had clothed their bodies in gleaming bronze, they gathered together in front of the spacious city. And Eupeithes led them in his folly, [470] for he thought to avenge the slaying of his son; yet he was himself never more to come back, but was there to meet his doom.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 24.472-88

But Athena spoke to Zeus, son of Cronos, saying: “Father of us all, thou son of Cronos, high above all lords, tell to me that ask thee what purpose thy mind now hides within thee. [475] Wilt thou yet further bring to pass evil war and the dread din of battle, or wilt thou establish friendship betwixt the twain?” Then Zeus, the cloud-gatherer, answered her, and said: “My child, why dost thou ask and question me of this? Didst thou not thyself devise this plan, [480] that verily Odysseus should take vengeance on these men at his coming? Do as thou wilt, but I will tell thee what is fitting. Now that goodly Odysseus has taken vengeance on the wooers, let them swear a solemn oath, and let him be king all his days, and let us on our part [485] bring about a forgetting of the slaying of their sons and brothers; and let them love one another as before, and let wealth and peace abound.” So saying, he roused Athena, who was already eager, and she went darting down from the heights of Olympus.  Greek Text

Homer, Odyssey 24.528-48

And now would they have slain them all, and cut them off from returning, had not Athena, daughter of Zeus, who bears the aegis, [530] shouted aloud, and checked all the host, saying: “Refrain, men of Ithaca, from grievous war, that with all speed you may part, and that without bloodshed.” So spoke Athena, and pale fear seized them. Then in their terror the arms flew from their hands [535] and fell one and all to the ground, as the goddess uttered her voice, and they turned toward the city, eager to save their lives. Terribly then shouted the much-enduring, goodly Odysseus, and gathering himself together he swooped upon them like an eagle of lofty flight, and at that moment the son of Cronos cast a flaming thunderbolt, [540] and down it fell before the flashing-eyed daughter of the mighty sire. Then flashing-eyed Athena spoke to Odysseus saying: “Son of Laertes, sprung from Zeus, Odysseus of many devices, stay thy hand, and make the strife of equal war to cease, lest haply the son of Cronos be wroth with thee, even Zeus, whose voice is borne afar.” [545] So spoke Athena, and he obeyed, and was glad at heart. Then for all time to come a solemn covenant betwixt the twain was made by Pallas Athena, daughter of Zeus, who bears the aegis, in the likeness of Mentor both in form and in voice.  Greek Text

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

Hesiod, Theogony 1011-18

And Circe the daughter of Helius, Hyperion’s son, loved steadfast Odysseus and bore Agrius and Latinus who was faultless and strong: also she brought forth Telegonus by the will of golden Aphrodite. [1015] And they ruled over the famous Tyrsenians, very far off in a recess of the holy islands. And the bright goddess Calypso was joined to Odysseus in sweet love, and bore him Nausithous and Nausinous.  Greek Text

Aischylos, Psychagogoi fr 275 R – Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta 3, p. 373, ed. S. L. Radt. Göttingen 1985.

Aischylos, Penelope fr 185 R – Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmenta 3, p. 300, ed. S. L. Radt. Göttingen 1985.

Pacuvius, Niptra – Tragicorum Romanorum Fragmenta, pp. 107-10, ed. O. Ribbeck. Scaenicae Romanorum Poesis fragmenta 1. Leipzig 1987.

Latin Text

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

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