Kate Milner Rabb
Part 2 out of 8
Then sternly Indra spake: "He is unclean,
And into Swarga such shall enter not.
The Krodhavasha's wrath destroys the fruits
Of sacrifice, if dog defile the fire.
Bethink thee, Dharmaraj; quit now this beast!
That which is seemly is not hard of heart."
Still he replied: "'Tis written that to spurn
A suppliant equals in offence to slay
A twice-born; wherefore, not for Swarga's bliss
Quit I, Mahendra, this poor clinging dog,--
So without any hope or friend save me.
So wistful, fawning for my faithfulness;
So agonized to die, unless I help
Who among men was called steadfast and just."
Quoth Indra: "Nay, the altar flame is foul
Where a dog passeth; angry angels sweep
The ascending smoke aside, and all the fruits
Of offering, and the merit of the prayer
Of him whom a hound toucheth. Leave it here!
He that will enter Heaven must enter pure.
Why didst thou quit thy brethren on the way,
And Krishna, and the dear-loved Draupadi,
Attaining firm and glorious to this Mount
Through perfect deeds, to linger for a brute?
Hath Yudhi-sthira vanquished self, to melt
With one pure passion at the door of bliss?
Stay'st thou for this, who did not stay for them,--
But the King yet spake:
"'T is known that none can hurt or help the dead.
They, the delightful ones, who sank and died.
Following my footsteps, could not live again
Though I had turned--therefore I did not turn;
But could help profit, I had stayed to help.
There be four sins, O Sakra, grievous sins:
The first is making suppliants despair,
The second is to slay a nursing wife,
The third is spoiling Brahmans' goods by force,
The fourth is injuring an ancient friend.
These four I deem not direr than the crime,
If one, in coming forth from woe to weal,
Abandon any meanest comrade then."
Straight as he spake, brightly great Indra smiled;
Vanished the hound, and in its stead stood there
The Lord of Death and Justice, Dharma's self!
Sweet were the words which fell from those dread lips,
Precious the lovely praise: "O thou true King,
Thou that dost bring to harvest the good seed
Of Pandu's righteousness; thou that hast ruth
As he before, on all which lives!--O Son!
"Hear thou my word! Because thou didst not mount
This car divine, lest the poor hound be shent
Who looked to thee, lo! there is none in heaven
Shall sit above thee, King! Bharata's son!
Enter thou now to the eternal joys,
Living and in thy form. Justice and Love
Welcome thee, Monarch! thou shalt throne with us!"
ARNOLD: _Indian Idylls_.
The Iliad, or story of the fall of Ilium (Troy), is supposed to have been
written by Homer, about the tenth century B. C. The legendary history of
Homer represents him as a schoolmaster and poet of Smyrna, who while
visiting in Ithaca became blind, and afterwards spent his life travelling
from place to place reciting his poems, until he died in Ios. Seven
cities, Smyrna, Chios, Colophon, Ithaca, Pylos, Argos, and Athens, claimed
to be his birthplace.
In 1795, Wolf, a German scholar, published his "Prolegomena," which set
forth his theory that Homer was a fictitious character, and that the Iliad
was made up of originally unconnected poems, collected and combined by
Though for a time the Wolfian theory had many advocates, it is now
generally conceded that although the stories of the fall of Troy were
current long before Homer, they were collected and recast into one poem by
some great poet. That the Iliad is the work of one man is clearly shown by
its unity, its sustained simplicity of style, and the centralization of
interest in the character of Achilles.
The destruction of Troy, for a time regarded as a poetic fiction, is now
believed by many scholars to be an actual historical event which took
place about the time of the AEolian migration.
The whole story of the fall of Troy is not related in the Iliad, the poem
opening nine years after the beginning of the war, and closing with the
death of Hector.
The Iliad is divided into twenty-four books, and contains nineteen
thousand four hundred and sixty-five lines.
As a work of art the Iliad has never been excelled; moreover, it possesses
what all works of art do not,--"the touches of things human" that make it
ours, although the centuries lie between us and its unknown author, who
told his stirring story in such swift-moving verses, with such touches of
pathos and humor, and with such evident joy of living. Another evidence of
the perfection of Homer's art is that while his heroes are perfect types
of Greeks and Trojans, they are also typical men, and for that reason,
still keep their hold upon us. It is this human interest, simplicity of
style, and grandeur of treatment that have rendered Homer immortal and his
BIBLIOGRAPHY AND CRITICISM, THE ILIAD.
M. Arnold's Essay on Homer, 1876, pp. 284-425;
H. Bonitz's Origin of the Homeric Poems, tr. 1880;
R. C. Jebb's Introduction to Homer, 1887;
F. B. Jevons's History of Greek Literature, 1886, pp. 7-17;
A. Lang's Homer and the Epic, 1893;
W. Leaf's Companion to the Iliad for English Readers, 1892;
J. A. Symonds's Studies in Greek Poets, ed. 3, 1893.
STANDARD ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS, THE ILIAD.
The Iliad, Tr. into English blank verse by W. C. Bryant, 2 vols., 1871
(Primitive in spirit, like Homer. Union of literalness with simplicity);
The Iliad, Tr. according to the Greek with introduction and notes by
George Chapman , Ed. 2, 2 vols., 1874 (Written in verse. Pope says a
daring and fiery spirit animates this translation, something like that in
which one might imagine Homer would have written before he came to years
The Iliad, Tr. by William Cowper (Very literal and inattentive to melody,
but has more of simple majesty and manner of Homer than Pope);
The Iliad, rendered into English blank verse by the Earl of Derby, 2
The Iliad, Tr. by Alexander Pope, with notes by the Rev. T. W. A. Buckley,
n. d. (Written in couplets. Highly ornamented paraphrase).
THE STORY OF THE ILIAD.
For nine years a fleet of one thousand one hundred and eighty-six ships
and an army of more than one hundred thousand Greeks, under the command of
Agamemnon, lay before King Priam's city of Troy to avenge the wrongs of
Menelaus, King of Sparta, and to reclaim Helen, his wife, who had been
carried away by Priam's son Paris, at the instigation of Venus.
Though they had not succeeded in taking Troy, the Greeks had conquered
many of the surrounding cities. From one of these, Agamemnon had taken as
his share of the booty Chryseis, the beautiful daughter of the priest
Chryses; and when her father had come to ransom her, he had been insulted
and driven away by the king. Chryses had prayed to Apollo for revenge, and
the god had sent upon the Greeks a pestilence which was slaying so many
thousands that a meeting was called to consult upon what to do to check
the plague and conciliate the god.
Calchas the seer had declared that the plague was sent because of the
detention of Chryseis, and Agamemnon, though indignant with the priest,
announced that he would send her back to save his army from destruction.
"Note, however," said he, "that I have now given up my booty. See that I
am recompensed for what I lose."
Then rose the leader of the Myrmidons, swift-footed Achilles, in his
wrath, and denounced Agamemnon for his greediness.
"Thou hast ever had thy share and more of all the booty, and thou knowest
well that there is now no common store from which to give thee spoil. But
wait until Troy town is sacked, and we will gladly give thee three and
fourfold thy recompense."
The angry Agamemnon declared that if he were not given the worth of what
he had lost he would seize the maidens of Ajax and Ulysses, or Achilles'
Achilles was beside himself with rage. He had not come to Troy to
contribute to Agamemnon's glory. He and his followers had long borne the
brunt of battle only to see the largest share of booty given to Agamemnon,
who lay idle in his ships. Sooner than endure longer such indignity he
would return home to Phthia.
"Go!" replied Agamemnon. "I detest thee and thy ways. Go back over the sea
and rule over thy Myrmidons. But since Phoebus has taken away my maid, I
will carry off thy prize, thy rosy-cheeked Briseis, that thou may'st learn
that I am indeed king."
Warned by Pallas Athene, Achilles took his hand from his sword hilt, and
contented himself with telling Agamemnon that he would see the day when he
would fret to think he had driven Achilles from the Grecian ranks.
Though the persuasive orator, Nestor, endeavored to make peace between the
chiefs, Agamemnon could not be softened. As soon as the black ship bearing
Chryseis set sail, he sent his unwilling men to where Achilles sat by his
tent, beside the barren deep, to take the fair Briseis, whom Achilles
ordered to be led forth to them. Then the long days dragged by in the tent
where the chief sat eating his heart out in idleness, while his men
engaged in athletic sports, and the rest of the Greeks fought before Troy.
Both armies, worn out with indecisive battles, gladly hailed Hector's
proposal that a combat between Paris and Menelaus should decide the war.
As the armies stood in silence, watching the preparations for the combat,
Helen, summoned by Iris, left her room in Priam's palace, where she was
weaving among her maidens, and, robed and veiled in white, and shedding
tears at the recollection of her former home and husband, went down to the
Scaean gates, where sat Priam and the men too old for war. When they saw
bright-haired Helen they whispered among themselves that it was little
wonder that men warred for her sake, so fair was she, so like unto the
In response to Priam's tender greeting she seated herself beside him and
pointed out the Greek heroes,--Agamemnon, ruler over wide lands, crafty
Ulysses, and the mighty Ajax; but she strained her eyes in vain for a
sight of her dearly loved brothers, Castor and Pollux, not knowing that
they already lay dead in pleasant Lacedaemon.
In the single combat between Paris and Menelaus, the spear of the Greek
was fixed in Paris's buckler, and his sword was shivered on his helmet
without injury to the Trojan. But, determined to overcome his hateful foe,
Menelaus seized Paris by the helm and dragged him towards the Grecian
ranks. Great glory would have been his had not the watchful Venus loosed
the helm and snatched away the god-like Paris in a cloud. While the Greeks
demanded Helen and her wealth as the price of Menelaus's victory,
Pandarus, prompted by Pallas, broke the truce by a shot aimed at Menelaus,
and the battle soon raged with greater fury than before.
Diomed, having received new strength and courage from Pallas, rushed madly
over the field, falling upon the affrighted Trojans like a lion in the
sheepfold; then, made more presumptuous by his success, and forgetful of
the few years promised the man who dares to meet the gods in battle, the
arrogant warrior struck at Venus and wounded her in the wrist, so that,
shrieking with pain, she yielded AEneas to Apollo, and fled to Olympus.
Perceiving that the Trojans were unable to withstand the fury of Diomed,
assisted as he was by Pallas and Juno, Hector hastened homeward to order a
sacrifice to Pallas that she might look with more favor upon their cause.
Having instructed his mother to lay her richest robe on Pallas's shrine,
Hector sought his wife, the white-armed Andromache, and their babe,
Astyanax. Andromache entreated Hector to go forth no more to battle, to
lose his life and leave their babe fatherless; but Hector, upon whom the
cares of war sat heavily, bade her a tender farewell, and kissing the
babe, returned with Paris to the field.
Incited by Pallas and Apollo, Helenus suggested to his brother Hector that
he should challenge the bravest of the Greeks to single combat. The lot
fell to Ajax the Greater, and the two mighty heroes contested with spears
and stones until twilight fell, and they were parted by a herald.
That night the Greeks feasted, and when, the next morning, a Trojan
messenger offered them the treasures of Helen if they would withdraw from
Troy, and proposed a truce, they indignantly rejected the offer, declaring
that they would not even accept Helen herself, but agreed upon a truce in
which to bury the dead.
When the battle was renewed, Jupiter forbade the gods to take part.
Opposed by no celestial foes, the Trojans were this day successful, and
having pursued the Greeks to the ships, sat all night, full of hope,
around their thousand watch fires, waiting for the morn.
In the Grecian camp, however, a different scene was being enacted.
Disheartened by their defeat, Agamemnon proposed that the armies give up
the siege and return to Greece.
Angry at his weakness, Diomed thus reproached him:--
"The gods have granted thee high rank and rule, but thou hast no
fortitude. Return if thou desirest. Still enough long-haired Achaians will
remain to take the city. If they desire to go as well, at least Sthenelus
and I will remain until Troy is ours. We have the gods with us."
At the suggestion of Nestor a banquet was spread, and after the hunger of
all was appeased, the peril of the Greeks was discussed in the Council of
the Elders. Here Nestor showed Agamemnon that the trouble began at the
hour when he drove Achilles from their ranks by appropriating Briseis.
Ill fortune had humbled the haughty Agamemnon, and he confessed that he
had done wrong. "For this wrong, however," said he, "I am ready to make
ample amends. Priceless gifts I will send to Achilles: seven tripods, six
talents of pure gold, twenty shining caldrons, twelve steeds, seven
damsels, among them Briseis; not only this, when Priam's citadel falls, he
shall be the first to load his galley down with gold and silver and with
Trojan maidens. Better yet, I will unite him to me by the ties of
marriage. I will give him my daughter for a wife, and with her for a dower
will go seven cities near the sea, rich in flocks and herds. Then let him
yield, and join us in taking Troy."
Joyfully the messengers--Ajax, Ulysses, and the aged Phoenix, carefully
instructed by Nestor--set forth on their embassy. As they neared the tents
of the Myrmidons their ears were struck by the notes of a silver harp
touched by Achilles to solace him in his loneliness. His friend Patroclus
sat beside him in silence. Achilles and Patroclus greeted the messengers
warmly, mingled the pure wine, and spread a feast for them. This over,
Ulysses, at a nod from Ajax, drank to Achilles' health, and then told him
of the sore need of the Greeks, pressed by the Trojans. If he did not come
to their aid, he whose very name frightened the enemy, the time would
surely come when he would greatly lament his idleness.
Achilles' passion, the greater for its fifteen days' repression, burst
forth in his reply: "I will say what I have in my heart," he cried, "since
concealment is hateful to me. What thanks does the victor in countless
battles gain? He and the idler are equally honored, and die the same
death. Many nights' slumber have I lost on the battle field; many cities
have I conquered, abroad and here upon the Trojan coast, and of the spoil,
the greater part has gone to Agamemnon, who sat idle in his fleet; yet
from me, who suffered much in fighting, he took my prize, my dearly loved
Briseis; now let him keep her. Let him learn for himself how to conquer
Hector,--this Hector, who, when I went out against him, was afraid to
leave the shelter of the Scaean gates. To-morrow, if you but watch, you
will see my galleys sailing upon the Hellespont on our return to Phthia.
Evil was the hour in which I left its fertile coasts for this barren
shore, where my mother Thetis foretold I should win deathless renown but
"Tell Agamemnon that I will never wed a child of his. On my return to
Phthia my father will select a bride for me with whom, on his broad
fields, I can live the life I have dreamed of."
The entreaties of the aged Phoenix, who had helped to rear Achilles, and
his arguments against his mercilessness, were of no avail; neither were
the words of Ajax. However, he at last sent the message that he would
remain by the sea watching the course of the war, and that he would
encounter Hector whenever he approached to set fire to the galleys of the
That night sleep did not visit the eyes of Agamemnon. Long he reflected on
the reply of Achilles, and wondered at the watch fires on the plain before
Troy. The other chiefs were likewise full of anxiety, and when Nestor
offered a reward to any one who would go as a spy to the Trojan camp,
Diomed quickly volunteered. Selecting the wary Ulysses as his companion,
he stole forth to where the Trojans sat around their camp fires. The pair
intercepted and slew Dolon the spy, and finding Rhesus and his Thracian
band wrapped in slumber, slew the king with twelve of his chiefs, and
carried away his chariot and horses.
Encouraged by this bold deed, the Greeks went forth to battle the next
morning. Fortune still favored the Trojans, however, and many Greeks fell
by the hand of Hector, until he was checked by Ulysses and Diomed. In the
fight, Agamemnon was wounded, and Diomed, Ulysses, and Machaon. And when
Achilles from his tent saw the physician borne back from battle wounded,
in the chariot of Nestor, he sent Patroclus to inquire of his injury.
Nestor sent word that Ulysses, Agamemnon, Diomed, Machaon, and Eurypylus
were wounded; perhaps these tidings would induce Achilles to forget his
grievances, and once more go forth to battle. If not, he urged Patroclus
to beseech Achilles to permit him, Patroclus, to go forth with the
Myrmidons, clad in Achilles' armor, and strike terror to the hearts of the
The Trojans, encouraged by their success, pushed forward to the trench
which the Greeks had dug around the wall thrown up before the ships, and,
leaving their chariots on the brink, went on foot to the gates. After a
long struggle,--because the Trojans could not break down the wall and the
Greeks could not drive back the Trojans,--Hector seized a mighty stone, so
large that two men could scarcely lift it, and bearing it in one hand,
battered the bolted gates until they gave way with a crash; and the
Trojans sprang within, pursuing the affrighted Greeks to the ships.
From the heights of Olympus the gods kept a strict watch on the battle;
and as soon as Neptune discovered that Jove, secure in the belief that no
deity would interfere with the successful Trojans, had turned away his
eyes, he went to the aid of the Greeks. Juno, also, furious at the sight
of the Greeks who had fallen before the mighty Hector, determined to turn
the attention of Jove until Neptune had had an opportunity to assist the
Greeks. Jove sat upon the peaks of Mount Ida, and thither went Juno, after
rendering herself irresistible by borrowing the cestus of Venus. Jove,
delighted with the appearance of his wife, and still further won by her
tender words and caresses, thought no longer of the armies fighting at the
Great was his anger when, after a time, he again looked towards Troy and
saw that Neptune had employed his time in aiding the Greeks, and that
Hector had been wounded by Ajax. By his orders Neptune was quickly
recalled, Hector was healed by Apollo, and the Trojans, strengthened again
by Jupiter, drove back the Greeks to the ships, and attempted to set fire
to the fleet.
Seeing the Greeks in such desperate straits, Achilles at last gave his
consent that Patroclus should put on his armor, take his Myrmidons, and
drive the Trojans from the ships, stipulating, however, that he should
return when this was done, and not follow the Trojans in their flight to
The appearance of the supposed Achilles struck fear to the hearts of the
Trojans, and Patroclus succeeded in driving them from the fleet and in
slaying Sarpedon. Intoxicated by his success, he forgot Achilles' warning,
and pursued the fleeing Trojans to the walls of Troy. The strength of the
Trojans was not sufficient to cope with that of Patroclus; and Troy would
have been taken had not Apollo stood upon a tower to thrust him down each
time he attempted to scale the walls. At last Hector and Patroclus
encountered each other, and fought furiously. Seeing the peril of Hector,
Apollo smote Patroclus's helmet off, broke his spear, and loosed his
buckler. Still undaunted, the hero fought until he fell, and died with the
boasting words of Hector in his ears.
Speedily the swift-footed Antilochus conveyed to Achilles the tidings of
his friend's death. Enveloped in "a black cloud of sorrow," Achilles
rolled in the dust and lamented for his friend until warned by Iris that
the enemy were about to secure Patroclus's body. Then, without armor,--for
Hector had secured that of Patroclus and put it on,--he hastened to the
trench, apart from the other Greeks, and shouted thrice, until the men of
Troy, panic-stricken, fell back in disorder, and the body of his friend
was carried away by the triumphant Greeks.
Through the long night the Achaians wept over Patroclus; but deeper than
their grief was the sorrow of Achilles, for he had promised Menoetius to
bring back his son in honor, laden with spoils, and now the barren coast
of Troy would hold the ashes of both. Then Achilles made a solemn vow not
to celebrate the funeral rites of Patroclus until he brought to him the
head and arms of Hector, and had captured on the field twelve Trojan
youths to slaughter on his funeral pile. The hated Hector slain and
Patroclus's funeral rites celebrated, he cared not for the future. The
fate his mother had foretold did not daunt him. Since, by his own folly,
his dearest friend had been taken from him, the sooner their ashes rested
together the better. If he was not to see the rich fields of Phthia, his
was to be, at least, a deathless renown.
To take the place of the arms which Hector had taken from Patroclus,
Vulcan, at Thetis's request, had fashioned for Achilles the most beautiful
armor ever worn by man. Brass, tin, silver, and gold composed the bright
corselet, the solid helm, and the wondrous shield, adorned with such
pictures as no mortal artist ever wrought.
After having feasted his eyes on this beautiful armor, whose clanking
struck terror even to the hearts of the Myrmidons, Achilles sought out the
Greeks and Agamemnon, and in the assembly acknowledged his fault. "Let
these things belong to the dead past," said he. "My wrath is done. Let us
now stir the long-haired Greeks to war."
"Fate, not I, was the cause of our trouble," replied Agamemnon. "The
goddess of discord created the dissension, that Ate who troubled even the
gods on Olympus until expelled by Jupiter. But I will make amends with
Peace having been made between the chiefs, Achilles returned to his tent
without partaking of the banquet spread by Agamemnon, as he had vowed not
to break his fast until he had avenged his friend. Agamemnon's gifts were
carried to the tents of Achilles by the Myrmidons, and with them went
Briseis, who, when she saw the body of Patroclus, threw herself upon it
and wept long for the one whose kindness to her--whose lot had been sorrow
upon sorrow--she could never forget. All the women mourned, seemingly for
Patroclus, really for their own griefs. Achilles likewise wept, until,
strengthened by Pallas, he hastened to put his armor on and urge the
Greeks to battle.
As he mounted his chariot he spoke thus to his fleet steeds, Xanthus and
Balius: "Bring me back when the battle is over, I charge you, my noble
steeds. Leave me not on the field, as you left Patroclus."
Then Xanthus, with the long-flowing mane, endowed with power of speech by
Juno, thus spake: "This day, at least, we will bring thee home, Achilles;
but the hour of thy death is nigh, and, since the fates have decreed it,
we could not save thee, were we swift as the winged winds. Nor was it
through fault of ours that Patroclus fell."
Angry at the reminder of his doom, Achilles drove hurriedly to the field,
determined to fight until he had made the Trojans sick of war.
Knowing that the war was drawing rapidly to a close, Jupiter gave
permission to the gods to take part in it, and a terrible combat ensued.
Juno, Pallas, Neptune, Hermes, and Vulcan went to the fleet of the Greeks,
while Mars, Apollo, Diana, Latona, Venus, and Xanthus arrayed themselves
with the Trojans. When the gods joined in the combat and Neptune shook the
earth and Jupiter thundered from above, there was such tumult in the air
that even the dark god of the underworld was terrified. In the battle of
the gods, Apollo encountered Neptune, Pallas fought against Mars, Diana
and Juno opposed each other, Hermes was pitted against Latona, and Xanthus
or Scamander, the river god, strove against Vulcan. It was not long before
Jupiter's fear was realized, and the mortals needed the aid of the gods.
AEneas, encouraged by Apollo to confront Achilles, was rescued only by the
intervention of Neptune, who, remembering that it was the will of fate
that AEneas should be spared to perpetuate the Dardan race, snatched him
away in a cloud, although he was himself aiding the Greeks.
Mad with rage and spattered with blood, Achilles pursued the flying
Trojans about the plain, sparing none except the twelve youths who were to
be butchered on the funeral pile of Patroclus. He stood in the river,
filling it with slaughtered bodies until, indignant at the insults offered
him, the river god Scamander caused his waters to rush after Achilles so
that he fled for his life. Far across the plain it chased him, and was
only stopped by the fires of Vulcan, summoned by Juno.
By an artifice of Apollo, Achilles was decoyed away from the gates of Troy
long enough to allow the Trojans to enter. Hector, however, stayed
without, unmoved by the prayers of Priam and Hecuba. Too late he saw his
error in not heeding the advice of Polydamas to keep within the walls
after the re-appearance of Achilles; he feared the reproaches of the
Trojan warriors and dames, and determined to meet his fate, whatever it
might be. Even death at the hands of Achilles would be preferable to the
insults and reproaches that might await him within the walls.
When he saw Achilles approach in his god-given armor, fear seized the
noble Hector, and he fled from his enemy. Thrice around the walls he fled,
Achilles pursuing, and the gods looked down from heaven in sorrow, for,
according to the decrees of fate, Hector must fall this day by the hand of
Achilles. To hasten the combat, Pallas assumed the form of Hector's
brother Deiphobus, and stood by his side, encouraging him to turn and meet
Hector soon perceived the deception, but boldly faced Achilles, who sprang
at him, brandishing his awful spear. Quickly stooping, Hector avoided the
weapon and hurled his spear at Achilles. It was an unequal conflict. The
armor of Achilles was weapon proof, and Pallas stood at his elbow to
return to him his weapons. Achilles knew well the weak spots in his old
armor worn by Hector, and selecting a seam unguarded by the shield, he
gave Hector a mortal wound, and insulted him as he lay dying at his feet.
Tears and wailing filled the city as the Trojans watched the combat; and
despair fell upon them when they saw the body of Hector fastened to the
chariot of Achilles and dragged thrice around the Trojan walls. From her
chamber where she sat weaving, unaware of the mortal combat waged before
the walls, Andromache came forth to see great Hector fallen and his corpse
insulted by his enemy.
While Priam sat in his palace with dust strewn on his head, and the
wailings of the women filled the streets of Troy, the Greeks were
hastening to their camps to celebrate the funeral rites of Patroclus,
whose body had been saved from corruption by Thetis. A massive funeral
pile was constructed of wood brought from the forests on Mount Ida. The
chiefs in their chariots and thousands of men on foot followed the body of
Patroclus. The comrades of the dead warrior cut off their long hair and
strewed it on the dead, and Achilles sheared his yellow hair and placed
the locks in Patroclus's hands. He had suffered the flowing curls to grow
long because of a vow made by his father to the river Sperchius that he
would sacrifice these locks to him on his son's return home, a useless
vow, since now he was to lose his life by this dark blue sea.
Next the sacrifice was offered, many fatlings of the flock, and countless
oxen, noble steeds, dogs, jars of honey, and lastly the bodies of the
twelve Trojan youths were heaped upon the fire.
After the flames had consumed the pile, Achilles and his friends quenched
the ashes with red wine, and gathered the bones of Patroclus in a golden
vase which Achilles commanded his friends not to bury until he, too, fell
before Troy, that their ashes might be mingled and buried under one mound
by the remaining Greeks.
After the funeral rites were celebrated, the funeral games were held, in
which the warriors vied with each other in chariot racing, boxing,
wrestling, foot racing, throwing the spear, and archery.
So ended the funeral of Patroclus, and the gods, looking down from heaven,
sorrowed for Hector, whose corpse Achilles was treating with such
indignity, intending that the dogs should destroy it. The gods had kept
the body unstained, and now they determined to soften Achilles' heart,
that he might restore it to Priam.
Iris descended from heaven, and standing at the side of Priam as he sat
with dust-strewn head, in his palace halls, gave him Jove's command that
he should take gifts and visit Achilles, to ransom Hector's body. Heeding
not the prayers of Hecuba, Priam gathered together whatever was most
choice, talents of pure gold, beautiful goblets, handsome robes and
tunics, and seating himself in his polished car, drawn by strong-hoofed
mules, set forth unaccompanied save by an aged herald. Above him soared
Jove's eagle, in token of the god's protection.
Priam had not gone far when he met Mercury in the guise of a Greek youth,
who guided him unseen through the slumbering Greek lines to the tent of
The hero was just finishing his repast when the old king entered, fell on
his knees, kissed the cruel hands that had slain so many of his sons, and
prayed him to give up the body of his loved Hector in return for the
ransom he had brought with him. Achilles, recognizing the fact that Priam
had made his way there uninjured only by the assistance and protection of
some god, and touched by the thought of his own aged father, whom he
should never again gladden by his return to Phthia, granted the request,
and bade Priam seat himself at the table and banquet with him. He also
granted a twelve days' truce for the celebration of the funeral rites of
Hector, and then invited Priam to pass the night in his tent. Warned by
Mercury, Priam rose early in the morning, and, unseen by the Greeks,
conveyed Hector's body back to Troy.
When the polished car of Priam entered the city of Troy, great were the
lamentations and wailings over the body of Hector. Hecuba and Andromache
vied with each other in the bitterness of their grief, and Helen lamented
because the only friend she had in Troy had departed, and no one who
remained would be kind to her.
During the twelve days granted as a truce, wood was brought from Ida, and
the funeral rites of Hector were celebrated as befitted the son of a great
SELECTIONS FROM THE ILIAD.
HELEN AT THE SCAEAN GATES.
Paris, moved by the reproaches of Hector, proposed that the nine years'
indecisive war be settled by single combat between himself and Menelaus,
the victor to take Helen and the treasure. Greeks and Trojans agreed to
this proposition, and the tidings of the approaching combat were borne to
Helen by Iris.
In the heart of Helen woke
Dear recollections of her former spouse
And of her home and kindred. Instantly
She left her chamber, robed and veiled in white,
And shedding tender tears; yet not alone,
For with her went two maidens,--Aethra, child
Of Pitheus, and the large-eyed Clymene.
Straight to the Scaean gates they walked, by which
Panthoues, Priam, and Thymoetes sat,
Lampus and Clytius, Hicetaon sprung
From Mars, Antenor and Ucalegon,
Two sages,--elders of the people all.
Beside the gates they sat, unapt, through age,
For tasks of war, but men of fluent speech,
Like the cicadas that within the wood
Sit on the trees and utter delicate sounds.
Such were the nobles of the Trojan race
Who sat upon the tower. But when they marked
The approach of Helen, to each other thus
With winged words, but in low tones, they said:--
"Small blame is theirs, if both the Trojan knights
And brazen-mailed Achaians have endured
So long so many evils for the sake
Of that one woman. She is wholly like
In feature to the deathless goddesses.
So be it: let her, peerless as she is,
Return on board the fleet, nor stay to bring
Disaster upon us and all our race."
So spake the elders. Priam meantime called
To Helen: "Come, dear daughter, sit by me.
Thou canst behold thy former husband hence,
Thy kindred and thy friends. I blame thee not;
The blame is with the immortals who have sent
These pestilent Greeks against me. Sit and name
For me this mighty man, the Grecian chief,
Gallant and tall. True, there are taller men;
But of such noble form and dignity
I never saw: in truth, a kingly man."
And Helen, fairest among women, thus
Answered: "Dear second father, whom at once
I fear and honor, would that cruel death
Had overtaken me before I left,
To wander with thy son, my marriage bed,
And my dear daughter, and the company
Of friends I loved. But that was not to be;
And now I pine and weep. Yet will I tell
What thou dost ask. The hero whom thou seest
Is the wide-ruling Agamemnon, son
Of Atreus, and is both a gracious king
And a most dreaded warrior. He was once
Brother-in-law to me, if I may speak--
Lost as I am to shame--of such a tie."
She said, the aged man admired, and then
He spake again: "O son of Atreus, born
Under a happy fate, and fortunate
Among the sons of men! A mighty host
Of Grecian youths obey thy rule. I went
To Phrygia once,--that land of vines,--and there
Saw many Phrygians, heroes on fleet steeds,
The troops of Otreus, and of Mygdon, shaped
Like one of the immortals. They encamped
By the Sangarius. I was an ally;
My troops were ranked with theirs upon the day
When came the unsexed Amazons to war.
Yet even there I saw not such a host
As this of black-eyed Greeks who muster here."
Then Priam saw Ulysses, and inquired:--
"Dear daughter, tell me also who is that,
Less tall than Agamemnon, yet more broad
In chest and shoulders. On the teeming earth
His armor lies, but he, from place to place,
Walks round among the ranks of soldiery,
As when the thick-fleeced father of the flocks
Moves through the multitude of his white sheep."
And Jove-descended Helen answered thus:--
"That is Ulysses, man of many arts,
Son of Laertes, reared in Ithaca,
That rugged isle, and skilled in every form
Of shrewd device and action wisely planned."
Then spake the sage Antenor: "Thou hast said
The truth, O lady. This Ulysses once
Came on an embassy, concerning thee,
To Troy with Menelaus, great in war;
And I received them as my guests, and they
Were lodged within my palace, and I learned
The temper and the qualities of both.
When both were standing 'mid the men of Troy,
I marked that Menelaus's broad chest
Made him the more conspicuous, but when both
Were seated, greater was the dignity
Seen in Ulysses. When they both addressed
The council, Menelaus briefly spake
In pleasing tones, though with few words,--as one
Not given to loose and wandering speech,--although
The younger. When the wise Ulysses rose,
He stood with eyes cast down, and fixed on earth,
And neither swayed his sceptre to the right
Nor to the left, but held it motionless,
Like one unused to public speech. He seemed
An idiot out of humor. But when forth
He sent from his full lungs his mighty voice,
And words came like a fall of winter snow,
No mortal then would dare to strive with him
For mastery in speech. We less admired
The aspect of Ulysses than his words."
Beholding Ajax then, the aged king
Asked yet again: "Who is that other chief
Of the Achaians, tall, and large of limb,--
Taller and broader-chested than the rest?"
Helen, the beautiful and richly-robed,
Answered: "Thou seest the might Ajax there,
The bulwark of the Greeks. On the other side,
Among his Cretans, stands Idomeneus,
Of godlike aspect, near to whom are grouped
The leaders of the Cretans. Oftentimes
The warlike Menelaus welcomed him
Within our palace, when he came from Crete.
I could point out and name the other chiefs
Of the dark-eyed Achaians. Two alone,
Princes among their people, are not seen,--
Castor the fearless horseman, and the skilled
In boxing, Pollux,--twins; one mother bore
Both them and me. Came they not with the rest
From pleasant Lacedaemon to the war?
Or, having crossed the deep in their goodships,
Shun they to fight among the valiant ones
Of Greece, because of my reproach and shame?"
She spake; but they already lay in earth
In Lacedaemon, their dear native land.
_Bryants Translation, Book III._
THE PARTING OF HECTOR AND ANDROMACHE.
The single combat between Paris and Menelaus broke up in a general battle
unfavorable to the Trojans, and Hector returned to Troy to order the
Trojan matrons to sacrifice to Pallas. He then sought his dwelling to
greet his wife and child, but learned from one of the maids that
Andromache, on hearing that the Greeks were victorious, had hastened to
the city walls with the child and its nurse,
Hector left in haste
The mansion, and retraced his way between
The rows of stately dwellings, traversing
The mighty city. When at length he reached
The Scaean gates, that issue on the field,
His spouse, the nobly-dowered Andromache,
Came forth to meet him,--daughter of the prince
Eetion, who among the woody slopes
Of Placos, in the Hypoplacian town
Of Thebe, ruled Cilicia and her sons,
And gave his child to Hector great in arms.
She came attended by a maid, who bore
A tender child--a babe too young to speak--
Upon her bosom,--Hector's only son,
Beautiful as a star, whom Hector called
Scamandrius, but all else Astyanax,--
The city's lord,--since Hector stood the sole
Defence of Troy. The father on his child
Looked with a silent smile. Andromache
Pressed to his side meanwhile, and, all in tears,
Clung to his hand, and, thus beginning, said:--
"Too brave! thy valor yet will cause thy death.
Thou hast no pity on thy tender child
Nor me, unhappy one, who soon must be
Thy widow. All the Greeks will rush on thee
To take thy life. A happier lot were mine,
If I must lose thee, to go down to earth,
For I shall have no hope when thou art gone,--
Nothing but sorrow. Father have I none,
And no dear mother. Great Achilles slew
My father when he sacked the populous town
Of the Cilicians,--Thebe with high gates.
'T was there he smote Eetion, yet forbore
To make his arms a spoil; he dared not that,
But burned the dead with his bright armor on,
And raised a mound above him. Mountain-nymphs,
Daughters of aegis-bearing Jupiter,
Came to the spot and planted it with elms.
Seven brothers had I in my father's house,
And all went down to Hades in one day.
Achilles the swift-footed slew them all
Among their slow-paced bullocks and white sheep.
My mother, princess on the woody slopes
Of Placos, with his spoils he bore away,
And only for large ransom gave her back.
But her Diana, archer-queen, struck down
Within her father's palace. Hector, thou
Art father and dear mother now to me,
And brother and my youthful spouse besides.
In pity keep within the fortress here,
Nor make thy child an orphan nor thy wife
A widow. Post thine army near the place
Of the wild fig-tree, where the city-walls
Are low and may be scaled. Thrice in war
The boldest of the foe have tried the spot,--
The Ajaces and the famed Idomeneus,
The two chiefs born to Atreus, and the brave
Tydides, whether counselled by some seer
Or prompted to the attempt by their own minds."
Then answered Hector, great in war: "All this
I bear in mind, dear wife; but I should stand
Ashamed before the men and long-robed dames
Of Troy, were I to keep aloof and shun
The conflict, coward-like. Not thus my heart
Prompts me, for greatly have I learned to dare
And strike among the foremost sons of Troy,
Upholding my great father's fame and mine;
Yet well in my undoubting mind I know
The day shall come in which our sacred Troy,
And Priam, and the people over whom
Spear-bearing Priam rules, shall perish all.
But not the sorrows of the Trojan race,
Nor those of Hecuba herself, nor those
Of royal Priam, nor the woes that wait
My brothers many and brave,--who all at last,
Slain by the pitiless foe, shall lie in dust,--
Grieve me so much as thine, when some mailed Greek
Shall lead thee weeping hence, and take from thee
Thy day of freedom. Thou in Argos then
Shalt at another's bidding ply the loom,
And from the fountain of Messeis draw
Water, or from the Hypereian spring,
Constrained unwilling by thy cruel lot.
And then shall some one say who sees thee weep,
'This was the wife of Hector, most renowned
Of the horse-taming Trojans, when they fought
Around their city.' So shall some one say,
And thou shalt grieve the more, lamenting him
Who haply might have kept afar the day
Of thy captivity. O let the earth
Be heaped above my head in death before
I hear thy cries as thou art borne away!"
So speaking, mighty Hector stretched his arms
To take the boy; the boy shrank crying back
To his fair nurse's bosom, scared to see
His father helmeted in glittering brass,
And eying with affright the horsehair plume
That grimly nodded from the lofty crest.
At this both parents in their fondness laughed;
And hastily the mighty Hector took
The helmet from his brow and laid it down
Gleaming upon the ground, and, having kissed
His darling son and tossed him up in play,
Prayed thus to Jove and all the gods of heaven:--
"O Jupiter and all ye deities,
Vouchsafe that this my son may yet become
Among the Trojans eminent like me,
And nobly rule in Ilium. May they say,
'This man is greater than his father was!'
When they behold him from the battle-field
Bring back the bloody spoil of the slain foe,--
That so his mother may be glad at heart."
So speaking, to the arms of his dear spouse
He gave the boy; she on her fragrant breast
Received him, weeping as she smiled. The chief
Beheld, and, moved with tender pity, smoothed
Her forehead gently with his hand, and said:--
"Sorrow not thus, beloved one, for me.
No living man can send me to the shades
Before my time; no man of woman born,
Coward or brave, can shun his destiny.
But go thou home, and tend thy labors there,--
The web, the distaff,--and command thy maids
To speed the work. The cares of war pertain
To all men born in Troy, and most to me."
Thus speaking, mighty Hector took again
His helmet, shadowed with the horsehair plume,
While homeward his beloved consort went,
Oft looking back, and shedding many tears.
Soon was she in the spacious palace-halls
Of the man-queller Hector. There she found
A troop of maidens,--with them all she shared
Her grief; and all in his own house bewailed
The living Hector, whom they thought no more
To see returning from the battle-field,
Safe from the rage and weapons of the Greeks.
_Bryant's Translation, Book VI._
"The surge and thunder of the Odyssey."
The Odyssey relates the adventures of Ulysses on his return to Ithaca
after the Trojan war.
It consists of twenty-four books, the first four of which are sometimes
known as the Telemachia, because Telemachus is the principal figure.
The difference in style of the Iliad and Odyssey has caused some critics
to assert that the latter is not the work of Homer; this is accounted for,
however, by the difference of subject, and it is probable that the
Odyssey, though of a later date, is the work of the same hand, "the work
of Homer's old age,--an epic bathed in a mellow light of sunset."
If the Odyssey alone had come down to us, its authorship would have passed
unquestioned, for the poem is so compact, its plot so carefully planned
and so skilfully carried out, that there can be no doubt that it is the
work of one hand.
The Odyssey is as great a work of art as the Iliad, and is even more
popular; for the Odyssey is a domestic romance, and as such appeals to a
larger audience than a tale of war alone,--the romance of the wandering
Ulysses and the faithful Penelope. Interwoven with it are the ever-popular
fairy tales of Ulysses's wanderings and descriptions of home life. It is
marked by the same pagan enjoyment of life, the same freshness and charm
that lend enchantment to the Iliad.
BIBLIOGRAPHY AND CRITICISM, THE ODYSSEY.
F. B. Jevons's History of Greek Literature, 1886, pp. 17-25;
A. Lang's Homer and the Epic, 1893, chaps. 8-13;
J. A. Symonds's Studies of the Greek Poets, ed. 3, 1893;
J. E. Harrison's Myths of the Odyssey in Art and Literature, 1882;
W. J. Stillman's On the Track of Ulysses, 1888;
F. W. Newman's The Authorship of the Odyssey (in his Miscellanies, vol.
J. Spence's Essay on Pope's Translation of the Odyssey, 1837.
STANDARD ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS, THE ODYSSEY.
The Odyssey, Tr. into English blank verse by W. C. Bryant, 2 vols., 1871;
The Odyssey, Tr. according to the Greek, with introduction and notes by
George Chapman, ed. 2, 2 vols., 1874;
The Odyssey, Tr. by William Cowper;
The Odyssey, Tr. by G. H. Palmer, 1894 (prose);
The Odyssey, Tr. by Alexander Pope, with notes by Rev. T. W. A. Buckley,
The Odyssey, Tr. by S. H. Butcher and A. Lang, 1879 (prose).
THE STORY OF THE ODYSSEY.
After the fall of Troy, Agamemnon returned to Argos, where he was
treacherously slain by Aegisthus, the corrupter of his wife; Menelaus
reached Sparta in safety, laden with spoil and reunited to the beautiful
Helen; Nestor resumed the rule of Pylos, but Ulysses remained absent from
Ithaca, where his wife Penelope still grieved for him, though steadfast in
her belief that he would return. One hundred and fourteen suitors, princes
from Dulichium, Samos, Zacynthus, and Ithaca, determined to wed Penelope
that they might obtain the rich possessions of Ulysses, spent their time
in revelling in his halls and wasting his wealth, thinking in this way to
force Penelope to wed some one of them.
Penelope, as rich in resources as was her crafty husband, announced to
them that she would wed when she had woven a funeral garment for Laertes,
the father of Ulysses. During the day she wove industriously, but at night
she unravelled what she had done that day, so that to the expectant
suitors the task seemed interminable. After four years her artifice was
revealed to the suitors by one of her maids, and she was forced to find
other excuses to postpone her marriage. In the mean time, her son
Telemachus, now grown to manhood, disregarded by the suitors on account of
his youth, and treated as a child by his mother, was forced to sit
helpless in his halls, hearing the insults of the suitors and seeing his
rich possessions wasted.
Having induced Jove to end the sufferings of Ulysses, Pallas caused Hermes
to be dispatched to Calypso's isle to release the hero, while she herself
descended to Ithaca in the guise of Mentes. There she was received
courteously by the youth, who sat unhappy among the revellers. At a table
apart from the others, Telemachus told the inquiring stranger who they
were who thus wasted his patrimony.
"Something must needs be done speedily," said Mentes, "and I shall tell
thee how to thrust them from thy palace gates. Take a ship and go to Pylos
to inquire of the aged and wise Nestor what he knows of thy father's fate.
Thence go to Menelaus, in Sparta; he was the last of all the mailed Greeks
to return home. If thou hear encouraging tidings, wait patiently for a
year. At the end of that time, if thy father come not, celebrate his
funeral rites, let thy mother wed again, and take immediate steps for the
destruction of the suitor band. Thou art no longer a child; the time has
come for thee to assert thyself and be a man."
Telemachus, long weary of inactivity, was pleased with this advice, and at
once announced to the incredulous suitors his intention of going to learn
the fate of his father. A boat was procured and provided with a crew by
the aid of Pallas, and provisioned from the secret store-room guarded by
the old and faithful servant Eurycleia. From among the treasures of
Ulysses--garments, heaps of gold and brass, and old and delicate
wines--Telemachus took sweet wine and meal to be conveyed to the ship at
night, and instructing Eurycleia not to tell his mother of his absence
until twelve days had passed, he departed as soon as sleep had overcome
the suitors. Pallas, in the guise of Mentor, accompanied him.
His courage failed him, however, as they approached the shore of Pylos,
where Nestor and his people were engaged in making a great sacrifice to
Neptune. "How shall I approach the chief?" he asked. "Ill am I trained in
But, encouraged by Pallas, he greeted the aged Nestor, and after he and
his companion had assisted in the sacrifice and partaken of the banquet
that followed, he revealed his name and asked for tidings of his, father,
boldly and confidently, as befitted the son of Ulysses. The old king could
tell him nothing, however. After Troy had fallen, a dissension had rent
the camp, and part of the Greeks had remained with Agamemnon, part had
sailed with Menelaus. Sailing with Menelaus, Nestor had parted with Diomed
at Argos, and had sailed on to Pylos. Since his return he had heard of the
death of Agamemnon, and of the more recent return of Menelaus, but had
heard no tidings of Ulysses, who had remained with Agamemnon.
To Menelaus he advised Telemachus to go, warning him, however, not to
remain long away from Ithaca, leaving his home in the possession of rude
and lawless men.
In a car provided by Nestor and driven by his son, Pisistratus, Telemachus
reached Sparta after a day and a night's rapid travel, and found Menelaus
celebrating the nuptial feast of his daughter Hermione, betrothed at Troy
to the son of Achilles, and his son Megapenthes, wedded to the daughter of
Alector. The two young men were warmly welcomed, and were invited to
partake of the banquet without being asked their names. After the feast
they wondered at the splendor of the halls of gold, amber, and ivory, the
polished baths, and the fleecy garments in which they had been arrayed;
but Menelaus assured them that all his wealth was small compensation to
him for the loss of the warriors who had fallen before Troy, and above
all, of the great Ulysses, whose fate he knew not. Though Telemachus's
tears fell at his father's name, Menelaus did not guess to whom he spoke,
until Helen, entering from her perfumed chamber, saw the likeness between
the stranger and the babe whom Ulysses had left when he went to Troy, and
greeted their guest as Telemachus.
Then they sat in the splendid hall and talked of Troy,--Menelaus broken by
his many toils, Helen beautiful as when she was rapt away by Paris,
weaving with her golden distaff wound with violet wool, and the two young
men, who said little, but listened to the wondrous tale of the wanderings
of Menelaus. And they spoke of Ulysses: of the times when he had proved
his prudence as well as his craft; of his entering Troy as a beggar and
revealing the Achaian plots to Helen; of how he had prevented their
breaking out of the wooden horse too soon. Then the king told of his
interview with the Ancient of the Deep, in which he had learned the fate
of his comrades; of Agamemnon's death, and of the detention of Ulysses on
Calypso's isle, where he languished, weeping bitterly, because he had no
means of escape.
This information gained, Telemachus was anxious to return home; but his
host detained him until he and Helen had descended to their fragrant
treasure-chamber and brought forth rich gifts,--a double cup of silver and
gold wrought by Vulcan, a shining silver beaker, and an embroidered robe
for his future bride.
Mercury, dispatched by Jove, descended to the distant isle of Calypso, and
warned the bright-haired nymph, whom he found weaving in her charmed
grotto, that she must let her mortal lover go or brave the wrath of the
gods. The nymph, though loath to part with her lover, sought out the
melancholy Ulysses, where he sat weeping beside the deep, and giving him
tools, led him to the forest and showed him where to fell trees with which
to construct a raft. His labor finished, she provided the hero with
perfumed garments, a full store of provisions, and saw him set forth
joyfully upon the unknown deep.
For seventeen days his journey was a prosperous one; but on the eighteenth
day, just as the land of the Phaeacians came in sight. Neptune returned
from Ethiopia, and angry at what the gods had contrived to do in his
absence, determined to make the hero suffer as much as possible before he
attained the promised end of his troubles.
Soon a great storm arose and washed Ulysses from the raft. Clinging to its
edge, buffeted here and there by the angry waves, he would have suffered
death had not a kind sea nymph urged him to lay aside his heavy garments,
leave the raft, and binding a veil that she gave him about his chest, swim
to the land of the Phaeacians. The coast was steep and rocky, but he found
at last a little river, and swimming up it, landed, and fell asleep among
some warm heaps of dried leaves.
The Phaeacians were a people closely allied to the gods, to whom they were
very dear. They had at one time been neighbors of the Cyclops, from whose
rudeness they had suffered so much that they were compelled to seek a
distant home. They were a civilized people, who had achieved great results
as sailors, having remarkably swift and well-equipped ships.
To the Princess Nausicaa, beautiful as a goddess, Pallas appeared in a
dream the night that Ulysses lay sleeping on the isle, warning her that
since her wedding day was near at hand, when all would need fresh
garments, it was fitting that she should ask her father's permission to
take the garments of the household to the river side to wash them.
Nausicaa's father willingly granted his permission, and ordered the strong
car in which to carry away the soiled garments. A hamper of food and a
skin of wine were added by her mother, as the princess climbed into the
chariot and drove towards the river, followed by her maids.
When the garments had been washed in the lavers hollowed out by the river
side, and the lunch had been eaten, the maids joined in a game of ball.
Joyous they laughed and frolicked, like Dian's nymphs, until they roused
the sleeper under the olive-trees on the hillside.
All save Nausicaa fled affrighted as he came forth to speak to them,
covered with sea foam, his nakedness hidden only by a leafy branch woven
round his waist; but she, strengthened by the goddess, heard his story,
and provided him with clothing and materials for the bath. When he
appeared, cleansed from the sea foam, and made more handsome by the art of
Pallas, Nausicaa's pity was changed to admiration, and she wished that she
might have a husband like him.
Food and wine were set before the hero, and while he refreshed himself the
dried clothes were folded and placed in the cart. As the princess prepared
to go she advised the stranger to follow the party until they reached a
grove outside the city, and to remain there until she had time to reach
her father's palace, lest some gossip should connect Nausicaa's name with
that of a stranger. She told him how to find her father's palace, and
instructed him to win the favor of her mother, that he might be received
with honor and assisted on his homeward way.
Ulysses obeyed, and when he reached the city gates was met by Pallas, in
the guise of a virgin with an urn. She answered his questions, directed
him to the palace, and told him to throw himself first at the feet of
Queen Arete, who was looked on by the people as if she were a goddess.
Wrapped in a cloud by Pallas, the unseen Ulysses admired the spacious
halls of Alcinoues. Walls of brass supported blue steel cornices, golden
doors guarded by gold and silver mastiffs opened into the vast hall, along
which were ranged thrones covered with delicately woven mantles, for which
the Phaeacian women were famous.
Around the palace lay a spacious garden filled with pear, pomegranate,
fig, and apple trees, that knew no change of season, but blossomed and
bore fruit throughout the year. Perennially blooming plants scattered
perfume through the garden kept fresh by water from two sparkling
As Ulysses knelt at the feet of Arete, the cloud enveloping him fell away,
and all were astonished at the sight of the stranger imploring protection.
Arete received Ulysses with favor, and Alcinoues was so pleased with him
that he offered him his daughter in marriage, if he was unmarried, a
palace and riches if he would remain on the island, and a safe passage
home if he desired to leave them. The king then invited the chiefs of the
isle to a great banquet in honor of his guest. At this banquet Demodocus,
the blind minstrel, sang so touchingly of the heroes of the Trojan war
that Ulysses was moved to tears, a fact observed by the king alone. After
the feast the guests displayed their strength in athletic games; and
Ulysses, provoked by the taunts of the ill-bred Euryalus, cast a broader,
heavier quoit than had yet been used far beyond the mark. The Phaeacians
were amazed, and the king confessed that his people were weak in athletic
sports but excelled in the dance,--a statement to which Ulysses readily
agreed when he saw the beautiful and graceful dance of the princes
Laodamas and Halius to the music of Demodocus's silver harp.
When the games were over, all the chiefs presented Ulysses with garments
and with talents of gold, for the reception of which Arete gave a
beautiful chest. As he corded up the chest, and stepped forth to the
banquet, refreshed from the bath, Nausicaa, standing beside a pillar, bade
"Remember, in thy native land, O stranger, that thou owest thy life to
When they sat again in the banqueting hall, Ulysses besought Demodocus to
sing again of the fall of Troy; but when the minstrel sang of the strategy
of the wooden horse which wrought the downfall of Troy, the hero was again
melted to tears,--and this time his host, unable to repress his curiosity,
asked him to reveal his name and history.
"Thou hast spoken, O king, and I proceed to tell the story of my
calamitous voyage from Troy; for I am Ulysses, widely known among men for
my cunning devices. Our first stop was among the Ciconians, whose city we
laid waste. Here, in spite of my warning, my men tarried to drink red wine
until the Ciconians had had time to recruit their forces, and, attacking
us, slew six men from each galley. When we who survived reached the land
of the lotus-eaters, some of my men ate of the sweet plant, after which a
man thinks never more of wife, or friends, or home; and it was with the
utmost difficulty that we succeeded in dragging them to the ships.
"At the Cyclopean land I myself, with a few of my men, disembarked, and
went up to seek the inhabitants and conciliate them with gifts of food and
wine. The Cyclops were huge one-eyed giants who did not cultivate the
land, had no government, and cared nought for the gods. The first cave to
which we came was empty, and we went in to await the arrival of the owner,
appeasing our appetites, meanwhile, with some of his cheeses. Presently he
arrived, and after he had closed up the entrance of the cave with a huge
stone, and had milked his goats, he questioned us as to who we were. Our
story told, he seized two of my companions, dashed their heads against the
rocks, and devoured them. The next morning, after devouring two others, he
drove out his flocks, leaving us shut up in the huge cave. All that day I
revolved plans for his destruction and our escape; and at last, drawing
lots with my companions to determine who should assist me, I determined,
with their aid, to bore out his great eye with a huge olive-wood stick
that I found in the cave. We spent the day sharpening it and hardening it
in the fire, and at night hid it under a heap of litter. Two more of my
men made his evening meal, after which I plied him with the wine I had
brought, until, softened by the liquor, he inquired my name, assuring me
that as return for my gift, he would devour me last. My name, I told him,
"As soon as he had fallen into a drunken slumber I put the stake to heat,
and, strengthening the courage of my men, I drew it forth and plunged it
into his eye. Steadily we spun it round until the monster, screaming with
pain, drew it forth, crying to the other Cyclops to come to his aid. When
they, from without, questioned who hurt him, he replied, 'Noman destroyeth
me by guile.' 'If it is "Noman,"' said they, departing, 'it must be Jove.
Then pray to Neptune.'
"During the night I tied together the rams, three and three with osier
twigs, and instructed my comrades, as he drove them out, to cling under
the middle one. I hid myself under the fleecy belly of a huge ram, the
finest of the flock. He touched their backs as he drove them out, but he
did not penetrate my cunning, and we all escaped. After we had driven the
flock on board, however, and had pushed out our galley, I could not
forbear a taunting shout, at which he hurled a huge fragment of rock after
us, just missing our galley.
"With Aeolus, King of the Winds, we remained a month, reciting the events
connected with the fall of Troy. So pleased was the king with my story,
that on our departure he presented me with a bag tied up with a silver
cord, which contained the adverse winds. One day, as I slumbered, my
unhappy sailors, suspecting some treasure concealed therein, opened it,
and we were immediately blown back to Aeolus's isle, from which he,
enraged at our folly, indignantly drove us.
"At the land of the Laestrygonians all our galleys were lost and our men
devoured by the cannibal inhabitants, with the exception of my own ship,
which by good fortune I had moored without the harbor. Overcome with
grief, we rowed wearily along until we arrived at the land of Circe. With
caution born of experience, we drew lots to see who should venture into
the unknown isle. The lot fell to Eurylochus, who, with twenty-two brave
men, went forward to the fair palace of Circe, around which fawned tamed
mountain lions and wolves. Within sat the bright haired goddess, singing
while she threw her shuttle through the beautiful web she was weaving.
"All the men entered the palace at her invitation but Eurylochus, who,
suspecting some guile, remained without. He saw his comrades led within,
seated upon thrones and banqueted; but no sooner was the feast over, than
she touched them with her wand, and transformed them into swine that she
drove scornfully to their cells.
"Eurylochus hastened back to our ships with the sorrowful tidings. As soon
as grief had permitted him to tell the story, I flung my sword over my
shoulders and hastened away to the palace. As I entered the valley, not
far from the palace, I was met by a youth, none save the Argus-queller
himself, who revealed to me Circe's guile, and presented me with a plant,
the moly, which would enable me to withstand her charms.
"The goddess received me kindly, seated me upon a throne, and invited me
to feast with her. After the feast she struck me with her wand, as she had
done my comrades, ordering me to go to my sty; but when I remained
unchanged, she perceived that her guest was Ulysses, whose coming had long
been foretold to her.
"Softened by her entreaties, I sheathed my sword, after having made her
promise to release my friends and do us no further harm. Then the others
were called from the ships, and we banqueted together.
"Time passed so happily on Circe's isle that we lingered a whole year,
until, roused by the words of my friends, I announced my intended
departure, and was told by Circe that I must first go to the land of the
dead to get instructions as to my future course from Tiresias. Provided
with the proper sacrifices by Circe, we set sail for the land of the
Cimmerians, on the confines of Oceanus. The sacrifices having been duly
performed, the spirits appeared,--Elpenor, my yet unburied comrade, whose
body lay on Circe's isle, my own dead mother, and the Theban seer,
Tiresias, with his golden wand. 'Neptune is wroth with thee,' he said,
'but thou mayst yet return if thou and thy comrades leave undisturbed the
cattle of the Sun. If thou do not, destruction awaits thee. If thou escape
and return home it will be after long journeyings and much suffering, and
there thou wilt slay the insolent suitor crew that destroy thy substance
and wrong thy household.' After Tiresias had spoken I lingered to speak
with other spirits,--my mother, Ajax, Antiope, Agamemnon, Achilles,
Patroclus, and Antilochus. Having conversed with all these, we set sail
for Circe's isle, and thence started again on our homeward voyage.
"Circe had instructed me to stop the ears of my men with wax as we
approached the isle of the Sirens, and to have myself tied to the boat
that I might not leap into the ocean to go to the beautiful maidens who
sang so entrancingly. We therefore escaped without adding our bones to
those on the isle of the Sirens, and came next to Scylla and Charybdis.
Charybdis is a frightful whirlpool. The sailor who steers too far away in
his anxiety to escape it, is seized by the six arms of the monster Scylla
and lifted to her cavern to be devoured. We avoided Charybdis; but as we
looked down into the abyss, pale with fear, six of my comrades were seized
by Scylla and snatched up to her cave.
"As we neared the Island of the Sun I told my comrades again of the
warning of Tiresias, and begged them to sail past without stopping. I was
met, however, by the bitterest reproaches, and at last consented to a
landing if they would bind themselves by a solemn oath not to touch the
cattle of the Sun. They promised, but when adverse winds prolonged our
stay and food became scarce, fools, madmen, they slew the herds, and in
spite of the terrible omens, the meat lowing on the spits, the skins
crawling, they feasted for six days. When, on the seventh, the tempest
ceased and we sailed away, we went to our destruction. I alone was saved,
clinging to the floating timbers for nine long days, until on the tenth I
reached Calypso's isle, Ogygia, where, out of love for me, the mighty
goddess cherished me for seven years."
The Phaeacians were entranced by this recital, and in addition to their
former gifts, heaped other treasures upon the "master of stratagems" that
he might return home a wealthy man. The swift ship was filled with his
treasures, and after the proper sacrifices and long farewells, the
chieftain embarked. It was morn when the ship arrived in Ithaca, and
Ulysses, worn out from his long labors, was still asleep. Stopping at the
little port of Phorcys, where the steep shores stretch inward and a
spreading olive-tree o'ershadows the grotto of the nymphs, the sailors
lifted out Ulysses, laid him on the ground, and piling up his gifts under
the olive-tree, set sail for Phaeacia. But the angry Neptune smote the
ship as it neared the town and changed it to a rock, thus fulfilling an
ancient prophecy that Neptune would some day wreak his displeasure on the
Phaeacians for giving to every man who came to them safe escort home.
When Ulysses awoke he did not recognize the harbor, and thinking that he
had been treated with deceit, he wept bitterly. Thus Pallas, in the guise
of a young shepherd, found him, and showed him that it was indeed his own
dear land. She helped him to conceal his treasures in the grotto, and told
him that Telemachus was even now away on a voyage of inquiry concerning
him, and his wife was weeping over his absence and the insolence of the
suitors. But he must act with caution. To give him an opportunity to lay
his plans for the destruction of these men without being recognized, she
changed him to a beggar, wrinkled and old, and clad in ragged, soiled
garments. Then directing him to the home of his old herdsman, she hastened
to warn Telemachus to avoid the ship the suitors had stationed to destroy
him on his way home.
The old Eumaeus was sitting in his lodge without whose hedge lay the many
sties of swine that were his care. He greeted the beggar kindly, and
spread food before him, lamenting all the while the absence of his noble
master and the wickedness of the suitors. Ulysses told him that he was a
wanderer who had heard of his master, and could speak surely of his
return. Though Eumaeus regarded this as an idle speech spoken to gain food
and clothing, he continued in his kindness to his guest.
To this lodge came Telemachus after the landing of his ship, that he might
first hear from Eumaeus the news from the palace,--Telemachus, who had
grown into sudden manliness from his experience among other men. He also
was kind to the beggar, and heard his story. While he remained with the
beggar, Eumaeus having gone to acquaint Penelope of her son's return,
Pallas appearing, touched the beggar with her golden wand, and Ulysses,
with the presence of a god, stood before his awed and wondering son.
Long and passionate was their weeping as the father told the son of his
sufferings, and the son told of the arrogance of the one hundred and
"There are we two with Pallas and her father Jove against them," replied
his father. "Thinkest thou we need to fear with two such allies?"
On the day after Telemachus's return, Ulysses, accompanied by Eumaeus,
visited the palace. No one recognized him except his old dog, Argus, long
neglected and devoured by vermin, who, at the sound of his master's voice,
drew near, wagged his tail, and fell dead.
According to their carefully laid plans, Telemachus feigned not to know
his father, but sent to the beggar some food. Ulysses asked the same of
the suitors, but was repulsed with taunts and insults, Antinoues, the most
insolent, striking him with a footstool.
To Penelope, weaving in her chamber, was carried the story of the beggar
at whom the abhorred Antinoues had thrown a stool, and she sent for him to
ask if he had tidings of Ulysses. He refused to go to her, however, until
the suitors had withdrawn for the night; and as he sat among the
revellers, he caught the first glimpse of his wife, as she came down among
her maids, to reproach her son for exposing himself to danger among the
suitors, and for allowing the beggar to be injured.
When darkness fell and the hall was deserted, Telemachus, with the
assistance of his father, removed all the weapons from the walls. After
Telemachus had retired to his chamber, Penelope came down, and sitting
upon her ivory throne conversed with the beggar, questioning him about his
story until he was driven to invent tales that seemed like truth, and
asking about her husband while the tears ran down her fair cheeks. By a
great effort Ulysses kept his tears from falling as he beheld his wife
weeping over him; he assured her that her husband would soon return, but
he would accept no clothing as a reward for his tidings. The aged
Eurycleia, who was called forth to wash his feet, came near betraying her
master when she recognized a scar made by a wild boar's tusk, but he
threatened her into silence. Soon after, Penelope and her maids withdrew,
and left Ulysses to meditate vengeance through the night.
The next morning, when the suitors again sat in the banquet-hall, Penelope
descended to them and declared that she had determined to give her hand to
the one of the suitors who could draw the great bow of Ulysses and send
the arrow through twelve rings set on stakes planted in the ground. Up to
the polished treasure-chamber she went, and took down the great bow given
to Ulysses by Iphitus. As she took it from its case her tears fell, but
she dried them and carried it and the steel rings into the hall. Gladly
Ulysses hailed this hour, for he knew the time had come when he should
destroy the suitor band. That morn many omens had warned him, and he had
revealed himself to his faithful men, Eumaeus, and Philoetius the
master-herdsman, that they might assist him. Telemachus, though astonished
at his mother's decision, first took the bow; if he succeeded in bending
it, his mother would not have to leave her home. He would have bent the
bow at the fourth attempt had not his father's glance warned him to yield
it to the suitors.
Although the bow was rubbed and softened with oil, all failed in their
attempts to draw it; and when the beggar asked to be allowed to try, their
wrath burst forth. What shame would be theirs if the beggar succeeded in
doing that in which they had failed! But Telemachus, who asserted his
rights more day by day, insisted that the beggar should try to bend the
bow, if he so desired. Sending his mother and her maids to their bower, he
watched his father as he easily bent the mighty bow, snapped the cord with
a sound at which the suitors grew pale, and sent the arrow through the
rings. Then casting aside his rags, the supposed beggar sprang upon the
threshold, and knowing that by his orders, Eumaeus, Philoetius, and
Eurycleia had secured the portals so that escape was impossible, he sent
his next shaft through the throat of Antinoues. "Dogs! ye thought I never
would return! Ye dreaded not the gods while ye devoured my substance and
pursued my wife! Now vengeance is mine! Destruction awaits you all!"
Too late Eurymachus sprang up and besought the monarch to grant them their
lives if they made good their waste and returned to their homes. Ulysses
had brooded too long over his injuries; his wife and son had suffered too
many years from their persecutions for him to think of mercy. Eurymachus
fell by the next brass-tipped shaft, and for every arrow in the quiver a
suitor lay dead until the quiver was empty. Then Telemachus, Philoetius,
and Eumaeus, provided with weapons and armor, stood forth with Ulysses,
and withstood the suitors until all were slain, save Medon the herald and
Phemius the minstrel, for both of whom Telemachus pleaded, since they had
been coerced by the others. Giving the destruction of the false
serving-maids to his three assistants, Ulysses ordered the hall to be
cleansed, and after greeting his faithful servants and weeping with them,
sent Eurycleia up to the bower to tell Penelope that her master had at
Penelope was too fearful of deceit to believe instantly that the beggar
sitting beside the lofty column was her husband, though as she looked at
him wonderingly, she sometimes fancied that she saw Ulysses, and again
could not believe that it was he. So long was she silent that Telemachus
reproached her for her hardness of heart; but Ulysses, better guessing the
difficulty, ordered that all should take the bath and array themselves in
fresh garments while the harper played gay melodies, that those passing
should not guess the slaughter that had occurred, but should fancy that a
wedding was being celebrated. When Ulysses again appeared, refreshed and
handsomely attired, Penelope, still uncertain, determined to test his
knowledge of her chamber. "Bear out the bed made by his own hands," she
commanded Eurycleia, "that he may rest for the night."
"Who has dared move my bed?" cried Ulysses; "the couch framed upon the
stump of an olive-tree, round which I built a stone chamber! I myself
cunningly fitted it together, and adorned it with gold, silver, and
Then Penelope, who knew that no one save herself, Ulysses, and one
handmaiden had ever seen the interior of that chamber, fell on his neck
and welcomed the wanderer home. "Pray, be not angry with me, my husband.
Many times my heart has trembled lest some fraud be practised on me, and I
should receive a stranger to my heart."
Welcome as land to the shipwrecked mariner was Ulysses to Penelope. Both
wept as he held her in his arms, and the rosy-fingered morn would have
found them thus, weeping, with her fair, white arms encircling his neck,
had not Pallas prolonged the night that he might relate to her the story
of his wanderings. Then, happy in their reunion, the years of sorrow all
forgotten, sleep overcame them. At dawn, bidding a brief farewell to his
wife, Ulysses went forth to visit his father, and settle as best he might
the strife which he knew would result from the slaughter of the suitors.
After Ulysses' mother had died of grief at the prolonged absence of her
son, Laertes passed his days wretchedly in a little habitation remote from
the palace. There Ulysses found him and made himself known; and there he,
Laertes, Telemachus, the aged Dolius, and his six sons faced the people
who had been roused to battle by the speech of Eupeithes, whose son
Antinoues had been the first of the suitors to fall by the hand of Ulysses.
Not heeding the warning of the herald Medon that the suitors had been
slain justly, they attacked Ulysses and his handful of followers.
Eupeithes fell first by the spear of Laertes, and a great slaughter would
have ensued, had not the combatants been silenced by the voice of Pallas,
who commanded all strife to cease. Frightened by this divine command, the
enemy fled; and Pallas, descending in the form of Mentor, plighted a
covenant between them that Ulysses might live peacefully among them the
remainder of his life.
SELECTIONS FROM THE ODYSSEY.
THE PALACE OF ALCINOUES.
Ulysses, having been directed by Nausicaa, reached the gate of the city,
and was there met by Pallas in the guise of a maiden with an urn, who
instructed him how to approach the king and queen. He passed through the
town, wrapped in a cloud by Pallas, and paused on the threshold of
For on every side beneath
The lofty roof of that magnanimous king
A glory shone as of the sun or moon.
There from the threshold, on each side, were walls
Of brass that led towards the inner rooms,
With blue steel cornices. The doors within
The massive building were of gold, and posts
Of silver on the brazen threshold stood,
And silver was the lintel, and above
Its architrave was gold; and on each side
Stood gold and silver mastiffs, the rare work
Of Vulcan's practised skill, placed there to guard
The house of great Alcinoues, and endowed
With deathless life, that knows no touch of age.
Along the walls within, on either side,
And from the threshold to the inner rooms,
Were firmly planted thrones on which were laid
Delicate mantles, woven by the hands
Of women. The Phaeacian princes here
Were seated; here they ate and drank, and held
Perpetual banquet. Slender forms of boys
In gold upon the shapely altars stood,
With blazing torches in their hands to light
At eve the palace guests; while fifty maids
Waited within the halls, where some in querns
Ground small the yellow grain; some wove the web
Or twirled the spindle, sitting, with a quick
Light motion, like the aspen's glancing leaves.
The well-wrought tissues glistened as with oil.
As far as the Phaeacian race excel
In guiding their swift galleys o'er the deep,
So far the women in their woven work
Surpass all others. Pallas gives them skill
In handiwork and beautiful design.
Without the palace-court and near the gate,
A spacious garden of four acres lay.
A hedge enclosed it round, and lofty trees
Flourished in generous growth within,--the pear
And the pomegranate, and the apple-tree
With its fair fruitage, and the luscious fig
And olive always green. The fruit they bear
Falls not, nor ever fails in winter time
Nor summer, but is yielded all the year.
The ever-blowing west-wind causes some
To swell and some to ripen; pear succeeds
To pear; to apple, apple, grape to grape,
Fig ripens after fig. A fruitful field
Of vines was planted near; in part it lay
Open and basking in the sun, which dried
The soil, and here men gathered in the grapes,
And there they trod the wine-press. Farther on
Were grapes unripened yet, which just had cast
The flower, and others still which just began
To redden. At the garden's furthest bound
Were beds of many plants that all the year
Bore flowers. There gushed two fountains: one of them
Ran wandering through the field; the other flowed
Beneath the threshold to the palace-court,
And all the people filled their vessels there.
Such were the blessings which the gracious gods
Bestowed on King Alcinoues and his house.
_Bryant's Translation, Book VII._
THE BENDING OF THE BOW.
Penelope, weary of the importunities of the suitors, determined to end the
contest by giving them the bow of Ulysses and allowing the one who could
successfully send the arrow through the steel rings to become her husband.
Having announced her intention, she ascended the stairs to the treasure
chamber, where the bow was kept.
Now when the glorious lady reached the room,
And stood upon the threshold, wrought of oak
And polished by the workman's cunning hand,
Who stretched the line upon it, and set up
Its posts, and hung its shining doors, she loosed
With a quick touch the thong that held the ring,
Put in the key, and with a careful aim
Struck back the sounding bolts. As when a bull
Roars in the field, such sound the beautiful doors,
Struck with the key, gave forth, and instantly
They opened to her. Up the lofty floor
She stepped, where stood the coffer that contained
The perfumed garments. Reaching forth her hand,
The queen took down the bow, that hung within
Its shining case, and sat her down, and laid
The case upon her knees, and, drawing forth
The monarch's bow, she wept aloud. As soon
As that new gush of tears had ceased to fall,
Back to the hall she went, and that proud throng
Of suitors, bearing in her hand the bow
Unstrung, and quiver, where the arrows lay
Many and deadly. Her attendant maids
Brought also down a coffer, where were laid
Much brass and steel, provided by the king
For games like these. The glorious lady then,
In presence of the suitors, stood beside
The columns that upheld the stately roof.
She held a lustrous veil before her cheeks,
And while on either side of her a maid
Stood modestly, bespake the suitors thus:--
"Hear, noble suitors! ye who throng these halls,
And eat and drink from day to day, while long
My husband has been gone; your sole excuse
For all this lawlessness the claim ye make
That I become a bride. Come then, for now
A contest is proposed. I bring to you
The mighty bow that great Ulysses bore.
Whoe'er among you he may be whose hand
Shall bend this bow, and send through these twelve rings
An arrow, him I follow hence, and leave
This beautiful abode of my young years,
With all its plenty,--though its memory,
I think, will haunt me even in my dreams."
She spake, and bade the master of the swine,
The good Eumaeus, place the bow and rings
Of hoary steel before the suitor train.
In tears he bore the bow and laid it down.
The herdsman also wept to see again
His master's bow.
* * * * *
He (Telemachus) spake and, rising, from his shoulders took
The purple cloak, and laid the trenchant sword
Aside; and first he placed the rings of steel
In order, opening for them in the ground
A long trench by a line, and stamping close
The earth around them. All admired the skill
With which he ranged them, never having seen
The game before. And then he took his place
Upon the threshold, and essayed the bow;
And thrice he made the attempt, and thrice gave o'er,
Yet hoping still to draw the cord, and send
An arrow through the rings. He would have drawn
The bow at the fourth trial, but a nod
Given by his father caused him to forbear,
Though eager for the attempt.
* * * * *
... And then Eupeithes' son,
Antinoues, to the crowd of suitors said:--
"Rise one by one, my friends, from right to left.
Begin where he begins who pours the wine."
So spake Antinoues, and the rest approved.
Then rose Leiodes, son of Oenops, first.
He was their seer, and always had his seat
Beside the ample bowl. From deeds of wrong
He shrank with hatred, and was sore incensed
Against the suitors all. He took the bow
And shaft, and, going to the threshold, stood
And tried the bow, yet bent it not; it galled
His hands, for they were soft, and all unused
To such a task.
... The swineherd went
Forward along the hall, and, drawing near
The wise Ulysses, gave into his hands
* * * * *
... but when the wary chief
Had poised and shrewdly scanned the mighty bow,
Then, as a singer, skilled to play the harp,
Stretches with ease on its new fastenings
A string, the twisted entrails of a sheep,
Made fast at either end, so easily
Ulysses bent that mighty bow. He took
And drew the cord with his right hand; it twanged
With a clear sound as when a swallow screams.
The suitors were dismayed, and all grew pale.
Jove in loud thunder gave a sign from heaven.
The much-enduring chief, Ulysses, heard
With joy the friendly omen, which the son
Of crafty Saturn sent him. He took up
A winged arrow, that before him lay
Upon a table drawn; the others still
Were in the quiver's womb; the Greeks were yet
To feel them. This he set with care against
The middle of the bow, and toward him drew
The cord and arrow-notch, just where he sat,
And aiming opposite, let fly the shaft.
He missed no ring of all; from first to last
The brass-tipped arrow threaded every one.
Then to Telemachus Ulysses said:--
"Telemachus, the stranger sitting here
Hath not disgraced thee. I have neither missed
The rings, nor found it hard to bend the bow;
Nor has my manly strength decayed, as these
Who seek to bring me to contempt pretend;
And now the hour is come when we prepare
A supper for the Achaians, while the day
Yet lasts, and after supper the delights
Of song and harp, which nobly grace a feast."
He spake, and nodded to Telemachus,
His well-beloved son, who girded on
His trenchant sword, and took in hand his spear,
And, armed with glittering brass for battle, came
And took his station by his father's seat.
Then did Ulysses cast his rags aside,
And, leaping to the threshold, took his stand
On its broad space, with bow and quiver filled
With arrows. At his feet the hero poured
The winged shafts, and to the suitors called:--
"That difficult strife is ended. Now I take
Another mark, which no man yet has hit.
Now I shall see if I attain my aim,
And, by the aid of Phoebus, win renown."
He spake; and, turning, at Antinoues aimed
The bitter shaft--Antinoues, who just then
Had grasped a beautiful two-eared cup of gold,
About to drink the wine. He little thought
Of wounds and death; for who, when banqueting
Among his fellows, could suspect that one
Alone against so many men would dare,
However bold, to plan his death, and bring
On him the doom of fate? Ulysses struck
The suitor with the arrow at the throat.
The point came through the tender neck behind,
Sideways he sank to earth; his hand let fall
The cup; the dark blood in a thick warm stream
Gushed from the nostrils of the smitten man.
He spurned the table with his feet, and spilled
The viands; bread and roasted meats were flung
To lie polluted on the floor. Then rose
The suitors in a tumult, when they saw
The fallen man; from all their seats they rose
Throughout the hall, and to the massive walls
Looked eagerly; there hung no buckler there,
No sturdy lance for them to wield. They called
Then to Ulysses with indignant words:--
"Stranger! in evil hour hast thou presumed
To aim at men; and thou shalt henceforth bear
Part in no other contest. Even now
Is thy destruction close to thee. Thy hand
Hath slain the noblest youth in Ithaca.
The vultures shall devour thy flesh for this."
So each one said; they deemed he had not slain
The suitor wittingly; nor did they see,
Blind that they were, the doom which in that hour
Was closing round them all. Then with a frown
The wise Ulysses looked on them, and said:--
"Dogs! ye had thought I never would come back
From Ilium's coast, and therefore ye devoured
My substance here, and offered violence
To my maid-servants, and pursued my wife
As lovers, while I lived. Ye dreaded not
The gods who dwell in the great heaven, nor feared
Vengeance hereafter from the hands of men;
And now destruction overhangs you all."
He spake, and all were pale with fear, and each
Looked round for some escape from death.
_Bryant's Translation, Books XXI., XXII_.
"Songs preserved from distant ages."
The national epic of Finland, the Kalevala, or Place of Heroes, stands
midway between the purely epical structure, as exemplified in Homer, and
the epic songs of certain nations.
It is a purely pagan epic, and from its complete silence as to Finland's
neighbors, the Russians, Germans, and Swedes, it is supposed to date back
at least three thousand years.
The first attempt to collect Finnish folk-song was made in the seventeenth
century by Palmskoeld and Peter Baeng. In 1733, Maxenius published a volume
on Finnish national poetry, and in 1745 Juslenius began a collection of
national poems. Although scholars saw that these collected poems were
evidently fragments of a Finnish epic, it remained for two physicians,
Zacharias Topelius and Elias Loennrot, to collect the entire poem.
Topelius, though confined to his bed by illness for eleven years, took
down the songs from travelling merchants brought to his bedside. His
collections were published in 1822 and 1831. Loennrot travelled over
Finland, collecting the songs, which he published, arranged in epical
form, in 1835. A revised edition was published in 1849.
The Kalevala consists of fifty parts, or runes, containing twenty-two
thousand seven hundred and ninety-three lines. Its historical foundation
is the contests between the Finns and the Lapps.
Its metre is the "eight syllabled trochaic with the part-line echo,"
alliteration also being used, a metre familiar to us through Longfellow's
The labors of a Wolf are not necessary to show that the Kalevala is
composed of various runes or lays, arranged by a compiler. Topelius and
Loennrot were conscientious collectors and compilers, but they were no
Homers, who could fuse these disconnected runes into one great poem. The
Kalevala recites many events in the lives of different heroes who are not
types of men, like Rama, or Achilles, or Ulysses, but the rude gods of an
almost savage people, or rather, men in the process of apotheosis, all
alike, save in the varying degrees of magic power possessed by each.
The Finnish lays are interesting to us because they are the popular songs
of a people handed down with few changes from one generation to another;
because they would have formed the material for a national epic if a great
poet had arisen; because of their pictures of ancient customs, and
particularly the description of the condition of women, and because of
their frequently beautiful descriptions of nature. But because they are
simply runes "loosely stitched together" we can regard them only with
interest and curiosity, not with admiration.
BIBLIOGRAPHY AND CRITICISM, THE KALEVALA.
Andrew Lang's Homer and the Epic, pp. 412-419;
Andrew Lang's Kalevala, or the Finnish National Epic (in his Custom and
Myth), 1885, pp. 156-179;
C. J. Billson's Folk-songs, comprised in the Finnish Kalevala, Folk-Lore,
1895, vi. pp. 317-352;
F. C. Cook's Kalevala, Contemporary, 1885, xlvii., pp. 683-702;
Preface of J. M. Crawford's Translation of the Kalevala, 1891.
STANDARD ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS, THE KALEVALA.
The Kalevala, Tr. by J. M. Crawford, 2 vols., 1891;
The Kalevala, Tr. by W. F. Kirby, through the German translation of
Selections from the Kalevala, Tr. from a German version by J. A. Porter,
with an introduction and analysis of the Poem, 1868.
THE STORY OF THE KALEVALA.
Wainamoinen was born upon the ocean after his mother, Ilmatar, daughter of
the illimitable Ether, had floated upon its surface for more than seven
hundred years. During this time Ilmatar had created the islands, the
rocks, and the continents. After eight years of swimming through the
ocean, studying his surroundings, Wainamoinen left the waters and swam to
a barren promontory, where he could rest himself on dry land and study the
sun, the moon, and the starry skies. At last he called to him
Pellerwoinen, that the slender youth might scatter seeds broadcast upon
the island, sowing in their proper places the birch, the alder, the
linden, the willow, the mountain ash, and the juniper. It was not long
until the eyes of the sower were gladdened by the sight of trees rising
above the hitherto barren soil.
But as Wainamoinen cast his eyes over the place he perceived that the oak,
the tree of heaven, was wanting. The acorn planted in the sterile soil
developed not until Tursas, the giant, arose from the ocean, burned some
meadow grasses, and raking together the ashes, planted therein the acorn,
from which soon sprang up a mighty oak-tree whose branches hid the sun
rays and the starlight.
The oak-tree must be felled if the land was to prosper, but who could fell
it? "Help me, Kape, daughter of the Ether, help me, my ancient mother, to
uproot this terrible tree that shuts out the sunshine," cried Wainamoinen.
Straightway arose from the ocean a little being clad in copper,--cap,
boots, gloves, and belt. He was no longer than a man's forefinger, and the
blade of the hatchet at his belt was but a finger's breadth. "Art thou
divine, or human?" queried Wainamoinen. "Tell me who thou art. Thou surely
hast the bearing of a hero, though so small. But thou must be of the race
of the pygmies, and therefore useless."
"I came here to fell the oak," replied the pygmy. "I am a god and a hero
from the tribes that rule the ocean."
"Never canst thou lop the branches of this mighty tree," replied
As he spoke, the pygmy became a giant; with one step he left the ocean,
and stood piercing the clouds with his head. He whetted his hatchet on the
great rocks, and with three steps reached the tree; with four blows felled
it. The trunk fell eastward, its tops westward, the leaves to the south,
the hundred branches to the north. Full of magic power were the parts of
this tree, and happy was he who possessed himself of some part of it.
Then vegetation flourished, the birds sang happily in the trees, and all
was well except that barley was wanting. On the ocean strand Wainamoinen
discovered the barley seed; and, advised by the birds how to plant it, was
soon gratified by the sight of the growing barley. His next act was to
clear the forest; but he left the slender birch for the birds to nest in,
thus winning the gratitude of the silver-voiced singers.
In the land of Kalevala, Wainamoinen passed many happy years, and the fame
of his wonderful songs of wit and wisdom spread even to the land of the
Lapps, in the dismal north, where lived Youkahainen, a young minstrel.
Against the advice of his parents, the youth, filled with jealousy,
visited Kalevala, to hold a singing contest with Wainamoinen.
He proudly displayed his wisdom to the old minstrel, who laughed at it as
"women's tales and children's wisdom," and when Youkahainen declared in
song that he was present at the creation, Wainamoinen called him the
prince of liars, and himself began to sing. As he sang, the copper-bearing
mountains, the massive rocks and ledges, trembled, the hills re-echoed,
and the very ocean heaved with rapture. The boaster stood speechless,
seeing his sledge transformed into reed grass and willows, his beautiful
steed changed to a statue, his dog to a block of stone, and he himself
fast sinking in a quicksand. Then comprehending his folly, he begged his
tormentor to free him. Each precious gift he offered for a ransom was
refused, until he named his beautiful sister Aino. Wainamoinen, happy in
the promise of Aino for a wife, freed the luckless youth from his
enchantment, and sent him home.
Aino's mother was rejoiced to hear that her daughter had been promised to
the renowned Wainamoinen; but when the beautiful girl learned that she was
tied by her brother's folly to an old man, she wandered weeping through
the fields. In vain her mother and father sought to console her; she wept
for her vanished childhood, for all her happiness and hope and pleasure
forever gone. To console her daughter, the mother told her of a store of
beautiful ornaments that she herself had worn in girlhood; they had been
given her by the daughters of the Moon and Sun,--gold, ribbons, and
jewels. Beautifully arrayed in these long-concealed ornaments, Aino
wandered through the fields for many days, bewailing her sad fate. On the
fourth day, she laid her garments on the sea shore, and swam out to the
standing rock, a little distance from the shore. No sooner had she
clambered on the rainbow-colored rock than it turned and fell to the
bottom of the sea, carrying with it the weeping maiden, chanting a
farewell to her family. The fleet and haughty hare bore the news of her
death to the household, where her unfortunate mother sat weeping, urging
other mothers never to force their daughters to wed against their choice.
The tears that rolled down her cheeks formed three streamlets, that,
growing larger, became torrents with foaming cataracts. From the cataracts
towered three pillared rocks upon which rose three hillocks, and upon each
hillock sprang a birch-tree. On the summit of each tree sat a golden bird
singing; and the first sang, for three moons, his song of "Love! O Love!"
the second called for six moons, "Suitor! Suitor!" but the third bird sang
forever his sad song of "Consolation! Consolation!"
Wainamoinen was deeply grieved when he heard of the fate of the lovely
Aino, and he at once went to angle in the deep where dwelt the mermaids,
the daughters of Wellamo.
After he had fished many days in vain, he caught a wondrous salmon, larger
and more beautiful than he had ever before caught. But as he took out his
silver knife to cut it, the fish sprang from his hand into the deep,
telling him that it was Aino who had thus come to him, and whom he had now
lost forever by his stupidity. Then indeed the song of the golden bird
seemed sad to Wainamoinen, and he was disconsolate until his mother spoke
to him from her grave: "My son, go north and seek thy wife. Take not a
silly Lapp, but choose one of the daughters of Suomi."
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