The Odyssey

Part 4 out of 7

sees and gives ear to everything.' And again they promised that
they would obey.

"For a whole month the wind blew steadily from the South, and
there was no other wind, but only South and East. {105} As long
as corn and wine held out the men did not touch the cattle when
they were hungry; when, however, they had eaten all there was in
the ship, they were forced to go further afield, with hook and
line, catching birds, and taking whatever they could lay their
hands on; for they were starving. One day, therefore, I went up
inland that I might pray heaven to show me some means of getting
away. When I had gone far enough to be clear of all my men, and
had found a place that was well sheltered from the wind, I
washed my hands and prayed to all the gods in Olympus till by
and by they sent me off into a sweet sleep.

"Meanwhile Eurylochus had been giving evil counsel to the men,
'Listen to me,' said he, 'my poor comrades. All deaths are bad
enough but there is none so bad as famine. Why should not we
drive in the best of these cows and offer them in sacrifice to
the immortal gods? If we ever get back to Ithaca, we can build a
fine temple to the sun-god and enrich it with every kind of
ornament; if, however, he is determined to sink our ship out of
revenge for these homed cattle, and the other gods are of the
same mind, I for one would rather drink salt water once for all
and have done with it, than be starved to death by inches in
such a desert island as this is.'

"Thus spoke Eurylochus, and the men approved his words. Now the
cattle, so fair and goodly, were feeding not far from the ship;
the men, therefore, drove in the best of them, and they all
stood round them saying their prayers, and using young
oak-shoots instead of barley-meal, for there was no barley left.
When they had done praying they killed the cows and dressed
their carcasses; they cut out the thigh bones, wrapped them
round in two layers of fat, and set some pieces of raw meat on
top of them. They had no wine with which to make drink-offerings
over the sacrifice while it was cooking, so they kept pouring on
a little water from time to time while the inward meats were
being grilled; then, when the thigh bones were burned and they
had tasted the inward meats, they cut the rest up small and put
the pieces upon the spits.

"By this time my deep sleep had left me, and I turned back to
the ship and to the sea shore. As I drew near I began to smell
hot roast meat, so I groaned out a prayer to the immortal gods.
'Father Jove,' I exclaimed, 'and all you other gods who live in
everlasting bliss, you have done me a cruel mischief by the
sleep into which you have sent me; see what fine work these men
of mine have been making in my absence.'

"Meanwhile Lampetie went straight off to the sun and told him we
had been killing his cows, whereon he flew into a great rage,
and said to the immortals, 'Father Jove, and all you other gods
who live in everlasting bliss, I must have vengeance on the crew
of Ulysses' ship: they have had the insolence to kill my cows,
which were the one thing I loved to look upon, whether I was
going up heaven or down again. If they do not square accounts
with me about my cows, I will go down to Hades and shine there
among the dead.'

"'Sun,' said Jove, 'go on shining upon us gods and upon mankind
over the fruitful earth. I will shiver their ship into little
pieces with a bolt of white lightning as soon as they get out to

"I was told all this by Calypso, who said she had heard it from
the mouth of Mercury.

"As soon as I got down to my ship and to the sea shore I rebuked
each one of the men separately, but we could see no way out of
it, for the cows were dead already. And indeed the gods began at
once to show signs and wonders among us, for the hides of the
cattle crawled about, and the joints upon the spits began to low
like cows, and the meat, whether cooked or raw, kept on making a
noise just as cows do.

"For six days my men kept driving in the best cows and feasting
upon them, but when Jove the son of Saturn had added a seventh
day, the fury of the gale abated; we therefore went on board,
raised our masts, spread sail, and put out to sea. As soon as we
were well away from the island, and could see nothing but sky
and sea, the son of Saturn raised a black cloud over our ship,
and the sea grew dark beneath it. We did not get on much
further, for in another moment we were caught by a terrific
squall from the West that snapped the forestays of the mast so
that it fell aft, while all the ship's gear tumbled about at the
bottom of the vessel. The mast fell upon the head of the
helmsman in the ship's stern, so that the bones of his head were
crushed to pieces, and he fell overboard as though he were
diving, with no more life left in him.

"Then Jove let fly with his thunderbolts, and the ship went
round and round, and was filled with fire and brimstone as the
lightning struck it. The men all fell into the sea; they were
carried about in the water round the ship, looking like so many
sea-gulls, but the god presently deprived them of all chance of
getting home again.

"I stuck to the ship till the sea knocked her sides from her
keel (which drifted about by itself) and struck the mast out of
her in the direction of the keel; but there was a backstay of
stout ox-thong still hanging about it, and with this I lashed
the mast and keel together, and getting astride of them was
carried wherever the winds chose to take me.

"[The gale from the West had now spent its force, and the wind
got into the South again, which frightened me lest I should be
taken back to the terrible whirlpool of Charybdis. This indeed
was what actually happened, for I was borne along by the waves
all night, and by sunrise had reached the rock of Scylla, and
the whirlpool. She was then sucking down the salt sea water,
{106} but I was carried aloft toward the fig tree, which I
caught hold of and clung on to like a bat. I could not plant my
feet anywhere so as to stand securely, for the roots were a long
way off and the boughs that overshadowed the whole pool were too
high, too vast, and too far apart for me to reach them; so I
hung patiently on, waiting till the pool should discharge my
mast and raft again--and a very long while it seemed. A jury-man
is not more glad to get home to supper, after having been long
detained in court by troublesome cases, than I was to see my
raft beginning to work its way out of the whirlpool again. At
last I let go with my hands and feet, and fell heavily into the
sea, hard by my raft on to which I then got, and began to row
with my hands. As for Scylla, the father of gods and men would
not let her get further sight of me--otherwise I should have
certainly been lost.] {107}

"Hence I was carried along for nine days till on the tenth night
the gods stranded me on the Ogygian island, where dwells the
great and powerful goddess Calypso. She took me in and was kind
to me, but I need say no more about this, for I told you and
your noble wife all about it yesterday, and I hate saying the
same thing over and over again."



Thus did he speak, and they all held their peace throughout the
covered cloister, enthralled by the charm of his story, till
presently Alcinous began to speak.

"Ulysses," said he, "now that you have reached my house I doubt
not you will get home without further misadventure no matter how
much you have suffered in the past. To you others, however, who
come here night after night to drink my choicest wine and listen
to my bard, I would insist as follows. Our guest has already
packed up the clothes, wrought gold, {108} and other valuables
which you have brought for his acceptance; let us now,
therefore, present him further, each one of us, with a large
tripod and a cauldron. We will recoup ourselves by the levy of a
general rate; for private individuals cannot be expected to bear
the burden of such a handsome present."

Every one approved of this, and then they went home to bed each
in his own abode. When the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn,
appeared they hurried down to the ship and brought their
cauldrons with them. Alcinous went on board and saw everything
so securely stowed under the ship's benches that nothing could
break adrift and injure the rowers. Then they went to the house
of Alcinous to get dinner, and he sacrificed a bull for them in
honour of Jove who is the lord of all. They set the steaks to
grill and made an excellent dinner, after which the inspired
bard, Demodocus, who was a favourite with every one, sang to
them; but Ulysses kept on turning his eyes towards the sun, as
though to hasten his setting, for he was longing to be on his
way. As one who has been all day ploughing a fallow field with a
couple of oxen keeps thinking about his supper and is glad when
night comes that he may go and get it, for it is all his legs
can do to carry him, even so did Ulysses rejoice when the sun
went down, and he at once said to the Phaeacians, addressing
himself more particularly to King Alcinous:

"Sir, and all of you, farewell. Make your drink-offerings and
send me on my way rejoicing, for you have fulfilled my heart's
desire by giving me an escort, and making me presents, which
heaven grant that I may turn to good account; may I find my
admirable wife living in peace among friends, {109} and may you
whom I leave behind me give satisfaction to your wives and
children; {110} may heaven vouchsafe you every good grace, and
may no evil thing come among your people."

Thus did he speak. His hearers all of them approved his saying
and agreed that he should have his escort inasmuch as he had
spoken reasonably. Alcinous therefore said to his servant,
"Pontonous, mix some wine and hand it round to everybody, that
we may offer a prayer to father Jove, and speed our guest upon
his way."

Pontonous mixed the wine and handed it to every one in turn; the
others each from his own seat made a drink-offering to the
blessed gods that live in heaven, but Ulysses rose and placed
the double cup in the hands of queen Arete.

"Farewell, queen," said he, "henceforward and for ever, till age
and death, the common lot of mankind, lay their hands upon you.
I now take my leave; be happy in this house with your children,
your people, and with king Alcinous."

As he spoke he crossed the threshold, and Alcinous sent a man to
conduct him to his ship and to the sea shore. Arete also sent
some maidservants with him--one with a clean shirt and cloak,
another to carry his strong box, and a third with corn and wine.
When they got to the water side the crew took these things and
put them on board, with all the meat and drink; but for Ulysses
they spread a rug and a linen sheet on deck that he might sleep
soundly in the stern of the ship. Then he too went on board and
lay down without a word, but the crew took every man his place
and loosed the hawser from the pierced stone to which it had
been bound. Thereon, when they began rowing out to sea, Ulysses
fell into a deep, sweet, and almost deathlike slumber. {111}

The ship bounded forward on her way as a four in hand chariot
flies over the course when the horses feel the whip. Her prow
curvetted as it were the neck of a stallion, and a great wave of
dark blue water seethed in her wake. She held steadily on her
course, and even a falcon, swiftest of all birds, could not have
kept pace with her. Thus, then, she cut her way through the
water, carrying one who was as cunning as the gods, but who was
now sleeping peacefully, forgetful of all that he had suffered
both on the field of battle and by the waves of the weary sea.

When the bright star that heralds the approach of dawn began to
show, the ship drew near to land. {112} Now there is in Ithaca a
haven of the old merman Phorcys, which lies between two points
that break the line of the sea and shut the harbour in. These
shelter it from the storms of wind and sea that rage outside, so
that, when once within it, a ship may lie without being even
moored. At the head of this harbour there is a large olive tree,
and at no great distance a fine overarching cavern sacred to the
nymphs who are called Naiads. {113} There are mixing bowls
within it and wine-jars of stone, and the bees hive there.
Moreover, there are great looms of stone on which the nymphs
weave their robes of sea purple--very curious to see--and at all
times there is water within it. It has two entrances, one facing
North by which mortals can go down into the cave, while the
other comes from the South and is more mysterious; mortals
cannot possibly get in by it, it is the way taken by the gods.

Into this harbour, then, they took their ship, for they knew the
place. {114} She had so much way upon her that she ran half her
own length on to the shore; {115} when, however, they had
landed, the first thing they did was to lift Ulysses with his
rug and linen sheet out of the ship, and lay him down upon the
sand still fast asleep. Then they took out the presents which
Minerva had persuaded the Phaeacians to give him when he was
setting out on his voyage homewards. They put these all
together by the root of the olive tree, away from the road, for
fear some passer by {116} might come and steal them before
Ulysses awoke; and then they made the best of their way home

But Neptune did not forget the threats with which he had already
threatened Ulysses, so he took counsel with Jove. "Father
Jove," said he, "I shall no longer be held in any sort of
respect among you gods, if mortals like the Phaeacians, who are
my own flesh and blood, show such small regard for me. I said I
would let Ulysses get home when he had suffered sufficiently. I
did not say that he should never get home at all, for I knew you
had already nodded your head about it, and promised that he
should do so; but now they have brought him in a ship fast
asleep and have landed him in Ithaca after loading him with more
magnificent presents of bronze, gold, and raiment than he would
ever have brought back from Troy, if he had had his share of the
spoil and got home without misadventure."

And Jove answered, "What, O Lord of the Earthquake, are you
talking about? The gods are by no means wanting in respect for
you. It would be monstrous were they to insult one so old and
honoured as you are. As regards mortals, however, if any of them
is indulging in insolence and treating you disrespectfully, it
will always rest with yourself to deal with him as you may think
proper, so do just as you please."

"I should have done so at once," replied Neptune, "if I were not
anxious to avoid anything that might displease you; now,
therefore, I should like to wreck the Phaeacian ship as it is
returning from its escort. This will stop them from escorting
people in future; and I should also like to bury their city
under a huge mountain."

"My good friend," answered Jove, "I should recommend you at the
very moment when the people from the city are watching the ship
on her way, to turn it into a rock near the land and looking
like a ship. This will astonish everybody, and you can then bury
their city under the mountain."

When earth-encircling Neptune heard this he went to Scheria
where the Phaeacians live, and stayed there till the ship, which
was making rapid way, had got close in. Then he went up to it,
turned it into stone, and drove it down with the flat of his
hand so as to root it in the ground. After this he went away.

The Phaeacians then began talking among themselves, and one
would turn towards his neighbour, saying, "Bless my heart, who
is it that can have rooted the ship in the sea just as she was
getting into port? We could see the whole of her only a moment

This was how they talked, but they knew nothing about it; and
Alcinous said, "I remember now the old prophecy of my father. He
said that Neptune would be angry with us for taking every one so
safely over the sea, and would one day wreck a Phaeacian ship as
it was returning from an escort, and bury our city under a high
mountain. This was what my old father used to say, and now it is
all coming true. {117} Now therefore let us all do as I say; in
the first place we must leave off giving people escorts when
they come here, and in the next let us sacrifice twelve picked
bulls to Neptune that he may have mercy upon us, and not bury
our city under the high mountain." When the people heard this
they were afraid and got ready the bulls.

Thus did the chiefs and rulers of the Phaeacians pray to king
Neptune, standing round his altar; and at the same time {118}
Ulysses woke up once more upon his own soil. He had been so long
away that he did not know it again; moreover, Jove's daughter
Minerva had made it a foggy day, so that people might not know
of his having come, and that she might tell him everything
without either his wife or his fellow citizens and friends
recognising him {119} until he had taken his revenge upon the
wicked suitors. Everything, therefore, seemed quite different to
him--the long straight tracks, the harbours, the precipices, and
the goodly trees, appeared all changed as he started up and
looked upon his native land. So he smote his thighs with the
flat of his hands and cried aloud despairingly.

"Alas," he exclaimed, "among what manner of people am I fallen?
Are they savage and uncivilised or hospitable and humane? Where
shall I put all this treasure, and which way shall I go? I wish
I had staid over there with the Phaeacians; or I could have gone
to some other great chief who would have been good to me and
given me an escort. As it is I do not know where to put my
treasure, and I cannot leave it here for fear somebody else
should get hold of it. In good truth the chiefs and rulers of
the Phaeacians have not been dealing fairly by me, and have left
me in the wrong country; they said they would take me back to
Ithaca and they have not done so: may Jove the protector of
suppliants chastise them, for he watches over everybody and
punishes those who do wrong. Still, I suppose I must count my
goods and see if the crew have gone off with any of them."

He counted his goodly coppers and cauldrons, his gold and all
his clothes, but there was nothing missing; still he kept
grieving about not being in his own country, and wandered up and
down by the shore of the sounding sea bewailing his hard fate.
Then Minerva came up to him disguised as a young shepherd of
delicate and princely mien, with a good cloak folded double
about her shoulders; she had sandals on her comely feet and held
a javelin in her hand. Ulysses was glad when he saw her, and
went straight up to her.

"My friend," said he, "you are the first person whom I have met
with in this country; I salute you, therefore, and beg you to be
well disposed towards me. Protect these my goods, and myself
too, for I embrace your knees and pray to you as though you were
a god. Tell me, then, and tell me truly, what land and country
is this? Who are its inhabitants? Am I on an island, or is this
the sea board of some continent?"

Minerva answered, "Stranger, you must be very simple, or must
have come from somewhere a long way off, not to know what
country this is. It is a very celebrated place, and everybody
knows it East and West. It is rugged and not a good driving
country, but it is by no means a bad island for what there is of
it. It grows any quantity of corn and also wine, for it is
watered both by rain and dew; it breeds cattle also and goats;
all kinds of timber grow here, and there are watering places
where the water never runs dry; so, sir, the name of Ithaca is
known even as far as Troy, which I understand to be a long way
off from this Achaean country."

Ulysses was glad at finding himself, as Minerva told him, in his
own country, and he began to answer, but he did not speak the
truth, and made up a lying story in the instinctive wiliness of
his heart.

"I heard of Ithaca," said he, "when I was in Crete beyond the
seas, and now it seems I have reached it with all these
treasures. I have left as much more behind me for my children,
but am flying because I killed Orsilochus son of Idomeneus, the
fleetest runner in Crete. I killed him because he wanted to rob
me of the spoils I had got from Troy with so much trouble and
danger both on the field of battle and by the waves of the weary
sea; he said I had not served his father loyally at Troy as
vassal, but had set myself up as an independent ruler, so I lay
in wait for him with one of my followers by the road side, and
speared him as he was coming into town from the country. It was
a very dark night and nobody saw us; it was not known,
therefore, that I had killed him, but as soon as I had done so I
went to a ship and besought the owners, who were Phoenicians, to
take me on board and set me in Pylos or in Elis where the Epeans
rule, giving them as much spoil as satisfied them. They meant no
guile, but the wind drove them off their course, and we sailed
on till we came hither by night. It was all we could do to get
inside the harbour, and none of us said a word about supper
though we wanted it badly, but we all went on shore and lay down
just as we were. I was very tired and fell asleep directly, so
they took my goods out of the ship, and placed them beside me
where I was lying upon the sand. Then they sailed away to
Sidonia, and I was left here in great distress of mind."

Such was his story, but Minerva smiled and caressed him with her
hand. Then she took the form of a woman, fair, stately, and
wise, "He must be indeed a shifty lying fellow," said she, "who
could surpass you in all manner of craft even though you had a
god for your antagonist. Dare devil that you are, full of
guile, unwearying in deceit, can you not drop your tricks and
your instinctive falsehood, even now that you are in your own
country again? We will say no more, however, about this, for we
can both of us deceive upon occasion--you are the most
accomplished counsellor and orator among all mankind, while I
for diplomacy and subtlety have no equal among the gods. Did
you not know Jove's daughter Minerva--me, who have been ever
with you, who kept watch over you in all your troubles, and who
made the Phaeacians take so great a liking to you? And now,
again, I am come here to talk things over with you, and help you
to hide the treasure I made the Phaeacians give you; I want to
tell you about the troubles that await you in your own house;
you have got to face them, but tell no one, neither man nor
woman, that you have come home again. Bear everything, and put
up with every man's insolence, without a word."

And Ulysses answered, "A man, goddess, may know a great deal,
but you are so constantly changing your appearance that when he
meets you it is a hard matter for him to know whether it is you
or not. This much, however, I know exceedingly well; you were
very kind to me as long as we Achaeans were fighting before
Troy, but from the day on which we went on board ship after
having sacked the city of Priam, and heaven dispersed us--from
that day, Minerva, I saw no more of you, and cannot ever
remember your coming to my ship to help me in a difficulty; I
had to wander on sick and sorry till the gods delivered me from
evil and I reached the city of the Phaeacians, where you
encouraged me and took me into the town. {120} And now, I
beseech you in your father's name, tell me the truth, for I do
not believe I am really back in Ithaca. I am in some other
country and you are mocking me and deceiving me in all you have
been saying. Tell me then truly, have I really got back to my
own country?"

"You are always taking something of that sort in your head,"
replied Minerva, "and that is why I cannot desert you in your
afflictions; you are so plausible, shrewd and shifty. Any one
but yourself on returning from so long a voyage would at once
have gone home to see his wife and children, but you do not seem
to care about asking after them or hearing any news about them
till you have exploited your wife, who remains at home vainly
grieving for you, and having no peace night or day for the tears
she sheds on your behalf. As for my not coming near you, I was
never uneasy about you, for I was certain you would get back
safely though you would lose all your men, and I did not wish to
quarrel with my uncle Neptune, who never forgave you for having
blinded his son. {121} I will now, however, point out to you the
lie of the land, and you will then perhaps believe me. This is
the haven of the old merman Phorcys, and here is the olive tree
that grows at the head of it; [near it is the cave sacred to the
Naiads;] {122} here too is the overarching cavern in which you
have offered many an acceptable hecatomb to the nymphs, and this
is the wooded mountain Neritum."

As she spoke the goddess dispersed the mist and the land
appeared. Then Ulysses rejoiced at finding himself again in his
own land, and kissed the bounteous soil; he lifted up his hands
and prayed to the nymphs, saying, "Naiad nymphs, daughters of
Jove, I made sure that I was never again to see you, now
therefore I greet you with all loving salutations, and I will
bring you offerings as in the old days, if Jove's redoubtable
daughter will grant me life, and bring my son to manhood."

"Take heart, and do not trouble yourself about that," rejoined
Minerva, "let us rather set about stowing your things at once in
the cave, where they will be quite safe. Let us see how we can
best manage it all."

Therewith she went down into the cave to look for the safest
hiding places, while Ulysses brought up all the treasure of
gold, bronze, and good clothing which the Phaeacians had given
him. They stowed everything carefully away, and Minerva set a
stone against the door of the cave. Then the two sat down by the
root of the great olive, and consulted how to compass the
destruction of the wicked suitors.

"Ulysses," said Minerva, "noble son of Laertes, think how you
can lay hands on these disreputable people who have been lording
it in your house these three years, courting your wife and
making wedding presents to her, while she does nothing but
lament your absence, giving hope and sending encouraging
messages {123} to every one of them, but meaning the very
opposite of all she says."

And Ulysses answered, "In good truth, goddess, it seems I should
have come to much the same bad end in my own house as Agamemnon
did, if you had not given me such timely information. Advise me
how I shall best avenge myself. Stand by my side and put your
courage into my heart as on the day when we loosed Troy's fair
diadem from her brow. Help me now as you did then, and I will
fight three hundred men, if you, goddess, will be with me."

"Trust me for that," said she, "I will not lose sight of you
when once we set about it, and I imagine that some of those who
are devouring your substance will then bespatter the pavement
with their blood and brains. I will begin by disguising you so
that no human being shall know you; I will cover your body with
wrinkles; you shall lose all your yellow hair; I will clothe you
in a garment that shall fill all who see it with loathing; I
will blear your fine eyes for you, and make you an unseemly
object in the sight of the suitors, of your wife, and of the son
whom you left behind you. Then go at once to the swineherd who
is in charge of your pigs; he has been always well affected
towards you, and is devoted to Penelope and your son; you will
find him feeding his pigs near the rock that is called Raven
{124} by the fountain Arethusa, where they are fattening on
beechmast and spring water after their manner. Stay with him and
find out how things are going, while I proceed to Sparta and see
your son, who is with Menelaus at Lacedaemon, where he has gone
to try and find out whether you are still alive." {125}

"But why," said Ulysses, "did you not tell him, for you knew all
about it? Did you want him too to go sailing about amid all
kinds of hardship while others are eating up his estate?"

Minerva answered, "Never mind about him, I sent him that he
might be well spoken of for having gone. He is in no sort of
difficulty, but is staying quite comfortably with Menelaus, and
is surrounded with abundance of every kind. The suitors have
put out to sea and are lying in wait for him, for they mean to
kill him before he can get home. I do not much think they will
succeed, but rather that some of those who are now eating up
your estate will first find a grave themselves."

As she spoke Minerva touched him with her wand and covered him
with wrinkles, took away all his yellow hair, and withered the
flesh over his whole body; she bleared his eyes, which were
naturally very fine ones; she changed his clothes and threw an
old rag of a wrap about him, and a tunic, tattered, filthy, and
begrimed with smoke; she also gave him an undressed deer skin as
an outer garment, and furnished him with a staff and a wallet
all in holes, with a twisted thong for him to sling it over his

When the pair had thus laid their plans they parted, and the
goddess went straight to Lacedaemon to fetch Telemachus.

Book XIV


Ulysses now left the haven, and took the rough track up through
the wooded country and over the crest of the mountain till he
reached the place where Minerva had said that he would find the
swineherd, who was the most thrifty servant he had. He found him
sitting in front of his hut, which was by the yards that he had
built on a site which could be seen from far. He had made them
spacious {126} and fair to see, with a free run for the pigs all
round them; he had built them during his master's absence, of
stones which he had gathered out of the ground, without saying
anything to Penelope or Laertes, and he had fenced them on top
with thorn bushes. Outside the yard he had run a strong fence of
oaken posts, split, and set pretty close together, while inside
he had built twelve styes near one another for the sows to lie
in. There were fifty pigs wallowing in each stye, all of them
breeding sows; but the boars slept outside and were much fewer
in number, for the suitors kept on eating them, and the
swineherd had to send them the best he had continually. There
were three hundred and sixty boar pigs, and the herdsman's four
hounds, which were as fierce as wolves, slept always with them.
The swineherd was at that moment cutting out a pair of sandals
{127} from a good stout ox hide. Three of his men were out
herding the pigs in one place or another, and he had sent the
fourth to town with a boar that he had been forced to send the
suitors that they might sacrifice it and have their fill of

When the hounds saw Ulysses they set up a furious barking and
flew at him, but Ulysses was cunning enough to sit down and
loose his hold of the stick that he had in his hand: still, he
would have been torn by them in his own homestead had not the
swineherd dropped his ox hide, rushed full speed through the
gate of the yard and driven the dogs off by shouting and
throwing stones at them. Then he said to Ulysses, "Old man, the
dogs were likely to have made short work of you, and then you
would have got me into trouble. The gods have given me quite
enough worries without that, for I have lost the best of
masters, and am in continual grief on his account. I have to
attend swine for other people to eat, while he, if he yet lives
to see the light of day, is starving in some distant land. But
come inside, and when you have had your fill of bread and wine,
tell me where you come from, and all about your misfortunes."

On this the swineherd led the way into the hut and bade him sit
down. He strewed a good thick bed of rushes upon the floor, and
on the top of this he threw the shaggy chamois skin--a great
thick one--on which he used to sleep by night. Ulysses was
pleased at being made thus welcome, and said "May Jove, sir, and
the rest of the gods grant you your heart's desire in return for
the kind way in which you have received me."

To this you answered, O swineherd Eumaeus, "Stranger, though a
still poorer man should come here, it would not be right for me
to insult him, for all strangers and beggars are from Jove. You
must take what you can get and be thankful, for servants live in
fear when they have young lords for their masters; and this is
my misfortune now, for heaven has hindered the return of him who
would have been always good to me and given me something of my
own--a house, a piece of land, a good looking wife, and all else
that a liberal master allows a servant who has worked hard for
him, and whose labour the gods have prospered as they have mine
in the situation which I hold. If my master had grown old here
he would have done great things by me, but he is gone, and I
wish that Helen's whole race were utterly destroyed, for she has
been the death of many a good man. It was this matter that took
my master to Ilius, the land of noble steeds, to fight the
Trojans in the cause of king Agamemnon."

As he spoke he bound his girdle round him and went to the styes
where the young sucking pigs were penned. He picked out two
which he brought back with him and sacrificed. He singed them,
cut them up, and spitted them; when the meat was cooked he
brought it all in and set it before Ulysses, hot and still on
the spit, whereon Ulysses sprinkled it over with white barley
meal. The swineherd then mixed wine in a bowl of ivy-wood, and
taking a seat opposite Ulysses told him to begin.

"Fall to, stranger," said he, "on a dish of servant's pork. The
fat pigs have to go to the suitors, who eat them up without
shame or scruple; but the blessed gods love not such shameful
doings, and respect those who do what is lawful and right. Even
the fierce freebooters who go raiding on other people's land,
and Jove gives them their spoil--even they, when they have
filled their ships and got home again live conscience-stricken,
and look fearfully for judgement; but some god seems to have
told these people that Ulysses is dead and gone; they will not,
therefore, go back to their own homes and make their offers of
marriage in the usual way, but waste his estate by force,
without fear or stint. Not a day or night comes out of heaven,
but they sacrifice not one victim nor two only, and they take
the run of his wine, for he was exceedingly rich. No other great
man either in Ithaca or on the mainland is as rich as he was; he
had as much as twenty men put together. I will tell you what he
had. There are twelve herds of cattle upon the main land, and
as many flocks of sheep, there are also twelve droves of pigs,
while his own men and hired strangers feed him twelve widely
spreading herds of goats. Here in Ithaca he runs even large
flocks of goats on the far end of the island, and they are in
the charge of excellent goat herds. Each one of these sends the
suitors the best goat in the flock every day. As for myself, I
am in charge of the pigs that you see here, and I have to keep
picking out the best I have and sending it to them."

This was his story, but Ulysses went on eating and drinking
ravenously without a word, brooding his revenge. When he had
eaten enough and was satisfied, the swineherd took the bowl from
which he usually drank, filled it with wine, and gave it to
Ulysses, who was pleased, and said as he took it in his hands,
"My friend, who was this master of yours that bought you and
paid for you, so rich and so powerful as you tell me? You say he
perished in the cause of King Agamemnon; tell me who he was, in
case I may have met with such a person. Jove and the other gods
know, but I may be able to give you news of him, for I have
travelled much."

Eumaeus answered, "Old man, no traveller who comes here with
news will get Ulysses' wife and son to believe his story.
Nevertheless, tramps in want of a lodging keep coming with their
mouths full of lies, and not a word of truth; every one who
finds his way to Ithaca goes to my mistress and tells her
falsehoods, whereon she takes them in, makes much of them, and
asks them all manner of questions, crying all the time as women
will when they have lost their husbands. And you too, old man,
for a shirt and a cloak would doubtless make up a very pretty
story. But the wolves and birds of prey have long since torn
Ulysses to pieces, or the fishes of the sea have eaten him, and
his bones are lying buried deep in sand upon some foreign shore;
he is dead and gone, and a bad business it is for all his
friends--for me especially; go where I may I shall never find so
good a master, not even if I were to go home to my mother and
father where I was bred and born. I do not so much care,
however, about my parents now, though I should dearly like to
see them again in my own country; it is the loss of Ulysses that
grieves me most; I cannot speak of him without reverence though
he is here no longer, for he was very fond of me, and took such
care of me that wherever he may be I shall always honour his

"My friend," replied Ulysses, "you are very positive, and very
hard of belief about your master's coming home again,
nevertheless I will not merely say, but will swear, that he is
coming. Do not give me anything for my news till he has actually
come, you may then give me a shirt and cloak of good wear if you
will. I am in great want, but I will not take anything at all
till then, for I hate a man, even as I hate hell fire, who lets
his poverty tempt him into lying. I swear by king Jove, by the
rites of hospitality, and by that hearth of Ulysses to which I
have now come, that all will surely happen as I have said it
will. Ulysses will return in this self same year; with the end
of this moon and the beginning of the next he will be here to do
vengeance on all those who are ill treating his wife and son."

To this you answered, O swineherd Eumaeus, "Old man, you will
neither get paid for bringing good news, nor will Ulysses ever
come home; drink your wine in peace, and let us talk about
something else. Do not keep on reminding me of all this; it
always pains me when any one speaks about my honoured master. As
for your oath we will let it alone, but I only wish he may come,
as do Penelope, his old father Laertes, and his son Telemachus.
I am terribly unhappy too about this same boy of his; he was
running up fast into manhood, and bade fare to be no worse man,
face and figure, than his father, but some one, either god or
man, has been unsettling his mind, so he has gone off to Pylos
to try and get news of his father, and the suitors are lying in
wait for him as he is coming home, in the hope of leaving the
house of Arceisius without a name in Ithaca. But let us say no
more about him, and leave him to be taken, or else to escape if
the son of Saturn holds his hand over him to protect him. And
now, old man, tell me your own story; tell me also, for I want
to know, who you are and where you come from. Tell me of your
town and parents, what manner of ship you came in, how crew
brought you to Ithaca, and from what country they professed to
come--for you cannot have come by land."

And Ulysses answered, "I will tell you all about it. If there
were meat and wine enough, and we could stay here in the hut
with nothing to do but to eat and drink while the others go to
their work, I could easily talk on for a whole twelve months
without ever finishing the story of the sorrows with which it
has pleased heaven to visit me.

"I am by birth a Cretan; my father was a well to do man, who had
many sons born in marriage, whereas I was the son of a slave
whom he had purchased for a concubine; nevertheless, my father
Castor son of Hylax (whose lineage I claim, and who was held in
the highest honour among the Cretans for his wealth, prosperity,
and the valour of his sons) put me on the same level with my
brothers who had been born in wedlock. When, however, death took
him to the house of Hades, his sons divided his estate and cast
lots for their shares, but to me they gave a holding and little
else; nevertheless, my valour enabled me to marry into a rich
family, for I was not given to bragging, or shirking on the
field of battle. It is all over now; still, if you look at the
straw you can see what the ear was, for I have had trouble
enough and to spare. Mars and Minerva made me doughty in war;
when I had picked my men to surprise the enemy with an ambuscade
I never gave death so much as a thought, but was the first to
leap forward and spear all whom I could overtake. Such was I in
battle, but I did not care about farm work, nor the frugal home
life of those who would bring up children. My delight was in
ships, fighting, javelins, and arrows--things that most men
shudder to think of; but one man likes one thing and another
another, and this was what I was most naturally inclined to.
Before the Achaeans went to Troy, nine times was I in command of
men and ships on foreign service, and I amassed much wealth. I
had my pick of the spoil in the first instance, and much more
was allotted to me later on.

"My house grew apace and I became a great man among the Cretans,
but when Jove counselled that terrible expedition, in which so
many perished, the people required me and Idomeneus to lead
their ships to Troy, and there was no way out of it, for they
insisted on our doing so. There we fought for nine whole years,
but in the tenth we sacked the city of Priam and sailed home
again as heaven dispersed us. Then it was that Jove devised evil
against me. I spent but one month happily with my children,
wife, and property, and then I conceived the idea of making a
descent on Egypt, so I fitted out a fine fleet and manned it. I
had nine ships, and the people flocked to fill them. For six
days I and my men made feast, and I found them many victims both
for sacrifice to the gods and for themselves, but on the seventh
day we went on board and set sail from Crete with a fair North
wind behind us though we were going down a river. Nothing went
ill with any of our ships, and we had no sickness on board, but
sat where we were and let the ships go as the wind and steersmen
took them. On the fifth day we reached the river Aegyptus; there
I stationed my ships in the river, bidding my men stay by them
and keep guard over them while I sent out scouts to reconnoitre
from every point of vantage.

"But the men disobeyed my orders, took to their own devices, and
ravaged the land of the Egyptians, killing the men, and taking
their wives and children captive. The alarm was soon carried to
the city, and when they heard the war cry, the people came out
at daybreak till the plain was filled with horsemen and foot
soldiers and with the gleam of armour. Then Jove spread panic
among my men, and they would no longer face the enemy, for they
found themselves surrounded. The Egyptians killed many of us,
and took the rest alive to do forced labour for them. Jove,
however, put it in my mind to do thus--and I wish I had died
then and there in Egypt instead, for there was much sorrow in
store for me--I took off my helmet and shield and dropped my
spear from my hand; then I went straight up to the king's
chariot, clasped his knees and kissed them, whereon he spared my
life, bade me get into his chariot, and took me weeping to his
own home. Many made at me with their ashen spears and tried to
kill me in their fury, but the king protected me, for he feared
the wrath of Jove the protector of strangers, who punishes those
who do evil.

"I stayed there for seven years and got together much money
among the Egyptians, for they all gave me something; but when it
was now going on for eight years there came a certain
Phoenician, a cunning rascal, who had already committed all
sorts of villainy, and this man talked me over into going with
him to Phoenicia, where his house and his possessions lay. I
stayed there for a whole twelve months, but at the end of that
time when months and days had gone by till the same season had
come round again, he set me on board a ship bound for Libya, on
a pretence that I was to take a cargo along with him to that
place, but really that he might sell me as a slave and take the
money I fetched. I suspected his intention, but went on board
with him, for I could not help it.

"The ship ran before a fresh North wind till we had reached the
sea that lies between Crete and Libya; there, however, Jove
counselled their destruction, for as soon as we were well out
from Crete and could see nothing but sea and sky, he raised a
black cloud over our ship and the sea grew dark beneath it. Then
Jove let fly with his thunderbolts and the ship went round and
round and was filled with fire and brimstone as the lightning
struck it. The men fell all into the sea; they were carried
about in the water round the ship looking like so many
sea-gulls, but the god presently deprived them of all chance of
getting home again. I was all dismayed. Jove, however, sent the
ship's mast within my reach, which saved my life, for I clung to
it, and drifted before the fury of the gale. Nine days did I
drift but in the darkness of the tenth night a great wave bore
me on to the Thesprotian coast. There Pheidon king of the
Thesprotians entertained me hospitably without charging me
anything at all--for his son found me when I was nearly dead
with cold and fatigue, whereon he raised me by the hand, took me
to his father's house and gave me clothes to wear.

"There it was that I heard news of Ulysses, for the king told me
he had entertained him, and shown him much hospitality while he
was on his homeward journey. He showed me also the treasure of
gold, and wrought iron that Ulysses had got together. There was
enough to keep his family for ten generations, so much had he
left in the house of king Pheidon. But the king said Ulysses had
gone to Dodona that he might learn Jove's mind from the god's
high oak tree, and know whether after so long an absence he
should return to Ithaca openly, or in secret. Moreover the king
swore in my presence, making drink-offerings in his own house as
he did so, that the ship was by the water side, and the crew
found, that should take him to his own country. He sent me off
however before Ulysses returned, for there happened to be a
Thesprotian ship sailing for the wheat-growing island of
Dulichium, and he told those in charge of her to be sure and
take me safely to King Acastus.

"These men hatched a plot against me that would have reduced me
to the very extreme of misery, for when the ship had got some
way out from land they resolved on selling me as a slave. They
stripped me of the shirt and cloak that I was wearing, and gave
me instead the tattered old clouts in which you now see me;
then, towards nightfall, they reached the tilled lands of
Ithaca, and there they bound me with a strong rope fast in the
ship, while they went on shore to get supper by the sea side.
But the gods soon undid my bonds for me, and having drawn my
rags over my head I slid down the rudder into the sea, where I
struck out and swam till I was well clear of them, and came
ashore near a thick wood in which I lay concealed. They were
very angry at my having escaped and went searching about for me,
till at last they thought it was no further use and went back to
their ship. The gods, having hidden me thus easily, then took me
to a good man's door--for it seems that I am not to die yet

To this you answered, O swineherd Eumaeus, "Poor unhappy
stranger, I have found the story of your misfortunes extremely
interesting, but that part about Ulysses is not right; and you
will never get me to believe it. Why should a man like you go
about telling lies in this way? I know all about the return of
my master. The gods one and all of them detest him, or they
would have taken him before Troy, or let him die with friends
around him when the days of his fighting were done; for then the
Achaeans would have built a mound over his ashes and his son
would have been heir to his renown, but now the storm winds have
spirited him away we know not whither.

"As for me I live out of the way here with the pigs, and never
go to the town unless when Penelope sends for me on the arrival
of some news about Ulysses. Then they all sit round and ask
questions, both those who grieve over the king's absence, and
those who rejoice at it because they can eat up his property
without paying for it. For my own part I have never cared about
asking anyone else since the time when I was taken in by an
Aetolian, who had killed a man and come a long way till at last
he reached my station, and I was very kind to him. He said he
had seen Ulysses with Idomeneus among the Cretans, refitting his
ships which had been damaged in a gale. He said Ulysses would
return in the following summer or autumn with his men, and that
he would bring back much wealth. And now you, you unfortunate
old man, since fate has brought you to my door, do not try to
flatter me in this way with vain hopes. It is not for any such
reason that I shall treat you kindly, but only out of respect
for Jove the god of hospitality, as fearing him and pitying

Ulysses answered, "I see that you are of an unbelieving mind; I
have given you my oath, and yet you will not credit me; let us
then make a bargain, and call all the gods in heaven to witness
it. If your master comes home, give me a cloak and shirt of good
wear, and send me to Dulichium where I want to go; but if he
does not come as I say he will, set your men on to me, and tell
them to throw me from yonder precipice, as a warning to tramps
not to go about the country telling lies."

"And a pretty figure I should cut then," replied Eumaeus, "both
now and hereafter, if I were to kill you after receiving you
into my hut and showing you hospitality. I should have to say my
prayers in good earnest if I did; but it is just supper time and
I hope my men will come in directly, that we may cook something
savoury for supper."

Thus did they converse, and presently the swineherds came up
with the pigs, which were then shut up for the night in their
styes, and a tremendous squealing they made as they were being
driven into them. But Eumaeus called to his men and said, "Bring
in the best pig you have, that I may sacrifice him for this
stranger, and we will take toll of him ourselves. We have had
trouble enough this long time feeding pigs, while others reap
the fruit of our labour."

On this he began chopping firewood, while the others brought in
a fine fat five year old boar pig, and set it at the altar.
Eumaeus did not forget the gods, for he was a man of good
principles, so the first thing he did was to cut bristles from
the pig's face and throw them into the fire, praying to all the
gods as he did so that Ulysses might return home again. Then he
clubbed the pig with a billet of oak which he had kept back when
he was chopping the firewood, and stunned it, while the others
slaughtered and singed it. Then they cut it up, and Eumaeus
began by putting raw pieces from each joint on to some of the
fat; these he sprinkled with barley meal, and laid upon the
embers; they cut the rest of the meat up small, put the pieces
upon the spits and roasted them till they were done; when they
had taken them off the spits they threw them on to the dresser
in a heap. The swineherd, who was a most equitable man, then
stood up to give every one his share. He made seven portions;
one of these he set apart for Mercury the son of Maia and the
nymphs, praying to them as he did so; the others he dealt out to
the men man by man. He gave Ulysses some slices cut lengthways
down the loin as a mark of especial honour, and Ulysses was much
pleased. "I hope, Eumaeus," said he, "that Jove will be as well
disposed towards you as I am, for the respect you are showing to
an outcast like myself."

To this you answered, O swineherd Eumaeus, "Eat, my good fellow,
and enjoy your supper, such as it is. God grants this, and
withholds that, just as he thinks right, for he can do whatever
he chooses."

As he spoke he cut off the first piece and offered it as a burnt
sacrifice to the immortal gods; then he made them a
drink-offering, put the cup in the hands of Ulysses, and sat
down to his own portion. Mesaulius brought them their bread; the
swineherd had brought this man on his own account from among the
Taphians during his master's absence, and had paid for him with
his own money without saying anything either to his mistress or
Laertes. They then laid their hands upon the good things that
were before them, and when they had had enough to eat and drink,
Mesaulius took away what was left of the bread, and they all
went to bed after having made a hearty supper.

Now the night came on stormy and very dark, for there was no
moon. It poured without ceasing, and the wind blew strong from
the West, which is a wet quarter, so Ulysses thought he would
see whether Eumaeus, in the excellent care he took of him, would
take off his own cloak and give it him, or make one of his men
give him one. "Listen to me," said he, "Eumaeus and the rest of
you; when I have said a prayer I will tell you something. It is
the wine that makes me talk in this way; wine will make even a
wise man fall to singing; it will make him chuckle and dance and
say many a word that he had better leave unspoken; still, as I
have begun, I will go on. Would that I were still young and
strong as when we got up an ambuscade before Troy. Menelaus and
Ulysses were the leaders, but I was in command also, for the
other two would have it so. When we had come up to the wall of
the city we crouched down beneath our armour and lay there under
cover of the reeds and thick brushwood that grew about the
swamp. It came on to freeze with a North wind blowing; the snow
fell small and fine like hoar frost, and our shields were coated
thick with rime. The others had all got cloaks and shirts, and
slept comfortably enough with their shields about their
shoulders, but I had carelessly left my cloak behind me, not
thinking that I should be too cold, and had gone off in nothing
but my shirt and shield. When the night was two-thirds through
and the stars had shifted their places, I nudged Ulysses who was
close to me with my elbow, and he at once gave me his ear.

"'Ulysses,' said I, 'this cold will be the death of me, for I
have no cloak; some god fooled me into setting off with nothing
on but my shirt, and I do not know what to do.'

"Ulysses, who was as crafty as he was valiant, hit upon the
following plan:

"'Keep still,' said he in a low voice, 'or the others will hear
you.' Then he raised his head on his elbow.

"'My friends,' said he, 'I have had a dream from heaven in my
sleep. We are a long way from the ships; I wish some one would
go down and tell Agamemnon to send us up more men at once.'

"On this Thoas son of Andraemon threw off his cloak and set out
running to the ships, whereon I took the cloak and lay in it
comfortably enough till morning. Would that I were still young
and strong as I was in those days, for then some one of you
swineherds would give me a cloak both out of good will and for
the respect due to a brave soldier; but now people look down
upon me because my clothes are shabby."

And Eumaeus answered, "Old man, you have told us an excellent
story, and have said nothing so far but what is quite
satisfactory; for the present, therefore, you shall want neither
clothing nor anything else that a stranger in distress may
reasonably expect, but to-morrow morning you have to shake your
own old rags about your body again, for we have not many spare
cloaks nor shirts up here, but every man has only one. When
Ulysses' son comes home again he will give you both cloak and
shirt, and send you wherever you may want to go."

With this he got up and made a bed for Ulysses by throwing some
goatskins and sheepskins on the ground in front of the fire.
Here Ulysses lay down, and Eumaeus covered him over with a great
heavy cloak that he kept for a change in case of extraordinarily
bad weather.

Thus did Ulysses sleep, and the young men slept beside him. But
the swineherd did not like sleeping away from his pigs, so he
got ready to go outside, and Ulysses was glad to see that he
looked after his property during his master's absence. First he
slung his sword over his brawny shoulders and put on a thick
cloak to keep out the wind. He also took the skin of a large and
well fed goat, and a javelin in case of attack from men or dogs.
Thus equipped he went to his rest where the pigs were camping
under an overhanging rock that gave them shelter from the North

Book XV


But Minerva went to the fair city of Lacedaemon to tell Ulysses'
son that he was to return at once. She found him and Pisistratus
sleeping in the forecourt of Menelaus's house; Pisistratus was
fast asleep, but Telemachus could get no rest all night for
thinking of his unhappy father, so Minerva went close up to him
and said:

"Telemachus, you should not remain so far away from home any
longer, nor leave your property with such dangerous people in
your house; they will eat up everything you have among them, and
you will have been on a fool's errand. Ask Menelaus to send you
home at once if you wish to find your excellent mother still
there when you get back. Her father and brothers are already
urging her to marry Eurymachus, who has given her more than any
of the others, and has been greatly increasing his wedding
presents. I hope nothing valuable may have been taken from the
house in spite of you, but you know what women are--they always
want to do the best they can for the man who marries them, and
never give another thought to the children of their first
husband, nor to their father either when he is dead and done
with. Go home, therefore, and put everything in charge of the
most respectable woman servant that you have, until it shall
please heaven to send you a wife of your own. Let me tell you
also of another matter which you had better attend to. The chief
men among the suitors are lying in wait for you in the Strait
{128} between Ithaca and Samos, and they mean to kill you before
you can reach home. I do not much think they will succeed; it is
more likely that some of those who are now eating up your
property will find a grave themselves. Sail night and day, and
keep your ship well away from the islands; the god who watches
over you and protects you will send you a fair wind. As soon as
you get to Ithaca send your ship and men on to the town, but
yourself go straight to the swineherd who has charge of your
pigs; he is well disposed towards you, stay with him, therefore,
for the night, and then send him to Penelope to tell her that
you have got back safe from Pylos."

Then she went back to Olympus; but Telemachus stirred
Pisistratus with his heel to rouse him, and said, "Wake up
Pisistratus, and yoke the horses to the chariot, for we must set
off home." {129}

But Pisistratus said, "No matter what hurry we are in we cannot
drive in the dark. It will be morning soon; wait till Menelaus
has brought his presents and put them in the chariot for us; and
let him say good bye to us in the usual way. So long as he lives
a guest should never forget a host who has shown him kindness."

As he spoke day began to break, and Menelaus, who had already
risen, leaving Helen in bed, came towards them. When Telemachus
saw him he put on his shirt as fast as he could, threw a great
cloak over his shoulders, and went out to meet him. "Menelaus,"
said he, "let me go back now to my own country, for I want to
get home."

And Menelaus answered, "Telemachus, if you insist on going I
will not detain you. I do not like to see a host either too fond
of his guest or too rude to him. Moderation is best in all
things, and not letting a man go when he wants to do so is as
bad as telling him to go if he would like to stay. One should
treat a guest well as long as he is in the house and speed him
when he wants to leave it. Wait, then, till I can get your
beautiful presents into your chariot, and till you have yourself
seen them. I will tell the women to prepare a sufficient dinner
for you of what there may be in the house; it will be at once
more proper and cheaper for you to get your dinner before
setting out on such a long journey. If, moreover, you have a
fancy for making a tour in Hellas or in the Peloponnese, I will
yoke my horses, and will conduct you myself through all our
principal cities. No one will send us away empty handed; every
one will give us something--a bronze tripod, a couple of mules,
or a gold cup."

"Menelaus," replied Telemachus, "I want to go home at once, for
when I came away I left my property without protection, and fear
that while looking for my father I shall come to ruin myself, or
find that something valuable has been stolen during my absence."

When Menelaus heard this he immediately told his wife and
servants to prepare a sufficient dinner from what there might be
in the house. At this moment Eteoneus joined him, for he lived
close by and had just got up; so Menelaus told him to light the
fire and cook some meat, which he at once did. Then Menelaus
went down into his fragrant store room, {130} not alone, but
Helen went too, with Megapenthes. When he reached the place
where the treasures of his house were kept, he selected a double
cup, and told his son Megapenthes to bring also a silver mixing
bowl. Meanwhile Helen went to the chest where she kept the
lovely dresses which she had made with her own hands, and took
out one that was largest and most beautifully enriched with
embroidery; it glittered like a star, and lay at the very bottom
of the chest. {131} Then they all came back through the house
again till they got to Telemachus, and Menelaus said,
"Telemachus, may Jove, the mighty husband of Juno, bring you
safely home according to your desire. I will now present you
with the finest and most precious piece of plate in all my
house. It is a mixing bowl of pure silver, except the rim, which
is inlaid with gold, and it is the work of Vulcan. Phaedimus
king of the Sidonians made me a present of it in the course of a
visit that I paid him while I was on my return home. I should
like to give it to you."

With these words he placed the double cup in the hands of
Telemachus, while Megapenthes brought the beautiful mixing bowl
and set it before him. Hard by stood lovely Helen with the robe
ready in her hand.

"I too, my son," said she, "have something for you as a keepsake
from the hand of Helen; it is for your bride to wear upon her
wedding day. Till then, get your dear mother to keep it for you;
thus may you go back rejoicing to your own country and to your

So saying she gave the robe over to him and he received it
gladly. Then Pisistratus put the presents into the chariot, and
admired them all as he did so. Presently Menelaus took
Telemachus and Pisistratus into the house, and they both of them
sat down to table. A maid servant brought them water in a
beautiful golden ewer, and poured it into a silver basin for
them to wash their hands, and she drew a clean table beside
them; an upper servant brought them bread and offered them many
good things of what there was in the house. Eteoneus carved the
meat and gave them each their portions, while Megapenthes poured
out the wine. Then they laid their hands upon the good things
that were before them, but as soon as they had had enough to eat
and drink Telemachus and Pisistratus yoked the horses, and took
their places in the chariot. They drove out through the inner
gateway and under the echoing gatehouse of the outer court, and
Menelaus came after them with a golden goblet of wine in his
right hand that they might make a drink-offering before they set
out. He stood in front of the horses and pledged them, saying,
"Farewell to both of you; see that you tell Nestor how I have
treated you, for he was as kind to me as any father could be
while we Achaeans were fighting before Troy."

"We will be sure, sir," answered Telemachus, "to tell him
everything as soon as we see him. I wish I were as certain of
finding Ulysses returned when I get back to Ithaca, that I might
tell him of the very great kindness you have shown me and of the
many beautiful presents I am taking with me."

As he was thus speaking a bird flew on his right hand--an eagle
with a great white goose in its talons which it had carried off
from the farm yard--and all the men and women were running after
it and shouting. It came quite close up to them and flew away on
their right hands in front of the horses. When they saw it they
were glad, and their hearts took comfort within them, whereon
Pisistratus said, "Tell me, Menelaus, has heaven sent this omen
for us or for you?"

Menelaus was thinking what would be the most proper answer for
him to make, but Helen was too quick for him and said, "I will
read this matter as heaven has put it in my heart, and as I
doubt not that it will come to pass. The eagle came from the
mountain where it was bred and has its nest, and in like manner
Ulysses, after having travelled far and suffered much, will
return to take his revenge--if indeed he is not back already and
hatching mischief for the suitors."

"May Jove so grant it," replied Telemachus, "if it should prove
to be so, I will make vows to you as though you were a god, even
when I am at home."

As he spoke he lashed his horses and they started off at full
speed through the town towards the open country. They swayed the
yoke upon their necks and travelled the whole day long till the
sun set and darkness was over all the land. Then they reached
Pherae, where Diocles lived who was son of Ortilochus, the son
of Alpheus. There they passed the night and were treated
hospitably. When the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn,
appeared, they again yoked their horses and their places in the
chariot. They drove out through the inner gateway and under the
echoing gatehouse of the outer court. Then Pisistratus lashed
his horses on and they flew forward nothing loath; ere long they
came to Pylos, and then Telemachus said:

"Pisistratus, I hope you will promise to do what I am going to
ask you. You know our fathers were old friends before us;
moreover, we are both of an age, and this journey has brought us
together still more closely; do not, therefore, take me past my
ship, but leave me there, for if I go to your father's house he
will try to keep me in the warmth of his good will towards me,
and I must go home at once."

Pisistratus thought how he should do as he was asked, and in the
end he deemed it best to turn his horses towards the ship, and
put Menelaus's beautiful presents of gold and raiment in the
stern of the vessel. Then he said, "Go on board at once and tell
your men to do so also before I can reach home to tell my
father. I know how obstinate he is, and am sure he will not let
you go; he will come down here to fetch you, and he will not go
back without you. But he will be very angry."

With this he drove his goodly steeds back to the city of the
Pylians and soon reached his home, but Telemachus called the men
together and gave his orders. "Now, my men," said he, "get
everything in order on board the ship, and let us set out home."

Thus did he speak, and they went on board even as he had said.
But as Telemachus was thus busied, praying also and sacrificing
to Minerva in the ship's stern, there came to him a man from a
distant country, a seer, who was flying from Argos because he
had killed a man. He was descended from Melampus, who used to
live in Pylos, the land of sheep; he was rich and owned a great
house, but he was driven into exile by the great and powerful
king Neleus. Neleus seized his goods and held them for a whole
year, during which he was a close prisoner in the house of king
Phylacus, and in much distress of mind both on account of the
daughter of Neleus and because he was haunted by a great sorrow
that dread Erinys had laid upon him. In the end, however, he
escaped with his life, drove the cattle from Phylace to Pylos,
avenged the wrong that had been done him, and gave the daughter
of Neleus to his brother. Then he left the country and went to
Argos, where it was ordained that he should reign over much
people. There he married, established himself, and had two
famous sons Antiphates and Mantius. Antiphates became father of
Oicleus, and Oicleus of Amphiaraus, who was dearly loved both by
Jove and by Apollo, but he did not live to old age, for he was
killed in Thebes by reason of a woman's gifts. His sons were
Alcmaeon and Amphilochus. Mantius, the other son of Melampus,
was father to Polypheides and Cleitus. Aurora, throned in gold,
carried off Cleitus for his beauty's sake, that he might dwell
among the immortals, but Apollo made Polypheides the greatest
seer in the whole world now that Amphiaraus was dead. He
quarrelled with his father and went to live in Hyperesia, where
he remained and prophesied for all men.

His son, Theoclymenus, it was who now came up to Telemachus as
he was making drink-offerings and praying in his ship.
"Friend," said he, "now that I find you sacrificing in this
place, I beseech you by your sacrifices themselves, and by the
god to whom you make them, I pray you also by your own head and
by those of your followers tell me the truth and nothing but the
truth. Who and whence are you? Tell me also of your town and

Telemachus said, "I will answer you quite truly. I am from
Ithaca, and my father is Ulysses, as surely as that he ever
lived. But he has come to some miserable end. Therefore I have
taken this ship and got my crew together to see if I can hear
any news of him, for he has been away a long time."

"I too," answered Theoclymenus, "am an exile, for I have killed
a man of my own race. He has many brothers and kinsmen in Argos,
and they have great power among the Argives. I am flying to
escape death at their hands, and am thus doomed to be a wanderer
on the face of the earth. I am your suppliant; take me,
therefore, on board your ship that they may not kill me, for I
know they are in pursuit."

"I will not refuse you," replied Telemachus, "if you wish to
join us. Come, therefore, and in Ithaca we will treat you
hospitably according to what we have."

On this he received Theoclymenus' spear and laid it down on the
deck of the ship. He went on board and sat in the stern, bidding
Theoclymenus sit beside him; then the men let go the hawsers.
Telemachus told them to catch hold of the ropes, and they made
all haste to do so. They set the mast in its socket in the cross
plank, raised it and made it fast with the forestays, and they
hoisted their white sails with sheets of twisted ox hide.
Minerva sent them a fair wind that blew fresh and strong to take
the ship on her course as fast as possible. Thus then they
passed by Crouni and Chalcis.

Presently the sun set and darkness was over all the land. The
vessel made a quick passage to Pheae and thence on to Elis,
where the Epeans rule. Telemachus then headed her for the flying
islands, {132} wondering within himself whether he should escape
death or should be taken prisoner.

Meanwhile Ulysses and the swineherd were eating their supper in
the hut, and the men supped with them. As soon as they had had
to eat and drink, Ulysses began trying to prove the swineherd
and see whether he would continue to treat him kindly, and ask
him to stay on at the station or pack him off to the city; so he

"Eumaeus, and all of you, to-morrow I want to go away and begin
begging about the town, so as to be no more trouble to you or to
your men. Give me your advice therefore, and let me have a good
guide to go with me and show me the way. I will go the round of
the city begging as I needs must, to see if any one will give me
a drink and a piece of bread. I should like also to go to the
house of Ulysses and bring news of her husband to Queen
Penelope. I could then go about among the suitors and see if out
of all their abundance they will give me a dinner. I should soon
make them an excellent servant in all sorts of ways. Listen and
believe when I tell you that by the blessing of Mercury who
gives grace and good name to the works of all men, there is no
one living who would make a more handy servant than I should--to
put fresh wood on the fire, chop fuel, carve, cook, pour out
wine, and do all those services that poor men have to do for
their betters."

The swineherd was very much disturbed when he heard this.
"Heaven help me," he exclaimed, "what ever can have put such a
notion as that into your head? If you go near the suitors you
will be undone to a certainty, for their pride and insolence
reach the very heavens. They would never think of taking a man
like you for a servant. Their servants are all young men, well
dressed, wearing good cloaks and shirts, with well looking faces
and their hair always tidy, the tables are kept quite clean and
are loaded with bread, meat, and wine. Stay where you are, then;
you are not in anybody's way; I do not mind your being here, no
more do any of the others, and when Telemachus comes home he
will give you a shirt and cloak and will send you wherever you
want to go."

Ulysses answered, "I hope you may be as dear to the gods as you
are to me, for having saved me from going about and getting into
trouble; there is nothing worse than being always on the tramp;
still, when men have once got low down in the world they will go
through a great deal on behalf of their miserable bellies.
Since, however, you press me to stay here and await the return
of Telemachus, tell me about Ulysses' mother, and his father
whom he left on the threshold of old age when he set out for
Troy. Are they still living or are they already dead and in the
house of Hades?"

"I will tell you all about them," replied Eumaeus, "Laertes is
still living and prays heaven to let him depart peacefully in
his own house, for he is terribly distressed about the absence
of his son, and also about the death of his wife, which grieved
him greatly and aged him more than anything else did. She came
to an unhappy end {133} through sorrow for her son: may no
friend or neighbour who has dealt kindly by me come to such an
end as she did. As long as she was still living, though she was
always grieving, I used to like seeing her and asking her how
she did, for she brought me up along with her daughter Ctimene,
the youngest of her children; we were boy and girl together, and
she made little difference between us. When, however, we both
grew up, they sent Ctimene to Same and received a splendid dowry
for her. As for me, my mistress gave me a good shirt and cloak
with a pair of sandals for my feet, and sent me off into the
country, but she was just as fond of me as ever. This is all
over now. Still it has pleased heaven to prosper my work in the
situation which I now hold. I have enough to eat and drink, and
can find something for any respectable stranger who comes here;
but there is no getting a kind word or deed out of my mistress,
for the house has fallen into the hands of wicked people.
Servants want sometimes to see their mistress and have a talk
with her; they like to have something to eat and drink at the
house, and something too to take back with them into the
country. This is what will keep servants in a good humour."

Ulysses answered, "Then you must have been a very little fellow,
Eumaeus, when you were taken so far away from your home and
parents. Tell me, and tell me true, was the city in which your
father and mother lived sacked and pillaged, or did some enemies
carry you off when you were alone tending sheep or cattle, ship
you off here, and sell you for whatever your master gave them?"

"Stranger," replied Eumaeus, "as regards your question: sit
still, make yourself comfortable, drink your wine, and listen to
me. The nights are now at their longest; there is plenty of time
both for sleeping and sitting up talking together; you ought not
to go to bed till bed time, too much sleep is as bad as too
little; if any one of the others wishes to go to bed let him
leave us and do so; he can then take my master's pigs out when
he has done breakfast in the morning. We too will sit here
eating and drinking in the hut, and telling one another stories
about our misfortunes; for when a man has suffered much, and
been buffeted about in the world, he takes pleasure in recalling
the memory of sorrows that have long gone by. As regards your
question, then, my tale is as follows:

"You may have heard of an island called Syra that lies over
above Ortygia, {134} where the land begins to turn round and
look in another direction. {135} It is not very thickly peopled,
but the soil is good, with much pasture fit for cattle and
sheep, and it abounds with wine and wheat. Dearth never comes
there, nor are the people plagued by any sickness, but when they
grow old Apollo comes with Diana and kills them with his
painless shafts. It contains two communities, and the whole
country is divided between these two. My father Ctesius son of
Ormenus, a man comparable to the gods, reigned over both.

"Now to this place there came some cunning traders from
Phoenicia (for the Phoenicians are great mariners) in a ship
which they had freighted with gewgaws of all kinds. There
happened to be a Phoenician woman in my father's house, very
tall and comely, and an excellent servant; these scoundrels got
hold of her one day when she was washing near their ship,
seduced her, and cajoled her in ways that no woman can resist,
no matter how good she may be by nature. The man who had seduced
her asked her who she was and where she came from, and on this
she told him her father's name. 'I come from Sidon,' said she,
'and am daughter to Arybas, a man rolling in wealth. One day as
I was coming into the town from the country, some Taphian
pirates seized me and took me here over the sea, where they sold
me to the man who owns this house, and he gave them their price
for me.'

"The man who had seduced her then said, 'Would you like to come
along with us to see the house of your parents and your parents
themselves? They are both alive and are said to be well off.'

"'I will do so gladly,' answered she, 'if you men will first
swear me a solemn oath that you will do me no harm by the way.'

"They all swore as she told them, and when they had completed
their oath the woman said, 'Hush; and if any of your men meets
me in the street or at the well, do not let him speak to me, for
fear some one should go and tell my master, in which case he
would suspect something. He would put me in prison, and would
have all of you murdered; keep your own counsel therefore; buy
your merchandise as fast as you can, and send me word when you
have done loading. I will bring as much gold as I can lay my
hands on, and there is something else also that I can do towards
paying my fare. I am nurse to the son of the good man of the
house, a funny little fellow just able to run about. I will
carry him off in your ship, and you will get a great deal of
money for him if you take him and sell him in foreign parts.'

"On this she went back to the house. The Phoenicians stayed a
whole year till they had loaded their ship with much precious
merchandise, and then, when they had got freight enough, they
sent to tell the woman. Their messenger, a very cunning fellow,
came to my father's house bringing a necklace of gold with amber
beads strung among it; and while my mother and the servants had
it in their hands admiring it and bargaining about it, he made a
sign quietly to the woman and then went back to the ship,
whereon she took me by the hand and led me out of the house. In
the fore part of the house she saw the tables set with the cups
of guests who had been feasting with my father, as being in
attendance on him; these were now all gone to a meeting of the
public assembly, so she snatched up three cups and carried them
off in the bosom of her dress, while I followed her, for I knew
no better. The sun was now set, and darkness was over all the
land, so we hurried on as fast as we could till we reached the
harbour, where the Phoenician ship was lying. When they had got
on board they sailed their ways over the sea, taking us with
them, and Jove sent then a fair wind; six days did we sail both
night and day, but on the seventh day Diana struck the woman and
she fell heavily down into the ship's hold as though she were a
sea gull alighting on the water; so they threw her overboard to
the seals and fishes, and I was left all sorrowful and alone.
Presently the winds and waves took the ship to Ithaca, where
Laertes gave sundry of his chattels for me, and thus it was that
ever I came to set eyes upon this country."

Ulysses answered, "Eumaeus, I have heard the story of your
misfortunes with the most lively interest and pity, but Jove has
given you good as well as evil, for in spite of everything you
have a good master, who sees that you always have enough to eat
and drink; and you lead a good life, whereas I am still going
about begging my way from city to city."

Thus did they converse, and they had only a very little time
left for sleep, for it was soon daybreak. In the mean time
Telemachus and his crew were nearing land, so they loosed the
sails, took down the mast, and rowed the ship into the harbour.
{136} They cast out their mooring stones and made fast the
hawsers; they then got out upon the sea shore, mixed their wine,
and got dinner ready. As soon as they had had enough to eat and
drink Telemachus said, "Take the ship on to the town, but leave
me here, for I want to look after the herdsmen on one of my
farms. In the evening, when I have seen all I want, I will come
down to the city, and to-morrow morning in return for your
trouble I will give you all a good dinner with meat and wine."

Then Theoclymenus said, 'And what, my dear young friend, is to
become of me? To whose house, among all your chief men, am I to
repair? or shall I go straight to your own house and to your

"At any other time," replied Telemachus, "I should have bidden
you go to my own house, for you would find no want of
hospitality; at the present moment, however, you would not be
comfortable there, for I shall be away, and my mother will not
see you; she does not often show herself even to the suitors,
but sits at her loom weaving in an upper chamber, out of their
way; but I can tell you a man whose house you can go to--I mean
Eurymachus the son of Polybus, who is held in the highest
estimation by every one in Ithaca. He is much the best man and
the most persistent wooer, of all those who are paying court to
my mother and trying to take Ulysses' place. Jove, however, in
heaven alone knows whether or no they will come to a bad end
before the marriage takes place."

As he was speaking a bird flew by upon his right hand--a hawk,
Apollo's messenger. It held a dove in its talons, and the
feathers, as it tore them off, {138} fell to the ground midway
between Telemachus and the ship. On this Theoclymenus called him
apart and caught him by the hand. "Telemachus," said he, "that
bird did not fly on your right hand without having been sent
there by some god. As soon as I saw it I knew it was an omen; it
means that you will remain powerful and that there will be no
house in Ithaca more royal than your own."

"I wish it may prove so," answered Telemachus. "If it does, I
will show you so much good will and give you so many presents
that all who meet you will congratulate you."

Then he said to his friend Piraeus, "Piraeus, son of Clytius,
you have throughout shown yourself the most willing to serve me
of all those who have accompanied me to Pylos; I wish you would
take this stranger to your own house and entertain him
hospitably till I can come for him."

And Piraeus answered, "Telemachus, you may stay away as long as
you please, but I will look after him for you, and he shall find
no lack of hospitality."

As he spoke he went on board, and bade the others do so also and
loose the hawsers, so they took their places in the ship. But
Telemachus bound on his sandals, and took a long and doughty
spear with a head of sharpened bronze from the deck of the ship.
Then they loosed the hawsers, thrust the ship off from land, and
made on towards the city as they had been told to do, while
Telemachus strode on as fast as he could, till he reached the
homestead where his countless herds of swine were feeding, and
where dwelt the excellent swineherd, who was so devoted a
servant to his master.

Book XVI


Meanwhile Ulysses and the swineherd had lit a fire in the hut
and were were getting breakfast ready at daybreak, for they had
sent the men out with the pigs. When Telemachus came up, the
dogs did not bark but fawned upon him, so Ulysses, hearing the
sound of feet and noticing that the dogs did not bark, said to

"Eumaeus, I hear footsteps; I suppose one of your men or some
one of your acquaintance is coming here, for the dogs are
fawning upon him and not barking."

The words were hardly out of his mouth before his son stood at
the door. Eumaeus sprang to his feet, and the bowls in which he
was mixing wine fell from his hands, as he made towards his
master. He kissed his head and both his beautiful eyes, and wept
for joy. A father could not be more delighted at the return of
an only son, the child of his old age, after ten years' absence
in a foreign country and after having gone through much
hardship. He embraced him, kissed him all over as though he had
come back from the dead, and spoke fondly to him saying:

"So you are come, Telemachus, light of my eyes that you are.
When I heard you had gone to Pylos I made sure I was never going
to see you any more. Come in, my dear child, and sit down, that
I may have a good look at you now you are home again; it is not
very often you come into the country to see us herdsmen; you
stick pretty close to the town generally. I suppose you think it
better to keep an eye on what the suitors are doing."

"So be it, old friend," answered Telemachus, "but I am come now
because I want to see you, and to learn whether my mother is
still at her old home or whether some one else has married her,
so that the bed of Ulysses is without bedding and covered with

"She is still at the house," replied Eumaeus, "grieving and
breaking her heart, and doing nothing but weep, both night and
day continually."

As he spoke he took Telemachus' spear, whereon he crossed the
stone threshold and came inside. Ulysses rose from his seat to
give him place as he entered, but Telemachus checked him; "Sit
down, stranger," said he, "I can easily find another seat, and
there is one here who will lay it for me."

Ulysses went back to his own place, and Eumaeus strewed some
green brushwood on the floor and threw a sheepskin on top of it
for Telemachus to sit upon. Then the swineherd brought them
platters of cold meat, the remains from what they had eaten the
day before, and he filled the bread baskets with bread as fast
as he could. He mixed wine also in bowls of ivy-wood, and took
his seat facing Ulysses. Then they laid their hands on the good
things that were before them, and as soon as they had had enough
to eat and drink Telemachus said to Eumaeus, "Old friend, where
does this stranger come from? How did his crew bring him to
Ithaca, and who were they?--for assuredly he did not come here
by land."

To this you answered, O swineherd Eumaeus, "My son, I will tell
you the real truth. He says he is a Cretan, and that he has been
a great traveller. At this moment he is running away from a
Thesprotian ship, and has taken refuge at my station, so I will
put him into your hands. Do whatever you like with him, only
remember that he is your suppliant."

"I am very much distressed," said Telemachus, "by what you have
just told me. How can I take this stranger into my house? I am
as yet young, and am not strong enough to hold my own if any man
attacks me. My mother cannot make up her mind whether to stay
where she is and look after the house out of respect for public
opinion and the memory of her husband, or whether the time is
now come for her to take the best man of those who are wooing
her, and the one who will make her the most advantageous offer;
still, as the stranger has come to your station I will find him
a cloak and shirt of good wear, with a sword and sandals, and
will send him wherever he wants to go. Or if you like you can
keep him here at the station, and I will send him clothes and
food that he may be no burden on you and on your men; but I will
not have him go near the suitors, for they are very insolent,
and are sure to ill treat him in a way that would greatly grieve
me; no matter how valiant a man may be he can do nothing against
numbers, for they will be too strong for him."

Then Ulysses said, "Sir, it is right that I should say something
myself. I am much shocked about what you have said about the
insolent way in which the suitors are behaving in despite of
such a man as you are. Tell me, do you submit to such treatment
tamely, or has some god set your people against you? May you not
complain of your brothers--for it is to these that a man may
look for support, however great his quarrel may be? I wish I
were as young as you are and in my present mind; if I were son
to Ulysses, or, indeed, Ulysses himself, I would rather some one
came and cut my head off, but I would go to the house and be the
bane of every one of these men. {139} If they were too many for
me--I being single-handed--I would rather die fighting in my own
house than see such disgraceful sights day after day, strangers
grossly maltreated, and men dragging the women servants about
the house in an unseemly way, wine drawn recklessly, and bread
wasted all to no purpose for an end that shall never be

And Telemachus answered, "I will tell you truly everything.
There is no enmity between me and my people, nor can I complain
of brothers, to whom a man may look for support however great
his quarrel may be. Jove has made us a race of only sons.
Laertes was the only son of Arceisius, and Ulysses only son of
Laertes. I am myself the only son of Ulysses who left me behind
him when he went away, so that I have never been of any use to
him. Hence it comes that my house is in the hands of numberless
marauders; for the chiefs from all the neighbouring islands,
Dulichium, Same, Zacynthus, as also all the principal men of
Ithaca itself, are eating up my house under the pretext of
paying court to my mother, who will neither say point blank that
she will not marry, nor yet bring matters to an end, so they are
making havoc of my estate, and before long will do so with
myself into the bargain. The issue, however, rests with heaven.
But do you, old friend Eumaeus, go at once and tell Penelope
that I am safe and have returned from Pylos. Tell it to herself
alone, and then come back here without letting any one else
know, for there are many who are plotting mischief against me."

"I understand and heed you," replied Eumaeus; "you need instruct
me no further, only as I am going that way say whether I had not
better let poor Laertes know that you are returned. He used to
superintend the work on his farm in spite of his bitter sorrow
about Ulysses, and he would eat and drink at will along with his
servants; but they tell me that from the day on which you set
out for Pylos he has neither eaten nor drunk as he ought to do,
nor does he look after his farm, but sits weeping and wasting
the flesh from off his bones."

"More's the pity," answered Telemachus, "I am sorry for him, but
we must leave him to himself just now. If people could have
everything their own way, the first thing I should choose would
be the return of my father; but go, and give your message; then
make haste back again, and do not turn out of your way to tell
Laertes. Tell my mother to send one of her women secretly with
the news at once, and let him hear it from her."

Thus did he urge the swineherd; Eumaeus, therefore, took his
sandals, bound them to his feet, and started for the town.
Minerva watched him well off the station, and then came up to it
in the form of a woman--fair, stately, and wise. She stood
against the side of the entry, and revealed herself to Ulysses,
but Telemachus could not see her, and knew not that she was
there, for the gods do not let themselves be seen by everybody.
Ulysses saw her, and so did the dogs, for they did not bark, but
went scared and whining off to the other side of the yards. She
nodded her head and motioned to Ulysses with her eyebrows;
whereon he left the hut and stood before her outside the main
wall of the yards. Then she said to him:

"Ulysses, noble son of Laertes, it is now time for you to tell
your son: do not keep him in the dark any longer, but lay your
plans for the destruction of the suitors, and then make for the
town. I will not be long in joining you, for I too am eager for
the fray."

As she spoke she touched him with her golden wand. First she
threw a fair clean shirt and cloak about his shoulders; then she
made him younger and of more imposing presence; she gave him
back his colour, filled out his cheeks, and let his beard become
dark again. Then she went away and Ulysses came back inside the
hut. His son was astounded when he saw him, and turned his eyes
away for fear he might be looking upon a god.

"Stranger," said he, "how suddenly you have changed from what
you were a moment or two ago. You are dressed differently and
your colour is not the same. Are you some one or other of the
gods that live in heaven? If so, be propitious to me till I can
make you due sacrifice and offerings of wrought gold. Have mercy
upon me."

And Ulysses said, "I am no god, why should you take me for one?
I am your father, on whose account you grieve and suffer so much
at the hands of lawless men."

As he spoke he kissed his son, and a tear fell from his cheek on
to the ground, for he had restrained all tears till now. But
Telemachus could not yet believe that it was his father, and

"You are not my father, but some god is flattering me with vain
hopes that I may grieve the more hereafter; no mortal man could
of himself contrive to do as you have been doing, and make
yourself old and young at a moment's notice, unless a god were
with him. A second ago you were old and all in rags, and now you
are like some god come down from heaven."

Ulysses answered, "Telemachus, you ought not to be so
immeasurably astonished at my being really here. There is no
other Ulysses who will come hereafter. Such as I am, it is I,
who after long wandering and much hardship have got home in the
twentieth year to my own country. What you wonder at is the work
of the redoubtable goddess Minerva, who does with me whatever
she will, for she can do what she pleases. At one moment she
makes me like a beggar, and the next I am a young man with good
clothes on my back; it is an easy matter for the gods who live
in heaven to make any man look either rich or poor."

As he spoke he sat down, and Telemachus threw his arms about his
father and wept. They were both so much moved that they cried
aloud like eagles or vultures with crooked talons that have been
robbed of their half fledged young by peasants. Thus piteously
did they weep, and the sun would have gone down upon their
mourning if Telemachus had not suddenly said, "In what ship, my
dear father, did your crew bring you to Ithaca? Of what nation
did they declare themselves to be--for you cannot have come by

"I will tell you the truth, my son," replied Ulysses. "It was
the Phaeacians who brought me here. They are great sailors, and
are in the habit of giving escorts to any one who reaches their
coasts. They took me over the sea while I was fast asleep, and
landed me in Ithaca, after giving me many presents in bronze,
gold, and raiment. These things by heaven's mercy are lying
concealed in a cave, and I am now come here on the suggestion of
Minerva that we may consult about killing our enemies. First,
therefore, give me a list of the suitors, with their number,
that I may learn who, and how many, they are. I can then turn
the matter over in my mind, and see whether we two can fight the
whole body of them ourselves, or whether we must find others to
help us."

To this Telemachus answered, "Father, I have always heard of
your renown both in the field and in council, but the task you
talk of is a very great one: I am awed at the mere thought of
it; two men cannot stand against many and brave ones. There are
not ten suitors only, nor twice ten, but ten many times over;
you shall learn their number at once. There are fifty-two chosen
youths from Dulichium, and they have six servants; from Same
there are twenty-four; twenty young Achaeans from Zacynthus, and
twelve from Ithaca itself, all of them well born. They have with
them a servant Medon, a bard, and two men who can carve at
table. If we face such numbers as this, you may have bitter
cause to rue your coming, and your revenge. See whether you
cannot think of some one who would be willing to come and help

"Listen to me," replied Ulysses, "and think whether Minerva and
her father Jove may seem sufficient, or whether I am to try and
find some one else as well."

"Those whom you have named," answered Telemachus, "are a couple
of good allies, for though they dwell high up among the clouds
they have power over both gods and men."

"These two," continued Ulysses, "will not keep long out of the
fray, when the suitors and we join fight in my house. Now,
therefore, return home early to-morrow morning, and go about
among the suitors as before. Later on the swineherd will bring
me to the city disguised as a miserable old beggar. If you see
them ill treating me, steel your heart against my sufferings;
even though they drag me feet foremost out of the house, or
throw things at me, look on and do nothing beyond gently trying
to make them behave more reasonably; but they will not listen to
you, for the day of their reckoning is at hand. Furthermore I
say, and lay my saying to your heart; when Minerva shall put it
in my mind, I will nod my head to you, and on seeing me do this
you must collect all the armour that is in the house and hide it
in the strong store room. Make some excuse when the suitors ask
you why you are removing it; say that you have taken it to be
out of the way of the smoke, inasmuch as it is no longer what it
was when Ulysses went away, but has become soiled and begrimed
with soot. Add to this more particularly that you are afraid
Jove may set them on to quarrel over their wine, and that they
may do each other some harm which may disgrace both banquet and
wooing, for the sight of arms sometimes tempts people to use
them. But leave a sword and a spear apiece for yourself and me,
and a couple of oxhide shields so that we can snatch them up at
any moment; Jove and Minerva will then soon quiet these people.
There is also another matter; if you are indeed my son and my
blood runs in your veins, let no one know that Ulysses is within
the house--neither Laertes, nor yet the swineherd, nor any of
the servants, nor even Penelope herself. Let you and me exploit
the women alone, and let us also make trial of some other of the
men servants, to see who is on our side and whose hand is
against us."

"Father," replied Telemachus, "you will come to know me by and
by, and when you do you will find that I can keep your counsel.
I do not think, however, the plan you propose will turn out well
for either of us. Think it over. It will take us a long time to
go the round of the farms and exploit the men, and all the time
the suitors will be wasting your estate with impunity and
without compunction. Prove the women by all means, to see who
are disloyal and who guiltless, but I am not in favour of going
round and trying the men. We can attend to that later on, if you
really have some sign from Jove that he will support you."

Thus did they converse, and meanwhile the ship which had brought
Telemachus and his crew from Pylos had reached the town of
Ithaca. When they had come inside the harbour they drew the ship
on to the land; their servants came and took their armour from
them, and they left all the presents at the house of Clytius.
Then they sent a servant to tell Penelope that Telemachus had
gone into the country, but had sent the ship to the town to
prevent her from being alarmed and made unhappy. This servant
and Eumaeus happened to meet when they were both on the same
errand of going to tell Penelope. When they reached the House,
the servant stood up and said to the queen in the presence of
the waiting women, "Your son, Madam, is now returned from
Pylos"; but Eumaeus went close up to Penelope, and said
privately all that her son had bidden him tell her. When he had
given his message he left the house with its outbuildings and
went back to his pigs again.

The suitors were surprised and angry at what had happened, so
they went outside the great wall that ran round the outer court,
and held a council near the main entrance. Eurymachus, son of
Polybus, was the first to speak.

"My friends," said he, "this voyage of Telemachus's is a very
serious matter; we had made sure that it would come to nothing.
Now, however, let us draw a ship into the water, and get a crew
together to send after the others and tell them to come back as
fast as they can."

He had hardly done speaking when Amphinomus turned in his place
and saw the ship inside the harbour, with the crew lowering her
sails, and putting by their oars; so he laughed, and said to the
others, "We need not send them any message, for they are here.
Some god must have told them, or else they saw the ship go by,
and could not overtake her."

On this they rose and went to the water side. The crew then drew
the ship on shore; their servants took their armour from them,
and they went up in a body to the place of assembly, but they
would not let any one old or young sit along with them, and
Antinous, son of Eupeithes, spoke first.

"Good heavens," said he, "see how the gods have saved this man
from destruction. We kept a succession of scouts upon the
headlands all day long, and when the sun was down we never went
on shore to sleep, but waited in the ship all night till morning
in the hope of capturing and killing him; but some god has
conveyed him home in spite of us. Let us consider how we can
make an end of him. He must not escape us; our affair is never
likely to come off while he is alive, for he is very shrewd, and
public feeling is by no means all on our side. We must make
haste before he can call the Achaeans in assembly; he will lose
no time in doing so, for he will be furious with us, and will
tell all the world how we plotted to kill him, but failed to
take him. The people will not like this when they come to know
of it; we must see that they do us no hurt, nor drive us from
our own country into exile. Let us try and lay hold of him
either on his farm away from the town, or on the road hither.
Then we can divide up his property amongst us, and let his
mother and the man who marries her have the house. If this does
not please you, and you wish Telemachus to live on and hold his
father's property, then we must not gather here and eat up his
goods in this way, but must make our offers to Penelope each
from his own house, and she can marry the man who will give the
most for her, and whose lot it is to win her."

They all held their peace until Amphinomus rose to speak. He
was the son of Nisus, who was son to king Aretias, and he was
foremost among all the suitors from the wheat-growing and well
grassed island of Dulichium; his conversation, moreover, was
more agreeable to Penelope than that of any of the other
suitors, for he was a man of good natural disposition. "My
friends," said he, speaking to them plainly and in all honestly,
"I am not in favour of killing Telemachus. It is a heinous thing
to kill one who is of noble blood. Let us first take counsel of
the gods, and if the oracles of Jove advise it, I will both help
to kill him myself, and will urge everyone else to do so; but if
they dissuade us, I would have you hold your hands."

Thus did he speak, and his words pleased them well, so they rose
forthwith and went to the house of Ulysses, where they took
their accustomed seats.

Then Penelope resolved that she would show herself to the
suitors. She knew of the plot against Telemachus, for the
servant Medon had overheard their counsels and had told her; she
went down therefore to the court attended by her maidens, and
when she reached the suitors she stood by one of the
bearing-posts supporting the roof of the cloister holding a veil
before her face, and rebuked Antinous saying:

"Antinous, insolent and wicked schemer, they say you are the
best speaker and counsellor of any man your own age in Ithaca,
but you are nothing of the kind. Madman, why should you try to
compass the death of Telemachus, and take no heed of suppliants,
whose witness is Jove himself? It is not right for you to plot
thus against one another. Do you not remember how your father
fled to this house in fear of the people, who were enraged
against him for having gone with some Taphian pirates and
plundered the Thesprotians who were at peace with us? They
wanted to tear him in pieces and eat up everything he had, but
Ulysses stayed their hands although they were infuriated, and
now you devour his property without paying for it, and break my
heart by wooing his wife and trying to kill his son. Leave off
doing so, and stop the others also."

To this Eurymachus son of Polybus answered, "Take heart, Queen
Penelope daughter of Icarius, and do not trouble yourself about
these matters. The man is not yet born, nor never will be, who
shall lay hands upon your son Telemachus, while I yet live to
look upon the face of the earth. I say--and it shall surely
be--that my spear shall be reddened with his blood; for many a
time has Ulysses taken me on his knees, held wine up to my lips
to drink, and put pieces of meat into my hands. Therefore
Telemachus is much the dearest friend I have, and has nothing to
fear from the hands of us suitors. Of course, if death comes to
him from the gods, he cannot escape it." He said this to quiet
her, but in reality he was plotting against Telemachus.

Then Penelope went upstairs again and mourned her husband till
Minerva shed sleep over her eyes. In the evening Eumaeus got
back to Ulysses and his son, who had just sacrificed a young pig
of a year old and were helping one another to get supper ready;
Minerva therefore came up to Ulysses, turned him into an old man
with a stroke of her wand, and clad him in his old clothes
again, for fear that the swineherd might recognise him and not
keep the secret, but go and tell Penelope.

Telemachus was the first to speak. "So you have got back,
Eumaeus," said he. "What is the news of the town? Have the
suitors returned, or are they still waiting over yonder, to take
me on my way home?"

"I did not think of asking about that," replied Eumaeus, "when I
was in the town. I thought I would give my message and come back
as soon as I could. I met a man sent by those who had gone with
you to Pylos, and he was the first to tell the news to your
mother, but I can say what I saw with my own eyes; I had just
got on to the crest of the hill of Mercury above the town when I
saw a ship coming into harbour with a number of men in her. They
had many shields and spears, and I thought it was the suitors,
but I cannot be sure."


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