View Full Version : Odyssey, The - Homer

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05-27-2007, 01:23 AM
Book X

Odysseus, his entertainment by Aeolus, of whom he received
a fair wind for the present, and all the rest of the winds
tied up in a bag; which his men untying, flew out, and
carried him back to Aeolus, who refused to receive him. His
adventure at Laestrygonia with Antiphates, where of twelve
ships he lost eleven, men and all. How he went thence to
the Isle of Aea, where half of his men were turned by Circe
into swine, and how he went himself, and by the help of
Hermes recovered them and stayed with Circe a year.

'Then we came to the isle Aeolian, where dwelt Aeolus, son
of Hippotas, dear too the deathless gods, in a floating
island, and all about it is a wall of bronze unbroken, and
the cliff runs up sheer from the sea. His twelve children
to abide there in his halls, six daughters and six lusty
sons; and, behold, he gave his daughters to his sons to
wife. And they feast evermore by their dear father and
their kind mother, and dainties innumerable lie ready to
their hands. And the house is full of the savour of
feasting, and the noise thereof rings round, yea in the
courtyard, by day, and in the night they sleep each one by
his chaste wife in coverlets and on jointed bedsteads. So
then we came to their city and their goodly dwelling, and
the king entreated me kindly for a whole month, and sought
out each thing, Ilios and the ships of the Argives, and the
return of the Achaeans. So I told him all the tale in order
duly. But when I in turn took the word and asked of my
journey, and bade him send me on my way, he too denied me
not, but furnished an escort. He gave me a wallet, made of
the hide of an ox of nine seasons old, which he let flay,
and therein he bound the ways of all the noisy winds; for
him the son of Cronos made keeper of the winds, either to
lull or to rouse what blasts he will. And he made it fast
in the hold of the ship with a shining silver thong, that
not the faintest breath might escape. Then he sent forth
the blast of the West Wind to blow for me, to bear our
ships and ourselves upon our way; but this he was never to
bring to pass, for we were undone through our own

'For nine whole days we sailed by night and day
continually, and now on the tenth day my native land came
in sight, and already we were so near that we beheld the
folk tending the beacon fires. Then over me there came
sweet slumber in my weariness, for all the time I was
holding the sheet, nor gave it to any of my company, that
so we might come quicker to our own country. Meanwhile my
company held converse together, and said that I was
bringing home for myself gold and silver, gifts from Aeolus
the high-hearted son of Hippotas. And thus would they speak
looking each man to his neighbour:

'"Lo now, how beloved he is and highly esteemed among all
men, to the city and land of whomsoever he may come. Many
are the goodly treasures he taketh with him out of the
spoil from Troy, while we who have fulfilled like
journeying with him return homeward bringing with us but
empty hands. And now Aeolus hath given unto him these
things freely in his love. Nay come, let us quickly see
what they are, even what wealth of gold and silver is in
the wallet."

'So they spake, and the evil counsel of my company
prevailed. They loosed the wallet, and all the winds brake
forth. And the violent blast seized my men, and bare them
towards the high seas weeping, away from their own country;
but as for me, I awoke and communed with my great heart,
whether I should cast myself from the ship and perish in
the deep, or endure in silence and abide yet among the
living. Howbeit I hardened my heart to endure, and muffling
my head I lay still in the ship. But the vessels were
driven by the evil storm-wind back to the isle Aeolian, and
my company made moan.

'There we stepped ashore and drew water, and my company
presently took their midday meal by the swift ships. Now
when we had tasted bread and wine, I took with me a herald
and one of my company, and went to the famous dwelling of
Aeolus: and I found him feasting with his wife and
children. So we went in and sat by the pillars of the door
on the threshold, and they all marvelled and asked us:

'"How hast thou come hither, Odysseus? What evil god
assailed thee? Surely we sent thee on thy way with all
diligence, that thou mightest get thee to thine own country
and thy home, and whithersoever thou wouldest."

'Even so they said, but I spake among them heavy at heart:
"My evil company hath been my bane, and sleep thereto
remorseless. Come, my friends, do ye heal the harm, for
yours is the power."

'So I spake, beseeching them in soft words, but they held
their peace. And the father answered, saying: "Get thee
forth from the island straightway, thou that art the most
reprobate of living men. Far be it from me to help or to
further that man whom the blessed gods abhor! Get thee
forth, for lo, thy coming marks thee hated by the deathless

'Therewith he sent me forth from the house making heavy
moan. Thence we sailed onwards stricken at heart. And the
spirit of the men was spent beneath the grievous rowing by
reason of our vain endeavour, for there was no more any
sign of a wafting wind. So for the space of six days we
sailed by night and day continually, and on the seventh we
came to the steep stronghold of Lamos, Telepylos of the
Laestrygons, where herdsman hails herdsman as he drives in
his flock, and the other who drives forth answers the call.
There might a sleepless man have earned a double wage, the
one as neat-herd, the other shepherding white flocks: so
near are the outgoings of the night and of the day.
Thither when he had come to the fair haven, whereabout on
both sides goes one steep cliff unbroken and jutting
headlands over against each other stretch forth at the
mouth of the harbour, and strait is the entrance; thereinto
all the others steered their curved ships. Now the vessels
were bound within the hollow harbour each hard by other,
for no wave ever swelled within it, great or small, but
there was a bright calm all around. But I alone moored my
dark ship without the harbour, at the uttermost point
thereof, and made fast the hawser to a rock. And I went up
a craggy hill, a place of out-look, and stood thereon:
thence there was no sign of the labour of men or oxen, only
we saw the smoke curling upward from the land. Then I sent
forth certain of my company to go and search out what
manner of men they were who here live upon the earth by
bread, choosing out two of my company and sending a third
with them as herald. Now when they had gone ashore, they
went along a level road whereby wains were wont to draw
down wood from the high hills to the town. And without the
town they fell in with a damsel drawing water, the noble
daughter of Laestrygonian Antiphates. She had come down to
the clear-flowing spring Artacia, for thence it was custom
to draw water to the town. So they stood by her and spake
unto her, and asked who was king of that land, and who they
were he ruled over. Then at once she showed them the
high-roofed hall of her father. Now when they had entered
the renowned house, they found his wife therein: she was
huge of bulk as a mountain peak and was loathly in their
sight. Straightway she called the renowned Antiphates, her
lord, from the assembly-place, and he contrived a pitiful
destruction for my men. Forthwith he clutched up one of my
company and made ready his midday meal, but the other twain
sprang up and came in flight to the ships. Then he raised
the war cry through the town, and the valiant Laestrygons
at the sound thereof, flocked together from every side, a
host past number, not like men but like the Giants. They
cast at us from the cliffs with great rocks, each of them a
man's burden, and anon there arose from the fleet an evil
din of men dying and ships shattered withal. And like folk
spearing fishes they bare home their hideous meal. While as
yet they were slaying my friends within the deep harbour, I
drew my sharp sword from my thigh, and with it cut the
hawsers of my dark-prowed ship. Quickly then I called to my
company, and bade them dash in with the oars, that we might
clean escape this evil plight. And all with one accord they
tossed the sea water with the oar-blade, in dread of death,
and to my delight my barque flew forth to the high seas
away from the beetling rocks, but those other ships were
lost there, one and all.

'Thence we sailed onward stricken at heart, yet glad as men
saved from death, albeit we had lost our dear companions.
And we came to the isle Aeaean, where dwelt Circe of the
braided tresses, an awful goddess of mortal speech, own
sister to the wizard Aeetes. Both were begotten of Helios,
who gives light to all men, and their mother was Perse,
daughter of Oceanus. There on the shore we put in with our
ship into the sheltering haven silently, and some god was
our guide. Then we stept ashore, and for two days and two
nights lay there, consuming our own hearts for weariness
and pain. But when now the fair-tressed Dawn had brought
the full light of the third day, then did I seize my spear
and my sharp sword, and quickly departing from the ship I
went up unto a place of wide prospect, if haply I might see
any sign of the labour of men and hear the sound of their
speech. So I went up a craggy hill, a place of out-look,
and I saw the smoke rising from the broad-wayed earth in
the halls of Circe, through the thick coppice and the
woodland. Then I mused in my mind and heart whether I
should go and make discovery, for that I had seen the smoke
and flame. And as I thought thereon this seemed to me the
better counsel, to go first to the swift ship and to the
sea-banks, and give my company their midday meal, and then
send them to make search. But as I came and drew nigh to
the curved ship, some god even then took pity on me in my
loneliness, and sent a tall antlered stag across my very
path. He was coming down from his pasture in the woodland
to the river to drink, for verily the might of the sun was
sore upon him. And as he came up from out of the stream, I
smote him on the spine in the middle of the back, and the
brazen shaft went clean through him, and with a moan he
fell in the dust, and his life passed from him. Then I set
my foot on him and drew forth the brazen shaft from the
wound, and laid it hard by upon the ground and let it lie.
Next I broke withies and willow twigs, and wove me a rope a
fathom in length, well twisted from end to end, and bound
together the feet of the huge beast, and went to the black
ship bearing him across my neck, and leaning on a spear,
for it was in no wise possible to carry him on my shoulder
with the one hand, for he was a mighty quarry. And I threw
him down before the ship and roused my company with soft
words, standing by each man in turn:

'"Friends, for all our sorrows we shall not yet a while go
down to the house of Hades, ere the coming of the day of
destiny; go to then, while as yet there is meat and drink
in the swift ship, let us take thought thereof, that we be
not famished for hunger."

'Even so I spake, and they speedily hearkened to my words.
They unmuffled their heads, and there on the shore of the
unharvested sea gazed at the stag, for he was a mighty
quarry. But after they had delighted their eyes with the
sight of him, they washed their hands and got ready the
glorious feast. So for that time we sat the livelong day
till the going down of the sun, feasting on abundant flesh
and sweet wine. But when the sun sank and darkness had come
on, then we laid us to rest upon the sea beach. So soon as
early Dawn shone forth, the rosy-fingered, I called a
gathering of my men and spake in the ears of them all:

'"Hear my works, my fellows, despite your evil case. My
friends, lo, now we know not where is the place of darkness
or of dawning, nor where the Sun, that gives light to men,
goes beneath the earth, nor where he rises; therefore let
us advise us speedily if any counsel yet may be: as for me,
I deem there is none. For I went up a craggy hill, a place
of out-look, and saw the island crowned about with the
circle of the endless sea, the isle itself lying low; and
in the midst thereof mine eyes beheld the smoke through the
thick coppice and the woodland."

'Even so I spake, but their spirit within them was broken,
as they remembered the deeds of Antiphates the
Laestrygonian, and all the evil violence of the haughty
Cyclops, the man-eater. So they wept aloud shedding big
tears. Howbeit no avail came of their weeping.

'Then I numbered my goodly-greaved company in two bands,
and appointed a leader for each, and I myself took the
command of the one part, and godlike Eurylochus of the
other. And anon we shook the lots in a brazen-fitted
helmet, and out leapt the lot of proud Eurylochus. So he
went on his way, and with him two and twenty of my
fellowship all weeping; and we were left behind making
lament. In the forest glades they found the halls of Circe
builded, of polished stone, in a place with wide prospect.
And all around the palace mountain-bred wolves and lions
were roaming, whom she herself had bewitched with evil
drugs that she gave them. Yet the beasts did not set on my
men, but lo, they ramped about them and fawned on them,
wagging their long tails. And as when dogs fawn about their
lord when he comes from the feast, for he always brings
them the fragments that soothe their mood, even so the
strong-clawed wolves and the lions fawned around them; but
they were affrighted when they saw the strange and terrible
creatures. So they stood at the outer gate of the
fair-tressed goddess, and within they heard Circe singing
in a sweet voice, as she fared to and fro before the great
web imperishable, such as is the handiwork of goddesses,
fine of woof and full of grace and splendour. Then Polites,
a leader of men, the dearest to me and the trustiest of all
my company, first spake to them:

'"Friends, forasmuch as there is one within that fares to
and fro before a mighty web singing a sweet song, so that
all the floor of the hall makes echo, a goddess she is or a
woman; come quickly and cry aloud to her."

'He spake the word and they cried aloud and called to her.
And straightway she came forth and opened the shining doors
and bade them in, and all went with her in their
heedlessness. But Eurylochus tarried behind, for he guessed
that there was some treason. So she led them in and set
them upon chairs and high seats, and made them a mess of
cheese and barley-meal and yellow honey with Pramnian wine,
and mixed harmful drugs with the food to make them utterly
forget their own country. Now when she had given them the
cup and they had drunk it off, presently she smote them
with a wand, and in the styes of the swine she penned them.
So they had the head and voice, the bristles and the shape
of swine, but their mind abode even as of old. Thus were
they penned there weeping, and Circe flung them acorns and
mast and fruit of the cornel tree to eat, whereon wallowing
swine do always batten.

'Now Eurylochus came back to the swift black ship to bring
tidings of his fellows, and of their unseemly doom. Not a
word could he utter, for all his desire, so deeply smitten
was he to the heart with grief, and his eyes were filled
with tears and his soul was fain of lamentation. But when
we all had pressed him with our questions in amazement,
even then he told the fate of the remnant of our company.

'"We went, as thou didst command, through the coppice,
noble Odysseus: we found within the forest glades the fair
halls, builded of polished stone, in a place with wide
prospect. And there was one that fared before a mighty web
and sang a clear song, a goddess she was or a woman, and
they cried aloud and called to her. And straightway she
came forth, and opened the shining doors and bade them in,
and they all went with her in their heedlessness. But I
tarried behind, for I guessed that there was some treason.
Then they vanished away one and all, nor did any of them
appear again, though I sat long time watching."

'So spake he, whereon I cast about my shoulder my
silver-studded sword, a great blade of bronze, and slung my
bow about me and bade him lead me again by the way that he
came. But he caught me with both hands, and by my knees he
besought me, and bewailing him spake to me winged words:

'"Lead me not thither against my will, oh fosterling of
Zeus, but leave me here! For well I know thou shalt thyself
return no more, nor bring any one of all thy fellowship;
nay, let us flee the swifter with those that be here, for
even yet may we escape the evil day."

'On this wise he spake, but I answered him, saying:
"Eurylochus, abide for thy part here in this place, eating
and drinking by the black hollow ship: but I will go forth,
for a strong constraint is laid on me."

'With that I went up from the ship and the sea-shore. But
lo, when in my faring through the sacred glades I was now
drawing near to the great hall of the enchantress Circe,
then did Hermes, of the golden wand, meet me as I
approached the house, in the likeness of a young man with
the first down on his lip, the time when youth is most
gracious. So he clasped my hand and spake and hailed me:

'"Ah, hapless man, whither away again, all alone through
the wolds, thou that knowest not this country? And thy
company yonder in the hall of Circe are penned in the guise
of swine, in their deep lairs abiding. Is it in hope to
free them that thou art come hither? Nay, methinks, thou
thyself shalt never return but remain there with the
others. Come then, I will redeem thee from thy distress,
and bring deliverance. Lo, take this herb of virtue, and go
to the dwelling of Circe, that it may keep from thy head
the evil day. And I will tell thee all the magic sleight of
Circe. She will mix thee a potion and cast drugs into the
mess; but not even so shall she be able to enchant thee; so
helpful is this charmed herb that I shall give thee, and I
will tell thee all. When it shall be that Circe smites thee
with her long wand, even then draw thou thy sharp sword
from thy thigh, and spring on her, as one eager to slay
her. And she will shrink away and be instant with thee to
lie with her. Thenceforth disdain not thou the bed of the
goddess, that she may deliver thy company and kindly
entertain thee. But command her to swear a mighty oath by
the blessed gods, that she will plan nought else of
mischief to thine own hurt, lest she make thee a dastard
and unmanned, when she hath thee naked."

'Therewith the slayer of Argos gave me the plant that he
had plucked from the ground, and he showed me the growth
thereof. It was black at the root, but the flower was like
to milk. Moly the gods call it, but it is hard for mortal
men to dig; howbeit with the gods all things are possible.

'Then Hermes departed toward high Olympus, up through the
woodland isle, but as for me I held on my way to the house
of Circe, and my heart was darkly troubled as I went. So I
halted in the portals of the fair-tressed goddess; there I
stood and called aloud and the goddess heard my voice, who
presently came forth and opened the shining doors and bade
me in, and I went with her heavy at heart. So she led me in
and set me on a chair with studs of silver, a goodly carven
chair, and beneath was a footstool for the feet. And she
made me a potion in a golden cup, that I might drink, and
she also put a charm therein, in the evil counsel of her

'Now when she had given it and I had drunk it off and was
not bewitched, she smote me with her wand and spake and
hailed me:

'"Go thy way now to the stye, couch thee there with the
rest of thy company."

'So spake she, but I drew my sharp sword from my thigh and
sprang upon Circe, as one eager to slay her. But with a
great cry she slipped under, and clasped my knees, and
bewailing herself spake to me winged words:

'"Who art thou of the sons of men, and whence? Where is thy
city? Where are they that begat thee? I marvel to see how
thou hast drunk of this charm, and wast nowise subdued.
Nay, for there lives no man else that is proof against this
charm, whoso hath drunk thereof, and once it hath passed
his lips. But thou hast, methinks, a mind within thee that
may not be enchanted. Verily thou art Odysseus, ready at
need, whom he of the golden wand, the slayer of Argos, full
often told me was to come hither, on his way from Troy with
his swift black ship. Nay come, put thy sword into the
sheath, and thereafter let us go up into my bed, that
meeting in love and sleep we may trust each the other."

'So spake she, but I answered her, saying: "Nay, Circe, how
canst thou bid me be gentle to thee, who hast turned my
company into swine within thy halls, and holding me here
with a guileful heart requirest me to pass within thy
chamber and go up into thy bed, that so thou mayest make me
a dastard and unmanned when thou hast me naked? Nay, never
will I consent to go up into thy bed, except thou wilt
deign, goddess, to swear a mighty oath, that thou wilt plan
nought else of mischief to mine own hurt."

'So I spake, and she straightway swore the oath not to harm
me, as I bade her. But when she had sworn and had done that
oath, then at last I went up into the beautiful bed of

'Now all this while her handmaids busied them in the halls,
four maidens that are her serving women in the house. They
are born of the wells and of the woods and of the holy
rivers, that flow forward into the salt sea. Of these one
cast upon the chairs goodly coverlets of purple above, and
spread a linen cloth thereunder. And lo, another drew up
silver tables to the chairs, and thereon set for them
golden baskets. And a third mixed sweet honey-hearted wine
in a silver bowl, and set out cups of gold. And a fourth
bare water, and kindled a great fire beneath the mighty
cauldron. So the water waxed warm; but when it boiled in
the bright brazen vessel, she set me in a bath and bathed
me with water from out a great cauldron, pouring it over
head and shoulders, when she had mixed it to a pleasant
warmth, till from my limbs she took away the consuming
weariness. Now after she had bathed me and anointed me well
with olive oil, and cast about me a fair mantle and a
doublet, she led me into the halls and set me on a chair
with studs of silver, a goodly carven chair, and beneath
was a footstool for the feet. And a handmaid bare water for
the hands in a goodly golden ewer, and poured it forth over
a silver basin to wash withal; and to my side she drew a
polished table, and a grave dame bare wheaten bread and set
it by me, and laid on the board many dainties, giving
freely of such things as she had by her. And she bade me
eat, but my soul found no pleasure therein. I sat with
other thoughts, and my heart had a boding of ill.

'Now when Circe saw that I sat thus, and that I put not
forth my hands to the meat, and that I was mightily
afflicted, she drew near to me and spake to me winged

'"Wherefore thus, Odysseus, dost thou sit there like a
speechless man, consuming thine own soul, and dost not
touch meat nor drink? Dost thou indeed deem there is some
further guile? Nay, thou hast no cause to fear, for already
I have sworn thee a strong oath not to harm thee."

'So spake she, but I answered her, saying: "Oh, Circe, what
righteous man would have the heart to taste meat and drink
ere he had redeemed his company, and beheld them face to
face? But if in good faith thou biddest me eat and drink,
then let them go free, that mine eyes may behold my dear

'So I spake, and Circe passed out through the hall with the
wand in her hand, and opened the doors of the stye, and
drave them forth in the shape of swine of nine seasons old.
There they stood before her, and she went through their
midst, and anointed each one of them with another charm.
And lo, from their limbs the bristles dropped away,
wherewith the venom had erewhile clothed them, that lady
Circe gave them. And they became men again, younger than
before they were, and goodlier far, and taller to behold.
And they all knew me again and each one took my hands, and
wistful was the lament that sank into their souls, and the
roof around rang wondrously. And even the goddess herself
was moved with compassion.

'Then standing nigh me the fair goddess spake unto me: "Son
of Laertes, of the seed of Zeus, Odysseus of many devices,
depart now to thy swift ship and the sea-banks. And first
of all, draw ye up the ship ashore, and bestow the goods in
the caves and all the gear. And thyself return again, and
bring with thee thy dear companions."

'So spake she, and my lordly spirit consented thereto. So I
went on my way to the swift ship and the sea-banks, and
there I found my dear company on the swift ship lamenting
piteously, shedding big tears. And as when calves of the
homestead gather round the droves of kine that have
returned to the yard, when they have had their fill of
pasture, and all with one accord frisk before them, and the
folds may no more contain them, but with a ceaseless lowing
they skip about their dams, so flocked they all about me
weeping, when their eyes beheld me. Yea, and to their
spirit it was as though they had got to their dear country,
and the very city of rugged Ithaca, where they were born
and reared.

'Then making lament they spake to me winged words: "O
fosterling of Zeus, we were none otherwise glad at thy
returning, than if we had come to Ithaca, our own country.
Nay come, of our other companions tell us the tale of their

'So spake they, but I answered them with soft words:
"Behold, let us first of all draw up the ship ashore, and
bestow our goods in the caves and all our gear. And do ye
bestir you, one and all, to go with me, that ye may see
your fellows in the sacred dwelling of Circe, eating and
drinking, for they have continual store."

'So spake I, and at once they hearkened to my words, but
Eurylochus alone would have holden all my companions, and
uttering his voice he spake to them winged words:

'"Wretched men that we are! whither are we going? Why are
your hearts so set on sorrow that ye should go down to the
hall of Circe, who will surely change us all to swine, or
wolves, or lions, to guard her great house perforce,
according to the deeds that the Cyclops wrought, when
certain of our company went to his inmost fold, and with
them went Odysseus, ever hardy, for through the blindness
of his heart did they too perish?"

'So spake he, but I mused in my heart whether to draw my
long hanger from my stout thigh, and therewith smite off
his head and bring it to the dust, albeit he was very near
of kin to me; but the men of my company stayed me on every
side with soothing words:

'"Prince of the seed of Zeus, as for this man, we will
suffer him, if thou wilt have it so, to abide here by the
ship and guard the ship; but as for us, be our guide to the
sacred house of Circe."

'So they spake and went up from the ship and the sea. Nay,
nor yet was Eurylochus left by the hollow ship, but he went
with us, for he feared my terrible rebuke.

'Meanwhile Circe bathed the rest of my company in her halls
with all care, and anointed them well with olive oil; and
cast thick mantles and doublets about them. And we found
them all feasting nobly in the halls. And when they saw and
knew each other face to face, they wept and mourned, and
the house rang around. Then she stood near me, that fair
goddess, and spake saying:

'"Son of Laertes, of the seed of Zeus, Odysseus of many
devices, no more now wake this plenteous weeping: myself I
know of all the pains ye endured upon the teeming deep, and
the great despite done you by unkindly men upon the land.
Nay come, eat ye meat and drink wine, till your spirit
shall return to you again, as it was when first ye left
your own country of rugged Ithaca; but now are ye wasted
and wanting heart, mindful evermore of your sore wandering,
nor has your heart ever been merry, for very grievous hath
been your trial."

'So spake she, and our lordly spirit consented thereto. So
there we sat day by day for the full circle of a year,
feasting on abundant flesh and sweet wine. But when now a
year had gone, and the seasons returned as the months
waned, and the long days came in their course, then did my
dear company call me forth, and say:

'"Good sir, now is it high time to mind thee of thy native
land, if it is ordained that thou shalt be saved, and come
to thy lofty house and thine own country."

'So spake they and my lordly spirit consented thereto. So
for that time we sat the livelong day till the going down
of the sun, feasting on abundant flesh and sweet wine. But
when the sun sank and darkness came on, they laid them to
rest throughout the shadowy halls.

'But when I had gone up into the fair bed of Circe, I
besought her by her knees, and the goddess heard my speech,
and uttering my voice I spake to her winged words: "Circe,
fulfil for me the promise which thou madest me to send me
on my homeward way. Now is my spirit eager to be gone, and
the spirit of my company, that wear away my heart as they
mourn around me, when haply thou art gone from us."

'So spake I, and the fair goddess answered me anon: "Son of
Laertes, of the seed of Zeus, Odysseus of many devices,
tarry ye now no longer in my house against your will; but
first must ye perform another journey, and reach the
dwelling of Hades and of dread Persephone to seek to the
spirit of Theban Teiresias, the blind soothsayer, whose
wits abide steadfast. To him Persephone hath given
judgment, even in death, that he alone should have
understanding; but the other souls sweep shadow-like

'Thus spake she, but as for me, my heart was broken, and I
wept as I sat upon the bed, and my soul had no more care to
live and to see the sunlight. But when I had my fill of
weeping and grovelling, then at the last I answered and
spake unto her saying: "And who, Circe, will guide us on
this way? for no man ever yet sailed to hell in a black

'So spake I, and the fair goddess answered me anon: "Son of
Laertes, of the seed of Zeus, Odysseus of many devices,
nay, trouble not thyself for want of a guide, by thy ship
abiding, but set up the mast and spread abroad the white
sails and sit thee down; and the breeze of the North Wind
will bear thy vessel on her way. But when thou hast now
sailed in thy ship across the stream Oceanus, where is a
waste shore and the groves of Persephone, even tall poplar
trees and willows that shed their fruit before the season,
there beach thy ship by deep eddying Oceanus, but go
thyself to the dank house of Hades. Thereby into Acheron
flows Pyriphlegethon, and Cocytus, a branch of the water of
the Styx, and there is a rock, and the meeting of the two
roaring waters. So, hero, draw nigh thereto, as I command
thee, and dig a trench as it were a cubit in length and
breadth, and about it pour a drink-offering to all the
dead, first with mead and thereafter with sweet wine, and
for the third time with water, and sprinkle white meal
thereon; and entreat with many prayers the strengthless
heads of the dead, and promise that on thy return to Ithaca
thou wilt offer in thy halls a barren heifer, the best thou
hast, and will fill the pyre with treasure, and wilt
sacrifice apart, to Teiresias alone, a black ram without
spot, the fairest of your flock. But when thou hast with
prayers made supplication to the lordly races of the dead,
then offer up a ram and a black ewe, bending their heads
towards Erebus and thyself turn thy back, with thy face set
for the shore of the river. Then will many spirits come to
thee of the dead that be departed. Thereafter thou shalt
call to thy company and command them to flay the sheep
which even now lie slain by the pitiless sword, and to
consume them with fire, and to make prayer to the gods, to
mighty Hades and to dread Persephone. And thyself draw the
sharp sword from thy thigh and sit there, suffering not the
strengthless heads of the dead to draw nigh to the blood,
ere thou hast word of Teiresias. Then the seer will come to
thee quickly, leader of the people; he will surely declare
to thee the way and the measure of thy path, and as
touching thy returning, how thou mayst go over the teeming

'So spake she, and anon came the golden throned Dawn. Then
she put on me a mantle and a doublet for raiment, and the
nymph clad herself in a great shining robe, light of woof
and gracious, and about her waist she cast a fair golden
girdle, and put a veil upon her head. But I passed through
the halls and roused my men with smooth words, standing by
each one in turn:

'"Sleep ye now no more nor breathe sweet slumber; but let
us go on our way, for surely she hath shown me all, the
lady Circe."

'So spake I, and their lordly soul consented thereto. Yet
even thence I led not my company safe away. There was one,
Elpenor, the youngest of us all, not very valiant in war
neither steadfast in mind. He was lying apart from the rest
of my men on the housetop of Circe's sacred dwelling, very
fain of the cool air, as one heavy with wine. Now when he
heard the noise of the voices and of the feet of my fellows
as they moved to and fro, he leaped up of a sudden and
minded him not to descend again by the way of the tall
ladder, but fell right down from the roof, and his neck was
broken from the bones of the spine, and his spirit went
down to the house of Hades.

'Then I spake among my men as they went on their way,
saying: "Ye deem now, I see, that ye are going to your own
dear country; but Circe hath showed us another way, even to
the dwelling of Hades and of dread Persephone, to seek to
the spirit of Theban Teiresias."

'Even so I spake, but their heart within them was broken,
and they sat them down even where they were, and made
lament and tore their hair. Howbeit no help came of their

'But as we were now wending sorrowful to the swift ship and
the sea-banks, shedding big tears, Circe meanwhile had gone
her ways and made fast a ram and a black ewe by the dark
ship, lightly passing us by: who may behold a god against
his will, whether going to or fro?'