View Full Version : Odyssey, The - Homer

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05-27-2007, 01:25 AM

Odysseus, sleeping, is set ashore at Ithaca by the
Phaeacians, and waking knows it not. Pallas, in the form of
a shepherd, helps to hide his treasure. The ship that
conveyed him is turned into a rock, and Odysseus by Pallas
is instructed what to do, and transformed into an old

So spake he, and dead silence fell on all, and they were
spell-bound throughout the shadowy halls. Thereupon
Alcinous answered him, and spake, saying:

'Odysseus, now that thou hast come to my high house with
floor of bronze, never, methinks, shalt thou be driven from
thy way ere thou returnest, though thou hast been sore
afflicted. And for each man among you, that in these halls
of mine drink evermore the dark wine of the elders, and
hearken to the minstrel, this is my word and command.
Garments for the stranger are already laid up in a polished
coffer, with gold curiously wrought, and all other such
gifts as the counsellors of the Phaeacians bare hither.
Come now, let us each of us give him a great tripod and a
cauldron, and we in turn will gather goods among the people
and get us recompense; for it were hard that one man should
give without repayment.'

So spake Alcinous, and the saying pleased them well. Then
they went each one to his house to lay him down to rest;
but so soon as early Dawn shone forth, the rosy-fingered,
they hasted to the ship and bare the bronze, the joy of
men. And the mighty king Alcinous himself went about the
ship and diligently bestowed the gifts beneath the benches,
that they might not hinder any of the crew in their rowing,
when they laboured at their oars. Then they betook them to
the house of Alcinous and fell to feasting. And the mighty
king Alcinous sacrificed before them an ox to Zeus, the son
of Cronos, that dwells in the dark clouds, who is lord of
all. And when they had burnt the pieces of the thighs, they
shared the glorious feast and made merry, and among them
harped the divine minstrel Demodocus, whom the people
honoured. But Odysseus would ever turn his head toward the
splendour of the sun, as one fain to hasten his setting:
for verily he was most eager to return. And as when a man
longs for his supper, for whom all day long two dark oxen
drag through the fallow field the jointed plough, yea and
welcome to such an one the sunlight sinketh, that so he may
get him to supper, for his knees wax faint by the way, even
so welcome was the sinking of the sunlight to Odysseus.
Then straight he spake among the Phaeacians, masters of the
oar, and to Alcinous in chief he made known his word,

'My lord Alcinous, most notable of all the people, pour ye
the drink offering, and send me safe upon my way, and as
for you, fare ye well. For now have I all that my heart
desired, an escort and loving gifts. May the gods of heaven
give me good fortune with them, and may I find my noble
wife in my home with my friends unharmed, while ye, for
your part, abide here and make glad your wedded wives and
children; and may the gods vouchsafe all manner of good,
and may no evil come nigh the people!'

So spake he, and they all consented thereto and bade send
the stranger on his way, in that he had spoken aright. Then
the mighty Alcinous spake to the henchman: 'Pontonous, mix
the bowl and serve out the wine to all in the hall, that we
may pray to Father Zeus, and send the stranger on his way
to his own country.'

So spake he, and Pontonous mixed the honey-hearted wine,
and served it to all in turn. And they poured forth before
the blessed gods that keep wide heaven, even there as they
sat. Then goodly Odysseus uprose, and placed in Arete's
hand the two-handled cup, and uttering his voice spake to
her winged words:

'Fare thee well, O queen, all the days of thy life, till
old age come and death, that visit all mankind. But I go
homeward, and do thou in this thy house rejoice in thy
children and thy people and Alcinous the king.'

Therewith goodly Odysseus stept over the threshold. And
with him the mighty Alcinous sent forth a henchman to guide
him to the swift ship and the sea-banks. And Arete sent in
this train certain maidens of her household, one bearing a
fresh robe and a doublet, and another she joined to them to
carry the strong coffer, and yet another bare bread and red
wine. Now when they had come down to the ship and to the
sea, straightway the good men of the escort took these
things and laid them by in the hollow ship, even all the
meat and drink. Then they strewed for Odysseus a rug and a
sheet of linen, on the decks of the hollow ship, in the
hinder part thereof, that he might sleep sound. Then he too
climbed aboard and laid him down in silence, while they sat
upon the benches, every man in order, and unbound the
hawser from the pierced stone. So soon as they leant
backwards and tossed the sea water with the oar blade, a
deep sleep fell upon his eyelids, a sound sleep, very
sweet, and next akin to death. And even as on a plain a
yoke of four stallions comes springing all together beneath
the lash, leaping high and speedily accomplishing the way,
so leaped the stern of that ship, and the dark wave of the
sounding sea rushed mightily in the wake, and she ran ever
surely on her way, nor could a circling hawk keep pace with
her, of winged things the swiftest. Even thus she lightly
sped and cleft the waves of the sea, bearing a man whose
counsel was as the counsel of the gods, one that erewhile
had suffered much sorrow of heart, in passing through the
wars of men, and the grievous waves; but for that time he
slept in peace, forgetful of all that he had suffered.

So when the star came up, that is brightest of all, and
goes ever heralding the light of early Dawn, even then did
the seafaring ship draw nigh the island. There is in the
land of Ithaca a certain haven of Phorcys, the ancient one
of the sea, and thereby are two headlands of sheer cliff,
which slope to the sea on the haven's side and break the
mighty wave that ill winds roll without, but within, the
decked ships ride unmoored when once they have reached the
place of anchorage. Now at the harbour's head is a
long-leaved olive tree, and hard by is a pleasant cave and
shadowy, sacred to the nymphs, that are called the Naiads.
And therein are mixing bowls and jars of stone, and there
moreover do bees hive. And there are great looms of stone,
whereon the nymphs weave raiment of purple stain, a marvel
to behold, and therein are waters welling evermore. Two
gates there are to the cave, the one set toward the North
Wind whereby men may go down, but the portals toward the
South pertain rather to the gods, whereby men may not
enter: it is the way of the immortals.

Thither they, as having knowledge of that place, let drive
their ship; and now the vessel in full course ran ashore,
half her keel's length high; so well was she sped by the
hands of the oarsmen. Then they alighted from the benched
ship upon the land, and first they lifted Odysseus from out
the hollow ship, all as he was in the sheet of linen and
the bright rug, and laid him yet heavy with slumber on the
sand. And they took forth the goods which the lordly
Phaeacians had given him on his homeward way by grace of
the great-hearted Athene. These they set in a heap by the
trunk of the olive tree, a little aside from the road, lest
some wayfaring man, before Odysseus awakened, should come
and spoil them. Then themselves departed homeward again.
But the shaker of the earth forgat not the threats,
wherewith at the first he had threatened god like Odysseus,
and he inquired into the counsel of Zeus, saying:

'Father Zeus, I for one shall no longer be of worship among
the deathless gods, when mortal men hold me in no regard,
even Phaeacians, who moreover are of mine own lineage. Lo,
now I said that after much affliction Odysseus should come
home, for I had no mind to rob him utterly of his return,
when once thou hadst promised it and given assent; but
behold, in his sleep they have borne him in a swift ship
over the sea, and set him down in Ithaca, and given him
gifts out of measure, bronze and gold in plenty and woven
raiment, much store, such as never would Odysseus have won
for himself out of Troy; yea, though he had returned unhurt
with the share of the spoil that fell to him.'

And Zeus, the cloud gatherer, answered him saying: 'Lo,
now, shaker of the earth, of widest power, what a word hast
thou spoken! The gods nowise dishonour thee; hard would it
be to assail with dishonour our eldest and our best. But if
any man, giving place to his own hardihood and strength,
holds thee not in worship, thou hast always thy revenge for
the same, even in the time to come. Do thou as thou wilt,
and as seems thee good.'

Then Poseidon, shaker of the earth, answered him:
'Straightway would I do even as thou sayest, O god of the
dark clouds; but thy wrath I always hold in awe and avoid.
Howbeit, now I fain would smite a fair ship of the
Phaeacians, as she comes home from a convoy on the misty
deep, that thereby they may learn to hold their hands, and
cease from giving escort to men; and I would overshadow
their city with a great mountain.'

And Zeus the gatherer of the clouds, answered him, saying:
'Friend, learn now what seems best in my sight. At an hour
when the folk are all looking forth from the city at the
ship upon her way, smite her into a stone hard by the land;
a stone in the likeness of a swift ship, that all mankind
may marvel, and do thou overshadow their city with a great

Now when Poseidon, shaker of the earth, heard this saying,
he went on his way to Scheria, where the Phaeacians dwell.
There he abode awhile; and lo, she drew near, the seafaring
ship, lightly sped upon her way. Then nigh her came the
shaker of the earth, and he smote her into a stone, and
rooted her far below with the down-stroke of his hand; and
he departed thence again.

Then one to the other they spake winged words, the
Phaeacians of the long oars, mariners renowned. And thus
would they speak, looking each man to his neighbour:

'Ah me! who is this that fettered our swift ship on the
deep as she drave homewards? Even now she stood full in

Even so they would speak; but they knew not how these
things were ordained. And Alcinous made harangue and spake
among them:

'Lo now, in very truth the ancient oracles of my father
have come home to me. He was wont to say that Poseidon was
jealous of us, for that we give safe escort to all men. He
said that the day would come when the god would smite a
fair ship of the Phaeacians, as she came home from a convoy
on the misty deep, and overshadow our city with a great
mountain. Thus that ancient one would speak; and lo, all
these things now have an end. But come, let us all give ear
and do according to my word. Cease ye from the convoy of
mortals, whensoever any shall come unto our town, and let
us sacrifice to Poseidon twelve choice bulls, if perchance
he may take pity, neither overshadow our city with a great

So spake he, and they were dismayed and got ready the
bulls. Thus were they praying to the lord Poseidon, the
princes and counsellors of the land of the Phaeacians, as
they stood about the altar.

Even then the goodly Odysseus awoke where he slept on his
native land; nor knew he the same again, having now been
long afar, for around him the goddess had shed a mist, even
Pallas Athene, daughter of Zeus, to the end that she might
make him undiscovered for that he was, and might expound to
him all things, that so his wife should not know him
neither his townsmen and kinsfolk, ere the wooers had paid
for all their transgressions. Wherefore each thing showed
strange to the lord of the land, the long paths and the
sheltering havens and the steep rocks and the trees in
their bloom. So he started up, and stood and looked upon
his native land, and then he made moan withal, and smote on
both his thighs with the down-stroke of his hands, and
making lament, he spake, saying:

'Oh, woe is me, unto what mortals' land am I now come? Say,
are they froward, and wild, and unjust, or hospitable and
of a god-fearing mind? Whither do I bear all this treasure?
Yea, where am I wandering myself? Oh that the treasure had
remained with the Phaeacians where it was, so had I come to
some other of the mighty princes, who would have entreated
me kindly and sent me on my way. But now I know not where
to bestow these things, nor yet will I leave them here
behind, lest haply other men make spoil of them. Ah then,
they are not wholly wise or just, the princes and
counsellors of the Phaeacians, who carried me to a strange
land. Verily they promised to bring me to clear-seen
Ithaca, but they performed it not. May Zeus requite them,
the god of suppliants, seeing that he watches over all men
and punishes the transgressor! But come, I will reckon up
these goods and look to them, lest the men be gone, and
have taken aught away upon their hollow ship.'

Therewith he set to number the fair tripods and the
cauldrons and the gold and the goodly woven raiment; and of
all these he lacked not aught, but he bewailed him for his
own country, as he walked downcast by the shore of the
sounding sea, and made sore lament. Then Athene came nigh
him in the guise of a young man, the herdsman of a flock, a
young man most delicate, such as are the sons of kings. And
she had a well-wrought mantle that fell in two folds about
her shoulders, and beneath her smooth feet she had sandals
bound, and a javelin in her hands. And Odysseus rejoiced as
he saw her, and came over against her, and uttering his
voice spake to her winged words:

'Friend, since thou art the first that I have chanced on in
this land, hail to thee, and with no ill-will mayest thou
meet me! Nay, save this my substance and save me too, for
to thee as to a god I make prayer, and to thy dear knees
have I come. And herein tell me true, that I may surely
know. What land, what people is this? what men dwell
therein? Surely, methinks, it is some clear seen isle, or a
shore of the rich mainland that lies and leans upon the

Then the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, spake to him again:
'Thou art witless, stranger, or thou art come from afar, if
indeed thou askest of this land; nay, it is not so very
nameless but that many men know it, both all those who
dwell toward the dawning and the sun, and they that abide
over against the light toward the shadowy west. Verily it
is rough and not fit for the driving of horses, yet is it
not a very sorry isle, though narrow withal. For herein is
corn past telling, and herein too wine is found, and the
rain is on it evermore, and the fresh dew. And it is good
for feeding goats and feeding kine; all manner of wood is
here, and watering-places unfailing are herein. Wherefore,
stranger, the name of Ithaca hath reached even unto
Troy-land, which men say is far from this Achaean shore.'

So spake she, and the steadfast goodly Odysseus was glad,
and had joy in his own country, according to the word of
Pallas Athene, daughter of Zeus, lord of the aegis. And he
uttered his voice and spake unto her winged words; yet he
did not speak the truth, but took back the word that was on
his lips, for quick and crafty was his wit within his

'Of Ithaca have I heard tell, even in broad Crete, far over
the seas; and now have I come hither myself with these my
goods. And I left as much again to my children, when I
turned outlaw for the slaying of the dear son of Idomeneus,
Orsilochus, swift of foot, who in wide Crete was the
swiftest of all men that live by bread. Now he would have
despoiled me of all that booty of Troy, for the which I had
endured pain of heart, in passing through the wars of men,
and the grievous waves of the sea, for this cause that I
would not do a favour to his father, and make me his squire
in the land of the Trojans, but commanded other fellowship
of mine own. So I smote him with a bronze-shod spear as he
came home from the field, lying in ambush for him by the
wayside, with one of my companions. And dark midnight held
the heavens, and no man marked us, but privily I took his
life away. Now after I had slain him with the sharp spear,
straightway I went to a ship and besought the lordly
Phoenicians, and gave them spoil to their hearts' desire. I
charged them to take me on board, and land me at Pylos or
at goodly Elis where the Epeans bear rule. Howbeit of a
truth, the might of the wind drave them out of their
course, sore against their will, nor did they wilfully play
me false. Thence we were driven wandering, and came hither
by night. And with much ado we rowed onward into harbour,
nor took we any thought of supper, though we stood sore in
need thereof, but even as we were we stept ashore and all
lay down. Then over me there came sweet slumber in my
weariness, but they took forth my goods from the hollow
ship, and set them by me where I myself lay upon the sands.
Then they went on board, and departed for the fair-lying
land of Sidon; while as for me I was left stricken at

So spake he and the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, smiled, and
caressed him with her hand; and straightway she changed to
the semblance of a woman, fair and tall, and skilled in
splendid handiwork. And uttering her voice she spake unto
him winged words:

'Crafty must he be, and knavish, who would outdo thee in
all manner of guile, even if it were a god encountered
thee. Hardy man, subtle of wit, of guile insatiate, so thou
wast not even in thine own country to cease from thy
sleights and knavish words, which thou lovest from the
bottom of thine heart! But come, no more let us tell of
these things, being both of us practised in deceits, for
that thou art of all men far the first in counsel and in
discourse, and I in the company of all the gods win renown
for my wit and wile. Yet thou knewest not me, Pallas
Athene, daughter of Zeus, who am always by thee and guard
thee in all adventures. Yea, and I made thee to be beloved
of all the Phaeacians. And now am I come hither to contrive
a plot with thee and to hide away the goods, that by my
counsel and design the noble Phaeacians gave thee on thy
homeward way. And I would tell thee how great a measure of
trouble thou art ordained to fulfil within thy well-builded
house. But do thou harden thy heart, for so it must be, and
tell none neither man nor woman of all the folk, that thou
hast indeed returned from wandering, but in silence endure
much sorrow, submitting thee to the despite of men.'

And Odysseus of many counsels answered her saying: 'Hard is
it, goddess, for a mortal man that meets thee to discern
thee, howsoever wise he be; for thou takest upon thee every
shape. But this I know well, that of old thou wast kindly
to me, so long as we sons of the Achaeans made war in Troy.
But so soon as we had sacked the steep city of Priam and
had gone on board our ships, and the god had scattered the
Achaeans, thereafter I have never beheld thee, daughter of
Zeus, nor seen thee coming on board my ship, to ward off
sorrow from me--but I wandered evermore with a stricken
heart, till the gods delivered me from my evil case--even
till the day when, within the fat land of the men of
Phaeacia, thou didst comfort me with thy words, and thyself
didst lead me to their city. And now I beseech thee in thy
father's name to tell me: for I deem not that I am come to
clear-seen Ithaca, but I roam over some other land, and
methinks that thou speakest thus to mock me and beguile my
mind. Tell me whether in very deed I am come to mine own
dear country.'

Then the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, answered him: 'Yea,
such a thought as this is ever in thy breast. Wherefore I
may in no wise leave thee in thy grief, so courteous art
thou, so ready of wit and so prudent. Right gladly would
any other man on his return from wandering have hasted to
behold his children and his wife in his halls; but thou
hast no will to learn or to hear aught, till thou hast
furthermore made trial of thy wife, who sits as ever in her
halls, and wearily for her the nights wane always and the
days, in shedding of tears. But of this I never doubted,
but ever knew it in my heart that thou wouldest come home
with the loss of all thy company. Yet, I tell thee, I had
no mind to be at strife with Poseidon, my own father's
brother, who laid up wrath in his heart against thee, being
angered at the blinding of his dear son. But come, and I
will show thee the place of the dwelling of Ithaca, that
thou mayst be assured. Lo, here is the haven of Phorcys,
the ancient one of the sea, and here at the haven's head is
the olive tree with spreading leaves, and hard by it is the
pleasant cave and shadowy, sacred to the nymphs that are
called the Naiads. Yonder, behold, is the roofed cavern,
where thou offeredst many an acceptable sacrifice of
hecatombs to the nymphs; and lo, this hill is Neriton, all
clothed in forest.'

Therewith the goddess scattered the mist, and the land
appeared. Then the steadfast goodly Odysseus was glad
rejoicing in his own land, and he kissed the earth, the
grain-giver. And anon he prayed to the nymphs, and lifted
up his hands, saying:

'Ye Naiad nymphs, daughters of Zeus, never did I think to
look on you again, but now be ye greeted in my loving
prayers: yea, and gifts as aforetime I will give, if the
daughter of Zeus, driver of the spoil, suffer me of her
grace myself to live, and bring my dear son to manhood.'

Then the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, spake to him again: 'Be
of good courage, and let not thy heart be careful about
these things. But come, let us straightway set thy goods in
the secret place of the wondrous cave, that there they may
abide for thee safe. And let us for ourselves advise us how
all may be for the very best.'

Therewith the goddess plunged into the shadowy cave,
searching out the chambers of the cavern. Meanwhile
Odysseus brought up his treasure, the gold and the
unyielding bronze and fair woven raiment, which the
Phaeacians gave him. And these things he laid by with care,
and Pallas Athene, daughter of Zeus, lord of the aegis, set
a stone against the door of the cave. Then they twain sat
down by the trunk of the sacred olive tree, and devised
death for the froward wooers. And the goddess, grey-eyed
Athene, spake first, saying:

'Son of Laertes, of the seed of Zeus, Odysseus of many
devices, advise thee how thou mayest stretch forth thine
hands upon the shameless wooers, who now these three years
lord it through thy halls, as they woo thy godlike wife and
proffer the gifts of wooing. And she, that is ever
bewailing her for thy return, gives hope to all and makes
promises to every man and sends them messages, but her mind
is set on other things.'

And Odysseus of many counsels answered her, saying:

'Lo now, in very truth I was like to have perished in my
halls by the evil doom of Agamemnon, son of Atreus, hadst
not thou, goddess, declared me each thing aright. Come
then, weave some counsel whereby I may requite them; and
thyself stand by me, and put great boldness of spirit
within me, even as in the day when we loosed the shining
coronal of Troy. If but thou wouldest stand by me with such
eagerness, thou grey-eyed goddess, I would war even with
three hundred men, with thee my lady and goddess, if thou
of thy grace didst succour me the while.'

Then the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, answered him: 'Yea,
verily I will be near thee nor will I forget thee,
whensoever we come to this toil: and methinks that certain
of the wooers that devour thy livelihood shall bespatter
the boundless earth with blood and brains. But come, I will
make thee such-like that no man shall know thee. Thy fair
skin I will wither on thy supple limbs, and make waste thy
yellow hair from off thy head, and wrap thee in a foul
garment, such that one would shudder to see a man therein.
And I will dim thy two eyes, erewhile so fair, in such wise
that thou mayest be unseemly in the sight of all the wooers
and of thy wife and son, whom thou didst leave in thy
halls. And do thou thyself first of all go unto the
swineherd, who tends thy swine, loyal and at one with thee,
and loves thy son and constant Penelope. Him shalt thou
find sitting by the swine, as they are feeding near the
rock of Corax and the spring Arethusa, and there they eat
abundance of acorns and drink the black water, things
whereby swine grow fat and well-liking. There do thou abide
and sit by the swine, and find out all, till I have gone to
Sparta, the land of fair women, to call Telemachus thy dear
son, Odysseus, who hath betaken himself to spacious
Lacedaemon, to the house of Menelaus to seek tidings of
thee, whether haply thou are yet alive.'

And Odysseus of many counsels answered her saying: 'Nay,
wherefore then didst thou not tell him, seeing thou hast
knowledge of all? Was it, perchance, that he too may wander
in sorrow over the unharvested seas, and that others may
consume his livelihood?'

Then the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, answered him: 'Nay, let
him not be heavy on thy heart. I myself was his guide, that
by going thither he might win a good report. Lo, he knows
no toil, but he sits in peace in the palace of the son of
Atreus, and has boundless store about him. Truly the young
men with their black ship they lie in wait, and are eager
to slay him ere he come to his own country. But this,
methinks, shall never be. Yea, sooner shall the earth close
over certain of the wooers that devour thy livelihood.'

Therewith Athene touched him with her wand. His fair flesh
she withered on his supple limbs, and made waste his yellow
hair from off his head, and over all his limbs she cast the
skin of an old man, and dimmed his two eyes, erewhile so
fair. And she changed his raiment to a vile wrap and a
doublet, torn garments and filthy, stained with foul smoke.
And over all she clad him with the great bald hide of a
swift stag, and she gave him a staff and a mean tattered
scrip, and a cord therewith to hang it.

And after they twain had taken this counsel together, they
parted; and she now went to goodly Lacedaemon to fetch the
son of Odysseus.