View Full Version : Odyssey, The - Homer

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05-27-2007, 01:20 AM
Book VII

Odysseus being received at the house of the king Alcinous,
the queen after supper, taking notice of his garments,
gives him occasion to relate his passage thither on the
raft. Alcinous promises him a convoy for the morrow.

So he prayed there, the steadfast goodly Odysseus, while
the two strong mules bare the princess to the town. And
when she had now come to the famous palace of her father,
she halted at the gateway, and round her gathered her
brothers, men like to the immortals, and they loosed the
mules from under the car, and carried the raiment within.
But the maiden betook her to her chamber; and an aged dame
from Aperaea kindled the fire for her, Eurymedusa, the
handmaid of the chamber, whom the curved ships upon a time
had brought from Aperaea; and men chose her as a prize for
Alcinous, seeing that he bare rule over all the Phaeacians,
and the people hearkened to him as to a god. She waited on
the white-armed Nausicaa in the palace halls; she was wont
to kindle the fire and prepare the supper in the inner

At that same hour Odysseus roused him to go to the city,
and Athene shed a deep mist about Odysseus for the favour
that she bare him, lest any of the Phaeacians, high of
heart, should meet him and mock him in sharp speech, and
ask him who he was. But when he was now about to enter the
pleasant city, then the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, met him,
in the fashion of a young maiden carrying a pitcher, and
she stood over against him, and goodly Odysseus inquired of

'My child, couldst thou not lead me to the palace of the
lord Alcinous, who bears sway among this people? Lo, I am
come here, a stranger travel-worn from afar, from a distant
land; wherefore of the folk who possess this city and
country I know not any man.'

Then the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, answered him saying:
'Yea now, father and stranger, I will show thee the house
that thou bidst me declare, for it lies near the palace of
my noble father; behold, be silent as thou goest, and I
will lead the way. And look on no man, nor question any.
For these men do not gladly suffer strangers, nor lovingly
entreat whoso cometh from a strange land. They trust to the
speed of their swift ships, wherewith they cross the great
gulf, for the Earth-shaker hath vouchsafed them this power.
Their ships are swift as the flight of a bird, or as a

Therewith Pallas Athene led the way swiftly, and he
followed hard in the footsteps of the goddess. And it came
to pass that the Phaeacians, mariners renowned, marked him
not as he went down the city through their midst, for the
fair tressed Athene suffered it not, that awful goddess,
who shed a wondrous mist about him, for the favour that she
bare him in her heart. And Odysseus marvelled at the havens
and the gallant ships, yea and the places of assembly of
the heroes, and the long high walls crowned with palisades,
a marvel to behold. But when they had now come to the
famous palace of the king, the goddess, grey-eyed Athene,
spake first and said:

'Lo, here, father and stranger, is the house that thou
wouldst have me show thee: and thou shalt find kings at the
feast, the fosterlings of Zeus; enter then, and fear not in
thine heart, for the dauntless man is the best in every
adventure, even though he come from a strange land. Thou
shalt find the queen first in the halls; Arete is the name
whereby men call her, and she came even of those that begat
the king Alcinous. First Nausithous was son of Poseidon,
the Earth-shaker, and of Periboea, the comeliest of women,
youngest daughter of great-hearted Eurymedon, who once was
king among the haughty Giants. Howbeit, he destroyed his
infatuate people, and was himself destroyed; but Poseidon
lay with Periboea and begat a son, proud Nausithous, who
sometime was prince among the Phaeacians; and Nausithous
begat Rhexenor and Alcinous. While Rhexenor had as yet no
son, Apollo of the silver bow smote him, a groom new wed,
leaving in his halls one only child Arete; and Alcinous
took her to wife, and honoured her as no other woman in the
world is honoured, of all that now-a-days keep house under
the hand of their lords. Thus she hath, and hath ever had,
all worship heartily from her dear children and from her
lord Alcinous and from all the folk, who look on her as on
a goddess, and greet her with reverend speech, when she
goes about the town. Yea, for she too hath no lack of
understanding. To whomso she shows favour, even if they be
men, she ends their feuds. {*} If but her heart be kindly
disposed to thee, then is there good hope that thou mayest
see thy friends, and come to thy high-roofed home and thine
own country.'

{* And for the women she favours, she ends the feuds of
their lords also.}

Therewith grey-eyed Athene departed over the unharvested
seas, and left pleasant Scheria, and came to Marathon and
wide-wayed Athens, and entered the good house of
Erechtheus. Meanwhile Odysseus went to the famous palace of
Alcinous, and his heart was full of many thoughts as he
stood there or ever he had reached the threshold of bronze.
For there was a gleam as it were of sun or moon through the
high-roofed hall of great-hearted Alcinous. Brazen were the
walls which ran this way and that from the threshold to the
inmost chamber, and round them was a frieze of blue, and
golden were the doors that closed in the good house. Silver
were the door-posts that were set on the brazen threshold,
and silver the lintel thereupon, and the hook of the door
was of gold. And on either side stood golden hounds and
silver, which Hephaestus wrought by his cunning, to guard
the palace of great-hearted Alcinous, being free from death
and age all their days. And within were seats arrayed
against the wall this way and that, from the threshold even
to the inmost chamber, and thereon were spread light
coverings finely woven, the handiwork of women. There the
Phaeacian chieftains were wont to sit eating and drinking,
for they had continual store. Yea, and there were youths
fashioned in gold, standing on firm-set bases, with flaming
torches in their hands, giving light through the night to
the feasters in the palace. And he had fifty handmaids in
the house, and some grind the yellow grain on the
millstone, and others weave webs and turn the yarn as they
sit, restless as the leaves of the tall poplar tree: and
the soft olive oil drops off that linen, so closely is it
woven. For as the Phaeacian men are skilled beyond all
others in driving a swift ship upon the deep, even so are
the women the most cunning at the loom, for Athene hath
given them notable wisdom in all fair handiwork and cunning
wit. And without the courtyard hard by the door is a great
garden, off our ploughgates, and a hedge runs round on
either side. And there grow tall trees blossoming,
pear-trees and pomegranates, and apple-trees with bright
fruit, and sweet figs, and olives in their bloom. The fruit
of these trees never perisheth neither faileth, winter nor
summer, enduring through all the year. Evermore the West
Wind blowing brings some fruits to birth and ripens others.
Pear upon pear waxes old, and apple on apple, yea and
cluster ripens upon cluster of the grape, and fig upon fig.
There too hath he a fruitful vineyard planted, whereof the
one part is being dried by the heat, a sunny plot on level
ground, while other grapes men are gathering, and yet
others they are treading in the wine-press. In the foremost
row are unripe grapes that cast the blossom, and others
there be that are growing black to vintaging. There too,
skirting the furthest line, are all manner of garden beds,
planted trimly, that are perpetually fresh, and therein are
two fountains of water, whereof one scatters his streams
all about the garden, and the other runs over against it
beneath the threshold of the courtyard, and issues by the
lofty house, and thence did the townsfolk draw water. These
were the splendid gifts of the gods in the palace of

There the steadfast goodly Odysseus stood and gazed. But
when he had gazed at all and wondered, he passed quickly
over the threshold within the house. And he found the
captains and the counsellors of the Phaeacians pouring
forth wine to the keen-sighted god, the slayer of Argos;
for to him they poured the last cup when they were minded
to take rest. Now the steadfast goodly Odysseus went
through the hall, clad in a thick mist, which Athene shed
around him, till he came to Arete and the king Alcinous.
And Odysseus cast his hands about the knees of Arete, and
then it was that the wondrous mist melted from off him, and
a silence fell on them that were within the house at the
sight of him, and they marvelled as they beheld him. Then
Odysseus began his prayer:

'Arete, daughter of god-like Rhexenor, after many toils am
I come to thy husband and to thy knees and to these guests,
and may the gods vouchsafe them a happy life, and may each
one leave to his children after him his substance in his
halls and whatever dues of honour the people have rendered
unto him. But speed, I pray you, my parting, that I may
come the more quickly to mine own country, for already too
long do I suffer affliction far from my friends.'

Therewith he sat him down by the hearth in the ashes at the
fire, and behold, a dead silence fell on all. And at the
last the ancient lord Echeneus spake among them, an elder
of the Phaeacians, excellent in speech and skilled in much
wisdom of old time. With good will he made harangue and
spake among them:

'Alcinous, this truly is not the more seemly way, nor is it
fitting that the stranger should sit upon the ground in the
ashes by the hearth, while these men refrain them, waiting
thy word. Nay come, bid the stranger arise, and set him on
a chair inlaid with silver, and command the henchmen to mix
the wine, that we may pour forth likewise before Zeus,
whose joy is in the thunder, who attendeth upon reverend
suppliants. And let the housewife give supper to the
stranger out of such stores as be within.'

Now when the mighty king Alcinous heard this saying, he
took Odysseus, the wise and crafty, by the hand, and raised
him from the hearth, and set him on a shining chair, whence
he bade his son give place, valiant Laodamas, who sat next
him and was his dearest. 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 drew to his side a
polished table. And a grave dame bare wheaten bread and set
it by him and laid upon the board many dainties, giving
freely of such things as she had by her. So the steadfast
goodly Odysseus did eat and drink: and then the mighty
Alcinous spake unto the henchman:

'Pontonous, mix the bowl and serve out the wine to all in
the hall, that we may pour forth likewise before Zeus,
whose joy is in the thunder, who attendeth upon reverend

So spake he, and Pontonous mixed the honey-hearted wine,
and served it out to all, when he had poured for libation
into each cup in turn. But when they had poured forth and
had drunken to their heart's content, Alcinous made
harangue and spake among them:

'Hear me, ye captains and counsellors of the Phaeacians,
that I may speak as my spirit bids me. Now that the feast
is over, go ye home and lie down to rest; and in the
morning we will call yet more elders together, and
entertain the stranger in the halls and do fair sacrifice
to the gods, and thereafter we will likewise bethink us of
the convoy, that so without pain or grief yonder stranger
may by our convoy reach his own country speedily and with
joy, even though he be from very far away. So shall he
suffer no hurt or harm in mid passage, ere he set foot on
his own land; but thereafter he shall endure such things as
Fate and the stern spinning women drew off the spindles for
him at his birth when his mother bare him. But if he is
some deathless god come down from heaven, then do the gods
herein imagine some new device against us. For always
heretofore the gods appear manifest amongst us, whensoever
we offer glorious hecatombs, and they feast by our side,
sitting at the same board; yea, and even if a wayfarer
going all alone has met with them, they use no disguise,
since we are near of kin to them, even as are the Cyclopes
and the wild tribes of the Giants.'

And Odysseus of many counsels answered him, saying:
'Alcinous, that thought be far from thee! for I bear no
likeness either in form or fashion to the deathless gods,
who keep wide heaven, but to men that die. Whomsoever ye
know of human kind the heaviest laden with sorrow, to them
might I liken myself in my griefs. Yea, and I might tell of
yet other woes, even the long tale of toil that by the
gods' will I endured. But as for me, suffer me to sup,
afflicted as I am; for nought is there more shameless than
a ravening belly, which biddeth a man perforce be mindful
of him, though one be worn and sorrowful in spirit, even as
I have sorrow of heart; yet evermore he biddeth me eat and
drink and maketh me utterly to forget all my sufferings,
and commandeth me to take my fill. But do ye bestir you at
the breaking of the day, that so ye may set me, hapless as
I am, upon my country's soil, albeit after much suffering.
Ah, and may life leave me when I have had sight of mine own
possessions, my thralls, and my dwelling that is great and

So spake he, and they all assented thereto, and bade send
the stranger on his way, for that he had spoken aright. Now
when they had poured forth and had drunken to their hearts'
content, they went each one to his house to lay them to
rest. But goodly Odysseus was left behind in the hall, and
by him sat Arete and godlike Alcinous; and the maids
cleared away the furniture of the feast; and white-armed
Arete first spake among them. For she knew the mantle and
the doublet, when she saw the goodly raiment that she
herself had wrought with the women her handmaids. So she
uttered her voice and spake to him winged words:

'Sir, I am bold to ask thee first of this. Who art thou of
the sons of men, and whence? Who gave thee this raiment?
Didst thou not say indeed that thou camest hither wandering
over the deep?'

Then Odysseus of many counsels answered her, and said:
''Tis hard, O queen, to tell my griefs from end to end, for
that the gods of heaven have given me griefs in plenty. But
this will I declare to thee, whereof thou dost question and
inquire. There is an isle, Ogygia, that lies far off in the
sea; there dwells the daughter of Atlas, crafty Calypso, of
the braided tresses, an awful goddess, nor is any either of
gods or mortals conversant with her. Howbeit, some god
brought me to her hearth, wretched man that I am, all
alone, for that Zeus with white bolt crushed my swift ship
and cleft it in the midst of the wine-dark deep. There all
the rest of my good company was lost, but I clung with fast
embrace about the keel of the curved ship, and so was I
borne for nine whole days. And on the tenth dark night the
gods brought me nigh the isle Ogygia, where Calypso of the
braided tresses dwells, an awful goddess. She took me in,
and with all care she cherished me and gave me sustenance,
and said that she would make me to know not death nor age
for all my days; but never did she win my heart within me.
There I abode for seven years continually, and watered with
my tears the imperishable raiment that Calypso gave me. But
when the eighth year came round in his course, then at last
she urged and bade me to be gone, by reason of a message
from Zeus, or it may be that her own mind was turned. So
she sent me forth on a well-bound raft, and gave me
plenteous store, bread and sweet wine, and she clad me in
imperishable raiment, and sent forth a warm and gentle wind
to blow. For ten days and seven I sailed, traversing the
deep, and on the eighteenth day the shadowy hills of your
land showed in sight, and my heart was glad,--wretched that
I was--for surely I was still to be the mate of much
sorrow. For Poseidon, shaker of the earth, stirred up the
same, who roused against me the winds and stopped my way,
and made a wondrous sea to swell, nor did the wave suffer
me to be borne upon my raft, as I made ceaseless moan. Thus
the storm winds shattered the raft, but as for me I cleft
my way through the gulf yonder, till the wind bare and the
water brought me nigh your coast. Then as I strove to land
upon the shore, the wave had overwhelmed me, dashing me
against the great rocks and a desolate place, but at length
I gave way and swam back, till I came to the river, where
the place seemed best in mine eyes, smooth of rocks, and
withal there was a shelter from the wind. And as I came out
I sank down, gathering to me my spirit, and immortal night
came on. Then I gat me forth and away from the heaven-fed
river, and laid me to sleep in the bushes and strewed
leaves about me, and the god shed over me infinite sleep.
There among the leaves I slept, stricken at heart, all the
night long, even till the morning and mid-day. And the sun
sank when sweet sleep let me free. And I was aware of the
company of thy daughter disporting them upon the sand, and
there was she in the midst of them like unto the goddesses.
To her I made my supplication, and she showed no lack of a
good understanding, behaving so as thou couldst not hope
for in chancing upon one so young; for the younger folk
lack wisdom always. She gave me bread enough and red wine,
and let wash me in the river and bestowed on me these
garments. Herein, albeit in sore distress, have I told thee
all the truth.'

And Alcinous answered again, and spake saying: 'Sir, surely
this was no right thought of my daughter, in that she
brought thee not to our house with the women her handmaids,
though thou didst first entreat her grace.'

And Odysseus of many counsels answered, and said unto him:
'My lord, chide not, I pray thee, for this the blameless
maiden. For indeed she bade me follow with her company, but
I would not for fear and very shame, lest perchance thine
heart might be clouded at the sight; for a jealous race
upon the earth are we, the tribes of men.'

And Alcinous answered yet again, and spake saying: 'Sir, my
heart within me is not of such temper as to have been wroth
without a cause: due measure in all things is best. Would
to father Zeus, and Athene, and Apollo, would that so
goodly a man as thou art, and like-minded with me, thou
wouldst wed my daughter, and be called my son, here
abiding: so would I give thee house and wealth, if thou
wouldst stay of thine own will: but against thy will shall
none of the Phaeacians keep thee: never be this
well-pleasing in the eyes of father Zeus! And now I ordain
an escort for thee on a certain day, that thou mayst surely
know, and that day the morrow. Then shalt thou lay thee
down overcome by sleep, and they the while shall smite the
calm waters, till thou come to thy country and thy house,
and whatsoever place is dear to thee, even though it be
much farther than Euboea, which certain of our men say is
the farthest of lands, they who saw it, when they carried
Rhadamanthus, of the fair hair, to visit Tityos, son of
Gaia. Even thither they went, and accomplished the journey
on the self-same day and won home again, and were not
weary. And now shalt thou know for thyself how far my ships
are the best, and how my young men excel at tossing the
salt water with the oar-blade.'

So spake he, and the steadfast goodly Odysseus rejoiced;
and then he uttered a word in prayer, and called aloud to
Zeus: 'Father Zeus, oh that Alcinous may fulfil all that he
hath said, so may his fame never be quenched upon the
earth, the grain-giver, and I should come to mine own

Thus they spake one to the other. And white-armed Arete
bade her handmaids set out bedsteads beneath the gallery,
and cast fair purple blankets over them, and spread
coverlets above, and thereon lay thick mantles to be a
clothing over all. So they went from the hall with torch in
hand. But when they had busied them and spread the good
bedstead, they stood by Odysseus and called unto him,

'Up now, stranger, and get thee to sleep, thy bed is made'

So spake they, and it seemed to him that rest was wondrous
good. So he slept there, the steadfast goodly Odysseus, on
the jointed bedstead, beneath the echoing gallery. But
Alcinous laid him down in the innermost chamber of the high
house, and by him the lady his wife arrayed bedstead and