Book XIX

Telemachus removes the arms out of the hall. Odysseus
disburseth with Penelope. And is known by his nurse, but
concealed. And the hunting of the boar upon that occasion

Now the goodly Odysseus was left behind in the hall,
devising with Athene's aid the slaying of the wooers, and
straightway he spake winged words to Telemachus:

'Telemachus, we must needs lay by the weapons of war
within, every one; and when the wooers miss them and ask
thee concerning them, thou shalt beguile them with soft
words, saying:

'Out of the smoke I laid them by, since they were no longer
like those that Odysseus left behind him of old, when he
went to Troy, but they are wholly marred, so mightily hath
passed upon them the vapour of fire. Moreover some god hath
put into my heart this other and greater care, that
perchance when ye are heated with wine, ye set a quarrel
between you and wound one the other, and thereby shame the
feast and the wooing; for iron of itself draws a man

Thus he spake, and Telemachus hearkened to his dear father,
and called forth to him the nurse Eurycleia and spake to
her, saying:

'Nurse, come now I pray thee, shut up the women in their
chambers till I shall have laid by in the armoury the
goodly weapons of my father, which all uncared for the
smoke dims in the hall, since my father went hence, and I
was still but a child. Now I wish to lay them by where the
vapour of the fire will not reach them.'

Then the good nurse Eurycleia answered him, saying: 'Ah, my
child, if ever thou wouldest but take careful thought in
such wise as to mind the house, and guard all this wealth!
But come, who shall fetch the light and bear it, if thou
hast thy way, since thou wouldest not that the maidens, who
might have given light, should go before thee?'

Then wise Telemachus made answer to her: 'This stranger
here, for I will keep no man in idleness who eats of my
bread, even if he have come from afar.'

Thus he spake, and wingless her speech remained, and she
closed the doors of the fair-lying chambers. Then they
twain sprang up, Odysseus and his renowned son, and set to
carry within the helmets and the bossy shields, and the
sharp-pointed spears; and before them Pallas Athene bare a
golden cresset and cast a most lovely light. Thereon
Telemachus spake to his father suddenly:

'Father, surely a great marvel is this that I behold with
mine eyes; meseems, at least, that the walls of the hall
and the fair main-beams of the roof and the cross-beams of
pine, and the pillars that run aloft, are bright as it were
with flaming fire. Verily some god is within, of those that
hold the wide heaven.'

And Odysseus of many counsels answered him and said: 'Hold
thy peace and keep thy thoughts in check and ask not
hereof. Lo, this is the wont of the gods that hold Olympus.
But do thou go and lay thee down, and I will abide here,
that I may yet further provoke the maids ant thy mother to
answer; and she in her sorrow will ask me concerning each
thing, one by one.'

So he spake, and Telemachus passed out through the hall to
his chamber to lie down, by the light of the flaming
torches, even to the chamber where of old he took his rest,
when sweet sleep came over him. There now too he lay down
and awaited the bright Dawn. But goodly Odysseus was left
behind in the hall, devising with Athene's aid the slaying
of the wooers.

Now forth from her chamber came the wise Penelope, like
Artemis or golden Aphrodite, and they set a chair for her
hard by before the fire, where she was wont to sit, a chair
well-wrought and inlaid with ivory and silver, which on a
time the craftsman Icmalius had fashioned, and had joined
thereto a footstool, that was part of the chair, whereon a
great fleece was used to be laid. Here then, the wise
Penelope sat her down, and next came white-armed handmaids
from the women's chamber, and began to take away the many
fragments of food, and the tables and the cups whence the
proud lords had been drinking, and they raked out the fire
from the braziers on to the floor, and piled many fresh
logs upon them, to give light and warmth.

Then Melantho began to revile Odysseus yet a second time,
saying: 'Stranger, wilt thou still be a plague to us here,
circling round the house in the night, and spying the
women? Nay, get thee forth, thou wretched thing, and be
thankful for thy supper, or straightway shalt thou even be
smitten with a torch and so fare out of the doors.'

Then Odysseus of many counsels looked fiercely on her, and
said: 'Good woman, what possesses thee to assail me thus
out of an angry heart? Is it because I go filthy and am
clothed about in sorry raiment, and beg through the land,
for necessity is laid on me? This is the manner of beggars
and of wandering men. For I too once had a house of mine
own among men, a rich man with a wealthy house, and many a
time would I give to a wanderer, what manner of man soever
he might be, and in whatsoever need he came. And I had
countless thralls, and all else in plenty, whereby folk
live well and have a name for riches. But Zeus, the son of
Cronos, made me desolate of all, for surely it was his
will. Wherefore, woman, see lest some day thou too lose all
thy fine show wherein thou now excellest among the
handmaids, as well may chance, if thy mistress be provoked
to anger with thee, or if Odysseus come home, for there is
yet a place for hope. And even if he hath perished as ye
deem, and is never more to return, yet by Apollo's grace he
hath a son like him, Telemachus, and none of the women
works wantonness in his halls without his knowledge, for he
is no longer of an age not to mark it,

Thus he spake, and the wise Penelope heard him, and rebuked
the handmaid, and spake and hailed her:

'Thou reckless thing and unabashed, be sure thy great sin
is not hidden from me, and thy blood shall be on thine own
head for the same! Four thou knewest right well, in that
thou hadst heard it from my lips, how that I was minded to
ask the stranger in my halls for tidings of my lord; for I
am grievously afflicted.'

Therewith she spake likewise to the housedame, Eurynome,

'Eurynome, bring hither a settle with a fleece thereon,
that the stranger may sit and speak with me and hear my
words, for I would ask him all his story.'

So she spake, and the nurse made haste and brought a
polished settle, and cast a fleece thereon; and then the
steadfast goodly Odysseus sat him down there, and the wise
Penelope spake first, saying:

'Stranger, I will make bold first to ask thee this: who art
thou of the sons of men, and whence? Where is thy city, and
where are they that begat thee?'

And Odysseus of many counsels answered her and said: 'Lady,
no one of mortal men in the wide world could find fault
with thee, for lo, thy fame goes up to the wide heaven, as
doth the fame of a blameless king, one that fears the gods
and reigns among many men and mighty, maintaining right,
and the black earth bears wheat and barley, and the trees
are laden with fruit, and the sheep bring forth and fail
not, and the sea gives store of fish, and all out of his
good guidance, and the people prosper under him. Wherefore
do thou ask me now in thy house all else that thou wilt,
but inquire not concerning my race and mine own country,
lest as I think thereupon thou fill my heart the more with
pains, for I am a man of many sorrows. Moreover it beseems
me not to sit weeping and wailing in another's house, for
it is little good to mourn always without ceasing, lest
perchance one of the maidens, or even thyself, be angry
with me and say that I swim in tears, as one that is heavy
with wine.'

Then wise Penelope answered him, and said: 'Stranger,
surely my excellence, both of face and form, the gods
destroyed, in the day when the Argives embarked for Ilios,
and with them went my lord Odysseus. If but he might come
and watch over this my life, greater and fairer thus would
be my fame! But now am I in sorrow, such a host of ills
some god has sent against me. For all the noblest that are
princes in the isles, in Dulichium and Same and wooded
Zacynthus, and they that dwell around even in clear-seen
Ithaca, these are wooing me against my will, and devouring
the house. Wherefore I take no heed of strangers, nor
suppliants, nor at all of heralds, the craftsmen of the
people. But I waste my heart away in longing for Odysseus;
so they speed on my marriage and I weave a web of wiles.
First some god put it into my heart to set up a great web
in the halls, and thereat to weave a robe fine of woof and
very wide; and anon I spake among them, saying: "Ye
princely youths, my wooers, now that goodly Odysseus is
dead, do ye abide patiently, how eager soever to speed on
this marriage of mine, till I finish the robe. I would not
that the threads perish to no avail, even this shroud for
the hero Laertes, against the day when the ruinous doom
shall bring him low, of death that lays men at their
length. So shall none of the Achaean women in the land
count it blame in me, as well might be, were he to lie
without a winding sheet, a man that had gotten great

'So spake I, and their high hearts consented thereto. So
then in the daytime I would weave the mighty web, and in
the night unravel the same, when I had let place the
torches by me. Thus for the space of three years I hid the
thing by craft and beguiled the minds of the Achaeans. But
when the fourth year arrived, and the seasons came round as
the months waned, and many days were accomplished, then it
was that by help of the handmaids, shameless things and
reckless, the wooers came and trapped me, and chid me
loudly. Thus did I finish the web by no will of mine, for
so I must. And now I can neither escape the marriage nor
devise any further counsel, and my parents are instant with
me to marry, and my son chafes that these men devour his
livelihood, as he takes note of all; for by this time he
has come to man's estate; and is full able to care for a
household, for one to which Zeus vouchsafes honour. But
even so tell me of thine own stock, whence thou art, for
thou art not sprung of oak or rock, whereof old tales

And Odysseus of many counsels answered her and said:

'O wife revered of Odysseus, son of Laertes, wilt thou
never have done asking me about mine own race? Nay, but I
will tell thee: yet surely thou wilt give me over to
sorrows yet more than those wherein I am holden, for so it
ever is when a man has been afar from his own country, so
long as now I am, wandering in sore pain to many cities of
mortals. Yet even so I will tell thee what thou askest and
inquirest. There is a land called Crete in the midst of the
wine-dark sea, a fair land and a rich, begirt with water,
and therein are many men innumerable, and ninety cities.
And all have not the same speech, but there is confusion of
tongues; there dwell Achaeans and there too Cretans of
Crete, high of heart, and Cydonians there and Dorians of
waving plumes and goodly Pelasgians. And among these cities
is the mighty city Cnosus, wherein Minos when he was nine
years old began to rule, he who held converse with great
Zeus, and was the father of my father, even of Deucalion,
high of heart. Now Deucalion begat me and Idomeneus the
prince. Howbeit, he had gone in his beaked ships up into
Ilios, with the sons of Atreus; but my famed name is
Aethon, being the younger of the twain and he was the first
born and the better man. There I saw Odysseus, and gave him
guest-gifts, for the might of the wind bare him too to
Crete, as he was making for Troy land, and had driven him
wandering past Malea. So he stayed his ships in Amnisus,
whereby is the cave of Eilithyia, in havens hard to win,
and scarce he escaped the tempest. Anon he came up to the
city and asked for Idomeneus, saying that he was his friend
and held by him in love and honour. But it was now the
tenth or the eleventh dawn since Idomeneus had gone in his
beaked ships up into Ilios. Then I led him to the house,
and gave him good entertainment with all loving-kindness
out of the plenty in my house, and for him and for the rest
of his company, that went with him, I gathered and gave
barley meal and dark wine out of the public store, and oxen
to sacrifice to his heart's desire. There the goodly
Achaeans abode twelve days, for the strong North Wind
penned them there, and suffered them not to stay upon the
coast, for some angry god had roused it. On the thirteenth
day the wind fell, and then they lifted anchor.'

So he told many a false tale in the likeness of truth, and
her tears flowed as she listened, and her flesh melted. And
even as the snow melts in the high places of the hills, the
snow that the South-East wind has thawed, when the West has
scattered it abroad, and as it wastes the river streams run
full, even so her fair cheeks melted beneath her tears, as
she wept her own lord, who even then was sitting by her.
Now Odysseus had compassion of heart upon his wife in her
lamenting, but his eyes kept steadfast between his eyelids
as it were horn or iron, and craftily he hid his tears. But
she, when she had taken her fill of tearful lamentation,
answered him in turn and spake, saying:

'Friend as thou art, even now I think to make trial of
thee, and learn whether in very truth thou didst entertain
my lord there in thy halls with his godlike company, as
thou sayest. Tell me what manner of raiment he was clothed
in about his body, and what manner of man he was himself,
and tell me of his fellows that went with him.'

Then Odysseus of many counsels answered her saying: 'Lady,
it is hard for one so long parted from him to tell thee all
this, for it is now the twentieth year since he went
thither and left my country. Yet even so I will tell thee
as I see him in spirit. Goodly Odysseus wore a thick purple
mantle, twofold, which had a brooch fashioned in gold, with
two sheathes for the pins, and on the face of it was a
curious device: a hound in his forepaws held a dappled fawn
and gazed on it as it writhed. And all men marvelled at the
workmanship, how, wrought as they were in gold, the hound
was gazing on the fawn and strangling it, and the fawn was
writhing with his feet and striving to flee. Moreover, I
marked the shining doublet about his body, like the gleam
over the skin of a dried onion, so smooth it was, and
glistering as the sun; truly many women looked thereon and
wondered. Yet another thing will I tell thee, and do thou
ponder it in thy heart. I know not if Odysseus was thus
clothed upon at home, or if one of his fellows gave him the
raiment as he went on board the swift ship, or even it may
be some stranger, seeing that to many men was Odysseus
dear, for few of the Achaeans were his peers. I, too, gave
him a sword of bronze, and a fair purple mantle with double
fold, and a tasseled doublet, and I sent him away with all
honour on his decked ship. Moreover, a henchman bare him
company, somewhat older than he, and I will tell thee of
him too, what manner of man he was. He was
round-shouldered, black-skinned, and curly-headed, his name
Eurybates; and Odysseus honoured him above all his company,
because in all things he was like-minded with himself.'

So he spake, and in her heart he stirred yet more the
desire of weeping, as she knew the certain tokens that
Odysseus showed her. So when she had taken her fill of
tearful lament, then she answered him, and spake saying:

'Now verily, stranger, thou that even before wert held in
pity, shalt be dear and honourable in my halls, for it was
I who gave him these garments, as judging from thy words,
and folded them myself, and brought them from the chamber,
and added besides the shining brooch to be his jewel. But
him I shall never welcome back, returned home to his own
dear country. Wherefore with an evil fate it was that
Odysseus went hence in the hollow ship to see that evil
Ilios, never to be named.'

And Odysseus of many counsels answered her saying: 'Wife
revered of Odysseus, son of Laertes, destroy not now thy
fair flesh any more, nor waste thy heart with weeping for
thy lord;--not that I count it any blame in thee, for many
a woman weeps that has lost her wedded lord, to whom she
has borne children in her love,--albeit a far other man
than Odysseus, who, they say, is like the gods. Nay, cease
from thy lamenting, and lay up my word in thy heart; for I
will tell thee without fail, and will hide nought, how but
lately I heard tell of the return of Odysseus, that he is
nigh at hand, and yet alive in the fat land of the men of
Thesprotia, and is bringing with him many choice treasures,
as he begs through the land. But he has lost his dear
companions and his hollow ship on the wine-dark sea, on his
way from the isle Thrinacia: for Zeus and Helios had a
grudge against him, because his company had slain the kine
of Helios. They for their part all perished in the wash of
the sea, but the wave cast him on the keel of the ship out
upon the coast, on the land of the Phaeacians that are near
of kin to the gods, and they did him all honour heartily as
unto a god, and gave him many gifts, and themselves would
fain have sent him scathless home. Yea and Odysseus would
have been here long since, but he thought it more
profitable to gather wealth, as he journeyed over wide
lands; so truly is Odysseus skilled in gainful arts above
all men upon earth, nor may any mortal men contend with
him. So Pheidon king of the Thesprotians told me. Moreover
he sware, in mine own presence, as he poured the
drink-offering in his house, that the ship was drawn down
to the sea and his company were ready, who were to convey
him to his own dear country. But me he first sent off, for
it chanced that a ship of the Thesprotians was on her way
to Dulichium, a land rich in grain. And he showed me all
the wealth that Odysseus had gathered, yea it would suffice
for his children after him, even to the tenth generation,
so great were the treasures he had stored in the chambers
of the king. As for him he had gone, he said, to Dodona to
hear the counsel of Zeus, from the high leafy oak tree of
the god, how he should return to his own dear country,
having now been long afar, whether openly or by stealth.

'In this wise, as I tell thee, he is safe and will come
shortly, and very near he is and will not much longer be
far from his friends and his own country; yet withal I will
give thee my oath on it. Zeus be my witness first, of gods
the highest and best, and the hearth of noble Odysseus
whereunto I am come, that all these things shall surely be
accomplished even as I tell thee. In this same year
Odysseus shall come hither, as the old moon wanes and the
new is born.'

Then wise Penelope answered him: 'Ah! stranger, would that
this word may be accomplished. Soon shouldst thou be aware
of kindness and many a gift at my hands, so that whoso met
with thee would call thee blessed. But on this wise my
heart has a boding, and so it shall be. Neither shall
Odysseus come home any more, nor shalt thou gain an escort
hence, since there are not now such masters in the house as
Odysseus was among men,--if ever such an one there was,--
to welcome guests revered and speed them on their way. But
do ye, my handmaids, wash this man's feet and strew a couch
for him, bedding and mantles and shining blankets, that
well and warmly he may come to the time of golden-throned
Dawn. And very early in the morning bathe him and anoint
him, that within the house beside Telemachus he may eat
meat, sitting quietly in the hall. And it shall be the
worse for any hurtful man of the wooers, that vexes the
stranger, yea he shall not henceforth profit himself here,
for all his sore anger. For how shalt thou learn concerning
me, stranger, whether indeed I excel all women in wit and
thrifty device, if all unkempt and evil clad thou sittest
at supper in my halls? Man's life is brief enough! And if
any be a hard man and hard at heart, all men cry evil on
him for the time to come, while yet he lives, and all men
mock him when he is dead. But if any be a blameless man and
blameless of heart, his guests spread abroad his fame over
the whole earth and many people call him noble.'

Then Odysseus of many counsels answered her and said: 'O
wife revered of Odysseus, son of Laertes, mantles verily
and shining blankets are hateful to me, since first I left
behind me the snowy hills of Crete, voyaging in the
long-oared galley; nay, I will lie as in time past I was
used to rest through the sleepless nights. For full many a
night I have lain on an unsightly bed, and awaited the
bright throned Dawn. And baths for the feet are no longer
my delight, nor shall any women of those who are serving
maidens in thy house touch my foot, unless there chance to
be some old wife, true of heart, one that has borne as much
trouble as myself; I would not grudge such an one to touch
my feet.'

Then wise Penelope answered him: 'Dear stranger, for never
yet has there come to my house, of strangers from afar, a
dearer man or so discreet as thou, uttering so heedfully
the words of wisdom. I have an ancient woman of an
understanding heart, that diligently nursed and tended that
hapless man my lord, she took him in her arms in the hour
when his mother bare him. She will wash thy feet, albeit
her strength is frail. Up now, wise Eurycleia, and wash
this man, whose years are the same as thy master's. Yea and
perchance such even now are the feet of Odysseus, and such
too his hands, for quickly men age in misery.'

So she spake, and the old woman covered her face with her
hands and shed hot tears, and spake a word of lamentation,

'Ah, woe is me, child, for thy sake, all helpless that I
am! Surely Zeus hated thee above all men, though thou hadst
a god-fearing spirit! For never yet did any mortal burn so
many fat pieces of the thigh and so many choice hecatombs
to Zeus, whose joy is in the thunder, as thou didst give to
him, praying that so thou mightest grow to a smooth old age
and rear thy renowned son. But now from thee alone hath
Zeus wholly cut off the day of thy returning. Haply at him
too did the women mock in a strange land afar, whensoever
he came to the famous palace of any lord, even as here
these shameless ones all mock at thee. To shun their
insults and many taunts it is that thou sufferest them not
to wash thy feet, but the daughter of Icarius, wise
Penelope, hath bidden me that am right willing to this
task. Wherefore I will wash thy feet, both for Penelope's
sake and for thine own, for that my heart within me is
moved and troubled. But come, mark the word that I shall
speak. Many strangers travel-worn have ere now come hither,
but I say that I have never seen any so like another, as
thou art like Odysseus, in fashion in voice and in feet.'

Then Odysseus of many counsels answered her saying: 'Old
wife, even so all men declare, that have beheld us twain,
that we favour each other exceedingly, even as thou dost
mark and say.'

Thereupon the crone took the shining cauldron, wherefrom
{*} she set to wash his feet, and poured in much cold water
and next mingled therewith the warm. Now Odysseus sat aloof
from the hearth, and of a sudden he turned his face to the
darkness, for anon he had a misgiving of heart lest when
she handled him she might know the scar again, and all
should be revealed. Now she drew near her lord to wash him,
and straightway she knew the scar of the wound, that the
boar had dealt him with his white tusk long ago, when
Odysseus went to Parnassus to see Autolycus, and the sons
of Autolycus, his mother's noble father, who outdid all men
in thievery and skill in swearing. This skill was the gift
of the god himself, even Hermes, for that he burned to him
the well-pleasing sacrifice of the thighs of lambs and
kids; wherefore Hermes abetted him gladly. Now Autolycus
once had gone to the rich land of Ithaca, and found his
daughter's son a child new-born, and when he was making an
end of supper, behold, Eurycleia set the babe on his knees,
and spake and hailed him: 'Autolycus find now a name
thyself to give thy child's own son; for lo, he is a child
of many prayers.'

{* Reading [Greek]}

Then Autolycus made answer and spake: 'My daughter and my
daughter's lord, give ye him whatsoever name I tell you.
Forasmuch as I am come hither in wrath against many a one,
both man and woman, over the fruitful earth, wherefore let
the child's name be "a man of wrath," Odysseus. But when
the child reaches his full growth, and comes to the great
house of his mother's kin at Parnassus, whereby are my
possessions, I will give him a gift out of these and send
him on his way rejoicing.'

Therefore it was that Odysseus went to receive the splendid
gifts. And Autolycus and the sons of Autolycus grasped his
hands and greeted him with gentle words, and Amphithea, his
mother's mother, clasped him in her arms and kissed his
face and both his fair eyes. Then Autolycus called to his
renowned sons to get ready the meal, and they hearkened to
the call. So presently they led in a five-year-old bull,
which they flayed and busily prepared, and cut up all the
limbs and deftly chopped them small, and pierced them with
spits and roasted them cunningly, dividing the messes. So
for that livelong day they feasted till the going down of
the sun, and their soul lacked not ought of the equal
banquet. But when the sun sank and darkness came on, they
laid them to rest and took the boon of sleep.

Now so soon as early Dawn shone forth, the rosy-fingered,
they all went forth to the chase, the hounds and the sons
of Autolycus, and with them went the goodly Odysseus. So
they fared up the steep hill of wood-clad Parnassus, and
quickly they came to the windy hollows. Now the sun was but
just striking on the fields, and was come forth from the
soft flowing stream of deep Oceanus. Then the beaters
reached a glade of the woodland, and before them went the
hounds tracking a scent, but behind came the sons of
Autolycus, and among them goodly Odysseus followed close on
the hounds, swaying a long spear. Thereby in a thick lair
was a great boar lying, and through the coppice the force
of the wet winds blew never, neither did the bright sun
light on it with his rays, nor could the rain pierce
through, so thick it was, and of fallen leaves there was
great plenty therein. Then the tramp of the men's feet and
of the dogs' came upon the boar, as they pressed on in the
chase, and forth from his lair he sprang towards them with
crest well bristled and fire shining in his eyes, and stood
at bay before them all. Then Odysseus was the first to rush
in, holding his spear aloft in his strong hand, most eager
to stab him; but the boar was too quick and drave a gash
above the knee, ripping deep into the flesh with his tusk
as he charged sideways, but he reached not to the bone of
the man. Then Odysseus aimed well and smote him on his
right shoulder, so that the point of the bright spear went
clean through, and the boar fell in the dust with a cry,
and his life passed from him. Then the dear sons of
Autolycus began to busy them with the carcase, and as for
the wound of the noble godlike Odysseus, they bound it up
skilfully, and stayed the black blood with a song of
healing, and straight-way returned to the house of their
dear father. Then Autolycus and the sons of Autolycus got
him well healed of his hurt, and gave him splendid gifts,
and quickly sent him with all love to Ithaca, gladly
speeding a glad guest. There his father and lady mother
were glad of his returning, and asked him of all his
adventures, and of his wound how he came by it, and duly he
told them all, namely how the boar gashed him with his
white tusk in the chase, when he had gone to Parnassus with
the sons of Autolycus.

Now the old woman took the scarred limb and passed her
hands down it, and knew it by the touch and let the foot
drop suddenly, so that the knee fell into the bath, and the
brazen vessel rang, being turned over on the other side,
and behold, the water was spilled on the ground. Then joy
and anguish came on her in one moment, and both her eyes
filled up with tears, and the voice of her utterance was
stayed, and touching the chin of Odysseus she spake to him,

'Yea verily, thou art Odysseus, my dear child, and I knew
thee not before, till I had handled all the body of my

Therewithal she looked towards Penelope, as minded to make
a sign that her husband was now home. But Penelope could
not meet her eyes nor take note of her, for Athene had bent
her thoughts to other things. But Odysseus feeling for the
old woman's throat gript it with his right hand and with
the other drew her closer to him and spake, saying:

'Woman, why wouldest thou indeed destroy me? It was thou
that didst nurse me there at thine own breast, and now
after travail and much pain I am come in the twentieth year
to mine own country. But since thou art ware of me, and the
god has put this in thy heart, be silent, lest another
learn the matter in the halls. For on this wise I will
declare it, and it shall surely be accomplished:--if the
gods subdue the lordly wooers unto me, I will not hold my
hand from thee, my nurse though thou art, when I slay the
other handmaids in my halls.'

Then wise Eurycleia answered, saying: 'My child, what word
hath escaped the door of thy lips? Thou knowest how firm is
my spirit and unyielding, and I will keep me fast as
stubborn stone or iron. Yet another thing will I tell thee,
and do thou ponder it in thine heart. If the gods subdue
the lordly wooers to thy hand, then will I tell thee all
the tale of the women in the halls, which of them dishonour
thee and which be guiltless.'

Then Odysseus of many counsels answered her saying: 'Nurse,
wherefore I pray thee wilt thou speak of these? Thou
needest not, for even I myself will mark them well and take
knowledge of each. Nay, do thou keep thy saying to thyself,
and leave the rest to the gods.'

Even so he spake, and the old woman passed forth from the
hall to bring water for his feet, for that first water was
all spilled. So when she had washed him and anointed him
well with olive-oil, Odysseus again drew up his settle
nearer to the fire to warm himself, and covered up the scar
with his rags. Then the wise Penelope spake first, saying:

'Stranger, there is yet a little thing I will make bold to
ask thee, for soon will it be the hour for pleasant rest,
for him on whomsoever sweet sleep falls, though he be heavy
with care. But to me has the god given sorrow, yea sorrow
measureless, for all the day I have my fill of wailing and
lamenting, as I look to mine own housewiferies and to the
tasks of the maidens in the house. But when night comes and
sleep takes hold of all, I lie on my couch, and shrewd
cares, thick thronging about my inmost heart, disquiet me
in my sorrowing. Even as when the daughter of Pandareus,
the nightingale of the greenwood, sings sweet in the first
season of the spring, from her place in the thick leafage
of the trees, and with many a turn and trill she pours
forth her full-voiced music bewailing her child, dear
Itylus, whom on a time she slew with the sword unwitting,
Itylus the son of Zethus the prince; even as her song, my
troubled soul sways to and fro. Shall I abide with my son,
and keep all secure, all the things of my getting, my
thralls and great high-roofed home, having respect unto the
bed of my lord and the voice of the people, or even now
follow with the best of the Achaeans that woos me in the
halls, and gives a bride-price beyond reckoning? Now my
son, so long as he was a child and light of heart, suffered
me not to marry and leave the house of my husband; but now
that he is great of growth, and is come to the full measure
of manhood, lo now he prays me to go back home from these
walls, being vexed for his possessions that the Achaeans
devour before his eyes. But come now, hear a dream of mine
and tell me the interpretation thereof. Twenty geese I have
in the house, that eat wheat, coming forth from the water,
and I am gladdened at the sight. Now a great eagle of
crooked beak swooped from the mountain, and brake all their
necks and slew them; and they lay strewn in a heap in the
halls, while he was borne aloft to the bright air. Thereon
I wept and wailed, in a dream though it was, and around me
were gathered the fair-tressed Achaean women as I made
piteous lament, for that the eagle had slain my geese. But
he came back and sat him down on a jutting point of the
roof-beam, and with the voice of a man he spake, and stayed
my weeping:

'"Take heart, O daughter of renowned Icarius; this is no
dream but a true vision, that shall be accomplished for
thee. The geese are the wooers, and I that before was the
eagle am now thy husband come again, who will let slip
unsightly death upon all the wooers." With that word sweet
slumber let me go, and I looked about, and beheld the geese
in the court pecking their wheat at the trough, where they
were wont before.'

Then Odysseus of many counsels answered her and said:
'Lady, none may turn aside the dream to interpret it
otherwise, seeing that Odysseus himself hath showed thee
how he will fulfil it. For the wooers destruction is
clearly boded, for all and every one; not a man shall avoid
death and the fates.'

Then wise Penelope answered him: 'Stranger, verily dreams
are hard, and hard to be discerned; nor are all things
therein fulfilled for men. Twain are the gates of shadowy
dreams, the one is fashioned of horn and one of ivory. Such
dreams as pass through the portals of sawn ivory are
deceitful, and bear tidings that are unfulfilled. But the
dreams that come forth through the gates of polished horn
bring a true issue, whosoever of mortals beholds them. Yet
methinks my strange dream came not thence; of a truth that
would be most welcome to me and to my son. But another
thing will I tell thee, and do thou ponder it in thy heart.
Lo, even now draws nigh the morn of evil name, that is to
sever me from the house of Odysseus, for now I am about to
ordain for a trial those axes that he would set up in a row
in his halls, like stays of oak in ship-building, twelve in
all, and he would stand far apart and shoot his arrow
through them all. And now I will offer this contest to the
wooers; whoso shall most easily string the bow in his
hands, and shoot through all twelve axes, with him will I
go and forsake this house, this house of my wedlock, so
fair and filled with all livelihood, which methinks I shall
yet remember, aye, in a dream.'

Then Odysseus of many counsels answered her and said: 'Wife
revered of Odysseus son of Laertes, no longer delay this
contest in thy halls; for, lo, Odysseus of many counsels
will be here, before these men, for all their handling of
this polished bow, shall have strung it, and shot the arrow
through the iron.'

Then the wise Penelope answered him: 'Stranger, if only
thou wert willing still to sit beside me in the halls and
to delight me, not upon my eyelids would sleep be shed. But
men may in no wise abide sleepless ever, for the immortals
have made a time for all things for mortals on the
grain-giving earth. Howbeit I will go aloft to my upper
chamber, and lay me on my bed, the place of my groanings,
that is ever watered by my tears, since the day that
Odysseus went to see that evil Ilios, never to be named.
There will I lay me down, but do thou lie in this house;
either strew thee somewhat on the floor, or let them lay
bedding for thee.'

Therewith she ascended to her shining upper chamber, not
alone, for with her likewise went her handmaids. So she
went aloft to her upper chamber with the women her
handmaids, and there was bewailing Odysseus, her dear lord,
till grey-eyed Athene cast sweet sleep upon her eyelids.