Book IV

Telemachus' entertainment at Sparta, where Menelaus tells
him what befell many of the Greeks on their return; that
Odysseus was with Calypso in the isle Ogygia, as he was
told by Proteus.

And they came to Lacedaemon lying low among the caverned
hills, and drave to the dwelling of renowned Menelaus. Him
they found giving a feast in his house to many friends of
his kin, a feast for the wedding of his noble son and
daughter. His daughter he was sending to the son of
Achilles, cleaver of the ranks of men, for in Troy he first
had promised and covenanted to give her, and now the gods
were bringing about their marriage. So now he was speeding
her on her way with chariot and horses, to the famous city
of the Myrmidons, among whom her lord bare rule. And for
his son he was bringing to his home the daughter of Alector
out of Sparta, for his well-beloved son, strong
Megapenthes, {*} born of a slave woman, for the gods no
more showed promise of seed to Helen, from the day that she
bare a lovely child, Hermione, as fair as golden Aphrodite.
So they were feasting through the great vaulted hall, the
neighbours and the kinsmen of renowned Menelaus, making
merry; and among them a divine minstrel was singing to the
lyre, and as he began the song two tumblers in the company
whirled through the midst of them.

{* A son of sorrow: Tristram.}

Meanwhile those twain, the hero Telemachus and the splendid
son of Nestor, made halt at the entry of the gate, they and
their horses. And the lord Eteoneus came forth and saw
them, the ready squire of renowned Menelaus; and he went
through the palace to bear the tidings to the shepherd of
the people, and standing near spake to him winged words:

'Menelaus, fosterling of Zeus, here are two strangers,
whosoever they be, two men like to the lineage of great
Zeus. Say, shall we loose their swift horses from under the
yoke, or send them onward to some other host who shall
receive them kindly?'

Then in sore displeasure spake to him Menelaus of the fair
hair: 'Eteoneus son of Boethous, truly thou wert not a fool
aforetime, but now for this once, like a child thou talkest
folly. Surely ourselves ate much hospitable cheer of other
men, ere we twain came hither, even if in time to come Zeus
haply give us rest from affliction. Nay go, unyoke the
horses of the strangers, and as for the men, lead them
forward to the house to feast with us.'

So spake he, and Eteoneus hasted from the hall, and called
the other ready squires to follow with him. So they loosed
the sweating horses from beneath the yoke, and fastened
them at the stalls of the horses, and threw beside them
spelt, and therewith mixed white barley, and tilted the
chariot against the shining faces of the gateway, and led
the men into the hall divine. And they beheld and marvelled
as they gazed throughout the palace of the king, the
fosterling of Zeus; for there was a gleam as it were of sun
or moon through the lofty palace of renowned Menelaus. But
after they had gazed their fill, they went to the polished
baths and bathed them. Now when the maidens had bathed them
and anointed them with olive oil, and cast about them thick
cloaks and doublets, they sat on chairs by Menelaus, son of
Atreus. 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 their side she drew a polished table,
and a grave dame bare food and set it by them, and laid
upon the board many dainties, giving freely of such things
as she had by her, and a carver lifted and placed by them
platters of divers kinds of flesh, and nigh them he set
golden bowls. So Menelaus of the fair hair greeted the
twain and spake:

'Taste ye food and be glad, and thereafter when ye have
supped, we will ask what men ye are; for the blood of your
parents is not lost in you, but ye are of the line of men
that are sceptred kings, the fosterlings of Zeus; for no
churls could beget sons like you.'

So spake he, and took and set before them the fat ox-chine
roasted, which they had given him as his own mess by way of
honour. And they stretched forth their hands upon the good
cheer set before them. Now when they had put from them the
desire of meat and drink Telemachus spake to the son of
Nestor, holding his head close to him, that those others
might not hear:

'Son of Nestor, delight of my heart, mark the flashing of
bronze through the echoing halls, and the flashing of gold
and of amber and of silver and of ivory. Such like,
methinks, is the court of Olympian Zeus within, for the
world of things that are here; wonder comes over me as I
look thereon.'

And as he spake Menelaus of the fair hair was ware of him,
and uttering his voice spake to them winged words:

'Children dear, of a truth no one of mortal men may contend
with Zeus, for his mansions and his treasures are
everlasting: but of men there may be who will vie with me
in treasure, or there may be none. Yea, for after many a
woe and wanderings manifold, I brought my wealth home in
ships, and in the eighth year came hither. I roamed over
Cyprus and Phoenicia and Egypt, and reached the Aethiopians
and Sidonians and Erembi and Libya, where lambs are horned
from the birth. For there the ewes yean thrice within the
full circle of a year; there neither lord nor shepherd
lacketh aught of cheese or flesh or of sweet milk, but ever
the flocks yield store of milk continual. While I was yet
roaming in those lands, gathering much livelihood, meantime
another slew my brother privily, at unawares, by the guile
of his accursed wife. Thus, look you, I have no joy of my
lordship among these my possessions: and ye are like to
have heard hereof from your fathers, whosoever they be, for
I have suffered much and let a house go to ruin that was
stablished fair, and had in it much choice substance. I
would that I had but a third part of those my riches, and
dwelt in my halls, and that those men were yet safe, who
perished of old in the wide land of Troy, far from Argos,
the pastureland of horses. Howbeit, though I bewail them
all and sorrow oftentimes as I sit in our halls,--awhile
indeed I satisfy my soul with lamentation, and then again I
cease; for soon hath man enough of chill lamentation--yet
for them all I make no such dole, despite my grief, as for
one only, who causes me to loathe both sleep and meat, when
I think upon him. For no one of the Achaeans toiled so
greatly as Odysseus toiled and adventured himself: but to
him it was to be but labour and trouble, and to me grief
ever comfortless for his sake, so long he is afar, nor know
we aught, whether he be alive or dead. Yea methinks they
lament him, even that old Laertes and the constant Penelope
and Telemachus, whom he left a child new-born in his

So spake he, and in the heart of Telemachus he stirred a
yearning to lament his father; and at his father's name he
let a tear fall from his eyelids to the ground, and held up
his purple mantle with both his hands before his eyes. And
Menelaus marked him and mused in his mind and his heart
whether he should leave him to speak of his father, or
first question him and prove him in every word.

While yet he pondered these things in his mind and in his
heart, Helen came forth from her fragrant vaulted chamber,
like Artemis of the golden arrows; and with her came
Adraste and set for her the well-wrought chair, and Alcippe
bare a rug of soft wool, and Phylo bare a silver basket
which Alcandre gave her, the wife of Polybus, who dwelt in
Thebes of Egypt, where is the chiefest store of wealth in
the houses. He gave two silver baths to Menelaus, and
tripods twain, ad ten talents of gold. And besides all
this, his wife bestowed on Helen lovely gifts; a golden
distaff did she give, and a silver basket with wheels
beneath, and the rims thereof were finished with gold. This
it was that the handmaid Phylo bare and set beside her,
filled with dressed yarn, and across it was laid a distaff
charged with wool of violet blue. So Helen sat her down in
the chair, and beneath was a footstool for the feet. And
anon she spake to her lord and questioned him of each

'Menelaus, fosterling of Zeus, know we now who these men
avow themselves to be that have come under our roof? Shall
I dissemble or shall I speak the truth? Nay, I am minded to
tell it. None, I say, have I ever yet seen so like another,
man or woman--wonder comes over me as I look on him--as
this man is like the son of great-hearted Odysseus,
Telemachus, whom he left a new born child in his house,
when for the sake of me, shameless woman that I was, ye
Achaeans came up under Troy with bold war in your hearts.'

And Menelaus of the fair hair answered her, saying: 'Now I
too, lady, mark the likeness even as thou tracest it. For
such as these were his feet, such his hands, and the
glances of his eyes, and his head, and his hair withal.
Yea, and even now I was speaking of Odysseus, as I
remembered him, of all his woeful travail for my sake;
when, lo, he let fall a bitter tear beneath his brows, and
held his purple cloak up before his eyes.'

And Peisistratus, son of Nestor, answered him, saying:
'Menelaus, son of Atreus, fosterling of Zeus, leader of the
host, assuredly this is the son of that very man, even as
thou sayest. But he is of a sober wit, and thinketh it
shame in his heart as on this his first coming to make show
of presumptuous words in the presence of thee, in whose
voice we twain delight as in the voice of a god. Now Nestor
of Gerenia, lord of chariots, sent me forth to be his guide
on the way: for he desired to see thee that thou mightest
put into his heart some word or work. For a son hath many
griefs in his halls when his father is away, if perchance
he hath none to stand by him. Even so it is now with
Telemachus; his father is away, nor hath he others in the
township to defend him from distress.'

And Menelaus of the fair hair answered him, and said: 'Lo
now, in good truth there has come unto my house the son of
a friend indeed, who for my sake endured many adventures.
And I thought to welcome him on his coming more nobly than
all the other Argives, if but Olympian Zeus, of the
far-borne voice, had vouchsafed us a return over the sea in
our swift ships,--that such a thing should be. And in Argos
I would have given him a city to dwell in, and stablished
for him a house, and brought him forth from Ithaca with his
substance and his son and all his people, making one city
desolate of those that lie around, and are in mine own
domain. Then ofttimes would we have held converse here, and
nought would have parted us, the welcoming and the
welcomed, {*} ere the black cloud of death overshadowed us.
Howsoever, the god himself, methinks, must have been
jealous hereof, who from that hapless man alone cut off his

{* Mr. Evelyn Abbott of Balliol College has suggested to us
that [Greek] and [Greek] are here correlatives, and denote
respectively the parts of host and of guest. This is
sufficiently borne out by the usage of the words

So spake he, and in the hearts of all he stirred the desire
of lamentation. She wept, even Argive Helen the daughter of
Zeus, and Telemachus wept, and Menelaus the son of Atreus;
nay, nor did the son of Nestor keep tearless eyes. For he
bethought him in his heart of noble Antilochus, whom the
glorious son of the bright Dawn had slain. Thinking upon
him he spake winged words:

'Son of Atreus, the ancient Nestor in his own halls was
ever wont to say that thou wert wise beyond man's wisdom,
whensoever we made mention of thee and asked one another
concerning thee. And now, if it be possible, be persuaded
by me, who for one have no pleasure in weeping at supper
time--the new-born day will right soon be upon us. {*} Not
indeed that I deem it blame at all to weep for any mortal
who hath died and met his fate. Lo, this is now the only
due we pay to miserable men, to cut the hair and let the
tear fall from the cheek. For I too have a brother dead,
nowise the meanest of the Argives, and thou art like to
have known him, for as for me I never encountered him,
never beheld him. But men say that Antilochus outdid all,
being excellent in speed of foot and in the fight.'

{* Cf. B. xv.50}

And Menelaus of the fair hair answered him, and said: 'My
friend, lo, thou hast said all that a wise man might say or
do, yea, and an elder than thou;--for from such a sire too
thou art sprung, wherefore thou dost even speak wisely.
Right easily known is that man's seed, for whom Cronion
weaves the skein of luck at bridal and at birth: even as
now hath he granted prosperity to Nestor for ever for all
his days, that he himself should grow into a smooth old age
in his halls, and his sons moreover should be wise and the
best of spearsmen. But we will cease now the weeping which
was erewhile made, and let us once more bethink us of our
supper, and let them pour water over our hands. And again
in the morning there will be tales for Telemachus and me to
tell one to the other, even to the end.'

So spake he, and Asphalion poured water over their hands,
the ready squire of renowned Menelaus. And they put forth
their hands upon the good cheer spread before them.

Then Helen, daughter of Zeus, turned to new thoughts.
Presently she cast a drug into the wine whereof they drank,
a drug to lull all pain and anger, and bring forgetfulness
of every sorrow. Whoso should drink a draught thereof, when
it is mingled in the bowl, on that day he would let no tear
fall down his cheeks, not though his mother and his father
died, not though men slew his brother or dear son with the
sword before his face, and his own eyes beheld it.
Medicines of such virtue and so helpful had the daughter of
Zeus, which Polydamna, the wife of Thon, had given her, a
woman of Egypt, where earth the grain-giver yields herbs in
greatest plenty, many that are healing in the cup, and many
baneful. There each man is a leech skilled beyond all human
kind; yea, for they are of the race of Paeeon. Now after
she had cast in the drug and bidden pour forth of the wine,
she made answer once again, and spake unto her lord:

'Son of Atreus, Menelaus, fosterling of Zeus, and lo, ye
sons of noble men, forasmuch as now to one and now to
another Zeus gives good and evil, for to him all things are
possible,--now, verily, sit ye down and feast in the halls,
and take ye joy in the telling of tales, and I will tell
you one that fits the time. Now all of them I could not
tell or number, so many as were the adventures of Odysseus
of the hardy heart; but, ah, what a deed was this he
wrought and dared in his hardiness in the land of the
Trojans, where ye Achaeans suffered affliction. He subdued
his body with unseemly stripes, and a sorry covering he
cast about his shoulders, and in the fashion of a servant
he went down into the wide-wayed city of the foemen, and he
hid himself in the guise of another, a beggar, though in no
wise such an one was he at the ships of the Achaeans. In
this semblance he passed into the city of the Trojans, and
they wist not who he was, and I alone knew him in that
guise, and I kept questioning him, but in his subtlety he
avoided me. But when at last I was about washing him and
anointing him with olive oil, and had put on him raiment,
and sworn a great oath not to reveal Odysseus amid the
Trojans, ere he reached the swift ships and the huts, even
then he told me all the purpose of the Achaeans. And after
slaying many of the Trojans with the long sword, he
returned to the Argives and brought back word again of all.
Then the other Trojan women wept aloud, but my soul was
glad, for already my heart was turned to go back again even
to my home: and now at the last I groaned for the blindness
that Aphrodite gave me, when she led me thither away from
mine own country, forsaking my child and my bridal chamber
and my lord, that lacked not aught whether for wisdom or
yet for beauty.'

And Menelaus of the fair hair answered her, saying: 'Verily
all this tale, lady, thou hast duly told. Ere now have I
learned the counsel and the thought of many heroes, and
travelled over many a land, but never yet have mine eyes
beheld any such man of heart as was Odysseus; such another
deed as he wrought and dared in his hardiness even in the
shapen horse, wherein sat all we chiefs of the Argives,
bearing to the Trojans death and doom. Anon thou camest
thither, and sure some god must have bidden thee, who
wished to bring glory to the Trojans. Yea and godlike
Deiphobus went with thee on thy way. Thrice thou didst go
round about the hollow ambush and handle it, calling aloud
on the chiefs of the Argives by name, and making thy voice
like the voices of the wives of all the Argives. Now I and
the son of Tydeus and goodly Odysseus sat in the midst and
heard thy call; and verily we twain had a desire to start
up and come forth or presently to answer from within; but
Odysseus stayed and held us there, despite our eagerness.
Then all the other sons of the Achaeans held their peace,
but Anticlus alone was still minded to answer thee. Howbeit
Odysseus firmly closed his mouth with strong hands, and so
saved all the Achaeans, and held him until such time as
Pallas Athene led thee back.'

Then wise Telemachus answered him, and said: 'Menelaus, son
of Atreus, fosterling of Zeus, leader of the host, all the
more grievous it is! for in no way did this courage ward
from him pitiful destruction, not though his heart within
him had been very iron. But come, bid us to bed, that
forthwith we may take our joy of rest beneath the spell of

So spake he, and Argive Helen bade her handmaids set out
bedsteads beneath the gallery, and fling on them fair
purple blankets 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, and spread the beds, and the
henchman led forth the guests. Thus they slept there in the
vestibule of the house, the hero Telemachus and the
splendid son of Nestor. But the son of Atreus slept, as his
custom was, in the inmost chamber of the lofty house, and
by him lay long-robed Helen, that fair lady.

Soon as early Dawn shone forth, the rosy-fingered, Menelaus
of the loud war-shout gat him up from his bed and put on
his raiment, and cast his sharp sword about his shoulder,
and beneath his smooth feet bound his goodly sandals, and
stept forth from his chamber, in presence like a god, and
sat by Telemachus, and spake and hailed him:

'To what end hath thy need brought thee hither, hero
Telemachus, unto fair Lacedaemon, over the broad back of
the sea? Is it a matter of the common weal or of thine own?
Herein tell me the plain truth.'

Then wise Telemachus answered him, and said: 'Menelaus, son
of Atreus, fosterling of Zeus, leader of the host, I have
come if perchance thou mayest tell me some tidings of my
father. My dwelling is being devoured and my fat lands are
ruined, and of unfriendly men my house is full,--who
slaughter continually my thronging flocks, and my kine with
trailing feet and shambling gait,--none other than the
wooers of my mother, despiteful out of measure. So now am I
come hither to thy knees, if haply thou art willing to tell
me of his pitiful death, as one that saw it perchance with
thine own eyes, or heard the story from some other
wanderer; for his mother bare him to exceeding sorrow. And
speak me no soft words in ruth or pity, but tell me plainly
how thou didst get sight of him. Ah, I pray thee, if ever
at all my father, good Odysseus, made promise to thee of
word or work and fulfilled the same in the land of the
Trojans, where ye Achaeans suffered affliction, these
things, I pray thee, now remember and tell me truth.'

Then in heavy displeasure spake to him Menelaus of the fair
hair: 'Out upon them, for truly in the bed of a
brave-hearted man were they minded to lie, very cravens as
they are! Even as when a hind hath couched her newborn
fawns unweaned in a strong lion's lair, and searcheth out
the mountain knees and grassy hollows, seeking pasture, and
afterward the lion cometh back to his bed, and sendeth
forth unsightly death upon that pair, even so shall
Odysseus send forth unsightly death upon the wooers. Would
to our father Zeus and Athene and Apollo, would that in
such might as when of old in stablished Lesbos he rose up
and wrestled a match with Philomeleides and threw him
mightily, and all the Achaeans rejoiced; would that in such
strength Odysseus might consort with the wooers: then
should they all have swift fate, and bitter wedlock! But
for that whereof thou askest and entreatest me, be sure I
will not swerve from the truth in aught that I say, nor
deceive thee; but of all that the ancient one of the sea,
whose speech is sooth, declared to me, not a word will I
hide or keep from thee.

'In the river Aegyptus, {*} though eager I was to press
onward home, the gods they stayed me, for that I had not
offered them the acceptable sacrifice of hecatombs, and the
gods ever desired that men should be mindful of their
commandments. Now there is an island in the wash of the
waves over against Aegyptus, and men call it Pharos, within
one day's voyage of a hollow ship, when shrill winds blow
fair in her wake. And therein is a good haven, whence men
launch the gallant ships into the deep when they have drawn
a store of deep black water. There the gods held me twenty
days, nor did the sea-winds ever show their breath, they
that serve to waft ships over the broad back of the sea.
And now would all our corn have been spent, and likewise
the strength of the men, except some goddess had taken pity
on me and saved me, Eidothee, daughter of mighty Proteus,
the ancient one of the sea. For most of all I moved her
heart, when she met me wandering alone apart from my
company, who were ever roaming round the isle, fishing with
bent hooks, for hunger was gnawing at their belly. So she
stood by, and spake and uttered her voice saying:

{* The only name for the Nile in Homer. Cf. Wilkinson,
Ancient Egyptians (1878), vol. i. p. 7.}

'"Art thou so very foolish, stranger, and feeble-witted, or
art thou wilfully remiss, and hast pleasure in suffering?
So long time art thou holden in the isle and canst find no
issue therefrom, while the heart of thy company faileth
within them?"

'Even so she spake, and I answered her saying: "I will
speak forth, what goddess soever thou art, and tell thee
that in no wise am I holden here by mine own will, but it
needs must be that I have sinned against the deathless
gods, who keep the wide heaven. Howbeit, do thou tell
me--for the gods know all things--which of the immortals it
is that binds me here and hath hindered me from my way, and
declare as touching my returning how I may go over the
teeming deep."

'So I spake, and straightway the fair goddess made answer:
"Yea now, sir, I will plainly tell thee all. Hither
resorteth that ancient one of the sea, whose speech is
sooth, the deathless Egyptian Proteus, who knows the depths
of every sea, and is the thrall of Poseidon, and who, they
say, is my father that begat me. If thou couldst but lay an
ambush and catch him, he will surely declare to thee the
way and the measure of thy path, and will tell thee of thy
returning, how thou mayest go over the teeming deep. Yea,
and he will show thee, O fosterling of Zeus, if thou wilt,
what good thing and what evil hath been wrought in thy
halls, whilst thou has been faring this long and grievous

'So she spake, but I answered and said unto her: "Devise
now thyself the ambush to take this ancient one divine,
lest by any chance he see me first, or know of my coming,
and avoid me. For a god is hard for mortal man to quell."

'So spake I, and straightway the fair goddess made answer:
"Yea now, sir, I will plainly tell thee all. So often as
the sun in his course stands high in mid heaven, then forth
from the brine comes the ancient one of the sea, whose
speech is sooth, before the breath of the West Wind he
comes, and the sea's dark ripple covers him. And when he is
got forth, he lies down to sleep in the hollow of the
caves. And around him the seals, the brood of the fair
daughter of the brine, sleep all in a flock, stolen forth
from the grey sea water, and bitter is the scent they
breathe of the deeps of the salt sea. There will I lead
thee at the breaking of the day, and couch you all orderly;
so do thou choose diligently three of thy company, the best
thou hast in thy decked ships. And I will tell thee all the
magic arts of that old man. First, he will number the seals
and go over them; but when he has told their tale and
beheld them, he will lay him down in the midst, as a
shepherd mid the sheep of his flock. So soon as ever ye
shall see him couched, even then mind you of your might and
strength, and hold him there, despite his eagerness and
striving to be free. And he will make assay, and take all
manner of shapes of things that creep upon the earth, of
water likewise, and of fierce fire burning. But do ye grasp
him steadfastly and press him yet the more, and at length
when he questions thee in his proper shape, as he was when
first ye saw him laid to rest, then, hero, hold thy strong
hands, and let the ancient one go free, and ask him which
of the gods is hard upon thee, and as touching thy
returning, how thou mayest go over the teeming deep."

'Therewith she dived beneath the heaving sea, but I betook
me to the ships where they stood in the sand, and my heart
was darkly troubled as I went. But after I had come down to
the ship and to the sea, and we had made ready our supper
and immortal night had come on, then did we lay us to rest
upon the sea-beach. So soon as early Dawn shone forth, the
rosy fingered, in that hour I walked by the shore of the
wide-wayed sea, praying instantly to the gods; and I took
with me three of my company, in whom I trusted most for
every enterprise.

'Meanwhile, so it was that she had plunged into the broad
bosom of the sea, and had brought from the deep the skins
of four sea-calves, and all were newly flayed, for she was
minded to lay a snare for her father. She scooped lairs on
the sea-sand, and sat awaiting us, and we drew very nigh
her, and she made us all lie down in order, and cast a skin
over each. There would our ambush have been most terrible,
for the deadly stench of the sea bred seals distressed us
sore: nay, who would lay him down by a beast of the sea?
But herself she wrought deliverance, and devised a great
comfort. She took ambrosia of a very sweet savour, and set
it beneath each man's nostril, and did away with the stench
of the beast. So all the morning we waited with steadfast
heart, and the seals came forth in troops from the brine,
and then they couched them all orderly by the sea-beach.
And at high day the ancient one came forth from out of the
brine, and found his fatted seals, yea and he went along
their line and told their tale; and first among the
sea-beasts he reckoned us, and guessed not that there was
guile, and afterward he too laid him down. Then we rushed
upon him with a cry, and cast our hands about him, nor did
that ancient one forget his cunning. Now behold, at the
first he turned into a bearded lion, and thereafter into a
snake, and a pard, and a huge boar; then he took the shape
of running water, and of a tall and flowering tree. We the
while held him close with steadfast heart. But when now
that ancient one of the magic arts was aweary, then at last
he questioned me and spake unto me, saying:

'"Which of the gods was it, son of Atreus, that aided thee
with his counsel, that thou mightest waylay and take me
perforce? What wouldest thou thereby?"

'Even so he spake, but I answered him saying; "Old man,
thou knowest all, wherefore dost thou question me thereof
with crooked words? For lo, I am holden long time in this
isle, neither can I find any issue therefrom, and my heart
faileth within me. Howbeit do thou tell me--for the gods
know all things--which of the immortals it is that bindeth
me here, and hath hindered me from my way; and declare as
touching my returning, how I may go over the teeming deep."

'Even so I spake, and he straightway answered me, saying:
"Nay, surely thou shouldest have done goodly sacrifice to
Zeus and the other gods ere thine embarking, that with most
speed thou mightst reach thy country, sailing over the
wine-dark deep. For it is not thy fate to see thy friends,
and come to thy stablished house and thine own country,
till thou hast passed yet again within the waters of
Aegyptus, the heaven-fed stream, and offered holy hecatombs
to the deathless gods who keep the wide heaven. So shall
the gods grant thee the path which thou desirest."

'So spake he, but my spirit within me was broken, for that
he bade me again to go to Aegyptus over the misty deep, a
long and grievous way.

'Yet even so I answered him saying: "Old man, all this will
I do, according to thy word. But come, declare me this, and
tell it all plainly. Did all those Achaeans return safe
with their ships, all whom Nestor and I left as we went
from Troy, or perished any by a shameful death aboard his
own ship, or in the arms of his friends, after he had wound
up the clew of war?"

'So spake I, and anon he answered me, saying: "Son of
Atreus, why dost thou straitly question me hereof? Nay, it
is not for thy good to know or learn my thought; for I tell
thee thou shalt not long be tearless, when thou hast heard
it all aright. For many of these were taken, and many were
left; but two only of the leaders of the mail-coated
Achaeans perished in returning; as for the battle, thou
thyself wast there. And one methinks is yet alive, and is
holden on the wide deep. Aias in truth was smitten in the
midst of his ships of the long oars. Poseidon at first
brought him nigh to Gyrae, to the mighty rocks, and
delivered him from the sea. And so he would have fled his
doom, albeit hated by Athene, had he not let a proud word
fall in the fatal darkening of his heart. He said that in
the gods' despite he had escaped the great gulf of the sea;
and Poseidon heard his loud boasting, and presently caught
up his trident into his strong hands, and smote the rock
Gyraean and cleft it in twain. And the one part abode in
his place, but the other fell into the sea, the broken
piece whereon Aias sat at the first, when his heart was
darkened. And the rock bore him down into the vast and
heaving deep; so there he perished when he had drunk of the
salt sea water. But thy brother verily escaped the fates
and avoided them in his hollow ships, for queen Hera saved
him. But now when he was like soon to reach the steep mount
of Malea, lo, the storm wind snatched him away and bore him
over the teeming deep, making great moan, to the border of
the country whereof old Thyestes dwelt, but now Aegisthus
abode there, the son of Thyestes. But when thence too there
showed a good prospect of safe returning, and the gods
changed the wind to a fair gale, and they had reached home,
then verily did Agamemnon set foot with joy upon his
country's soil, and as he touched his own land he kissed
it, and many were the hot tears he let fall, for he saw his
land and was glad. And it was so that the watchman spied
him from his tower, the watchman whom crafty Aegisthus had
led and posted there, promising him for a reward two
talents of gold. Now he kept watch for the space of a year,
lest Agamemnon should pass by him when he looked not, and
mind him of his wild prowess. So he went to the house to
bear the tidings to the shepherd of the people. And
straightway Aegisthus contrived a cunning treason. He chose
out twenty of the best men in the township, and set an
ambush, and on the further side of the hall he commanded to
prepare a feast. Then with chariot and horses he went to
bid to the feast Agamemnon, shepherd of the people; but
caitiff thoughts were in his heart. He brought him up to
his house, all unwitting of his doom, and when he had
feasted him slew him, as one slayeth an ox at the stall.
And none of the company of Atreides that were of his
following were left, nor any of the men of Aegisthus, but
they were all killed in the halls."

'So spake he, and my spirit within me was broken, and I
wept as I sat upon the sand, nor was I minded any more to
live and see the light of the sun. But when I had taken my
fill of weeping and grovelling on the ground, then spake
the ancient one of the sea, whose speech is sooth:

'"No more, son of Atreus, hold this long weeping without
cease, for we shall find no help therein. Rather with all
haste make essay that so thou mayest come to thine own
country. For either thou shalt find Aegisthus yet alive, or
it may be Orestes was beforehand with thee and slew him; so
mayest thou chance upon his funeral feast."

'So he spake, and my heart and lordly soul again were
comforted for all my sorrow, and I uttered my voice and I
spake to him winged words:

'"Their fate I now know; but tell me of the third; who is
it that is yet living and holden on the wide deep, or
perchance is dead? and fain would I hear despite my

'So spake I, and straightway he answered, and said: "It is
the son of Laertes, whose dwelling is in Ithaca; and I saw
him in an island shedding big tears in the halls of the
nymph Calypso, who holds him there perforce; so he may not
come to his own country, for he has by him no ships with
oars, and no companions to send him on his way over the
broad back of the sea. But thou, Menelaus, son of Zeus, art
not ordained to die and meet thy fate in Argos, the
pasture-land of horses, but the deathless gods will convey
thee to the Elysian plain and the world's end, where is
Rhadamanthus of the fair hair, where life is easiest for
men. No snow is there, nor yet great storm, nor any rain;
but always ocean sendeth forth the breeze of the shrill
West to blow cool on men; yea, for thou hast Helen to wife,
and thereby they deem thee to be son of Zeus."

'So spake he, and plunged into the heaving sea; but I
betook me to the ships with my godlike company, and my
heart was darkly troubled as I went. Now after I had come
down to the ship and to the sea, and had made ready our
supper, and immortal night had come on, then did we lay us
to rest upon the sea-beach. So soon as early Dawn shone
forth, the rosy-fingered, first of all we drew down our
ships to the fair salt sea and placed the masts and the
sails in the gallant ships, and the crew too climbed on
board, and sat upon the benches and smote the grey sea
water with their oars. Then back I went to the waters of
Aegyptus, the heaven-fed stream, and there I moored the
ships and offered the acceptable sacrifice of hecatombs. So
when I had appeased the anger of the everlasting gods, I
piled a barrow to Agamemnon, that his fame might never be
quenched. So having fulfilled all, I set out for home, and
the deathless gods gave me a fair wind, and brought me
swiftly to mine own dear country. But lo, now tarry in my
halls till it shall be the eleventh day hence or the
twelfth. Then will I send thee with all honour on thy way,
and give thee splendid gifts, three horses and a polished
car; and moreover I will give thee a goodly chalice, that
thou mayest pour forth before the deathless gods, and be
mindful of me all the days of thy life.'

Then wise Telemachus answered him, saying: 'Son of Atreus,
nay, hold me not long time here. Yea even for a year would
I be content to sit by thee, and no desire for home or
parents would come upon me; for I take wondrous pleasure in
thy tales and talk. But already my company wearieth in fair
Pylos, and yet thou art keeping me long time here. And
whatsoever gift thou wouldest give me, let it be a thing to
treasure; but horses I will take none to Ithaca, but leave
them here to grace thine own house, for thou art lord of a
wide plain wherein is lotus great plenty, and therein is
spear-reed and wheat and rye, and white and spreading
barley. In Ithaca there are no wide courses, nor meadow
land at all. It is a pasture-land of goats, and more
pleasant in my sight than one that pastureth horses; for of
the isles that lie and lean upon the sea, none are fit for
the driving of horses, or rich in meadow land, and least of
all is Ithaca.'

So spake he, and Menelaus, of the loud war cry, smiled, and
caressed him with his hand, and spake and hailed him:

'Thou art of gentle blood, dear child, so gentle the words
thou speakest. Therefore I will make exchange of the
presents, as I may. Of the gifts, such as are treasures
stored in my house, I will give thee the goodliest and
greatest of price. I will give thee a mixing bowl
beautifully wrought; it is all of silver, and the lips
thereof are finished with gold, the work of Hephaestus; and
the hero Phaedimus, the king of the Sidonians, gave it me,
when his house sheltered me on my coming thither, and to
thee now would I give it.'

Even so they spake one to another, while the guests came to
the palace of the divine king. They drave their sheep, and
brought wine that maketh glad the heart of man: and their
wives with fair tire sent them wheaten bread. Thus were
these men preparing the feast in the halls.

But the wooers meantime were before the palace of Odysseus,
taking their pleasure in casting of weights and spears, on
a levelled place, as heretofore, in their insolence. And
Antinous and god-like Eurymachus were seated there, the
chief men of the wooers, who were far the most excellent of
all. And Noemon, son of Phromius, drew nigh to them and
spake unto Antinous and questioned him, saying:

'Antinous, know we at all, or know we not, when Telemachus
will return from sandy Pylos? He hath departed with a ship
of mine, and I have need thereof, to cross over into
spacious Elis, where I have twelve brood mares with hardy
mules unbroken at the teat; I would drive off one of these
and break him in.'

So spake he, and they were amazed, for they deemed not that
Telemachus had gone to Neleian Pylos, but that he was at
home somewhere in the fields, whether among the flocks, or
with the swineherd.

Then Antinous, son of Eupeithes, spake to him in turn:
'Tell me the plain truth; when did he go, and what noble
youths went with him? Were they chosen men of Ithaca or
hirelings and thralls of his own? He was in case to bring
even that about. And tell me this in good sooth, that I may
know for a surety: did he take thy black ship from thee
perforce against thy will? or didst thou give it him of
free will at his entreaty?

Then Noemon, son of Phromius, answered him saying: 'I gave
it him myself of free will. What can any man do, when such
an one, so bestead with care, begs a favour? it were hard
to deny the gift. The youths who next to us are noblest in
the land, even these have gone with him; and I marked their
leader on board ship, Mentor, or a god who in all things
resembled Mentor. But one matter I marvel at: I saw the
goodly Mentor here yesterday toward dawn, though already he
had embarked for Pylos.'

He spake and withal departed to his father's house. And the
proud spirits of these twain were angered, and they made
the wooers sit down together and cease from their games.
And among them spake Antinous, son of Eupeithes, in
displeasure; and his black heart was wholly filled with
rage, and his eyes were like flaming fire:

'Out on him, a proud deed hath Telemachus accomplished with
a high hand, even this journey, and we thought that he
would never bring it to pass! This lad hath clean gone
without more ado, in spite of us all; his ship he hath let
haul to the sea, and chosen the noblest in the township. He
will begin to be our bane even more than heretofore; but
may Zeus destroy his might, not ours, ere he reach the
measure of manhood! But come, give me a swift ship and
twenty men, that I may lie in watch and wait even for him
on his way home, in the strait between Ithaca and rugged
Samos, that so he may have a woeful end of his cruising in
quest of his father.'

So spake he, and they all assented thereto, and bade him to
the work. And thereupon they arose and went to the house of

Now it was no long time before Penelope heard of the
counsel that the wooers had devised in the deep of their
heart. For the henchman Medon told her thereof, who stood
without the court and heard their purposes, while they were
weaving their plot within. So he went on his way through
the halls to bring the news to Penelope; and as he stept
down over the threshold, Penelope spake unto him:

'Henchman, wherefore have the noble wooers sent thee forth?
Was it to tell the handmaids of divine Odysseus to cease
from their work, and prepare a banquet for them? Nay, after
thus much wooing, never again may they come together, but
here this day sup for their last and latest time; all ye
who assemble so often, and waste much livelihood, the
wealth of wise Telemachus! Long ago when ye were children,
ye marked not your fathers' telling, what manner of man was
Odysseus among them, one that wrought no iniquity toward
any man, nor spake aught unrighteous in the township, as is
the wont of divine kings. One man a king is like to hate,
another he might chance to love. But never did he do aught
at all presumptuously to any man. Nay, it is plain what
spirit ye are of, and your unseemly deeds are manifest to
all, nor is there any gratitude left for kindness done.'

Then Medon, wise of heart, answered her: 'Would, oh queen,
that this were the crowning evil! But the wooers devise
another far greater and more grievous, which I pray the son
of Cronos may never fulfil! They are set on slaying
Telemachus with the edge of the sword on his homeward way;
for he is gone to fair Pylos and goodly Lacedaemon, to seek
tidings of his father.'

So spake he, but her knees were loosened where she stood,
and her heart melted within her, and long time was she
speechless, and lo, her eyes were filled with tears and the
voice of her utterance was stayed. And at the last she
answered him and said:

'Henchman, wherefore I pray thee is my son departed? There
is no need that he should go abroad on swift ships, that
serve men for horses on the sea, and that cross the great
wet waste. Is it that even his own name may no more be left
upon earth?'

Then Medon, wise of heart, answered her: 'I know not
whether some god set him on or whether his own spirit
stirred him to go to Pylos to seek tidings of his father's
return, or to hear what end he met.'

He spake, and departed through the house of Odysseus, and
on her fell a cloud of consuming grief; so that she might
no more endure to seat her on a chair, whereof there were
many in the house, but there she crouched on the threshold
of her well-builded chamber, wailing piteously, and her
handmaids round her made low moan, as many as were in the
house with her, young and old. And Penelope spake among
them pouring forth her lamentation:

'Hear me, my friends, for the Olympian sire hath given me
pain exceedingly beyond all women who were born and bred in
my day. For erewhile I lost my noble lord of the lion
heart, adorned with all perfection among the Danaans, my
good lord, whose fame is noised abroad from Hellas to mid
Argos. And now again the storm-winds have snatched away my
well-beloved son without tidings from our halls, nor heard
I of his departure. Oh, women, hard of heart, that even ye
did not each one let the thought come into your minds, to
rouse me from my couch when he went to the black hollow
ship, though ye knew full well thereof! For had I heard
that he was purposing this journey, verily he should have
stayed here still, though eager to be gone, or have left me
dead in the halls. Howbeit let some one make haste to call
the ancient Dolius, my thrall, whom my father gave me ere
yet I had come hither, who keepeth my garden of trees. So
shall he go straightway and sit by Laertes, and tell him
all, if perchance Laertes may weave some counsel in his
heart, and go forth and make his plaint to the people, who
are purposed to destroy his seed, and the seed of god-like

Then the good nurse Eurycleia answered her: 'Dear lady,
aye, slay me if thou wilt with the pitiless sword or let me
yet live on in the house,--yet will I not hide my saying
from thee. I knew all this, and gave him whatsoever he
commanded, bread and sweet wine. And he took a great oath
of me not to tell thee till at least the twelfth day should
come, or thou thyself shouldst miss him and hear of his
departure, that thou mightest not mar thy fair flesh with
thy tears. But now, wash thee in water, and take to thee
clean raiment and ascend to thy upper chamber with the
women thy handmaids, and pray to Athene, daughter of Zeus,
lord of the aegis. For so may she save him even from death.
And heap not troubles on an old man's trouble; for the seed
of the son of Arceisius, is not, methinks, utterly hated by
the blessed gods, but someone will haply yet remain to
possess these lofty halls, and the fat fields far away.'

So spake she, and lulled her queen's lamentation, and made
her eyes to cease from weeping. So she washed her in water,
and took to her clean raiment, and ascended to the upper
chamber with the women her handmaids, and placed the meal
for sprinkling in a basket, and prayed unto Athene:

'Hear me, child of Zeus, lord of the aegis, unwearied
maiden! If ever wise Odysseus in his halls burnt for thee
fat slices of the thighs of heifer or of sheep, these
things, I pray thee, now remember, and save my dear son,
and ward from him the wooers in the naughtiness of their

Therewith she raised a cry, and the goddess heard her
prayer. But the wooers clamoured through the shadowy halls,
and thus would some proud youth say:

'Verily this queen of many wooers prepareth our marriage,
nor knoweth at all how that for her son death hath been

Thus would certain of them speak, but they knew not how
these things were ordained. And Antinous made harangue and
spake among them:

'Good sirs, my friends, shun all disdainful words alike,
lest someone hear and tell it even in the house. But come
let us arise, and in silence accomplish that whereof we
spake, for the counsel pleased us every one.'

Therewith he chose twenty men that were the best, and they
departed to the swift ship and the sea-banks. So first of
all they drew the ship down to the deep water, and placed
the mast and sails in the black ship, and fixed the oars in
leathern loops all orderly, and spread forth the white
sails. And squires, haughty of heart, bare for them their
arms. And they moored her high out in the shore water, and
themselves disembarked. There they supped and waited for
evening to come on.

But the wise Penelope lay there in her upper chamber,
fasting and tasting neither meat nor drink, musing whether
her noble son should escape death, or even fall before the
proud wooers. And as a lion broods all in fear among the
press of men, when they draw the crafty ring around him, so
deeply was she musing when deep sleep came over her. And
she sank back in sleep and all her joints were loosened.

Now the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, turned to other
thoughts. She made a phantom, and fashioned it after the
likeness of a woman, Iphthime, daughter of great-hearted
Icarius, whom Eumelus wedded, whose dwelling was in Pherae.
And she sent it to the house of divine Odysseus to bid
Penelope, amid her sorrow and lamenting, to cease from her
weeping and tearful lamentation. So the phantom passed into
the chamber by the thong of the bolt, and stood above her
head and spake unto her, saying:

'Sleepest thou, Penelope, stricken at heart? Nay, even the
gods who live at ease suffer thee not to wail or be
afflicted, seeing that thy son is yet to return; for no
sinner is he in the eyes of the gods.'

Then wise Penelope made her answer as she slumbered very
softly at the gates of dreams:

'Wherefore, sister, hast thou come hither, that before wert
not wont to come, for thou hast thine habitation very far
away? Biddest thou me indeed to cease from the sorrows and
pains, so many that disquiet my heart and soul? Erewhile I
lost my noble lord of the lion heart, adorned with all
perfection among the Danaans, my true lord, whose fame is
noised abroad from Hellas to mid Argos. And now, again, my
well-beloved son is departed on his hollow ship, poor
child, not skilled in toils or in the gatherings of men.
For him I sorrow yet more than for my lord, and I tremble
and fear for him lest aught befal him, whether, it may be,
amid that folk where he is gone, or in the deep. For many
foemen devise evil against him, and go about to kill him,
or ever he come to his own country.'

And the dim phantom answered her, and said: 'Take courage,
and be not so sorely afraid. For lo, such a friend goes to
guide him, as all men pray to stand by them, for that she
hath the power, even Pallas Athene. And she pitieth thee in
thy sorrow, and now hath sent me forth to speak these words
to thee.'

And wise Penelope answered her, saying: 'If thou art indeed
a god, and hast heard the word of a god, come, I pray thee,
and tell me tidings concerning that ill-fated man, whether
perchance he is yet alive and sees the light of the sun, or
hath already died, and is a dweller in the house of Hades.'

And the dim phantom answered her and said: 'Concerning him
I will not tell thee all the tale, whether he be alive or
dead; it is ill to speak words light as wind.'

Therewith the phantom slipped away by the bolt of the door
and passed into the breath of the wind. And the daughter of
Icarius started up from sleep; and her heart was cheered,
so clear was the vision that sped toward her in the dead of
the night.

Meanwhile the wooers had taken ship and were sailing over
the wet ways, pondering in their hearts sheer death for
Telemachus. Now there is a rocky isle in the mid sea,
midway between Ithaca and rugged Samos, Asteris, a little
isle; and there is a harbour therein with a double
entrance, where ships may ride. There the Achaeans abode
lying in wait for Telemachus.