book 1

Tell me, O Muse, of the man of many devices, who wandered full many ways after he had sacked the sacred citadel of Troy. Many were the men whose cities he saw and whose mind he learned, aye, and many the woes he suffered in his heart upon the sea,seeking to win his own life and the return of his comrades. Yet even so he saved not his comrades, though he desired it sore, for through their own blind folly they perished—fools, who devoured the kine of Helios Hyperion; but he took from them the day of their returning.Of these things, goddess, daughter of Zeus, beginning where thou wilt, tell thou even unto us. Now all the rest, as many as had escaped sheer destruction, were at home, safe from both war and sea, but Odysseus alone, filled with longing for his return and for his wife, did the queenly nymph Calypso, that bright goddess,keep back in her hollow caves, yearning that he should be her husband. But when, as the seasons revolved, the year came in which the gods had ordained that he should return home to Ithaca, not even there was he free from toils, even among his own folk. And all the gods pitied himsave Poseidon; but he continued to rage unceasingly against godlike Odysseus until at length he reached his own land. Howbeit Poseidon had gone among the far-off Ethiopians—the Ethiopians who dwell sundered in twain, the farthermost of men, some where Hyperion sets and some where he rises,there to receive a hecatomb of bulls and rams, and there he was taking his joy, sitting at the feast; but the other gods were gathered together in the halls of Olympian Zeus. Among them the father of gods and men was first to speak, for in his heart he thought of noble Aegisthus,whom far-famed Orestes, Agamemnon's son, had slain. Thinking on him he spoke among the immortals, and said: “Look you now, how ready mortals are to blame the gods. It is from us, they say, that evils come, but they even of themselves, through their own blind folly, have sorrows beyond that which is ordained.Even as now Aegisthus, beyond that which was ordained, took to himself the wedded wife of the son of Atreus, and slew him on his return, though well he knew of sheer destruction, seeing that we spake to him before, sending Hermes, the keen-sighted Argeiphontes,1 that he should neither slay the man nor woo his wife;for from Orestes shall come vengeance for the son of Atreus when once he has come to manhood and longs for his own land. So Hermes spoke, but for all his good intent he prevailed not upon the heart of Aegisthus; and now he has paid the full price of all.”
Then the goddess, flashing-eyed1 Athena, answered him:“Father of us all, thou son of Cronos, high above all lords, aye, verily that man lies low in a destruction that is his due; so, too, may any other also be destroyed who does such deeds. But my heart is torn for wise Odysseus, hapless man, who far from his friends has long been suffering woesin a sea-girt isle, where is the navel of the sea. 'Tis a wooded isle, and therein dwells a goddess, daughter of Atlas of baneful mind, who knows the depths of every sea, and himself holds the tall pillars which keep earth and heaven apart.His daughter it is that keeps back that wretched, sorrowing man; and ever with soft and wheedling words she beguiles him that he may forget Ithaca. But Odysseus, in his longing to see were it but the smoke leaping up from his own land, yearns to die. Yet thyheart doth not regard it, Olympian. Did not Odysseus beside the ships of the Argives offer thee sacrifice without stint in the broad land of Troy? Wherefore then didst thou conceive such wrath2 against him, O Zeus?” Then Zeus, the cloud-gatherer, answered her and said: “My child, what a word has escaped the barrier of thy teeth?How should I, then, forget godlike Odysseus, who is beyond all mortals in wisdom, and beyond all has paid sacrifice to the immortal gods, who hold broad heaven? Nay, it is Poseidon, the earth-enfolder, who is ever filled with stubborn wrath because of the Cyclops, whom Odysseus blinded of his eye—even the godlike Polyphemus, whose might is greatest among all the Cyclopes; and the nymph Thoosa bore him, daughter of Phorcys who rules over the unresting1 sea; for in the hollow caves she lay with Poseidon. From that time forth Poseidon, the earth-shaker,does not indeed slay Odysseus, but makes him a wanderer from his native land. But come, let us who are here all take thought of his return, that he may come home; and Poseidon will let go his anger, for he will in no wise be able, against all the immortal gods and in their despite, to contend alone.”
Then the goddess, flashing-eyed Athena, answered him: “Father of us all, thou son of Cronos, high above all lords, if indeed this is now well pleasing to the blessed gods, that the wise Odysseus should return to his own home, let us send forth Hermes, the messenger, Argeiphontes,to the isle Ogygia, that with all speed he may declare to the fair-tressed nymph our fixed resolve, even the return of Odysseus of the steadfast heart, that he may come home. But, as for me, I will go to Ithaca, that I may the more arouse his son, and set courage in his heartto call to an assembly the long-haired Achaeans, and speak out his word to all the wooers, who are ever slaying his thronging sheep and his sleek2 kine of shambling gait. And I will guide him to Sparta and to sandy Pylos, to seek tidings of the return of his dear father, if haply he may hear of it,that good report may be his among men.” So she spoke, and bound beneath her feet her beautiful sandals, immortal,1 golden, which were wont to bear her both over the waters of the sea and over the boundless land swift as the blasts of the wind. And she took her mighty spear, tipped with sharp bronze,heavy and huge and strong, wherewith she vanquishes the ranks of men—of warriors, with whom she is wroth, she, the daughter of the mighty sire. Then she went darting down from the heights of Olympus, and took her stand in the land of Ithaca at the outer gate of Odysseus, on the threshold of the court. In her hand she held the spear of bronze,and she was in the likeness of a stranger, Mentes, the leader of the Taphians. There she found the proud wooers. They were taking their pleasure at draughts in front of the doors, sitting on the hides of oxen which they themselves had slain; and of the heralds2 and busy squires,some were mixing wine and water for them in bowls, others again were washing the tables with porous sponges and setting them forth, while still others were portioning out meats in abundance. Her the godlike Telemachus was far the first to see, for he was sitting among the wooers, sad at heart,seeing in thought his noble father, should he perchance come from somewhere and make a scattering of the wooers in the palace, and himself win honor and rule over his own house. As he thought of these things, sitting among the wooers, he beheld Athena, and he went straight to the outer door; for in his heart he counted it shamethat a stranger should stand long at the gates. So, drawing near, he clasped her right hand, and took from her the spear of bronze; and he spoke, and addressed her with winged words:1 “Hail, stranger; in our house thou shalt find entertainment and then, when thou hast tasted food, thou shalt tell of what thou hast need.”
So saying, he led the way, and Pallas Athena followed. And when they were within the lofty house, he bore the spear and set it against a tall pillar in a polished spear-rack, where were set many spears besides, even those of Odysseus of the steadfast heart.Athena herself he led and seated on a chair, spreading a linen cloth beneath—a beautiful chair, richly-wrought,2 and below was a footstool for the feet. Beside it he placed for himself an inlaid seat, apart from the others, the wooers, lest the stranger, vexed by their din, should loathe the meal, seeing that he was in the company of overweening men;and also that he might ask him about his father that was gone. Then a handmaid brought water for the hands in a fair pitcher of gold, and poured it over a silver basin for them to wash, and beside them drew up a polished table. And the grave housewife brought and set before them bread,and therewith dainties in abundance, giving freely of her store. And a carver lifted up and placed before them platters of all manner of meats, and set by them golden goblets, while a herald ever walked to and fro pouring them wine. Then in came the proud wooers, and thereaftersat them down in rows on chairs and high seats. Heralds poured water over their hands, and maid-servants heaped by them bread in baskets, and youths filled the bowls brim full of drink; and they put forth their hands to the good cheer lying ready before them.Now after the wooers had put from them the desire of food and drink, their hearts turned to other things, to song and to dance; for these things are the crown of a feast. And a herald put the beautiful lyre in the hands of Phemius, who sang perforce among the wooers;and he struck the chords in prelude1 to his sweet lay. But Telemachus spoke to flashing-eyed Athena, holding his head close, that the others might not hear: “Dear stranger, wilt thou be wroth with me for the word that I shall say? These men care for things like these, the lyre and song,full easily, seeing that without atonement they devour the livelihood of another, of a man whose white bones, it may be, rot in the rain as they lie upon the mainland, or the wave rolls them in the sea. Were they to see him returned to Ithaca, they would all pray to be swifter of foot,rather than richer in gold and in raiment. But now he has thus perished by an evil doom, nor for us is there any comfort, no, not though any one of men upon the earth should say that he will come; gone is the day of his returning. But come, tell me this, and declare it truly.Who art thou among men, and from whence? Where is thy city and where thy parents? On what manner of ship didst thou come, and how did sailors bring thee to Ithaca? Who did they declare themselves to be? For nowise, methinks, didst thou come hither on foot. And tell me this also truly, that I may know full well,whether this is thy first coming hither, or whether thou art indeed a friend of my father's house. For many were the men who came to our house as strangers, since he, too, had gone to and fro1 among men.”
Then the goddess, flashing-eyed Athena, answered him: “Therefore of a truth will I frankly tell thee all.I declare that I am Mentes, the son of wise Anchialus, and I am lord over the oar-loving Taphians. And now have I put in here, as thou seest, with ship and crew, while sailing over the wine-dark sea to men of strange speech, on my way to Temese for copper; and I bear with me shining iron.My ship lies yonder beside the fields away from the city, in the harbor of Rheithron, under woody Neion. Friends of one another do we declare ourselves to be, even as our fathers were, friends from of old. Nay, if thou wilt, go and ask the old warrior Laertes, who, they say,comes no more to the city, but afar in the fields suffers woes attended by an aged woman as his handmaid, who sets before him food and drink, after weariness has laid hold of his limbs, as he creeps along the slope of his vineyard plot. And now am I come, for of a truth men said that he,thy father, was among his people; but lo, the gods are thwarting him of his return. For not yet has goodly Odysseus perished on the earth, but still, I ween, he lives and is held back on the broad sea in a sea-girt isle, and cruel men keep him, a savage folk, that constrain him, haply sore against his will.Nay, I will now prophesy to thee, as the immortals put it in my heart, and as I think it shall be brought to pass, though I am in no wise a soothsayer, nor one versed in the signs of birds. Not much longer shall he be absent from his dear native land, no, not though bonds of iron hold him.He will contrive a way to return, for he is a man of many devices. But come, tell me this and declare it truly, whether indeed, tall as thou art, thou art the son of Odysseus himself. Wondrously like his are thy head and beautiful eyes; for full often did we consort with one anotherbefore he embarked for the land of Troy, whither others, too, the bravest of the Argives, went in their hollow ships. But since that day neither have I seen Odysseus, nor he me.” Then wise Telemachus answered her: “Therefore of a truth, stranger, will I frankly tell thee all.My mother says that I am his child; but I know not, for never yet did any man of himself know his own parentage. Ah, would that I had been the son of some blest man, whom old age overtook among his own possessions. But now of him who was the most ill-fated of mortal menthey say that I am sprung, since thou askest me of this.” Then the goddess, flashing-eyed Athena, answered him: “Surely, then, no nameless lineage have the gods appointed for thee in time to come, seeing that Penelope bore thee such as thou art. But come, tell me this and declare it truly.What feast, what throng is this? What need hast thou of it? Is it a drinking bout, or a wedding feast? For this plainly is no meal to which each brings his portion, with such outrage and overweening do they seem to me to be feasting in thy halls. Angered would a man be at seeing all these shameful acts, any man of sense who should come among them.”
Then wise Telemachus answered her: “Stranger, since indeed thou dost ask and question me of this, our house once bade fair to be rich and honorable, so long as that man was still among his people. But now the gods have willed otherwise in their evil devising,seeing that they have caused him to pass from sight as they have no other man. For I should not so grieve for his death, if he had been slain among his comrades in the land of the Trojans, or had died in the arms of his friends, when he had wound up the skein of war. Then would the whole host of the Achaeans have made him a tomb,and for his son, too, he would have won great glory in days to come. But as it is, the spirits of the storm1 have swept him away and left no tidings: he is gone out of sight, out of hearing, and for me he has left anguish and weeping; nor do I in any wise mourn and wail for him alone, seeing that the gods have brought upon me other sore troubles.For all the princes who hold sway over the islands—Dulichium and Same and wooded Zacynthus—and those who lord it over rocky Ithaca, all these woo my mother and lay waste my house. And she neither refuses the hateful marriage,nor is she able to make an end; but they with feasting consume my substance: ere long they will bring me, too, to ruin.” Then, stirred to anger, Pallas Athena spoke to him:“Out on it! Thou hast of a truth sore need of Odysseus that is gone, that he might put forth his hands upon the shameless wooers.Would that he might come now and take his stand at the outer gate of the house, with helmet and shield and two spears, such a man as he was when I first saw him in our house drinking and making merry, on his way back from Ephyre, from the house of Ilus, son of Mermerus.For thither, too, went Odysseus in his swift ship in search of a deadly drug, that he might have wherewith to smear his bronze-tipped arrows; yet Ilus gave it not to him, for he stood in awe of the gods that are forever; but my father gave it, for he held him strangely dear.Would, I say, that in such strength Odysseus might come amongst the wooers; then should they all find swift destruction and bitterness in their wooing. Yet these things verily lie on the knees of the gods, whether he shall return and wreak vengeance in his halls, or whether he shall not; but for thyself, I bid thee take thoughthow thou mayest thrust forth the wooers from the hall. Come now, give ear, and hearken to my words. On the morrow call to an assembly the Achaean lords, and speak out thy word to all, and let the gods be thy witnesses. As for the wooers, bid them scatter, each to his own;and for thy mother, if her heart bids her marry, let her go back to the hall of her mighty father, and there they will prepare a wedding feast, and make ready the gifts1 full many—aye, all that should follow after a well-loved daughter. And to thyself will I give wise counsel, if thou wilt hearken.
Man with twenty rowers the best ship thou hast, and go to seek tidings of thy father, that has long been gone, if haply any mortal may tell thee, or thou mayest hear a voice from Zeus, which oftenest brings tidings to men. First go to Pylos and question goodly Nestor,and from thence to Sparta to fair-haired Menelaus; for he was the last to reach home of the brazen-coated Achaeans. If so be thou shalt hear that thy father is alive and coming home, then verily, though thou art sore afflicted, thou couldst endure for yet a year. But if thou shalt hear that he is dead and gone,then return to thy dear native land and heap up a mound for him, and over it pay funeral rites, full many as is due, and give thy mother to a husband. Then when thou hast done all this and brought it to an end, thereafter take thought in mind and hearthow thou mayest slay the wooers in thy halls whether by guile or openly; for it beseems thee not to practise childish ways, since thou art no longer of such an age. Or hast thou not heard what fame the goodly Orestes won among all mankind when he slew his father's murderer,the guileful Aegisthus, for that he slew his glorious father? Thou too, my friend, for I see that thou art comely and tall, be thou valiant, that many an one of men yet to be born may praise thee. But now I will go down to my swift ship and my comrades, who, methinks, are chafing much at waiting for me.For thyself, give heed and have regard to my words.” Then wise Telemachus answered her: “Stranger, in truth thou speakest these things with kindly thought, as a father to his son, and never will I forget them. But come now, tarry, eager though thou art to be gone,in order that when thou hast bathed and satisfied thy heart to the full, thou mayest go to thy ship glad in spirit, and bearing a gift costly and very beautiful, which shall be to thee an heirloom from me, even such a gift as dear friends give to friends.” Then the goddess, flashing-eyed Athena, answered him:“Stay me now no longer, when I am eager to be gone, and whatsoever gift thy heart bids thee give me, give it when I come back, to bear to my home, choosing a right beautiful one; it shall bring thee its worth in return.” So spoke the goddess, flashing-eyed Athena, and departed,flying upward1 as a bird; and in his heart she put strength and courage, and made him think of his father even more than aforetime. And in his mind he marked her and marvelled, for he deemed that she was a god; and straightway he went among the wooers, a godlike man.
For them the famous minstrel was singing, and they sat in silence listening; and he sang of the return of the Achaeans—the woeful return from Troy which Pallas Athena laid upon them. And from her upper chamber the daughter of Icarius, wise Penelope, heard his wondrous song,and she went down the high stairway from her chamber, not alone, for two handmaids attended her. Now when the fair lady had come to the wooers, she stood by the door-post of the well-built hall, holding before her face her shining veil;and a faithful handmaid stood on either side of her. Then she burst into tears, and spoke to the divine minstrel: “Phemius, many other things thou knowest to charm mortals, deeds of men and gods which minstrels make famous. Sing them one of these, as thou sittest here,and let them drink their wine in silence. But cease from this woeful song which ever harrows the heart in my breast, for upon me above all women has come a sorrow not to be forgotten. So dear a head do I ever remember with longing, even my husband, whose fame is wide through Hellas and mid-Argos.”1 Then wise Telemachus answered her: “My mother, why dost thou begrudge the good minstrel to give pleasure in whatever way his heart is moved? It is not minstrels that are to blame, but Zeus, I ween, is to blame, who gives to men that live by toil,2 to each one as he will.With this man no one can be wroth if he sings of the evil doom of the Danaans; for men praise that song the most which comes the newest to their ears. For thyself, let thy heart and soul endure to listen; for not Odysseus alone lostin Troy the day of his return, but many others likewise perished. Nay, go to thy chamber, and busy thyself with thine own tasks, the loom and the distaff, and bid thy handmaids ply their tasks; but speech shall be for men, for all, but most of all for me; since mine is the authority in the house.” She then, seized with wonder, went back to her chamber, for she laid to heart the wise saying of her son. Up to her upper chamber she went with her handmaids, and then bewailed Odysseus, her dear husband until flashing-eyed Athena cast sweet sleep upon her eyelids.
But the wooers broke into uproar throughout the shadowy halls, and all prayed, each that he might lie by her side. And among them wise Telemachus was the first to speak: “Wooers of my mother, overweening in your insolence, for the present let us make merry with feasting,but let there be no brawling; for this is a goodly thing, to listen to a minstrel such as this man is, like to the gods in voice. But in the morning let us go to the assembly and take our seats, one and all, that I may declare my word to you outright that you depart from these halls. Prepare you other feasts,eating your own substance and changing from house to house. But if this seems in your eyes to be a better and more profitable thing, that one man's livelihood should be ruined without atonement, waste ye it. But I will call upon the gods that are forever, if haply Zeus may grant that deeds of requital may be wrought.Without atonement, then, should ye perish within my halls.” So he spoke, and they all bit their lips and marvelled at Telemachus, for that he spoke boldly. Then Antinous, son of Eupeithes, answered him:“Telemachus, verily the gods themselves are teaching theeto be a man of vaunting tongue, and to speak with boldness. May the son of Cronos never make thee king in sea-girt Ithaca, which thing is by birth thy heritage.” Then wise Telemachus answered him: “Antinous, wilt thou be wroth with me for the word that I shall say?Even this should I be glad to accept from the hand of Zeus. Thinkest thou indeed that this is the worst fate among men? Nay, it is no bad thing to be a king. Straightway one's house grows rich and oneself is held in greater honor. However, there are other kings of the Achaeansfull many in seagirt Ithaca, both young and old. One of these haply may have this place, since goodly Odysseus is dead. But I will be lord of our own house and of the slaves that goodly Odysseus won for me.” Then Eurymachus, son of Polybus, answered him:“Telemachus, this matter verily lies on the knees of the gods, who of the Achaeans shall be king in sea-girt Ithaca; but as for thy possessions, thou mayest keep them thyself, and be lord in thine own house. Never may that man come who by violence and against thy will shall wrest thy possessions from thee, while men yet live in Ithaca.But I am fain, good sir, to ask thee of the stranger, whence this man comes. Of what land does he declare himself to be? Where are his kinsmen and his native fields? Does he bring some tidings of thy father's coming, or came he hither in furtherance of some matter of his own?How he started up, and was straightway gone! Nor did he wait to be known; and yet he seemed no base man to look upon.” Then wise Telemachus answered him: “Eurymachus, surely my father's home-coming is lost and gone. No longer do I put trust in tidings, whencesoever they may come,nor reck I of any prophecy which my mother haply may learn of a seer, when she has called him to the hall. But this stranger is a friend of my father's house from Taphos. He declares that he is Mentes, son of wise Anchialus, and he is lord over the oar-loving Taphians.” So spoke Telemachus, but in his heart he knew the immortal goddess.
Now the wooers turned to the dance and to gladsome song, and made them merry, and waited till evening should come; and as they made merry dark evening came upon them. Then they went, each man to his house, to take their rest.But Telemachus, where his chamber was built in the beautiful court, high, in a place of wide outlook, thither went to his bed, pondering many things in mind; and with him, bearing blazing torches, went true-hearted Eurycleia, daughter of Ops, son of Peisenor.Her long ago Laertes had bought with his wealth, when she was in her first youth, and gave for her the price of twenty oxen; and he honored her even as he honored his faithful wife in his halls, but he never lay with her in love, for he shunned the wrath of his wife. She it was who bore for Telemachus the blazing torches;for she of all the handmaids loved him most, and had nursed him when he was a child. He opened the doors of the well-built chamber, sat down on the bed, and took off his soft tunic and laid it in the wise old woman's hands. And she folded and smoothed the tunicand hung it on a peg beside the corded1 bedstead, and then went forth from the chamber, drawing the door to by its silver handle, and driving the bolt home with the thong. So there, the night through, wrapped in a fleece of wool, he pondered in his mind upon the journey which Athena had shewn him.

book 2

Soon as early Dawn appeared, the rosy-fingered, up from his bed arose the dear son of Odysseus and put on his clothing. About his shoulder he slung his sharp sword, and beneath his shining feet bound his fair sandals,and went forth from his chamber like a god to look upon. Straightway he bade the clear-voiced heralds to summon to the assembly the long-haired Achaeans. And the heralds made the summons, and the Achaeans assembled full quickly. Now when they were assembled and met together,Telemachus went his way to the place of assembly, holding in his hand a spear of bronze—not alone, for along with him two swift hounds followed; and wondrous was the grace that Athena shed upon him, and all the people marvelled at him as he came. But he sat down in his father's seat, and the elders gave place. Then among them the lord Aegyptius was the first to speak, a man bowed with age and wise with wisdom untold. Now he spoke, because his dear son had gone in the hollow ships to Ilius, famed for its horses, in the company of godlike Odysseus, even the warrior Antiphus. But him the savage Cyclops had slainin his hollow cave, and made of him his latest meal. Three others there were; one, Eurynomus, consorted with the wooers, and two ever kept their father's farm. Yet, even so, he could not forget that other, mourning and sorrowing; and weeping for him he addressed the assembly, and spoke among them: “Hearken now to me, men of Ithaca, to the word that I shall say. Never have we held assembly or session since the day when goodly Odysseus departed in the hollow ships. And now who has called us together? On whom has such need come either of the young men or of those who are older?Has he heard some tidings of the army's return,1 which he might tell us plainly, seeing that he has first learned of it himself? Or is there some other public matter on which he is to speak and address us? A good man he seems in my eyes, a blessed man. May Zeus fulfil unto him himself some good, even whatsoever he desires in his heart.” So he spoke, and the dear son of Odysseus rejoiced at the word of omen; nor did he thereafter remain seated, but was fain to speak. So he took his stand in the midst of the assembly, and the staff was placed in his hands by the herald Peisenor, wise in counsel.
Then he spoke, addressing first the old man: “Old man, not far off, as thou shalt soon learn thyself, is that man who has called the host together—even I; for on me above all others has sorrow come. I have neither heard any tidings of the army's return, which I might tell you plainly, seeing that I had first learned of it myself, nor is there any other public matter on which I am to speak and address you.Nay, it is mine own need, for that evil has fallen upon my house in two-fold wise. First, I have lost my noble sire who was once king among you here, and was gentle as a father; and now there is come an evil yet greater far, which will presently altogether destroy my house and ruin all my livelihood.My mother have wooers beset against her will, the sons of those men who are here the noblest. They shrink from going to the house of her father, Icarius, that he may himself exact the bride-gifts for his daughter, and give her to whom he will, even to him who meets his favour,but thronging our house day after day they slay our oxen and sheep and fat goats, and keep revel, and drink the sparkling wine recklessly; and havoc is made of all this wealth. For there is no man here, such as Odysseus was, to ward off ruin from the house.As for me, I am no-wise such as he to ward it off. Nay verily, even if I try I shall be found a weakling and one knowing naught of valor. Yet truly I would defend myself, if I had but the power; for now deeds past all enduring have been wrought, and past all that is seemly has my house been destroyed. Take shame upon yourselves,and have regard to your neighbors who dwell roundabout, and fear the wrath of the gods, lest haply they turn against you in anger at your evil deeds.1 I pray you by Olympian Zeus, and by Themis who looses and gathers the assemblies of men,forbear, my friends,2 and leave me alone to pine in bitter grief—unless indeed my father, goodly Odysseus, despitefully wrought the well-greaved Achaeans woe, in requital whereof ye work me woe despitefully by urging these men on. For me it were betterthat ye should yourselves eat up my treasures and my flocks. If ye were to devour them, recompense would haply be made some day; for just so long should we go up and down the city, pressing our suit and asking back our goods, until all was given back. But now past cure are the woes ye put upon my heart.” Thus he spoke in wrath, and dashed the staff down upon the ground, bursting into tears; and pity fell upon all the people. Then all the others kept silent, and no man had the heart to answer Telemachus with angry words.
Antinous alone answered him, and said: “Telemachus, thou braggart, unrestrained in daring, what a thing hast thou said, putting us to shame, and wouldest fain fasten reproach upon us! Nay, I tell thee, it is not the Achaean wooers who are anywise at fault, but thine own mother, for she is crafty above all women. For it is now the third year and the fourth will soon pass,1 since she has been deceiving the hearts of the Achaeans in their breasts. To all she offers hopes, and has promises for each man, sending them messages, but her mind is set on other things. And she devised in her heart this guileful thing also: she set up in her halls a great web, and fell to weaving—fine of thread was the web and very wide; and straightway she spoke among us: “‘Young men, my wooers, since goodly Odysseus is dead, be patient, though eager for my marriage, until I finish this robe—I would not that my spinning should come to naught—a shroud for the lord Laertes, against the time whenthe fell fate of grievous2 death shall strike him down; lest any of the Achaean women in the land should be wroth with me, if he, who had won great possessions, were to lie without a shroud.’ “So she spoke, and our proud hearts consented. Then day by day she would weave at the great web,but by night would unravel it, when she had let place torches by her. Thus for three years she by her craft kept the Achaeans from knowing, and beguiled them; but when the fourth year came as the seasons rolled on, even then one of her women who knew all told us, and we caught her unravelling the splendid web.So she finished it against her will, perforce. Therefore to thee the wooers make answer thus, that thou mayest thyself know it in thine heart, and that all the Achaeans may know. Send away thy mother, and command her to wed whomsoever her father bids, and whoso is pleasing to her.But if she shall continue long time to vex the sons of the Achaeans, mindful in her heart of this, that Athena has endowed her above other women with knowledge of fair handiwork and an understanding heart, and wiles, such as we have never yet heard that any even of the women of old knew, of those who long ago were fair-tressed Achaean women—Tyro and Alcmene and Mycene of the fair crown—of whom not one was like Penelope in shrewd device; yet this at least she devised not aright. For so long shall men devour thy livelihood and thy possessions, even as long as she shall keep the counsel whichthe gods now put in her heart. Great fame she brings on herself, but on thee regret for thy much substance. For us, we will go neither to our lands nor else whither, until she marries that one of the Achaeans whom she will.”
Then wise Telemachus answered him, and said:“Antinous, in no wise may I thrust forth from the house against her will her that bore me and reared me; and, as for my father, he is in some other land, whether he be alive or dead. An evil thing it were for me to pay back a great price to Icarius, as I must, if of my own will I send my mother away. For from her father's hand shall I suffer evil, and heavenwill send other ills besides, for my mother as she leaves the house will invoke the dread Avengers; and I shall have blame, too, from men. Therefore will I never speak this word. And for you, if your own heart is wroth here at, get you forth from my halls and prepare you other feasts,eating your own substance and changing from house to house. But if this seems in your eyes to be a better and more profitable thing, that one man's livelihood should be ruined without atonement, waste ye it. But I will call upon the gods that are forever, if haply Zeus may grant that deeds of requital may be wrought.Without atonement then should ye perish within my halls.” So spoke Telemachus, and in answer Zeus, whose voice is borne afar,1 sent forth two eagles, flying from on high, from a mountain peak. For a time they flew swift as the blasts of the wind side by side with wings outspread;but when they reached the middle of the many-voiced assembly, then they wheeled about, flapping their wings rapidly, and down on the heads of all they looked, and death was in their glare. Then they tore with their talons one another's cheeks and necks on either side, and darted away to the right across the houses and the city of the men.But they were seized with wonder at the birds when their eyes beheld them, and pondered in their hearts on what was to come to pass. Then among them spoke the old lord Halitherses, son of Mastor, for he surpassed all men of his day in knowledge of birds and in uttering words of fate.He with good intent addressed their assembly, and spoke among them: “Hearken now to me, men of Ithaca, to the word that I shall say; and to the wooers especially do I declare and announce these things, since on them a great woe is rolling. For Odysseus shall not long be away from his friends, but even now, methinks,he is near, and is sowing death and fate for these men, one and all. Aye, and to many others of us also who dwell in clear-seen Ithaca will he be a bane. But long ere that let us take thought how we may make an end of this—or rather let them of themselves make an end, for this is straightway the better course for them.Not as one untried do I prophesy, but with sure knowledge. For unto Odysseus I declare that all things are fulfilled even as I told him, when the Argives embarked for Ilios and with them went Odysseus of many wiles. I declared that after suffering many ills and losing all his comrades he would come home in the twentieth yearunknown to all; and lo, all this is now being brought to pass.”
Then Eurymachus, son of Polybus, answered him, and said: “Old man, up now, get thee home and prophesy to thy children, lest haply in days to come they suffer ill.In this matter I am better far than thou to prophesy. Many birds there are that fare to and fro under the rays of the sun, and not all are fateful. As for Odysseus, he has perished far away, as I would that thou hadst likewise perished with him. Then wouldst thou not prate so much in thy reading of signs,or be urging Telemachus on in his wrath, hoping for some gift for thy house, if haply he shall give it. But I will speak out to thee, and this word shall verily be brought to pass. If thou, wise in the wisdom of old, shalt beguile with thy talk a younger man, and set him on to be wroth,for him in the first place it shall be the more grievous, and he will in no case be able to do aught because of these men here, and on thee, old man, will we lay a fine which it will grieve thy soul to pay, and bitter shall be thy sorrow. And to Telemachus I myself, here among all, will offer this counsel.His mother let him bid to go back to the house of her father, and they will prepare a wedding feast and make ready the gifts full many,—aye, all that should follow after a well-loved daughter. For ere that, methinks, the sons of the Achaeans will not cease from their grievous wooing, since in any case we fear no man,—no, not Telemachus for all his many words,—nor do we reck of any soothsaying which thou, old man, mayest declare; it will fail of fulfillment, and thou shalt be hated the more. Aye, and his possessions shall be devoured in evil wise, nor shall requital ever be made, so long as she shall put off the Achaeansin the matter of her marriage. And we on our part waiting here day after day are rivals by reason of her excellence, and go not after other women, whom each one might fitly wed.” Then wise Telemachus answered him: “Eurymachus and all ye other lordly wooers,in this matter I entreat you no longer nor speak thereof, for now the gods know it, and all the Achaeans. But come, give me a swift ship and twenty comrades who will accomplish my journey for me to and fro. For I shall go to Sparta and to sandy Pylos to seek tidings of the return of my father that has long been gone, if haply any mortal man may tell me, or I may hear a voice from Zeus, which oftenest brings tidings to men.If so be I shall hear that my father is alive and coming home, then verily, though I am sore afflicted, I could endure for yet a year. But if I shall hear that he is dead and gone, then I will return to my dear native land and heap up a mound for him, and over it pay funeral rites, full many, as is due, and give my mother to a husband.”
So saying he sat down, and among them roseMentor, who was a comrade of noble Odysseus. To him, on departing with his ships, Odysseus had given all his house in charge, that it should obey the old man and that he should keep all things safe. He with good intent addressed their assembly, and spoke among them: “Hearken now to me, men of Ithaca, to the word that I shall say.Never henceforth let sceptred king with a ready heart be kind and gentle, nor let him heed righteousness in his heart, but let him ever be harsh and work unrighteousness, seeing that no one remembers divine Odysseus of the people whose lord he was; yet gentle was he as a father.But of a truth I begrudge not the proud wooers that they work deeds of violence in the evil contrivings of their minds, for it is at the hazard of their own lives that they violently devour the house of Odysseus, who, they say, will no more return. Nay, rather it is with the rest of the folk that I am wroth, that ye allsit thus in silence, and utter no word of rebuke to make the wooers cease, though ye are many and they but few.” Then Leocritus, son of Euenor, answered him:“Mentor, thou mischief-maker,1 thou wanderer in thy wits, what hast thou said, bidding men make us cease? Nay, it were a hard thingto fight about a feast with men that moreover outnumber you. For if Ithacan Odysseus himself were to come and be eager at heart to drive out from his hall the lordly wooers who are feasting in his house, then should his wife have no joyat his coming, though sorely she longed for him, but right here would he meet a shameful death, if he fought with men that outnumbered him.2 Thou hast not spoken aright. But come now, ye people, scatter, each one of you to his own lands. As for this fellow, Mentor and Halitherses will speed his journey, for they are friends of his father's house from of old.But methinks he will long abide here and get his tidings in Ithaca, and never accomplish this journey.” So he spoke, and hastily broke up the assembly. They then scattered, each one to his own house; and the wooers went to the house of divine Odysseus. But Telemachus went apart to the shore of the sea, and having washed his hands in the grey seawater, prayed to Athena: “Hear me, thou who didst come yesterday as a god to our house, and didst bid me go in a ship over the misty deep to seek tidings of the return of my father, that has long been gone.Lo, all this the Achaeans hinder, but the wooers most of all in their evil insolence.”
So he spoke in prayer, and Athena drew near to him in the likeness of Mentor, both in form and invoice; and she spoke, and addressed him with winged words: “Telemachus, neither hereafter shalt thou be a base man or a witless, if aught of thy father's goodly spirit has been instilled into thee, such a man was he to fulfil both deed and word. So then shall this journey of thine be neither vain nor unfulfilled. But if thou art not the son of him and of Penelope,then I have no hope that thou wilt accomplish thy desire. Few sons indeed are like their fathers; most are worse, few better than their fathers. But since neither hereafter shalt thou be a base man or a witless, nor has the wisdom of Odysseus wholly failed thee,there is therefore hope that thou wilt accomplish this work. Now then let be the will and counsel of the wooers—fools, for they are in no wise either prudent or just, nor do they know aught of death or black fate, which verily is near at hand for them, that they shall all perish in a day.But for thyself, the journey on which thy heart is set shall not be long delayed, so true a friend of thy father's house am I, who will equip for thee a swift ship, and myself go with thee. But go thou now to the house and join the company of the wooers; make ready stores, and bestow all in vessels—wine in jars, and barley meal, the marrow of men, in stout skins;—but I, going through the town, will quickly gather comrades that go willingly. And ships there are full many in sea-girt Ithaca, both new and old; of these will I choose out for thee the one that is best,and quickly will we make her ready and launch her on the broad deep.” So spoke Athena, daughter of Zeus, nor did Telemachus tarry long after he had heard the voice of the goddess, but went his way to the house, his heart heavy within him. He found there the proud wooers in the halls,flaying goats and singeing swine in the court. And Antinous with a laugh came straight to Telemachus, and clasped his hand, and spoke, and addressed1 him: “Telemachus, thou braggart, unrestrained in daring, let no more any evil deed or word be in thy heart.Nay, I bid thee, eat and drink even as before. All these things the Achaeans will surely provide for thee—the ship and chosen oarsmen—that with speed thou mayest go to sacred Pylos to seek for tidings of thy noble father.”
Then wise Telemachus answered him:“Antinous, in no wise is it possible for me in your overweening company to sit at meat quietly and to make merry with an easy mind. Is it not enough, ye wooers, that in time past ye wasted many goodly possessions of mine, while I was still a child? But now that I am grown,and gain knowledge by hearing the words of others, yea and my spirit waxes within me, I will try how I may hurl forth upon your evil fates, either going to Pylos or here in this land. For go I will, nor shall the journey be in vain whereof I speak, though I voyage in another's ship, since I may not be master of ship or oarsmen.So, I ween, it seemed to you to be more to your profit.” He spoke, and snatched his hand from the hand of Antinous without more ado, and the wooers were busy with the feast throughout the hall. They mocked and jeered at him in their talk; and thus would one of the proud youths speak: “Aye, verily Telemachus is planning our murder. He will bring men to aid him from sandy Pylos or even from Sparta, so terribly is he set upon it. Or he means to go to Ephyre, that rich land, to bring from thence deadly drugs,that he may cast them in the wine-bowl, and destroy us all.” And again another of the proud youths would say: “Who knows but he himself as he goes on the hollow ship may perish wandering far from his friends, even as Odysseus did? So would he cause us yet more labour;for we should have to divide all his possessions, and his house we should give to his mother to possess, and to him who should wed her.” So they spoke, but Telemachus went down to the high-roofed treasure-chamber of his father, a wide room where gold and bronze lay piled, and raiment in chests, and stores of fragrant oil.There, too, stood great jars of wine, old and sweet, holding within them an unmixed divine drink, and ranged in order along the wall, if ever Odysseus should return home even after many grievous toils. Shut werethe double doors, close-fitted; and there both night and day a stewardess abode, who guarded all in wisdom of mind, Eurycleia, daughter of Ops, son of Peisenor. To her now Telemachus, when he had called her to the treasure-chamber, spoke, and said: “Nurse, draw me off wine in jars,sweet wine that is the choicest next to that which thou guardest ever thinking upon that ill-fated one, if haply Zeus-born Odysseus may come I know not whence, having escaped from death and the fates. Fill twelve jars and fit them all with covers, and pour me barley meal into well-sewn skins,and let there be twenty measures of ground barley meal. But keep knowledge hereof to thyself, and have all these things brought together; for at evening I will fetch them, when my mother goes to her upper chamber and bethinks her of her rest. For I am going to Sparta and to sandy Pylos to seek tidings of the return of my dear father, if haply I may hear any.”
So he spoke, and the dear nurse, Eurycleia, uttered a shrill cry, and weeping spoke to him winged words:“Ah, dear child, how has this thought come into thy mind? Whither art thou minded to go over the wide earth,thou who art an only son and well-beloved? But he hath perished far from his country, the Zeus-born Odysseus, in a strange land; and these men, so soon as thou art gone, will devise evil for thee hereafter, that thou mayest perish by guile, and themselves divide all these possessions. Nay, abide here in charge of what is thine; thou hast no needto suffer ills and go a wanderer over the unresting sea.” Then wise Telemachus answered her: “Take heart, nurse, for not without a god's warrant is this my plan. But swear to tell naught of this to my dear mother until the eleventh or twelfth day shall come,or until she shall herself miss me and hear that I am gone, that she may not mar her fair flesh with weeping.” So he spoke, and the old woman swore a great oath by the gods to say naught. But when she had sworn and made an end of the oath, straightway she drew for him wine in jars,and poured barley meal into well-sewn skins; and Telemachus went to the hall and joined the company of the wooers. Then the goddess, flashing-eyed Athena, took other counsel. In the likeness of Telemachus she went everywhere throughout the city, and to each of the men she drew near and spoke her word,bidding them gather at even beside the swift ship. Furthermore, of Noemon, the glorious son of Phronius, she asked a swift ship, and he promised it to her with a ready heart.
Now the sun set and all the ways grew dark. Then she drew the swift ship to the sea andput in it all the gear that well-benched ships carry. And she moored it at the mouth of the harbor, and round about it the goodly company was gathered together, and the goddess heartened each man. Then again the goddess, flashing-eyed Athena, took other counsel. She went her way to the house of divine Odysseus,and there began to shed sweet sleep upon the wooers and made them to wander in their drinking, and from their hands she cast the cups. But they rose to go to their rest throughout the city, and remained no long time seated, for sleep was falling upon their eyelids. But to Telemachus spoke flashing-eyed Athena,calling him forth before the stately hall, having likened herself to Mentor both in form and in voice: “Telemachus, already thy well-greaved comrades sit at the oar and await thy setting out. Come, let us go, that we may not long delay their journey.” So saying, Pallas Athena led the way quickly, and he followed in the footsteps of the goddess. Now when they had come down to the ship and to the sea, they found on the shore their long-haired comrades, and the strong and mighty1 Telemachus spoke among them: “Come, friends, let us fetch the stores, for all are now gathered together in the hall. My mother knows naught hereof, nor the handmaids either: one only heard my word.” Thus saying, he led the way, and they went along with him. So they brought andstowed everything in the well-benched ship, as the dear son of Odysseus bade. Then on board the ship stepped Telemachus, and Athena went before him and sat down in the stern of the ship, and near her sat Telemachus, while the men loosed the stern cables and themselves stepped on board, and sat down upon the benches.And flashing-eyed Athena sent them a favorable wind, a strong-blowing West wind that sang over the wine-dark sea. And Telemachus called to his men, and bade them lay hold of the tackling, and they hearkened to his call. The mast of firthey raised and set in the hollow socket, and made it fast with fore-stays, and hauled up the white sail with twisted thongs of ox-hide. So the wind filled the belly of the sail, and the dark wave sang loudly about the stem of the ship as she went, and she sped over the wave accomplishing her way.Then, when they had made the tackling fast in the swift black ship, they set forth bowls brim full of wine, and poured libations to the immortal gods that are forever, and chiefest of all to the flashing-eyed daughter of Zeus. So all night long and through the dawn the ship cleft her way.

book 3

And now the sun, leaving the beauteous mere, sprang up into the brazen heaven to give light to the immortals and to mortal men on the earth, the giver of grain; and they came to Pylos, the well-built citadel of Neleus.Here the townsfolk on the shore of the sea were offering sacrifice of black bulls to the dark-haired Earth-shaker. Nine companies there were, and five hundred men sat in each, and in each they held nine bulls ready for sacrifice. Now when they had tasted the inner parts and were burning the thigh-pieces to the god,the others put straight in to the shore, and hauled up and furled the sail of the shapely ship, and moored her, and themselves stepped forth. Forth too from the ship stepped Telemachus, and Athena led the way. And the goddess, flashing-eyed Athena, spake first to him, and said: “Telemachus, no longer hast thou need to feel shame, no, not a whit.For to this end hast thou sailed over the sea, that thou mightest seek tidings of thy father,—where the earth covered him, and what fate he met. But come now, go straightway to Nestor, tamer of horses; let us learn what counsel he keepeth hid in his breast. And do thou beseech him thyself that he may tell thee the very truth.A lie will he not utter, for he is wise indeed.” Then wise Telemachus answered her: “Mentor, how shall I go, and how shall I greet him? I am as yet all unversed in subtle speech, and moreover a young man has shame to question an elder.” Then the goddess, flashing-eyed Athena, answered him: “Telemachus, somewhat thou wilt of thyself devise in thy breast, and somewhat heaven too will prompt thee. For, methinks, not without the favour of the gods hast thou been born and reared.” So spake Pallas Athena, and led the wayquickly; but he followed in the footsteps of the goddess; and they came to the gathering and the companies of the men of Pylos. There Nestor sat with his sons, and round about his people, making ready the feast, were roasting some of the meat and putting other pieces on spits. But when they saw the strangers they all came thronging about them,and clasped their hands in welcome, and bade them sit down. First Nestor's son Peisistratus came near and took both by the hand, and made them to sit down at the feast on soft fleeces upon the sand of the sea, beside his brother Thrasymedes and his father.Thereupon he gave them portions of the inner meat and poured wine in a golden cup, and, pledging her, he spoke to Pallas Athena, daughter of Zeus who bears the aegis: “Pray now, stranger, to the lord Poseidon, for his is the feast whereon you have chanced in coming hither.And when thou hast poured libations and hast prayed, as is fitting, then give thy friend also the cup of honey-sweet wine that he may pour, since he too, I ween, prays to the immortals; for all men have need of the gods. Howbeit he is the younger, of like age with myself,wherefore to thee first will I give the golden cup.”
So he spake, and placed in her hand the cup of sweet wine. But Pallas Athena rejoiced at the man's wisdom and judgment, in that to her first he gave the golden cup; and straightway she prayed earnestly to the lord Poseidon: “Hear me, Poseidon, thou Earth-enfolder, and grudge not in answer to our prayer to bring these deeds to fulfillment. To Nestor, first of all, and to his sons vouchsafe renown, and then do thou grant to the rest gracious requital for this glorious hecatomb, even to all the men of Pylos;and grant furthermore that Telemachus and I may return when we have accomplished all that for which we came hither with our swift black ship.” Thus she prayed, and was herself fulfilling all. Then she gave Telemachus the fair two-handled1 cup, and in like manner the dear son of Odysseus prayed.Then when they had roasted the outer flesh and drawn it off the spits, they divided the portions and feasted a glorious feast. But when they had put from them the desire of food and drink, the horseman, Nestor of Gerenia,2 spoke first among them: “Now verily is it seemlier to ask and enquireof the strangers who they are, since now they have had their joy of food. Strangers, who are ye? Whence do ye sail over the watery ways? Is it on some business, or do ye wander at random over the sea, even as pirates, who wander hazarding their lives and bringing evil to men of other lands?” Then wise Telemachus took courage, and made answer, for Athena herself put courage in his heart, that he might ask about his father that was gone, and that good report might be his among men: “Nestor, son of Neleus, great glory of the Achaeans,thou askest whence we are, and I will surely tell thee. We have come from Ithaca that is below Neion; but this business whereof I speak is mine own, and concerns not the people. I come after the wide-spread rumor of my father, if haply I may hear of it, even of goodly Odysseus of the steadfast heart, who once, men say,fought by thy side and sacked the city of the Trojans. For of all men else, as many as warred with the Trojans, we learn where each man died a woeful death, but of him the son of Cronos has made even the death to be past learning; for no man can tell surely where he hath died,—whether he was overcome by foes on the mainland, or on the deep among the waves of Amphitrite. Therefore am I now come to thy knees, if perchance thou wilt be willing to tell me of his woeful death, whether thou sawest it haply with thine own eyes, or didst hear from some other the storyof his wanderings;1 for beyond all men did his mother bear him to sorrow. And do thou nowise out of ruth or pity for me speak soothing words, but tell me truly how thou didst come to behold him. I beseech thee, if ever my father, noble Odysseus, promised aught to thee of word or deed and fulfilled itin the land of the Trojans, where you Achaeans suffered woes, be mindful of it now, I pray thee, and tell me the very truth.”
Then the horseman, Nestor of Gerenia, answered him: “My friend, since thou hast recalled to my mind the sorrow which we endured in that land, we sons of the Achaeans, unrestrained in daring,—all that we endured on shipboard, as we roamed after booty over the misty deep whithersoever Achilles led; and all our fightings around the great city of king Priam;—lo, there all our best were slain. There lies warlike Aias, there Achilles,there Patroclus, the peer of the gods in counsel; and there my own dear son, strong alike and peerless, Antilochus, pre-eminent in speed of foot and as a warrior. Aye, and many other ills we suffered besides these; who of mortal men could tell them all?Nay, if for five years' space or six years' space thou wert to abide here, and ask of all the woes which the goodly Achaeans endured there, thou wouldest grow weary ere the end and get thee back to thy native land. For nine years' space were we busied plotting their ruin with all manner of wiles; and hardly did the son of Cronos bring it to pass.There no man ventured to vie with him in counsel, since goodly Odysseus far excelled in all manner of wiles,—thy father, if indeed thou art his son. Amazement holds me as I look on thee, for verily thy speech is like his; nor would one thinkthat a younger man would speak so like him. Now all the time that we were there goodly Odysseus and I never spoke at variance either in the assembly or in the council, but being of one mind advised the Argives with wisdom and shrewd counsel how all might be for the best.But when we had sacked the lofty city of Priam, and had gone away in our ships, and a god had scattered the Achaeans, then, even then, Zeus planned in his heart a woeful return for the Argives, for in no wise prudent or just were all. Wherefore many of them met an evil fatethrough the fell wrath of the flashing-eyed goddess, the daughter of the mighty sire, for she caused strife between the two sons of Atreus. Now these two called to an assembly all the Achaeans, recklessly and in no due order, at set of sun—and they came heavy with wine, the sons of the Achaeans,—and they spoke their word, and told wherefore they had gathered the host together.
Then in truth Menelaus bade all the Achaeans think of their return over the broad back of the sea, but in no wise did he please Agamemnon, for he was fain to hold back the host and to offer holy hecatombs,that he might appease the dread wrath of Athena,—fool! nor knew he this, that with her was to be no hearkening; for the mind of the gods that are forever is not quickly turned. So these two stood bandying harsh words; but the well-greaved Achaeans sprang upwith a wondrous din, and two-fold plans found favour with them. That night we rested, each side pondering hard thoughts against the other, for Zeus was bringing upon us an evil doom, but in the morning some of us launched our ships upon the bright sea, and put on board our goods and the low-girdled women.Half, indeed, of the host held back and remained there with Agamemnon, son of Atreus, shepherd of the host, but half of us embarked and rowed away; and swiftly the ships sailed, for a god made smooth the cavernous sea. But when we came to Tenedos, we offered sacrifice to the gods,being eager to reach our homes, howbeit Zeus did not yet purpose our return, stubborn god, who roused evil strife again a second time. Then some turned back their curved ships and departed, even the lord Odysseus, the wise and crafty-minded, with his company, once more showing favour to Agamemnon, son of Atreus;but I with the full company of ships that followed me fled on, for I knew that the god was devising evil. And the warlike son of Tydeus fled and urged on his men; and late upon our track came fair-haired Menelaus, and overtook us in Lesbos, as we were debating the long voyage,whether we should sail to sea-ward of rugged Chios, toward the isle Psyria, keeping Chios itself1 on our left, or to land-ward of Chios past windy Mimas. So we asked the god to shew us a sign, and he shewed it us, and bade us cleave through the midst of the sea to Euboea,that we might the soonest escape from misery. And a shrill wind sprang up to blow, and the ships ran swiftly over the teeming ways, and at night put in to Geraestus. There on the altar of Poseidon we laid many thighs of bulls, thankful to have traversed the great sea.It was the fourth day when in Argos the company of Diomedes, son of Tydeus, tamer of horses, stayed their shapely ships; but I held on toward Pylos, and the wind was not once quenched from the time when the god first sent it forth to blow.
“Thus I came, dear child, without tidings, nor know I aughtof those others, who of the Achaeans were saved, and who were lost. But what tidings I have heard as I abide in our halls thou shalt hear, as is right, nor will I hide it from thee. Safely, they say, came the Myrmidons that rage with the spear, whom the famous son of great-hearted Achilles led;and safely Philoctetes, the glorious son of Poias. All his company, too, did Idomeneus bring to Crete, all who escaped the war, and the sea robbed him of none. But of the son of Atreus you have yourselves heard, far off though you are, how he came, and how Aegisthus devised for him a woeful doom.Yet verily he paid the reckoning therefor in terrible wise, so good a thing is it that a son be left behind a man at his death, since that son took vengeance on his father's slayer, the guileful Aegisthus, for that he slew his glorious father. Thou, too, friend, for I see thou art a comely man and tall,be thou valiant, that many an one among men yet to be born may praise thee.” Then wise Telemachus answered him: “Nestor, son of Neleus, great glory of the Achaeans, yea verily that son took vengeance, and the Achaeans shall spread his fame abroad, that men who are yet to be may hear thereof.O that the gods would clothe me with such strength, that I might take vengeance on the wooers for their grievous sin, who in wantonness devise mischief against me. But lo, the gods have spun for me no such happiness, for me or for my father; and now I must in any case endure.” Then the horseman, Nestor of Gerenia, answered him: “Friend, since thou calledst this to my mind and didst speak of it, they say that many wooers for the hand of thy mother devise evils in thy halls in thy despite. Tell me, art thou willingly thus oppressed, or do the peoplethroughout the land hate thee, following the voice of a god? Who knows but Odysseus may some day come and take vengeance on them for their violent deeds,—he alone, it may be, or even all the host of the Achaeans? Ah, would that flashing-eyed Athena might choose to love thee even as then she cared exceedingly for glorious Odysseusin the land of the Trojans, where we Achaeans suffered woes. For never yet have I seen the gods so manifestly shewing love, as Pallas Athena did to him, standing manifest by his side. If she would be pleased to love thee in such wise and would care for thee at heart, then would many a one of them utterly forget marriage.” Then wise Telemachus answered him: “Old man, in no wise do I deem that this word will be brought to pass. Too great is what thou sayest; amazement holds me. No hope have I that this will come to pass, no, not though the gods should so will it.”
Then the goddess, flashing-eyed Athena, spoke to him, and said:“Telemachus, what a word has escaped the barrier of thy teeth! Easily might a god who willed it bring a man safe home, even from afar. But for myself, I had rather endure many grievous toils ere I reached home and saw the day of my returning, than after my return be slain at my hearth, as Agamemnonwas slain by the guile of Aegisthus and of his own wife. But of a truth death that is common to all1 the gods themselves cannot ward from a man they love, when the fell fate of grievous death shall strike him down.” Then wise Telemachus answered her:“Mentor, no longer let us tell of these things despite our grief. For him no return can ever more be brought to pass; nay, ere this the immortals have devised for him death and black fate. But now I would make enquiry and ask Nestor regarding another matter, since beyond all others he knows judgments and wisdom;for thrice, men say, has he been king for a generation of men, and like unto an immortal he seems to me to look upon. Nestor, son of Neleus, do thou tell me truly: how was the son of Atreus, wide-ruling Agamemnon, slain? Where was Menelaus? What death didguileful Aegisthus plan for the king, since he slew a man mightier far than himself? Was Menelaus not in Achaean Argos, but wandering elsewhere among men, so that Aegisthus took heart and did the murderous deed?” Then the horseman, Nestor of Gerenia, answered him: “Then verily, my child, will I tell thee all the truth.Lo, of thine own self thou dost guess how this matter would have fallen out, if the son of Atreus, fair-haired Menelaus, on his return from Troy had found Aegisthus in his halls alive. Then for him not even in death would they have piled the up-piled earth, but the dogs and birds would have torn himas he lay on the plain far from the city, nor would any of the Achaean women have bewailed him; for monstrous was the deed he devised. We on our part abode there in Troy fulfilling our many toils; but he, at ease in a nook of horse-pasturing Argos, ever sought to beguile with words the wife of Agamemnon.Now at the first she put from her the unseemly deed, the beautiful Clytemnestra, for she had an understanding heart; and with her was furthermore a minstrel whom the son of Atreus straitly charged, when he set forth for the land of Troy, to guard his wife. But when at length the doom of the gods bound her that she should be overcome,then verily Aegisthus took the minstrel to a desert isle and left him to be the prey and spoil of birds; and her, willing as he was willing, he led to his own house. And many thigh-pieces he burned upon the holy altars of the gods, and many offerings he hung up, woven stuffs and gold,since he had accomplished a mighty deed beyond all his heart had hoped.
“Now we were sailing together on our way from Troy, the son of Atreus and I, in all friendship; but when we came to holy Sunium, the cape of Athens, there Phoebus Apolloassailed with his gentle1 shafts and slew the helmsman of Menelaus, as he held in his hands the steering-oar of the speeding ship, even Phrontis, son of Onetor, who excelled the tribes of men in piloting a ship when the storm winds blow strong. So Menelaus tarried there, though eager for his journey,that he might bury his comrade and over him pay funeral rites. But when he in his turn, as he passed over the wine-dark sea in the hollow ships, reached in swift course the steep height of Malea, then verily Zeus, whose voice is borne afar, planned for him a hateful path and poured upon him the blasts of shrill winds,and the waves were swollen to huge size, like unto mountains. Then, parting his ships in twain, he brought some to Crete, where the Cydonians dwelt about the streams of Iardanus. Now there is a smooth cliff, sheer towards the sea, on the border of Gortyn in the misty deep,where the Southwest Wind drives the great wave against the headland on the left toward Phaestus, and a little rock holds back a great wave. Thither came some of his ships, and the men with much ado escaped destruction, howbeit the ships the waves dashed to pieces against the reef. But the five other dark-prowed shipsthe wind, as it bore them, and the wave brought to Egypt. So he was wandering there with his ships among men of strange speech, gathering much livelihood and gold; but meanwhile Aegisthus devised this woeful work at home.Seven years he reigned over Mycenae, rich in gold, after slaying the son of Atreus, and the people were subdued under him; but in the eighth came as his bane the goodly Orestes back from Athens, and slew his father's murderer,the guileful Aegisthus, for that he had slain his glorious father. Now when he had slain him, he made a funeral feast for the Argives over his hateful mother and the craven Aegisthus; and on the self-same day there came to him Menelaus, good at the war-cry, bringing much treasure, even all the burden that his ships could bear. “So do not thou, my friend, wander long far from home, leaving thy wealth behind thee and men in thy houseso insolent, lest they divide and devour all thy wealth, and thou shalt have gone on a fruitless journey. But to Menelaus I bid and command thee to go, for he has but lately come from a strange land, from a folk whence no one would hope in his heartto return, whom the storms had once driven astray into a sea so great, whence the very birds do not fare in the space of a year, so great is it and terrible. But now go thy way with thy ship and thy comrades, or, if thou wilt go by land, here are chariot and horses at hand for thee,and here at thy service are my sons, who will be thy guides to goodly Lacedaemon, where lives fair-haired Menelaus. And do thou beseech him thyself that he may tell thee the very truth. A lie will be not utter, for he is wise indeed.”
So he spoke, and the sun set, and darkness came on.Then among them spoke the goddess, flashing-eyed Athena: “Old man, of a truth thou hast told this tale aright. But come, cut out the tongues of the victims and mix the wine, that when we have poured libations to Poseidon and the other immortals, we may bethink us of sleep; for it is the time thereto.Even now has the light gone down beneath the darkness, and it is not fitting to sit long at the feast of the gods, but to go our way.” So spoke the daughter of Zeus, and they hearkenened to her voice. Heralds poured water over their hands, and youths filled the bowls brim full of drink,and served out to all, pouring first drops for libation into the cups. Then they cast the tongues upon the fire, and, rising up, poured libations upon them. But when they had poured libations and had drunk to their heart's content, then verily Athena and godlike Telemachus were both fain to return to the hollow ship;but Nestor on his part sought to stay them, and he spoke to them, saying: “This may Zeus forbid, and the other immortal gods, that ye should go from my house to your swift ship as from one utterly without raiment and poor, who has not cloaks and blankets in plenty in his house,whereon both he and his guests may sleep softly. Nay, in my house there are cloaks and fair blankets. Never surely shall the dear son of this man Odysseus lie down upon the deck of a ship, while I yet live and children after me are left in my hallsto entertain strangers, even whosoever shall come to my house.” Then the goddess, flashing-eyed Athena, answered him: “Well indeed hast thou spoken in this, old friend, and it were fitting for Telemachus to hearken to thee, since it is far better thus. But while he shall now follow with thee, that he may sleepin thy halls, I for my part will go to the black ship, that I may hearten my comrades and tell them all. For alone among them I declare that I am an older man; the others are younger who follow in friendship, all of them of like age with great-hearted Telemachus.There will I lay me down by the hollow black ship this night, but in the morning I will go to the great-hearted Cauconians, where a debt is owing to me, in no wise new or small. But do thou send this man on his way with a chariot and with thy son, since he has come to thy house, and give him horses,the fleetest thou host in running and the best in strength.”
So spoke the goddess, flashing-eyed Athena, and she departed in the likeness of a sea-eagle; and amazement fell upon all at the sight, and the old man marvelled, when his eyes beheld it. And he grasped the hand of Telemachus, and spoke, and addressed him: “Friend, in no wise do I think that thou wilt prove a base man or a craven, if verily when thou art so young the gods follow thee to be thy guides. For truly this is none other of those that have their dwellings on Olympus but the daughter of Zeus, Tritogeneia,1 the maid most glorious, she that honored also thy noble father among the Argives.Nay, O Queen, be gracious, and grant to me fair renown, to me and to my sons and to my revered wife; and to thee in return will I sacrifice a sleek1 heifer, broad of brow, unbroken, which no man hath yet led beneath the yoke. Her will I sacrifice, and I will overlay her horns with gold.” So he spoke in prayer, and Pallas Athena heard him. Then the horseman, Nestor of Gerenia, led them, his sons and the husbands of his daughters, to his beautiful palace. And when they reached the glorious palace of the king, they sat down in rows on the chairs and high seats;and on their coming the old man mixed for them a bowl of sweet wine, which now in the eleventh year the housewife opened, when she had loosed the string that held the lid. Thereof the old man bade mix a bowl, and earnestly he prayed, as he poured libations, to Athena, the daughter of Zeus who bears the aegis. But when they had poured libations, and had drunk to their heart's content, they went, each to his home, to take their rest. But the horseman, Nestor of Gerenia, bade Telemachus, the dear son of divine Odysseus, to sleep there on a corded bedstead under the echoing portico,and by him Peisistratus, of the good ashen spear, a leader of men, who among his sons was still unwed in the palace. But he himself slept in the inmost chamber of the lofty house, and beside him lay the lady his wife, who had strewn the couch.
Soon as early Dawn appeared, the rosy-fingered,up from his bed rose the horseman, Nestor of Gerenia, and went forth and sat down on the polished stones which were before his lofty doors, white and glistening as with oil.1 On these of old was wont to sit Neleus, the peer of the gods in counsel;but he ere this had been stricken by fate and had gone to the house of Hades, and now there sat upon them in his turn Nestor of Gerenia, the warder of the Achaeans, holding a sceptre in his hands. About him his sons gathered in a throng as they came forth from their chambers, Echephron and Stratius and Perseus and Aretus and godlike Thrasymedes;and to these thereafter came as the sixth the lord Peisistratus. And they led godlike Telemachus and made him sit beside them; and the horseman, Nestor of Gerenia, was first to speak among them: “Quickly, my dear children, fulfil my desire, that first of all the gods I may propitiate Athena,who came to me in manifest presence to the rich feast of the god. Come now, let one go to the plain for a heifer, that she may come speedily, and that the neatherd may drive her; and let one go to the black ship of great-hearted Telemachus and bring all his comrades, and let him leave two men only;and let one again bid the goldsmith Laerces come hither, that he may overlay the heifer's horns with gold. And do ye others abide here together; and bid the handmaids within to make ready a feast throughout our glorious halls, to fetch seats, and logs to set on either side of the altar, and to bring clear water.” So he spoke, and they all set busily to work. The heifer came from the plain and from the swift, shapely ship came the comrades of great-hearted Telemachus; the smith came, bearing in his hands his tools of bronze, the implements of his craft, anvil and hammer and well-made tongs,wherewith he wrought the gold; and Athena came to accept the sacrifice. Then the old man, Nestor, the driver of chariots, gave gold, and the smith prepared it, and overlaid therewith the horns of the heifer, that the goddess might rejoice when she beheld the offering. And Stratius and goodly Echephron led the heifer by the horns,and Aretus came from the chamber, bringing them water for the hands in a basin embossed with flowers, and in the other hand he held barley grains in a basket; and Thrasymedes, steadfast in fight, stood by, holding in his hands a sharp axe, to fell the heifer; and Perseus held the bowl for the blood. Then the old man, Nestor, driver of chariots,began the opening rite of hand-washing and sprinkling with barley grains, and earnestly he prayed to Athena, cutting off as first offering the hair from the head, and casting it into the fire.