Homer (fl. 850 B.C.). The Odyssey. The Harvard Classics. 190914.
Pallas sends home Telemachus from Lacedaemon with the presents given him by Menelaus. Telemachus landed, goes first to Eumaeus.
NOW Pallas Athene went to the wide land of Lacedaemon, to put the noble son of the great-hearted Odysseus in mind of his return, and to make him hasten his coming. And she found Telemachus, and the glorious son of Nestor, couched at the vestibule of the house of famous Menelaus. The son of Nestor truly was overcome with soft sleep, but sweet sleep gat not hold of Telemachus, but, through the night divine, careful thoughts for his father kept him wakeful. And grey-eyed Athene stood nigh him and spake to him, saying:
Telemachus, it is no longer meet that thou shouldest wander far from thy home, leaving thy substance behind thee, and men in thy house so wanton, lest they divide and utterly devour all thy wealth, and thou shalt have gone on a vain journey. But come, rouse with all haste Menelaus, of the loud war-cry, to send thee on thy way, that thou mayest even yet find thy noble mother in her home. For even now her father and her brethren bid her wed Eurymachus, for he outdoes all the wooers in his presents, and hath been greatly increasing his gifts of wooing. So shall she take no treasure from thy house despite thy will. Thou knowest of what sort is the heart of a woman within her; all her desire is to increase the house of the man who takes her to wife, but of her former children and of her own dear lord she has no more memory once he is dead, and she asks concerning him no more. Go then, and thyself place all thy substance in the care of the handmaid who seems to thee the best, till the day when the gods shall show thee a glorious bride. Now another word will I tell thee, and do thou lay it up in thine heart. The noblest of the wooers, lie in wait for thee of purpose, in the strait between Ithaca and rugged Samos, eager to slay thee before thou come to thine own country. But this, methinks, will never be; yea, sooner shall the earth close over certain of the wooers that devour thy livelihood. Nay, keep thy well-wrought ship far from those isles, and sail by night as well as day, and he of the immortals who hath thee in his keeping and protection will send thee a fair breeze in thy wake. But when thou hast touched the nearest shore of Ithaca, send thy ship and all thy company forward to the city, but for thy part seek first the swineherd who keeps thy swine, loyal and at one with thee. There do thou rest the night, and bid him go to the city to bear tidings of thy coming to the wise Penelope, how that she hath got thee safe, and thou art come up out of Pylos.
Then Peisistratus, son of Nestor, answered him, saying: Telemachus, we may in no wise drive through the dark night, how eager soever to be gone; nay, soon it will be dawn. Tarry then, till the hero, the son of Atreus, spear-famed Menelaus, brings gifts, and sets them on the car, and bespeaks thee kindly, and sends thee on thy way. For of him a guest is mindful all the days of his life, even of the host that shows him loving-kindness.
So spake he, and anon came the golden-throned Dawn. And Menelaus, of the loud war cry, drew nigh to them, new risen from his bed, by fair-haired Helen. Now when the dear son of Odysseus marked him, he made haste and girt his shining doublet about him, and the hero cast a great mantle over his mighty shoulders, and went forth at the door, and Telemachus, dear son of divine Odysseus, came up and spake to Menelaus, saying:
Then Menelaus, of the loud war cry, answered him: Telemachus, as for me, I will not hold thee a long time here, that art eager to return; nay, I think it shame even in another host, who loves overmuch or hates overmuch. Measure is best in all things. He does equal wrong who speeds a guest that would fain abide, and stays one who is in haste to be gone. Men should lovingly entreat the present guest and speed the parting. But abide till I bring fair gifts and set them on the car and thine own eyes behold them, and I bid the women to prepare the midday meal in the halls, out of the good store they have within. Honour and glory it is for us, and gain withal for thee, that ye should have eaten well ere ye go on your way, over vast and limitless lands. What and if thou art minded to pass through Hellas and mid Argos? So shall I too go with thee, and yoke thee horses and lead thee to the towns of men, and none shall send us empty away, but will give us some one thing to take with us, either a tripod of goodly bronze or a cauldron, or two mules or a golden chalice.
Then wise Telemachus answered him saying: Menelaus, son of Atreus, fosterling of Zeus, leader of the people, rather would I return even now to mine own land, for I left none behind to watch over my goods when I departed. I would not that I myself should perish on the quest of my godlike father, nor that any good heirloom should be lost from my halls.
Now when Menelaus, of the loud war cry, heard this saying, straightway he bade his wife and maids to prepare the midday meal in the halls, out of the good store they had by them. Then Eteoneus, son of Boethous, came nigh him, just risen from his bed, for he abode not far from him. Him Menelaus of the loud war cry bade kindle the fire and roast of the flesh; and he hearkened and obeyed. Then the prince went down into the fragrant treasure chamber, not alone, for Helen went with him, and Megapenthes. Now, when they came to the place where the treasures were stored, then Atrides took a two-handled cup, and bade his son Megapenthes to bear a mixing bowl of silver. And Helen stood by the coffers, wherein were her robes of curious needlework which she herself had wrought. Then Helen, the fair lady, lifted one and brought it out, the widest and most beautifully embroidered of all, and it shone like a star, and lay far beneath the rest.
Telemachus, may Zeus the thunderer, and the lord of Here, in very truth bring about thy return according to the desire of thy heart. And 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 to me when his house sheltered me, on my coming thither. This cup I would give to thee.
Therewith the hero Atrides set the two-handled cup in his hands. And the strong Megapenthes bare the shining silver bowl and set it before him. And Helen came up, beautiful Helen, with the robe in her hands, and spake and hailed him:
Lo! I too give this gift, dear child, a memorial of the hands of Helen, against the day of thy desire, even of thy bridal, for thy bride to wear it. But meanwhile let it lie by thy dear mother in her chamber. And may joy go with thee to thy well-builded house, and thine own country.
With that she put it into his hands, and he took it and was glad. And the hero Peisistratus took the gifts and laid them in the chest of the car, and gazed on all and wondered. Then Menelaus of the fair hair led them to the house. Then they twain sat them down on chairs and high seats, and a handmaid bare water for the hands in a goodly golden ewer, and poured it forth over a silver basin to wash withal, and drew to their side a polished table. And a grave dame bare wheaten bread and set it by them, and laid on the board many dainties, giving freely of such things as she had by her. And the son of Boethous carved by the board and divided the messes, and the son of renowned Menelaus poured forth the wine. So 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, then did Telemachus and the glorious son of Nestor yoke the horses and climb into the inlaid car. And they drave forth from the gateway and the echoing gallery. After these Menelaus, of the fair hair, the son of Atreus, went forth bearing in his right hand a golden cup of honey-hearted wine, that they might pour a drink-offering ere they departed. And he stood before the horses and spake his greeting:
And wise Telemachus answered him, saying: Yea verily, O fosterling of Zeus, we will tell him all on our coming even as thou sayest. Would God that when I return to Ithaca I may find Odysseus in his home and tell him all, so surely as now I go on my way having met with all loving-kindness at thy hands, and take with me treasures many and goodly!
And even as he spake a bird flew forth at his right hand, an eagle that bare in his claws a great white goose, a tame fowl from the yard, and men and women followed shouting. But the bird drew near them and flew off to the right, across the horses, and they that saw it were glad, and their hearts were all comforted with them. And Peisistratus, son of Nestor, first spake among them:
And long-robed Helen took the word and spake, saying: Hear me, and I will prophesy as the immortals put it into my heart, and as I deem it will be accomplished. Even as yonder eagle came down from the hill, the place of his birth and kin, and snatched away the goose that was fostered in the house, even so shall Odysseus return home after much trial and long wanderings and take vengeance; yea, or even now is he at home and sowing the seeds of evil for all the wooers.
He spake and smote the horses with the lash, and they sped quickly towards the plain, in eager course through the city. So all day long they swayed the yoke they bore upon their necks. And the sun sank, and all the ways were darkened. And they came to Pherae, to the house of Diocles, son of Orsilochus, the child begotten of Alpheus. There they rested for the night, and by them he set the entertainment of strangers.
Now so soon as early Dawn shone forth, the rosy-fingered, they yoked the horses and mounted the inlaid car. And forth they drave from the gateway and the echoing gallery. And he touched the horses with the whip to start them, and the pair flew onward nothing loth. And soon thereafter they reached the steep hold of Pylos. Then Telemachus spake unto the son of Nestor, saying:
Son of Nestor, in what wise mightest thou make me a promise and fulfil my bidding? For we claim to be friends by reason of our fathers friendship from of old. Moreover, we are equals in age, and this journey shall turn to our greater love. Take me not hence past my ship, O fosterling of Zeus, but leave me there, lest that old man keep me in his house in my despite, out of his eager kindness, for I must go right quickly home.
So spake he, and the some of Nestor communed with his own heart how he might make promise, and duly fulfil the same. So as he thought thereon, in this wise it seemed to him best. He turned back his horses toward the swift ship and the sea-banks, and took forth the fair gifts and set them in the hinder part of the ship, the raiment and the gold which Menelaus gave him. And he called to Telemachus and spake to him winged words:
Now climb the ship with all haste, and bid all thy company do likewise, ere I reach home and bring the old man word. For well I know in my mind and heart that, being so wilful of heart, he will not let thee go, but he himself will come hither to bid thee to his house, and methinks that he will not go back without thee; for very wroth will he be despite thine excuse.
Thus was he busy hereat and praying and making burnt-offering to Athene, by the stern of the ship, when there drew nigh him one from a far country, that had slain his man and was fleeing from out of Argos. He was a soothsayer and by his lineage he came of Melampus, who of old time abode in Pylos, mother of flocks, a rich man and one that had an exceedingly goodly house among the Pylians, but afterward he had come to the land of strangers, fleeing from his country and from Neleus, the great-hearted, the proudest of living men, who kept all his goods for a full year by force. All that time Melampus lay bound with hard bonds in the halls of Phylacus, suffering strong pains for the sake of the daughter of Neleus, and for the dread blindness of soul which the goddess, the Erinnys of the dolorous stroke, had laid on him. Howsoever, he escaped his fate, and drave away the lowing kine from Phylace to Pylos, and avenged the foul deed upon godlike Neleus, and brought the maiden home to his own brother to wife. As for him, he went to a country of other men, to Argos, the pastureland of horses; for there truly it was ordained that he should dwell, bearing rule over many of the Argives. There he wedded a wife, and builded him a lofty house, and begat Antiphates and Mantius, two mighty sons. Now Antiphates begat Oïcles the great-hearted, and Oïcles Amphiaraus, the rouser of the host, whom Zeus, lord of the aegis, and Apollo loved with all manner of love. Yet he reached not the threshold of old age, but died in Thebes by reason of a womans gifts. And the sons born to him were Alcmaeon and Amphilochus. But Mantius begat Polypheides and Cleitus; but it came to pass that the golden-throned Dawn snatched away Cleitus for his very beautys sake, that he might dwell with the Immortals.
And Apollo made the high-souled Polypheides a seer, far the chief of human kind, Amphiaraus being now dead. He removed his dwelling to Hypheresia, being angered with his father, and here he abode and prophesied to all men.
This mans son it was, Theoclymenus by name, that now drew nigh and stood by Telemachus. And he found him pouring a drink-offering and praying by the swift black ship, and uttering his voice he spake to him winged words:
Friend, since I find thee making burnt-offering in this place, I pray thee, by thine offerings and by the god, and thereafter by thine own head, and in the name of the men of thy company answer my question truly and hide it not. Who art thou of the sons of men and whence? Where is thy city, where are they that begat thee?
And wise Telemachus answered him, saying: Yea now, stranger, I will plainly tell thee all. Of Ithaca am I by lineage, and my father is Odysseus, if ever such an one there was, but now hath he perished by an evil fate. Wherefore I have taken my company and a black ship, and have gone forth to hear word of my father that has been long afar.
Then godlike Theoclymenus spake to him again: Even so I too have fled from my country, for the manslaying of one of mine own kin. And many brethren and kinsmen of the slain are in Argos, the pastureland of horses, and rule mightily over the Achaeans. Wherefore now am I an exile to shun death and black fate at their hands, for it is my doom yet to wander among men. Now set me on board ship, since I supplicate thee in my flight, lest they slay me utterly; for methinks they follow hard after me.
And wise Telemachus answered him, saying: Surely I will not drive thee away from our good ship, if thou art fain to come. Follow thou with us then, and in Ithaca thou shalt be welcome to such things as we have.
Therewith he took from him his spear of bronze, and laid it along the deck of the curved ship, and himself too climbed the seafaring ship. Then he sat down in the stern and made Theoclymenus to sit beside him; and his company loosed the hawsers. Then Telemachus called unto his company, and bade them lay hands on the tackling, and speedily they hearkened to his call. So they raised the mast of pine tree, and set it in the hole of the cross plank and made it fast with forestays, and hauled up the white sails with twisted ropes of ox-hide. And grey-eyed Athene sent them a favouring breeze, rushing violently through the clear sky that the ship might speedily finish her course over the salt water of the sea. So they passed by Crouni and Chalcis, a land of fair streams.
And the sun set and all the ways were darkened. And the vessel drew nigh to Pheae, being sped before the breeze of Zeus, and then passed goodly Elis where the Epeans bear rule. From thence he drave on again to the Pointed Isles, pondering whether he should escape death or be cut off.
Now Odysseus and the goodly swineherd were supping in the hut, and the other men sat at meat with them. So when they had put from them the desire of meat and drink, Odysseus spake among them, to prove the swineherd, whether he would still entertain him diligently, and bid him abide there in the steading or send him forward to the city:
Listen now, Eumaeus, and all the others of the company. In the morning I would fain be gone to the town to go a begging, that I be not ruinous to thyself and thy fellows. Now advise me well, and lend me a good guide by the way to lead me thither; and through the city will I wander alone as needs I must, if perchance one may give me a cup of water and a morsel of bread. Moreover I would go to the house of divine Odysseus and bear tidings to the wise Penelope, and consort with the wanton wooers, if haply they might grant me a meal out of the boundless store that they have by them. Lightly might I do good service among them, even all that they would. For lo! I will tell thee and do thou mark and listen. By the favour of Hermes, the messenger, who gives grace and glory to all mens work, no mortal may vie with me in the business of a serving-man, in piling well a fire, in cleaving dry faggots, and in carving and roasting flesh and in pouring of wine, those offices wherein meaner men serve their betters.
Then didst thou speak to him in heaviness of heart, swineherd Eumaeus: Ah! wherefore, stranger, hath such a thought arisen in thine heart? Surely thou art set on perishing utterly there, if thou wouldest indeed go into the throng of the wooers, whose outrage and violence reacheth even to the iron heaven! Not such as thou are their servants; they that minister to them are young and gaily clad in mantles and in doublets, and their heads are anointed with oil and they are fair of face, and the polished boards are laden with bread and flesh and wine. Nay, abide here, for none is vexed by thy presence, neither I nor any of my fellows that are with me. But when the dear son of Odysseus comes, he himself will give thee a mantle and a doublet for raiment, and will send thee whithersoever thy heart and spirit bid thee go.
Then the steadfast goodly Odysseus answered him: Oh, that thou mayst so surely be dear to father Zeus as thou art to me, in that thou didst make me to cease from wandering and dread woe! For there is no other thing more mischievous to men than roaming; yet for their cursed bellys need men endure sore distress, to whom come wandering and tribulation and pain. But behold now, since thou stayest me here, and biddest me wait his coming, tell me of the mother of divine Odysseus, and of the father whom at his departure he left behind him on the threshold of old age; are they, it may be, yet alive beneath the sunlight, or already dead and within the house of Hades?
Then spake to him the swineherd, a master of men: Yea now, stranger, I will plainly tell thee all. Laertes yet lives, and prays evermore to Zeus that his life may waste from out his limbs within his halls. For he has wondrous sorrow for his son that is far away, and for the wedded lady his wise wife, whose death afflicted him in chief and brought him to old age before his day. Now she died of very grief for her son renowned, by an evil death, so may no man perish who dwells here and is a friend to me in word and deed! So long as she was on earth, though in much sorrow, I was glad to ask and enquire concerning her, for that she herself had reared me along with long-robed Ctimene, her noble daughter, the youngest of her children. With her I was reared, and she honoured me little less than her own. But when we both came to the time of our desire, to the flower of age, thereupon they sent her to Same, and got a great bride-price; but my lady clad me in a mantle and a doublet, rainment very fair, and gave me sandals for my feet and sent me forth to the field, and right dear at heart she held me. But of these things now at last am I lacking; yet the blessed gods prosper the work of mine own hands, whereat I abide. Of this my substance I have eaten and drunken and given to reverend strangers. But from my lady I may hear nought pleasant, neither word nor deed, for evil hath fallen on her house, a plague of froward men; yet thralls have a great desire to speak before their mistress and find out all eat and drink, and moreover to carry off somewhat with them to the field, such things as ever comfort the heart of a thrall.
And Odysseus of many counsels answered him saying: Ah, Eumaeus, how far then didst thou wander from thine own country and thy parents while as yet thou wast but a child! But come, declare me this and plainly tell it all. Was a wide-wayed town of men taken and sacked, wherein dwelt thy father and thy lady mother, or did unfriendly men find thee lonely, tending sheep or cattle, and shipped thee thence, and sold thee into the house of thy master here, who paid for thee a goodly price?
Then spake to him the swineherd, a master of men: Stranger, since thou askest and questionest me hereof, give heed now in silence and make merry, and abide here drinking wine. Lo, the nights now are of length untold. Time is there to sleep, and time to listen and be glad; thou needest not turn to bed before the hour; even too much sleep is vexation of spirit. But for the rest, let him whose heart and mind bid him, go forth and slumber, and at the dawning of the day let him break his fast, and follow our masters swine. But let us twain drink and feast within the steading, and each in his neighbours sorrows take delight recalling them, for even the memory of griefs is a joy to a man who hath been sore tried and wandered far. Wherefore I will tell thee that whereof thou askest and dost question me.
There is a certain isle called Syria, if haply thou hast heard tell of it, over above Ortygia, and there are the turning-places of the sun. It is not very great in compass, though a goodly isle, rich in herds, rich in flocks, with plenty of corn and wine. Dearth never enters the land, and no hateful sickness falls on wretched mortals. But when the tribes of men grow old in that city, then comes Apollo of the silver bow, with Artemis, and slays them with the visitation of his gentle shafts. In that isle are two cities, and the whole land is divided between them, and my father was king over the twain, Ctesius son of Ormenus, a man like to the Immortals.
Thither came the Phoenicians, mariners renowned, greedy merchant men, with countless gauds in a black ship. Now in my fathers house was a Phoenician woman, tall and fair and skilled in bright handiwork; this woman the Phoenicians with their sleights beguiled. First as she was washing clothes, one of them lay with her in love by the hollow ship, for love beguiles the minds of womankind, even of the upright. Then he asked her who she was and whence she came, and straightway she showed him the lofty home of my father, saying:
From out of Sidon I avow that I come, land rich in bronze, and I am the daughter of Arybas, the deeply wealthy. But Taphians, who were sea-robbers, laid hands on me and snatched me away as I came in front from the fields, and brought me hither and sold me into the house of my master, who paid for me a goodly price.
Then the man who had lain with her privily, answered: Say, wouldst thou now return home with us, that thou mayst look again on the lofty house of thy father and mother and on their faces. For truly they yet live, and have a name for wealth.
Hold your peace now, and let none of your fellows speak to me and greet me, if they meet me in the street, or even at the well, lest one go and tell it to the old man at home, and he suspect somewhat and bind me in hard bonds and devise death for all of you. But keep ye the matter in mind, and speed the purchase of your homeward freight. And when your ship is freighted with stores, let a message come quickly to me at the house for I will likewise bring gold, all that comes under my hand. Yea and there is another thing that I would gladly give for my fare. I am nurse to the child of my lord in the halls, a most cunning little boy, that runs out and abroad with me. Him would I bring on board ship, and he should fetch you a great price, wheresoever ye take him for sale among men of strange speech.
Therewith she went her way to the fair halls. But they abode among us a whole year, and got together much wealth in their hollow ship. And when their hollow ship was now laden to depart, they sent a messenger to tell the tidings to the woman. There came a man versed in craft to my fathers house, with a golden chain strung here and there with amber beads. Now the maidens in the hall and my lady mother were handling the chain and gazing on it, and offering him their price; but he had signed silently to the woman, and therewithal gat him away to the hollow ship. Then she took me by the hand and led me forth from the house. And at the vestibule of the house she found the cups and the tables of the guests that had been feasting, who were in waiting on my father. They had gone forth to the session and the place of parley of the people. And she straightway hid three goblets in her bosom, and bare them away, and I followed in my innocence. Then the sun sank and all the ways were darkened and we went quickly and came to the good haven, where was the swift ship of the Phoenicians. So they climbed on board and took us up with them, and sailed over the wet ways, and Zeus sent us favouring wind.
For six days we sailed by day and night continually; but when Zeus, son of Cronos, added the seventh day thereto, then Artemis, the archer, smote the woman that she fell, as a sea-swallow falls, with a plunge into the hold. And they cast her forth to be the prey of seals and fishes, but I was left stricken at heart. And wind and water bare them and brought them to Ithaca, where Laertes bought me with his possessions. And thus it chanced that mine eyes beheld this land.
Eumaeus, verily thou hast stirred my heart within me with the tale of all these things, of all the sorrow of heart thou hast endured. Yet surely Zeus hath given thee good as well as evil, since after all these adventures thou hast come to the house of a kindly man, who is careful to give thee meat and drink and right well thou livest. But I have come hither still wandering through the many towns of men.
Thus they spake one with the other. Then they laid them down to sleep for no long while, but for a little space, for soon came the throned Dawn. But on the shore the company of Telemachus were striking their sails, and took down the mast quickly and rowed the ship on to anchorage. And they case anchors and made fast the hawsers, and themselves too stept forth upon the strand of the sea, and made ready the midday meal, and mixed the dark wine. Now when they had put from them the desire of meat and drink, wise Telemachus first spake among them:
Do ye now drive the black ship to the city, while I will go to the fields and to the herdsmen, and at even I will return to the city, when I have seen my lands. And in the morning I will set by you the wages of the voyage, a good feast of flesh and of sweet wine.
Then godlike Theoclymenus answered him: And whither shall I go, dear child? To what mans house shall I betake me, of such as are lords in rocky Ithaca? Shall I get me straight to thy mother and to thy home?
Then wise Telemachus answered him, saying: In other case I would bid thee go even to our own house; for there is no lack of cheer for strangers, but now would it be worse for thyself, forasmuch as I shall be away nor would my mother see thee. For she comes not often in sight of the wooers in the house, but abides apart from them in her upper chamber, and weaves at her web. Yet there is one whom I will tell thee of, to whom thou mayst go, Eurymachus, the glorious son of wise Polybus, whom now the men of Ithaca look upon, even as if he were a god. For he is far the best man of them all, and is most eager to wed my mother and to have the sovereignty of Odysseus. Howbeit, Olympian Zeus, that dwells in the clear sky, knows hereof, whether or no he will fulfill for them the evil day before their marriage.
Now even as he spake, a bird flew out on the right, a hawk, the swift messenger of Apollo. In his talons he held a dove and plucked her, and shed the feathers down to the earth, midway between the ship and Telemachus himself. Then Theoclymenus called him apart from his fellows, and clasped his hand and spake and hailed him:
Telemachus, surely not without the gods will hath the bird flown out on the right, for I knew when I saw him that he was a bird of omen. There is no other house more kingly than yours in the land of Ithaca; nay, ye have ever the mastery.
And wise Telemachus answered him, saying: Ah, stranger, would that this word may be accomplished! Soon shouldest thou be aware of kindness and many a gift at my hands, so that whoso met with thee would call thee blessed.
Then he spake to Piraeus, his trusty companion: Piraeus, son of Clytius, thou that at other seasons hearkenest to me above all my company who went with me to Pylos, even now, I pray, lead this stranger home with thee, and give heed to treat him lovingly and with worship in thy house till I come.
Therewith he went on board, and bade his men themselves to mount and loose the hawsers. And quickly they embarked and sat upon the benches. And Telemachus bound his goodly sandals beneath his feet, and seized a mighty spear, shod with sharp bronze, from the deck of the ship and his men loosed the hawsers. So they thrust off and sailed to the city, as Telemachus bade them, the dear son of divine Odysseus. But swiftly his feet bore him on his forward way, till he came to the court, where were his swine out of number; and among them the good swineherd slept, a man loyal to his lords.