Padraic Colum > The Adventures of Odysseus and the Tale of Troy > Part I > Chapter VIII
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Padraic Colum (1881–1972).  The Adventures of Odysseus and the Tale of Troy.  1918.

Part I
 
Chapter VIII
 
THEY came to SParta, to a country lying low amongst the hills, and they stayed the chariot outside the gate of the King’s dwelling. Now upon that day Menelaus was sending his daughter into Phthia, with horses and chariots, as a bride for Achilles’ son. And for Megapenthes, his own son, a bride was being brought into the house. Because of these two marriages there was feasting in the palace and kinsmen and neighbours were gathered there. A minstrel was singing to the guests and two tumblers were whirling round the high hall to divert them.   1
  To the King in his high hall came Eteoneus, the steward. ‘Renowned Menelaus,’ said Eteoneus, ‘there are two strangers outside, men with the looks of heroes. What would you have me do with them? Shall I have their horses unyoked, bidding them enter the Palace, or shall I let them fare on to another dwelling?’   2
  ‘Why do you ask such a question, Eteoneus?’ said Menelaus in anger. ‘Have we not eaten the bread of other men on our wanderings, and have we not rested ourselves in other men’s houses? Knowing this you have no right to ask whether you should bid strangers enter or let them go past the gate of my dwelling. Go now and bid them enter and feast with us.’   3
  Then Eteoneus went from the hall, and while he had servants unyoke the horses from their chariot he led Telemachus and Peisistratus into the palace. First they were brought to the bath, and when they had come from the bath refreshed, they were given new cloaks and mantles. When they had dressed themselves they were led into the King’s high hall. They seated themselves there, and a maid brought water in a golden ewer and poured it over their hands into a silver basin. Then a polished table was put beside them, and the housedame placed bread and meat and wine upon it so that they might eat.   4
  Menelaus came to where they sat and said to Telemachus and Peisistratus, ‘By your looks I know you to be of the line of Kings. Eat now, and when you have refreshed yourselves I will ask who you are and from what place you come.’   5
  But before they had finished their meal, and while yet Menelaus the king was showing them the treasures that were near, the lady Helen came into the high hall—Helen for whom the Kings and Princes of Greece had gone to war. Her maids were with her, and they set a chair for her near where Menelaus was and they put a rug of soft wool under her feet. Then one brought to her a silver basket filled with colored yarn. And Helen sat in her high chair and took the distaff in her hands and worked the yarn. She questioned Menelaus about the things that had happened during the day, and as she did she watched Telemachus.   6
  Then the lady Helen left the distaff down and said, ‘Menelaus, I am minded to tell you who one of these strangers is. No one was ever more like another than this youth is like great-hearted Odysseus. I know that he is no other than Telemachus, whom Odysseus left as a child, when, for my sake, the Greeks began their war against Troy.’   7
  Then said Menelaus, ‘I too mark his likeness to Odysseus. The shape of his head, the glance of his eye, remind me of Odysseus. But can it indeed be that Telemachus has come into my house?’   8
  ‘Renowned Menelaus,’ said Peisistratus, ‘this is indeed the son of Odysseus. And I avow myself to be the son of another comrade of yours, of Nestor, who was with you at the war of Troy. I have been sent with Telemachus to be his guide to your house.’   9
  Menelaus rose up and clasped the hand of Telemachus. ‘Never did there come to my house,’ said he, ‘a youth more welcome. For my sake did Odysseus endure much toil and many adventures. Had he come to my country I would have given him a city to rule over, and I think that nothing would have Parted us, one from the other. But Odysseus, I know, has not returned to his own land of Ithaka.’   10
  Then Telemachus, thinking upon his father, dead, or wandering through the world, wept. Helen, too, shed tears, remembering things that had happened. And Menelaus, thinking upon Odysseus and on all his toils, was silent and sad; and sad and silent too was Peisistratus, thinking upon Antilochos, his brother, who had perished in the war of Troy.   11
  But Helen, wishing to turn their minds to other thoughts, cast into the wine a drug that lulled pain and brought forgetfulness—a drug which had been given to her in Egypt by Polydamna, the wife of King Theon. And when they had drunk the wine their sorrowful memories went from them, and they spoke to each other without regretfulness. Thereafter King Menelaus told of his adventure with the Ancient One of the Sea—the adventure that had brought to him the last tidings of Odysseus.   12

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