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The Odyssey by Homer

Part 6 out of 7

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noise like a bull bellowing in a meadow, and Penelope stepped
upon the raised platform, where the chests stood in which the
fair linen and clothes were laid by along with fragrant herbs:
reaching thence, she took down the bow with its bow case from
the peg on which it hung. She sat down with it on her knees,
weeping bitterly as she took the bow out of its case, and when
her tears had relieved her, she went to the cloister where the
suitors were, carrying the bow and the quiver, with the many
deadly arrows that were inside it. Along with her came her
maidens, bearing a chest that contained much iron and bronze
which her husband had won as prizes. When she reached the
suitors, she stood by one of the bearing-posts supporting the
roof of the cloister, holding a veil before her face, and with a
maid on either side of her. Then she said:

"Listen to me you suitors, who persist in abusing the
hospitality of this house because its owner has been long
absent, and without other pretext than that you want to marry
me; this, then, being the prize that you are contending for, I
will bring out the mighty bow of Ulysses, and whomsoever of you
shall string it most easily and send his arrow through each one
of twelve axes, him will I follow and quit this house of my
lawful husband, so goodly, and so abounding in wealth. But even
so I doubt not that I shall remember it in my dreams."

As she spoke, she told Eumaeus to set the bow and the pieces of
iron before the suitors, and Eumaeus wept as he took them to do
as she had bidden him. Hard by, the stockman wept also when he
saw his master's bow, but Antinous scolded them. "You country
louts," said he, "silly simpletons; why should you add to the
sorrows of your mistress by crying in this way? She has enough
to grieve her in the loss of her husband; sit still, therefore,
and eat your dinners in silence, or go outside if you want to
cry, and leave the bow behind you. We suitors shall have to
contend for it with might and main, for we shall find it no
light matter to string such a bow as this is. There is not a man
of us all who is such another as Ulysses; for I have seen him
and remember him, though I was then only a child."

This was what he said, but all the time he was expecting to be
able to string the bow and shoot through the iron, whereas in
fact he was to be the first that should taste of the arrows from
the hands of Ulysses, whom he was dishonouring in his own
house--egging the others on to do so also.

Then Telemachus spoke. "Great heavens!" he exclaimed, "Jove must
have robbed me of my senses. Here is my dear and excellent
mother saying she will quit this house and marry again, yet I am
laughing and enjoying myself as though there were nothing
happening. But, suitors, as the contest has been agreed upon,
let it go forward. It is for a woman whose peer is not to be
found in Pylos, Argos, or Mycene, nor yet in Ithaca nor on the
mainland. You know this as well as I do; what need have I to
speak in praise of my mother? Come on, then, make no excuses for
delay, but let us see whether you can string the bow or no. I
too will make trial of it, for if I can string it and shoot
through the iron, I shall not suffer my mother to quit this
house with a stranger, not if I can win the prizes which my
father won before me."

As he spoke he sprang from his seat, threw his crimson cloak
from him, and took his sword from his shoulder. First he set
the axes in a row, in a long groove which he had dug for them,
and had made straight by line. {162} Then he stamped the earth
tight round them, and everyone was surprised when they saw him
set them up so orderly, though he had never seen anything of the
kind before. This done, he went on to the pavement to make trial
of the bow; thrice did he tug at it, trying with all his might
to draw the string, and thrice he had to leave off, though he
had hoped to string the bow and shoot through the iron. He was
trying for the fourth time, and would have strung it had not
Ulysses made a sign to check him in spite of all his eagerness.
So he said:

"Alas! I shall either be always feeble and of no prowess, or I
am too young, and have not yet reached my full strength so as to
be able to hold my own if any one attacks me. You others,
therefore, who are stronger than I, make trial of the bow and
get this contest settled."

On this he put the bow down, letting it lean against the door
[that led into the house] with the arrow standing against the
top of the bow. Then he sat down on the seat from which he had
risen, and Antinous said:

"Come on each of you in his turn, going towards the right from
the place at which the cupbearer begins when he is handing round
the wine."

The rest agreed, and Leiodes son of Oenops was the first to
rise. He was sacrificial priest to the suitors, and sat in the
corner near the mixing-bowl. {163} He was the only man who hated
their evil deeds and was indignant with the others. He was now
the first to take the bow and arrow, so he went on to the
pavement to make his trial, but he could not string the bow, for
his hands were weak and unused to hard work, they therefore soon
grew tired, and he said to the suitors, "My friends, I cannot
string it; let another have it, this bow shall take the life and
soul out of many a chief among us, for it is better to die than
to live after having missed the prize that we have so long
striven for, and which has brought us so long together. Some one
of us is even now hoping and praying that he may marry Penelope,
but when he has seen this bow and tried it, let him woo and make
bridal offerings to some other woman, and let Penelope marry
whoever makes her the best offer and whose lot it is to win

On this he put the bow down, letting it lean against the door,
{164} with the arrow standing against the tip of the bow. Then
he took his seat again on the seat from which he had risen; and
Antinous rebuked him saying:

"Leiodes, what are you talking about? Your words are monstrous
and intolerable; it makes me angry to listen to you. Shall,
then, this bow take the life of many a chief among us, merely
because you cannot bend it yourself? True, you were not born to
be an archer, but there are others who will soon string it."

Then he said to Melanthius the goatherd, "Look sharp, light a
fire in the court, and set a seat hard by with a sheep skin on
it; bring us also a large ball of lard, from what they have in
the house. Let us warm the bow and grease it--we will then make
trial of it again, and bring the contest to an end."

Melanthius lit the fire, and set a seat covered with sheep skins
beside it. He also brought a great ball of lard from what they
had in the house, and the suitors warmed the bow and again made
trial of it, but they were none of them nearly strong enough to
string it. Nevertheless there still remained Antinous and
Eurymachus, who were the ringleaders among the suitors and much
the foremost among them all.

Then the swineherd and the stockman left the cloisters together,
and Ulysses followed them. When they had got outside the gates
and the outer yard, Ulysses said to them quietly:

"Stockman, and you swineherd, I have something in my mind which
I am in doubt whether to say or no; but I think I will say it.
What manner of men would you be to stand by Ulysses, if some god
should bring him back here all of a sudden? Say which you are
disposed to do--to side with the suitors, or with Ulysses?"

"Father Jove," answered the stockman, "would indeed that you
might so ordain it. If some god were but to bring Ulysses back,
you should see with what might and main I would fight for him."

In like words Eumaeus prayed to all the gods that Ulysses might
return; when, therefore, he saw for certain what mind they were
of, Ulysses said, "It is I, Ulysses, who am here. I have
suffered much, but at last, in the twentieth year, I am come
back to my own country. I find that you two alone of all my
servants are glad that I should do so, for I have not heard any
of the others praying for my return. To you two, therefore, will
I unfold the truth as it shall be. If heaven shall deliver the
suitors into my hands, I will find wives for both of you, will
give you house and holding close to my own, and you shall be to
me as though you were brothers and friends of Telemachus. I will
now give you convincing proofs that you may know me and be
assured. See, here is the scar from the boar's tooth that ripped
me when I was out hunting on Mt. Parnassus with the sons of

As he spoke he drew his rags aside from the great scar, and when
they had examined it thoroughly, they both of them wept about
Ulysses, threw their arms round him, and kissed his head and
shoulders, while Ulysses kissed their hands and faces in return.
The sun would have gone down upon their mourning if Ulysses had
not checked them and said:

"Cease your weeping, lest some one should come outside and see
us, and tell those who are within. When you go in, do so
separately, not both together; I will go first, and do you
follow afterwards; let this moreover be the token between us;
the suitors will all of them try to prevent me from getting hold
of the bow and quiver; do you, therefore, Eumaeus, place it in
my hands when you are carrying it about, and tell the women to
close the doors of their apartment. If they hear any groaning or
uproar as of men fighting about the house, they must not come
out; they must keep quiet, and stay where they are at their
work. And I charge you, Philoetius, to make fast the doors of
the outer court, and to bind them securely at once."

When he had thus spoken, he went back to the house and took the
seat that he had left. Presently, his two servants followed him

At this moment the bow was in the hands of Eurymachus, who was
warming it by the fire, but even so he could not string it, and
he was greatly grieved. He heaved a deep sigh and said, "I
grieve for myself and for us all; I grieve that I shall have to
forgo the marriage, but I do not care nearly so much about this,
for there are plenty of other women in Ithaca and elsewhere;
what I feel most is the fact of our being so inferior to Ulysses
in strength that we cannot string his bow. This will disgrace us
in the eyes of those who are yet unborn."

"It shall not be so, Eurymachus," said Antinous, "and you know
it yourself. Today is the feast of Apollo throughout all the
land; who can string a bow on such a day as this? Put it on one
side--as for the axes they can stay where they are, for no one
is likely to come to the house and take them away: let the
cupbearer go round with his cups, that we may make our
drink-offerings and drop this matter of the bow; we will tell
Melanthius to bring us in some goats tomorrow--the best he has;
we can then offer thigh bones to Apollo the mighty archer, and
again make trial of the bow, so as to bring the contest to an

The rest approved his words, and thereon men servants poured
water over the hands of the guests, while pages filled the
mixing-bowls with wine and water and handed it round after
giving every man his drink-offering. Then, when they had made
their offerings and had drunk each as much as he desired,
Ulysses craftily said:--

"Suitors of the illustrious queen, listen that I may speak even
as I am minded. I appeal more especially to Eurymachus, and to
Antinous who has just spoken with so much reason. Cease shooting
for the present and leave the matter to the gods, but in the
morning let heaven give victory to whom it will. For the moment,
however, give me the bow that I may prove the power of my hands
among you all, and see whether I still have as much strength as
I used to have, or whether travel and neglect have made an end
of it."

This made them all very angry, for they feared he might string
the bow, Antinous therefore rebuked him fiercely saying,
"Wretched creature, you have not so much as a grain of sense in
your whole body; you ought to think yourself lucky in being
allowed to dine unharmed among your betters, without having any
smaller portion served you than we others have had, and in being
allowed to hear our conversation. No other beggar or stranger
has been allowed to hear what we say among ourselves; the wine
must have been doing you a mischief, as it does with all those
who drink immoderately. It was wine that inflamed the Centaur
Eurytion when he was staying with Peirithous among the Lapithae.
When the wine had got into his head, he went mad and did ill
deeds about the house of Peirithous; this angered the heroes who
were there assembled, so they rushed at him and cut off his ears
and nostrils; then they dragged him through the doorway out of
the house, so he went away crazed, and bore the burden of his
crime, bereft of understanding. Henceforth, therefore, there was
war between mankind and the centaurs, but he brought it upon
himself through his own drunkenness. In like manner I can tell
you that it will go hardly with you if you string the bow: you
will find no mercy from any one here, for we shall at once ship
you off to king Echetus, who kills every one that comes near
him: you will never get away alive, so drink and keep quiet
without getting into a quarrel with men younger than yourself."

Penelope then spoke to him. "Antinous," said she, "it is not
right that you should ill-treat any guest of Telemachus who
comes to this house. If the stranger should prove strong enough
to string the mighty bow of Ulysses, can you suppose that he
would take me home with him and make me his wife? Even the man
himself can have no such idea in his mind: none of you need let
that disturb his feasting; it would be out of all reason."

"Queen Penelope," answered Eurymachus, "we do not suppose that
this man will take you away with him; it is impossible; but we
are afraid lest some of the baser sort, men or women among the
Achaeans, should go gossiping about and say, 'These suitors are
a feeble folk; they are paying court to the wife of a brave man
whose bow not one of them was able to string, and yet a beggarly
tramp who came to the house strung it at once and sent an arrow
through the iron.' This is what will be said, and it will be a
scandal against us."

"Eurymachus," Penelope answered, "people who persist in eating
up the estate of a great chieftain and dishonouring his house
must not expect others to think well of them. Why then should
you mind if men talk as you think they will? This stranger is
strong and well-built, he says moreover that he is of noble
birth. Give him the bow, and let us see whether he can string it
or no. I say--and it shall surely be--that if Apollo vouchsafes
him the glory of stringing it, I will give him a cloak and shirt
of good wear, with a javelin to keep off dogs and robbers, and a
sharp sword. I will also give him sandals, and will see him sent
safely wherever he wants to go."

Then Telemachus said, "Mother, I am the only man either in
Ithaca or in the islands that are over against Elis who has the
right to let any one have the bow or to refuse it. No one shall
force me one way or the other, not even though I choose to make
the stranger a present of the bow outright, and let him take it
away with him. Go, then, within the house and busy yourself with
your daily duties, your loom, your distaff, and the ordering of
your servants. This bow is a man's matter, and mine above all
others, for it is I who am master here."

She went wondering back into the house, and laid her son's
saying in her heart. Then going upstairs with her handmaids into
her room, she mourned her dear husband till Minerva sent sweet
sleep over her eyelids.

The swineherd now took up the bow and was for taking it to
Ulysses, but the suitors clamoured at him from all parts of the
cloisters, and one of them said, "You idiot, where are you
taking the bow to? Are you out of your wits? If Apollo and the
other gods will grant our prayer, your own boarhounds shall get
you into some quiet little place, and worry you to death."

Eumaeus was frightened at the outcry they all raised, so he put
the bow down then and there, but Telemachus shouted out at him
from the other side of the cloisters, and threatened him saying,
"Father Eumaeus, bring the bow on in spite of them, or young as
I am I will pelt you with stones back to the country, for I am
the better man of the two. I wish I was as much stronger than
all the other suitors in the house as I am than you, I would
soon send some of them off sick and sorry, for they mean

Thus did he speak, and they all of them laughed heartily, which
put them in a better humour with Telemachus; so Eumaeus brought
the bow on and placed it in the hands of Ulysses. When he had
done this, he called Euryclea apart and said to her, "Euryclea,
Telemachus says you are to close the doors of the women's
apartments. If they hear any groaning or uproar as of men
fighting about the house, they are not to come out, but are to
keep quiet and stay where they are at their work."

Euryclea did as she was told and closed the doors of the women's

Meanwhile Philoetius slipped quietly out and made fast the gates
of the outer court. There was a ship's cable of byblus fibre
lying in the gatehouse, so he made the gates fast with it and
then came in again, resuming the seat that he had left, and
keeping an eye on Ulysses, who had now got the bow in his hands,
and was turning it every way about, and proving it all over to
see whether the worms had been eating into its two horns during
his absence. Then would one turn towards his neighbour saying,
"This is some tricky old bow-fancier; either he has got one like
it at home, or he wants to make one, in such workmanlike style
does the old vagabond handle it."

Another said, "I hope he may be no more successful in other
things than he is likely to be in stringing this bow."

But Ulysses, when he had taken it up and examined it all over,
strung it as easily as a skilled bard strings a new peg of his
lyre and makes the twisted gut fast at both ends. Then he took
it in his right hand to prove the string, and it sang sweetly
under his touch like the twittering of a swallow. The suitors
were dismayed, and turned colour as they heard it; at that
moment, moreover, Jove thundered loudly as a sign, and the heart
of Ulysses rejoiced as he heard the omen that the son of
scheming Saturn had sent him.

He took an arrow that was lying upon the table {165}--for those
which the Achaeans were so shortly about to taste were all
inside the quiver--he laid it on the centre-piece of the bow,
and drew the notch of the arrow and the string toward him, still
seated on his seat. When he had taken aim he let fly, and his
arrow pierced every one of the handle-holes of the axes from the
first onwards till it had gone right through them, and into the
outer courtyard. Then he said to Telemachus:

"Your guest has not disgraced you, Telemachus. I did not miss
what I aimed at, and I was not long in stringing my bow. I am
still strong, and not as the suitors twit me with being. Now,
however, it is time for the Achaeans to prepare supper while
there is still daylight, and then otherwise to disport
themselves with song and dance which are the crowning ornaments
of a banquet."

As he spoke he made a sign with his eyebrows, and Telemachus
girded on his sword, grasped his spear, and stood armed beside
his father's seat.



Then Ulysses tore off his rags, and sprang on to the broad
pavement with his bow and his quiver full of arrows. He shed the
arrows on to the ground at his feet and said, "The mighty
contest is at an end. I will now see whether Apollo will
vouchsafe it to me to hit another mark which no man has yet

On this he aimed a deadly arrow at Antinous, who was about to
take up a two-handled gold cup to drink his wine and already had
it in his hands. He had no thought of death--who amongst all
the revellers would think that one man, however brave, would
stand alone among so many and kill him? The arrow struck
Antinous in the throat, and the point went clean through his
neck, so that he fell over and the cup dropped from his hand,
while a thick stream of blood gushed from his nostrils. He
kicked the table from him and upset the things on it, so that
the bread and roasted meats were all soiled as they fell over on
to the ground. {166} The suitors were in an uproar when they saw
that a man had been hit; they sprang in dismay one and all of
them from their seats and looked everywhere towards the walls,
but there was neither shield nor spear, and they rebuked Ulysses
very angrily. "Stranger," said they, "you shall pay for shooting
people in this way: you shall see no other contest; you are a
doomed man; he whom you have slain was the foremost youth in
Ithaca, and the vultures shall devour you for having killed

Thus they spoke, for they thought that he had killed Antinous by
mistake, and did not perceive that death was hanging over the
head of every one of them. But Ulysses glared at them and said:

"Dogs, did you think that I should not come back from Troy? You
have wasted my substance, {167} have forced my women servants to
lie with you, and have wooed my wife while I was still living.
You have feared neither God nor man, and now you shall die."

They turned pale with fear as he spoke, and every man looked
round about to see whither he might fly for safety, but
Eurymachus alone spoke.

"If you are Ulysses," said he, "then what you have said is just.
We have done much wrong on your lands and in your house. But
Antinous who was the head and front of the offending lies low
already. It was all his doing. It was not that he wanted to
marry Penelope; he did not so much care about that; what he
wanted was something quite different, and Jove has not
vouchsafed it to him; he wanted to kill your son and to be chief
man in Ithaca. Now, therefore, that he has met the death which
was his due, spare the lives of your people. We will make
everything good among ourselves, and pay you in full for all
that we have eaten and drunk. Each one of us shall pay you a
fine worth twenty oxen, and we will keep on giving you gold and
bronze till your heart is softened. Until we have done this no
one can complain of your being enraged against us."

Ulysses again glared at him and said, "Though you should give me
all that you have in the world both now and all that you ever
shall have, I will not stay my hand till I have paid all of you
in full. You must fight, or fly for your lives; and fly, not a
man of you shall."

Their hearts sank as they heard him, but Eurymachus again spoke

"My friends, this man will give us no quarter. He will stand
where he is and shoot us down till he has killed every man among
us. Let us then show fight; draw your swords, and hold up the
tables to shield you from his arrows. Let us have at him with a
rush, to drive him from the pavement and doorway: we can then
get through into the town, and raise such an alarm as shall soon
stay his shooting."

As he spoke he drew his keen blade of bronze, sharpened on both
sides, and with a loud cry sprang towards Ulysses, but Ulysses
instantly shot an arrow into his breast that caught him by the
nipple and fixed itself in his liver. He dropped his sword and
fell doubled up over his table. The cup and all the meats went
over on to the ground as he smote the earth with his forehead in
the agonies of death, and he kicked the stool with his feet
until his eyes were closed in darkness.

Then Amphinomus drew his sword and made straight at Ulysses to
try and get him away from the door; but Telemachus was too quick
for him, and struck him from behind; the spear caught him
between the shoulders and went right through his chest, so that
he fell heavily to the ground and struck the earth with his
forehead. Then Telemachus sprang away from him, leaving his
spear still in the body, for he feared that if he stayed to draw
it out, some one of the Achaeans might come up and hack at him
with his sword, or knock him down, so he set off at a run, and
immediately was at his father's side. Then he said:

"Father, let me bring you a shield, two spears, and a brass
helmet for your temples. I will arm myself as well, and will
bring other armour for the swineherd and the stockman, for we
had better be armed."

"Run and fetch them," answered Ulysses, "while my arrows hold
out, or when I am alone they may get me away from the door."

Telemachus did as his father said, and went off to the store
room where the armour was kept. He chose four shields, eight
spears, and four brass helmets with horse-hair plumes. He
brought them with all speed to his father, and armed himself
first, while the stockman and the swineherd also put on their
armour, and took their places near Ulysses. Meanwhile Ulysses,
as long as his arrows lasted, had been shooting the suitors one
by one, and they fell thick on one another: when his arrows gave
out, he set the bow to stand against the end wall of the house
by the door post, and hung a shield four hides thick about his
shoulders; on his comely head he set his helmet, well wrought
with a crest of horse-hair that nodded menacingly above it,
{168} and he grasped two redoubtable bronze-shod spears.

Now there was a trap door {169} on the wall, while at one end of
the pavement {170} there was an exit leading to a narrow
passage, and this exit was closed by a well-made door. Ulysses
told Philoetius to stand by this door and guard it, for only one
person could attack it at a time. But Agelaus shouted out,
"Cannot some one go up to the trap door and tell the people what
is going on? Help would come at once, and we should soon make an
end of this man and his shooting."

"This may not be, Agelaus," answered Melanthius, "the mouth of
the narrow passage is dangerously near the entrance to the outer
court. One brave man could prevent any number from getting in.
But I know what I will do, I will bring you arms from the
store-room, for I am sure it is there that Ulysses and his son
have put them."

On this the goatherd Melanthius went by back passages to the
store-room of Ulysses' house. There he chose twelve shields,
with as many helmets and spears, and brought them back as fast
as he could to give them to the suitors. Ulysses' heart began
to fail him when he saw the suitors {171} putting on their
armour and brandishing their spears. He saw the greatness of the
danger, and said to Telemachus, "Some one of the women inside is
helping the suitors against us, or it may be Melanthius."

Telemachus answered, "The fault, father, is mine, and mine only;
I left the store room door open, and they have kept a sharper
look out than I have. Go, Eumaeus, put the door to, and see
whether it is one of the women who is doing this, or whether, as
I suspect, it is Melanthius the son of Dolius."

Thus did they converse. Meanwhile Melanthius was again going to
the store room to fetch more armour, but the swineherd saw him
and said to Ulysses who was beside him, "Ulysses, noble son of
Laertes, it is that scoundrel Melanthius, just as we suspected,
who is going to the store room. Say, shall I kill him, if I can
get the better of him, or shall I bring him here that you may
take your own revenge for all the many wrongs that he has done
in your house?"

Ulysses answered, "Telemachus and I will hold these suitors in
check, no matter what they do; go back both of you and bind
Melanthius' hands and feet behind him. Throw him into the store
room and make the door fast behind you; then fasten a noose
about his body, and string him close up to the rafters from a
high bearing-post, {172} that he may linger on in an agony."

Thus did he speak, and they did even as he had said; they went
to the store room, which they entered before Melanthius saw
them, for he was busy searching for arms in the innermost part
of the room, so the two took their stand on either side of the
door and waited. By and by Melanthius came out with a helmet in
one hand, and an old dry-rotted shield in the other, which had
been borne by Laertes when he was young, but which had been long
since thrown aside, and the straps had become unsewn; on this
the two seized him, dragged him back by the hair, and threw him
struggling to the ground. They bent his hands and feet well
behind his back, and bound them tight with a painful bond as
Ulysses had told them; then they fastened a noose about his body
and strung him up from a high pillar till he was close up to the
rafters, and over him did you then vaunt, O swineherd Eumaeus
saying, "Melanthius, you will pass the night on a soft bed as
you deserve. You will know very well when morning comes from the
streams of Oceanus, and it is time for you to be driving in your
goats for the suitors to feast on."

There, then, they left him in very cruel bondage, and having put
on their armour they closed the door behind them and went back
to take their places by the side of Ulysses; whereon the four
men stood in the cloister, fierce and full of fury;
nevertheless, those who were in the body of the court were still
both brave and many. Then Jove's daughter Minerva came up to
them, having assumed the voice and form of Mentor. Ulysses was
glad when he saw her and said, "Mentor, lend me your help, and
forget not your old comrade, nor the many good turns he has done
you. Besides, you are my age-mate."

But all the time he felt sure it was Minerva, and the suitors
from the other side raised an uproar when they saw her. Agelaus
was the first to reproach her. "Mentor," he cried, "do not let
Ulysses beguile you into siding with him and fighting the
suitors. This is what we will do: when we have killed these
people, father and son, we will kill you too. You shall pay for
it with your head, and when we have killed you, we will take all
you have, in doors or out, and bring it into hotch-pot with
Ulysses' property; we will not let your sons live in your house,
nor your daughters, nor shall your widow continue to live in the
city of Ithaca."

This made Minerva still more furious, so she scolded Ulysses
very angrily. {173} "Ulysses," said she, "your strength and
prowess are no longer what they were when you fought for nine
long years among the Trojans about the noble lady Helen. You
killed many a man in those days, and it was through your
stratagem that Priam's city was taken. How comes it that you are
so lamentably less valiant now that you are on your own ground,
face to face with the suitors in your own house? Come on, my
good fellow, stand by my side and see how Mentor, son of
Alcimus shall fight your foes and requite your kindnesses
conferred upon him."

But she would not give him full victory as yet, for she wished
still further to prove his own prowess and that of his brave
son, so she flew up to one of the rafters in the roof of the
cloister and sat upon it in the form of a swallow.

Meanwhile Agelaus son of Damastor, Eurynomus, Amphimedon,
Demoptolemus, Pisander, and Polybus son of Polyctor bore the
brunt of the fight upon the suitors' side; of all those who were
still fighting for their lives they were by far the most
valiant, for the others had already fallen under the arrows of
Ulysses. Agelaus shouted to them and said, "My friends, he will
soon have to leave off, for Mentor has gone away after having
done nothing for him but brag. They are standing at the doors
unsupported. Do not aim at him all at once, but six of you throw
your spears first, and see if you cannot cover yourselves with
glory by killing him. When he has fallen we need not be uneasy
about the others."

They threw their spears as he bade them, but Minerva made them
all of no effect. One hit the door post; another went against
the door; the pointed shaft of another struck the wall; and as
soon as they had avoided all the spears of the suitors Ulysses
said to his own men, "My friends, I should say we too had better
let drive into the middle of them, or they will crown all the
harm they have done us by killing us outright."

They therefore aimed straight in front of them and threw their
spears. Ulysses killed Demoptolemus, Telemachus Euryades,
Eumaeus Elatus, while the stockman killed Pisander. These all
bit the dust, and as the others drew back into a corner Ulysses
and his men rushed forward and regained their spears by drawing
them from the bodies of the dead.

The suitors now aimed a second time, but again Minerva made
their weapons for the most part without effect. One hit a
bearing-post of the cloister; another went against the door;
while the pointed shaft of another struck the wall. Still,
Amphimedon just took a piece of the top skin from off
Telemachus's wrist, and Ctesippus managed to graze Eumaeus's
shoulder above his shield; but the spear went on and fell to the
ground. Then Ulysses and his men let drive into the crowd of
suitors. Ulysses hit Eurydamas, Telemachus Amphimedon, and
Eumaeus Polybus. After this the stockman hit Ctesippus in the
breast, and taunted him saying, "Foul-mouthed son of
Polytherses, do not be so foolish as to talk wickedly another
time, but let heaven direct your speech, for the gods are far
stronger than men. I make you a present of this advice to repay
you for the foot which you gave Ulysses when he was begging
about in his own house."

Thus spoke the stockman, and Ulysses struck the son of Damastor
with a spear in close fight, while Telemachus hit Leocritus son
of Evenor in the belly, and the dart went clean through him, so
that he fell forward full on his face upon the ground. Then
Minerva from her seat on the rafter held up her deadly aegis,
and the hearts of the suitors quailed. They fled to the other
end of the court like a herd of cattle maddened by the gadfly in
early summer when the days are at their longest. As
eagle-beaked, crook-taloned vultures from the mountains swoop
down on the smaller birds that cower in flocks upon the ground,
and kill them, for they cannot either fight or fly, and lookers
on enjoy the sport--even so did Ulysses and his men fall upon
the suitors and smite them on every side. They made a horrible
groaning as their brains were being battered in, and the ground
seethed with their blood.

Leiodes then caught the knees of Ulysses and said, "Ulysses I
beseech you have mercy upon me and spare me. I never wronged any
of the women in your house either in word or deed, and I tried
to stop the others. I saw them, but they would not listen, and
now they are paying for their folly. I was their sacrificing
priest; if you kill me, I shall die without having done anything
to deserve it, and shall have got no thanks for all the good
that I did."

Ulysses looked sternly at him and answered, "If you were their
sacrificing priest, you must have prayed many a time that it
might be long before I got home again, and that you might marry
my wife and have children by her. Therefore you shall die."

With these words he picked up the sword that Agelaus had dropped
when he was being killed, and which was lying upon the ground.
Then he struck Leiodes on the back of his neck, so that his head
fell rolling in the dust while he was yet speaking.

The minstrel Phemius son of Terpes--he who had been forced by
the suitors to sing to them--now tried to save his life. He was
standing near towards the trap door, {174} and held his lyre in
his hand. He did not know whether to fly out of the cloister and
sit down by the altar of Jove that was in the outer court, and
on which both Laertes and Ulysses had offered up the thigh bones
of many an ox, or whether to go straight up to Ulysses and
embrace his knees, but in the end he deemed it best to embrace
Ulysses' knees. So he laid his lyre on the ground between the
mixing bowl {175} and the silver-studded seat; then going up to
Ulysses he caught hold of his knees and said, "Ulysses, I
beseech you have mercy on me and spare me. You will be sorry for
it afterwards if you kill a bard who can sing both for gods and
men as I can. I make all my lays myself, and heaven visits me
with every kind of inspiration. I would sing to you as though
you were a god, do not therefore be in such a hurry to cut my
head off. Your own son Telemachus will tell you that I did not
want to frequent your house and sing to the suitors after their
meals, but they were too many and too strong for me, so they
made me."

Telemachus heard him, and at once went up to his father.
"Hold!" he cried, "the man is guiltless, do him no hurt; and we
will spare Medon too, who was always good to me when I was a
boy, unless Philoetius or Eumaeus has already killed him, or he
has fallen in your way when you were raging about the court."

Medon caught these words of Telemachus, for he was crouching
under a seat beneath which he had hidden by covering himself up
with a freshly flayed heifer's hide, so he threw off the hide,
went up to Telemachus, and laid hold of his knees.

"Here I am, my dear sir," said he, "stay your hand therefore,
and tell your father, or he will kill me in his rage against the
suitors for having wasted his substance and been so foolishly
disrespectful to yourself."

Ulysses smiled at him and answered, "Fear not; Telemachus has
saved your life, that you may know in future, and tell other
people, how greatly better good deeds prosper than evil ones.
Go, therefore, outside the cloisters into the outer court, and
be out of the way of the slaughter--you and the bard--while I
finish my work here inside."

The pair went into the outer court as fast as they could, and
sat down by Jove's great altar, looking fearfully round, and
still expecting that they would be killed. Then Ulysses searched
the whole court carefully over, to see if anyone had managed to
hide himself and was still living, but he found them all lying
in the dust and weltering in their blood. They were like fishes
which fishermen have netted out of the sea, and thrown upon the
beach to lie gasping for water till the heat of the sun makes an
end of them. Even so were the suitors lying all huddled up one
against the other.

Then Ulysses said to Telemachus, "Call nurse Euryclea; I have
something to say to her."

Telemachus went and knocked at the door of the women's room.
"Make haste," said he, "you old woman who have been set over all
the other women in the house. Come outside; my father wishes to
speak to you."

When Euryclea heard this she unfastened the door of the women's
room and came out, following Telemachus. She found Ulysses among
the corpses bespattered with blood and filth like a lion that
has just been devouring an ox, and his breast and both his
cheeks are all bloody, so that he is a fearful sight; even so
was Ulysses besmirched from head to foot with gore. When she saw
all the corpses and such a quantity of blood, she was beginning
to cry out for joy, for she saw that a great deed had been done;
but Ulysses checked her, "Old woman," said he, "rejoice in
silence; restrain yourself, and do not make any noise about it;
it is an unholy thing to vaunt over dead men. Heaven's doom and
their own evil deeds have brought these men to destruction, for
they respected no man in the whole world, neither rich nor poor,
who came near them, and they have come to a bad end as a
punishment for their wickedness and folly. Now, however, tell me
which of the women in the house have misconducted themselves,
and who are innocent." {176}

"I will tell you the truth, my son," answered Euryclea. "There
are fifty women in the house whom we teach to do things, such as
carding wool, and all kinds of household work. Of these, twelve
in all {177} have misbehaved, and have been wanting in respect
to me, and also to Penelope. They showed no disrespect to
Telemachus, for he has only lately grown and his mother never
permitted him to give orders to the female servants; but let me
go upstairs and tell your wife all that has happened, for some
god has been sending her to sleep."

"Do not wake her yet," answered Ulysses, "but tell the women who
have misconducted themselves to come to me."

Euryclea left the cloister to tell the women, and make them come
to Ulysses; in the meantime he called Telemachus, the stockman,
and the swineherd. "Begin," said he, "to remove the dead, and
make the women help you. Then, get sponges and clean water to
swill down the tables and seats. When you have thoroughly
cleansed the whole cloisters, take the women into the space
between the domed room and the wall of the outer court, and run
them through with your swords till they are quite dead, and have
forgotten all about love and the way in which they used to lie
in secret with the suitors."

On this the women came down in a body, weeping and wailing
bitterly. First they carried the dead bodies out, and propped
them up against one another in the gatehouse. Ulysses ordered
them about and made them do their work quickly, so they had to
carry the bodies out. When they had done this, they cleaned all
the tables and seats with sponges and water, while Telemachus
and the two others shovelled up the blood and dirt from the
ground, and the women carried it all away and put it out of
doors. Then when they had made the whole place quite clean and
orderly, they took the women out and hemmed them in the narrow
space between the wall of the domed room and that of the yard,
so that they could not get away: and Telemachus said to the
other two, "I shall not let these women die a clean death, for
they were insolent to me and my mother, and used to sleep with
the suitors."

So saying he made a ship's cable fast to one of the
bearing-posts that supported the roof of the domed room, and
secured it all around the building, at a good height, lest any
of the women's feet should touch the ground; and as thrushes or
doves beat against a net that has been set for them in a thicket
just as they were getting to their nest, and a terrible fate
awaits them, even so did the women have to put their heads in
nooses one after the other and die most miserably. {178} Their
feet moved convulsively for a while, but not for very long.

As for Melanthius, they took him through the cloister into the
inner court. There they cut off his nose and his ears; they drew
out his vitals and gave them to the dogs raw, and then in their
fury they cut off his hands and his feet.

When they had done this they washed their hands and feet and
went back into the house, for all was now over; and Ulysses said
to the dear old nurse Euryclea, "Bring me sulphur, which
cleanses all pollution, and fetch fire also that I may burn it,
and purify the cloisters. Go, moreover, and tell Penelope to
come here with her attendants, and also all the maidservants
that are in the house."

"All that you have said is true," answered Euryclea, "but let me
bring you some clean clothes--a shirt and cloak. Do not keep
these rags on your back any longer. It is not right."

"First light me a fire," replied Ulysses.

She brought the fire and sulphur, as he had bidden her, and
Ulysses thoroughly purified the cloisters and both the inner and
outer courts. Then she went inside to call the women and tell
them what had happened; whereon they came from their apartment
with torches in their hands, and pressed round Ulysses to
embrace him, kissing his head and shoulders and taking hold of
his hands. It made him feel as if he should like to weep, for he
remembered every one of them. {179}



Euryclea now went upstairs laughing to tell her mistress that
her dear husband had come home. Her aged knees became young
again and her feet were nimble for joy as she went up to her
mistress and bent over her head to speak to her. "Wake up
Penelope, my dear child," she exclaimed, "and see with your own
eyes something that you have been wanting this long time past.
Ulysses has at last indeed come home again, and has killed the
suitors who were giving so much trouble in his house, eating up
his estate and ill treating his son."

"My good nurse," answered Penelope, "you must be mad. The gods
sometimes send some very sensible people out of their minds, and
make foolish people become sensible. This is what they must have
been doing to you; for you always used to be a reasonable
person. Why should you thus mock me when I have trouble enough
already--talking such nonsense, and waking me up out of a sweet
sleep that had taken possession of my eyes and closed them? I
have never slept so soundly from the day my poor husband went to
that city with the ill-omened name. Go back again into the
women's room; if it had been any one else who had woke me up to
bring me such absurd news I should have sent her away with a
severe scolding. As it is your age shall protect you."

"My dear child," answered Euryclea, "I am not mocking you. It
is quite true as I tell you that Ulysses is come home again. He
was the stranger whom they all kept on treating so badly in the
cloister. Telemachus knew all the time that he was come back,
but kept his father's secret that he might have his revenge on
all these wicked people."

Then Penelope sprang up from her couch, threw her arms round
Euryclea, and wept for joy. "But my dear nurse," said she,
"explain this to me; if he has really come home as you say, how
did he manage to overcome the wicked suitors single handed,
seeing what a number of them there always were?"

"I was not there," answered Euryclea, "and do not know; I only
heard them groaning while they were being killed. We sat
crouching and huddled up in a corner of the women's room with
the doors closed, till your son came to fetch me because his
father sent him. Then I found Ulysses standing over the corpses
that were lying on the ground all round him, one on top of the
other. You would have enjoyed it if you could have seen him
standing there all bespattered with blood and filth, and looking
just like a lion. But the corpses are now all piled up in the
gatehouse that is in the outer court, and Ulysses has lit a
great fire to purify the house with sulphur. He has sent me to
call you, so come with me that you may both be happy together
after all; for now at last the desire of your heart has been
fulfilled; your husband is come home to find both wife and son
alive and well, and to take his revenge in his own house on the
suitors who behaved so badly to him."

"My dear nurse," said Penelope, "do not exult too confidently
over all this. You know how delighted every one would be to see
Ulysses come home--more particularly myself, and the son who has
been born to both of us; but what you tell me cannot be really
true. It is some god who is angry with the suitors for their
great wickedness, and has made an end of them; for they
respected no man in the whole world, neither rich nor poor, who
came near them, and they have come to a bad end in consequence
of their iniquity; Ulysses is dead far away from the Achaean
land; he will never return home again."

Then nurse Euryclea said, "My child, what are you talking about?
but you were all hard of belief and have made up your mind that
your husband is never coming, although he is in the house and by
his own fire side at this very moment. Besides I can give you
another proof; when I was washing him I perceived the scar which
the wild boar gave him, and I wanted to tell you about it, but
in his wisdom he would not let me, and clapped his hands over my
mouth; so come with me and I will make this bargain with you--if
I am deceiving you, you may have me killed by the most cruel
death you can think of."

"My dear nurse," said Penelope, "however wise you may be you can
hardly fathom the counsels of the gods. Nevertheless, we will
go in search of my son, that I may see the corpses of the
suitors, and the man who has killed them."

On this she came down from her upper room, and while doing so
she considered whether she should keep at a distance from her
husband and question him, or whether she should at once go up to
him and embrace him. When, however, she had crossed the stone
floor of the cloister, she sat down opposite Ulysses by the
fire, against the wall at right angles {180} [to that by which
she had entered], while Ulysses sat near one of the
bearing-posts, looking upon the ground, and waiting to see what
his brave wife would say to him when she saw him. For a long
time she sat silent and as one lost in amazement. At one moment
she looked him full in the face, but then again directly, she
was misled by his shabby clothes and failed to recognise him,
{181} till Telemachus began to reproach her and said:

"Mother--but you are so hard that I cannot call you by such a
name--why do you keep away from my father in this way? Why do
you not sit by his side and begin talking to him and asking him
questions? No other woman could bear to keep away from her
husband when he had come back to her after twenty years of
absence, and after having gone through so much; but your heart
always was as hard as a stone."

Penelope answered, "My son, I am so lost in astonishment that I
can find no words in which either to ask questions or to answer
them. I cannot even look him straight in the face. Still, if he
really is Ulysses come back to his own home again, we shall get
to understand one another better by and by, for there are tokens
with which we two are alone acquainted, and which are hidden
from all others."

Ulysses smiled at this, and said to Telemachus, "Let your mother
put me to any proof she likes; she will make up her mind about
it presently. She rejects me for the moment and believes me to
be somebody else, because I am covered with dirt and have such
bad clothes on; let us, however, consider what we had better do
next. When one man has killed another--even though he was not
one who would leave many friends to take up his quarrel--the man
who has killed him must still say good bye to his friends and
fly the country; whereas we have been killing the stay of a
whole town, and all the picked youth of Ithaca. I would have you
consider this matter."

"Look to it yourself, father," answered Telemachus, "for they
say you are the wisest counsellor in the world, and that there
is no other mortal man who can compare with you. We will follow
you with right good will, nor shall you find us fail you in so
far as our strength holds out."

"I will say what I think will be best," answered Ulysses.
"First wash and put your shirts on; tell the maids also to go to
their own room and dress; Phemius shall then strike up a dance
tune on his lyre, so that if people outside hear, or any of the
neighbours, or some one going along the street happens to notice
it, they may think there is a wedding in the house, and no
rumours about the death of the suitors will get about in the
town, before we can escape to the woods upon my own land. Once
there, we will settle which of the courses heaven vouchsafes us
shall seem wisest."

Thus did he speak, and they did even as he had said. First they
washed and put their shirts on, while the women got ready. Then
Phemius took his lyre and set them all longing for sweet song
and stately dance. The house re-echoed with the sound of men and
women dancing, and the people outside said, "I suppose the queen
has been getting married at last. She ought to be ashamed of
herself for not continuing to protect her husband's property
until he comes home." {182}

This was what they said, but they did not know what it was that
had been happening. The upper servant Eurynome washed and
anointed Ulysses in his own house and gave him a shirt and
cloak, while Minerva made him look taller and stronger than
before; she also made the hair grow thick on the top of his
head, and flow down in curls like hyacinth blossoms; she
glorified him about the head and shoulders just as a skilful
workman who has studied art of all kinds under Vulcan or
Minerva--and his work is full of beauty--enriches a piece of
silver plate by gilding it. He came from the bath looking like
one of the immortals, and sat down opposite his wife on the seat
he had left. "My dear," said he, "heaven has endowed you with a
heart more unyielding than woman ever yet had. No other woman
could bear to keep away from her husband when he had come back
to her after twenty years of absence, and after having gone
through so much. But come, nurse, get a bed ready for me; I will
sleep alone, for this woman has a heart as hard as iron."

"My dear," answered Penelope, "I have no wish to set myself up,
nor to depreciate you; but I am not struck by your appearance,
for I very well remember what kind of a man you were when you
set sail from Ithaca. Nevertheless, Euryclea, take his bed
outside the bed chamber that he himself built. Bring the bed
outside this room, and put bedding upon it with fleeces, good
coverlets, and blankets."

She said this to try him, but Ulysses was very angry and said,
"Wife, I am much displeased at what you have just been saying.
Who has been taking my bed from the place in which I left it? He
must have found it a hard task, no matter how skilled a workman
he was, unless some god came and helped him to shift it. There
is no man living, however strong and in his prime, who could
move it from its place, for it is a marvellous curiosity which I
made with my very own hands. There was a young olive growing
within the precincts of the house, in full vigour, and about as
thick as a bearing-post. I built my room round this with strong
walls of stone and a roof to cover them, and I made the doors
strong and well-fitting. Then I cut off the top boughs of the
olive tree and left the stump standing. This I dressed roughly
from the root upwards and then worked with carpenter's tools
well and skilfully, straightening my work by drawing a line on
the wood, and making it into a bed-prop. I then bored a hole
down the middle, and made it the centre-post of my bed, at which
I worked till I had finished it, inlaying it with gold and
silver; after this I stretched a hide of crimson leather from
one side of it to the other. So you see I know all about it, and
I desire to learn whether it is still there, or whether any one
has been removing it by cutting down the olive tree at its

When she heard the sure proofs Ulysses now gave her, she fairly
broke down. She flew weeping to his side, flung her arms about
his neck, and kissed him. "Do not be angry with me Ulysses," she
cried, "you, who are the wisest of mankind. We have suffered,
both of us. Heaven has denied us the happiness of spending our
youth, and of growing old, together; do not then be aggrieved or
take it amiss that I did not embrace you thus as soon as I saw
you. I have been shuddering all the time through fear that
someone might come here and deceive me with a lying story; for
there are many very wicked people going about. Jove's daughter
Helen would never have yielded herself to a man from a foreign
country, if she had known that the sons of Achaeans would come
after her and bring her back. Heaven put it in her heart to do
wrong, and she gave no thought to that sin, which has been the
source of all our sorrows. Now, however, that you have
convinced me by showing that you know all about our bed (which
no human being has ever seen but you and I and a single
maidservant, the daughter of Actor, who was given me by my
father on my marriage, and who keeps the doors of our room) hard
of belief though I have been I can mistrust no longer."

Then Ulysses in his turn melted, and wept as he clasped his dear
and faithful wife to his bosom. As the sight of land is welcome
to men who are swimming towards the shore, when Neptune has
wrecked their ship with the fury of his winds and waves; a few
alone reach the land, and these, covered with brine, are
thankful when they find themselves on firm ground and out of
danger--even so was her husband welcome to her as she looked
upon him, and she could not tear her two fair arms from about
his neck. Indeed they would have gone on indulging their sorrow
till rosy-fingered morn appeared, had not Minerva determined
otherwise, and held night back in the far west, while she would
not suffer Dawn to leave Oceanus, nor to yoke the two steeds
Lampus and Phaethon that bear her onward to break the day upon

At last, however, Ulysses said, "Wife, we have not yet reached
the end of our troubles. I have an unknown amount of toil still
to undergo. It is long and difficult, but I must go through with
it, for thus the shade of Teiresias prophesied concerning me, on
the day when I went down into Hades to ask about my return and
that of my companions. But now let us go to bed, that we may
lie down and enjoy the blessed boon of sleep."

"You shall go to bed as soon as you please," replied Penelope,
"now that the gods have sent you home to your own good house and
to your country. But as heaven has put it in your mind to speak
of it, tell me about the task that lies before you. I shall have
to hear about it later, so it is better that I should be told at

"My dear," answered Ulysses, "why should you press me to tell
you? Still, I will not conceal it from you, though you will not
like it. I do not like it myself, for Teiresias bade me travel
far and wide, carrying an oar, till I came to a country where
the people have never heard of the sea, and do not even mix salt
with their food. They know nothing about ships, nor oars that
are as the wings of a ship. He gave me this certain token which
I will not hide from you. He said that a wayfarer should meet me
and ask me whether it was a winnowing shovel that I had on my
shoulder. On this, I was to fix my oar in the ground and
sacrifice a ram, a bull, and a boar to Neptune; after which I
was to go home and offer hecatombs to all the gods in heaven,
one after the other. As for myself, he said that death should
come to me from the sea, and that my life should ebb away very
gently when I was full of years and peace of mind, and my people
should bless me. All this, he said, should surely come to pass."

And Penelope said, "If the gods are going to vouchsafe you a
happier time in your old age, you may hope then to have some
respite from misfortune."

Thus did they converse. Meanwhile Eurynome and the nurse took
torches and made the bed ready with soft coverlets; as soon as
they had laid them, the nurse went back into the house to go to
her rest, leaving the bed chamber woman Eurynome {183} to show
Ulysses and Penelope to bed by torch light. When she had
conducted them to their room she went back, and they then came
joyfully to the rites of their own old bed. Telemachus,
Philoetius, and the swineherd now left off dancing, and made the
women leave off also. They then laid themselves down to sleep in
the cloisters.

When Ulysses and Penelope had had their fill of love they fell
talking with one another. She told him how much she had had to
bear in seeing the house filled with a crowd of wicked suitors
who had killed so many sheep and oxen on her account, and had
drunk so many casks of wine. Ulysses in his turn told her what
he had suffered, and how much trouble he had himself given to
other people. He told her everything, and she was so delighted
to listen that she never went to sleep till he had ended his
whole story.

He began with his victory over the Cicons, and how he thence
reached the fertile land of the Lotus-eaters. He told her all
about the Cyclops and how he had punished him for having so
ruthlessly eaten his brave comrades; how he then went on to
Aeolus, who received him hospitably and furthered him on his
way, but even so he was not to reach home, for to his great
grief a hurricane carried him out to sea again; how he went on
to the Laestrygonian city Telepylos, where the people destroyed
all his ships with their crews, save himself and his own ship
only. Then he told of cunning Circe and her craft, and how he
sailed to the chill house of Hades, to consult the ghost of the
Theban prophet Teiresias, and how he saw his old comrades in
arms, and his mother who bore him and brought him up when he was
a child; how he then heard the wondrous singing of the Sirens,
and went on to the wandering rocks and terrible Charybdis and to
Scylla, whom no man had ever yet passed in safety; how his men
then ate the cattle of the sun-god, and how Jove therefore
struck the ship with his thunderbolts, so that all his men
perished together, himself alone being left alive; how at last
he reached the Ogygian island and the nymph Calypso, who kept
him there in a cave, and fed him, and wanted him to marry her,
in which case she intended making him immortal so that he should
never grow old, but she could not persuade him to let her do so;
and how after much suffering he had found his way to the
Phaeacians, who had treated him as though he had been a god, and
sent him back in a ship to his own country after having given
him gold, bronze, and raiment in great abundance. This was the
last thing about which he told her, for here a deep sleep took
hold upon him and eased the burden of his sorrows.

Then Minerva bethought her of another matter. When she deemed
that Ulysses had had both of his wife and of repose, she bade
gold-enthroned Dawn rise out of Oceanus that she might shed
light upon mankind. On this, Ulysses rose from his comfortable
bed and said to Penelope, "Wife, we have both of us had our full
share of troubles, you, here, in lamenting my absence, and I in
being prevented from getting home though I was longing all the
time to do so. Now, however, that we have at last come together,
take care of the property that is in the house. As for the sheep
and goats which the wicked suitors have eaten, I will take many
myself by force from other people, and will compel the Achaeans
to make good the rest till they shall have filled all my yards.
I am now going to the wooded lands out in the country to see my
father who has so long been grieved on my account, and to
yourself I will give these instructions, though you have little
need of them. At sunrise it will at once get abroad that I have
been killing the suitors; go upstairs, therefore, {184} and stay
there with your women. See nobody and ask no questions." {185}

As he spoke he girded on his armour. Then he roused Telemachus,
Philoetius, and Eumaeus, and told them all to put on their
armour also. This they did, and armed themselves. When they had
done so, they opened the gates and sallied forth, Ulysses
leading the way. It was now daylight, but Minerva nevertheless
concealed them in darkness and led them quickly out of the town.



Then Mercury of Cyllene summoned the ghosts of the suitors, and
in his hand he held the fair golden wand with which he seals
men's eyes in sleep or wakes them just as he pleases; with this
he roused the ghosts and led them, while they followed whining
and gibbering behind him. As bats fly squealing in the hollow of
some great cave, when one of them has fallen out of the cluster
in which they hang, even so did the ghosts whine and squeal as
Mercury the healer of sorrow led them down into the dark abode
of death. When they had passed the waters of Oceanus and the
rock Leucas, they came to the gates of the sun and the land of
dreams, whereon they reached the meadow of asphodel where dwell
the souls and shadows of them that can labour no more.

Here they found the ghost of Achilles son of Peleus, with those
of Patroclus, Antilochus, and Ajax, who was the finest and
handsomest man of all the Danaans after the son of Peleus

They gathered round the ghost of the son of Peleus, and the
ghost of Agamemnon joined them, sorrowing bitterly. Round him
were gathered also the ghosts of those who had perished with him
in the house of Aegisthus; and the ghost of Achilles spoke

"Son of Atreus," it said, "we used to say that Jove had loved
you better from first to last than any other hero, for you were
captain over many and brave men, when we were all fighting
together before Troy; yet the hand of death, which no mortal can
escape, was laid upon you all too early. Better for you had you
fallen at Troy in the hey-day of your renown, for the Achaeans
would have built a mound over your ashes, and your son would
have been heir to your good name, whereas it has now been your
lot to come to a most miserable end."

"Happy son of Peleus," answered the ghost of Agamemnon, "for
having died at Troy far from Argos, while the bravest of the
Trojans and the Achaeans fell round you fighting for your body.
There you lay in the whirling clouds of dust, all huge and
hugely, heedless now of your chivalry. We fought the whole of
the livelong day, nor should we ever have left off if Jove had
not sent a hurricane to stay us. Then, when we had borne you to
the ships out of the fray, we laid you on your bed and cleansed
your fair skin with warm water and with ointments. The Danaans
tore their hair and wept bitterly round about you. Your mother,
when she heard, came with her immortal nymphs from out of the
sea, and the sound of a great wailing went forth over the waters
so that the Achaeans quaked for fear. They would have fled
panic-stricken to their ships had not wise old Nestor whose
counsel was ever truest checked them saying, 'Hold, Argives, fly
not sons of the Achaeans, this is his mother coming from the sea
with her immortal nymphs to view the body of her son.'

"Thus he spoke, and the Achaeans feared no more. The daughters
of the old man of the sea stood round you weeping bitterly, and
clothed you in immortal raiment. The nine muses also came and
lifted up their sweet voices in lament--calling and answering
one another; there was not an Argive but wept for pity of the
dirge they chaunted. Days and nights seven and ten we mourned
you, mortals and immortals, but on the eighteenth day we gave
you to the flames, and many a fat sheep with many an ox did we
slay in sacrifice around you. You were burnt in raiment of the
gods, with rich resins and with honey, while heroes, horse and
foot, clashed their armour round the pile as you were burning,
with the tramp as of a great multitude. But when the flames of
heaven had done their work, we gathered your white bones at
daybreak and laid them in ointments and in pure wine. Your
mother brought us a golden vase to hold them--gift of Bacchus,
and work of Vulcan himself; in this we mingled your bleached
bones with those of Patroclus who had gone before you, and
separate we enclosed also those of Antilochus, who had been
closer to you than any other of your comrades now that Patroclus
was no more.

"Over these the host of the Argives built a noble tomb, on a
point jutting out over the open Hellespont, that it might be
seen from far out upon the sea by those now living and by them
that shall be born hereafter. Your mother begged prizes from the
gods, and offered them to be contended for by the noblest of the
Achaeans. You must have been present at the funeral of many a
hero, when the young men gird themselves and make ready to
contend for prizes on the death of some great chieftain, but you
never saw such prizes as silver-footed Thetis offered in your
honour; for the gods loved you well. Thus even in death your
fame, Achilles, has not been lost, and your name lives evermore
among all mankind. But as for me, what solace had I when the
days of my fighting were done? For Jove willed my destruction on
my return, by the hands of Aegisthus and those of my wicked

Thus did they converse, and presently Mercury came up to them
with the ghosts of the suitors who had been killed by Ulysses.
The ghosts of Agamemnon and Achilles were astonished at seeing
them, and went up to them at once. The ghost of Agamemnon
recognised Amphimedon son of Melaneus, who lived in Ithaca and
had been his host, so it began to talk to him.

"Amphimedon," it said, "what has happened to all you fine young
men--all of an age too--that you are come down here under the
ground? One could pick no finer body of men from any city. Did
Neptune raise his winds and waves against you when you were at
sea, or did your enemies make an end of you on the mainland when
you were cattle-lifting or sheep-stealing, or while fighting in
defence of their wives and city? Answer my question, for I have
been your guest. Do you not remember how I came to your house
with Menelaus, to persuade Ulysses to join us with his ships
against Troy? It was a whole month ere we could resume our
voyage, for we had hard work to persuade Ulysses to come with

And the ghost of Amphimedon answered, "Agamemnon, son of Atreus,
king of men, I remember everything that you have said, and will
tell you fully and accurately about the way in which our end was
brought about. Ulysses had been long gone, and we were courting
his wife, who did not say point blank that she would not marry,
nor yet bring matters to an end, for she meant to compass our
destruction: this, then, was the trick she played us. She set up
a great tambour frame in her room and began to work on an
enormous piece of fine needlework. 'Sweethearts,' said she,
'Ulysses is indeed dead, still, do not press me to marry again
immediately; wait--for I would not have my skill in needlework
perish unrecorded--till I have completed a pall for the hero
Laertes, against the time when death shall take him. He is very
rich, and the women of the place will talk if he is laid out
without a pall.' This is what she said, and we assented;
whereupon we could see her working upon her great web all day
long, but at night she would unpick the stitches again by
torchlight. She fooled us in this way for three years without
our finding it out, but as time wore on and she was now in her
fourth year, in the waning of moons and many days had been
accomplished, one of her maids who knew what she was doing told
us, and we caught her in the act of undoing her work, so she had
to finish it whether she would or no; and when she showed us the
robe she had made, after she had had it washed, {186} its
splendour was as that of the sun or moon.

"Then some malicious god conveyed Ulysses to the upland farm
where his swineherd lives. Thither presently came also his son,
returning from a voyage to Pylos, and the two came to the town
when they had hatched their plot for our destruction. Telemachus
came first, and then after him, accompanied by the swineherd,
came Ulysses, clad in rags and leaning on a staff as though he
were some miserable old beggar. He came so unexpectedly that
none of us knew him, not even the older ones among us, and we
reviled him and threw things at him. He endured both being
struck and insulted without a word, though he was in his own
house; but when the will of Aegis-bearing Jove inspired him, he
and Telemachus took the armour and hid it in an inner chamber,
bolting the doors behind them. Then he cunningly made his wife
offer his bow and a quantity of iron to be contended for by us
ill-fated suitors; and this was the beginning of our end, for
not one of us could string the bow--nor nearly do so. When it
was about to reach the hands of Ulysses, we all of us shouted
out that it should not be given him, no matter what he might
say, but Telemachus insisted on his having it. When he had got
it in his hands he strung it with ease and sent his arrow
through the iron. Then he stood on the floor of the cloister and
poured his arrows on the ground, glaring fiercely about him.
First he killed Antinous, and then, aiming straight before him,
he let fly his deadly darts and they fell thick on one another.
It was plain that some one of the gods was helping them, for
they fell upon us with might and main throughout the cloisters,
and there was a hideous sound of groaning as our brains were
being battered in, and the ground seethed with our blood. This,
Agamemnon, is how we came by our end, and our bodies are lying
still uncared for in the house of Ulysses, for our friends at
home do not yet know what has happened, so that they cannot lay
us out and wash the black blood from our wounds, making moan
over us according to the offices due to the departed."

"Happy Ulysses, son of Laertes," replied the ghost of Agamemnon,
"you are indeed blessed in the possession of a wife endowed with
such rare excellence of understanding, and so faithful to her
wedded lord as Penelope the daughter of Icarius. The fame,
therefore, of her virtue shall never die, and the immortals
shall compose a song that shall be welcome to all mankind in
honour of the constancy of Penelope. How far otherwise was the
wickedness of the daughter of Tyndareus who killed her lawful
husband; her song shall be hateful among men, for she has
brought disgrace on all womankind even on the good ones."

Thus did they converse in the house of Hades deep down within
the bowels of the earth. Meanwhile Ulysses and the others passed
out of the town and soon reached the fair and well-tilled farm
of Laertes, which he had reclaimed with infinite labour. Here
was his house, with a lean-to running all round it, where the
slaves who worked for him slept and sat and ate, while inside
the house there was an old Sicel woman, who looked after him in
this his country-farm. When Ulysses got there, he said to his
son and to the other two:

"Go to the house, and kill the best pig that you can find for
dinner. Meanwhile I want to see whether my father will know me,
or fail to recognise me after so long an absence."

He then took off his armour and gave it to Eumaeus and
Philoetius, who went straight on to the house, while he turned
off into the vineyard to make trial of his father. As he went
down into the great orchard, he did not see Dolius, nor any of
his sons nor of the other bondsmen, for they were all gathering
thorns to make a fence for the vineyard, at the place where the
old man had told them; he therefore found his father alone,
hoeing a vine. He had on a dirty old shirt, patched and very
shabby; his legs were bound round with thongs of oxhide to save
him from the brambles, and he also wore sleeves of leather; he
had a goat skin cap on his head, and was looking very
woe-begone. When Ulysses saw him so worn, so old and full of
sorrow, he stood still under a tall pear tree and began to weep.
He doubted whether to embrace him, kiss him, and tell him all
about his having come home, or whether he should first question
him and see what he would say. In the end he deemed it best to
be crafty with him, so in this mind he went up to his father,
who was bending down and digging about a plant.

"I see, sir," said Ulysses, "that you are an excellent
gardener--what pains you take with it, to be sure. There is not
a single plant, not a fig tree, vine, olive, pear, nor flower
bed, but bears the trace of your attention. I trust, however,
that you will not be offended if I say that you take better care
of your garden than of yourself. You are old, unsavoury, and
very meanly clad. It cannot be because you are idle that your
master takes such poor care of you, indeed your face and figure
have nothing of the slave about them, and proclaim you of noble
birth. I should have said that you were one of those who should
wash well, eat well, and lie soft at night as old men have a
right to do; but tell me, and tell me true, whose bondman are
you, and in whose garden are you working? Tell me also about
another matter. Is this place that I have come to really Ithaca?
I met a man just now who said so, but he was a dull fellow, and
had not the patience to hear my story out when I was asking him
about an old friend of mine, whether he was still living, or was
already dead and in the house of Hades. Believe me when I tell
you that this man came to my house once when I was in my own
country and never yet did any stranger come to me whom I liked
better. He said that his family came from Ithaca and that his
father was Laertes, son of Arceisius. I received him hospitably,
making him welcome to all the abundance of my house, and when he
went away I gave him all customary presents. I gave him seven
talents of fine gold, and a cup of solid silver with flowers
chased upon it. I gave him twelve light cloaks, and as many
pieces of tapestry; I also gave him twelve cloaks of single
fold, twelve rugs, twelve fair mantles, and an equal number of
shirts. To all this I added four good looking women skilled in
all useful arts, and I let him take his choice."

His father shed tears and answered, "Sir, you have indeed come
to the country that you have named, but it is fallen into the
hands of wicked people. All this wealth of presents has been
given to no purpose. If you could have found your friend here
alive in Ithaca, he would have entertained you hospitably and
would have requited your presents amply when you left him--as
would have been only right considering what you had already
given him. But tell me, and tell me true, how many years is it
since you entertained this guest--my unhappy son, as ever was?
Alas! He has perished far from his own country; the fishes of
the sea have eaten him, or he has fallen a prey to the birds and
wild beasts of some continent. Neither his mother, nor I his
father, who were his parents, could throw our arms about him and
wrap him in his shroud, nor could his excellent and richly
dowered wife Penelope bewail her husband as was natural upon his
death bed, and close his eyes according to the offices due to
the departed. But now, tell me truly for I want to know. Who and
whence are you--tell me of your town and parents? Where is the
ship lying that has brought you and your men to Ithaca? Or were
you a passenger on some other man's ship, and those who brought
you here have gone on their way and left you?"

"I will tell you everything," answered Ulysses, "quite truly. I
come from Alybas, where I have a fine house. I am son of king
Apheidas, who is the son of Polypemon. My own name is Eperitus;
heaven drove me off my course as I was leaving Sicania, and I
have been carried here against my will. As for my ship it is
lying over yonder, off the open country outside the town, and
this is the fifth year since Ulysses left my country. Poor
fellow, yet the omens were good for him when he left me. The
birds all flew on our right hands, and both he and I rejoiced to
see them as we parted, for we had every hope that we should have
another friendly meeting and exchange presents."

A dark cloud of sorrow fell upon Laertes as he listened. He
filled both hands with the dust from off the ground and poured
it over his grey head, groaning heavily as he did so. The heart
of Ulysses was touched, and his nostrils quivered as he looked
upon his father; then he sprang towards him, flung his arms
about him and kissed him, saying, "I am he, father, about whom
you are asking--I have returned after having been away for
twenty years. But cease your sighing and lamentation--we have no
time to lose, for I should tell you that I have been killing the
suitors in my house, to punish them for their insolence and

"If you really are my son Ulysses," replied Laertes, "and have
come back again, you must give me such manifest proof of your
identity as shall convince me."

"First observe this scar," answered Ulysses, "which I got from a
boar's tusk when I was hunting on Mt. Parnassus. You and my
mother had sent me to Autolycus, my mother's father, to receive
the presents which when he was over here he had promised to give
me. Furthermore I will point out to you the trees in the
vineyard which you gave me, and I asked you all about them as I
followed you round the garden. We went over them all, and you
told me their names and what they all were. You gave me thirteen
pear trees, ten apple trees, and forty fig trees; you also said
you would give me fifty rows of vines; there was corn planted
between each row, and they yield grapes of every kind when the
heat of heaven has been laid heavy upon them."

Laertes' strength failed him when he heard the convincing proofs
which his son had given him. He threw his arms about him, and
Ulysses had to support him, or he would have gone off into a
swoon; but as soon as he came to, and was beginning to recover
his senses, he said, "O father Jove, then you gods are still in
Olympus after all, if the suitors have really been punished for
their insolence and folly. Nevertheless, I am much afraid that I
shall have all the townspeople of Ithaca up here directly, and
they will be sending messengers everywhere throughout the cities
of the Cephallenians."

Ulysses answered, "Take heart and do not trouble yourself about
that, but let us go into the house hard by your garden. I have
already told Telemachus, Philoetius, and Eumaeus to go on there
and get dinner ready as soon as possible."

Thus conversing the two made their way towards the house. When
they got there they found Telemachus with the stockman and the
swineherd cutting up meat and mixing wine with water. Then the
old Sicel woman took Laertes inside and washed him and anointed
him with oil. She put him on a good cloak, and Minerva came up
to him and gave him a more imposing presence, making him taller
and stouter than before. When he came back his son was surprised
to see him looking so like an immortal, and said to him, "My
dear father, some one of the gods has been making you much
taller and better-looking."

Laertes answered, "Would, by Father Jove, Minerva, and Apollo,
that I were the man I was when I ruled among the Cephallenians,
and took Nericum, that strong fortress on the foreland. If I
were still what I then was and had been in our house yesterday
with my armour on, I should have been able to stand by you and
help you against the suitors. I should have killed a great many
of them, and you would have rejoiced to see it."

Thus did they converse; but the others, when they had finished
their work and the feast was ready, left off working, and took
each his proper place on the benches and seats. Then they began
eating; by and by old Dolius and his sons left their work and
came up, for their mother, the Sicel woman who looked after
Laertes now that he was growing old, had been to fetch them.
When they saw Ulysses and were certain it was he, they stood
there lost in astonishment; but Ulysses scolded them good
naturedly and said, "Sit down to your dinner, old man, and never
mind about your surprise; we have been wanting to begin for some
time and have been waiting for you."

Then Dolius put out both his hands and went up to Ulysses.
"Sir," said he, seizing his master's hand and kissing it at the
wrist, "we have long been wishing you home: and now heaven has
restored you to us after we had given up hoping. All hail,
therefore, and may the gods prosper you. {187} But tell me, does
Penelope already know of your return, or shall we send some one
to tell her?"

"Old man," answered Ulysses, "she knows already, so you need not
trouble about that." On this he took his seat, and the sons of
Dolius gathered round Ulysses to give him greeting and embrace
him one after the other; then they took their seats in due order
near Dolius their father.

While they were thus busy getting their dinner ready, Rumour
went round the town, and noised abroad the terrible fate that
had befallen the suitors; as soon, therefore, as the people
heard of it they gathered from every quarter, groaning and
hooting before the house of Ulysses. They took the dead away,
buried every man his own, and put the bodies of those who came
from elsewhere on board the fishing vessels, for the fishermen
to take each of them to his own place. They then met angrily in
the place of assembly, and when they were got together Eupeithes
rose to speak. He was overwhelmed with grief for the death of
his son Antinous, who had been the first man killed by Ulysses,
so he said, weeping bitterly, "My friends, this man has done the
Achaeans great wrong. He took many of our best men away with him
in his fleet, and he has lost both ships and men; now, moreover,
on his return he has been killing all the foremost men among the
Cephallenians. Let us be up and doing before he can get away to
Pylos or to Elis where the Epeans rule, or we shall be ashamed
of ourselves for ever afterwards. It will be an everlasting
disgrace to us if we do not avenge the murder of our sons and
brothers. For my own part I should have no more pleasure in
life, but had rather die at once. Let us be up, then, and after
them, before they can cross over to the main land."

He wept as he spoke and every one pitied him. But Medon and the
bard Phemius had now woke up, and came to them from the house of
Ulysses. Every one was astonished at seeing them, but they stood
in the middle of the assembly, and Medon said, "Hear me, men of
Ithaca. Ulysses did not do these things against the will of
heaven. I myself saw an immortal god take the form of Mentor and
stand beside him. This god appeared, now in front of him
encouraging him, and now going furiously about the court and
attacking the suitors whereon they fell thick on one another."

On this pale fear laid hold of them, and old Halitherses, son of
Mastor, rose to speak, for he was the only man among them who
knew both past and future; so he spoke to them plainly and in
all honesty, saying,

"Men of Ithaca, it is all your own fault that things have turned
out as they have; you would not listen to me, nor yet to Mentor,
when we bade you check the folly of your sons who were doing
much wrong in the wantonness of their hearts--wasting the
substance and dishonouring the wife of a chieftain who they
thought would not return. Now, however, let it be as I say, and
do as I tell you. Do not go out against Ulysses, or you may find
that you have been drawing down evil on your own heads."

This was what he said, and more than half raised a loud shout,
and at once left the assembly. But the rest stayed where they
were, for the speech of Halitherses displeased them, and they
sided with Eupeithes; they therefore hurried off for their
armour, and when they had armed themselves, they met together in
front of the city, and Eupeithes led them on in their folly. He
thought he was going to avenge the murder of his son, whereas in
truth he was never to return, but was himself to perish in his

Then Minerva said to Jove, "Father, son of Saturn, king of
kings, answer me this question--What do you propose to do? Will
you set them fighting still further, or will you make peace
between them?"

And Jove answered, "My child, why should you ask me? Was it not
by your own arrangement that Ulysses came home and took his
revenge upon the suitors? Do whatever you like, but I will tell
you what I think will be most reasonable arrangement. Now that
Ulysses is revenged, let them swear to a solemn covenant, in
virtue of which he shall continue to rule, while we cause the
others to forgive and forget the massacre of their sons and
brothers. Let them then all become friends as heretofore, and
let peace and plenty reign."

This was what Minerva was already eager to bring about, so down
she darted from off the topmost summits of Olympus.

Now when Laertes and the others had done dinner, Ulysses began
by saying, "Some of you go out and see if they are not getting
close up to us." So one of Dolius's sons went as he was bid.
Standing on the threshold he could see them all quite near, and
said to Ulysses, "Here they are, let us put on our armour at

They put on their armour as fast as they could--that is to say
Ulysses, his three men, and the six sons of Dolius. Laertes
also and Dolius did the same--warriors by necessity in spite of
their grey hair. When they had all put on their armour, they
opened the gate and sallied forth, Ulysses leading the way.

Then Jove's daughter Minerva came up to them, having assumed the
form and voice of Mentor. Ulysses was glad when he saw her, and
said to his son Telemachus, "Telemachus, now that you are about
to fight in an engagement, which will show every man's mettle,
be sure not to disgrace your ancestors, who were eminent for
their strength and courage all the world over."

"You say truly, my dear father," answered Telemachus, "and you
shall see, if you will, that I am in no mind to disgrace your

Laertes was delighted when he heard this. "Good heavens," he
exclaimed, "what a day I am enjoying: I do indeed rejoice at it.
My son and grandson are vying with one another in the matter of

On this Minerva came close up to him and said, "Son of
Arceisius---best friend I have in the world--pray to the
blue-eyed damsel, and to Jove her father; then poise your spear
and hurl it."

As she spoke she infused fresh vigour into him, and when he had
prayed to her he poised his spear and hurled it. He hit
Eupeithes' helmet, and the spear went right through it, for the
helmet stayed it not, and his armour rang rattling round him as
he fell heavily to the ground. Meantime Ulysses and his son
fell upon the front line of the foe and smote them with their
swords and spears; indeed, they would have killed every one of
them, and prevented them from ever getting home again, only
Minerva raised her voice aloud, and made every one pause. "Men
of Ithaca," she cried, "cease this dreadful war, and settle the
matter at once without further bloodshed."

On this pale fear seized every one; they were so frightened that
their arms dropped from their hands and fell upon the ground at
the sound of the goddess' voice, and they fled back to the city
for their lives. But Ulysses gave a great cry, and gathering
himself together swooped down like a soaring eagle. Then the son
of Saturn sent a thunderbolt of fire that fell just in front of
Minerva, so she said to Ulysses, "Ulysses, noble son of Laertes,
stop this warful strife, or Jove will be angry with you."

Thus spoke Minerva, and Ulysses obeyed her gladly. Then Minerva
assumed the form and voice of Mentor, and presently made a
covenant of peace between the two contending parties.


{1} Black races are evidently known to the writer as stretching
all across Africa, one half looking West on to the Atlantic, and
the other East on to the Indian Ocean.

{2} The original use of the footstool was probably less to rest
the feet than to keep them (especially when bare) from a floor
which was often wet and dirty.

{3} The [Greek] or seat, is occasionally called "high," as being
higher than the [Greek] or low footstool. It was probably no
higher than an ordinary chair is now, and seems to have had no

{4} Temesa was on the West Coast of the toe of Italy, in what is
now the gulf of Sta Eufemia. It was famous in remote times for
its copper mines, which, however, were worked out when Strabo

{5} i.e. "with a current in it"--see illustrations and map near
the end of bks. v. and vi. respectively.

{6} Reading [Greek] for [Greek], cf. "Od." iii. 81 where the
same mistake is made, and xiii. 351 where the mountain is called
Neritum, the same place being intended both here and in book

{7} It is never plausibly explained why Penelope cannot do this,
and from bk. ii. it is clear that she kept on deliberately
encouraging the suitors, though we are asked to believe that she
was only fooling them.

{8} See note on "Od." i. 365.

{9} Middle Argos means the Peleponnese which, however, is never
so called in the "Iliad". I presume "middle" means "middle
between the two Greek-speaking countries of Asia Minor and
Sicily, with South Italy"; for that parts of Sicily and also
large parts, though not the whole of South Italy, were inhabited
by Greek-speaking races centuries before the Dorian
colonisations can hardly be doubted. The Sicians, and also the
Sicels, both of them probably spoke Greek.

{10} cf. "Il." vi. 490-495. In the "Iliad" it is "war," not
"speech," that is a man's matter. It argues a certain hardness,
or at any rate dislike of the "Iliad" on the part of the writer
of the "Odyssey," that she should have adopted Hector's farewell
to Andromache here, as elsewhere in the poem, for a scene of
such inferior pathos.

{11} [Greek] The whole open court with the covered cloister
running round it was called [Greek], or [Greek], but the covered
part was distinguished by being called "shady" or
"shadow-giving". It was in this part that the tables for the
suitors were laid. The Fountain Court at Hampton Court may serve
as an illustration (save as regards the use of arches instead of
wooden supports and rafters) and the arrangement is still common
in Sicily. The usual translation "shadowy" or "dusky" halls,
gives a false idea of the scene.

{12} The reader will note the extreme care which the writer takes
to make it clear that none of the suitors were allowed to sleep
in Ulysses' house.

{13} See Appendix; g, in plan of Ulysses' house.

{14} I imagine this passage to be a rejoinder to "Il." xxiii.
702-705 in which a tripod is valued at twelve oxen, and a good
useful maid of all work at only four. The scrupulous regard of
Laertes for his wife's feelings is of a piece with the extreme
jealousy for the honour of woman, which is manifest throughout
the "Odyssey".

{15} [Greek] "The [Greek], or tunica, was a shirt or shift, and
served as the chief under garment of the Greeks and Romans,
whether men or women." Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman
Antiquities, under "Tunica".

{16} Doors fastened to all intents and purposes as here described
may be seen in the older houses at Trapani. There is a slot on
the outer side of the door by means of which a person who has
left the room can shoot the bolt. My bedroom at the Albergo
Centrale was fastened in this way.

{17} [Greek] So we vulgarly say "had cooked his goose," or "had
settled his hash." Aegyptus cannot of course know of the fate
Antiphus had met with, for there had as yet been no news of or
from Ulysses.

{18} "Il." xxii. 416. [Greek] The authoress has bungled by
borrowing these words verbatim from the "Iliad", without
prefixing the necessary "do not," which I have supplied.

{19} i.e. you have money, and could pay when I got judgment,
whereas the suitors are men of straw.

{20} cf. "Il." ii. 76. [Greek]. The Odyssean passage runs
[Greek]. Is it possible not to suspect that the name Mentor was
coined upon that of Nestor?

{21} i.e. in the outer court, and in the uncovered part of the
inner house.

{22} This would be fair from Sicily, which was doing duty for
Ithaca in the mind of the writer, but a North wind would have
been preferable for a voyage from the real Ithaca to Pylos.

{23} [Greek] The wind does not whistle over waves. It only
whistles through rigging or some other obstacle that cuts it.

{24} cf. "Il." v.20. [Greek] The Odyssean line is [Greek]. There
can be no doubt that the Odyssean line was suggested by the
Iliadic, but nothing can explain why Idaeus jumping from his
chariot should suggest to the writer of the "Odyssey" the sun
jumping from the sea. The probability is that she never gave
the matter a thought, but took the line in question as an effect
of saturation with the "Iliad," and of unconscious cerebration.
The "Odyssey" contains many such examples.

{25} The heart, liver, lights, kidneys, etc. were taken out from
the inside and eaten first as being more readily cooked; the
[Greek], or bone meat, was cooking while the [Greek] or inward
parts were being eaten. I imagine that the thigh bones made a
kind of gridiron, while at the same time the marrow inside them
got cooked.

{26} i.e. skewers, either single, double, or even five pronged.
The meat would be pierced with the skewer, and laid over the
ashes to grill--the two ends of the skewer being supported in
whatever way convenient. Meat so cooking may be seen in any
eating house in Smyrna, or any Eastern town. When I rode across
the Troad from the Dardanelles to Hissarlik and Mount Ida, I
noticed that my dragoman and his men did all our outdoor cooking
exactly in the Odyssean and Iliadic fashion.

{27} cf. "Il." xvii. 567. [Greek] The Odyssean lines are--

{28} Reading [Greek] for [Greek], cf. "Od." i.186.

{29} The geography of the Aegean as above described is correct,
but is probably taken from the lost poem, the Nosti, the
existence of which is referred to "Od." i.326,327 and 350, etc.
A glance at the map will show that heaven advised its
supplicants quite correctly.

{30} The writer--ever jealous for the honour of
women--extenuates Clytemnestra's guilt as far as possible, and
explains it as due to her having been left unprotected, and
fallen into the hands of a wicked man.

{31} The Greek is [Greek] cf. "Iliad" ii. 408 [Greek] Surely the
[Greek] of the Odyssean passage was due to the [Greek] of the
"Iliad." No other reason suggests itself for the making Menelaus
return on the very day of the feast given by Orestes. The fact
that in the "Iliad" Menelaus came to a banquet without waiting
for an invitation, determines the writer of the "Odyssey" to
make him come to a banquet, also uninvited, but as circumstances
did not permit of his having been invited, his coming uninvited
is shown to have been due to chance. I do not think the
authoress thought all this out, but attribute the strangeness of
the coincidence to unconscious cerebration and saturation.

{32} cf. "Il." i.458, ii. 421. The writer here interrupts an
Iliadic passage (to which she returns immediately) for the
double purpose of dwelling upon the slaughter of the heifer, and
of letting Nestor's wife and daughter enjoy it also. A male
writer, if he was borrowing from the "Iliad," would have stuck
to his borrowing.

{33} cf. "Il." xxiv. 587,588 where the lines refer to the washing
the dead body of Hector.

{34} See illustration on opposite page. The yard is typical of
many that may be seen in Sicily. The existing ground-plan is
probably unmodified from Odyssean, and indeed long pre-Odyssean
times, but the earlier buildings would have no arches, and
would, one would suppose, be mainly timber. The Odyssean [Greek]
were the sheds that ran round the yard as the arches do now. The
[Greek] was the one through which the main entrance passed, and
which was hence "noisy," or reverberating. It had an upper story
in which visitors were often lodged.

{35} This journey is an impossible one. Telemachus and
Pisistratus would have been obliged to drive over the Taygetus
range, over which there has never yet been a road for wheeled
vehicles. It is plain therefore that the audience for whom the
"Odyssey" was written was one that would be unlikely to know
anything about the topography of the Peloponnese, so that the
writer might take what liberties she chose.

{36} The lines which I have enclosed in brackets are evidently
an afterthought--added probably by the writer herself--for they
evince the same instinctively greater interest in anything that
may concern a woman, which is so noticeable throughout the poem.
There is no further sign of any special festivities nor of any
other guests than Telemachus and Pisistratus, until lines
621-624 (ordinarily enclosed in brackets) are abruptly
introduced, probably with a view of trying to carry off the
introduction of the lines now in question.

The addition was, I imagine, suggested by a desire to excuse and
explain the non-appearance of Hermione in bk. xv., as also of
both Hermione and Megapenthes in the rest of bk. iv. Megapenthes
in bk. xv. seems to be still a bachelor: the presumption
therefore is that bk. xv. was written before the story of his
marriage here given. I take it he is only married here because
his sister is being married. She having been properly attended
to, Megapenthes might as well be married at the same time.
Hermione could not now be less than thirty.

I have dealt with this passage somewhat more fully in my
"Authoress of the Odyssey", p.136-138. See also p. 256 of the
same book.

{37} Sparta and Lacedaemon are here treated as two different
places, though in other parts of the poem it is clear that the
writer understands them as one. The catalogue in the "Iliad,"
which the writer is here presumably following, makes the same
mistake ("Il." ii. 581,582)

{38} These last three lines are identical with "Il." vxiii.

{39} From the Greek [Greek] it is plain that Menelaus took up
the piece of meat with his fingers.

{40} Amber is never mentioned in the "Iliad." Sicily, where I
suppose the "Odyssey" to have been written, has always been, and
still is, one of the principal amber producing countries. It was
probably the only one known in the Odyssean age. See "The
Authoress of the Odyssey", p260.

{41} This no doubt refers to the story told in the last poem of
the Cypria about Paris and Helen robbing Menelaus of the greater
part of his treasures, when they sailed together for Troy.

{42} It is inconceivable that Helen should enter thus, in the
middle of supper, intending to work with her distaff, if great
festivities were going on. Telemachus and Pisistratus are
evidently dining en famille.

{43} In the Italian insurrection of 1848, eight young men who
were being hotly pursued by the Austrian police hid themselves
inside Donatello's colossal wooden horse in the Salone at Padua,
and remained there for a week being fed by their confederates.
In 1898 the last survivor was carried round Padua in triumph.

{44} The Greek is [Greek]. Is it unfair to argue that the writer
is a person of somewhat delicate sensibility, to whom a strong
smell of fish is distasteful?

{45} The Greek is [Greek]. I believe this to be a hit at the
writer's own countrymen who were of Phocaean descent, and the
next following line to be a rejoinder to complaints made against
her in bk. vi. 273-288, to the effect that she gave herself
airs and would marry none of her own people. For that the writer
of the "Odyssey" was the person who has been introduced into the
poem under the name of Nausicaa, I cannot bring myself to
question. I may remind English readers that [Greek] (i.e. phoca)
means "seal." Seals almost always appear on Phocaean coins.

{46} Surely here again we are in the hands of a writer of
delicate sensibility. It is not as though the seals were stale;
they had only just been killed. The writer, however is obviously
laughing at her own countrymen, and insulting them as openly as
she dares.

{47} We were told above (lines 357,357) that it was only one
day's sail.

{48} I give the usual translation, but I do not believe the
Greek will warrant it. The Greek reads [Greek].

This is usually held to mean that Ithaca is an island fit for
breeding goats, and on that account more delectable to the
speaker than it would have been if it were fit for breeding
horses. I find little authority for such a translation; the most
equitable translation of the text as it stands is, "Ithaca is an
island fit for breeding goats, and delectable rather than fit
for breeding horses; for not one of the islands is good driving
ground, nor well meadowed." Surely the writer does not mean that
a pleasant or delectable island would not be fit for breeding
horses? The most equitable translation, therefore, of the
present text being thus halt and impotent, we may suspect
corruption, and I hazard the following emendation, though I have
not adopted it in my translation, as fearing that it would be
deemed too fanciful. I would read:--[Greek].

As far as scanning goes the [Greek] is not necessary; [Greek] iv.
72, [Greek] iv. 233, to go no further afield than earlier lines
of the same book, give sufficient authority for [Greek], but the
[Greek] would not be redundant; it would emphasise the surprise
of the contrast, and I should prefer to have it, though it is
not very important either way. This reading of course should be
translated "Ithaca is an island fit for breeding goats, and (by
your leave) itself a horseman rather than fit for breeding
horses--for not one of the islands is good and well meadowed

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