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pg 281book 15. The Pig Herder's Tale Book 15

  • 1Pallas Athena came to Lacedaemon of the broad dancing
  • 2places to remind the glorious son of great-hearted Odysseus
  • 3of his return home, and to urge that he go. She found
  • 4Telemachos and the fine son of Nestor sleeping in the forehall
  • 5of bold Menelaos. Gentle sleep had overcome the son
  • 6of Nestor, but sweet sleep did not hold Telemachos.
  • 7Throughout the ambrosial night thoughts of his father
  • 8kept him awake.
  • Standing near him flashing-eyed Athena
  • 9spoke: "Telemachos, you can no longer go wandering around
  • 10far from your home, abandoning your wealth and leaving
  • 11such insolent men in your house. I hope that they do not
  • 12devour all your wealth, dividing it up, while you return
  • 13from a pointless trip. But urge Menelaos, good at the war cry,
  • 14to send you off as quickly as possible, so that you can find your
  • 15blameless mother still at home. Her father and her brothers
  • 16already encourage her to marry Eurymachos, who has
  • 17exceeded all the other suitors in the presents he's given, and he has
  • 18poured on the bridal-gifts. I hope that she does not carry off
  • 19some treasure from your house against your will! For you know
  • 20the way it is with a woman—they want to give everything
  • 21to the man who marries them, and she no longer remembers
  • 22nor asks about the children she has earlier borne, nor her dear
  • 23husband who has died.
  • "When you get to Ithaca, put all your
  • 24possessions in charge of the female slave who seems best
  • 25to you, until the gods show you a noble wife. I will tell you
  • 26something else, and do take it to heart: The best of the suitors
  • 27have set up a deliberate ambush in the strait between Ithaca
  • 28and rugged Samê. They want to kill you before you get home,
  • 29but I don't think that they will. The earth will cover many a one
  • 30of the suitors who devour your substance! So sail your well-built
  • 31ship out beyond the islands,° and sail at night as well as by day.
  • pg 28232One of the deathless ones who guards you and watches over you
  • 33will send a breeze behind your ship. When you arrive
  • 34at the nearest shore of Ithaca, send your ship with all your
  • 35companions up to the city, but you yourself go first to the dwelling
  • 36of the pig herder, he who looks out for your pigs. He is well
  • 37disposed to you. Spend the night there. Send him up to the city
  • 38to tell the shrewd Penelope that you have returned safely
  • 39from Pylos."
  • So speaking, she went off toward high Olympos.
  • 40Telemachos stirred the son of Nestor from his sweet sleep
  • 41by nudging him with his heel, and Telemachos said: "Wake up,
  • 42Peisistratos, son of Nestor! Yoke our single-hoofed horses
  • 43beneath the chariot so that we may get going."
  • Peisistratos the son
  • 44of Nestor said: "Telemachos, we cannot set out on our journey
  • 45through the misty night, though we are eager to do so. Soon
  • 46it will be dawn. Wait until the warrior son of Atreus, Menelaos
  • 47famous for his spear, shall bring gifts and place them in our car
  • 48and send us on our way with kindly words. For a guest-friend
  • 49remembers all his days another guest-friend who has received
  • 50him and entertained him."
  • So he spoke and promptly the golden-throned
  • 51Dawn rose up. Menelaos, good at the war cry, came close to them,
  • 52rising from the couch that he shared with Helen, whose hair
  • 53is beautiful. When the dear son of Odysseus saw him, he hastened
  • 54to put his shining shirt over his skin, and the prince threw
  • 55a cloak around his strong shoulders, and he went forth.
  • Standing next
  • 56to him, Telemachos, the dear son of godlike Odysseus, said:
  • 57"O Zeus-nourished Menelaos, son of Atreus, leader of the people,
  • 58please send me now to the land of my fathers. For my spirit
  • 59urges me to go home."
  • Menelaos, good at the war cry, replied:
  • 60"Telemachos, I will not hold you for long if you want to go
  • 61home. I would scorn any man who received guests and loved
  • 62too much, even as one who hated too much. Measure
  • 63is best in all things. It is equally evil to send a guest-friend
  • 64on his way who wishes to stay, and to hold back someone
  • pg 28365who wants to go. It is right that you love a guest-friend
  • 66when he is with you, and when he wants to go—send him
  • 67on his way!
  • "But stay until I bring beautiful gift-tokens
  • 68and place them in your car so your own eyes see them,
  • 69and until I tell the women in the house to prepare a meal
  • 70from the abundant store within. It is a double advantage—
  • 71it brings glory, and honor, and profit—that the traveler
  • 72has a good meal before he journeys over the wide
  • 73and boundless earth. If you want to travel through Hellas
  • 74and mid-Argos, well then, I can follow along myself!
  • 75I will yoke horses for you, and lead you to the cities
  • 76of men. Nor will anyone send us off empty-handed,
  • 77but everyone will give us something to carry off, either
  • 78some kind of tripod all made of bronze, or a cauldron,
  • 79or two mules, or a golden cup."
  • Then shrewd Telemachos
  • 80said in reply: "O Zeus-nourished Menelaos, son of Atreus,
  • 81leader of the people, I would rather go to my home
  • 82immediately, for when I came here I did not leave
  • 83a guardian over my possessions behind. I would rather
  • 84that I not perish myself in looking for my father,
  • 85or that some fine treasure disappear from my halls."
  • 86    When Menelaos good at the war cry heard this,
  • 87he ordered his wife and the female slaves to prepare
  • 88a meal in the halls from the abundant supply
  • 89that was within. Eteoneus, the son of Boethoös,
  • 90who lived nearby, arose from his bed and drew
  • 91near. Menelaos, good at the war cry, urged him
  • 92to kindle a fire and to roast some meat. Hearing
  • 93the command, he obeyed.
  • Menelaos himself went down
  • 94into his fragrant treasure-chamber, not alone, but Helen
  • 95and Megapenthes° went with him. When they came to where
  • 96the treasure lay, the son of Atreus took up a cup
  • 97with two handles, and he gave a silver bowl to Megapenthes
  • 98to carry. Helen came up to the trunks where the highly
  • pg 28499embroidered robes were that she herself had made.
  • 100Helen—a goddess among women!—took up one and bore
  • 101the robe away, the one most beautiful and elaborately
  • 102embroidered and largest—it shone like a star! It lay at the bottom,
  • 103beneath all the others.
  • They went out through the house
  • 104until they came to Telemachos. Light-haired Menelaos
  • 105spoke to him: "Telemachos, may Zeus, the long-thundering
  • 106husband of Hera, bring your homecoming to pass, just as
  • 107you desire. I will give you the most beautiful and valuable
  • 108of the gifts that lie stored up in my house. I will give you
  • 109a wine mixing-bowl, well made, entirely of silver, and it has
  • 110gold running around the lip, a work of Hephaistos.
  • 111The warrior Phaidimos,° king of the Sidonians, gave it to me,
  • 112when his house gave me shelter as I returned home. And now
  • 113I want to give it to you."
  • So speaking the warrior son of Atreus
  • 114placed the two-handled cup in his hands. Strong Megapenthes
  • 115brought the shining mixing-bowl made of silver and placed it
  • 116in front of Telemachos. And there Helen, whose cheeks
  • 117are beautiful, stood by, carrying the gown in her hands,
  • 118and she said: "I give you this gift, my child, in memory
  • 119of the hands of Helen, for the day of your wedding
  • 120that you long for. Your bride may wear it. Until then
  • 121store it in the house under the care of your dear mother.
  • 122And may you reach your well-built house and the land
  • 123of your fathers with joy."
  • So speaking, she placed the gown
  • 124in his hands, and he gladly received it. The warrior
  • 125Peisistratos took the gifts and lay them in the wicker basket
  • 126in the car, and he gazed at them with wonder in his heart.
  • 127Light-haired Menelaos led them to the house, and then they
  • 128sat down on chairs and benches. A female attendant brought
  • 129up a beautiful golden vase and poured out water over a silver
  • 130basin to wash their hands. She drew up a polished table
  • 131beside them. The honored housewife brought in bread
  • 132and placed it down, and many other sorts of food, drawing
  • 133them freely from her store. The nearby son of Boethoös
  • pg 285134cut up the meat and distributed the portions. The son
  • 135of glorious Menelaos poured out wine.
  • Then all set
  • 136their hands to the good food before them, and when
  • 137they had put from them the desire for drink and food,
  • 138Telemachos and the good son of Nestor yoked the horses
  • 139and got in the decorated car. They drove out
  • 140of the forecourt and the echoing portico. Light-haired
  • 141Menelaos, the son of Atreus, went after them, holding
  • 142in his right hand honey-sweet wine in a cup of gold so that
  • 143they could pour drink-offerings before setting out.
  • 144    Menelaos took his stand in front of the horses
  • 145and bidding them goodbye he said: "Farewell, my young men!
  • 146And give my greeting to Nestor, the shepherd of the people.
  • 147He was gentle as a father to me when the sons of the Achaeans
  • 148made war at Troy."
  • The prudent Telemachos answered:
  • 149"Truly, O Zeus-nurtured one, we will tell him all that you say
  • 150when we arrive. And if, when I come home to Ithaca,
  • 151I find Odysseus in my house, I will tell him that I received
  • 152from you every kindness before I departed, bringing with me
  • 153many fine treasures."
  • When Telemachos said this, a bird
  • 154flew up on the right, an eagle carrying a huge white
  • 155goose in its claws, a tame goose from the farmyard,
  • 156and the men and women followed behind, shouting.
  • 157But the eagle flew near them, then soared off to the right
  • 158in front of the horses. When the men saw this, they rejoiced,
  • 159and the spirit in their breasts was cheered. Peisistratos,
  • 160the son of Nestor, began to speak: "Tell me what
  • 161you think, O Menelaos, nourished by Zeus, leader
  • 162of the people—did a god send this omen for the two
  • 163of us, or for you yourself?"
  • So he spoke, and war-loving
  • 164Menelaos pondered how he might rightly adjudge
  • 165the matter. But Helen with the long gown anticipated
  • 166him with this word: "Listen to me, and I will prophesy
  • 167how the deathless ones put it in my heart, and how I think
  • pg 286168it will turn out. As the eagle seized the goose that was raised
  • 169in the pen, coming from the mountains where its family
  • 170and its parents are, even so Odysseus, having suffered
  • 171many evils and wandering far, will come home and take
  • 172revenge. Or he is even now at home, and he sows the seed
  • 173of evil for all the suitors."
  • The shrewd Telemachos then said:
  • 174"May Zeus the loud-thundering husband of Hera make this
  • 175come out so. Then, home in Ithaca, I will worship you as if
  • 176you were a god!"
  • He spoke and struck the two horses
  • 177with the lash. Quickly they sprang forth, eager to get
  • 178to the plain beyond the city. All day long they shook the yoke
  • 179they carried around their necks. The sun went down
  • 180and the roads were covered in shadow. They came
  • 181to Pherai and the palace of Diokles, the son of Ortilochos,
  • 182whom Alpheios bore as a child.° There they spent
  • 183the night, and Diokles set before them the entertainment
  • 184appropriate to strangers. When early born Dawn appeared,
  • 185they yoked the horses and mounted the decorated car.
  • 186They drove out of the forecourt and the echoing portico.
  • 187Peisistratos touched the horses with the lash to get them
  • 188going, and, not unwilling, they sped onward. Quickly they
  • 189came to the steep city of Pylos.
  • And then Telemachos addressed
  • 190the son of Nestor: "Son of Nestor, will you make me a promise
  • 191and keep it? We are guest-friends of old because of our fathers'
  • 192friendship, and we are of the same age. This journey of ours
  • 193has strengthened our oneness of heart. Do not lead me past
  • 194my ship, O Zeus-nourished one, but leave me there! I fear
  • 195that the old man will hold me back against my will,
  • 196wishing to entertain me. But I need get home quickly."
  • 197    So he spoke, and the son of Nestor thought about how he
  • 198might promise and then keep the promise. As he thought it over,
  • pg 287199this seemed to him to be the best course. He turned his horses
  • 200toward the swift ship and the shore of the sea. He offloaded
  • 201the beautiful gifts into the stern of the ship, the cloth and the gold
  • 202that Menelaos had given.
  • Urging Telemachos on, Peisistratos
  • 203spoke words that went like arrows: "Now get on board quickly,
  • 204and order all your companions to board too, before I get home
  • 205and tell the old man we've arrived. For I know this well
  • 206in my breast and heart—the spirit of that man is so proud that
  • 207he will not let you go, but he will come here himself to invite
  • 208you to remain. And I don't think his efforts will be in vain.
  • 209Otherwise he will be very angry, in spite of everything."
  • 210    So speaking, Peisistratos drove his horses with their
  • 211beautiful coats back to the city of the Pylians. He swiftly
  • 212arrived at the palace. But Telemachos ordered his companions
  • 213in a commanding tone: "Load up all the gear, my comrades,
  • 214into the black ship, then let us all get on board so that
  • 215we may be on our way."
  • So he spoke, and they listened
  • 216and obeyed. Quickly they got on board and sat down
  • 217before the thole pins.
  • Telemachos was still busy praying
  • 218and sacrificing to Athena beside the stern of the ship
  • 219when a man came up from a far land—fleeing from Argos
  • 220for killing a man. He was a prophet, a descendant of Melampous,
  • 221who used to live in Pylos, the mother of flocks. Melampous
  • 222was rich among the Pylians, and he lived in a fancy house.
  • 223Then he went to the land of strangers, fleeing his fatherland
  • 224and fleeing great-hearted Neleus, the noblest man alive,
  • 225who for a full year had been taking much of Melampous' wealth
  • 226by force. Then he was bound in tight bonds in the house
  • 227of Phylakos, suffering pain on account of the daughter of Neleus,
  • 228and due to a heavy blindness of heart° that the terrible
  • 229Erinys laid upon him. But he avoided fate and drove off
  • 230the deep-lowing cattle from Phylakê to Pylos. He took vengeance

pg 288

 
FIGURE 15.1 Oïkles, Amphiaraos, Eriphylê, Alkmaion, and the necklace. Oïkles, father of the prophet Amphiaraos, greets his son who rides in a chariot off to the war at Thebes, driven by a man named Baton. Amphiaraos, on the far right, wears a helmet and carries a shield. On the left side of the picture stands Eriphylê, her name written over the horses' heads. She holds the fateful necklace (a sort of ring) in her hand, and in front of her is written the word "necklace" (HORMOS). Her son, the child Alkmaion, stands before her. Because Amphiaraos knew he would die at Thebes, he instructed Alkmaion to kill Eriphylê for forcing him to go to the war, which Alkmaion does. Athenian black-figure jug, c. 575–550 bc.

 

FIGURE 15.1 Oïkles, Amphiaraos, Eriphylê, Alkmaion, and the necklace. Oïkles, father of the prophet Amphiaraos, greets his son who rides in a chariot off to the war at Thebes, driven by a man named Baton. Amphiaraos, on the far right, wears a helmet and carries a shield. On the left side of the picture stands Eriphylê, her name written over the horses' heads. She holds the fateful necklace (a sort of ring) in her hand, and in front of her is written the word "necklace" (HORMOS). Her son, the child Alkmaion, stands before her. Because Amphiaraos knew he would die at Thebes, he instructed Alkmaion to kill Eriphylê for forcing him to go to the war, which Alkmaion does. Athenian black-figure jug, c. 575–550 bc.

  • pg 289231on godlike Neleus for his awful deed and brought the woman
  • 232home to be his brother's wife.° Melampous himself went
  • 233then to the land of strangers, to horse-pasturing Argos.
  • 234For it was his destiny to live there as king over the many
  • 235Argives. In Argos he took a wife and built a high-roofed house,
  • 236and he begot Antiphates and Mantios, powerful sons.
  • 237Antiphates begot great-hearted Oïkles, and Oïkles begot
  • 238Amphiaraos, rouser of the people, whom Zeus, carrier
  • 239of the goatskin fetish, and Apollo loved with every kind of love.
  • 240But Amphiaraos did not reach the threshold of old age: He perished
  • 241in the war against Thebes on account of a woman's gifts.°
  • 242His sons were Alkmaion and Amphilochos. Now Mantios
  • 243begot Polypheides and Kleitos, but Dawn of the golden
  • 244throne snatched away Kleitos because of his beauty
  • 245so that he might dwell among the gods. Apollo made
  • 246Polypheides to be a proud prophet, by far the best among
  • 247men after Amphiaraos had died. Angry with his father,
  • 248he had gone to Hyperesia,° where he lived and prophesied
  • 249to all mortals. He had a son, who was named Theoklymenos,
  • 250who stood just then at the side of Telemachos.
  • Theoklymenos came
  • 251up to Telemachos when he was making drink-offerings beside
  • 252the fast black ship, and Theoklymenos spoke to him
  • 253words that went like arrows: "My friend, because I come
  • 254upon you as you are sacrificing in this place, I implore you
  • 255on behalf of the sacrifices and the spirits, and on your own
  • 256life and that of the comrades who follow you—tell me
  • pg 290257truly what I ask, and do not conceal the truth: Who are
  • 258you among men? Where do you come from? What is
  • 259your city and who are your parents?"
  • The shrewd Telemachos
  • 260said in reply: "Well, stranger, I will tell you straight out.
  • 261I am from the Ithacan race, and my father is Odysseus—
  • 262if he ever existed! As it is, it looks as though he has died
  • 263a terrible death. For that reason I have assembled
  • 264my companions and come in my black ship to find out
  • 265about my father, who has been gone for so long."
  • 266    Theoklymenos, with the form of a god, then said
  • 267to him: "Even so, stranger, have I fled from the land
  • 268of my fathers because I killed a man—a relative. He has
  • 269many brothers and family in horse-pasturing Argos,
  • 270and they are powerful among the Achaeans. Escaping
  • 271death and black fate at their hands, I am on the run.
  • 272I'm afraid that it is my fate to be a wanderer among men.
  • 273But let me go on your ship, because I come here
  • 274in flight as your suppliant. I fear that they will kill me,
  • 275and I think they are in pursuit."
  • The shrewd Telemachos
  • 276then said: "If you want to go on our well-balanced ship,
  • 277I won't prevent you. So come aboard. We will entertain you
  • 278in our home as well as we can."
  • So speaking he took
  • 279from Theoklymenos the bronze spear and he lay it on the deck
  • 280of the ship curved at both ends, and Telemachos boarded
  • 281his seafaring ship. He sat down in the stern and he made
  • 282Theoklymenos sit down beside him. The crew loosened
  • 283the stern lines. Telemachos ordered that his companions
  • 284take hold of the tackle, and they quickly obeyed. They raised
  • 285up the mast of fir and stood it in the hollow mast-post,
  • 286and they tied the ropes that held the front of the sail,
  • 287and they hauled up the white sail on ropes made of twisted
  • 288oxhide. Flashing-eyed Athena sent a favorable wind,
  • 289which blew rushing through the sky, so that the ship went
  • 290on its way as quickly as could be, running over
  • 291the salt water of the sea. They ran past Krouni and Chalkis,°
  • pg 291292with their beautiful streams. The sun went down and all
  • 293the ways were covered in shadow. They came near to Pheai,°
  • 294driven on by the wind of Zeus, and on past shining Elis,
  • 295where the Epeians are strong. From there he steered
  • 296for the sharp islands,° wondering whether he would
  • 297escape death or be captured.
  • In the meanwhile, Odysseus
  • 298and the good pig herder were dining in the hut. Beside
  • 299them the other men were dining too. But when they had
  • 300put from themselves the desire for drink and food,
  • 301Odysseus spoke to them, putting the pig herder to the test,
  • 302to see if he would still entertain him in a kindly fashion,
  • 303and whether he would urge him to remain there in the hut,
  • 304or whether he would send him up to the city: "Hear me
  • 305now, Eumaios, and all you other men! At dawn tomorrow
  • 306I want to go up to the city and do some begging, so that
  • 307I won't be the ruin of you and your companions. Now give
  • 308me some good advice and give me a good leader who will
  • 309take me there. Otherwise I will have to wander through
  • 310the city, to see if somebody will give me a cup of water
  • 311and a loaf of bread. And once I get to the house of godlike
  • 312Odysseus, I would give my message to the wise Penelope,
  • 313and I would like to mix with the insolent suitors to see
  • 314if they will give me a meal—they have ten thousand
  • 315delicacies! I would do them good service on the spot,
  • 316in any way they wished.
  • "And I will tell you this,
  • 317and you take it to heart and listen: Thanks to Hermes
  • 318the messenger, who lends grace and glory to the works
  • 319of all men, there is no one who could compete with me
  • 320in service, in heaping up a fire or in splitting dry kindling,
  • 321or in carving the meat and roasting it and in pouring
  • 322out the wine—all the things that base men do for those
  • 323of a better class."
  • Then you answered him, O Eumaios
  • 324my pig herder: "Oh, my stranger, why has this thought
  • 325come into your mind? I think that you want to get
  • 326yourself killed there if you enter the crowd of the suitors,
  • pg 292327whose arrogance and violence reaches the iron heaven!
  • 328The serving-men of these men are not like you, but they
  • 329are young men, well-dressed in cloak and shirt, and their
  • 330heads are bright and their faces handsome, the men
  • 331who serve them. Their polished tables are filled with bread
  • 332and meat and wine.
  • "But stay—no one resents your presence,
  • 333not I and not another of the comrades who are with me.
  • 334And when the dear son of Odysseus comes, he will give
  • 335you a cloak and a shirt as clothes to wear, and he will
  • 336send you wherever your heart desires."
  • The much-enduring
  • 337godlike Odysseus answered him: "I hope that you will
  • 338be as dear to Zeus, Eumaios, as you are to me, for you
  • 339have put an end to my wandering and my grievous hardship.
  • 340There is nothing worse for any mortal man than to be homeless.
  • 341But men endure terrible pains because of their ruinous
  • 342bellies when wandering and sorrow and pain come
  • 343on them. Because you hold me here and bid me wait
  • 344until your master comes, tell me—what about the mother
  • 345of godlike Odysseus and his father, whom he left
  • 346on the threshold of old age? Are they still alive beneath
  • 347the rays of the sun, or have they died and gone to the house
  • 348of Hades?"
  • Then the pig herder, the leader of the people,
  • 349said: "Well, stranger, I will tell you exactly. Laërtes still lives,
  • 350but he prays to Zeus every day that the spirit in his limbs
  • 351may waste away in his halls. For he is in utter grief
  • 352for his son who is absent, and for his wise wedded wife,
  • 353who saddened him when she died and brought him
  • 354to a premature old age. She died of grief for her bold son,
  • 355a terrible death. I hope that none of those who live around
  • 356here as my friends and do me kindness may die such a death.
  • 357So long as she was alive, though suffering, for so long
  • 358it was a pleasure to me to make inquiries and to ask about
  • 359her health. It was she who reared me along with Ktimenê
  • 360with the long gown, her noble daughter, whom she bore
  • 361as her youngest child.° She reared me together with her,
  • pg 293362and she honored me only slightly less than her. But when
  • 363the two of us reached the maturity that is so longed for,
  • 364they gave her over to island Samê to marry, and accepted
  • 365countless bridal-gifts for her. Odysseus' mother gave a cloak
  • 366and shirt to me, very beautiful clothes. Then binding
  • 367sandals beneath my feet, she sent me to the fields.
  • 368Still, she loved me the more, from her heart. But now
  • 369I lack all these things.
  • "Yet the blessed gods make prosper
  • 370the work that I pay attention to. From these things
  • 371I eat and drink, and give to respectable strangers.
  • 372But I hear nothing pleasant from my queen, neither
  • 373word nor deed. Evil has fallen on the house—those insolent men!
  • 374Servants greatly desire to speak in the presence of their
  • 375mistress and to learn of everything, and to eat and drink,
  • 376and then to carry something off to the field—such things
  • 377warm the heart of any servant."°
  • The resourceful Odysseus
  • 378then said in reply: "I see that when you were just a tyke,
  • 379pig herder Eumaios, you wandered far from the land
  • 380of your fathers and your parents. But come, tell me this
  • 381and tell it truly, whether your city with its broad streets
  • 382was sacked, where your father and revered mother lived?
  • 383Or whether, while your were alone with your pigs and cows,
  • 384pirates took you into their ships and sold you to the house
  • 385of this man, who gave a good price for you?"
  • Then the pig herder
  • 386spoke, the leader of the people: "Stranger, because you ask
  • 387me these things and make inquiry, you can listen in silence,
  • 388you can enjoy yourself. Drink your wine as you sit here!
  • 389These nights are enormously long. There is a time to sleep,
  • 390and a time to take pleasure in listening. There is no need
  • 391to take our rest before it is time. There is trouble in too
  • 392much sleep. As for the others, if their heart and spirit urges—
  • 393go outside and sleep! At dawn, they can eat and follow
  • 394after our king's swine. But let us two take our pleasure,
  • 395drinking and eating in the hut, recalling to mind each other's
  • 396horrendous experiences. Later on, a man delights in his
  • pg 294397earlier pain, a man who has suffered much and wandered far.
  • 398I will tell you this because you ask and make inquiry.
  • 399    "There is an island called Syriê, if you have heard of it,
  • 400above Ortygia, where are the turnings of the sun.° It is not
  • 401so very filled with people, but it is a good place, rich in herds,
  • 402rich in flocks, with abundant grapes for wine, and much wheat.
  • 403Famine never comes to this land, nor does any other hateful
  • 404disease fall on wretched mortals. And when the tribes of men
  • 405grow old throughout the city, Apollo of the silver bow comes
  • 406with Artemis, and attacking with his gentle arrows, he kills them.
  • 407There are two cities there, and all the land is divided between
  • 408them. My father was chief over both—Ktesios son of Ormenos,
  • 409a man like the deathless ones.
  • "Phoenician men came
  • 410there, famous for their ships—the rats! They had countless
  • 411trinkets in their black ship. There was a Phoenician
  • 412woman in my father's house, beautiful and tall and skilled in fine
  • 413handwork. The crafty Phoenicians tricked her. First,
  • 414one of them had sex with her as she was washing clothes
  • 415beside the hollow ship. This beguiles the mind
  • 416of a woman even when she is upright. Then he asked her
  • 417who she was and where she came from. At once she showed
  • 418him the high-roofed home of my father, and she said:
  • 419'I am from Sidon, rich in bronze. I am the daughter
  • 420of Arybas, awash in wealth. But Taphian pirates snatched
  • 421me up as I was coming from the fields, and they brought
  • 422me here and sold me to the master of this house. And he
  • 423paid a big price.' Then the man who had slept with her
  • 424in secret answered: 'Well, do you want to come with us
  • 425and go back home so that you can see the high-roofed
  • 426house of your father and mother? For surely they are still
  • 427alive and remain wealthy.' Then the woman answered:
  • 428'I would like this very much, if you sailors will swear
  • 429to me an oath that you will take me safely home.' So she
  • 430spoke, and they all swore the oath just as she asked.
  • 431    "When they had sworn and finished the oath, then the woman
  • 432spoke to them again and answered: 'Now you must keep
  • pg 295433quiet. Let no one of you speak to me if he happens on me
  • 434on the road or at the fountain. Let's not let anyone
  • 435go to the house and tell the old king. If he get suspicious,
  • 436he will bind me in tight bindings and he will put you to death.
  • 437So keep my words in mind, and hasten on the bartering
  • 438of your wares. When your ship is filled with goods,
  • 439then quickly send a message up to the house. I will also
  • 440bring whatever gold is at hand. And I would give you still
  • 441something else as my fare. I am in charge of the son
  • 442of the house in these halls. Such a clever child, and he always
  • 443runs with me outside the house. I would bring him on board,
  • 444and he will bring you a high price wherever you might take him
  • 445for sale among people of strange speech.'
  • "So speaking,
  • 446she went off to the beautiful palace. The Phoenicians remained
  • 447for a whole year among us, amassing by trade many goods
  • 448in their hollow ship. But when the hollow ship was laden
  • 449for their return, then they sent a messenger to the woman.
  • 450A man filled with cunning came to the house of my father
  • 451bearing a gold necklace, strung with amber beads in between.
  • 452The female slaves and my revered mother were handling it
  • 453and examining it and offering a price when he nodded
  • 454to her in silence. Once he had nodded, he went off to the hollow
  • 455ship, and the Phoenician woman took me by the hand
  • 456and led me outside. In the forehall she found the cups
  • 457and table of the diners who waited on my father. They had
  • 458gone off to the council and the place of the people's debate.
  • 459Quickly she hid three cups in her bosom and carried them out,
  • 460and I in my folly followed along.
  • "The sun went down,
  • 461and the ways were filled with shadows. We went speedily,
  • 462moving fast, and came to the famous harbor and the swift
  • 463ship of the Phoenicians. They put us both aboard.
  • 464They embarked and sailed over the watery paths. Zeus sent
  • 465a favorable breeze behind us. We sailed for six nights and days,
  • 466but when Zeus the son of Kronos brought us the seventh day,
  • 467Artemis, holder of arrows, struck the woman, and she fell
  • 468into the hold the way a seagull plunges. They threw her
  • 469out to be the prey of seals and fishes, and I was left, stricken
  • 470in my heart. The wind and water bore us to Ithaca
  • 471where Laërtes bought me from his own wealth. And thus
  • 472I first saw this land with my eyes!"
  • pg 296Zeus-nourished Odysseus
  • 473answered him with this word: "Eumaios, truly you stir
  • 474the spirit in my breast, telling me all these thing that you
  • 475have suffered. But Zeus has given you good to go along with
  • 476the bad, though you have suffered much—because you have
  • 477come into the house of a kingly man who gives you food and drink
  • 478aplenty, and you live the good life. But I come here having
  • 479wandered through the many cities of men."
  • Thus they spoke
  • 480to one another. Then they lay down to sleep, but not for long—
  • 481for only a little while, because Dawn soon appeared
  • 482seated on her lovely throne.
  • In the meantime the comrades
  • 483of Telemachos, were drawing into the shore. They furled the sail,
  • 484and quickly took down the mast. They rowed with their oars
  • 485to the place of anchorage, threw out the mooring-stones,
  • 486and tied up the stern. Then they themselves got out on the shore
  • 487of the sea. They prepared their meal, and mixed the flaming
  • 488wine. But when they had put the desire for drink and food
  • 489from themselves, the shrewd Telemachos began to speak
  • 490to them: "Now, you row the black ship to the city while
  • 491I go to the fields and the herdsmen. I will come to the city
  • 492toward nightfall, after I have seen my farms. At dawn
  • 493I will provide, as wages for your trip, a good feast of meat
  • 494and sweet wine."
  • Theoklymenos, like a god, then spoke to him:
  • 495"Where, dear child, should I go? To whose house shall I go,
  • 496of those who rule in rocky Ithaca? Or should I go straight
  • 497to your mother's house and yours?"
  • The shrewd Telemachos
  • 498answered him: "Ordinarily I would urge you to come
  • 499to my house, for there is no lack of entertainment for strangers,
  • 500but under present conditions it would not be wise for you.
  • 501I will be away, and my mother will not see you. She does
  • 502not often appear to the suitors in the hall, but works at her loom
  • 503in an upper room, apart from them. But I will tell you
  • 504of another man to whom you might go—Eurymachos,
  • 505the glorious son of shrewd Polybos, whom now the Ithacans
  • 506look up to as if he were a god. He comes from the best social
  • 507class and wants especially to marry my mother, to have
  • pg 297508the prize of Odysseus. Nevertheless, only Zeus the Olympian
  • 509who lives in the sky knows if, before the marriage,
  • 510he will fulfill an evil day for the suitors."
  • As he spoke, a bird flew
  • 511on his right hand, a hawk, the swift messenger of Apollo.
  • 512The hawk had in his talons a pigeon that he plucked with
  • 513his beak, and feathers floated to the earth between the ship
  • 514and Telemachos.
  • Theoklymenos, calling him apart from
  • 515his companions, took Telemachos by the hand and spoke
  • 516these words: "Telemachos, not without a god has this bird
  • 517flown on the right hand. I recognized right away that it was
  • 518a bird of omen. There is no family more suited for the chieftainship
  • 519than yours in the land of Ithaca, for you are the strongest."
  • 520    The clever Telemachos then answered: "May your word
  • 521come to pass, O stranger. Then you would soon recognize
  • 522my friendliness to strangers and receive gifts from me
  • 523such that someone meeting you would call you blessed."
  • 524    Telemachos spoke and then he addressed Peiraios, his noble
  • 525companion: "Peiraios, son of Klytios, you of all my companions
  • 526who followed me to Pylos are the most obedient to my words.
  • 527Take, then, this stranger to your house and entertain him
  • 528in a kindly way and give him honor until I come."°
  • 529    Peiraios, famous for his spear, replied to him: "Telemachos,
  • 530even if you stay here a long time, I will care for him. There will be
  • 531no lack of what is due a guest."
  • So speaking Peiraios went on board
  • 532the ship, and he gave orders to his companions to get aboard
  • 533and to loosen the stern ropes. They sat down at the thole pins
  • 534and made ready to embark. But Telemachos bound
  • 535his beautiful sandals beneath his feet and took up his mighty
  • 536spear with its point of bronze from the deck of the ship.
  • 537Then they pulled in the stern ropes and, pushing off, they sailed
  • pg 298538to the city, just as Telemachos, the dear son of godlike
  • 539Odysseus had ordered.
  • His feet swiftly carried Telemachos
  • 540forward until he came to the court where his countless
  • 541pigs were, among which his good pig herder customarily
  • 542slept, who held such a high opinion of his masters.

Notes Settings

Notes

Editor’s Note
31 islands: It is not clear what islands are meant, perhaps Ithaca and Samê (= Kephallenia).
Editor’s Note
95 Megapenthes: "mournful," Menelaos' only son, by a slave-girl.
Editor’s Note
111 Phaidimos: "famous," made up for this story.
Editor’s Note
182 as a child: They stayed here on the journey out to Sparta (Book 3). Presumably Pherai is modern Kalamata. Homer seems to know nothing about the high and rugged Mount Taygetus between the plain of Sparta and the plain of Messenia. Alpheios is the longest river in the Peloponnesus (about 90 miles). It is one of the rivers diverted by Herakles in later tradition to clean the stable of Augeias.
Editor’s Note
228 blindness of heart: The Greek is atê, which means the irrational inability to see the consequences of one's behavior.
Editor’s Note
232 . . . wife: Homer also refers to the story of Melampous in Book 11 (line 281), and it must have been well known to his audience. We can piece it together: Melampous' brother, Bias, wooed Pero, the daughter of the Pylian King Neleus, but Neleus insisted on a bride-price of some cattle, then in the possession of a Thessalian prince, Iphiklos, or his father Phylakos. Melampous went up to Thessaly to get the cattle but was caught and put in prison. Melampous was a prophet and could understand the speech of beasts and birds. He overheard the woodworms talking overhead, saying that the beam they were working on was about to fall through. Melampous told a servant who told Phylakos. Melampous escaped just before the building fell in, and Phylakos was so impressed by Melampous' powers that he said he would give him the cattle if only he cured his son Iphiklos of his impotence. This Melampous did, took the cattle, and drove them to Pylos. Then Bias married Pero. The role of Erinys in Homer's version—the underworld spirit that punishes false oaths and offenses against the family, but here the sender of a heavy "blindness of heart " (atê)—is not clear.
Editor’s Note
241 woman's gifts: Polyneikes, leader of the expedition of the Seven Against Thebes, persuaded Eriphylê, the wife of Amphiaraos, to force her husband to go to Thebes by giving her a special necklace. Amphiaraos had earlier agreed to allow Eriphylê to decide any dispute between him and Adrastos, the king of Argos, who in this case wanted Amphiaraos to join the campaign. Amphiaraos, being a prophet, knew that he would die if he went to the war.
Editor’s Note
248 Hyperesia: In the northern Peloponnesus, according to the Iliad's Catalog of Ships (Il. 2).
Editor’s Note
291 Krouni and Chalkis: These seem to be the names of small streams.
Editor’s Note
293 Pheai: Location unknown.
Editor’s Note
296 sharp islands: Not clear what islands are meant, or why they are "sharp."
Editor’s Note
361 youngest child: The only time that we hear about a sister of Odysseus. He was an only son.
Editor’s Note
377 servant: That is, in ordinary circumstances, such relaxed relationships would characterize the servants' lives, but not under the present dangerous conditions.
Editor’s Note
400 . . . turnings of the sun: Probably a confused reminiscence of inland Syria, here thought to be an island. Ortygia, "quail-island," is often equated with Delos in the central Cyclades, or with a small island in the harbor at Syracuse in Sicily. But there is no support in Homer for these identifications.
Editor’s Note
528 until I come: Telemachos' advice to Peiraios does not so much correct his early instructions to Theoklymenos about going to the house of Eurymachos as show that he had never seriously meant the stranger to go to the house of Telemachos' worst enemy.
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