[Frontispiece: ODYSSEUS AS A YOUTH AT HOME WITH HIS MOTHER]
ODYSSEUS THE HERO OF ITHACA
ADAPTED FROM THE THIRD BOOK OF THE PRIMARY SCHOOLS OF ATHENS, GREECE
MARY E. BURT
Author of "Literary Landmarks," "Stories from Plato," "Story of the German Iliad," "The Child-Life Reading Study"; Editor of "Little Nature Studies"; Teacher in the John A. Browning School, New York City
ZENAIDE A. RAGOZIN
Author of "The Story of Chaldea," "The Story of Assyria," "The Story of Media, Babylon, and Persia," "The Story of Vedic India"; Member of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, of the American Oriental Society, of the Societe Ethnologique of Paris, etc.
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS NEW YORK CHICAGO BOSTON
COPYRIGHT, 1898, BY CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
Printed in the United States of America
To THE TEACHER WHOSE INTEGRITY AND PEDAGOGICAL SPIRIT HAVE CREATED A SCHOOL WHEREIN THE IDEAL MAY PROVE ITSELF THE PRACTICAL AND THOSE ENTHUSIASTIC PUPILS WHO LOVE THE LOYALTY AND BRAVERY OF ODYSSEUS THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED
PAGE INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xiii
PART I AN INTRODUCTION TO THE LIFE OF THE HERO, ODYSSEUS
CHAPTER PAGE I. About Troy and the Journey of Paris to Greece . . . . . 3
II. The Flight of Helen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
III. The Greeks Sail for Troy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
IV. The Fall of Troy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
PART II THE RETURN OF ODYSSEUS TO HIS OWN COUNTRY
CHAPTER PAGE V. Odysseus on the Island of Calypso . . . . . . . . . . . 21
VI. Odysseus Constructs a Raft and Leaves the Island . . . 25
VII. Odysseus is Saved on the Island of Scheria . . . . . . 29
VIII. Nausicaa is Sent to the River by Athena . . . . . . . . 31
IX. Odysseus Arrives at the Palace of Alkinoos . . . . . . 38
X. Odysseus in the Halls of Alkinoos . . . . . . . . . . . 42
XI. The Banquet in Honor of Odysseus . . . . . . . . . . . 47
XII. Odysseus Relates His Adventures . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
XIII. The Lotus-Eaters and the Cyclops . . . . . . . . . . . 57
XIV. The Cave of the Cyclops . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
XV. The Blinding of the Cyclops . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64
XVI. Odysseus and His Companions Leave the Land of the Cyclops . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67
XVII. The Adventures of Odysseus on the Island of AEolus . . 72
XVIII. Odysseus at the Home of Circe . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75
XIX. Circe Instructs Odysseus Concerning His Descent to Hades . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78
XX. The Adventures of Odysseus in Hades . . . . . . . . . . 84
XXI. Odysseus Converses with His Mother and Agamemnon . . . 87
XXII. Conversation with Achilles and Other Heroes . . . . . . 90
XXIII. The Return of Odysseus to the Island of Circe . . . . . 94
XXIV. Odysseus Meets the Sirens, Skylla, and Charybdis . . . 98
XXV. Odysseus on the Island of Helios . . . . . . . . . . . 101
XXVI. The Departure of Odysseus from the Island of Scheria . 105
XXVII. Odysseus Arrives at Ithaca . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 108
XXVIII. Odysseus Seeks the Swineherd . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113
PART III THE TRIUMPH OF ODYSSEUS
CHAPTER PAGE XXIX. Athena Advises Telemachos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123
XXX. Telemachos Astonishes the Wooers . . . . . . . . . . . 128
XXXI. Penelope's Web . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 130
XXXII. The Journey of Telemachos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 135
XXXIII. Telemachos in Pylos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 138
XXXIV. Telemachos in Sparta . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141
XXXV. Menelaos Relates His Adventures . . . . . . . . . . . . 147
XXXVI. The Conspiracy of the Suitors . . . . . . . . . . . . . 151
XXXVII. Telemachos Returns to Ithaca . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155
XXXVIII. Telemachos and the Swineherd . . . . . . . . . . . . . 158
XXXIX. Telemachos Recognizes Odysseus . . . . . . . . . . . . 161
XL. Telemachos Returns to the Palace . . . . . . . . . . . 165
XLI. Odysseus is Recognized by His Dog . . . . . . . . . . . 169
XLII. Odysseus Comes, a Beggar, to His Own House . . . . . . 172
XLIII. Conversation of Odysseus and Penelope . . . . . . . . . 176
XLIV. Eurycleia Recognizes Odysseus . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180
XLV. Penelope's Dream . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 183
XLVI. Athena Encourages Odysseus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 185
XLVII. The Last Banquet of the Suitors . . . . . . . . . . . . 188
XLVIII. Odysseus Bends the Bow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 194
XLIX. Death of the Suitors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 201
L. Eurycleia Announces the Return of Odysseus to Penelope 203
LI. Odysseus Visits His Father . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 209
Vocabulary and Notes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 215
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
ODYSSEUS AS A YOUTH AT HOME WITH HIS MOTHER . . . . . . Frontispiece
FACING PAGE THE SILVER-FOOTED THETIS RISING FROM THE WAVES . . . . . . . . . 10
ODYSSEUS AND MENELAOS PERSUADING AGAMEMNON TO SACRIFICE IPHIGENEIA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
ALPHEUS AND ARETHUSA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113
THE SWINEHERD TELLING HIS STORY TO ODYSSEUS . . . . . . . . . . 119
ODYSSEUS FEIGNS MADNESS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 146
It has long been the opinion of many of the more progressive teachers of the United States that, next to Herakles, Odysseus is the hero closest to child-life, and that the stories from the "Odyssey" are the most suitable for reading-lessons. These conclusions have been reached through independent experiments not related to educational work in foreign countries.
While sojourning in Athens I had the pleasure of visiting the best schools, both public and private, and found the reading especially spirited. I examined the books in use and found the regular reading-books to consist of the classic tales of the country, the stories of Herakles, Theseus, Perseus, and so forth, in the reader succeeding the primer, and the stories of Odysseus, or Ulysses, as we commonly call him, following as a third book, answering to our second or third reader. This book I brought home with me and had a careful, literal translation made. I submitted this translation to that notable scholar, Zenaide A. Ragozin, with whom I faithfully traversed the ground, word by word and sentence by sentence. This version I have carefully compared with Bryant and rewritten, making the language as simple as could be consistent with the dignity of the subject-matter.
The introduction to the original book as I found it in Greece contains many interesting points, since it shows that educators in foreign countries, notably in Germany, had come to the same conclusion with our best American teachers. The editor of the little Greek reading-book says:
"In editing this work we have made use not only of Homer's 'Odyssey,' but also of that excellent reader which is used in the public schools of Germany, Willman's 'Lesebuch aus Homer.' We have divided the little volume into three parts, the first of which gives a short resume of the war against Troy and the destruction of that city, the second the wanderings of Odysseus till his arrival in Ithaca, the third his arrival and the killing of the wooers. We have no apology to make in presenting this book to the public as a school-book, since many people superior to us have shown the need of such books in school-work. The new public schools, as is well known, have a mission of the highest importance. They do not aim, as formerly, at absolute knowledge pounded into the heads of children in a mechanical way. Their aim is the mental and ethical development of the pupils. Reading and writing lead but half way to this goal. With all nations the readers used in the public schools are a collection of the noblest thoughts of their authors."
The Greek editor had never read the inane rat and cat stories of American school "readers" when he wrote that. He continues:
"Happily the Greek nation, more than any other, abounds in literary masterpieces. Nearly all of the Greek writings contain an abundance of practical wisdom and virtue. Their worth is so great that even the most advanced European nations do not hesitate to introduce them into their schools. The Germans do this, although their habits and customs are so different from ours. They especially admire Homer's works. These books, above all others, afford pleasure to the young, and the reason for it is clearly set forth by the eminent educator Herbart:
"'The little boy is grieved when told that he is little. Nor does he enjoy the stories of little children. This is because his imagination reaches out and beyond his environments. I find the stories from Homer to be more suitable reading for young children than the mass of juvenile books, because they contain grand truths.'
"Therefore these stories are held in as high esteem by the German children as by the Greek. In no other works do children find the grand and noble traits in human life so faithfully and charmingly depicted as in Homer. Here all the domestic, civic, and religious virtues of the people are marvellously brought to light and the national feeling is exalted. The Homeric poetry, and especially the 'Odyssey,' is adapted to very young children, not only because it satisfies so well the needs which lead to mental development, but also for another reason. As with the people of olden times bravery was considered the greatest virtue, so with boys of this age and all ages. No other ethical idea has such predominance as that of prowess. Strength of body and a firm will characterize those whom boys choose as their leaders. Hence the pleasure they derive from the accounts of celebrated heroes of yore whose bravery, courage, and prudence they admire."
The editor further extols the advantages arising from the study of Homer, it making the youthful students acquainted with the earliest periods of Greek history, the manners and customs of the people, and he ends by quoting from Herbart:
"Boys must first get acquainted with the noisy market-place of Ithaca and then be led to the Athens of Miltiades and Themistokles."
With equal truth the American can say that the child whose patriotism is kindled by the Homeric fire will the more gladly respond to the ideals set forth in the history of a Columbus or a Washington.
MARY E. BURT.
PART I AN INTRODUCTION TO THE LIFE OF THE HERO, ODYSSEUS
CHAPTER I ABOUT TROY AND THE JOURNEY OF PARIS TO GREECE
On the northern shore of Asia Minor there lies a plateau watered by many small rivers and surrounded on all sides by mountains, only on the north it slopes gently to the sea. On this plateau, between the Simois and Scamandros rivers, in the oldest times there stood a very rich and powerful city, whose name was Troy. It was the capital of a large and fertile district, known as the Troad.
There, about 1200 B.C., reigned a king by the name of Priam, possessed of great power and boundless wealth. He had many sons and daughters. It was said, indeed, that he had fifty sons who were all married and living in their own homes, which they had built by the king's wish around the royal palace.
They were all handsome and heroic young men. One of the youngest, Paris, also named Alexandros, surpassed the others in beauty. He was a restless youth and not fond of his home, as were the others. He had set his heart on travelling and seeing strange countries and cities. King Priam was extremely fond of his large family, and took pride in having all his children about him, so that at first he was greatly opposed to the wishes of Paris.
But the youth was so persistent and unhappy that the king at last consented to let him go. Without delay, Paris called together a few friends with tastes as adventurous as his own. They embarked in a new ship well provided with all that travellers need, and set sail for the famous land on the shores of the AEgean Sea, of which they had heard so many wonderful things, and which was called Hellas.
Nearly in the middle of the plain which forms the southern part of Hellas was the city of Sparta. It was on the river Eurotas, and was the capital of a large district called Lacedaemon, and it was to this city that Paris came.
Now, there was a mysterious reason for this strange desire of Paris—his passionate longing to travel. In his early youth, while he was still minding his herds on the rich pastures of Mount Ida, he received a visit from the three greatest goddesses of Olympos.
Hera, the queen of Heaven and consort of Zeus—Athena, the goddess of wisdom, and Zeus's favorite daughter—and Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, had a dispute among themselves.
Each thought herself the most beautiful of the three, and they would have come to high words about it had not Athena proposed that they should ask the handsomest man in the world to settle the question. This happened to be the young royal shepherd, Paris. So the three goddesses floated down to the slope of Mount Ida on a snowy cloud and placed the question before him, each promising to reward him royally if he gave his verdict in her favor.
Paris, as might have been expected, decided in favor of Aphrodite, who had promised him that the fairest woman living in the whole world should be his wife. This promise had to be kept, being given by a goddess, but it was the source of endless misfortune, for Paris had a young and lovely wife who was tenderly attached to him, while the fairest of living women—acknowledged as such by fame in all known countries—was Queen Helen of Sparta, herself the wife of another man.
Her husband was one of the most renowned heroes of Hellas, King Menelaos, a son of Atreus and brother of the leader of the Greek chiefs, Agamemnon, King of Mycenae. It was Aphrodite, then, who inspired Paris with an insane desire to forsake his parents, brothers, and wife. It was her secret guidance which led him across the seas and through the dangers lurking among the hundreds of islands of the Archipelagos straight to the land of Lacedaemon. This is the central of the three peninsulas in which the Peloponnesus ends, and might be called the middle finger of that large hand of which Arcadia is the palm.
Paris landed, with all his companions, on the shores of Lacedaemon, where the people received him kindly and helped him on his journey to Sparta, where Menelaos and Helen gave him a cordial welcome.
CHAPTER II THE FLIGHT OF HELEN
Aphrodite, while leading Paris to the shores of Lacedaemon, had not forgotten her promise, and in Sparta itself she was at work at its fulfilment. She inspired Queen Helen with a growing discontent and restlessness of spirit. Menelaos had not noticed any change in her, and it was with an utterly unsuspicious mind that he received the fatal strangers and made them welcome guests in his land and home.
More than that, having heard the news from Crete that his presence there was desirable on account of some urgent business, he did not hesitate to set sail for that island, in the expectation of finding Paris and his companions still enjoying the hospitality of his palace after a short absence.
This was the chance which wily Aphrodite had contrived for Paris. He took the hint and carried Helen away to his ship, together with as much treasure as they could lay hands on, and then they sailed for Troy. Little did he heed, in his mad desire to call the most beautiful woman in the world his wife, that she was already the wife of a hero who had received him as an honored guest in his house, and that he was about to destroy the peace and honor of his host.
As soon as Menelaos heard of the flight of his wife, he hastened back to Sparta, where he found his palace deserted and his treasure-house robbed.
Then his heart was filled with great wrath. He set out at once to see his brother, Agamemnon, to consult with him about what was to be done. Agamemnon was ruler over Mycenae, and highly respected in all Hellas on account of his power and riches.
After the two brothers had talked over this grave affair, they announced to all the leaders in Hellas the great and detestable crime, and asked them for their assistance. All the king's chiefs of Hellas lent a willing ear to this demand, for in this breach of hospitality, committed against one of them, each felt himself personally aggrieved and bound to help in the punishment of what, in those times, was considered the most unpardonable of all crimes. Only one of the kings held back for awhile and needed much persuasion to join the league. This was Odysseus of Ithaca, who could well consider himself at the time the happiest of mortals, for he had lately married Penelope, one of the fairest and most virtuous maidens of Greece. He had an infant son of great beauty and promise, and he owned much land and countless herds of cattle, sheep, and swine. Added to that, all the petty nobles of the island acknowledged him as their chief.
But a soothsayer, or seer, had greatly disturbed him by informing him that if he went to a great war he would be kept away from his home for the space of twenty years, and even then return to it in the guise of a beggar, after having suffered wrecks, captivity, endless wanderings, and loss of comrades.
No one could doubt that Odysseus was brave, but no one could blame him for wishing to be excused from taking part in the war against Troy. Menelaos and his brother, however, would accept no excuse from him, as he was the wisest and craftiest of all the leaders, and when Odysseus finally consented to join them he set about arming and directing the young Greek warriors with all his heart and soul.
There was another young prince whom it was absolutely necessary to secure, for a much venerated oracle had given it as a decree of the gods that Troy could never be taken without his help. This was Achilles, son of Peleus, king of the Myrmidons in Thessaly, and of the beauteous ocean nymph, Thetis. Notwithstanding his extreme youth, his father would not disappoint the whole country, and he let him go with those who came for him. But he sent along with him his adopted son, Patroklos, who was several years older, and to whom the boy was passionately attached, and also his oldest and most trusted servant, Phoenix. These two, the old man and the youth, he charged, as they hoped for the mercy of Zeus, to keep watchful guard over Achilles, whose exceedingly impetuous and reckless temper exposed him to many dangers which might be averted by a sensible and loving word spoken in time.
The Greeks took counsel together, and it was resolved that Menelaos should go in person to Troy and demand back his wife, Helen, as well as his treasure and a suitable apology for the wrong done to him and to all Hellas. He chose for his companion the cunning Odysseus. On their arrival in Troy, Menelaos and Odysseus presented themselves before Priam and demanded the return of Helen and the treasures.
The king at once called his people together to deliberate upon the matter, and the two Greek kings bravely denounced the mean act of Paris. But the Trojans, stirred up by that youth, abused the ambassadors and drove them out of their city.
CHAPTER III THE GREEKS SAIL FOR TROY
The kings and chieftains of Hellas, having heard that Odysseus and Menelaos had been driven out of Troy, hastened to call together their fleets and armies at Aulis, a city of Boeotia on a ridge of rock running out into the sea between two little bays, each of which was a harbor for many ships. A hundred thousand men and a thousand ships were gathered there under the leadership of the celebrated and heroic chiefs. The commander-in-chief of the whole army was Agamemnon.
Among the renowned leaders were Menelaos, the sagacious Odysseus, Ajax, and many others. Just as they were offering a sacrifice to the gods, in order to start out to the war with their good will, a great miracle happened. A fearful snake crept from under the altar and climbed a tree in which there was a sparrow's nest nearly hidden by the leaves. There were eight young sparrows in the nest, nine birds with the mother. The snake devoured the fluttering little birds, around which the mother circled as if overcome by grief.
Then the snake darted at the mother-bird and swallowed it, when Zeus changed the reptile into a stone. The Greeks wondered at the sight, but the soothsayer, Calchas, said to them: "Why do ye wonder at this? The all-powerful Zeus has sent us this sign because our deeds shall live forever in the minds of men. Just as the snake has devoured the eight little sparrows and their mother, so shall the war swallow up the nine coming years, and in the tenth we shall overcome Troy."
The ships of the Greeks lay in the bays of Aulis while the warriors waited impatiently to set sail. But the winds were contrary; they would not blow, and the boats waited there year after year; for a sacred hind had been slain by Agamemnon, one that belonged to the goddess Artemis, and it was ordered by that goddess that no wind should arise to take them on toward Troy until her wrath had been appeased.
So Agamemnon went to Calchas, the seer, and asked his advice, whereupon the old prophet told him to send for his lovely young daughter, Iphigeneia, and offer her up on the altar as the only acceptable sacrifice to Artemis. When he had placed her upon the altar and the priest was raising his knife, the goddess took pity on Agamemnon and carried the girl away in a cloud, leaving a fine white doe instead.
And now arose a favorable wind, and the Greeks arrived safely before Troy. How they fought with the Trojans, how many of the heroes outlived the struggle, and how many fell in the battle, all this we can learn from an old book called the "Iliad." We shall select from it only those things which refer to our hero, Odysseus; and to complete the history of that hero we shall go to another book, called the "Odyssey."
Both of these books are the work of the great poet Homer, who lived many years after the war with Troy. That we may understand better what happened later on, we must give a short account of the fall of Troy and of the return of Menelaos and Agamemnon to their own country.
CHAPTER IV THE FALL OF TROY
The war lasted nine years, and in the tenth the Greeks conquered Troy, not in battle, but by means of a trick which had come into the mind of Odysseus. He told a skilful carpenter to build a wooden horse of gigantic size, and in it he hid the bravest Greek warriors. When he had done this he advised all the other Greeks to depart without leaving anything behind them, and so lead the Trojans to believe that they had given up the fight and gone home.
So the Greeks burned their tents and put off to sea, while the Trojans from their walls watched them with great joy, thinking themselves well rid of an enemy. When the last ship had gone, the Trojans threw open the gates of their city and rushed down into the plain where the Greeks had had their camp, to see how the place looked.
There they found the wooden horse, and one of the Greeks tied to a tree, who told them he was left there as a punishment, and that the wooden horse was an offering to the gods. The Trojans made up their minds to carry it into their city and give it the best place on their highest hill.
Then Laocoon, a priest of Apollo, stepped forth, and said to them: "Unhappy people! what madness possesses you? Do ye think the enemy gone? Do ye know Odysseus so little? There are Greek warriors hidden in this horse, or else some other mischief is lurking there. Fear the Greeks even when they bring gifts."
With these words, he thrust his spear into the flank of the horse, and the arms of the hidden enemy clashed with a loud noise. Just then two snakes of great size, sent by Athena, rose from the sea, and sprang upon Laocoon and his two sons, and, coiling around them, bit them to death. The Trojans, in great fear at the sight, took this as a sign from the gods that the horse was sacred and that they must protect it, and they moved it at once into their city, breaking down a part of their wall to get it in.
Having done this, they gave themselves up to feasting and making merry, without the slightest thought that any evil was in store for them. But when night had come, and all were in a deep sleep, the ships of the Greeks, which had been hiding all the while behind a neighboring island, came back. The warriors who were concealed in the wooden horse sprang out and rushing wildly through the city, slew the Trojans right and left without mercy. From all sides came wailings and groans, and the flames of the burning city rose up to the sky.
A deadly struggle took place between the Trojans and the Greeks. Priam was slain, and Paris and many other heroes. The victory was to the Greeks. Troy fell never to rise again, and the women and children were led off to become slaves to their conquerors.
Thus was destroyed in one night the great and glorious city of Troy, all on account of the crime which Paris had committed against the laws of hospitality.
The trials of the Greeks were not yet at an end. After their victory at Troy they embarked in their ships and started eagerly for their homes. But Zeus prepared a sad fate for them, because Ajax had violently dragged Cassandra, the beautiful daughter of Priam, from the altar of Athena and had made her his slave. Thus many of the leaders perished in the sea far from home, and some were cast on foreign shores to die.
Menelaos was thrown by wind and waves on the island of Crete, and he lost many of the ships on the cliffs. Thence he strayed to the island of Cyprus, noted for its mines; and he roved through other lands until he came to Egypt, where he wandered about for eight years, when he returned to Sparta, taking Helen with him. He became reconciled to his wife, and they lived a quiet life far removed from the enchantments of the wily Aphrodite.
But the saddest fate of all overtook Agamemnon, who met his death in his own house at the hands of his wife and brother.
Agamemnon, without any accident at sea, reached his native land. Full of gratitude, he kissed the earth and wept tears of joy at the thought of meeting his wife and son.
He entered his home with a glad heart, and his faithless wife came to meet him, but she had prepared a hot bath for him, and there he met his death, entangled in a net which she threw over him, for she had not forgotten the loss of her beautiful daughter, Iphigeneia, whom she believed to have been offered up as a sacrifice on the altar of Artemis.
She was assisted in this dreadful deed by her husband's brother, who became ruler over the land, holding sway eight years, when Orestes, the son of Agamemnon, slew him and regained the kingdom.
And now we come to the return of Odysseus, the wisest of the Greeks, who wandered to the remotest part of the earth and learned the customs of many people, and who suffered terrible things by land and sea.
PART II THE RETURN OF ODYSSEUS TO HIS OWN COUNTRY
CHAPTER V ODYSSEUS ON THE ISLAND OF CALYPSO
All the Greeks who had escaped from the destruction of Troy and had been spared the terrors of the sea returned to their homes. But the unfortunate Odysseus was delayed by the fair nymph Calypso on her island, where she made her home in a cool and beautiful grotto. There he wept and mourned, desiring to see his wife again and his native land. Each of the gods save one, Poseidon, god of the sea, wished to help him to find the way home. Odysseus had brought Poseidon's wrath upon himself through inflicting a terrible injury upon the favorite son of that deity, and for that reason the wrath of the god fell on him and he was wrecked. One day all the other gods had assembled in the hall of Zeus, on Mount Olympos, when Athena, the favorite daughter of Zeus and firm friend of Odysseus, knowing that her father in his heart was well-disposed toward the hero, began to plead for him in a way to excite greater pity still.
"O my father, thou great king among the gods," she said, "my heart is troubled on account of the wise Odysseus, who lingers on an island, far away from home, and suffers greatly; for a nymph lives on the island, the daughter of great Atlas, and with sweet words she strives to make Odysseus forget his native land. But he bewails his fate and is full of sorrow, his only wish being to have a glimpse of the smoke of his beloved country."
Zeus thereupon ordered Hermes to depart at once for the island and tell the nymph to send Odysseus to his home without delay. Hermes obeyed quickly. He bound his winged sandals to his feet, and, taking his golden wand in his hand, flew like a meteor over land and sea till he reached the island where the nymph Calypso made her abode. He found her within the grotto, singing sweetly while she wove a fine web on a golden loom.
All about the grotto there was a grove of cypress-trees in which birds of gay colors were sporting and springs of pure water bubbling, and the fragrance of strange flowers filled the air. When Hermes had gazed upon these wonders he entered the grotto. It was bright with a blazing fire on a spacious hearth, and fragrant with the odor of burning cedar and cypress.
Calypso saw him as he came in and knew him. She bade him sit down on a throne dazzling with jewels, and, placing a table before him laden with nectar and ambrosia, invited him to eat and drink. After he had finished his repast, Hermes told her that Zeus had sent him to her with the command that she should send Odysseus without delay to his native land. Having given this message, he disappeared, leaving Calypso in great grief.
Odysseus in the meantime sat by the shore mourning and gazing out upon the sea. Calypso found him there, sitting alone, weeping and longing for his home. She stood by him and said: "Odysseus, my unhappy friend, do not waste thy life any longer in sorrow. The end of thy grief has come. Arise and prepare to depart for thy home. Build thee a raft of the trunks of trees which thou shalt hew down. I will put bread and water and delicate wine on board; and I will clothe thee in comfortable garments, and send a favorable wind that thou mayest safely reach thy native land."
Thus spoke the lovely goddess, but Odysseus could hardly believe her, and said: "I fear, O goddess, that thou hast some other thought in thy mind, and that thou dost not wish to send me home when thou biddest me sail over this stormy and dangerous sea. I shall never go on to the raft against thy wish, and thou must swear the great oath of the gods that no harm shall come to me."
The goddess smiled at these words, and, taking the hero by the hand, rejoined: "Thou art a wise man, and thy answer is well made. I will pledge thee a solemn oath, by the heavens and the earth, and the waters of the Styx, that I have no plan of evil against thee. And I advise thee to do as I have instructed thee, to be ready for any crisis."
Speaking thus, the goddess went into the grotto and Odysseus followed her. When he had come into the spacious hall, he sat down on his throne and the nymph brought him rich food and wine. Then she took a seat opposite him, and her attendants brought her ambrosia and nectar, which she would gladly have shared with Odysseus, that he, too, might become an immortal.
When the repast was over, Calypso narrated to him all the trials he would have to undergo before he could reach his native land. While she was relating these things the sun sank down, and darkness came upon the island, and all who had their abode in the grotto sought rest and slumber.
CHAPTER VI ODYSSEUS CONSTRUCTS A RAFT AND LEAVES THE ISLAND
At daybreak the goddess gave Odysseus a large axe and a sharp adze, and led him to the heights of the island, where the largest trees grew. He went to work at once and cut down twenty trees, which he hewed into proper shape, and then tied them together with ropes which he himself made of bark.
In this way he built a raft which was very large and strong enough to stand the onset of the waves. He wove a railing of willow and fitted it around the sides of the raft, to protect himself against the dashing waves; and he raised a strong mast with sails shaped to it, and tightly bound by cords and ropes. He filled the crevices of the raft with wax and pitch and attached a rudder.
At the end of the fourth day his work was all done, and his little ship was ready to be launched. On the fifth day the beautiful goddess prepared the hero a bath and gave him new garments fragrant with perfumes. She went down to the boat with him and put on board a skin of dark-red wine, a larger one full of water, and a bag of dainty food. Then she bade Odysseus a kind farewell, and sent a gentle and friendly wind to waft him over the waves.
Odysseus was wild with joy at the thought that he was really on his way home once more. He spread his sails to catch the breeze and took his seat at the helm, steering the vessel with great skill. He did not dare to take any sleep, for he had to watch the sky and stars constantly and use them as guides on his course. He sailed along in this way seventeen days. On the eighteenth he spied land in the distance. It was the land of the Phaeacians, lying like a dark spot off in the sea.
Then Poseidon, who was returning from Ethiopia, saw him, and his wrath grew hot against the hero. He raised up his head and said to himself: "Alas! the gods have strangely changed their minds about Odysseus during my absence in Africa. Behold! in a little while he will be in the land of the Phaeacians, where he will find an end to his troubles. Nevertheless, it is in my power to chastise him."
Speaking thus, Poseidon called the clouds together, and seizing his trident he stirred up the sea; then he set loose all the winds until there was a general hurricane, and he wrapped heaven and earth in the thick darkness of night.
The mighty waves dashed over the raft, and Odysseus sank on his knees and trembled. With a deep groan he said: "Ah me, unhappy! Am I to bear more disasters? I fear that the warning of the goddess was too true, and that I shall be for a long time cast about on the waves before I reach home. With what dark clouds Zeus has shrouded the sky! The storm grows wild. What terrible waves are these! Helplessly I must perish. Happy the Greeks who fell before Troy, fighting for their country! Would that I, too, had met death the day when the Trojans hurled their spears at me as they strove to take the body of Achilles. If I had died then, the Greeks would have buried me with great honors. Now I shall die an inglorious death."
As he spoke a huge wave struck the raft with such terrible force that it whirled it around and overturned it. The helm was wrung from his hand and he fell into the angry breakers. The mast was snapped in two and the ropes and sails flew off into the sea.
Odysseus was under water a long time, striving in vain to come to the surface. Finally he rose, spitting the bitter brine out of his mouth. Although he was in such a desperate plight, his mind was on the raft. Battling bravely with the waves he reached it, and springing on board sat down in the middle of it. Thus he escaped death.
The angry waves tossed him hither and thither as the wind scatters the leaves over a field. Then Ino, the daughter of Cadmus, saw him and took pity on him. She took the form of a bird, and, perching on his raft, she said to him: "O, luckless man! why is Poseidon so angry with thee? Fear nothing, however; he cannot take thy life. Obey me and thou shalt not suffer much longer. Lay aside thy clothes, leave the raft to the mercy of the winds and waves, and swim to the land. Take my veil and wind it about thy breast, and thou shalt not have anything to fear. As soon as thou hast reached the land, take it off and throw it back into the sea. Then hurry away inland."
Odysseus hesitated to follow Ino's advice, fearing some treachery. But Poseidon sent a huge wave which struck him and scattered the raft as if it were dry chaff. Then Odysseus at once got astride of the swimming timber. He bound the veil around his breast and bravely plunged into the boiling waters.
Poseidon saw him, and shaking his head he said: "I verily believe thou wilt come out alive from the sea. But the sea has had thee long enough, so that thou wilt know its power hereafter and fear it." Saying this he lashed up his horses and drove off.
CHAPTER VII ODYSSEUS IS SAVED ON THE ISLAND OF SCHERIA
Athena, the daughter of Zeus, seeing Odysseus struggling through the waves, pitied him, and bade the winds become quiet. Two days and two nights Odysseus floated about, but on the third the wind calmed down and the sea became smooth.
In a short time he found himself near land once more. But the shore was wild and full of sharp rocks and high cliffs. He could see no place on which to set foot, and he grew downhearted. His knees gave way, and, groaning deeply, he cried out: "O, luckless one! In vain have I braved the dangers of the sea to escape death. Now all hope has abandoned me, since there is no way for me to get out of the water. I fear that when I try to approach the land the waves will throw me against the cliffs, and should I try to find a safe landing-place by swimming, the surf may carry me back into the wild sea, where some sea-monster will swallow me up. Whatever I may do, I see no help for me."
While he pondered over these things a huge wave cast him on the foamy shore. His bones were nearly broken, and he lay exhausted until the wave returned, when he was hurled again with great force back into the sea. Now the unfortunate wanderer took to swimming as his last resort, and reached the mouth of a river, where he was able to land.
Too tired to breathe or speak, he sank down in a swoon. His knees and arms trembled, and his whole body was bruised and swollen. When his senses returned he rose and untied the veil that Ino had given him and cast it back into the sea. Then he knelt down and kissed the earth, and moved to a sheltered spot where a wild and a tame olive-tree were standing close together, whose branches had mingled with one another, and there he found a safe hiding-place.
Then the godlike Odysseus lay down on a bed of dry leaves, covering himself up as one does an ember, lest it should go out. Athena came and poured sweet sleep over his eyes, that he might find quiet rest after all his toils.
CHAPTER VIII NAUSICAA IS SENT TO THE RIVER BY ATHENA
While Odysseus lay in a deep sleep, the goddess Athena went to the royal dwelling of the king of the Phaeacians, Alkinoos, in order to hasten the return of Odysseus to his native land. She entered the house, where she found Nausicaa, the king's daughter, sleeping in her beautiful chamber. Near her lay two maids who served her.
Athena came as softly as a breath of air, and caused the maiden to dream that her marriage-day was near and that it was her duty to arise and hasten to the place by the river where they washed their clothing. In her dream the princess seemed to hear Athena say: "Nausicaa, why art thou so slothful? Thy beautiful robes lie neglected and thy wedding-day is at hand, on which thou surely shouldst wear garments of dazzling whiteness, and thou shouldst give such garments to those maidens who lead thee forth to thy bridegroom. Therefore, as soon as day breaks thou must ask thy father to give thee a pair of mules, and we will hasten to the washing-place down by the river."
At the first dawn of day Nausicaa went in haste to her father and mother to tell them of her dream. She found them in their splendid hall. Her mother sat with her maidens spinning, and the king stood on the threshold, just going forth to meet his chiefs in council. The princess approached her father and said: "Dearest father, I pray that thou wilt give me two mules and a wagon, that I may go with my maids to the river and take all the clothes that need washing, for it becomes the king and his sons to wear clean garments when they go to the council of the chiefs. Thou hast five sons, three of whom are youths not wedded, and they should be provided with fresh robes; they will need them in the dance."
The king smiled, for he saw what was in her mind, and he ordered the mules. Then his beautiful daughter brought from the linen-room the soiled garments and put them on the wagon, while the queen prepared a goodly lunch of cold meat and bread and a skin of sweet wine.
Nausicaa further received from her mother a bottle of fragrant oil with which to anoint herself after the washing. Then she mounted the wagon, seized the whip and reins, and drove out of the city, the maidens of her train following her on foot.
When they came to the place where the river was flowing bright and clear, they unhitched the mules and let them browse along the bank. Then they took their garments down from the wagon and tossed them into the marble vats which they had filled with the limpid water of the stream. When they had washed them clean they spread them on the white pebbles to dry. Having finished the task, they took a bath and anointed themselves with oil. Then they sat down on the shore and ate their lunch.
The repast over, they began to play ball. First the white-armed Nausicaa threw the ball. She looked as tall and royal among her maids as did Artemis, the daughter of Zeus, among her nymphs.
Nausicaa sang a song as they frolicked on the sand.
When it was time to go home they put the clean garments upon the wagon and harnessed up the mules. Just as they started, Nausicaa once more threw the ball to one of the maidens, who failed to catch it. The ball rebounded from the rocks and fell into the river, at which the girls raised such a shout that Odysseus, who was sleeping close by, awoke.
He opened his eyes and sat up, saying to himself: "Woe is me! Have I reached a country where people dwell? Are they wild and inhospitable, or friendly to the stranger and god-fearing? It seems to me I heard cries of women. Perhaps they were those of the nymphs who inhabit the mountain heights, the springs of rivers, and the green meadows, or those of people who live near by. But I will see who they are."
So Odysseus clothed himself as best he could, by winding slender branches covered with leaves about him, and left the thicket where he was hidden. He went in the direction of the voices, stalking along like a great lion. When the girls saw him they shrieked and scattered in every direction. Nausicaa alone stood her ground, for Athena gave her courage. When Odysseus saw her he wondered which would be the better, to throw himself at the feet of the maiden and beg her to give him some clothes and to show him the way to the city, or to speak to her with more formality.
It seemed better to him to remain at a distance, and so he addressed her gently, saying: "O queen, I know not whether thou art a goddess or a woman. If thou art a goddess, I should take thee to be Artemis, because thou art so tall and graceful. If, however, thou art a mortal, thrice happy thy father and honored mother. Greatly must they rejoice when they see their beautiful child in the choral dance. But he will be the happiest who shall win thee for a bride.
"I once saw a young palm-tree growing up beside Apollo's altar in the island of Delos. It was the most beautiful tree the earth ever produced, and I gazed upon it with wonder and reverence. So am I amazed at thy beauty, and I fear to approach thee and throw myself as a suppliant at thy feet, although I am in sore distress, for great misfortunes have befallen me.
"It was only last night that I escaped from the sea. On my way from Calypso's isle I was driven about for twenty days by the angry waves in a violent storm. Now some god has cast me on this shore to make me undergo new trials, for I do not believe my sufferings have come to an end. Have pity on me, O queen, because thou art the first human being I have met after so many misfortunes.
"I do not know one person in this country. Show me thy city, I pray, and give me an old robe to wear, no matter how coarse and poor, and may the gods bestow all blessings upon thee."
Nausicaa looked at Odysseus in pity and answered: "Stranger, thou dost not seem to me to be a man of mean birth or breeding, and thou art surely in distress. But it is Zeus who distributes gifts to mortals, both the good and the evil things of life, and thou must submit to his will with patience.
"Since thou hast come into our land devoid of all things, even garments, and art helpless, I will give thee clothing and tell thee the way to the city. And I will tell thee about the people living in it, for I am the daughter of the king, Alkinoos, who reigns over this island." When Nausicaa had spoken thus to Odysseus, she turned to her maids and commanded them not to flee from the wanderer, but to bring him food and drink, since Zeus sent the poor and the stranger to be cared for.
And she told them to lead him to some lonely spot by the side of the river, where he might bathe at his ease. So the maids came back and led the hero to a sheltered place and laid a cloak and tunic on the sand, and the bottle of oil which the queen had given Nausicaa, that Odysseus might anoint and clothe himself after his bath; then they ran back to the princess.
Odysseus bathed in the fresh water of the river and washed the salt sea-foam from his hair, and when the bath was over he put on the robes that Nausicaa had sent. Athena shed a halo of beauty over him and caused him to look taller and stronger than before.
As he walked along the beach to rejoin the maidens, they admired his noble and kingly bearing, and Nausicaa said to her maids: "Surely this man does not come among our godlike brothers against the will of the gods. I thought him rough and homely, but now he seems like one of the immortals. I would that I might call a man like him my husband. Make haste to give him food and wine, for he has fasted a long time."
The maids hastened to obey. They looked over what was left of the abundant lunch and bade Odysseus eat and drink, which he was glad to do. The princess then yoked up the mules and they started for home.
CHAPTER IX ODYSSEUS ARRIVES AT THE PALACE OF ALKINOOS
After Nausicaa had mounted to her seat on the cart, she said to Odysseus: "Get ready now, stranger, and we will lead thee to my father's palace, where thou wilt meet the chiefs of the Phaeacians. If thou art wise, take well to heart what I shall say to thee. As long as we are at a good distance from the city there is no harm in going along with us. Just follow close to the wagon with my maids.
"But when we come near to the town thou must go more slowly and tarry behind a little, till we have reached my father's hall, because I dread the gossip of the baser sort of people whom we may meet. After thou hast seen us enter the city, then thou mayest enter it also and inquire the way to the king's palace. It is very beautiful. Thou mayest easily find it by thyself, for there is no other house in the city as large as ours.
"Enter at once and find my mother and sue to her for protection and help, that thou mayest reach thy native land and thy dear ones again."
Having spoken these words, Nausicaa touched the mules with her long whip and they quickly left the river, wending their way toward the city. They reached it at sunset, but Odysseus sat down in the sacred grove of Athena, outside of the city to wait, and prayed to the goddess that he might receive pity from the people of Phaeacia.
While he prayed, the damsels went on and soon reached the king's palace. Nausicaa's brothers came out and welcomed them, and unhitched the mules. When Odysseus had given them time to get home, he arose and found his way to the town. He had hardly entered it when Athena, in the form of a young girl carrying a pitcher of water, met him.
"My daughter," Odysseus said to her, "canst thou show me the way to the king's palace? I am a stranger, and here for the first time." Athena answered him: "With pleasure, stranger; the king is our neighbor. Follow me, and I will lead thee thither. But on the way do not greet anyone or ask questions, for the people here are not fond of those who come from other lands."
Thus spoke Athena and pursued her way with Odysseus following her. She threw a veil of darkness over the hero to hide him from rude gazers. Odysseus beheld the beautiful port with astonishment—the large ships, the great market-place, and the high walls of the city.
When they reached the palace, the girl stopped and said: "This is the house of the king. Go in without any fear, for they love brave men, even when they come from afar. The first thing to do is to find the queen, whose name is Arete.
"She is greatly honored by the king, and all the people treat her as if she were a goddess, on account of her gentleness and virtue. In case the queen looks upon thee with favor, thou mayest be sure of safely reaching home."
Having spoken these words, the goddess took a friendly leave of the hero, and he entered the outer hall of Alkinoos, where he was bewildered by the splendor. The walls were of brass, the doors of gold, and the thresholds and lintels of pure silver. On each side of the main entrance gold and silver dogs stood guard. They were endowed with life and were immortal, the work and gift of the divine Hephaestus.
There were two rows of splendid seats in the large dining-hall. They were covered with costly mats, and the Phaeacian leaders were wont to sit there and enjoy themselves. Golden statues of boys with lighted torches in their hands stood on beautiful pedestals and spread light over the merry banquets. There were fifty maid-servants in the palace. Some of them were grinding corn in the mill. Some spent their time in spinning and weaving, for as the men were renowned sailors, the women also were famous for making fine cloth.
There was a large orchard all around the palace, surrounded by a thick hedge. In the orchard there was a great variety of fruit-trees—pear, apple, pomegranate, olive, and fig. The trees were never bare of fruit, either in summer or in winter, for an ever-blowing west wind created such a mild climate that the trees were constantly blooming and ripening their fruit.
There was to be seen a tree full of blossoms, while another bent down under the load of ripe fruit. Thus it was with the grape-vines in the vineyard close to the orchard. Some were blooming, others had only begun to form fruit-buds, while some were loaded with ripe clusters ready for the wine-press. At the end of the orchard there was a magnificent flower-garden, in which the most fragrant flowers were blooming. Two springs also bubbled from the ground. One watered the orchard, and the other ran to the very door of the palace, and all the people filled their pitchers there. Such were the gifts Alkinoos had received from the gods.
CHAPTER X ODYSSEUS IN THE HALLS OF ALKINOOS
After Odysseus had contemplated these wonders to his heart's content, he entered the main hall. There he found the leaders of the Phaeacians bringing offerings of wine to Hermes, as the hour of sleep had arrived, and this was always their last ceremony before seeking slumber. No one saw Odysseus as he crossed the spacious room and came close to the king and queen, for he was still concealed in the thick mist which Athena had thrown round him. Suddenly the cloud vanished, and Odysseus threw himself at the feet of Arete, and raised his voice in supplication.
"Arete," he prayed, "I have come to thy husband and to thy feet through many hardships and sorrows. May the gods give thee a long and happy life. For many years I have been a wanderer from home and all I love. I beg that thou wilt give me a guide and send me to my own land."
When Odysseus had spoken these words he sat down amidst the ashes, close to the fire, and all the guests grew silent and looked at him with wonder. Then the oldest of the chiefs arose and said: "Alkinoos, this is not a royal seat for a stranger, among the cinders of the hearth. I pray thee, raise him up and place him on a throne, and order the heralds to fill a cup with wine, that we may pour a libation to Zeus, the protector of suppliants, and bid the guest welcome to our good cheer."
Then Alkinoos arose and took Odysseus by the hand. He led him to a splendid throne but little lower than his own, while the herald placed a table before him loaded with dainty food. When Odysseus had eaten and drunk, the attendants filled the cups to pour libations in honor of Zeus, and Alkinoos said to them: "Listen, ye leaders and chiefs of the Phaeacians. To-morrow we shall greet the stranger in our palace with honors and offer a great sacrifice to the gods. And then we will consider the best way of sending him home. But if we should find that he is a god instead of a mortal, we will do what seems best, for the gods do sometimes visit us in human shape."
Then said Odysseus: "Nay, Alkinoos, I am not a god, nor like the gods in form or looks. I am only a wanderer, and I could tell of fearful sorrows; and I would willingly die if I could only see my home once more."
The guests all greeted Odysseus with approving words, and promised to aid him. Then they rose, and each man went to his own home.
Odysseus remained in the hall with Arete and Alkinoos. As they conversed, the queen noticed the garments of Odysseus, because she had woven them herself, and she said to him: "Stranger, who art thou, and from what land? Didst thou not say thou hadst come here after many wanderings and voyages on the stormy sea? Who gave thee garments of my weaving?"
Odysseus answered her: "It would not be easy, gracious queen, to tell about all my hardships and sufferings. Yet I will do thy bidding. I was shipwrecked long since, and thrown upon an island far out in the sea, where Calypso, the daughter of Atlas, lives. She cared for me most kindly, and would have made me, like herself, an immortal, but I chose instead the hope of seeing my own native land.
"The goddess detained me seven long years on her island before she bade me start for home. I built a raft, which she stored with food, and she sent a pleasant breeze to carry me across the waters. But Poseidon stirred the winds and waves against me, and I was thrown upon the shores of this island, near the lavers, where thy daughter and her maids went to wash the household linen. There the princess found me, and supplied me with food and the garments I have on."
"One duty my daughter left undone," Alkinoos said. "She should have brought thee home with her." "Do not blame her, I entreat," replied Odysseus, "for she bade me come with her maids, but I lingered in a grove to offer a prayer to Athena." When Alkinoos had heard this tale from Odysseus, he promised once more to give him a ship and sailors to escort him home.
Meanwhile the queen bade her servants prepare a bed for the hero out on the portico, and they covered a couch with shaggy rugs and purple tapestries, where he could rest. With a grateful heart Odysseus arose, and, thanking the king for his generous hospitality, sought the bed, where he gave himself to happy dreams.
Odysseus rose early the next morning and went with Alkinoos to the market-place, close to the sea, where all the Phaeacians had assembled. The people gazed with admiration at their stranger-guest, for Athena lent him greater dignity and beauty, and she went among the crowds, moving their hearts to sympathy with him.
Alkinoos then addressed the assembled multitude: "Hear me, ye chiefs of the Phaeacians," he said. "This stranger has come to our land after many wanderings and adventures. And he asks me to send him back to his own country. Let us fit out a ship for him quickly and launch it, and give him fifty-two young men from among our best sailors, who shall get everything ready for the long journey.
"While they are doing this the stranger shall come to my halls with the chiefs and princes, where we will make a great banquet. Summon also the bard, Demodokos, that he may enliven the festival with his harp and songs."
Having spoken, Alkinoos rose and led his guest back to the palace, the princes following him. Fifty-two youths were soon chosen from among the best seamen, and they launched a ship speedily and went up to the royal palace.
CHAPTER XI THE BANQUET IN HONOR OF ODYSSEUS
Alkinoos now ordered a sumptuous feast in honor of his guest. When the table was spread, the herald who had gone for Demodokos came in leading the bard, who was blind. The gods had deprived him of sight, but had bestowed upon him the gift of song. They gave him a seat on a silver throne, amid the guests, and hung his harp against a lofty pillar, close above his head, where he could easily reach it.
When all had eaten and drunk as much as they desired, Demodokos took his lyre and began to sing about the heroes of Troy. It was a song whose fame had reached over the whole world, the story of a friendly strife between Achilles and Odysseus before Troy, in which Achilles held that Troy would fall by force, but Odysseus maintained that it would come to an end through the cunning of a few brave Greeks.
All the guests enjoyed listening to the thrilling song, but Odysseus was deeply touched, and tears fell from his eyes. He brushed them away stealthily, so that no one should observe them, and drew a large purple veil over his face until the song was finished, when he put it away and took a goblet of wine, which he poured out on the ground as a libation to the gods.
Again the minstrel took his harp and sang, and again Odysseus wept. Alkinoos noticed that the song of Demodokos moved Odysseus to tears, and thought it might be well to stay the music awhile and begin the games, that the stranger might witness the athletic skill of the Phaeacians. All the princes instantly arose and walked down to the market-place, the king leading and the people following.
When the chiefs had taken their seats a great number of young men hastened forward to begin the games. Some of them darted over the plain in a foot-race, raising a cloud of dust. Others strove with all their might in wrestling-matches, while some threw the quoit or played at boxing and leaping. After they had enjoyed looking at the games, Laodamas, a son of Alkinoos, said to his friends: "Let us ask the stranger to take part in the games. His strong arms and legs and powerful neck show that he is no weakling. Nor has he lost his youthful vigor after all his hardships, although nothing tires a man so much as being tossed about on the sea."
Then the friends of Laodamas advised him to challenge Odysseus to take part in the games; and this seemed right to the prince, so he said to him: "Father, I think thou must be skilful in these games. Let us see thee try them. We will not delay thee long. Thy ship is ready for thee on the sea, and the crew is there, waiting. But there is no greater glory or pleasure for a man than to excel in swiftness of foot and strength of muscle."
Odysseus answered him: "Why dost thou urge me, O Laodamas? How can I take part in the games or find any pleasure in them after all that I have suffered? Here I sit, a suppliant, praying to be sent back to my wife and home." Then Euryalos scoffed at him, saying: "Thou art right, stranger, for thy countenance shows thou art anything but an athlete.
"Methinks thou art the owner of some merchant-vessel. Thou art a trader, whose head is full of bargains. Such men can take heed of nothing except how to increase wealth."
These mocking words vexed Odysseus, and he retorted: "My friend, thou dost not speak like a man of good mind. The gods do not bestow their gifts equally on all men. To thee they have given great beauty, but they have denied thee wit. Thy words carry no weight. Learn, then, that I am not unskilled in the games. When I was young and strong I was one of the best athletes. But even now, after all my shipwrecks and hardships, I will strive with thee, for thy words are offensive and challenge me to the proof."
Having said this, Odysseus seized a much larger and heavier quoit than the Phaeacian prince could use, and swinging it in his powerful hand he hurled it forth. The stone whirred through the air and fell to the ground away beyond the marks of the other disks. Then Athena took the form of a Phaeacian and set a mark where the quoit fell, and exclaimed as she did so: "Stranger, even a blind man could easily find thy mark, for it is far beyond the others. Sit down in peace and do not fear that anybody else can throw so far." Odysseus was pleased when he heard these friendly words. With a light heart he said to the Phaeacian youths: "Reach my mark, if you can, young men, and I will send a stone farther yet. But if you cannot reach it, and prefer a match at boxing or wrestling or foot-race, come forth. I am ready to try any of the games with you. I can throw a spear farther than any of you can shoot an arrow. I fear nothing unless it may be the foot-race, for I have lost my strength with want of food and being tossed by the waves."
He ended, and King Alkinoos stepped forward, for the young men were all silent. "Stranger," he said, "thou art our dearly loved guest, and no one can doubt thy bravery. We do not boast that we are fine boxers or wrestlers. We excel in the dance and are unsurpassed in sailing ships. Come, then, young men, show your skill in dancing, that our guest may tell his people when he reaches his home how much we outdo all others in that art. And let a herald hasten to the palace and bring the lyre of Demodokos, which has been left there."
The young men arranged themselves in two rows on the polished floors and began the dance, while the minstrel, standing in their midst, played on the lyre and sang most sweetly. Odysseus looked on and greatly admired the swift and rhythmical movements of their feet. All danced very well; but two of the sons of the king came out and danced alone, for none of the others equalled them. One of them held a golden ball in his hand, and bending backward threw it so high that it seemed to touch the clouds. The other sprang up and caught it easily before it touched the ground.
They both danced, going through intricate and rhythmical figures, while the other young men stood around in a circle and clapped their hands, keeping time. Then Odysseus said to Alkinoos: "Truly, no one excels the Phaeacian princes in dancing. I see the twinkling of their feet with amazement."
These words pleased Alkinoos greatly, and he said to his people: "Listen, my chiefs, for our guest seems to be a wise man. It becomes us now to bestow upon him the gifts of hospitality. In this land there are twelve kings. I am the thirteenth. Let each one of us bring a fine cloak, and a tunic, and a talent of gold, that our guest may see them before he partakes of the evening banquet. And let Euryalos, who spoke such scoffing words to him, try to win back his friendship and bring a costly gift." All the chiefs approved the words of King Alkinoos, and each one sent a servant to his house to bring a valuable present.
Euryalos cheerfully obeyed the king. He brought a brass sword with a silver hilt to Odysseus, and said: "My father, if I have uttered any offensive word to thee, may the winds scatter all remembrance of it. May the gods grant thee a speedy return to thy country, where thou shalt see thy wife and friends from whom thou hast so long been separated."
Odysseus answered: "Hail to thee, also, my friend! May the gods give thee all that there is good, and may no need of this sword ever come to thee." Odysseus took the sword and threw it across his shoulders.
The sun had set, and the servants carried the gifts to the royal palace, where the queen took care of them. King Alkinoos led the way to the palace, his guest at his side and the princes following. When they had taken their seats on high thrones, the king told his wife to lay the royal presents in a chest, adding a much richer cloak and tunic than anyone else had given as a gift from himself.
Arete did as her husband wished, and placed a beautiful cup of gold also in the chest, and led Odysseus up to look at the presents. Then she taught him how to lock the chest and unlock it, and her maids called him to a warm bath, after which he anointed himself with fragrant oil and put on fresh garments.
While he was wending his way to the men who sat before their wine, he met Nausicaa in her goddess-like beauty, standing near a pillar. "Stranger, farewell," she said. "I wish thee joy and a safe return to thy native land. Do not forget that I was the first to befriend thee in the land of the Phaeacians."
Odysseus answered: "May the gods be as sure to favor my return to my home as I shall be to make a prayer daily in thy behalf, fair maiden, who hath saved my life." Then Odysseus entered the great hall and took his place at the feast.
CHAPTER XII ODYSSEUS RELATES HIS ADVENTURES
When they had all eaten and drunk to their hearts' content, the hero begged Demodokos to sing about the invention of the wooden horse with which Odysseus had artfully tricked the Trojans to their own destruction.
The minstrel felt the inspiration of the song, and began where the Greeks threw firebrands into their own tents and sailed away from Troy, pretending that they had given up the war.
He told how the Trojans wondered what to do with the huge wooden horse which the enemy had left in their city, whether to hew it to pieces and burn it, or to drag it to the edge of a high rock and throw it over, or whether to spare it as an act of reverence to the gods. This last was done, and in the night Odysseus and his men came out of the great wooden trap and set fire to the city while the men of Troy slept.
As Demodokos sang, tears rolled down the cheeks of Odysseus. but no one noticed his weeping except the king, who said: "It is better to stop the song of Demodokos, as it does not delight us all. Ever since the bard began to sing, our guest has been weeping. He carries some great trouble in his heart. Let the song cease, and let us all make merry. Let no grief mar our banquet. And, honored stranger, tell us the name of thy father, and the city which is thy home. Our seamen shall take thee safely to thine own land, although there is a prophecy that one of our good ships shall be changed into a high rock, to stand forever in front of our city, if we show such courtesies to strangers.
"Tell us truly who thou art and whither thou hast roamed, what tribes of men thou hast seen, and why thou dost weep when the minstrel sings of Troy. Didst thou lose a noble kinsman there, or a dear friend? For a friend is often dearer than a brother." Odysseus replied: "In truth, O king, it is a pleasant thing to listen to a bard like Demodokos, for his voice is as sweet as the voice of a god.
"And I cannot think of anything more delightful than the joy of a contented people listening to a great poet and singer while seated at a feast in a royal hall. But I pine to be at home, and I will declare my name and tell the story of my sufferings.
"I am the chieftain Odysseus, son of Laertes, and widely known to fame. I dwell in sunny Ithaca, whose high mountains are seen from afar, covered with rustling trees. Around it are many smaller islands, full of people. Ithaca has low shores on the east. It is a rugged island, but it is the sweetest land on earth, and has a noble race of mortals. When the Trojan war was at an end, I started for home with my twelve ships, but a contrary wind drove us to Ismaros, the city of the Kikonians.
"We captured it and put the inhabitants to the sword. Then I exhorted my comrades to fly, but, like madmen, they remained on the sea-shore. Then they slaughtered a large number of sheep and oxen and made a feast. The Kikonians called on their strong neighbors to come and help them, and they came in swarms with their brazen spears. They fell upon our men and killed six of them from each ship, and drove the rest back to their boats.
"Brisk handling of our oars soon carried us out into the sea, but Jove sent a hurricane that tore our sails and split our masts, so that our sailors drew them into the ships in fear. Two days and nights we lay helpless in our boats, worn out with fear and grief, but the third day the sun shone on us again, and we raised the masts and sails to take the breeze, hoping to reach our own land."
CHAPTER XIII THE LOTUS-EATERS AND THE CYCLOPS
"We sailed onward in a westerly direction, heading for the Grecian shore, and thought our trials would soon be at an end. But in this we were disappointed, for when we were about to round the cape at the southern point of Greece, we met an evil wind which always blows there, and it drove us far to the east, beyond the island of Cythera.
"Nine days and nine nights we were driven about on the sea by the violent storm, and on the tenth we reached the land of the Lotus-eaters. These men eat flowers that look like water-lilies, and they have no other food. We landed on the shore of the mainland, and my comrades took their evening meal close to the boats.
"When our hunger was satisfied, I sent out two of the best men to explore the country about and find out what sort of people the Lotus-eaters were. I sent a herald with them, whom they might send back with the news.
"They soon found themselves among the Lotus-eaters, who were gentle and friendly, and gave them the lotus plant to eat. This food is pleasant to the taste, but dangerous; for anyone who eats of it loses all desire to return to his own home. He forgets his cares and troubles, but also his friends.
"As soon as my comrades had eaten of the lotus, they became attached to the Lotus-eaters, and desired to remain with them. They wept bitterly when I commanded them to return to the ships, and I was obliged to force them to go.
"I bound them down to the benches in the ships, and the whole company went on board in haste lest they should never think of their homes again. Each man bent to his oars, and the waves were soon white with the beating of the ships against them as we sailed with all haste in the direction of our own land.
"We sailed about on unknown seas and with sorrowing hearts until we came to the land of the Cyclops. They are a wild people who have no laws. They never plough the fields nor plant them, for everything grows of its own accord—wheat, and barley, and the vine. The grapes yield good wine. The Cyclops do not come together in a friendly way, but live in caves near the mountain tops, each one in his own den. They do not care much for one another, and each rules his wife and children as he likes.
"There is a little woody island lying at the entrance to the land of the Cyclops, on which swarm numberless wild goats, never disturbed by human beings, for the Cyclops have no ships to take them over. This island is very fertile, but there are no sheep to eat the grass and no people to plough the fields. The goats are the only inhabitants. The island has a harbor which is safe, and the ships that enter it have no need of anchors or fastenings.
"In the midst of the harbor there is a cliff, from which bubbles forth a spring of excellent water, and poplar-trees grow all around it. The soil is so rich it might bear all kinds of fruit, if there were anyone to plant them. There are beautiful meadows all along the coast, which are gay with yellow fruit and pink blossoms.
"We were shaping our course toward this island, and a good breeze brought us there on a dark night. The moon did not shine and none of the crew saw the land until we were upon the shore. We lowered our sails and rested there until morning. When daylight appeared we beheld with wonder the island where the wild goats abounded. My comrades walked around, admiring the beauty of the place, while the nymphs, daughters of Zeus, roused the goats that they might give us milk. We took our bows and arrows from the ships immediately and, forming three hunting-parties, killed a great number of the nimble creatures. Each of my twelve ships received nine goats as its share, but mine received ten. The remainder of the day we passed in eating and drinking."
CHAPTER XIV THE CAVE OF THE CYCLOPS
"The next day I started with twelve men, the crew of my own ship, to find out what kind of men inhabited the country opposite us, leaving all the other boats and their men on the island. When we sailed up to the coast of the mainland, we heard the voices of giants, and the bleating of their sheep and goats. And we saw a cave with a high roof, over whose entrance grew laurel shrubs, and many cattle, sheep, and goats were lying around at rest. We found an enclosure of rough stone in the form of a court, with tall pines and leafy oaks at the mouth of the cave.
"The largest giant of all the race of Cyclops dwelt there and took care of his cattle all alone. Usually he spent his time prowling all by himself around the mountains. He had nothing to do with his neighbors, but led a solitary life, plotting wicked deeds. He looked more like a huge mountain top, with shaggy overhanging forests, towering above other mountains, than a human being.
"We were soon inside the cave, but we did not find the owner at home. We had carried with us a wine-skin full of wine which a priest of Apollo had given us. The wine was very fragrant and so pleasant that no one who had once tasted it, could let it alone. We had taken along a basket of food also, for fear of meeting with men of great strength and no sense of the courtesy due to strangers.
"As we looked around the cave we wondered at what we saw. There were baskets all about heaped with cheeses, and pens of lambs separated into three folds, the older in one pen, the younger in another, and the youngest in a third. And there were pails full of whey, and buckets of milk. My companions ate as much of the cheese as they liked, after which they begged to drive all the lambs and kids down to the ship.
"But I would not allow this. It was my wish to stay there and see the cave-dweller and find out what kind of a man he was. I thought he would give me a handsome present, according to the laws of hospitality. It was cold in the cave, so we lit a fire and sat down to wait for the owner to arrive.
"He came toward evening, carrying a load of wood on his back, which he threw down with such a crash that my men ran with terror into the corners of the cave. The giant drove all such sheep and goats as would give him milk into the cave, leaving the others in the outside court, and then closed up the entrance with a rock so large that twenty-four four-wheeled wagons could not have moved it. Having done this, he sat down and milked the sheep and goats and gave to each its young one.
"Next, he curdled half of the milk and put the curd into woven baskets, but he kept the other half for his evening meal. When he had ended this work he lit a fire, and seeing the strangers he began to ask them questions, to find out who they were. His voice was deep and frightful, like the rumbling of a volcano, and our hearts trembled, but I found words to answer him: 'We are Greeks, and come from Troy. It was our intention to return home, but contrary winds have driven us on this shore.
"'We belong to the army of Agamemnon, whose fame is very great because he has overcome a strong city and conquered many nations. But now we throw ourselves at thy feet and pray that thou wilt receive us as guests, or else give us the gifts that are due to strangers, lest the gods avenge us.'
"Having said this, I stopped, but the Cyclops told us that we were fools to believe in the gods. 'The Cyclops,' he said, 'care nothing for the gods. We are better than they are. If I spare thee it will be of my own free will, and not for fear of the gods. But where are thy ships? Are they near here or far off?' This he said hoping to deceive us, but I saw through his trick, and replied: 'The storm has thrown our ships upon the cliffs and broken them to pieces, and we had to swim for our lives.'
"The cruel monster did not answer me again, but he seized two of my companions and dashed them to the ground with such force that they died on the spot. He devoured them as a lion devours his prey. He left nothing of them, neither bones nor flesh nor hair. We wept aloud and prayed to Zeus with our hearts full of despair."
CHAPTER XV THE BLINDING OF THE CYCLOPS
"When the monster had filled himself with food, he stretched out on the floor of the cave to sleep. Then the thought came to me to thrust a sword into his heart. But this was not a wise course to take, because we should never have been able to remove the stone from the entrance to the cave.
"We passed the night in mourning and lamentations. As soon as daylight appeared, the Cyclops woke up and lit a fire and milked his sheep again. Then he seized two more of my companions and devoured them. When his morning meal was done he rolled the stone back from the door and drove his beasts out, not forgetting to secure the entrance. We could hear his noisy shouts afar off as he led his flocks over the grassy heights, and we began to make plans to destroy him.
"We found a great club of green olive-wood in the cave; one that the Cyclops had cut for his own use. It was as large as the mast of a ship, and he had laid it away to dry. I cut off a fathom's length from this club and handed the piece to my companions, who smoothed off its sides and sharpened it at one end. This being done, I put the sharp end of it into the fire. The stick became very hard, and then I hid the weapon under a heap of litter which was piled up in the cave. We cast lots to see who should assist me to put out the eye of the Cyclops when he was asleep.
"When evening came the Cyclops returned to the cave with his fat sheep and kids. He seemed to suspect that there was mischief afoot, for he did not leave any of them outside. After milking the ewes and goats he again seized two of my companions and made his supper of them. But I filled a large drinking-vessel with the wine from our wine-skin and stepped boldly out and said to him: 'Here is a cup of wine which I brought, hoping that thou wouldst spare my life, O Cyclops, for thy wrath is boundless.' He took the cup and drank. The wine delighted him greatly, and he handed me the cup after emptying it and said: 'Give me another draught and tell me thy name. I will give thee a generous gift, such as becomes a host. We, too, have wine, but not such as yours. That tastes like nectar and ambrosia.'
"Three times I filled the cup and brought it to him, and three times the Cyclops drank it like a madman. When the wine had overpowered him, I said to him: 'Cyclops, thou dost wish to know my name, and I will tell it, but thou must give me the present thou hast promised. My name is Nobody. My father and mother gave me this name and my friends all call me by it.' 'Then,' said the Cyclops, 'I shall eat Nobody last of all. This is my present.'
"After these words he fell asleep and, being very drunk, he began to spew out the wine and flesh he had taken. I took the piece of olive-wood which my men had sharpened and put the point of it into the fire and held it there until it was a glowing coal. My comrades stood near me and I encouraged them with brave words. We thrust the burning stick into the Cyclops' eye and put it out. He howled with pain, and, stung to madness, he seized the stick and flung it across the cave.
"He called to the other Cyclops, who lived in divers caves on the surrounding mountains, while we hid ourselves in fear in the most remote corners of the cave. The giants heard him and came running to help him, but they could not get into the cave. They stood near the stone, close to the door, and called out: 'What ails thee, Polyphemus? Is anyone trying to kill thee?' 'Woe is me!' cried Polyphemus, 'Nobody is trying to kill me.' 'Then why dost thou shout and cry for help?' said they. 'If nobody hurts thee, then thou art not hurt.'
"With these words they went off, and we rejoiced greatly that my trick had deceived them."
CHAPTER XVI ODYSSEUS AND HIS COMPANIONS LEAVE THE LAND OF THE CYCLOPS
"Polyphemus, groaning with pain, tried to feel his way with his hands to the mouth of the cavern. Having succeeded in this, he rolled back the stone and sat down at the entrance and stretched out his hands in order to catch us if we should happen to try to get out among the sheep.
"But we were not so foolish as to be caught in this way. There were in the cave a number of stout and woolly rams. Of these I put three abreast and tied them together with twigs that happened to be in the cave. Under each middle ram I tied one of my companions. The two sheep, one on each side of him, hid the man completely. For myself I selected the stoutest ram of the flock, and, seizing his long shaggy wool with my hands, held fast to him with my knees and arms.
"The sun rose and the animals began to hasten out to the pastures. The Cyclops, though nearly exhausted with pain, passed his hands over the backs of the sheep to find out whether any of us were trying to ride out of the cave. He did not find out our trick, and my companions all escaped safely. Last of all, the ram that carried me came to the door, because I was so heavy that he could hardly walk with me hanging to him.
"Polyphemus felt of his back and recognized him at once as his favorite ram, and said: 'Dearest of all my sheep, why dost thou go last? Commonly thou wert the first of the flock to hasten to the rich pasture and the cool spring, just as thou wert the first in the evening to return to thy manger. But to-day thou art last of all. Dost thou grieve because thy master hath lost his eye, which Nobody has put out? But wait a little. He shall not escape death. Couldst thou only speak, my ram, thou wouldst tell me at once where the scoundrel is; then thou shouldst see how I would dash him against the rocks.'
"Speaking such words as these, he let the ram go. When we were safely out of the cave, we gladly took to our feet and drove the fat sheep down to our boat with all haste. Our friends received us with tears of joy, for they thought we had surely perished. I made signs to them not to weep aloud, and to hurry the sheep on board the ship. They did this with all haste, and each man took his place at the oars.
"When we were beyond the reach of the Cyclops, I called out to tease him, 'Ha! Cyclops, Cyclops, thou hast not been entertaining a coward. Zeus and the other gods have avenged the brave men whom thou didst so cruelly destroy.'
"The Cyclops heard my words and grew furious. He seized a large rock and threw it with all his might toward the place where he had heard my voice.
"The rock fell in front of my ship, and the waves which it raised carried us back on shore. I seized a large pole and shoved the boat back into the water, commanding my men to ply their oars vigorously, that we might escape destruction. My companions begged me not to excite the dangerous monster further; but when we were a long way out I shouted to him: 'Cyclops, if ever anybody asks thee who put out thine eye, tell him it was Odysseus, the son of Laertes, conqueror of Troy.'
"When Polyphemus heard these words he gave a deep groan, and said to me: 'Truly did the wise seer, Telemos, foretell that I was to be blinded by Odysseus. But I thought there would come a large and powerful man, not such an insignificant little fellow who would cheat me with wine. Come back, Odysseus, and let me bestow upon you the gifts which are due to strangers. I will pray to my father, Poseidon, to give thee a safe and speedy return to thy native land. He can restore my eye whenever he will, so I cherish no anger against thee.'
"I knew his deceit, however, and replied: 'I would rather take thy life, and send thee down to the dark halls of the dead, where thy father could never restore thy sight.'
"As soon as Polyphemus heard this, he raised his hands to heaven and prayed to Poseidon, 'My father,' he said, 'hear me, if in truth I am thy son. Grant me this prayer. May Odysseus never return to his own country, or, if it be thy will that he reach home and friends again, let his return be late and sorrowful. May his comrades all be lost, and may he go back in a borrowed ship, and find new troubles waiting for him in his house.'
"Poseidon was moved to wrath against me by this prayer, and determined to take vengeance on me. The Cyclops seized another stone, much larger than the last, and swinging it round, threw it at us with tremendous strength. It fell close to the ship, but this time it drove the boat out into the sea and in the direction of the island where we first landed.
"When we reached the island we found the friends we had left there waiting anxiously for our return. My men drew their boat up on to the smooth sand and stepped upon the beach, taking the sheep along with them. Each man took an equal share, but they gave me the ram which had saved my life. We took him out upon the beach and offered him up as a sacrifice to Zeus.