Homer, creator; Murray, A. T. (Augustus Taber), 1866-1940, translator
Then Zeus, the cloud-gatherer, answered him, and said:“Ah me, thou shaker of the earth, wide of sway, what a thing hast thou said! The gods do thee no dishonor; hard indeed would it be to assail with dishonor our eldest and best. But as for men, if any one, yielding to his might and strength, fails to do thee honor in aught, thou mayest ever take vengeance, even thereafter.Do as thou wilt, and as is thy good pleasure.” Then Poseidon, the earth-shaker, answered him: “Straightway should I have done as thou sayest, thou god of the dark clouds, but I ever dread and avoid thy wrath. But now I am minded to smite the fair ship of the Phaeacians,as she comes back from his convoy on the misty deep, that hereafter they may desist and cease from giving convoy to men, and to fling a great mountain about their city.” Then Zeus, the cloud-gatherer, answered him and said: “Lazy one, hear what seems best in my sight.When all the people are looking forth from the city upon her as she speeds on her way, then do thou turn her to stone hard by the land—a stone in the shape of a swift ship, that all men may marvel; and do thou fling a great mountain about their city.” Now when Poseidon, the earth-shaker, heard thishe went his way to Scheria, where the Phaeacians dwell, and there he waited. And she drew close to shore, the seafaring ship, speeding swiftly on her way. Then near her came the Earth-shaker and turned her to stone, and rooted her fast beneath by a blow of the flat of his hand, and then he was gone. But they spoke winged words to one another, the Phaeacians of the long oars, men famed for their ships. And thus would one speak, with a glance at his neighbor: “Ah me, who has now bound our swift ship on the sea as she sped homeward? Lo, she was in plain sight.” So would one of them speak, but they knew not how these things were to be. Then Alcinous addressed their company and said: “Lo now, verily the oracles of my father, uttered long ago, have come upon me. He was wont to say that Poseidon was wroth with us because we give safe convoy to all men.He said that some day, as a beautiful ship of the Phaeacians was returning from a convoy over the misty deep, Poseidon would smite her, and would fling a great mountain about our town. So that old man spoke, and lo, now all this is being brought to pass. But now come, as I bid let us all obey.Cease ye to give convoy to mortals, when anyone comes to our city, and let us sacrifice to Poseidon twelve choice bulls, if haply he may take pity, and not fling a lofty mountain about our town.”
So he spoke, and they were seized with fear and made ready the bulls.Thus they were praying to the lord Poseidon, the leaders and counsellors of the land of the Phaeacians, as they stood about the altar, but Odysseus awoke out of his sleep in his native land. Yet he knew it not after his long absence, for about him the goddess had shed a mist,even Pallas Athena, daughter of Zeus, that she might render him unknown, and tell him all things, so that his wife might not know him, nor his townsfolk, nor his friends, until the wooers had paid the full price of all their transgressions. Therefore all things seemed strange to their lord,the long paths, the bays offering safe anchorage, the sheer cliffs, and the luxuriant trees. So he sprang up and stood and looked upon his native land, and then he groaned and smote both of his thighs with the flat of his hands, and mournfully spoke, and said: “Woe is me, to the land of what mortals am I now come? Are they cruel, and wild, and unjust, or do they love strangers and fear the gods in their thoughts? Whither shall I bear all this wealth, or whither shall I myself go wandering on? Would that I had remained there among the Phaeacians,and had then come to some other of the mighty kings, who would have entertained me and sent me on my homeward way. But now I know not where to bestow this wealth; yet here will I not leave it, lest haply it become the spoil of others to my cost. Out upon them; not wholly wise, it seems, nor justwere the leaders and counsellors of the Phaeacians who have brought me to a strange land. Verily they said that they would bring me to clear-seen Ithaca, but they have not made good their word. May Zeus, the suppliant's god, requite them, who watches over all men, and punishes him that sins.But come, I will number the goods, and go over them, lest to my cost these men have carried off aught with them in the hollow ship.”
So he spake, and set him to count the beautiful tripods, and the cauldrons, and the gold, and the fair woven raiment, and of these he missed nothing. Then, mournfully longing for his native land,he paced by the shore of the loud-sounding sea, uttering many a moan. And Athena drew near him in the form of a young man, a herdsman of sheep, one most delicate, as are the sons of princes. In a double fold about her shoulders she wore a well-wrought cloak,and beneath her shining feet she had sandals, and in her hands a spear. Then Odysseus was glad at sight of her, and came to meet her, and he spoke, and addressed her with winged words: “Friend, since thou art the first to whom I have come in this land, hail to thee, and mayst thou meet me with no evil mind.Nay, save this treasure, and save me; for to thee do I pray, as to a god, and am come to thy dear knees. And tell me this also truly, that I may know full well. What land, what people is this? What men dwell here? Is it some clear-seen island, or a shoreof the deep-soiled mainland that lies resting on the sea?” Then the goddess, flashing-eyed Athena, answered him: “A fool art thou, stranger, or art come from far, if indeed thou askest of this land. Surely it is no wise so nameless, but full many know it,both all those who dwell toward the dawn and the sun, and all those that are behind toward the murky darkness. It is a rugged isle, not fit for driving horses, yet it is not utterly poor, though it be but narrow. Therein grows corn beyond measure, and the wine-grape as well,and the rain never fails it, nor the rich dew. It is a good land for pasturing goats and kine; there are trees of every sort, and in it also pools for watering that fail not the year through. Therefore, stranger, the name of Ithaca has reached even to the land of Troy which, they say, is far from this land of Achaea.”
So she spake, and the much-enduring, goodly Odysseus was glad, and rejoiced in his land, the land of his fathers, as he heard the word of Pallas Athena, daughter of Zeus, who bears the aegis; and he spoke, and addressed her with winged words; yet he spoke not the truth, but checked the word ere it was uttered,ever revolving in his breast thoughts of great cunning: “I heard of Ithaca, even in broad Crete, far over the sea; and now have I myself come hither with these my goods. And I left as much more with my children, when I fled the land, after I had slain the dear son of Idomeneus,Orsilochus, swift of foot, who in broad Crete surpassed in fleetness all men that live by toil. Now he would have robbed me of all that booty of Troy, for which I had borne grief of heart, passing through wars of men and the grievous waves,for that I would not shew favour to his father, and serve as his squire in the land of the Trojans, but commanded other men of my own. So I smote him with my bronze-tipped spear as he came home from the field, lying in wait for him with one of my men by the roadside. A dark night covered the heavens, and noman was ware of us, but unseen I took away his life. Now when I had slain him with the sharp bronze, I went straightway to a ship, and made prayer to the lordly Phoenicians, giving them booty to satisfy their hearts. I bade them take me aboard and land me at Pylos,or at goodly Elis, where the Epeans hold sway. Yet verily the force of the wind thrust them away from thence, sore against their will, nor did they purpose to play me false; but driven wandering from thence we came hither by night. With eager haste we rowed on into the harbor, nor had we anythought of supper, sore as was our need of it, but even as we were we went forth from the ship and lay down, one and all. Then upon me came sweet sleep in my weariness, but they took my goods out of the hollow ship and set them where I myself lay on the sands.And they went on board, and departed for the well-peopled land of Sidon; but I was left here, my heart sore troubled.”
So he spoke, and the goddess, flashing-eyed Athena, smiled, and stroked him with her hand, and changed herself to the form of a woman, comely and tall, and skilled in glorious handiwork.And she spoke, and addressed him with winged words: “Cunning must he be and knavish, who would go beyond thee in all manner of guile, aye, though it were a god that met thee. Bold man, crafty in counsel, insatiate in deceit, not even in thine own land, it seems, wast thou to cease from guileand deceitful tales, which thou lovest from the bottom of thine heart. But come, let us no longer talk of this, being both well versed in craft, since thou art far the best of all men in counsel and in speech, and I among all the gods am famed for wisdom and craft. Yet thou didst not knowPallas Athena, daughter of Zeus, even me, who ever stand by thy side, and guard thee in all toils. Aye, and I made thee beloved by all the Phaeacians. And now am I come hither to weave a plan with thee, and to hide all the treasure, which the lordly Phaeaciansgave thee by my counsel and will, when thou didst set out for home; and to tell thee all the measure of woe it is thy fate to fulfil in thy well-built house. But do thou be strong, for bear it thou must, and tell no man of them all nor any woman that thou hast come back from thy wanderings, but in silenceendure thy many griefs, and submit to the violence of men.” Then Odysseus of many wiles answered her, and said: “Hard is it, goddess, for a mortal man to know thee when he meets thee, how wise soever he be, for thou takest what shape thou wilt. But this I know well, that of old thou wast kindly toward me,so long as we sons of the Achaeans were warring in the land of Troy. But after we had sacked the lofty city of Priam, and had gone away in our ships, and a god had scattered the Achaeans, never since then have I seen thee, daughter of Zeus, nor marked thee coming on board my ship, that thou mightest ward off sorrow from me.Nay, I ever wandered on, bearing in my breast a stricken heart, till the gods delivered me from evil, even until in the rich land of the Phaeacians thou didst cheer me with thy words, and thyself lead me to their city. But now I beseech thee by thy father—for I think notthat I am come to clear-seen Ithaca; nay, it is some other land over which I roam, and thou, methinks, dost speak thus in mockery to beguile my mind—tell me whether in very truth I am come to my dear native land.”
Then the goddess, flashing-eyed Athena, answered him:“Ever such is the thought in thy breast, and therefore it is that I cannot leave thee in thy sorrow, for thou art soft of speech, keen of wit, and prudent. Eagerly would another man on his return from wanderings have hastened to behold in his halls his children and his wife;but thou art not yet minded to know or learn of aught, till thou hast furthermore proved thy wife, who abides as of old in her halls, and ever sorrowfully for her the nights and days wane, as she weeps. But as for me, I never doubted of this, but in my heartknew it well, that thou wouldest come home after losing all thy comrades. Yet, thou must know, I was not minded to strive against Poseidon, my father's brother, who laid up wrath in his heart against thee, angered that thou didst blind his dear son. But come, I will shew thee the land of Ithaca, that thou mayest be sure.This is the harbor of Phorcys, the old man of the sea, and here at the head of the harbor is the long-leafed olive tree, and near it is the pleasant, shadowy cave, sacred to the nymphs that are called Naiads. This, thou must know, is the vaulted cave in which thouwast wont to offer to the nymphs many hecatombs that bring fulfillment; and yonder is Mount Neriton, clothed with its forests.” So spake the goddess, and scattered the mist, and the land appeared. Glad then was the much-enduring, goodly Odysseus, rejoicing in his own land, and he kissed the earth, the giver of grain.And straightway he prayed to the nymphs with upstretched hands: “Ye Naiad Nymphs, daughters of Zeus, never did I think to behold you again, but now I hail you with loving prayers. Aye, and gifts too will I give, as aforetime, if the daughter of Zeus, she that drives the spoil, shall graciously grant meto live, and shall bring to manhood my dear son.” Then the goddess, flashing-eyed Athena, answered him again: “Be of good cheer, and let not these things distress thy heart. But let us now forthwith set thy goods in the innermost recess of the wondrous cave, where they may abide for thee in safety,and let us ourselves take thought how all may be far the best.”
So saying, the goddess entered the shadowy cave and searched out its hiding-places. And Odysseus brought all the treasure thither, the gold and the stubborn bronze and the finely-wrought raiment, which the Phaeacians gave him.These things he carefully laid away, and Pallas Athena, daughter of Zeus, who bears the aegis, set a stone at the door. Then the two sat them down by the trunk of the sacred olive tree, and devised death for the insolent wooers. And the goddess, flashing-eyed Athena, was the first to speak, saying: “Son of Laertes, sprung from Zeus, Odysseus of many devices, take thought how thou mayest put forth thy hands on the shameless wooers, who now for three years have been lording it in thy halls, wooing thy godlike wife, and offering wooers' gifts. And she, as she mournfully looks for thy coming,offers hopes to all, and has promises for each man, sending them messages, but her mind is set on other things.” Then Odysseus of many wiles answered her, and said: “Lo now, of a surety I was like to have perished in my halls by the evil fate of Agamemnon, son of Atreus,hadst not thou, goddess, duly told me all. But come, weave some plan by which I may requite them; and stand thyself by my side, and endue me with dauntless courage, even as when we loosed the bright diadem of Troy. Wouldest thou but stand by my side, thou flashing-eyed one, as eager as thou wast then,I would fight even against three hundred men, with thee, mighty goddess, if with a ready heart thou wouldest give me aid.” Then the goddess, flashing-eyed Athena, answered him: “Yea verily, I will be with thee, and will not forget thee, when we are busied with this work; and methinks many a oneof the wooers that devour thy substance shall bespatter the vast earth with his blood and brains. But come, I will make thee unknown to all mortals. I will shrivel the fair skin on thy supple limbs, and destroy the flaxen hair from off thy head, and clothe thee in a ragged garment,such that one would shudder to see a man clad therein. And I will dim thy two eyes that were before so beautiful, that thou mayest appear mean in the sight of all the wooers, and of thy wife, and of thy son, whom thou didst leave in thy halls. And for thyself, do thou go first of allto the swineherd who keeps thy swine, and withal has a kindly heart towards thee, and loves thy son and constant Penelope. Thou wilt find him abiding by the swine, and they are feeding by the rock of Corax and the spring Arethusa, eating acorns to their heart's content anddrinking the black water, things which cause the rich flesh of swine to wax fat. There do thou stay, and sitting by his side question him of all things, while I go to Sparta, the land of fair women, to summon thence Telemachus, thy dear son, Odysseus, who went to spacious Lacedaemon to the house of Menelaus,to seek tidings of thee, if thou wast still anywhere alive.”
Then Odysseus of many wiles answered her: “Why then, I pray thee, didst thou not tell him, thou whose mind knows all things? Nay, was it haply that he too might suffer woes, wandering over the unresting sea, and that others might devour his substance?” Then the goddess, flashing-eyed Athena, answered him: “Nay verily, not for him be thy heart overmuch troubled. It was I that guided him, that he might win good report by going thither, and he has no toil, but sits in peace in the palace of the son of Atreus, and good cheer past telling is before him.Truly young men in a black ship lie in wait for him, eager to slay him before he comes to his native land, but methinks this shall not be. Ere that shall the earth cover many a one of the wooers that devour thy substance.” So saying, Athena touched him with her wand.She withered the fair flesh on his supple limbs, and destroyed the flaxen hair from off his head, and about all his limbs she put the skin of an aged old man. And she dimmed his two eyes that were before so beautiful, and clothed him in other raiment,a vile ragged cloak and a tunic, tattered garments and foul, begrimed with filthy smoke. And about him she cast the great skin of a swift hind, stripped of the hair, and she gave him a staff, and a miserable wallet, full of holes, slung by a twisted cord. So when the two had thus taken counsel together, they parted; and thereupon the goddesswent to goodly Lacedaemon to fetch the son of Odysseus.
But Odysseus went forth from the harbor by the rough path up over the woodland and through the heights to the place where Athena had shewed him that he should find the goodly swineherd, who cared for his substance above all the slaves that goodly Odysseus had gotten. He found him sitting in the fore-hall of his house, where his court was built high in a place of wide outlook, a great and goodly court with an open space around it. This the swineherd had himself built for the swine of his master, that was gone, without the knowledge of his mistress and the old man Laertes.With huge stones had he built it, and set on it a coping of thorn. Without he had driven stakes the whole length, this way and that, huge stakes, set close together, which he had made by splitting an oak to the black core;[*](1) and within the court he had made twelve sties close by one another, as beds for the swine, and in each onewere penned fifty wallowing swine, females for breeding; but the boars slept without. These were far fewer in numbers, for on them the godlike wooers feasted, and lessened them, for the swineherd ever sent in the best of all the fatted hogs,which numbered three hundred and sixty. By these ever slept four dogs, savage as wild beasts, which the swineherd had reared, a leader of men. But he himself was fitting boots about his feet, cutting an ox-hide of good color, while the othershad gone, three of them, one here one there, with the droves of swine; and the fourth he had sent to the city to drive perforce a boar to the insolent wooers, that they might slay it and satisfy their souls with meat. Suddenly then the baying hounds caught sight of Odysseus,and rushed upon him with loud barking, but Odysseus sat down in his cunning, and the staff fell from his hand. Then even in his own farmstead would he have suffered cruel hurt, but the swineherd with swift steps followed after them, and hastened through the gateway, and the hide fell from his hand.He called aloud to the dogs, and drove them this way and that with a shower of stones, and spoke to his master, and said: “Old man, verily the dogs were like to have torn thee to pieces all of a sudden, and on me thou wouldest have shed reproach. Aye, and the gods have given me other griefs and sorrow.It is for a godlike master that I mourn and grieve, as I abide here, and rear fat swine for other men to eat, while he haply in want of food wanders over the land and city of men of strange speech, if indeed he still lives and sees the light of the sun.But come with me, let us go to the hut, old man, that when thou hast satisfied thy heart with food and wine, thou too mayest tell whence thou art, and all the woes thou hast endured.”
So saying, the goodly swineherd led him to the hut, and brought him in, and made him sit, strowing beneath thick brushwood,and thereon spreading the skin of a shaggy wild goat, large and hairy, on which he was himself wont to sleep. And Odysseus was glad that he gave him such welcome, and spoke, and addressed him: “Stranger, may Zeus and the other immortal gods grant thee what most thou desirest, since thou with a ready heart hast given me welcome.” To him then, swineherd Eumaeus, didst thou make answer, and say: “Nay, stranger, it were not right for me, even though one meaner than thou were to come, to slight a stranger: for from Zeus are all strangers and beggars, and a gift, though small, is welcome from such as we; since this is the lot of slaves,ever in fear when over them as lords their masters hold sway—young masters such as ours. For verily the gods have stayed the return of him who would have loved me with all kindness, and would have given me possessions of my own, a house and a bit of land, and a wife, sought of many wooers, even such things as a kindly master gives to his thrallwho has toiled much for him, and whose labour the god makes to prosper, even as this work of mine prospers, to which I give heed. Therefore would my master have richly rewarded me, if he had grown old here at home: but he perished—as I would all the kindred of Helen had perished in utter ruin, since she loosened the knees of many warriors.For he too went forth to win recompense for Agamemnon to Ilios, famed for its horses, that he might fight with the Trojans.”
So saying, he quickly bound up his tunic with his belt, and went to the sties, where the tribes of swine were penned. Choosing two from thence, he brought them in and slew them both,and singed, and cut them up, and spitted them. Then, when he had roasted all, he brought and set it before Odysseus, hot upon the spits, and sprinkled over it white barley meal. Then in a bowl of ivy wood he mixed honey-sweet wine, and himself sat down over against Odysseus, and bade him to his food, and said: “Eat now, stranger, such food as slaves have to offer, meat of young pigs; the fatted hogs the wooers eat, who reck not in their hearts of the wrath of the gods, nor have any pity. Verily the blessed gods love not reckless deeds, but they honor justice and the righteous deeds of men.Even cruel foemen that set foot on the land of others, and Zeus gives them booty, and they fill their ships and depart for home—even on the hearts of these falls great fear of the wrath of the gods. But these men here, look you, know somewhat, and have heard some voice of a godregarding my master's pitiful death, seeing that they will not woo righteously, nor go back to their own, but at their ease they waste our substance in insolent wise, and there is no sparing. For every day and night that comes from Zeus they sacrifice not one victim nor two alone,and they draw forth wine, and waste it in insolent wise. Verily his substance was great past telling, so much has no lord either on the dark mainland or in Ithaca itself; nay, not twenty men together have wealth so great. Lo, I will tell thee the tale thereof;twelve herds of kine has he on the mainland; as many flocks of sheep; as many droves of swine; as many packed herds of goats do herdsmen, both foreigners and of his own people, pasture. And here too graze roving herds of goats on the borders of the island, eleven in all, and over them trusty men keep watch.And each man of these ever drives up day by day one of his flock for the wooers, even that one of the fatted goats which seems to him the best. But as for me, I guard and keep these swine, and choose out with care and send them the best of the boars.”
So he spoke, but Odysseus eagerly[*](1) ate flesh and drank wine,greedily, in silence, and was sowing the seeds of evil for the wooers. But when he had dined, and satisfied his soul with food, then the swineherd filled the bowl from which he was himself wont to drink, and gave it him brim full of wine, and he took it, and was glad at heart; and he spoke, and addressed him with winged words: “Friend, who was it who bought thee with his wealth, a man so very rich and mighty, as thou tellest? Thou saidest that he died to win recompense for Agamemnon; tell me, if haply I may know him, being such an one. For Zeus, I ween, and the other immortal gods knowwhether I have seen him, and could bring tidings; for I have wandered far.” Then the swineherd, a leader of men, answered him: “Old man, no wanderer that came and brought tidings of him could persuade his wife and his dear son; nay, at random, when they have need of entertainment, do vagabondslie, and are not minded to speak the truth. Whosoever in his wanderings comes to the land of Ithaca, goes to my mistress and tells a deceitful tale. And she, receiving him kindly, gives him entertainment, and questions him of all things, and the tears fall from her eyelids, while she weeps,as is the way of a woman, when her husband dies afar. And readily wouldest thou too, old man, fashion a story, if one would give thee a cloak and a tunic for raiment. But as for him, ere now dogs and swift birds are like to have torn the flesh from his bones, and his spirit has left him;or in the sea fishes have eaten him, and his bones lie there on the shore, wrapped in deep sand. Thus has he perished yonder, and to his friends grief is appointed for days to come, to all, but most of all to me. For never again shall I find a master so kind, how far soever I go,not though I come again to the house of my father and mother, where at the first I was born, and they reared me themselves. Yet it is not for them that I henceforth mourn so much, eager though I am to behold them with my eyes and to be in my native land; nay, it is longing for Odysseus, who is gone, that seizes me.His name, stranger, absent though he is, I speak with awe, for greatly did he love me and care for me at heart; but I call him my lord beloved, for all he is not here.”
Then the much-enduring, goodly Odysseus answered him: “Friend, since thou dost utterly make denial, and declarestthat he will never come again, and thy heart is ever unbelieving, therefore will I tell thee, not at random but with an oath, that Odysseus shall return. And let me have a reward for bearing good tidings, as soon as he shall come, and reach his home; clothe me in a cloak and tunic, goodly raiment.But ere that, how sore soever my need, I will accept naught; for hateful in my eyes as the gates of Hades is that man, who, yielding to stress of poverty, tells a deceitful tale. Now be my witness Zeus, above all gods, and this hospitable board, and the hearth of noble Odysseus to which I am come,that verily all these things shall be brought to pass even as I tell thee. In the course of this self-same day[*](1) Odysseus shall come hither, as the old moon wanes, and the new appears. He shall return, and take vengeance on all those who here dishonor his wife and his glorious son.” To him then, swineherd Eumaeus, didst thou make answer, and say: “Old man, neither shall I, meseems, pay thee this reward for bearing good tidings, nor shall Odysseus ever come to his home. Nay, drink in peace, and let us turn our thoughts to other things, and do not thou recall this to my mind; for verily the heart in my breastis grieved whenever any one makes mention of my good master. But as for thy oath, we will let it be; yet I would that Odysseus might come, even as I desire, I, and Penelope, and the old man Laertes, and godlike Telemachus. But now it is for his son that I grieve unceasingly,even for Telemachus, whom Odysseus begot. When the gods had made him grow like a sapling, and I thought that he would be among men no whit worse than his dear father, glorious in form and comeliness, then some one of the immortals marred the wise spirit within him, or haply some man, and he wentto sacred Pylos after tidings of his father. For him now the lordly wooers lie in wait on his homeward way, that the race of godlike Arceisius may perish out of Ithaca, and leave no name. But verily we will let him be; he may be taken, or he may escape, and the son of Cronos stretch forth his hand to guard him.But come, do thou, old man, tell me of thine own sorrows, and declare me this truly, that I may know full well. Who art thou among men, and from whence? Where is thy city, and where thy parents? On what manner of ship didst thou come, and how did sailors bring thee to Ithaca? Who did they declare themselves to be?For nowise, methinks, didst thou come hither on foot.”
Then Odysseus of many wiles answered him, and said: “Then verily I will frankly tell thee all. Would that now we two might have food and sweet wine for the while,to feast on in quiet here in thy hut, and that others might go about their work; easily then might I tell on for a full year, and yet in no wise finish the tale of the woes of my spirit—even all the toils that I have endured by the will of the gods. “From broad Crete I declare that I am come by lineage,the son of a wealthy man. And many other sons too were born and bred in his halls, true sons of a lawful wife; but the mother that bore me was bought, a concubine. Yet Castor, son of Hylax, of whom I declare that I am sprung, honored me even as his true-born sons.He was at that time honored as a god among the Cretans in the land for his good estate, and his wealth, and his glorious sons. But the fates of death bore him away to the house of Hades, and his proud sons divided among them his substance, and cast lots therefor.To me they gave a very small portion, and allotted a dwelling. But I took unto me a wife from a house that had wide possessions, winning her by my valor; for I was no weakling, nor a coward in fight. Now all that strength is gone; yet even so, in seeing the stubble, methinksthou mayest judge what the grain was; for verily troubles in full measure encompass me. But then Ares and Athena gave me courage, and strength that breaks the ranks of men; and whenever I picked the best warriors for an ambush, sowing the seeds of evil for the foe, never did my proud spirit forbode death,but ever far the first did I leap forth, and slay with my spear whosoever of the foe gave way in flight before me.[*](1) Such a man was I in war, but labour in the field was never to my liking, nor the care of a household, which rears goodly children, but oared ships were ever dear to me,and wars, and polished spears, and arrows,—grievous things, whereat others are wont to shudder. But those things, I ween, were dear to me, which a god put in my heart; for different men take joy in different works. For before the sons of the Achaeans set foot on the land of Troy,I had nine times led warriors and swift-faring ships against foreign folk, and great spoil had ever fallen to my hands. Of this I would choose what pleased my mind, and much I afterwards obtained by lot. Thus my house straightway grew rich, and thereafter I became one feared and honored among the Cretans.
“But when Zeus, whose voice is borne afar, devised that hateful journey which loosened the knees of many a warrior, then they bade me and glorious Idomeneus to lead the ships to Ilios, nor was there any way to refuse, for the voice of the people pressed hard upon us.There for nine years we sons of the Achaeans warred, and in the tenth we sacked the city of Priam, and set out for home in our ships, and a god scattered the Achaeans. But for me, wretched man that I was, Zeus, the counsellor, devised evil. For a month only I remained, taking joy in my children,my wedded wife, and my wealth; and then to Egypt did my spirit bid me voyage with my godlike comrades, when I had fitted out my ships with care. Nine ships I fitted out, and the host gathered speedily. Then for six days my trusty comradesfeasted, and I gave them many victims, that they might sacrifice to the gods, and prepare a feast for themselves; and on the seventh we embarked and set sail from broad Crete, with the North Wind blowing fresh and fair, and ran on easily as if down stream. Noharm came to any of my ships, but free from scathe and from disease we sat, and the wind and the helmsman guided the ships. “On the fifth day we came to fair-flowing Aegyptus, and in the river Aegyptus I moored my curved ships. Then verily I bade my trusty comradesto remain there by the ships, and to guard the ships, and I sent out scouts to go to places of outlook. But my comrades, yielding to wantonness, and led on by their own might, straightway set about wasting the fair fields of the men of Egypt; and they carried off the women and little children,and slew the men; and the cry came quickly to the city. Then, hearing the shouting, the people came forth at break of day, and the whole plain was filled with footmen, and chariots and the flashing of bronze. But Zeus who hurls the thunderbolt cast an evil panic upon my comrades, and none had the courageto hold his ground and face the foe; for evil surrounded us on every side. So then they slew many of us with the sharp bronze, and others they led up to their city alive, to work for them perforce. But in my heart Zeus himself put this thought—I would that I had rather died and met my fatethere in Egypt, for still was sorrow to give me welcome. Straightway I put off from my head my well-wrought helmet, and the shield from off my shoulders, and let the spear fall from my hand, and went toward the chariot horses of the king. I clasped, and kissed his knees, and he delivered me, and took pity on me,and, setting me in his chariot, took me weeping to his home. Verily full many rushed upon me with their ashen spears, eager to slay me, for they were exceeding angry. But he warded them off, and had regard for the wrath of Zeus, the stranger's god, who above all others hath indignation at evil deeds.