Odyssey

Homer

Homer, creator; Butler, Samuel, 1835-1902, translator

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

Then Athena said to Zeus, "Father, son of Kronos, king of kings, answer me this question - What does your noos bid you? Will you set them fighting still further, or will you make peace between them?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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