The Authoress of the Odyssey, by Samuel Butler, , at sacred-texts.com
Thus did Ulysses speak, and Alcinous immediately proposed that they should make him still further presents. The expense, however, of these, he said, should be borne by a levy or rate upon the public at large. The guests assented, and then went home to bed.
Next morning they brought their presents of hardware 18 down to the ship, and Alcinous saw them so stowed that they should not incommode the rowers. There was then a second banquet at Alcinous’s house, but Ulysses kept looking at the sun all the time, longing for it to set that he might start on his way. At last he rose and addressed the Phæacians; after thanking them, he concluded by saying that he hoped he should find his wife on his return living among her friends in peace 43 and quietness, * and that the Phæacians would continue to give satisfaction to their wives and children. He also bade farewell to Arēte, and wished her all happiness with her children, her people, and with King Alcinous.
When Ulysses reached the ship, a rug and sail were spread 73 for him, on which he lay down, and immediately fell into a deep sleep—so deep as to resemble death itself. The ship sped 80 on her way faster than a falcon's flight and with the break of day they reached Ithaca.
Now in Ithaca there is a sheltered harbour in which a ship 96 can ride without being even moored. At the head of this there is a large olive tree, near which there is a cave sacred to the Naiads, where you may find their cups and amphoræ of stone, and the stone looms whereon they weave their robes of sea-purple—very curious. The wild bees, too, build their nests in it. There is water in it all the year round, and it has two entrances, one looking North, by which mortals can go down
into the cave, and the other towards the South, but men cannot enter by it—it is the way taken by gods.
112 The sailors knew this harbour, and took the ship into it. They were rowing so hard that they ran half her length on to the shore, and when they had got out of her they took Ulysses off, still fast asleep on his rug and sail, and laid him down on the ground. Hard by him they also laid all the presents the Phæacians had made him; they left them by the roots of the olive tree, a little out of the path, that no passer by might steal them, and then went back to Scheria.
125 Neptune now saw what the Phæacians had done, and went to consult Jove how he should be revenged. It was arranged that he should go to Scheria, turn the ship into stone just as it 163 was coming into port, and root it in the sea. So he did this, and the Phæacians said, "Alack, who has rooted the ship in the sea just as it was coming in? We could see all of it a minute ago."
171 Then Alcinous told them how Neptune had long ago threatened to do this to some Phæacian ship on its return from giving an escort, and also to bury their city under a high mountain as a punishment for giving escorts so freely. The Phæacians, therefore, made ready great sacrifices to Neptune, that he might have mercy upon them.
185 While they were thus standing round the altar of the god, Ulysses woke in his own land, but he had been away so long that he did not know it. Minerva, too, had shed a thick mist round him so that he might remain unseen while she told him how things were going on; for she did not want his wife or anyone else to know of his return until he had taken his revenge upon the suitors. Therefore she made everything look strange to him—the long straight paths, the harbours with their shipping, the steep precipices, and the trees.
197 Ulysses now stood up and wondered where he was. He did not believe he was in Ithaca and complained bitterly of the Phæacians for having brought him wrong. Then he counted all the tripods, cauldrons, gold, and raiment, that they had given him, to see if he had been robbed; but everything was there, and he was in dismay as to what he should do with them.
[paragraph continues] As he was thus in doubt Minerva came up to him disguised as a young shepherd, so he asked her what country he was in, and she answered that he was in Ithaca.
Ulysses said he had heard that there was such a place; he 256 told Minerva a long lying story as to how he had come to be where she saw him, and on this the goddess assumed the form of a woman, fair, stately, and wise, and laughed at him for not knowing her. Ulysses answered that she was not an easy person to recognise for she was continually changing her appearance. Moreover, though she had been very good to him at Troy, she had left him in the lurch ever since, until she had taken him into the city of the Phæacians. "Do not," he said, "deceive me any further, but tell me whether or no this is really Ithaca."
"You are always cunning and suspicious," replied the 329 goddess, "and that is why I cannot find it in my heart to leave you. Any one else on returning from a long voyage would have at once gone up to his house to see his wife and children, but you do not seem to care about knowing anything about them, and only think of testing your wife's fidelity. As for my having left you in the lurch, I knew all the time that 339 you would get home safely in the end, and I did not want to quarrel with my uncle Neptune. I will now prove to you that you are in Ithaca—Here is the harbour of the old merman 345 Phorcys, with the large olive tree at the head of it; near it is the cave which is sacred to the Naiads; here, again, is the 347 overarching cavern in which you have sacrificed many a 349 hecatomb to the nymphs, and this is the wooded mountain of Neritum." 351
The goddess then dispersed the mist and let the prospect 352 be seen. Ulysses was thus convinced, and Minerva helped him to hide the treasure which the Phæacians had given him, by concealing it in the cave. Having done this she bade Ulysses consider how he should kill the wicked suitors. "They have been lording it," she said, "in your house this three years, *
paying court to your wife and making her gifts of wooing, 380 while she, poor woman, though she flatters them, and holds out hopes to every man of them by sending him messages, is really plunged in the deepest grief on your account, and does not mean a word of what she says."
382 "Great heavens," replied Ulysses, "what a narrow escape I have had from meeting the fate of Agamemnon. Stand by me, goddess, and advise me how I shall be revenged."
397 "I will disguise you," said Minerva, "as a miserable old beggar so that no one shall know you. When I have done so, go to your swineherd, who has been always loyal to you and yours. You will find him with his pigs by the fountain Arethusa near the rock that is called Raven. Meantime I will go to Sparta and fetch Telemachus, who is gone thither to try and get news of you."
416 "But why," Ulysses answered, "did you not tell him, for you knew all about it?"
420 "Do not be uneasy about him," she answered, "he is in the midst of great abundance. I sent him, that he might get himself a good name by having gone."
429 Minerva then disguised Ulysses beyond all possible recognition, and the two separated—she going to Sparta, and Ulysses to the abode of his swineherd.
57:* σὺν ἀρτεμέεσσι φίλοισιν.
59:* Minerva, in her desire to minimise the time during which the suitors had been at Ulysses’ house, seems to have forgotten that they had been there ever since Telemachus was quite a child ("Od." ii. 312-314).