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The Authoress of the Odyssey, by Samuel Butler, [1922], at

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Book XV


Minerva now went to Lacedæmon and found Telemachus and Pisistratus fast asleep. She appeared to Telemachus in a dream, and told him that he was to return at once to Ithaca, for his mother was about to marry Eurymachus, and would 17 probably go off with some of his property. She also told him how the suitors were lying in wait for him in the straits between Ithaca and Samos. She said that as soon as he 29 reached Ithaca he was to leave the ship before sending it on to the town, and go to the swineherd's hut. "Sleep there," she said, "and in the morning send the swineherd to tell Penelope that you have returned safely."

Then she went away and Telemachus woke up. He kicked 43 Pisistratus to wake him, and said that they must start at once. Pisistratus answered that this was impossible; it was still dark, and they must say good bye to Menelaus, who, if Telemachus would only wait, would be sure to give him a present.

At break of day, seeing Menelaus up and about, Telemachus 56 flung on his shirt and cloak, and told him that they must go.

Menelaus said he would not detain them, but on the score 67 alike of propriety and economy, they must have something to eat before starting, and also receive the presents that were waiting Telemachus's acceptance. "I will tell the servants," said he, "to get something ready for you of what there may be in the house, and if you would like to make a tour of the principal cities of the Peloponnese, I will conduct you. No one will send us away empty handed. Every one will give us something."

But Telemachus said he must start at once, for he had left 86 property behind him that was insecurely guarded.

When Menelaus heard this he told his wife and servants to 92 get dinner ready at once. Eteoneus, who lived at no great distance, now came up, and Menelaus told him to light the fire and begin cooking; and he did as he was told.

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99 Menelaus then went down into his store room together with Megapenthes, and brought up a double cup and a silver mixing bowl, while Helen fetched a dress of wondrous beauty, the work of her own hands. Menelaus presented the cup and 125 mixing bowl, and then Helen said, "Take this, my son, as a keepsake from the hand of Helen, and let your bride wear it on her wedding day. Till then let your dear mother keep it for you. Thus may you go on your way with a light heart."

130 Telemachus thanked her; Pisistratus stowed the presents in the chariot, and they all sat down to dinner. Eteoneus carved, and Megapenthes served round the wine. When they had done eating the two young men prepared to set out.

160 As they were on the point of starting, an eagle flew upon their right hand, with a goose in its talons which it had carried off from the farm yard. This omen was so good that every one was delighted to see it, and Pisistratus said, "Say, king Menelaus, is the omen for us or for yourself?"

169 Menelaus was in doubt how to answer, but Helen said that as the eagle had come from a mountain and seized the goose, so Ulysses should return and take vengeance on the suitors. Telemachus said he only hoped it might prove so, and the pair then drove on. They reached Pylos on the following day, and 199 Telemachus urged Pisistratus to drive him straight to his ship, for fear Nestor should detain him if he went to his house.

211 "I know," said Pisistratus, "how obstinate he is. He would come down to your ship, if he knew you were there, and would never go back without you. But he will be very angry." He then drove to the ship, and Telemachus told the crew to get her under way as fast as they could.

222 Now as he was attending to every thing and sacrificing to Minerva, there came to him a man of the race of Melampus who was flying from Argos because he had killed a man. His name was Theoclymenus and he came of an old and highly honourable family, his father and grandfather having been celebrated prophets and divines. He besought Telemachus to take him to Ithaca and thus save him from enemies who were in pursuit. Telemachus consented, took Theoclymenus on board, and laid his spear down on the deck.

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Then they sailed away, and next day they got among the 287 flying islands, * whereon Telemachus wondered whether he r. should be taken or should escape.

All this time Ulysses was in the hut with Eumæus, and 301 after supper Ulysses said he should like to go down to the town next day, and see if the suitors would take him into their service. Eumæus at once explained to him that any such idea was out of the question. "You do not know," he said, "what men these suitors are; their insolence reaches heaven; the young men who wait on them have good looking faces and well kempt heads; the tables are always clean and loaded with abundance. The suitors would be the death of you; stay here, then, where you are in nobody's way, till Telemachus returns from Pylos."

Ulysses thanked Eumæus for his information, and then 340 began to ask whether his father and mother were still living; he was told that Anticlea was dead,  and that Laertes, though still alive, would be glad to follow her. Eumæus said he had been brought up in their service, and was better off formerly, for there was no getting a good word out of his mistress now, inasmuch as the suitors had turned the house upside down.

"Servants," he said, "like to have a talk with their mistress and hear things from her own lips; they like being told to eat and drink, and being allowed to take something back with them into the country. This is what will keep servants cheerful and contented."

On being further questioned by Ulysses, Eumæus told how 380 he had been kidnapped as a child by some Phœnician traders who had seduced his nurse (also a Phœnician) and persuaded her to go away with them, and bring him with her.

"I was born," he said, "in the island of Syra over against 403 Ortygia, where the sun turns.  It is not populous, but contains two cities which occupy the whole land between them, and my father was king over them both. A few days after my

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nurse had kidnapped me, and while we were on our voyage, Diana killed her, and she was flung overboard, but I was taken to Ithaca where Laertes bought me."

493 Ulysses and Eumæus spent the greater part of the night talking with one another, and at dawn Telemachus's crew drew near to land, furled their sails and rowed into the harbour. There they threw out their mooring stones, made their ship fast, landed, and ate their dinner on the shore. When they had done, Telemachus said, "Now take the ship on to the city; I will go to look after my farm and will come down in the evening. Tomorrow morning I will give you all a hearty meal to reward you for your trouble."

508 "But what," said Theoclymenus, "is to become of me? To whose house am I to go?"

512 "At any other time," answered Telemachus, "I should take you to my own house, but you would not find it convenient now, for I shall not be there, and my mother will not see you. I shall therefore send you to the house of Eurymachus, who is one of the first men we have, and is most eager in his suit for my mother's hand."

525 As he spoke a hawk flew on Telemachus's right hand, with a dove whose feathers it was plucking while it flew. Theoclymenus assured Telemachus that this was an omen which boded most happily for the prosperity of his house. It was then settled that Theoclymenus should go to the house of Piræus the son of Clytius.

549 The crew now loosed the ship from her moorings and went on as they had been told to do, while Telemachus wended his way in all haste to the pig farm where Eumæus lived.


65:* i.e. which seemed to fly past them.

65:† According to tradition, she had hanged herself on hearing a report of the death of her son.

65:‡ See Chapter xii. near the beginning.

Next: Book XVI. Ulysses and Telemachus Become Known to One Another