The Authoress of the Odyssey, by Samuel Butler, , at sacred-texts.com
Euryclea now went upstairs and told Penelope what had happened. "Wake up, my dear child," said she, "Ulysses is come home at last and has killed the suitors who were giving so much trouble in the house, eating up his estate and ill-treating his son."
10 "My good nurse," answered Penelope, "you must be mad. The gods sometimes send very sensible people out of their minds, and make foolish people sensible. This is what they must have been doing to you. Moreover, you have waked me from the soundest sleep that I have enjoyed since my husband left me. Go back into the women's room; if it had been any one but you, I should have given her a severe scolding."
25 Euryclea still maintained that what she had said was true, and in answer to Penelope's further questions told her as much as she knew about the killing of the suitors. "When I came down," she said, "I found Ulysses standing over the corpses; you would have enjoyed it, if you had seen him all bespattered with blood and filth, and looking just like a lion. But the corpses are now piled up in the gatehouse, and he has sent me to bring you to him."
Penelope said that it could not be Ulysses, but must be 58 some god who had resolved to punish the suitors for their great wickedness. Then Euryclea told her about the scar.
"My dear nurse," answered Penelope, "however wise you 80 may be, you can hardly fathom the counsels of the gods. Still I will go and find my son that I may see the corpses of the suitors, and the man who has killed them."
On this she came down into the cloister and took her seat 85 opposite Ulysses, in the fire-light, by the wall at right angles to that by which she had entered, while her husband sat by one of the bearing-posts of the cloister, looking down and waiting to hear what she would say. For a long time she sat as one lost in amazement and said nothing, till Telemachus upbraided her for her coldness. "Your heart," he said, "was always hard as a stone."
"My son," said his mother, "I am stupefied; nevertheless 104 if this man is really Ulysses, I shall find it out; for there are tokens which we two alone know of."
Ulysses smiled at this, and said to Telemachus, "Let your 111 mother prove me as she will, she will make up her mind about it presently. Meanwhile let us think what we shall do, for we have been killing all the picked youth of Ithaca."
"We will do," answered Telemachus, "whatever you may 123 think best."
"Then," said Ulysses, "wash, and put your shirts on. Bid 129 the maids also go to their own room and dress. Phemius shall strike up a dance tune, so that any who are passing in the street may think there is a wedding in the house, and we can get away into the woods before the death of the suitors is noised abroad. Once there, we will do as heaven shall direct."
They did as he had said. The house echoed with the sound of 141 men and women dancing, and the people outside said, "So the queen has been getting married at last. She ought to be ashamed of herself, for not staying to protect her husband's property."
Eurynome washed and anointed Ulysses; Minerva also 152 beautified him, making the hair grow thick on the top of his head and flow down in hyacinthine curls. He came from the
bath looking like an immortal god, and sat down opposite his wife. Finding, however, that he could not move her, he said to Euryclea, "Nurse, get a bed ready for me. I will sleep alone, for this woman has a heart as hard as iron."
173 "My dear," said Penelope, "I have no wish to set myself up, nor to depreciate you, but I am not struck by your appearance, for I well remember what kind of a man you were when you left Ithaca. Nevertheless, Euryclea, take his bed out of the room he built for it, and make it ready for him."
185 Ulysses knew that the bed could not be moved without cutting down the stem of a growing olive tree on the stump of which he had built it. He was very angry, and desired to know who had ventured on doing this, at the same time describing the bed fully to Penelope.
205 Then Penelope was convinced that he really was Ulysses, and fairly broke down. She flung her arms about his neck, and said she had only held aloof so long because she had been shuddering at the bare thought of any one deceiving her. Ulysses in his turn melted and embraced her, and they would have gone on indulging their sorrow till morning came, had not Minerva miraculously prolonged the night.
247 Ulysses then began to tell her of the voyages which Tiresias had told him he must now undertake, but soon broke off by saying that they had better go to bed. To which Penelope rejoined that as she should certainly have to be told about it sooner or later, she had perhaps better hear it at once.
263 Thus pressed Ulysses told her. "In the end," said he, "Tiresias told me that death should come to me from the sea. He said my life should ebb away very gently when I was full of years and peace of mind, and that my people should bless me."
288 Meanwhile Eurynome and Euryclea made the room ready, *
and Euryclea went inside the house, leaving Eurynome to light Penelope and Ulysses to their bed-room. Telemachus, Philœtius, and Eumæus now left off dancing, and made the women leave off also. Then they laid themselves down to sleep in the cloisters.
When they were in bed together, Penelope told Ulysses how 300 much she had had to bear in seeing the house filled with wicked suitors who had killed so many oxen and sheep on her account, and had drunk so many casks of wine. Ulysses in his turn told her the whole story of his adventures, touching 350 briefly upon every point, and detailing not only his own sufferings but those he had inflicted upon other people. She was delighted to listen, and never went to sleep till he ended his story and dropped off into a profound slumber.
When Minerva thought that Ulysses had slept long enough 344 she permitted Dawn to rise from the waters of Oceanus, and Ulysses got up. "Wife," said he to Penelope, "now that we have at last come together again, take care of the property that is in my house. As for the sheep and goats that the wicked suitors have eaten, I will take many by force from other people, and will compel the men of the place to make good the rest. I will now go out to my father's house in the country. At sunrise it will get noised about that I have been killing the suitors. Go upstairs, therefore, and stay there with your waiting women. See nobody, and ask no questions."
As he spoke he girded on his armour; he roused the others 366 also and bade them arm. He then undid the gate, and they all sallied forth. It was now daylight, but Minerva enshrouded them in darkness, and led them quickly out of the town.
98:* This room was apparently not within the body of the house. It was certainly on the ground floor, for the bed was fixed on the stump of a tree; I strongly suspect it to be the vaulted room, round the outside of which the bodies of the guilty maids were still hanging, and I also suspect it was in order to thus festoon the room that Telemachus hanged the women instead of stabbing them, but this is treading on that perilous kind of speculation which I so strongly deprecate in others. If it were not for the gruesome horror of the dance, in lines 129–151, I should not have entertained it.