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Alfred J. Church

Athene departed to Lacedaemon that she might fetch Telemachus, and Ulysses went to the house of Eumaeus, the swineherd. A great courtyard there was, and twelve sties for the sows, and four watch-dogs, fierce as wild beasts. In each sty were penned fifty swine; but the hogs were fewer in number, for the suitors ever devoured them at their feasts. There were but three hundred and threescore in all. The swineherd himself was shaping sandals, and of his men three were with the swine in the fields, and one was driving a fat beast to the city, to be meat for the suitors.

Three thousand years ago the world was still young. The western continent was a huge wilderness, and the greater part of Europe was inhabited by savage and wandering tribes. Only a few nations at the eastern end of the Mediterranean and in the neighbouring parts of Asia had learned to dwell in cities, to use a written language, to make laws for themselves, and to live in a more orderly fashion.

Now all this time Telemachus tarried in Sparta with King Menelaus, and the son of Nestor was with him. To him, therefore, Athene went. Nestor's son she found overcome with slumber, but Telemachus could not sleep for thoughts of his father. And Athene stood near him, and spake:—

 [Footnote: counsel, advice.] [Footnote: A-the'-ne.]

When the great city of Troy had been taken, all the chiefs who had fought against it set sail for their homes. But there was wrath in heaven against them, so that they did not find a safe and happy return. For one was shipwrecked, and another was shamefully slain by his false wife in his palace, and others found all things at home troubled and changed, and were driven to seek new dwellings elsewhere; and some were driven far and wide about the world before they saw their native land again.

Telemachus in his ship came safe to the island of Ithaca, at the place that was nearest to the swineherd's house. There they beached the ship, and made it fast with anchors at the fore part and hawsers at the stern, and they landed, and made ready a meal.

When they had had enough of meat and drink, Telemachus said: “Take now the ship to the city. I will come thither in the evening, having first seen my farm; and then I will pay you your wages.”

Now the herdsman and Ulysses had kindled a fire, and were making ready breakfast.

When the morning came, Telemachus bade the heralds call the people to the assembly. So the heralds called them, and they came in haste. And when they were gathered together, he went his way to the place of meeting, holding in his hand a spear, and two dogs followed him. Then did Athene shed a marvellous grace upon him, so that all men wondered at him, as he sat him down in his father's place.

When the morning came, Telemachus said to the swineherd: “I go to the city, for my mother will not be satisfied till she see my very face. And do thou lead this stranger to the city, that he may there beg his bread from any that may have the mind to give.”

Thereupon Ulysses spake, saying, “I too, my friend, like not to be left here. It is better for a man to beg his bread in the town than in the fields. Go thou, and I will follow, so soon as the sun shall wax hot, for my garments are exceeding poor, and I fear lest the cold overcome me.”

At sunrise the ship came to Pylos, where Nestor dwelt. Now it so chanced that the people were offering a great sacrifice upon the shore to Poseidon. Nine companies there were, and in each company five hundred men, and for the five hundred there were nine bulls. And they had tasted of the inner parts and were burning the slices of flesh on the thigh-bones to the god, when Telemachus's company moored the ship and came forth from it to the shore. Athene spake to Telemachus, saying: “Now thou hast no need to be ashamed. Thou hast sailed across the sea to hear tidings of thy father.

After awhile there came a beggar from the city, huge of bulk, mighty to eat and drink, but his strength was not according to his size. The young men called him Irus [Footnote: I'-rus], because he was their messenger, after Iris [Footnote: I'-ris], the messenger of Zeus. He spake to Ulysses:—

“Give place, old man, lest I drag thee forth; the young men even now would have it so, but I think it shame to strike such an one as thee.”

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