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Greek Literature

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.”

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.

And when the suitors had departed, Ulysses spake to Telemachus, saying: “Come now, let us hide away the arms that are in the hall. And if any of the suitors ask concerning them, thou shalt say, 'I have put them away out of the smoke, for they are not such as they were when Ulysses departed, for the breath of fire hath marred them. And for this cause also have I put them away, lest ye should quarrel and wound one another when ye are heated with wine; for the sight of iron tempteth a man to strike.' So shalt thou speak to the suitors.”

Now it chanced that Menelaus had made a great feast that day, for his daughter, the child of the fair Helen, was married to the son of Achilles, to whom she had been promised at Troy; and his son had also taken a wife. And the two wayfarers stayed their chariot at the door, and the steward spied them, and said to Menelaus:—

“Lo! here are two strangers who are like the children of kings. Shall we keep them here, or send them to another?”

Ulysses laid him down to sleep in the gallery of the hall. On a bull's hide he lay, and over him he put fleeces of sheep that had been slain for sacrifice and feast, and the dame that kept the house threw a mantle over him.

And he slept not, for he had many thoughts in his heart, but turned him from side to side, thinking how, being one against many, he might slay the suitors in his hall.

The next day Menelaus said to Telemachus: “For what end hast thou come hither to fair Lacedaemon?”

Then Telemachus said: “I have come to ask if thou canst tell me aught of my father. For certain suitors of my mother devour my goods, nor do I see any help. Tell me truly, therefore; knowest thou anything thyself about my father, or hast thou heard anything from another?”

And Menelaus answered:—

Then spake Ulysses among the suitors: “This labour has been accomplished. Let me try at yet another mark.”

And he aimed his arrow at Antinous. But the man was just raising a cup to his lips, thinking not of death, for who had thought that any man, though mightiest of mortals, would venture on such a deed, being one among many? Right through the neck passed the arrow-head, and the blood gushed from his nostrils, and he dropped the cup and spurned the table from him.

Again the gods sate in council on high Olympus, and Athene spake among them, saying:

“Now let no king be minded to do righteously, for see how there is no man that remembereth Ulysses, who was as a father to his people. And he lieth far off, fast bound in Calypso's isle, and hath no ship to take him to his own country. Also the suitors are set upon slaying his son, who is gone to Pylos and to Lacedaemon, that he may get tidings of his father.”

Eurycleia went to the chamber of her mistress, bearing the glad tidings. She made haste in her great joy, and her feet stumbled one over the other. And she stood by the head of Penelope, and spake, saying: “Awake, dear child, and see with thine eyes that which thou hast desired so long. For, indeed, Ulysses hath come back, and hath slain the men that devoured his substance.”

[Footnote: Nau-sic'-a-a.]

Meanwhile Athene went to the city of Phaeacians, to the palace of Alcinous [Footnote: Al-cin'-o-us.], their King. There she betook her to the chamber where slept Nausicaa, daughter of the King, a maiden fair as are the gods. The goddess stood above the maiden, in the likeness of a girl that was of equal age with her, and had found favour in her sight.

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