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On this page: Odysseus (continued)

ODYSSEUS.

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furrow, he betrayed himself and had to accompany them to war. He led the men of Ithaca and the surrounding isles to Troy in twelve vessels.- In contrast to the later legend, which represents him as a cowardly, deceitful and intriguing personage, he always appears in Homer among the noblest and most respected of the heroes, and, on account of his good qualities, he is the de­clared favourite of Athene. He combines in his person courage and determined persever­ance with prudence, ingenuity, cunning and eloquence. Accordingly he is employed by preference as a negotiator and a spy. Thus, after the disembarkation, he goes with Menelaus into the enemy's city to demand the surrender of Helen. Again, he is among those who are despatched by the Greeks to reconcile with Agamemnon the enraged Achilles. With Diomedes, who delights in his company, he captures the spy Dolon and surprises Rhesus; with the same hero he is said by later legend to have stolen the Palladium from Troy. When Agamemnon faint-heartedly thinks of flight, he opposes this idea with the utmost decision. Everywhere he avails himself of the right time and the right place, and, where courage and cunning are needed, is ever the foremost. After Achilles' death, in the contest with Ajax, the sou of Telamon, he receives the hero's arms as a recognition of his services, and by his ingenuity brings about the fall of Troy. Shortly before it, he steals into the city in the garb of a beggar, in order to reconnoitre everything there; he then climbs with the others into the wooden horse, and contrives to control the impatient and the timid alike until the decisive moment.

His adventures during the return from Troy and on his arrival in his native country form the contents of the Odyssey of Homer. Immediately after the departure Odysseus is driven to the Thracian Ismarus, the city of the ClconSs, and, though he plunders them, loses in a surprise seventy-two of his companions. When he is now desirous of rounding the south-east point of the Peloponnesus, the promontory of Malea, he is caught by the storm and carried in nine days to the coast of North Africa, on to the land of the LotopMgi (Lotus-eaters) whence he has to drag his companions by force to prevent their forgetting their homes for love of the sweet lotus food. Thence the voyage passes into the legendary world of the Western sea, then little known to the Greeks. Odysseus comes first to the country of the CycJOpSs (q.v.), where, with

twelve of his comrades, he is shut up in a cavern by Polyphemus. The monster has already devoured half of Odysseus' companions before the latter intoxicates him (fig. 1), deprives him of his one eye, and by his cunning escapes with his comrades. From this time the anger of PBseidon, on whom Polyphemus calls for revenge, pursues him and keeps him far from his country. On the island of ^dlus, the Keeper of the Winds (q.v.), he finds hospitable entertainment, and receives on his departure a leathern bag in which are inclosed all the winds except the western. The latter would carry him in nine days to the coast of Ithaca, but, whilst Odysseus is taking rest, his comrades open the bag, which they imagine to contain

(1) * ODV6SEUS OFFERING WINE TO THB CYCLOPS. (Statuette in Vaticftn Museum, Rome.)

treasure, and the winds thus released carry them back to .ffiolus. He orders them off from his island, regarding them as enemies of the gods. On coming to Telepj'lus, the city of Lamus, king Antiphates and his LcestrygOnSs, cannibals of immense stature, shatter eleven of their vessels, and the twelfth is saved only by Odysseus' wari­ness. (See painting, fig. 5.) On the island of J3aea the sorceress CircS turns part of his crew into swine, but, with the help of Hermes, he compels her to restore them to their human shape and spends a whole year with her in pleasure and enjoyment. When his companions urge him to return home, Circe bids him first sail toward the farthest west, to the entrance into the

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