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On this page: Odysseus (continued)

ODYSSEUS.

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lower world on the farther bank of Oceanus, and there question the shade of the seer Tiresias concerning his return. (See hades, realm or.) Prom the latter he learns that it is the malice of Poseidon that prevents his return, but that nevertheless he will now attain his object if his comrades spare the cattle of HelWs on the island of Thrina-cia; otherwise it will only be after a long time, deprived of all his comrades and on a foreign ship, that he will reach his home. Odysseus then returns to the isle of Circe and sets out on his homeward voyage, sup­plied by her with valuable directions and a favouring wind. Passing the isles of the Sirens (q.v.) and sailing through Scylla and Chdrybdis (q.v.), he reaches the island of Thrinacla, where he is compelled to land by his comrades. They are there detained for a month by contrary winds; at length his comrades, overcome by hunger, in spite of the oath they have sworn to him, slaughter, during his absence, the finest of the cattle of Helios. Scarcely are they once more at sea, when a terrible storm breaks forth, and Zeus splits the ship in twain with a flash of lightning, as a penalty for the offence. All perish except Odysseus, who clings to the mast and keel, and is carried back by the waves to Scylla and Charybdis, and after nine days reaches the island of Ogygla, the abode of the nymph Cdlypso, daughter of Atlas. For seven years he dwells here with the nymph, who promises him immortality and eternal youth, if he will consent to remain with her and be her huaband. But the yearning for his wife and home make him proof against her snares. All the day long he sits on the shore gazing through his tears across the broad sea ; fain would he catch a glimpse, were it only of the rising smoke of his home, and thereafter die. So his protectress, Athene, during Poseidon's absence, pre­vails on Zeus in an assembly of the gods to decree his return, and to send Hermes to order Calypso to release him. Borne on a raft of his own building, he comes in eighteen days near to Schgrla, the island of the Phseacians, when Poseidon catches sight of him and shatters his raft in pieces. However, with the aid of the veil of Ino Lenc6th6a (q.v.), he reaches land in safety [ and meets with Nauslcaa, the king's daughter, who conducts him into the Pliaeacian city before her parents Alclndus (q.v,) and Arete. He receives the most hospitable treatment, and is then brought loaded with presents by the Phfeacians on !

board one of their marvellous vessels to his country, which he reaches after twenty years' absence, while asleep. He arrives just in time to ward off the disaster that is threatening his house. After his mother Anticlea had died of grief for her son, and the old Laertes had retired to his country estate in mourning, more than a hundred noble youths of Ithaca and the surrounding isles had appeared as suitors for the hand of the fair and chaste Penelfipi, had persecuted Telemachus, who was now growing up to manhood, and were wasting the substance of the absent Odysseus. Penelope had de­manded a respite from making her decision until she had finished weaving a shroud in­tended for her father-in-law, and every night

(2) * PENKI.OPB. {Ant. D«nfcm. I 3, p. 17.)

unravelled the work of the day. In the fourth year one of her attendants betrayed the secret; she had to complete the garment, and when urged to make her decision pro­mised to choose the man who should win in a shooting match with Odysseus' bow, hoping that none of the wooers would be able even so much as to bend it. Just before the day of trial, Odysseus lands on the island dis­guised by Athene as a beggar. He betakes himself to the honest swineherd Eumoewi, one of the few retainers who have remained true to him, who receives his master, whom he fails to recognise, in a hospitable manner. To the same spot Athene brings Telemachus, who has returned in safety, in spite of the plots of the suitors, from a journey to

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