The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.


bodies of the sheep which the Cyclops let out of his cave ; and Odysseus, with a part of the flock, reached his ship. The Cyclops implored his father Poseidon to take vengeance upon Odysseus, and henceforth the god of the sea pursued the wan­dering king with implacable enmity (Od. i. 68, &c. ix. 17'2—542). Others represent Poseidon as angry with Odysseus on account of the death of Palamedes (Philostr. Her. ii. 20 ; comp. pala-medes). On his further voyage he arrived at the island of Aeolus, probably in the south of Sicily, where he stayed one month, and is said to have been in love with Polymela, the daughter of Aeolus (Parthen. EroL 2). On his departure Aeolus pro­vided him with a bag of winds, which were to carry him home, but his companions, without Odysseus1 knowing it, opened the bag, and the winds escaped, whereupon the ships were driven back to the island of Aeolus, who was indignant and refused all further assistance (Od. x. i. &c.). After a voyage of six days he arrived at Telepylos, the city of Lamus, in which Antiphates ruled over the Laestrygones, a sort of cannibals. This place must probably be sought somewhere in the north of Sicily. Odysseus escaped from them with only one ship (x. 80, &c.), and his fate now carried him to a western island, Aeaea, inhabited by the sorceress Circe. A part of his people was sent to explore the island, but they were changed by Circe into swine. Eurylochus alone escaped, and brought the sad news to Odysseus, who, when he was hastening to the assistance of his friends, was instructed by Hermes by what means he could resist the magic powers of Circe. He succeeded in liberating his companions, who were again changed into men, and were most hospitably treated by the sorceress. When at length Odysseus begged for leave to de­part, Circe desired him to descend into Hades and to consult the seer Teiresias (x. 135, &c.). He now sailed westward right across the river Oceanus, and having landed on the other side in the country of the Cimmerians, where Helios does not shine, he entered Hades, and consulted Teiresias about the manner in which he might reach his native island. Teiresias informed him of the danger and difficulties arising from the anger of Poseidon, but gave him hope that all would yet turn out well, if Odysseus and his companions would leave the herds of Helios in Thrinacia uninjured (Od. xi.). Odys­seus now returned to Aeaea, where Circe again treated the strangers kindly, told them of the dangers that yet awaited them, and of the means of escaping (xii. 1, &c.). The wind which she sent with them carried them to the island of the Seirens, somewhere near the west coast of Italy. The Seirens sat on the shore, and with their sweet voices attracted all that passed by, and then de­stroyed them. Odysseus, in order to escape the danger, filled the ears of his companions with wax, and fastened himself to the mast of his ship, until he was out of the reach of the Seirens' song (xii. 39, &c. 166, &c.). Hereupon his ship came be­tween Scylla and Charybdis, two rocks between Thrinacia and Italy. As the ship passed between them, Scylla, the monster inhabiting the rock of the same name, carried off and devoured six of the companions of Odysseus (xii. 73, &c. 235, &c.). From thence he came to Thrinacia, the island of Helios, who there kept his sacred herds of oxen. Odysseus, mindful of the advice of Teiresias and Circe, wanted to pass by, but his companions com-


pelled him to land. He made then, swear not to touch any of the cattle ; but as they were detained in the island by storms, and as they were hungry, they killed the finest of the oxen while Odysseus was asleep. After some days the storm abated, arid they sailed away, but soon another storm came on, and their ship was destroyed by Zeus with a flash of lightning. All were drowned with the ex­ception of Odysseus, who saved himself by means of the mast and planks, and was driven by the wind again towards Scylla and Charybdis. But he skilfully avoided the danger, and after ten days he reached the woody island of Ogygia, inhabited by the nymph Caly'pso (xii. 127, &c. 260, &c.). She received him with kindness, and desired him to marry her, promising immortality and eternal youth, if he would consent, and forget Ithaca. But he could not overcome his longing after his own home (i. 51, 58, iv. 82, &c. 555, &c. vii. 244, &c. ix. 28, 34). Athena, who had always been the protectress of Odysseus, induced Zeus to promise that Odysseus, notwithstanding the anger of Po­seidon, should one day return to his native island, and take vengeance on the suitors of Penelope (i. 48, &c. v. 23, xiii. 131, comp. xiii. 300, &c.). Hermes carried to Calypso the command of Zeus to dismiss Odysseus. The nymph obeyed, and taught him how to build a raft, on which, after a stay of eight years with her, he left the island (v. 140, &c. 234, 263). In eighteen days he came in sight of Scheria, the island of the Phaeacians, when Poseidon, who perceived him, sent a storm, which cast him off the raft. On the advice of Leucothea, and with her and Athena's assistance, he reached Scheria by dint of swimming (v. 278, &c. 445, vi. 170). The exhausted hero slept on the shore, until he was awoke by the voices of maidens. He found Nausicaa, the daughter of king Alcinous and Arete ; she gave him clothing and allowed him to follow her to the town, where he was kindly received by her parents. He was honoured with feasts and contests, and the minstrel Demodocus sang of the fall of Troy, which moved Odysseus to tears, and being questioned about the cause of his emotion, he related his whole history. At length he was honoured with presents and sent home in a ship.

One night as he had fallen asleep in his ship, it reached the coast of Ithaca ; the Phaeacians who had accompanied him, carried him and his presents on shore, and left him. He had now been away from Ithaca for twenty years, and when he awoke he did not recognise his native land, for Athena, that he might not be recognised, had enveloped him in a cloud. As he was lamenting his fate the goddess informed him where he was, concealed his presents, and advised him how to take vengeance upon the enemies of his house. During his absence his father Laertes, bowed down by grief and old age, had withdrawn into the country, his mother Anticleia had died of sorrow, his son Telemachus had grown up to manhood, and his wife Penelope had rejected all the offers that had been made to her by the importunate suitors from the neigh­bouring islands (Od. xi. 180, £c. xiii. 336, &e. xv. 355, &c. xvi. 108, &c.). During the last three years of Odysseus' absence more than a hundred nobles of Ithaca, Same, Dulichium, and Zacynthus had been suing for the hand of Penelope, and in their visits to her house had treated all that it contained as if it had been their own (i. 246,

About | First



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of