After the fall of Troy, Agamemnon returned to Argos, where he was treacherously slain by Aegisthus, the corrupter of his wife; Menelaus reached Sparta in safety, laden with spoil and reunited to the beautiful Helen; Nestor resumed the rule of Pylos, but Ulysses remained absent from Ithaca, where his wife Penelope still grieved for him, though steadfast in her belief that he would return. One hundred and fourteen suitors, princes from Dulichium, Samos, Zacynthus, and Ithaca, determined to wed Penelope that they might obtain the rich possessions of Ulysses, spent their time in revelling in his halls and wasting his wealth, thinking in this way to force Penelope to wed some one of them.
Penelope, as rich in resources as was her crafty husband, announced to them that she would wed when she had woven a funeral garment for Laertes, the father of Ulysses. During the day she wove industriously, but at night she unravelled what she had done that day, so that to the expectant suitors the task seemed interminable. After four years her artifice was revealed to the suitors by one of her maids, and she was forced to find other excuses to postpone her marriage. In the mean time, her son Telemachus, now grown to manhood, disregarded by the suitors on account of his youth, and treated as a child by his mother, was forced to sit helpless in his halls, hearing the insults of the suitors and seeing his rich possessions wasted.
Having induced Jove to end the sufferings of Ulysses, Pallas caused Hermes to be dispatched to Calypso’s isle to release the hero, while she herself descended to Ithaca in the guise of Mentes. There she was received courteously by the youth, who sat unhappy among the revellers. At a table apart from the others, Telemachus told the inquiring stranger who they were who thus wasted his patrimony.
“Something must needs be done speedily,” said Mentes, “and I shall tell thee how to thrust them from thy palace gates. Take a ship and go to Pylos to inquire of the aged and wise Nestor what he knows of thy father’s fate. Thence go to Menelaus, in Sparta; he was the last of all the mailed Greeks to return home. If thou hear encouraging tidings, wait patiently for a year. At the end of that time, if thy father come not, celebrate his funeral rites, let thy mother wed again, and take immediate steps for the destruction of the suitor band. Thou art no longer a child; the time has come for thee to assert thyself and be a man.”
Telemachus, long weary of inactivity, was pleased with this advice, and at once announced to the incredulous suitors his intention of going to learn the fate of his father. A boat was procured and provided with a crew by the aid of Pallas, and provisioned from the secret store-room guarded by the old and faithful servant Eurycleia. From among the treasures of Ulysses—garments, heaps of gold and brass, and old and delicate wines—Telemachus took sweet wine and meal to be conveyed to the ship at night, and instructing Eurycleia not to tell his mother of his absence until twelve days had passed, he departed as soon as sleep had overcome the suitors. Pallas, in the guise of Mentor, accompanied him.
His courage failed him, however, as they approached the shore of Pylos, where Nestor and his people were engaged in making a great sacrifice to Neptune. “How shall I approach the chief?” he asked. “Ill am I trained in courtly speech.”
But, encouraged by Pallas, he greeted the aged Nestor, and after he and his companion had assisted in the sacrifice and partaken of the banquet that followed, he revealed his name and asked for tidings of his, father, boldly and confidently, as befitted the son of Ulysses. The old king could tell him nothing, however. After Troy had fallen, a dissension had rent the camp, and part of the Greeks had remained with Agamemnon, part had sailed with Menelaus. Sailing with Menelaus, Nestor had parted with Diomed at Argos, and had sailed on to Pylos. Since his return he had heard of the death of Agamemnon, and of the more recent return of Menelaus, but had heard no tidings of Ulysses, who had remained with Agamemnon. To Menelaus he advised Telemachus to go, warning him, however, not to remain long away from Ithaca, leaving his home in the possession of rude and lawless men.
In a car provided by Nestor and driven by his son, Pisistratus, Telemachus reached Sparta after a day and a night’s rapid travel, and found Menelaus celebrating the nuptial feast of his daughter Hermione, betrothed at Troy to the son of Achilles, and his son Megapenthes, wedded to the daughter of Alector. The two young men were warmly welcomed, and were invited to partake of the banquet without being asked their names. After the feast they wondered at the splendor of the halls of gold, amber, and ivory, the polished baths, and the fleecy garments in which they had been arrayed; but Menelaus assured them that all his wealth was small compensation to him for the loss of the warriors who had fallen before Troy, and above all, of the great Ulysses, whose fate he knew not. Though Telemachus’s tears fell at his father’s name, Menelaus did not guess to whom he spoke, until Helen, entering from her perfumed chamber, saw the likeness between the stranger and the babe whom Ulysses had left when he went to Troy, and greeted their guest as Telemachus.
Then they sat in the splendid hall and talked of Troy,—Menelaus broken by his many toils, Helen beautiful as when she was rapt away by Paris, weaving with her golden distaff wound with violet wool, and the two young men, who said little, but listened to the wondrous tale of the wanderings of Menelaus. And they spoke of Ulysses: of the times when he had proved his prudence as well as his craft; of his entering Troy as a beggar and revealing the Achaian plots to Helen; of how he had prevented their breaking out of the wooden horse too soon. Then the king told of his interview with the Ancient of the Deep, in which he had learned the fate of his comrades; of Agamemnon’s death, and of the detention of Ulysses on Calypso’s isle, where he languished, weeping bitterly, because he had no means of escape.
This information gained, Telemachus was anxious to return home; but his host detained him until he and Helen had descended to their fragrant treasure-chamber and brought forth rich gifts,—a double cup of silver and gold wrought by Vulcan, a shining silver beaker, and an embroidered robe for his future bride.
Mercury, dispatched by Jove, descended to the distant isle of Calypso, and warned the bright-haired nymph, whom he found weaving in her charmed grotto, that she must let her mortal lover go or brave the wrath of the gods. The nymph, though loath to part with her lover, sought out the melancholy Ulysses, where he sat weeping beside the deep, and giving him tools, led him to the forest and showed him where to fell trees with which to construct a raft. His labor finished, she provided the hero with perfumed garments, a full store of provisions, and saw him set forth joyfully upon the unknown deep.
For seventeen days his journey was a prosperous one; but on the eighteenth day, just as the land of the Phæacians came in sight. Neptune returned from Ethiopia, and angry at what the gods had contrived to do in his absence, determined to make the hero suffer as much as possible before he attained the promised end of his troubles.
Soon a great storm arose and washed Ulysses from the raft. Clinging to its edge, buffeted here and there by the angry waves, he would have suffered death had not a kind sea nymph urged him to lay aside his heavy garments, leave the raft, and binding a veil that she gave him about his chest, swim to the land of the Phæacians. The coast was steep and rocky, but he found at last a little river, and swimming up it, landed, and fell asleep among some warm heaps of dried leaves.
The Phæacians were a people closely allied to the gods, to whom they were very dear. They had at one time been neighbors of the Cyclops, from whose rudeness they had suffered so much that they were compelled to seek a distant home. They were a civilized people, who had achieved great results as sailors, having remarkably swift and well-equipped ships.
To the Princess Nausicaa, beautiful as a goddess, Pallas appeared in a dream the night that Ulysses lay sleeping on the isle, warning her that since her wedding day was near at hand, when all would need fresh garments, it was fitting that she should ask her father’s permission to take the garments of the household to the river side to wash them.
Nausicaa’s father willingly granted his permission, and ordered the strong car in which to carry away the soiled garments. A hamper of food and a skin of wine were added by her mother, as the princess climbed into the chariot and drove towards the river, followed by her maids.
When the garments had been washed in the lavers hollowed out by the river side, and the lunch had been eaten, the maids joined in a game of ball. Joyous they laughed and frolicked, like Dian’s nymphs, until they roused the sleeper under the olive-trees on the hillside.
All save Nausicaa fled affrighted as he came forth to speak to them, covered with sea foam, his nakedness hidden only by a leafy branch woven round his waist; but she, strengthened by the goddess, heard his story, and provided him with clothing and materials for the bath. When he appeared, cleansed from the sea foam, and made more handsome by the art of Pallas, Nausicaa’s pity was changed to admiration, and she wished that she might have a husband like him.
Food and wine were set before the hero, and while he refreshed himself the dried clothes were folded and placed in the cart. As the princess prepared to go she advised the stranger to follow the party until they reached a grove outside the city, and to remain there until she had time to reach her father’s palace, lest some gossip should connect Nausicaa’s name with that of a stranger. She told him how to find her father’s palace, and instructed him to win the favor of her mother, that he might be received with honor and assisted on his homeward way.
Ulysses obeyed, and when he reached the city gates was met by Pallas, in the guise of a virgin with an urn. She answered his questions, directed him to the palace, and told him to throw himself first at the feet of Queen Arete, who was looked on by the people as if she were a goddess. Wrapped in a cloud by Pallas, the unseen Ulysses admired the spacious halls of Alcinoüs. Walls of brass supported blue steel cornices, golden doors guarded by gold and silver mastiffs opened into the vast hall, along which were ranged thrones covered with delicately woven mantles, for which the Phæacian women were famous.
Around the palace lay a spacious garden filled with pear, pomegranate, fig, and apple trees, that knew no change of season, but blossomed and bore fruit throughout the year. Perennially blooming plants scattered perfume through the garden kept fresh by water from two sparkling fountains.
As Ulysses knelt at the feet of Arete, the cloud enveloping him fell away, and all were astonished at the sight of the stranger imploring protection. Arete received Ulysses with favor, and Alcinoüs was so pleased with him that he offered him his daughter in marriage, if he was unmarried, a palace and riches if he would remain on the island, and a safe passage home if he desired to leave them. The king then invited the chiefs of the isle to a great banquet in honor of his guest. At this banquet Demodocus, the blind minstrel, sang so touchingly of the heroes of the Trojan war that Ulysses was moved to tears, a fact observed by the king alone. After the feast the guests displayed their strength in athletic games; and Ulysses, provoked by the taunts of the ill-bred Euryalus, cast a broader, heavier quoit than had yet been used far beyond the mark. The Phæacians were amazed, and the king confessed that his people were weak in athletic sports but excelled in the dance,—a statement to which Ulysses readily agreed when he saw the beautiful and graceful dance of the princes Laodamas and Halius to the music of Demodocus’s silver harp.
When the games were over, all the chiefs presented Ulysses with garments and with talents of gold, for the reception of which Arete gave a beautiful chest. As he corded up the chest, and stepped forth to the banquet, refreshed from the bath, Nausicaa, standing beside a pillar, bade him farewell.
“Remember, in thy native land, O stranger, that thou owest thy life to me.”
When they sat again in the banqueting hall, Ulysses besought Demodocus to sing again of the fall of Troy; but when the minstrel sang of the strategy of the wooden horse which wrought the downfall of Troy, the hero was again melted to tears,—and this time his host, unable to repress his curiosity, asked him to reveal his name and history.
“Thou hast spoken, O king, and I proceed to tell the story of my calamitous voyage from Troy; for I am Ulysses, widely known among men for my cunning devices. Our first stop was among the Ciconians, whose city we laid waste. Here, in spite of my warning, my men tarried to drink red wine until the Ciconians had had time to recruit their forces, and, attacking us, slew six men from each galley. When we who survived reached the land of the lotus-eaters, some of my men ate of the sweet plant, after which a man thinks never more of wife, or friends, or home; and it was with the utmost difficulty that we succeeded in dragging them to the ships.
“At the Cyclopean land I myself, with a few of my men, disembarked, and went up to seek the inhabitants and conciliate them with gifts of food and wine. The Cyclops were huge one-eyed giants who did not cultivate the land, had no government, and cared nought for the gods. The first cave to which we came was empty, and we went in to await the arrival of the owner, appeasing our appetites, meanwhile, with some of his cheeses. Presently he arrived, and after he had closed up the entrance of the cave with a huge stone, and had milked his goats, he questioned us as to who we were. Our story told, he seized two of my companions, dashed their heads against the rocks, and devoured them. The next morning, after devouring two others, he drove out his flocks, leaving us shut up in the huge cave. All that day I revolved plans for his destruction and our escape; and at last, drawing lots with my companions to determine who should assist me, I determined, with their aid, to bore out his great eye with a huge olive-wood stick that I found in the cave. We spent the day sharpening it and hardening it in the fire, and at night hid it under a heap of litter. Two more of my men made his evening meal, after which I plied him with the wine I had brought, until, softened by the liquor, he inquired my name, assuring me that as return for my gift, he would devour me last. My name, I told him, was Noman.
“As soon as he had fallen into a drunken slumber I put the stake to heat, and, strengthening the courage of my men, I drew it forth and plunged it into his eye. Steadily we spun it round until the monster, screaming with pain, drew it forth, crying to the other Cyclops to come to his aid. When they, from without, questioned who hurt him, he replied, ‘Noman destroyeth me by guile.’ ‘If it is “Noman,”‘ said they, departing, ‘it must be Jove. Then pray to Neptune.’
“During the night I tied together the rams, three and three with osier twigs, and instructed my comrades, as he drove them out, to cling under the middle one. I hid myself under the fleecy belly of a huge ram, the finest of the flock. He touched their backs as he drove them out, but he did not penetrate my cunning, and we all escaped. After we had driven the flock on board, however, and had pushed out our galley, I could not forbear a taunting shout, at which he hurled a huge fragment of rock after us, just missing our galley.
“With Aeolus, King of the Winds, we remained a month, reciting the events connected with the fall of Troy. So pleased was the king with my story, that on our departure he presented me with a bag tied up with a silver cord, which contained the adverse winds. One day, as I slumbered, my unhappy sailors, suspecting some treasure concealed therein, opened it, and we were immediately blown back to Aeolus’s isle, from which he, enraged at our folly, indignantly drove us.
“At the land of the Laestrygonians all our galleys were lost and our men devoured by the cannibal inhabitants, with the exception of my own ship, which by good fortune I had moored without the harbor. Overcome with grief, we rowed wearily along until we arrived at the land of Circe. With caution born of experience, we drew lots to see who should venture into the unknown isle. The lot fell to Eurylochus, who, with twenty-two brave men, went forward to the fair palace of Circe, around which fawned tamed mountain lions and wolves. Within sat the bright haired goddess, singing while she threw her shuttle through the beautiful web she was weaving.
“All the men entered the palace at her invitation but Eurylochus, who, suspecting some guile, remained without. He saw his comrades led within, seated upon thrones and banqueted; but no sooner was the feast over, than she touched them with her wand, and transformed them into swine that she drove scornfully to their cells.
“Eurylochus hastened back to our ships with the sorrowful tidings. As soon as grief had permitted him to tell the story, I flung my sword over my shoulders and hastened away to the palace. As I entered the valley, not far from the palace, I was met by a youth, none save the Argus-queller himself, who revealed to me Circe’s guile, and presented me with a plant, the moly, which would enable me to withstand her charms.
“The goddess received me kindly, seated me upon a throne, and invited me to feast with her. After the feast she struck me with her wand, as she had done my comrades, ordering me to go to my sty; but when I remained unchanged, she perceived that her guest was Ulysses, whose coming had long been foretold to her.
“Softened by her entreaties, I sheathed my sword, after having made her promise to release my friends and do us no further harm. Then the others were called from the ships, and we banqueted together.
“Time passed so happily on Circe’s isle that we lingered a whole year, until, roused by the words of my friends, I announced my intended departure, and was told by Circe that I must first go to the land of the dead to get instructions as to my future course from Tiresias. Provided with the proper sacrifices by Circe, we set sail for the land of the Cimmerians, on the confines of Oceanus. The sacrifices having been duly performed, the spirits appeared,—Elpenor, my yet unburied comrade, whose body lay on Circe’s isle, my own dead mother, and the Theban seer, Tiresias, with his golden wand. ‘Neptune is wroth with thee,’ he said, ‘but thou mayst yet return if thou and thy comrades leave undisturbed the cattle of the Sun. If thou do not, destruction awaits thee. If thou escape and return home it will be after long journeyings and much suffering, and there thou wilt slay the insolent suitor crew that destroy thy substance and wrong thy household.’ After Tiresias had spoken I lingered to speak with other spirits,—my mother, Ajax, Antiope, Agamemnon, Achilles, Patroclus, and Antilochus. Having conversed with all these, we set sail for Circe’s isle, and thence started again on our homeward voyage.
“Circe had instructed me to stop the ears of my men with wax as we approached the isle of the Sirens, and to have myself tied to the boat that I might not leap into the ocean to go to the beautiful maidens who sang so entrancingly. We therefore escaped without adding our bones to those on the isle of the Sirens, and came next to Scylla and Charybdis. Charybdis is a frightful whirlpool. The sailor who steers too far away in his anxiety to escape it, is seized by the six arms of the monster Scylla and lifted to her cavern to be devoured. We avoided Charybdis; but as we looked down into the abyss, pale with fear, six of my comrades were seized by Scylla and snatched up to her cave.
“As we neared the Island of the Sun I told my comrades again of the warning of Tiresias, and begged them to sail past without stopping. I was met, however, by the bitterest reproaches, and at last consented to a landing if they would bind themselves by a solemn oath not to touch the cattle of the Sun. They promised, but when adverse winds prolonged our stay and food became scarce, fools, madmen, they slew the herds, and in spite of the terrible omens, the meat lowing on the spits, the skins crawling, they feasted for six days. When, on the seventh, the tempest ceased and we sailed away, we went to our destruction. I alone was saved, clinging to the floating timbers for nine long days, until on the tenth I reached Calypso’s isle, Ogygia, where, out of love for me, the mighty goddess cherished me for seven years.”
The Phæacians were entranced by this recital, and in addition to their former gifts, heaped other treasures upon the “master of stratagems” that he might return home a wealthy man. The swift ship was filled with his treasures, and after the proper sacrifices and long farewells, the chieftain embarked. It was morn when the ship arrived in Ithaca, and Ulysses, worn out from his long labors, was still asleep. Stopping at the little port of Phorcys, where the steep shores stretch inward and a spreading olive-tree o’ershadows the grotto of the nymphs, the sailors lifted out Ulysses, laid him on the ground, and piling up his gifts under the olive-tree, set sail for Phæacia. But the angry Neptune smote the ship as it neared the town and changed it to a rock, thus fulfilling an ancient prophecy that Neptune would some day wreak his displeasure on the Phæacians for giving to every man who came to them safe escort home.
When Ulysses awoke he did not recognize the harbor, and thinking that he had been treated with deceit, he wept bitterly. Thus Pallas, in the guise of a young shepherd, found him, and showed him that it was indeed his own dear land. She helped him to conceal his treasures in the grotto, and told him that Telemachus was even now away on a voyage of inquiry concerning him, and his wife was weeping over his absence and the insolence of the suitors. But he must act with caution. To give him an opportunity to lay his plans for the destruction of these men without being recognized, she changed him to a beggar, wrinkled and old, and clad in ragged, soiled garments. Then directing him to the home of his old herdsman, she hastened to warn Telemachus to avoid the ship the suitors had stationed to destroy him on his way home.
The old Eumaeus was sitting in his lodge without whose hedge lay the many sties of swine that were his care. He greeted the beggar kindly, and spread food before him, lamenting all the while the absence of his noble master and the wickedness of the suitors. Ulysses told him that he was a wanderer who had heard of his master, and could speak surely of his return. Though Eumaeus regarded this as an idle speech spoken to gain food and clothing, he continued in his kindness to his guest.
To this lodge came Telemachus after the landing of his ship, that he might first hear from Eumaeus the news from the palace,—Telemachus, who had grown into sudden manliness from his experience among other men. He also was kind to the beggar, and heard his story. While he remained with the beggar, Eumaeus having gone to acquaint Penelope of her son’s return, Pallas appearing, touched the beggar with her golden wand, and Ulysses, with the presence of a god, stood before his awed and wondering son.
Long and passionate was their weeping as the father told the son of his sufferings, and the son told of the arrogance of the one hundred and fourteen suitors.
“There are we two with Pallas and her father Jove against them,” replied his father. “Thinkest thou we need to fear with two such allies?”
On the day after Telemachus’s return, Ulysses, accompanied by Eumaeus, visited the palace. No one recognized him except his old dog, Argus, long neglected and devoured by vermin, who, at the sound of his master’s voice, drew near, wagged his tail, and fell dead.
According to their carefully laid plans, Telemachus feigned not to know his father, but sent to the beggar some food. Ulysses asked the same of the suitors, but was repulsed with taunts and insults, Antinoüs, the most insolent, striking him with a footstool.
To Penelope, weaving in her chamber, was carried the story of the beggar at whom the abhorred Antinoüs had thrown a stool, and she sent for him to ask if he had tidings of Ulysses. He refused to go to her, however, until the suitors had withdrawn for the night; and as he sat among the revellers, he caught the first glimpse of his wife, as she came down among her maids, to reproach her son for exposing himself to danger among the suitors, and for allowing the beggar to be injured.
When darkness fell and the hall was deserted, Telemachus, with the assistance of his father, removed all the weapons from the walls. After Telemachus had retired to his chamber, Penelope came down, and sitting upon her ivory throne conversed with the beggar, questioning him about his story until he was driven to invent tales that seemed like truth, and asking about her husband while the tears ran down her fair cheeks. By a great effort Ulysses kept his tears from falling as he beheld his wife weeping over him; he assured her that her husband would soon return, but he would accept no clothing as a reward for his tidings. The aged Eurycleia, who was called forth to wash his feet, came near betraying her master when she recognized a scar made by a wild boar’s tusk, but he threatened her into silence. Soon after, Penelope and her maids withdrew, and left Ulysses to meditate vengeance through the night.
The next morning, when the suitors again sat in the banquet-hall, Penelope descended to them and declared that she had determined to give her hand to the one of the suitors who could draw the great bow of Ulysses and send the arrow through twelve rings set on stakes planted in the ground. Up to the polished treasure-chamber she went, and took down the great bow given to Ulysses by Iphitus. As she took it from its case her tears fell, but she dried them and carried it and the steel rings into the hall. Gladly Ulysses hailed this hour, for he knew the time had come when he should destroy the suitor band. That morn many omens had warned him, and he had revealed himself to his faithful men, Eumaeus, and Philoetius the master-herdsman, that they might assist him. Telemachus, though astonished at his mother’s decision, first took the bow; if he succeeded in bending it, his mother would not have to leave her home. He would have bent the bow at the fourth attempt had not his father’s glance warned him to yield it to the suitors.
Although the bow was rubbed and softened with oil, all failed in their attempts to draw it; and when the beggar asked to be allowed to try, their wrath burst forth. What shame would be theirs if the beggar succeeded in doing that in which they had failed! But Telemachus, who asserted his rights more day by day, insisted that the beggar should try to bend the bow, if he so desired. Sending his mother and her maids to their bower, he watched his father as he easily bent the mighty bow, snapped the cord with a sound at which the suitors grew pale, and sent the arrow through the rings. Then casting aside his rags, the supposed beggar sprang upon the threshold, and knowing that by his orders, Eumaeus, Philoetius, and Eurycleia had secured the portals so that escape was impossible, he sent his next shaft through the throat of Antinoüs. “Dogs! ye thought I never would return! Ye dreaded not the gods while ye devoured my substance and pursued my wife! Now vengeance is mine! Destruction awaits you all!”
Too late Eurymachus sprang up and besought the monarch to grant them their lives if they made good their waste and returned to their homes. Ulysses had brooded too long over his injuries; his wife and son had suffered too many years from their persecutions for him to think of mercy. Eurymachus fell by the next brass-tipped shaft, and for every arrow in the quiver a suitor lay dead until the quiver was empty. Then Telemachus, Philoetius, and Eumaeus, provided with weapons and armor, stood forth with Ulysses, and withstood the suitors until all were slain, save Medon the herald and Phemius the minstrel, for both of whom Telemachus pleaded, since they had been coerced by the others. Giving the destruction of the false serving-maids to his three assistants, Ulysses ordered the hall to be cleansed, and after greeting his faithful servants and weeping with them, sent Eurycleia up to the bower to tell Penelope that her master had at last arrived.
Penelope was too fearful of deceit to believe instantly that the beggar sitting beside the lofty column was her husband, though as she looked at him wonderingly, she sometimes fancied that she saw Ulysses, and again could not believe that it was he. So long was she silent that Telemachus reproached her for her hardness of heart; but Ulysses, better guessing the difficulty, ordered that all should take the bath and array themselves in fresh garments while the harper played gay melodies, that those passing should not guess the slaughter that had occurred, but should fancy that a wedding was being celebrated. When Ulysses again appeared, refreshed and handsomely attired, Penelope, still uncertain, determined to test his knowledge of her chamber. “Bear out the bed made by his own hands,” she commanded Eurycleia, “that he may rest for the night.”
“Who has dared move my bed?” cried Ulysses; “the couch framed upon the stump of an olive-tree, round which I built a stone chamber! I myself cunningly fitted it together, and adorned it with gold, silver, and ivory.”
Then Penelope, who knew that no one save herself, Ulysses, and one handmaiden had ever seen the interior of that chamber, fell on his neck and welcomed the wanderer home. “Pray, be not angry with me, my husband. Many times my heart has trembled lest some fraud be practised on me, and I should receive a stranger to my heart.”
Welcome as land to the shipwrecked mariner was Ulysses to Penelope. Both wept as he held her in his arms, and the rosy-fingered morn would have found them thus, weeping, with her fair, white arms encircling his neck, had not Pallas prolonged the night that he might relate to her the story of his wanderings. Then, happy in their reunion, the years of sorrow all forgotten, sleep overcame them. At dawn, bidding a brief farewell to his wife, Ulysses went forth to visit his father, and settle as best he might the strife which he knew would result from the slaughter of the suitors.
After Ulysses’ mother had died of grief at the prolonged absence of her son, Laertes passed his days wretchedly in a little habitation remote from the palace. There Ulysses found him and made himself known; and there he, Laertes, Telemachus, the aged Dolius, and his six sons faced the people who had been roused to battle by the speech of Eupeithes, whose son Antinoüs had been the first of the suitors to fall by the hand of Ulysses. Not heeding the warning of the herald Medon that the suitors had been slain justly, they attacked Ulysses and his handful of followers.
Eupeithes fell first by the spear of Laertes, and a great slaughter would have ensued, had not the combatants been silenced by the voice of Pallas, who commanded all strife to cease. Frightened by this divine command, the enemy fled; and Pallas, descending in the form of Mentor, plighted a covenant between them that Ulysses might live peacefully among them the remainder of his life.