Odyssey (Homer)

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So he spoke, and in them all aroused the desire of lament. Argive Helen wept, the daughter of Zeus, [185] Telemachus wept, and Menelaus, son of Atreus, nor could the son of Nestor keep his eyes tearless. For he thought in his heart of peerless Antilochus, whom the glorious son of the bright Dawn had slain. Thinking of him, he spoke winged words: [190] “Son of Atreus, old Nestor used ever to say that thou wast wise above all men, whenever we made mention of thee in his halls and questioned one another. And now, if it may in any wise be, hearken to me, for I take no joy in weeping at supper time,2—and moreover [195] early dawn will soon be here.3 I count it indeed no blame to weep for any mortal who has died and met his fate. Yea, this is the only due we pay to miserable mortals, to cut the hair and let a tear fall from the cheeks. For a brother of mine, too, is dead, nowise the meanest [200] of the Argives, and thou mayest well have known him. As for me, I never met him nor saw him; but men say that Antilochus was above all others pre-eminent in speed of foot and as a warrior.” Then fair-haired Menelaus answered him and said: “My friend, truly thou hast said all that a wise man [205] might say or do, even one that was older than thou; for from such a father art thou sprung, wherefore thou dost even speak wisely. Easily known is the seed of that man for whom the son of Cronos spins the thread of good fortune at marriage and at birth, even as now he has granted to Nestor throughout all his days continually that [210] he should himself reach a sleek old age in his halls, and that his sons in their turn should be wise and most valiant with the spear. But we will cease the weeping which but now was made, and let us once more think of our supper, and let them pour water over our hands. Tales there will be in the morning also [215] for Telemachus and me to tell to one another to the full.” So he spoke, and Asphalion poured water over their hands, the busy squire of glorious Menelaus. And they put forth their hands to the good cheer lying ready before them.

Then Helen, daughter of Zeus, took other counsel. [220] Straightway she cast into the wine of which they were drinking a drug to quiet all pain and strife, and bring forgetfulness of every ill. Whoso should drink this down, when it is mingled in the bowl, would not in the course of that day let a tear fall down over his cheeks, [225] no, not though his mother and father should lie there dead, or though before his face men should slay with the sword his brother or dear son, and his own eyes beheld it. Such cunning drugs had the daughter of Zeus, drugs of healing, which Polydamna, the wife of Thon, had given her, a woman of Egypt, for there the earth, the giver of grain, bears greatest store [230] of drugs, many that are healing when mixed, and many that are baneful; there every man is a physician, wise above human kind; for they are of the race of Paeeon. Now when she had cast in the drug, and had bidden pour forth the wine, again she made answer, and said: [235] “Menelaus, son of Atreus, fostered of Zeus, and ye that are here, sons of noble men—though now to one and now to another Zeus gives good and ill, for he can do all things,—now verily sit ye in the halls and feast, and take ye joy in telling tales, for I will tell what fitteth the time. [240] All things I cannot tell or recount, even all the labours of Odysseus of the steadfast heart; but what a thing was this which that mighty man wrought and endured in the land of the Trojans, where you Achaens suffered woes! Marring his own body with cruel blows, [245] and flinging a wretched garment about his shoulders, in the fashion of a slave he entered the broad-wayed city of the foe, and he hid himself under the likeness of another, a beggar, he who was in no wise such an one at the ships of the Achaeans. In this likeness he entered the city of the Trojans, and all of them were but as babes.1 [250] I alone recognized him in this disguise, and questioned him, but he in his cunning sought to avoid me. Howbeit when I was bathing him and anointing him with oil, and had put on him raiment, and sworn a mighty oath not to make him known among the Trojans as Odysseus [255] before that he reached the swift ships and the huts, then at length he told me all the purpose of the Achaeans. And when he had slain many of the Trojans with the long sword, he returned to the company of the Argives and brought back plentiful tidings. Then the other Trojan women wailed aloud, but my soul [260] was glad, for already my heart was turned to go back to my home, and I groaned for the blindness that Aphrodite gave me, when she led me thither from my dear native land, forsaking my child and my bridal chamber, and my husband, a man who lacked nothing, whether in wisdom or in comeliness.

pp. 5-6, of Homer. The Odyssey with an English Translation by A.T. Murray, PH.D. (1919)

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