The Ancient Library
 

Scanned text contains errors.

12 ODYSSEUS.

have been called Nanus or Nannus. (Tzetz. ad Lycophr. 1244.)

When Odysseus was a young man, he went to see his grandfather Autolycus near the foot of Mount Parnassus. There, while engaged in the chase, he was wounded by a boar in his knee, by the scar of which he was subsequently recognized by Eurycleia, Laden with rich presents he re­turned from the palace of his grandfather to Ithaca. (Horn. Od. xlx. 413, &c.) Even at that age he is described as distinguished for his courage, his knowledge of navigation, his eloquence and skill as a negotiator; for,on one occasion, when the Mes-senians had carried off some sheep from Ithaca, Laertes sent him to Messene to demand repa­ration. He there met with Iphitus, who was seeking the horses stolen from him, and who gave him the famous bow of Eurytus. This bow Odysseus used only in Ithaca, regarding it as too great a treasure to be employed in the field, and it was so strong that none of the suitors was able to handle it. (Od. xxi. 14, &c.) On one occasion he went to the Thesprotian Ephyra, to fetch from Ilus, the son of Mermerus, poison for his arrows ; but as he could not get it there, he afterwards obtained it from Anchialus of Taphus. (Od. i. 259, &c.) Some accounts also state that he went to Sparta as one of the suitors of Helen, and he is said to have advised Tyndareus to make the suitors swear, that they would defend the chosen bridegroom against any one that should insult him on Helen's accouut. Tyndareus, to show him his gratitude, persuaded his brother Icarius to give Penelope in marriage to Odysseus; or, according to others, Odysseus gained her by conquering his competitors in the footrace. (Apollod. iii. 10. § 9 ; Paus. iii. 12. § 2.) But Homer mentions nothing of all this, and he states that Agamemnon, who visited him in Ithaca, prevailed upon him only with great difficulty to join the Greeks in their expedition against Troy. (Od. xxiv. 116, &c.) Other traditions relate that he was visited by Menelaus and Agamemnon, and that more espe­cially Palamedes induced him to join the Greeks. For when Palamedes came, it is said, Odysseus pretended to be mad : he yoked an ass and an ox to a plough, and began to sow salt. Palamedes, to try him, placed the infant Telemachus before the plough, whereupon the father could not con­tinue to play his part. He stopped the plough, and was obliged to undertake the fulfilment of the promise he had made when he was one of the suitors of Helen. (Tzetz. ad Lye. 818.) This oc­currence is said to have been the cause of his hatred of Palamedes. (Hygin. Fab. 95.) Being now himself gained for the undertaking, he con­trived to discover Achilles, who was concealed among the daughters of king Lycomedes, and without whom, according to a prophecy of Calchas, the expedition against Troy could not be under-token. (Apollod. iii. 13. § 8 ; comp. achilles.) Before, however, the Greeks set out against Troy, Odysseus, in conjunction with Menelaus (and Pulamedes, Diet. Cret. i. 4.),' went to Troy, where he was hospitably received, for the purpose of inducing the Trojans by amicable means to restore Helen and her treasures. (II. iii. 205, &c.)

When the Greeks were assembled in the port of Aulis, he joined them with twelve ships and men from Cephallene, Ithaca, Neriton, CrocjTleia, Za-cynthua, Samos, and the coast of Epeirus (//. ii.

ODYSSEUS.

303, 631, &c.). When Agamemnon was unwilling to sacrifice Iphigeneia to Artemis, and the Greeks were in great difficulty, Odysseus, feigning anger, threatened to return home, but went to Mycenae, and induced Clytaemnestra by various pretences to send Jphigenia to Aulis (Diet. Cret. i. 20 ; comp. Eurip. Iph. AuL 100, &c.). On his voyage to Troy he wrestled in Lesbos with Philomeleides, the king of the island, and conquered him (Od. iv. 342). According to others, Odysseus and Dio-medes slew him by a stratagem. During the siege of Troy he distinguished himself as a valiant and undaunted warrior (//. iv. 494, v. 677, vii. 168, xi. 396, 404, &c. xiv. 82), but more particularly as a cunning, prudent, and eloquent spy and negotiator, and many instances are related in which he was of the greatest service to the Greeks by these powers. Several distinguished Trojans fell by his hand. After the death of Achilles he contended for his armour with the Telamonian Ajax, and gained the prize (Od. xi. 545 ; Ov. Met. xiii. init.). He is said by some to have devised the stratagem of the wooden horse (Philostr. Her. x. 12), and he was one of the heroes that were concealed in its belly, and prevented them answering Helen, that they might not be discovered (Od. iv. 280, &c. viii. 494, xi. 525). When the horse was opened he and Menelaus were the first that jumped out and has­tened to the house of Deiphobus, where he con­quered in the fearful struggle (Od. viii. 517). He is also said to have taken part in carrying off the palladium. (Virg. Aen. ii. 164.)

But no part of his adventures is so celebrated in ancient story as his wanderings after the destruction of Troy, and his ultimate return to Ithaca, which form the subject of the Homeric poem called after him the Odyssey. After the taking of Troy one portion of the Greeks sailed away, and another with Agamemnon remained behind on the Trojan coast. Odysseus at first joined the former, but when he had sailed as far as Tenedos, he returned to Agamemnon (Od. iii. 163). Afterwards, how­ever, he determined to sail home, but was thrown by a storm upon the coast of Ismarus, a town of the Cicones, in Thrace, north of the island of Lemnos. He there ravaged and plundered the town, and as he was not able to induce his men to depart in time, the Cicones hastened towards the coast from the interior, and slew 72 of his com­panions (Od- ix. 39, &c.). From thence he was driven by a north wind towards Maleia and to the Lotophagi on the coast of Libya. Some of his companions were so much delighted with the taste of the lotus that they wanted to remain in the country, but Odysseus compelled them to embark again, and continued his voyage (Od. ix. 67, 84, 94, &c.). In one day he reached the goat-island, situated north of the country of the Lotophagi (Od. ix. 116). He there left behind eleven ships, and with one he sailed to the neighbouring island of the Cyclopes (the western coast of Sicily), where with twelve companions he entered the cave of the Cyclops Polyphemus, a son of Poseidon and Thoosa. This giant devoured one after another six of the companions of Odysseus, and kept the unfortunate Odysseus and the six others as prisoners in his cave. In order to save himself Odysseus contrived to make the monster drunk with wine, and then with a burning pole deprived him of his one eye. He now succeeded in making his escape with his friends, by concealing himself and them under the

Pages
About | First

10

11

12
letter/word  
volume
page #  
Search this site
Google


ancientlibrary.com
WWW
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of Isidore-of-Seville.com.