The goddess, grey-eyed Athene, encouraged him; the right words, she said, would come. So Telemachus went forward with his divine companion. Nestor was seated on the shore with his sons around him. And when they saw the two strangers approach, the sons of Nestor rose up to greet them. One, Peisistratus, took the hand of Telemachus and the hand of the goddess and led them both to where Nestor was.
A golden cup was put into the hand of each and wine was poured into the cups, and Nestor’s son, Peisistratus, asked Telemachus and the goddess to pray that the sacrifice they were making to Poseidon, the god of the sea, would bring good to them and to their people. Then the goddess Athene in the likeness of old Mentor held the cup in her hand and prayed:
’Hear me, Poseidon, shaker of the earth: First to Nestor and his sons grant renown. Then grant to the people of Pylos recompense for the sacrifice of oxen they have made. Grant, too, that Telemachus and I may return safely when what we have come in our swift ship to seek has been won.’
Telemachus prayed in the words of the goddess and then the sons of Nestor made them both sit on the fleeces that were spread on the shore. And dishes of meat were brought to them and cups of wine, and when they had eaten and drunk, the old King, Nestor, spoke to them.
‘Until they have partaken of food and drink, it is not courteous,’ he said, ’to ask of strangers who they are and whither they go. But now, my guests, I will ask of you what your land is, and what your quest, and what names you bear.’
Then Telemachus said: ’Nestor, renowned King, glory of the Greeks, we have come out of Ithaka and we seek tidings of my father, of Odysseus, who, long ago, fought by your side in the war of Troy. With you, men say, he sacked the great City of the Trojans. But no further story about him has been told. And I have come to your knees, O King, to beg you to give me tidings of him—whether he died and you saw his death, or whether you heard of his death from another. And if you should answer me, speak not, I pray you, in pity for me, but tell me all you know or have heard. Ah, if ever my father helped you in the land of the Trojans, by the memory of what help he gave, I pray you speak in truth to me, his son.’
Then said Nestor, the old King, ’Verily, my son, you bring sorrow to my mind. Ah, where are they who were with me in our war against the mighty City of Troy? Where is Aias and Achilles and Patroklos and my own dear son, Antilochos, who was so noble and so strong? And where is Agamemnon now? He returned to his own land, to be killed in his own hall by a most treacherous foeman. And now you ask me of Odysseus, the man who was dearer to me than any of the others—Odysseus, who was always of the one mind with me! Never did we two speak diversely in the assembly nor in the council.
’You say to me that you are the son of Odysseus! Surely you are. Amazement comes over me as I look on you and listen to you, for you look as he looked and you speak as he spoke. But I would have you speak further to me and tell me of your homeland and of how things fare in Ithaka.’