When the dawn came the ship was near to the Island of Ithaka. The mariners drove to a harbour near which there was a great cave. They ran the ship ashore and lifted out Odysseus, wrapped in the sheet and the rugs, and still sleeping. They left him on the sandy shore of his own land. Then they took the gifts which the King and Queen, the Princes, Captains and Councillors of the Phaeacians had given him, and they set them by an olive tree, a little apart from the road, so that no wandering person might come upon them before Odysseus had awakened. Then they went back to their ship and departed from Ithaka for their own land.
Odysseus awakened on the beach of his own land. A mist lay over all, and he did not know what land he had come to. He thought that the Phaeacians had left him forsaken on a strange shore. As he looked around him in his bewilderment he saw one who was like a King’s son approaching.
Now the one who came near him was not a young man, but the goddess, Pallas Athene, who had made herself look like a young man. Odysseus arose, and questioned her as to the land he had come to. The goddess answered him and said, ’This is Ithaka, a land good for goats and cattle, a land of woods and wells,’
Even as she spoke she changed from the semblance of a young man and was seen by Odysseus as a woman tall and fair. ’Dost thou not know me, Pallas Athene, the daughter of Zeus, who has always helped thee?’ the goddess said. ’I would have been more often by thy side, only I did not want to go openly against my brother, Poseidon, the god of the sea, whose son, Polyphemus, thou didst blind.’
As the goddess spoke the mist that lay on the land scattered and Odysseus saw that he was indeed in Ithaka, his own country—he knew the harbour and the cave, and the hill Neriton all covered with its forest. And knowing them he knelt down on the ground and kissed the earth of his country.
Then the goddess helped him to lay his goods within the cave—the gold and the bronze and the woven raiment that the Phaeacians had given him. She made him sit beside her under the olive tree while she told him of the things that were happening in his house.
‘There is trouble in thy halls, Odysseus,’ she said, ’and it would be well for thee not to make thyself known for a time. Harden thy heart, that thou mayest endure for a while longer ill treatment at the hands of men.’ She told him about the wooers of his wife, who filled his halls all day, and wasted his substance, and who would slay him, lest he should punish them for their insolence. ’So that the doom of Agamemnon shall not befall thee—thy slaying within thine own halls—I will change thine appearance that no man shall know thee,’ the goddess said.
Then she made a change in his appearance that would have been evil but that it was to last for a while only. She made his skin wither, and she dimmed his shining eyes. She made his yellow hair grey and scanty. Then she changed his raiment to a beggar’s wrap, torn and stained with smoke. Over his shoulder she cast the hide of a deer, and she put into his hands a beggar’s staff, with a tattered bag and a cord to hang it by. And when she had made this change in his appearance the goddess left Odysseus and went from Ithaka.