The Odyssey eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 388 pages of information about The Odyssey.
fat; these he sprinkled with barley meal, and laid upon the embers; they cut the rest of the meat up small, put the pieces upon the spits and roasted them till they were done; when they had taken them off the spits they threw them on to the dresser in a heap.  The swineherd, who was a most equitable man, then stood up to give every one his share.  He made seven portions; one of these he set apart for Mercury the son of Maia and the nymphs, praying to them as he did so; the others he dealt out to the men man by man.  He gave Ulysses some slices cut lengthways down the loin as a mark of especial honour, and Ulysses was much pleased.  “I hope, Eumaeus,” said he, “that Jove will be as well disposed towards you as I am, for the respect you are showing to an outcast like myself.”

To this you answered, O swineherd Eumaeus, “Eat, my good fellow, and enjoy your supper, such as it is.  God grants this, and withholds that, just as he thinks right, for he can do whatever he chooses.”

As he spoke he cut off the first piece and offered it as a burnt sacrifice to the immortal gods; then he made them a drink-offering, put the cup in the hands of Ulysses, and sat down to his own portion.  Mesaulius brought them their bread; the swineherd had brought this man on his own account from among the Taphians during his master’s absence, and had paid for him with his own money without saying anything either to his mistress or Laertes.  They then laid their hands upon the good things that were before them, and when they had had enough to eat and drink, Mesaulius took away what was left of the bread, and they all went to bed after having made a hearty supper.

Now the night came on stormy and very dark, for there was no moon.  It poured without ceasing, and the wind blew strong from the West, which is a wet quarter, so Ulysses thought he would see whether Eumaeus, in the excellent care he took of him, would take off his own cloak and give it him, or make one of his men give him one.  “Listen to me,” said he, “Eumaeus and the rest of you; when I have said a prayer I will tell you something.  It is the wine that makes me talk in this way; wine will make even a wise man fall to singing; it will make him chuckle and dance and say many a word that he had better leave unspoken; still, as I have begun, I will go on.  Would that I were still young and strong as when we got up an ambuscade before Troy.  Menelaus and Ulysses were the leaders, but I was in command also, for the other two would have it so.  When we had come up to the wall of the city we crouched down beneath our armour and lay there under cover of the reeds and thick brushwood that grew about the swamp.  It came on to freeze with a North wind blowing; the snow fell small and fine like hoar frost, and our shields were coated thick with rime.  The others had all got cloaks and shirts, and slept comfortably enough with their shields about their shoulders, but I had carelessly left my cloak behind me, not thinking that I should be too cold, and had gone off in nothing but my shirt and shield.  When the night was two-thirds through and the stars had shifted their places, I nudged Ulysses who was close to me with my elbow, and he at once gave me his ear.

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The Odyssey from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.