The Odyssey eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 388 pages of information about The Odyssey.

While he was thus in two minds a wave caught him and took him with such force against the rocks that he would have been smashed and torn to pieces if Minerva had not shown him what to do.  He caught hold of the rock with both hands and clung to it groaning with pain till the wave retired, so he was saved that time; but presently the wave came on again and carried him back with it far into the sea—­tearing his hands as the suckers of a polypus are torn when some one plucks it from its bed, and the stones come up along with it—­even so did the rocks tear the skin from his strong hands, and then the wave drew him deep down under the water.

Here poor Ulysses would have certainly perished even in spite of his own destiny, if Minerva had not helped him to keep his wits about him.  He swam seaward again, beyond reach of the surf that was beating against the land, and at the same time he kept looking towards the shore to see if he could find some haven, or a spit that should take the waves aslant.  By and by, as he swam on, he came to the mouth of a river, and here he thought would be the best place, for there were no rocks, and it afforded shelter from the wind.  He felt that there was a current, so he prayed inwardly and said: 

“Hear me, O King, whoever you may be, and save me from the anger of the sea-god Neptune, for I approach you prayerfully.  Any one who has lost his way has at all times a claim even upon the gods, wherefore in my distress I draw near to your stream, and cling to the knees of your riverhood.  Have mercy upon me, O king, for I declare myself your suppliant.”

Then the god staid his stream and stilled the waves, making all calm before him, and bringing him safely into the mouth of the river.  Here at last Ulysses’ knees and strong hands failed him, for the sea had completely broken him.  His body was all swollen, and his mouth and nostrils ran down like a river with sea-water, so that he could neither breathe nor speak, and lay swooning from sheer exhaustion; presently, when he had got his breath and came to himself again, he took off the scarf that Ino had given him and threw it back into the salt {54} stream of the river, whereon Ino received it into her hands from the wave that bore it towards her.  Then he left the river, laid himself down among the rushes, and kissed the bounteous earth.

“Alas,” he cried to himself in his dismay, “what ever will become of me, and how is it all to end?  If I stay here upon the river bed through the long watches of the night, I am so exhausted that the bitter cold and damp may make an end of me—­for towards sunrise there will be a keen wind blowing from off the river.  If, on the other hand, I climb the hill side, find shelter in the woods, and sleep in some thicket, I may escape the cold and have a good night’s rest, but some savage beast may take advantage of me and devour me.”

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The Odyssey from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.