The Odyssey eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 428 pages of information about The Odyssey.
horn bring a true issue, whosoever of mortals beholds them.  Yet methinks my strange dream came not thence; of a truth that would be most welcome to me and to my son.  But another thing will I tell thee, and do thou ponder it in thy heart.  Lo, even now draws nigh the morn of evil name, that is to sever me from the house of Odysseus, for now I am about to ordain for a trial those axes that he would set up in a row in his halls, like stays of oak in ship-building, twelve in all, and he would stand far apart and shoot his arrow through them all.  And now I will offer this contest to the wooers; whoso shall most easily string the bow in his hands, and shoot through all twelve axes, with him will I go and forsake this house, this house of my wedlock, so fair and filled with all livelihood, which methinks I shall yet remember, aye, in a dream.’

Then Odysseus of many counsels answered her and said:  ’Wife revered of Odysseus son of Laertes, no longer delay this contest in thy halls; for, lo, Odysseus of many counsels will be here, before these men, for all their handling of this polished bow, shall have strung it, and shot the arrow through the iron.’

Then the wise Penelope answered him:  ’Stranger, if only thou wert willing still to sit beside me in the halls and to delight me, not upon my eyelids would sleep be shed.  But men may in no wise abide sleepless ever, for the immortals have made a time for all things for mortals on the grain-giving earth.  Howbeit I will go aloft to my upper chamber, and lay me on my bed, the place of my groanings, that is ever watered by my tears, since the day that Odysseus went to see that evil Ilios, never to be named.  There will I lay me down, but do thou lie in this house; either strew thee somewhat on the floor, or let them lay bedding for thee.’

Therewith she ascended to her shining upper chamber, not alone, for with her likewise went her handmaids.  So she went aloft to her upper chamber with the women her handmaids, and there was bewailing Odysseus, her dear lord, till grey-eyed Athene cast sweet sleep upon her eyelids.

Book XX

  Pallas and Odysseus consult of the killing of the wooers.

But the goodly Odysseus laid him down to sleep in the vestibule of the house.  He spread an undressed bull’s hide on the ground and above it many fleeces of sheep, that the Achaeans were wont to slay in sacrifice, and Eurynome threw a mantle over him where he lay.  There Odysseus lay wakeful, with evil thoughts against the wooers in his heart.  And the women came forth from their chamber, that aforetime were wont to lie with the wooers, making laughter and mirth among themselves.  Then the heart of Odysseus was stirred within his breast, and much he communed with his mind and soul, whether he should leap forth upon them and deal death to each, or suffer them to lie with the proud wooers, now for the last and latest time.  And his heart growled sullenly within him.  And even as a bitch stands over her tender whelps growling, when she spies a man she knows not, and she is eager to assail him, so growled his heart within him in his wrath at their evil deeds.  Then he smote upon his breast and rebuked his own heart, saying: 

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The Odyssey from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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