Translated by Samuel Butler
Revised by Soo-Young Kim, Kelly McCray, Gregory Nagy, and Timothy Power
 That man, tell me about him, O Muse, about that many-sided man who wandered far and wide after he had ransacked the famous town of Troy. Many cities did he visit, and many were the people with whose customs and thinking [noos] he was acquainted; many things he suffered at sea
 while seeking to save his own life [psukhē] and to achieve the safe homecoming [nostos] of his companions; but do what he might he could not save his men, for they perished through their own sheer recklessness in eating the cattle of the Sun-god Helios; so the god prevented them from ever reaching home. Tell me, as you have told those who came before me, about all these things,
 O daughter of Zeus, starting from whatsoever point you choose. So now all who escaped death in battle or by shipwreck had got safely home except Odysseus, and he, though he was longing for his return [nostos] to his wife and country, was detained by the bright goddess Kalypsō,
 who had got him into a large cave and wanted to marry him. But as years went by, there came a time when the gods settled that he should go back to Ithaca; even then, however, when he was among his own people, his trials [athloi] were not yet over; nevertheless all the gods had now begun to pity him
 except Poseidon, who still persecuted godlike Odysseus without ceasing and would not let him get home. Now Poseidon had gone off to the Ethiopians, who are at the world’s end, and lie in two halves, the one looking West and the other East. He had gone there
 to accept a hecatomb of sheep and oxen, and was enjoying himself at his festival; but the other gods met in the house of Olympian Zeus, and the father of gods and men spoke first. At that moment he was thinking of stately Aegisthus,
 who had been killed by Agamemnon’s far-famed son Orestes; so he said to the other gods: “See now, how men consider us gods responsible [aitioi] for what is after all nothing but their own folly.
 Look at Aegisthus; he must needs make love to Agamemnon’s wife unrighteously and then kill Agamemnon, though he knew it would be the death of him; for I sent Hermes, the mighty watcher, to warn him not to do either of these things,
 inasmuch as Orestes would be sure to take his revenge when he grew up and wanted to return home. Hermes told him this in all good will but he would not listen, and now he has paid for everything in full.” Then owl-vision Athena said,  “Father, son of Kronos, King of kings, it served Aegisthus right, and so it would any one else who does as he did; but Aegisthus is neither here nor there; it is for high-spirited Odysseus that my heart bleeds, when I think of
 his sufferings in that lonely sea-girt island, far away, poor man, from all his friends. It is an island covered with forest, in the very middle of the sea, and a goddess lives there, daughter of the magician Atlas, who looks after the bottom of the ocean, and carries the great columns that keep the sky and earth asunder.
 This daughter of Atlas has got hold of poor unhappy Odysseus, and keeps trying by every kind of blandishment to make him forget his home, so that he is tired of life, and thinks of nothing but how he may once more see the smoke of his own chimneys. You, sir,
 take no heed of this, and yet when Odysseus was before Troy did he not propitiate you with many a burnt sacrifice? Why then should you keep on being so angry with him?” And Zeus said, “My child, what are you talking about?
 How can I forget godlike Odysseus than whom there is no more capable man on earth [in regard to noos], nor more liberal in his offerings to the immortal gods that live in the sky? Bear in mind, however, that earth-encircler Poseidon is still furious with Odysseus for having blinded an eye of Polyphemus king of the Cyclopes.
 Polyphemus is son to Poseidon, shaker of the earth, by the nymph Thoösa, daughter to the sea-king Phorkys; therefore though he will not
 kill Odysseus outright, he torments him by preventing him from his homecoming [nostos]. Still, let us lay our heads together and see how we can help him to return; Poseidon will then be pacified, for if we are all of a mind he can hardly stand out against us.”
 And owl-vision Athena said, “Father, son of Kronos, King of kings, if, then, the gods now mean that Odysseus should get home, we should first send Hermes, the guide, the slayer of Argos
 to the Ogygian island to tell lovely-haired Kalypsō that we have made up our minds and that he is to have his homecoming [nostos]. In the meantime I will go to Ithaca, to put heart into Odysseus’ son Telemakhos; I will embolden him
 to call the flowing-haired Achaeans in assembly, and speak out to the suitors of his mother Penelope, who persist in eating up any number of his sheep and oxen; I will also conduct him to Sparta and to Pylos, to see if he can hear anything about the return [nostos] of his dear father –
 for this will give him genuine fame [kleos] throughout humankind.” So saying she bound on her glittering golden sandals, imperishable, with which she can fly like the wind over land or sea; she grasped the terrifying bronze-shod spear,
 so stout and sturdy and strong, wherewith she quells the ranks of heroes who have displeased her, and down she darted from the topmost summits of Olympus, and then, right away, she was in the district [dēmos] of Ithaca, at the gateway of Odysseus’ house,
 disguised as a visitor, Mentes, chief of the Taphians, and she held a bronze spear in her hand. There she found the lordly suitors seated on hides of the oxen which they had killed and eaten, and playing draughts in front of the house. Men-servants and pages were bustling about to wait upon them,
 some mixing wine with water in the mixing-bowls, some cleaning down the tables with wet sponges and laying them out again, and some cutting up great quantities of meat. Godlike Telemakhos saw her long before any one else did. He was sitting moodily among the suitors
 thinking about his brave father, and how he would send them fleeing out of the house, if he were to come to his own again and be honored as in days gone by. Thus brooding as he sat among them, he caught sight of Athena and went straight to the gate, for he was vexed
 that a stranger should be kept waiting for admittance. He took her right hand in his own, and bade her give him her spear. “Welcome,” said he, “to our house, and when you have partaken of food you shall tell us what you have come for.”
 He led the way as he spoke, and Athena followed him. When they were within he took her spear and set it in the spear-stand against a strong bearing-post along with the many other spears of his unhappy father, patient-hearted Odysseus
 and he conducted her to a richly decorated seat under which he threw a cloth of damask. There was a footstool also for her feet, and he set another seat near her for himself, away from the suitors, that she might not be annoyed while eating by their noise and insolence,
 and that he might ask her more freely about his father. A maid servant then brought them water in a beautiful golden ewer and poured it into a silver basin for them to wash their hands, and she drew a clean table beside them. An upper servant brought them bread,  and offered them many good things of what there was in the house, the carver fetched them plates of all manner of meats and set cups of gold by their side, and a man-servant brought them wine and poured it out for them. Then the suitors came in and
 took their places on the benches and seats. Right away men servants poured water over their hands, maids went round with the bread-baskets, pages filled the mixing-bowls with wine and water, and they laid their hands upon the good things that were before them.
 As soon as they had had enough to eat and drink they wanted music and dancing, which are the crowning embellishments of a banquet, so a servant brought a lyre to Phemios, whom they compelled perforce to sing to them.
 As soon as he touched his lyre and began to sing Telemakhos spoke low to Athena of the owl’s vision, with his head close to hers that no man might hear. “I hope, sir,” said he, “that you will not be offended with what I am going to say. Singing comes cheap to those who do not pay for it,
 and all this is done at the cost of one whose bones lie rotting in some wilderness or grinding to powder in the surf. If these men were to see my father come back to Ithaca they would pray for longer legs
 rather than a longer purse, for wealth would not serve them; but he, alas, has fallen on an ill fate, and even when people do sometimes say that he is coming, we no longer heed them; we shall never see him again. And now, sir, tell me and tell me true,
 who you are and where you come from. Tell me of your town and parents, what manner of ship you came in, how your crew brought you to Ithaca, and of what nation they declared themselves to be – for you cannot have come by land. Tell me also truly, for I want to know,
 are you a stranger to this house, or have you been here in my father’s time? In the old days we had many visitors for my father went about much himself.” And owl-vision Athena answered, “I will tell you truly and particularly all about it.
 I am Mentes, son of high-spirited Ankhialos, and I am King of the oar-loving Taphians. I have come here with my ship and crew, on a voyage to men of a foreign tongue being bound for Temesa with a cargo of iron, and I shall bring back copper.
 As for my ship, it lies over yonder off the open country away from the town, in the harbor Rheithron under the wooded mountain Neriton. Our fathers were friends before us, as the old hero Laertes will tell you, if you will go and ask him. They say, however, that he never comes to town
 now, and lives by himself in the country, faring hardly, with an old woman to look after him and get his dinner for him, when he comes in tired from pottering about his vineyard. They told me your father was at home again, and that was why I came,
 but it seems the gods are still keeping him back, for he is not dead yet not on the mainland. It is more likely he is on some sea-girt island in mid ocean, or a prisoner among savages who are detaining him against his will.
 I am no prophet [mantis], and know very little about omens, but I speak as it is borne in upon me from the sky, and assure you that he will not be away much longer; for he is a man of such resource that even though he were in chains of iron he would find some means
 of getting home again. But tell me, and tell me true, can Odysseus really have such a fine looking young man for a son? You are indeed wonderfully like him about the head and eyes, for we were close friends
 before he set sail for Troy where the flower of all the Argives went also. Since that time we have never either of us seen the other.”
 “My mother,” answered the spirited Telemakhos, “tells me I am son to Odysseus, but it is a wise child that knows his own father. Would that I were son to one who had grown old upon his own estates, for, since you ask me, there is no more ill-starred man under the sky than he  who they tell me is my father.” And owl-vision Athena said, “There is no fear of your lineage dying out yet, while Penelope has such a fine son as you are. But tell me, and tell me true,
 what is the meaning of all this feasting, and who are these people? What is it all about? Have you some banquet, or is there a wedding in the family – for no one seems to be bringing any provisions of his own? And the guests – how atrociously they are behaving; what riot they make over the whole house; it is enough to disgust any respectable person who comes near them.”
 “Sir,” said the spirited Telemakhos, “as regards your question, so long as my father was here it was well with us and with the house, but the gods in their displeasure have willed it otherwise,
 and have hidden him away more closely than mortal man was ever yet hidden. I could have borne it better even though he were dead, if he had fallen with his men in the district [dēmos] of Troy, or had died with friends around him when the days of his fighting were done; for then the Achaeans would have built a mound over his ashes,
 and I should myself have been heir to his renown [kleos]; but now the storm-winds have spirited him away we know not wither; he is gone without leaving so much as a trace behind him, and I inherit nothing but dismay. Nor does the matter end simply with grief for the loss of my father; the gods have laid sorrows upon me of yet another kind;
 for the chiefs from all our islands, Doulikhion, Samē, and the woodland island of Zakynthos, as also all the principal men of Ithaca itself, are eating up my house under the pretext of paying their court to my mother, who will neither point blank say that she will not marry, nor yet
 bring matters to an end; so they are making havoc of my estate, and before long will do so also with myself.” “Is that so?” exclaimed Athena, “Then you do indeed want absent Odysseus home again.
 Give him his helmet, shield, and a couple lances, and if he is the man he was when I first knew him in our house, drinking and making merry, he would soon lay his hands about these rascally suitors, were he to stand once more upon his own threshold. He was then coming from Ephyra,
 where he had been to beg poison for his arrows from Ilos, son of Mermeros. Ilos feared the ever- living gods and would not give him any, but my father let him have some, for he was very fond of him.
 If Odysseus is the man he then was these suitors will have a swift doom and a sorry wedding. But there! It rests with the gods to determine whether he is to return, and take his revenge in his own house or no; I would, however, urge you to set about trying
 to get rid of these suitors at once. Take my advice, call the Achaean heroes in assembly tomorrow – lay your case before them, and call the gods to bear you witness. Bid the suitors take themselves off, each to his own place,
 and if your mother’s mind is set on marrying again, let her go back to her father, who will find her a husband and provide her with all the marriage gifts that so dear a daughter may expect. As for yourself, let me prevail upon you
 to take the best ship you can get, with a crew of twenty men, and go in quest of your father who has so long been missing. Some one may tell you something, or (and people often hear things in this way) some message [kleos] sent from the gods may direct you. First go to Pylos and ask great Nestor;
 thence go on to Sparta and visit fair-haired Menelaos, for he got home last of all the bronze- armored Achaeans; if you hear that your father is alive and about to achieve his homecoming [nostos], you can put up with the waste these suitors will make for yet another twelve months. If on the other hand you hear of his death,
 come home at once, celebrate his funeral rites with all due pomp, build a grave marker [sēma] to his memory, and make your mother marry again. Then, having done all this, think it well over in your mind how, by fair means or foul,
 you may kill these suitors in your own house. You are too old to plead infancy any longer; have you not heard how people are singing Orestes’ praises [kleos] for having killed  his father’s murderer treacherous Aegisthus? You are a fine, smart looking young man; show your mettle, then, and make yourself a name in story. Now, however, I must go back to my ship and to my crew, who will be impatient if I keep them waiting longer;
 think the matter over for yourself, and remember what I have said to you.” “Sir,” answered the spirited Telemakhos, “it has been very kind of you to talk to me in this way, as though I were your own son, and I will do all you tell me; I know you want to be getting on with your voyage, but stay a little longer
 till you have taken a bath and refreshed yourself. I will then give you a present, and you shall go on your way rejoicing; I will give you one of great beauty and value – a keepsake such as only dear friends give to one another.” Owl-vision Athena answered,
 “Do not try to keep me, for I would be on my way at once. As for any present you may be disposed to make me, keep it till I come again, and I will take it home with me. You shall give me a very good one, and I will give you one of no less value in return.” With these words she flew away
 like a bird into the air, but she had given Telemakhos courage, and had made him think more than ever about his father. He felt the change, wondered at it, and knew that the stranger had been a god, so he went straight to where the suitors were sitting.
 Phemios was still singing, and his hearers sat rapt in silence as he told the baneful tale of the homecoming [nostos] from Troy, and the ills Athena had laid upon the Achaeans. Circumspect Penelope, daughter of Ikarios, heard his song from her room upstairs,
 and came down by the great staircase, not alone, but attended by two of her handmaids. When she, shining among women, reached the suitors she stood by one of the bearing posts that supported the roof of the halls
 with a staid maiden on either side of her. She held a veil, moreover, before her face, and was weeping bitterly. “Phemios,” she cried, “you know many another feat of gods and heroes, such as poets love to celebrate. Sing the suitors some one of these, and let them
 drink their wine in silence, but cease this sad tale, for it breaks my sorrowful heart, and reminds me of my lost husband for whom I have grief [penthos] ever without ceasing, and whose name [kleos] was great over all Hellas and middle Argos.”
 “Mother,” answered the spirited Telemakhos, “let the bard sing what he has a mind [noos] to; bards are not responsible [aitios] for the ills they sing of; it is Zeus, not they, who is responsible [aitios], and who sends weal or woe upon humankind according to his own good pleasure.
 There should be no feeling of sanction [nemesis] against this one for singing the ill-fated return of the Danaans, for people always favor most warmly the kleos of the latest songs. Make up your mind to it and bear it; Odysseus is not the only man who never came
 back from Troy, but many another went down as well as he. Go, then, within the house and busy yourself with your daily duties, your loom, your distaff, and the ordering of your servants; for speech is man’s matter, and mine above all others – for it is I who am master here.”
 She went wondering back into the house, and laid her son’s saying in her heart. Then, going upstairs with her handmaids into her room, she mourned her dear husband till owl-vision Athena shed sweet sleep over her eyes.
 But the suitors were clamorous throughout the covered halls, and prayed each one that he might be her bedmate. Then the spirited Telemakhos spoke, “You suitors of my mother,” he cried, “you with your overweening insolence [hubris], let us feast at our pleasure now, and let there be no
 brawling, for it is a rare thing to hear a man with such a divine voice as Phemios has; but in the morning meet me in full assembly that I may give you formal notice to depart, and feast at one another’s houses,  turn and turn about, at your own cost. If on the other hand you choose to persist in sponging upon one man, may the gods help me, but Zeus shall reckon with you in full,
 and when you fall in my father’s house there shall be no man to avenge you.” The suitors bit their lips as they heard him, and marveled at the boldness of his speech. Then, Antinoos, son of Eupeithes, said, “The gods seem to have given you lessons
 in bluster and tall talking; may Zeus never grant you to be chief in Ithaca as your father was before you.” The spirited Telemakhos answered, “Antinoos, do not chide with me, but,
 god willing, I will be chief too if I can. Is this the worst fate you can think of for me? It is no bad thing to be a chief, for it brings both riches and honor. Still, now that Odysseus is dead there are many great men in Ithaca
 both old and young, and some other may take the lead among them; nevertheless I will be chief in my own house, and will rule those whom great Odysseus has won for me.” Then Eurymakhos, son of Polybos, answered,
 “It rests with the gods to decide who shall be chief among us, but you shall be master in your own house and over your own possessions; no one while there is a man in Ithaca shall do you violence [biē] nor rob you.
 And now, my good man, I want to know about this stranger. What country does he come from? Of what family is he, and where is his estate? Has he brought you news about the return of your father, or was he on business of his own?
 He seemed a well-to-do man, but he hurried off so suddenly that he was gone in a moment before we could get to know him.” “The homecoming [nostos] of my father is dead and gone,” answered the spirited Telemakhos, “and even if some rumor reaches me I put no more faith in it now.
 My mother does indeed sometimes send for a soothsayer and question him, but I give his prophesying no heed. As for the stranger, he was Mentes, son of Ankhialos, chief of the oar-loving Taphians, an old friend of my father’s.”
 But in his heart he knew that it had been the goddess. The suitors then returned to their singing and dancing until the evening; but when night fell upon their pleasuring they went home to bed each in his own abode.
 Telemakhos’ room was high up in a tower that looked on to the outer court; there, then, he went, brooding and full of thought. A good old woman, Eurykleia, daughter of Ops, the son of Peisenor, went before him with a couple of blazing torches.
 Laertes had bought her with his own wealth when she was quite young; he gave the worth of twenty oxen for her, and showed as much respect to her in his household as he did to his own wedded wife, but he did not take her to his bed for he feared his wife’s resentment. She it was who now lighted Telemakhos to his room, and she loved him
 better than any of the other women in the house did, for she had nursed him when he was a baby. He opened the door of his bed room and sat down upon the bed; as he took off his khiton he gave it to the good old woman, who folded it tidily up,
 and hung it for him over a peg by his bed side, after which she went out, pulled the door to by a silver catch, and drew the bolt home by means of the strap. But Telemakhos as he lay covered with a woolen fleece kept thinking all night through of his intended voyage and of the counsel that Athena had given him.