“Then to the Aeolian isle we came, where dwelt Aeolus, son of Hippotas, dear to the immortal gods, in a floating island, and all around it is a wall of unbreakable bronze, and the cliff runs up sheer.
Twelve children of his, too, there are in the halls, six daughters and six sturdy sons, and he gave his daughters to his sons to wife. These, then, feast continually by their dear father and good mother, and before them lies boundless good cheer.
And the house, filled with the savour of feasting, resounds all about even in the outer court by day,1
and by night again they sleep beside their chaste wives on blankets and on corded bedsteads. To their city, then, and fair palace did we come, and for a full month he made me welcome and questioned me about each thing,
, and the ships of the Argives, and the return of the Achaeans. And I told him all the tale in due order. But when I, on my part, asked him that I might depart and bade him send me on my way, he, too, denied me nothing, but furthered my sending. He gave me a wallet, made of the hide of an ox nine years old,2
which he flayed,
and therein he bound the paths of the blustering winds; for the son of Cronos had made him keeper of the winds, both to still and to rouse whatever one he will. And in my hollow ship he bound it fast with a bright cord of silver, that not a breath might escape, were it never so slight.
But for my furtherance he sent forth the breath of the West Wind to blow, that it might bear on their way both ships and men. Yet this he was not to bring to pass, for we were lost through our own folly.
“For nine days we sailed, night and day alike, and now on the tenth our native land came in sight,
and lo, we were so near that we saw men tending the beacon fires.3
Then upon me came sweet sleep in my weariness, for I had ever kept in hand the sheet of the ship, and had yielded it to none other of my comrades, that we might the sooner come to our native land. But my comrades meanwhile began to speak one to another,
and said that I was bringing home for myself gold and silver as gifts from Aeolus, the great-hearted son of Hippotas. And thus would one speak, with a glance at his neighbor:
“‘Out on it, how beloved and honored this man is by all men, to whose city and land soever he comes!
Much goodly treasure is he carrying with him from the land of Troy
from out the spoil, while we, who have accomplished the same journey as he, are returning, bearing with us empty hands. And now Aeolus has given him these gifts, granting them freely of his love. Nay, come, let us quickly see what is here,
what store of gold and silver is in the wallet.’
“So they spoke, and the evil counsel of my comrades prevailed. They loosed the wallet, and all the winds leapt forth, and swiftly the storm-wind seized them and bore them weeping out to sea away from their native land; but as for me,
I awoke, and pondered in my goodly heart whether I should fling myself from the ship and perish in the sea, or endure in silence and still remain among the living. However, I endured and abode, and covering my head lay down in the ship. But the ships were borne by an evil blast of wind
back to the Aeolian isle; and my comrades groaned.
“There we went ashore and drew water, and straightway my comrades took their meal by the swift ships. But when we had tasted of food and drink, I took with me a herald and one companion
and went to the glorious palace of Aeolus, and I found him feasting beside his wife and his children. So we entered the house and sat down by the doorposts on the threshold, and they were amazed at heart, and questioned us:
“‘How hast thou come hither, Odysseus? What cruel god assailed thee?
Surely we sent thee forth with kindly care, that thou mightest reach thy native land and thy home, and whatever place thou wouldest.’
“So said they, but I with a sorrowing heart spoke among them and said: ‘Bane did my evil comrades work me, and therewith sleep accursed; but bring ye healing, my friends, for with you is the power.’
“So I spoke and addressed them with gentle words, but they were silent. Then their father answered and said:
“‘Begone from our island with speed, thou vilest of all that live. In no wise may I help or send upon his way that man who is hated of the blessed gods.
Begone, for thou comest hither as one hated of the immortals.’
“So saying, he sent me forth from the house, groaning heavily. Thence we sailed on, grieved at heart. And worn was the spirit of the men by the grievous rowing, because of our own folly, for no longer appeared any breeze to bear us on our way.
So for six days we sailed, night and day alike, and on the seventh we came to the lofty citadel of Lamus, even to Telepylus of the Laestrygonians, where herdsman calls to herdsman as he drives in his flock, and the other answers as he drives his forth. There a man who never slept could have earned a double wage,
one by herding cattle, and one by pasturing white sheep; for the out goings of the night and of the day are close together.4
When we had come thither into the goodly harbor, about which on both sides a sheer cliff runs continuously, and projecting headlands opposite to one another
stretch out at the mouth, and the entrance is narrow, then all the rest steered their curved ships in, and the ships were moored within the hollow harbor close together; for therein no wave ever swelled, great or small, but all about was a bright calm.
But I alone moored my black ship outside, there on the border of the land, making the cables fast to the rock. Then I climbed to a rugged height, a point of outlook, and there took my stand; from thence no works of oxen or of men appeared; smoke alone we saw springing up from the land.
So then I sent forth some of my comrades to go and learn who the men were, who here ate bread upon the earth—two men I chose, and sent with them a third as a herald. Now when they had gone ashore, they went along a smooth road by which wagons were wont to bring wood down to the city from the high mountains.
And before the city they met a maiden drawing water, the goodly5
daughter of Laestrygonian Antiphates, who had come down to the fair-flowing spring Artacia, from whence they were wont to bear water to the town. So they came up to her and spoke to her,
and asked her who was king of this folk, and who they were of whom he was lord. And she showed them forth with the high-roofed house of her father. Now when they had entered the glorious house, they found there his wife, huge as the peak of a mountain, and they were aghast at her. At once she called from the place of assembly the glorious Antiphates,
her husband, and he devised for them woeful destruction. Straightway he seized one of my comrades and made ready his meal, but the other two sprang up and came in flight to the ships. Then he raised a cry throughout the city, and as they heard it the mighty Laestrygonians came thronging from all sides,
a host past counting, not like men but like the Giants. They hurled at us from the cliffs with rocks huge as a man could lift, and at once there rose throughout the ships a dreadful din, alike from men that were dying and from ships that were being crushed. And spearing them like fishes they bore them home, a loathly meal.
Now while they were slaying those within the deep harbor, I meanwhile drew my sharp sword from beside my thigh, and cut therewith the cables of my dark-prowed ship; and quickly calling to my comrades bade them fall to their oars, that we might escape from out our evil plight.
And they all tossed the sea with their oar-blades in fear of death, and joyfully seaward, away from the beetling cliffs, my ship sped on; but all those other ships were lost together there.
“Thence we sailed on, grieved at heart, glad to have escaped death, though we had lost our dear comrades;
and we came to the isle of Aeaea, where dwelt fair-tressed Circe, a dread goddess of human speech, own sister to Aeetes of baneful mind; and both are sprung from Helius, who gives light to mortals, and from Perse
, their mother, whom Oceanus begot.
Here we put in to shore with our ship in silence, into a harbor where ships may lie, and some god guided us. Then we disembarked, and lay there for two days and two nights, eating our hearts for weariness and sorrow. But when fair-tressed Dawn brought to its birth the third day,
then I took my spear and my sharp sword, and quickly went up from the ship to a place of wide prospect, in the hope that I might see the works of men, and hear their voice. So I climbed to a rugged height, a place of outlook, and there took my stand, and I saw smoke rising from the broad-wayed earth
in the halls of Circe, through the thick brush and the wood. And I debated in mind and heart, whether I should go and make search, when I had seen the flaming smoke. And as I pondered, this seemed to me to be the better way, to go first to the swift ship and the shore of the sea,
and give my comrades their meal, and send them forth to make search. But when, as I went, I was near to the curved ship, then some god took pity on me in my loneliness, and sent a great, high-horned stag into my very path. He was coming down to the river from his pasture in the wood
to drink, for the might of the sun oppressed him; and as he came out I struck him on the spine in the middle of the back, and the bronze spear passed right through him, and down he fell in the dust with a moan, and his spirit flew from him. Then I planted my foot upon him,
and drew the bronze spear forth from the wound, and left it there to lie on the ground. But for myself, I plucked twigs and osiers, and weaving a rope as it were a fathom in length, well twisted from end to end, I bound together the feet of the monstrous beast, and went my way to the black ship, bearing him across my back and
leaning on my spear, since in no wise could I hold him on my shoulder with one hand, for he was a very mighty beast. Down I flung him before the ship, and heartened my comrades with gentle words, coming up to each man in turn:
“‘Friends, not yet shall we go down
to the house of Hades, despite our sorrows, before the day of fate comes upon us. Nay, come, while there is yet food and drink in our swift ship, let us bethink us of food, that we pine not with hunger.’
“So I spoke, and they quickly hearkened to my words. From their faces they drew their cloaks,6
and marvelled at the stag on the shore of the unresting sea, for he was a very mighty beast. But when they had satisfied their eyes with gazing, they washed their hands, and made ready a glorious feast. So then all day long till set of sun we sat feasting on abundant flesh and sweet wine.
But when the sun set and darkness came on, then we lay down to rest on the shore of the sea. And as soon as early Dawn appeared, the rosy-fingered, I called my men together, and spoke among them all:
“‘Hearken to my words, comrades, for all your evil plight.
My friends, we know not where the darkness is or where the dawn, neither where the sun, who give light to mortals, goes beneath the earth, nor where he rises; but let us straightway take thought if any device be still left us. As for me I think not that there is. For I climbed to a rugged point of outlook, and beheld
the island, about which is set as a crown the boundless deep. The isle itself lies low, and in the midst of it my eyes saw smoke through the thick brush and the wood.’
“So I spoke, and their spirit was broken within them, as they remembered the deeds of the Laestrygonian, Antiphates,
and the violence of the great-hearted Cyclops
, the man-eater. And they wailed aloud, and shed big tears. But no good came of their mourning.
“Then I told off in two bands all my well-greaved comrades, and appointed a leader for each band.
Of the one I took command, and of the other godlike Eurylochus. Quickly then we shook lots in a brazen helmet, and out leapt the lot of great-hearted Eurylochus.So he set out, and with him went two-and-twenty comrades, all weeping; and they left us behind, lamenting.
Within the forest glades they found the house of Circe, built of polished stone in a place of wide outlook,7
and round about it were mountain wolves and lions, whom Circe herself had bewitched; for she gave them evil drugs. Yet these beasts did not rush upon my men,
but pranced about them fawningly, wagging their long tails. And as when hounds fawn around their master as he comes from a feast, for he ever brings them bits to soothe their temper, so about them fawned the stout-clawed wolves and lions; but they were seized with fear, as they saw the dread monsters.
So they stood in the gateway of the fair-tressed goddess, and within they heard Circe singing with sweet voice, as she went to and fro before a great imperishable web, such as is the handiwork of goddesses, finely-woven and beautiful, and glorious. Then among them spoke Polites, a leader of men,
dearest to me of my comrades, and trustiest:
“‘Friends, within someone goes to and fro before a great web, singing sweetly, so that all the floor echoes; some goddess it is, or some woman. Come, let us quickly call to her.’
“So he spoke, and they cried aloud, and called to her.
And she straightway came forth and opened the bright doors, and bade them in; and all went with her in their folly. Only Eurylochus remained behind, for he suspected that there was a snare. She brought them in and made them sit on chairs and seats, and made for them a potion of cheese and barley meal and yellow honey
with Pramnian wine; but in the food she mixed baneful drugs, that they might utterly forget their native land. Now when she had given them the potion, and they had drunk it off, then she presently smote them with her wand, and penned them in the sties. And they had the heads, and voice, and bristles,
and shape of swine, but their minds remained unchanged even as before. So they were penned there weeping, and before them Circe flung mast and acorns, and the fruit of the cornel tree, to eat, such things as wallowing swine are wont to feed upon.
“But Eurylochus came back straightway to the swift, black ship,
to bring tiding of his comrades and their shameful doom. Not a word could he utter, for all his desire, so stricken to the heart was he with great distress, and his eyes were filled with tears, and his spirit was set on lamentation. But when we questioned him in amazement,
then he told the fate of the others, his comrades.
“‘We went through the thickets, as thou badest, noble Odysseus. We found in the forest glades a fair palace, built of polished stones, in a place of wide outlook. There someone was going to and fro before a great web, and singing with clear voice,
some goddess or some woman, and they cried aloud, and called to her. And she came forth straightway, and opened the bright doors, and bade them in; and they all went with her in their folly. But I remained behind, for I suspected that there was a snare. Then they all vanished together, nor did one of them
appear again, though I sat long and watched.’
“So he spoke, and I cast my silver-studded sword about my shoulders, a great sword of bronze, and slung my bow about me, and bade him lead me back by the self-same road. But he clasped me with both hands, and be sought me by my knees,
and with wailing he spoke to me winged words:
“‘Lead me not thither against my will, O thou fostered of Zeus, but leave me here. For I know that thou wilt neither come back thyself, nor bring anyone of thy comrades. Nay, with these that are here let us flee with all speed, for still we may haply escape the evil day.’
“So he spoke, but I answered him, and said:‘Eurylochus, do thou stay here in this place, eating and drinking by the hollow, black ship; but I will go, for strong necessity is laid upon me.’
“So saying, I went up from the ship and the sea.
But when, as I went through the sacred glades, I was about to come to the great house of the sorceress, Circe, then Hermes, of the golden wand, met me as I went toward the house, in the likeness of a young man with the first down upon his lip, in whom the charm of youth is fairest.
He clasped my hand, and spoke, and addressed me:
“‘Whither now again, hapless man, dost thou go alone through the hills, knowing naught of the country? Lo, thy comrades yonder in the house of Circe are penned like swine in close-barred sties. And art thou come to release them? Nay, I tell thee, thou shalt not
thyself return, but shalt remain there with the others. But come, I will free thee from harm, and save thee. Here, take this potent herb, and go to the house of Circe, and it shall ward off from thy head the evil day. And I will tell thee all the baneful wiles of Circe.
She will mix thee a potion, and cast drugs into the food; but even so she shall not be able to bewitch thee, for the potent herb that I shall give thee will not suffer it. And I will tell thee all. When Circe shall smite thee with her long wand, then do thou draw thy sharp sword from beside thy thigh,
and rush upon Circe, as though thou wouldst slay her. And she will be seized with fear, and will bid thee lie with her. Then do not thou thereafter refuse the couch of the goddess, that she may set free thy comrades, and give entertainment to thee. But bid her swear a great oath by the blessed gods,
that she will not plot against thee any fresh mischief to thy hurt, lest when she has thee stripped she may render thee a weakling and unmanned.’
“So saying, Argeiphontes gave me the herb, drawing it from the ground, and showed me its nature. At the root it was black, but its flower was like milk.
Moly the gods call it, and it is hard for mortal men to dig; but with the gods all things are possible. Hermes then departed to high Olympus
through the wooded isle, and I went my way to the house of Circe, and many things did my heart darkly ponder as I went.
So I stood at the gates of the fair-tressed goddess. There I stood and called, and the goddess heard my voice. Straightway then she came forth, and opened the bright doors, and bade me in; and I went with her, my heart sore troubled. She brought me in and made me sit on a silver-studded chair,
a beautiful chair, richly wrought, and beneath was a foot-stool for the feet. And she prepared me a potion in a golden cup, that I might drink, and put therein a drug, with evil purpose in her heart. But when she had given it me, and I had drunk it off, yet was not bewitched, she smote me with her wand, and spoke, and addressed me:
‘Begone now to the sty, and lie with the rest of thy comrades.’
“So she spoke, but I, drawing my sharp sword from beside my thigh, rushed upon Circe, as though I would slay her. But she, with a loud cry, ran beneath, and clasped my knees, and with wailing she spoke to me winged words:
“‘Who art thou among men, and from whence? Where is thy city, and where thy parents? Amazement holds me that thou hast drunk this charm and wast in no wise bewitched. For no man else soever hath withstood this charm, when once he has drunk it, and it has passed the barrier of his teeth. Nay, but the mind in thy breast is one not to be beguiled.
Surely thou art Odysseus, the man of ready device, who Argeiphontes of the golden wand ever said to me would come hither on his way home from Troy
with his swift, black ship. Nay, come, put up thy sword in its sheath, and let us two then go up into my bed, that couched together
in love we may put trust in each other.’
“So she spoke, but I answered her, and said:‘Circe, how canst thou bid me be gentle to thee, who hast turned my comrades into swine in thy halls, and now keepest me here, and with guileful purpose biddest me
go to thy chamber, and go up into thy bed, that when thou hast me stripped thou mayest render me a weakling and unmanned? Nay, verily, it is not I that shall be fain to go up into thy bed, unless thou, goddess, wilt consent to swear a mighty oath that thou wilt not plot against me any fresh mischief to my hurt.’
“So I spoke, and she straightway swore the oath to do me no harm, as I bade her. But when she had sworn, and made an end of the oath, then I went up to the beautiful bed of Circe.
“But her handmaids meanwhile were busied in the halls, four maidens who are her serving-women in the house.
Children are they of the springs and groves, and of the sacred rivers that flow forth to the sea, and of them one threw upon chairs fair rugs of purple above, and spread beneath them a linen cloth; another drew up before the chairs tables
of silver, and set upon them golden baskets; and the third mixed sweet, honey-hearted wine in a bowl of silver, and served out golden cups; and the fourth brought water, and kindled a great fire beneath a large cauldron, and the water grew warm.
But when the water boiled in the bright bronze, she set me in a bath, and bathed me with water from out the great cauldron, mixing it to my liking, and pouring it over my head and shoulders, till she took from my limbs soul-consuming weariness. But when she had bathed me, and anointed me richly with oil,
and had cast about me a fair cloak and a tunic, she brought me into the hall, and made me sit upon a silver-studded chair—a beautiful chair, richly wrought, and beneath was a foot-stool for the feet. Then a handmaid brought water for the hands in a fair pitcher of gold, and poured it over a silver basin
for me to wash, and beside me drew up a polished table. And the grave housewife brought and set before me bread, and therewith meats in abundance, granting freely of her store. Then she bade me eat, but my heart inclined not thereto. Rather, I sat with other thoughts, and my spirit boded ill.
“Now when Circe noted that I sat thus, and did not put forth my hands to the food, but was burdened with sore grief, she came close to me, and spoke winged words:
“‘Why, Odysseus, dost thou sit thus like one that is dumb, eating thy heart, and dost not touch food or drink?
Dost thou haply forbode some other guile? Nay, thou needest in no wise fear, for already have I sworn a mighty oath to do thee no harm.’
“So she spoke, but I answered her, and said:‘Circe, what man that is right-minded could bring himself to taste of food or drink,
ere yet he had won freedom for his comrades, and beheld them before his face? But if thou of a ready heart dost bid me eat and drink, set them free, that mine eyes may behold my trusty comrades.’
“So I spoke, and Circe went forth through the hall holding her wand in her hand, and opened the doors of the sty,
and drove them out in the form of swine of nine years old. So they stood there before her, and she went through the midst of them, and anointed each man with another charm. Then from their limbs the bristles fell away which the baneful drug that queenly Circe gave them had before made to grow,
and they became men again, younger than they were before, and far comelier and taller to look upon. They knew me, and clung to my hands, each man of them, and upon them all came a passionate sobbing, and the house about them rang wondrously, and the goddess herself was moved to pity.
“Then the beautiful goddess drew near me, and said: ‘Son of Laertes, sprung from Zeus, Odysseus of many devices, go now to thy swift ship and to the shore of the sea. First of all do ye draw the ship up on the land, and store your goods and all the tackling in caves.
Then come back thyself, and bring thy trusty comrades.’
“So she spoke, and my proud heart consented. I went my way to the swift ship and the shore of the sea, and there I found my trusty comrades by the swift ship, wailing piteously, shedding big tears.
And as when calves in a farmstead sport about the droves of cows returning to the yard, when they have had their fill of grazing—all together they frisk before them, and the pens no longer hold them, but with constant lowing they run about their mothers—so those men, when their eyes beheld me,
thronged about me weeping, and it seemed to their hearts as though they had got to their native land, and the very city of rugged Ithaca
, where they were bred and born. And with wailing they spoke to me winged words:
“‘At thy return, O thou fostered of Zeus, we are as glad
as though we had returned to Ithaca
, our native land. But come, tell the fate of the others, our comrades.’
“So they spoke, and I answered them with gentle words: ‘First of all let us draw the ship up on the land, and store our goods and all the tackling in caves.
Then haste you, one and all, to go with me that you may see your comrades in the sacred halls of Circe, drinking and eating, for they have unfailing store.’
“So I spoke, and they quickly hearkened to my words. Eurylochus alone sought to hold back all my comrades,
and he spoke, and addressed them with winged words:
“‘Ah, wretched men, whither are we going? Why are you so enamoured of these woes, as to go down to the house of Circe, who will change us all to swine, or wolves, or lions, that so we may guard her great house perforce?
Even so did the Cyclops
, when our comrades went to his fold, and with them went this reckless Odysseus. For it was through this man's folly that they too perished.’
“So he spoke, and I pondered in heart, whether to draw my long sword from beside my stout thigh,
and therewith strike off his head, and bring it to the ground, near kinsman of mine by marriage though he was; but my comrades one after another sought to check me with gentle words:
“‘O thou sprung from Zeus, as for this man, we will leave him, if thou so biddest, to abide here by the ship, and to guard the ship,
but as for us, do thou lead us to the sacred house of Circe.’
“So saying, they went up from the ship and the sea. Nor was Eurylochus left beside the hollow ship, but he went with us, for he feared my dread reproof.
“Meanwhile in her halls Circe
bathed the rest of my comrades with kindly care, and anointed them richly with oil, and cast about them fleecy cloaks and tunics; and we found them all feasting bountifully in the halls. But when they saw and recognized one another, face to face, they wept and wailed, and the house rang around.
Then the beautiful goddess drew near me, and said:
“‘No longer now do ye rouse this plenteous lamenting. Of myself I know both all the woes you have suffered on the teeming deep, and all the wrong that cruel men have done you on the land.
Nay, come, eat food and drink wine, until you once more get spirit in your breasts such as when at the first you left your native land of rugged Ithaca
; but now ye are withered and spiritless, ever thinking of your weary wanderings, nor are your
hearts ever joyful, for verily ye have suffered much.’
“So she spoke, and our proud hearts consented. So there day after day for a full year we abode, feasting on abundant flesh and sweet wine. But when a year was gone and the seasons turned,
as the months waned and the long days were brought in their course, then my trusty comrades called me forth, and said:
“‘Strange man, bethink thee now at last of thy native land, if it is fated for thee to be saved, and to reach thy high-roofed house and thy native land.’
“So they spoke, and my proud heart consented. So then all day long till set of sun we sat feasting on abundant flesh and sweet wine. But when the sun set and darkness came on, they lay down to sleep throughout the shadowy halls,
but I went up to the beautiful bed of Circe, and besought her by her knees; and the goddess heard my voice, and I spoke, and addressed her with winged words:
“‘Circe, fulfil for me the promise which thou gavest to send me home; for my spirit is now eager to be gone,
and the spirit of my comrades, who make my heart to pine, as they sit about me mourning, whensoever thou haply art not at hand.’
“So I spoke, and the beautiful goddess straightway made answer: ‘Son of Laertes, sprung from Zeus, Odysseus of many devices, abide ye now no longer in my house against your will;
but you must first complete another journey, and come to the house of Hades and dread Persephone, to seek soothsaying of the spirit of Theban Teiresias, the blind seer, whose mind abides steadfast. To him even in death Persephone has granted reason,
that he alone should have understanding; but the others flit about as shadows.’
“So she spoke, and my spirit was broken within me, and I wept as I sat on the bed, nor had my heart any longer desire to live and behold the light of the sun. But when I had my fill of weeping and writhing,
then I made answer, and addressed her, saying:
“‘O Circe, who will guide us on this journey? To Hades no man ever yet went in a black ship.’
“So I spoke, and the beautiful goddess straightway made answer: ‘Son of Laertes, sprung from Zeus, Odysseus of many devices,
let there be in thy mind no concern for a pilot to guide thy ship,8
but set up thy mast, and spread the white sail, and sit thee down; and the breath of the North Wind will bear her onward. But when in thy ship thou hast now crossed the stream of Oceanus, where is a level shore and the groves of Persephone—
tall poplars, and willows that shed their fruit—there do thou beach thy ship by the deep eddying Oceanus, but go thyself to the dank house of Hades. There into Acheron
flow Periphlegethon and Cocytus, which is a branch of the water of the Styx;
and there is a rock, and the meeting place of the two roaring rivers. Thither, prince, do thou draw nigh, as I bid thee, and dig a pit of a cubit's length this way and that, and around it pour a libation to all the dead, first with milk and honey, thereafter with sweet wine,
and in the third place with water, and sprinkle thereon white barley meal. And do thou earnestly entreat the powerless heads of the dead, vowing that when thou comest to Ithaca
thou wilt sacrifice in thy halls a barren heifer, the best thou hast, and wilt fill the altar with rich gifts; and that to Teiresias alone thou wilt sacrifice separately a ram,
wholly black, the goodliest of thy flock. But when with prayers thou hast made supplication to the glorious tribes of the dead, then sacrifice a ram and a black ewe, turning their heads toward Erebus but thyself turning backward, and setting thy face towards the streams of the river. Then many
ghosts of men that are dead will come forth. But do thou thereafter call to thy comrades, and bid them flay and burn the sheep that lie there, slain by the pitiless bronze, and make prayer to the gods, to mighty Hades and to dread Persephone.
And do thou thyself draw thy sharp sword from beside thy thigh, and sit there, not suffering the powerless heads of the dead to draw near to the blood, till thou hast enquired of Teiresias. Then the seer will presently come to thee, leader of men, and he will tell thee thy way and the measures of thy path,
and of thy return, how thou mayest go over the teeming deep.’
“So she spoke, and straightway came golden-throned Dawn. Round about me then she cast a cloak and tunic as raiment, and the nymph clothed herself in a long white robe, finely-woven and beautiful, and about her waist she cast
a fair girdle of gold, and upon her head she put a veil. But I went through the halls, and roused my men with gentle words, coming up to each man in turn.
“‘No longer now sleep ye, and drowse in sweet slumber, but let us go; lo! queenly Circe has told me all.’
“So I spoke, and their proud hearts consented. But not even from thence could I lead my men unscathed. There was one, Elpenor, the youngest of all, not over valiant in war nor sound of understanding, who had laid him down apart from his comrades in the sacred house of Circe,
seeking the cool air, for he was heavy with wine. He heard the noise and the bustle of his comrades as they moved about, and suddenly sprang up, and forgot to go to the long ladder that he might come down again, but fell headlong from the roof, and his neck
was broken away from the spine, and his spirit went down to the house of Hades.
“But as my men were going on their way I spoke among them, saying: ‘Ye think, forsooth, that ye are going to your dear native land; but Circe has pointed out for us another journey, even to the house of Hades and dread Persephone,
to consult the spirit of Theban Teiresias.’
“So I spoke, and their spirit was broken within them, and sitting down right where they were, they wept and tore their hair. But no good came of their lamenting.
“But when we were on our way to the swift ship and the shore of the sea,
sorrowing and shedding big tears, meanwhile Circe had gone forth and made fast beside the black ship a ram and a black ewe, for easily had she passed us by. Who with his eyes could behold a god against his will, whether going to or fro?