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Menelaos overheard him and said, "No one, my sons, can hold his own with Zeus, for his house and everything about him is immortal; but among mortal men - well, there may be another who has as much wealth as I have, or there may not; but at all events I have traveled much and have undergone much hardship, for it was nearly eight years before I could get home with my fleet. I went to Cyprus, Phoenicia and the Egyptians; I went also to the Ethiopians, the Sidonians, and the Erembians, and to Libya where the lambs have horns as soon as they are born, and the sheep bear lambs three times a year. Every one in that country, whether master or man, has plenty of cheese, meat, and good milk, for the ewes yield all the year round. But while I was traveling and getting great riches among these people, my brother was secretly and shockingly murdered through the perfidy of his wicked wife, so that I have no pleasure in being lord of all this wealth. Whoever your parents may be they must have told you about all this, and of my heavy loss in the ruin of a stately mansion fully and magnificently furnished. Would that I had only a third of what I now have so that I had stayed at home, and all those were living who perished on the plain of Troy, far from Argos. I often grieve, as I sit here in my house, for one and all of them. At times I cry aloud for sorrow, but presently I leave off again, for crying is cold comfort and one soon tires of it. Yet grieve for these as I may, I do so for one man more than for them all. I cannot even think of him without loathing both food and sleep, so miserable does he make me, for no one of all the Achaeans worked so hard or risked so much as he did. He took nothing by it, and has left a legacy of sorrow [akhos] to myself, for he has been gone a long time, and we know not whether he is alive or dead. His old father, his long-suffering wife Penelope, and his son Telemakhos, whom he left behind him an infant in arms, are plunged in grief on his account."

Thus spoke Menelaos, and the heart of Telemakhos yearned as he bethought him of his father. Tears fell from his eyes as he heard him thus mentioned, so that he held his cloak before his face with both hands. When Menelaos saw this he doubted whether to let him choose his own time for speaking, or to ask him at once and find what it was all about.

While he was thus in two minds Helen came down from her high-vaulted and perfumed room, looking as lovely as Artemis herself. Adraste brought her a seat, Alkippe a soft woolen rug, while Phylo fetched her the silver work-box which Alkandra wife of Polybos had given her. Polybos lived in Egyptian Thebes, which is the richest city in the whole world; he gave Menelaos two baths, both of pure silver, two tripods, and ten talents of gold; besides all this, his wife gave Helen some beautiful presents, to wit, a golden distaff, and a silver work-box that ran on wheels, with a gold band round the top of it. Phylo now placed this by her side, full of fine spun yarn, and a distaff charged with violet colored wool was laid upon the top of it. Then Helen took her seat, put her feet upon the footstool, and began to question her husband.

"Do we know, Menelaos," said she, "the names of these strangers who have come to visit us? Shall I guess right or wrong? But I cannot help saying what I think. Never yet have I seen either man or woman so like somebody else (indeed when I look at him I hardly know what to think) as this young man is like Telemakhos, whom Odysseus left as a baby behind him, when you Achaeans went to Troy with battle in your hearts, on account of my most shameless self."

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load focus Notes (W. Walter Merry, James Riddell, D. B. Monro, 1886)
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  • Commentary references to this page (6):
    • W. Walter Merry, James Riddell, D. B. Monro, Commentary on the Odyssey (1886), 1.277
    • W. Walter Merry, James Riddell, D. B. Monro, Commentary on the Odyssey (1886), 3.309
    • W. Walter Merry, James Riddell, D. B. Monro, Commentary on the Odyssey (1886), 6.330
    • W. Walter Merry, James Riddell, D. B. Monro, Commentary on the Odyssey (1886), 6.61
    • Walter Leaf, Commentary on the Iliad (1900), 23.29
    • Walter Leaf, Commentary on the Iliad (1900), 6.239
  • Cross-references to this page (5):
    • Raphael Kühner, Friedrich Blass, Ausführliche Grammatik der Griechischen Sprache, A. Vokale.
    • Raphael Kühner, Bernhard Gerth, Ausführliche Grammatik der griechischen Sprache, KG 1.3.1
    • Raphael Kühner, Bernhard Gerth, Ausführliche Grammatik der griechischen Sprache, KG 1.pos=2.2
    • Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae, Ath. 5.1
    • Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae, Ath. 5.9
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