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[180] “So I spoke, and my honored mother straightway answered: ‘Aye verily she abides with steadfast heart in thy halls, and ever sorrowfully for her do the nights and the days wane, as she weeps. But the fair honor that was thine no man yet possesses, [185] but Telemachus holds thy demesne unharassed, and feasts a equal banquets, such as it is fitting that one who deals judgment should share, for all men invite him. But thy father abides there in the tilled land, and comes not to the city, nor has he, for bedding, bed and cloaks and bright coverlets, [190] but through the winter he sleeps in the house, where the slaves sleep, in the ashes by the fire, and wears upon his body mean raiment. But when summer comes and rich autumn, then all about the slope of his vineyard plot are strewn his lowly beds of fallen leaves. [195] There he lies sorrowing, and nurses his great grief in his heart, in longing for thy return, and heavy old age has come upon him. Even so did I too perish and meet my fate. Neither did the keen-sighted archer goddess assail me in my halls with her gentle shafts, and slay me, [200] nor did any disease come upon me, such as oftenest through grievous wasting takes the spirit from the limbs; nay, it was longing for thee, and for thy counsels, glorious Odysseus, and for thy tender-heartedness, that robbed me of honey-sweet life.’ “So she spoke, and I pondered in heart, and was fain [205] to clasp the spirit of my dead mother. Thrice I sprang towards her, and my heart bade me clasp her, and thrice she flitted from my arms like a shadow or a dream, and pain grew ever sharper at my heart. And I spoke and addressed her with winged words: [210] “‘My mother, why dost thou not stay for me, who am eager to clasp thee, that even in the house of Hades we two may cast our arms each about the other, and take our fill of chill lamenting. Is this but a phantom that august Persephone has sent me, that I may lament and groan the more?’ [215] “So I spoke, and my honored mother straightway answered: ‘Ah me, my child, ill-fated above all men, in no wise does Persephone, the daughter of Zeus, deceive thee, but this is the appointed way with mortals when one dies. For the sinews no longer hold the flesh and the bones together, [220] but the strong might of blazing fire destroys these, as soon as the life leaves the white bones, and the spirit, like a dream, flits away, and hovers to and fro. But haste thee to the light with what speed thou mayest, and bear all these things in mind, that thou mayest hereafter tell them to thy wife.’

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