“So I spoke, and their proud hearts consented. Then day by day I would weave at the great web,
but by night would unravel it, when I had let place torches by me. Thus for three years I kept the Achaeans from knowing, and beguiled them; but when the fourth year came, as the seasons rolled on, as the months waned, and the many days were brought in their course, then verily by the help of my maidens, shameless creatures and reckless,
they came upon me and caught me, and upbraided me loudly. So I finished the web against my will perforce. And now I can neither escape the marriage nor devise any counsel more, and my parents are pressing me to marry, and my son frets, while these men devour his livelihood,
as he takes note of it all; for by now he is a man, and fully able to care for a household to which Zeus grants honor. Yet even so tell me of thy stock from whence thou art; for thou art not sprung from an oak of ancient story, or from a stone.”1
Then Odysseus of many wiles answered her, and said:
“Honored wife of Odysseus, son of Laertes, wilt thou never cease to ask me of my lineage? Well, I will tell thee; though verily thou wilt give me over to pains yet more than those by which I am now held in thrall; for so it ever is, when a man has been far from his country as long as I have now,
wandering through the many cities of men in sore distress. Yet even so will I tell thee what thou dost ask and enquire. There is a land called Crete
, in the midst of the wine-dark sea, a fair, rich land, begirt with water, and therein are many men, past counting, and ninety cities.
They have not all the same speech, but their tongues are mixed. There dwell Achaeans, there great-hearted native Cretans, there Cydonians, and Dorians of waving plumes, and goodly Pelasgians. Among their cities is the great city Cnosus, where Minos reigned when nine years old,2
he that held converse with great Zeus,
and was father of my father, great-hearted Deucalion. Now Deucalion begat me and prince Idomeneus. Idomeneus had gone forth in his beaked ships to Ilios
with the sons of Atreus; but my famous name is Aethon; I was the younger by birth, while he was the elder and the better man.
There it was that I saw Odysseus and gave him gifts of entertainment; for the force of the wind had brought him too to Crete
, as he was making for the land of Troy
, and drove him out of his course past Malea. So he anchored his ships at Amnisus, where is the cave of Eilithyia, in a difficult harbor, and hardly did he escape the storm.