Thence we went on to the Aeolian
island where lives Aeolus son of Hippotas, dear to the immortal gods.
It is an island that floats (as it were) upon the sea, iron bound
with a wall that girds it. Now, Aeolus has six daughters and six sons
in the bloom of youth, so he made the sons marry the daughters, and
they all live with their dear father and mother, feasting and
enjoying every conceivable kind of luxury. All day long the
atmosphere of the house is loaded with the savor of roasting meats
till it groans again, yard and all; but by night they sleep on their
well-made bedsteads, each with his own wife between the blankets.
These were the people among whom we had now come.
"Aeolus entertained me for a whole
month asking me questions all the time about Troy
, the Argive
and the return [nostos] of the Achaeans. I told him
exactly how everything had happened, and when I said I must go, and
asked him to further me on my way, he made no sort of difficulty, but
set about doing so at once. Moreover, he flayed me a prime ox-hide to
hold the ways of the roaring winds, which he shut up in the hide as
in a sack - for Zeus had made him captain over the winds, and he
could stir or still each one of them according to his own pleasure.
He put the sack in the ship and bound the mouth so tightly with a
silver thread that not even a breath of a side-wind could blow from
any quarter. The West wind which was fair for us did he alone let
blow as it chose; but it all came to nothing, for we were lost
through our own folly.
"Nine days and nine nights did we
sail, and on the tenth day our native land showed on the horizon. We
got so close in that we could see the stubble fires burning, and I,
being then dead tired, fell into a light sleep, for I had never let
the rudder out of my own hands, that we might get home the faster. On
this the men fell to talking among themselves, and said I was
bringing back gold and silver in the sack that Aeolus had given me.
‘Bless my heart,’ would one turn to his neighbor, saying,
‘how this man gets honored and makes friends in whatever city or
country he may go. See what fine prizes he is taking home from Troy
while we, who have traveled just as far as he has, come back with
hands as empty as we set out with - and now Aeolus has given him ever
so much more. Quick - let us see what it all is, and how much gold
and silver there is in the sack he gave him.’
"Thus they talked and evil
counsels prevailed. They loosed the sack, whereupon the wind flew
howling forth and raised a storm that carried us weeping out to sea
and away from our own country. Then I awoke, and knew not whether to
throw myself into the sea or to live on and make the best of it; but
I bore it, covered myself up, and lay down in the ship, while the men
lamented bitterly as the fierce winds bore our fleet back to the