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Then Helen, daughter of Zeus, took other counsel. [220] Straightway she cast into the wine of which they were drinking a drug to quiet all pain and strife, and bring forgetfulness of every ill. Whoso should drink this down, when it is mingled in the bowl, would not in the course of that day let a tear fall down over his cheeks, [225] no, not though his mother and father should lie there dead, or though before his face men should slay with the sword his brother or dear son, and his own eyes beheld it. Such cunning drugs had the daughter of Zeus, drugs of healing, which Polydamna, the wife of Thon, had given her, a woman of Egypt, for there the earth, the giver of grain, bears greatest store [230] of drugs, many that are healing when mixed, and many that are baneful; there every man is a physician, wise above human kind; for they are of the race of Paeeon. Now when she had cast in the drug, and had bidden pour forth the wine, again she made answer, and said: [235] “Menelaus, son of Atreus, fostered of Zeus, and ye that are here, sons of noble men—though now to one and now to another Zeus gives good and ill, for he can do all things,—now verily sit ye in the halls and feast, and take ye joy in telling tales, for I will tell what fitteth the time. [240] All things I cannot tell or recount, even all the labours of Odysseus of the steadfast heart; but what a thing was this which that mighty man wrought and endured in the land of the Trojans, where you Achaens suffered woes! Marring his own body with cruel blows, [245] and flinging a wretched garment about his shoulders, in the fashion of a slave he entered the broad-wayed city of the foe, and he hid himself under the likeness of another, a beggar, he who was in no wise such an one at the ships of the Achaeans. In this likeness he entered the city of the Trojans, and all of them were but as babes.1 [250] I alone recognized him in this disguise, and questioned him, but he in his cunning sought to avoid me. Howbeit when I was bathing him and anointing him with oil, and had put on him raiment, and sworn a mighty oath not to make him known among the Trojans as Odysseus [255] before that he reached the swift ships and the huts, then at length he told me all the purpose of the Achaeans. And when he had slain many of the Trojans with the long sword, he returned to the company of the Argives and brought back plentiful tidings. Then the other Trojan women wailed aloud, but my soul [260] was glad, for already my heart was turned to go back to my home, and I groaned for the blindness that Aphrodite gave me, when she led me thither from my dear native land, forsaking my child and my bridal chamber, and my husband, a man who lacked nothing, whether in wisdom or in comeliness.”

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    • W. Walter Merry, James Riddell, D. B. Monro, Commentary on the Odyssey (1886), 2.383
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