“Ah me, when Zeus has at length granted me to see the land beyond my hopes, and lo, I have prevailed to cleave my way and to cross this gulf,
nowhere doth there appear a way to come forth from the grey sea. For without are sharp crags, and around them the wave roars foaming, and the rock runs up sheer, and the water is deep close in shore, so that in no wise is it possible to plant both feet firmly and escape ruin.
Haply were I to seek to land, a great wave may seize me and dash me against the jagged rock, and so shall my striving be in vain. But if I swim on yet further in hope to find shelving beaches1
and harbors of the sea, I fear me lest the storm-wind may catch me up again,
and bear me, groaning heavily, over the teeming deep; or lest some god may even send forth upon me some great monster from out the sea—and many such does glorious Amphitrite breed. For I know that the glorious Earth-shaker is filled with wrath against me.”
While he pondered thus in mind and heart,
a great wave bore him against the rugged shore. There would his skin have been stripped off and his bones broken, had not the goddess, flashing-eyed Athena, put a thought in his mind. On he rushed and seized the rock with both hands, and clung to it, groaning, until the great wave went by.
Thus then did he escape this wave, but in its backward flow it once more rushed upon him and smote him, and flung him far out in the sea. And just as, when a cuttlefish is dragged from its hole, many pebbles cling to its suckers, even so from his strong hands
were bits of skin stripped off against the rocks; and the great wave covered him. Then verily would hapless Odysseus have perished beyond his fate, had not flashing-eyed Athena given him prudence. Making his way forth from the surge where it belched upon the shore, he swam outside, looking ever toward the land in hope to find
shelving beaches and harbors of the sea. But when, as he swam, he came to the mouth of a fair-flowing river, where seemed to him the best place, since it was smooth of stones, and besides there was shelter from the wind, he knew the river as he flowed forth, and prayed to him in his heart:
“Hear me, O king, whosoever thou art. As to one greatly longed-for2
do I come to thee, seeking to escape from out the sea from the threats of Poseidon. Reverend even in the eyes of the immortal gods is that man who comes as a wanderer, even as I have now come to thy stream and to thy knees, after many toils.
Nay, pity me, O king, for I declare that I am thy suppliant.”