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Then the goddess, flashing-eyed Athena, spoke to him, and said: [230] “Telemachus, what a word has escaped the barrier of thy teeth! Easily might a god who willed it bring a man safe home, even from afar. But for myself, I had rather endure many grievous toils ere I reached home and saw the day of my returning, than after my return be slain at my hearth, as Agamemnon [235] was slain by the guile of Aegisthus and of his own wife. But of a truth death that is common to all1 the gods themselves cannot ward from a man they love, when the fell fate of grievous death shall strike him down.” Then wise Telemachus answered her: [240] “Mentor, no longer let us tell of these things despite our grief. For him no return can ever more be brought to pass; nay, ere this the immortals have devised for him death and black fate. But now I would make enquiry and ask Nestor regarding another matter, since beyond all others he knows judgments and wisdom; [245] for thrice, men say, has he been king for a generation of men, and like unto an immortal he seems to me to look upon. Nestor, son of Neleus, do thou tell me truly: how was the son of Atreus, wide-ruling Agamemnon, slain? Where was Menelaus? What death did [250] guileful Aegisthus plan for the king, since he slew a man mightier far than himself? Was Menelaus not in Achaean Argos, but wandering elsewhere among men, so that Aegisthus took heart and did the murderous deed?” Then the horseman, Nestor of Gerenia, answered him: “Then verily, my child, will I tell thee all the truth. [255] Lo, of thine own self thou dost guess how this matter would have fallen out, if the son of Atreus, fair-haired Menelaus, on his return from Troy had found Aegisthus in his halls alive. Then for him not even in death would they have piled the up-piled earth, but the dogs and birds would have torn him [260] as he lay on the plain far from the city, nor would any of the Achaean women have bewailed him; for monstrous was the deed he devised. We on our part abode there in Troy fulfilling our many toils; but he, at ease in a nook of horse-pasturing Argos, ever sought to beguile with words the wife of Agamemnon. [265] Now at the first she put from her the unseemly deed, the beautiful Clytemnestra, for she had an understanding heart; and with her was furthermore a minstrel whom the son of Atreus straitly charged, when he set forth for the land of Troy, to guard his wife. But when at length the doom of the gods bound her that she should be overcome, [270] then verily Aegisthus took the minstrel to a desert isle and left him to be the prey and spoil of birds; and her, willing as he was willing, he led to his own house. And many thigh-pieces he burned upon the holy altars of the gods, and many offerings he hung up, woven stuffs and gold, [275] since he had accomplished a mighty deed beyond all his heart had hoped.

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