‘Odyssey’ is a classic poem written by Homer that consists of 12.110 verses. It is unique already in that it has reached our days in its original form. This poem is a genuine revelation of the poetic thought of ancient Hellas.

…After the Trojan War, most of the survived Greek leaders returned by sea to Troy. However, after numerous troubles, only the chosen ones could have stayed alive. One of them — the cunning king Odysseus — was wandering in the sea for almost ten years…

Pretty illustrations by Elena Odarych provide you with new impressions from reading this legendary story.

The Odyssey of Homer

Book I

In a council of the Gods, Minerva calls their attention to Ulysses, still a wanderer. They resolve to grant him a safe return to Ithaca. Minerva descends to encourage Telemachus, and in the form of Mentes directs him in what manner to proceed. Throughout this book the extravagance and profligacy of the suitors are occasionally suggested.

Muse make the man thy theme, for shrewdness famed


And genius versatile, who far and wide


A Wand'rer, after Ilium overthrown,


Discover'd various cities, and the mind


And manners learn'd of men, in lands remote.


He num'rous woes on Ocean toss'd, endured,


Anxious to save himself, and to conduct


His followers to their home; yet all his care


Preserved them not; they perish'd self-destroy'd


By their own fault; infatuate! who devoured 10 The oxen of the all-o'erseeing Sun,


And, punish'd for that crime, return'd no more.


Daughter divine of Jove, these things record,


As it may please thee, even in our ears.


The rest, all those who had perdition 'scaped


By war or on the Deep, dwelt now at home;


Him only, of his country and his wife


Alike desirous, in her hollow grots


Calypso, Goddess beautiful, detained


Wooing him to her arms. But when, at length, 20 (Many a long year elapsed) the year arrived


Of his return (by the decree of heav'n)


To Ithaca, not even then had he,


Although surrounded by his people, reach'd


The period of his suff'rings and his toils.


Yet all the Gods, with pity moved, beheld


His woes, save Neptune; He alone with wrath


Unceasing and implacable pursued


Godlike Ulysses to his native shores.


But Neptune, now, the Æthiopians fought, 30 (The Æthiopians, utmost of mankind,


These Eastward situate, those toward the West)


Call'd to an hecatomb of bulls and lambs.


There sitting, pleas'd he banqueted; the Gods


In Jove's abode, meantime, assembled all,


'Midst whom the Sire of heav'n and earth began.


For he recall'd to mind Ægisthus slain


By Agamemnon's celebrated son


Orestes, and retracing in his thought


That dread event, the Immortals thus address'd. 40 Alas! how prone are human-kind to blame


The Pow'rs of Heav'n! From us, they say, proceed


The ills which they endure, yet more than Fate


Herself inflicts, by their own crimes incur.


So now Ægisthus, by no force constrained


Of Destiny, Atrides' wedded wife


Took to himself, and him at his return


Slew, not unwarn'd of his own dreadful end


By us: for we commanded Hermes down


The watchful Argicide, who bade him fear 50 Alike, to slay the King, or woo the Queen.


For that Atrides' son Orestes, soon


As grown mature, and eager to assume


His sway imperial, should avenge the deed.


So Hermes spake, but his advice moved not


Ægisthus, on whose head the whole arrear


Of vengeance heap'd, at last, hath therefore fall'n.


Whom answer'd then Pallas cærulean-eyed.


Oh Jove, Saturnian Sire, o'er all supreme!


And well he merited the death he found; 60 So perish all, who shall, like him, offend.


But with a bosom anguish-rent I view


Ulysses, hapless Chief! who from his friends


Remote, affliction hath long time endured


In yonder woodland isle, the central boss


Of Ocean. That retreat a Goddess holds,


Daughter of sapient Atlas, who the abyss


Knows to its bottom, and the pillars high


Himself upbears which sep'rate earth from heav'n.


His daughter, there, the sorrowing Chief detains, 70 And ever with smooth speech insidious seeks


To wean his heart from Ithaca; meantime


Ulysses, happy might he but behold


The smoke ascending from his native land,


Death covets. Canst thou not, Olympian Jove!


At last relent? Hath not Ulysses oft


With victims slain amid Achaia's fleet


Thee gratified, while yet at Troy he fought?


How hath he then so deep incensed thee, Jove?


To whom, the cloud-assembler God replied. 80 What word hath pass'd thy lips, Daughter belov'd?


Can I forget Ulysses? Him forget


So noble, who in wisdom all mankind


Excels, and who hath sacrific'd so oft


To us whose dwelling is the boundless heav'n?


Earth-circling Neptune-He it is whose wrath


Pursues him ceaseless for the Cyclops' sake


Polypheme, strongest of the giant race,


Whom of his eye Ulysses hath deprived.


For Him, Thoösa bore, Nymph of the sea 90 From Phorcys sprung, by Ocean's mighty pow'r


Impregnated in caverns of the Deep.


E'er since that day, the Shaker of the shores,


Although he slay him not, yet devious drives


Ulysses from his native isle afar.


Yet come-in full assembly his return


Contrive we now, both means and prosp'rous end;


So Neptune shall his wrath remit, whose pow'r


In contest with the force of all the Gods


Exerted single, can but strive in vain. 100 To whom Minerva, Goddess azure-eyed.


Oh Jupiter! above all Kings enthroned!


If the Immortals ever-blest ordain


That wise Ulysses to his home return,


Dispatch we then Hermes the Argicide,


Our messenger, hence to Ogygia's isle,


Who shall inform Calypso, nymph divine,


Of this our fixt resolve, that to his home


Ulysses, toil-enduring Chief, repair.


Myself will hence to Ithaca, meantime, 110 His son to animate, and with new force


Inspire, that (the Achaians all convened


In council,) he may, instant, bid depart


The suitors from his home, who, day by day,


His num'rous flocks and fatted herds consume.


And I will send him thence to Sparta forth,


And into sandy Pylus, there to hear


(If hear he may) some tidings of his Sire,


And to procure himself a glorious name.


This said, her golden sandals to her feet 120 She bound, ambrosial, which o'er all the earth


And o'er the moist flood waft her fleet as air,


Then, seizing her strong spear pointed with brass,


In length and bulk, and weight a matchless beam,


With which the Jove-born Goddess levels ranks


Of Heroes, against whom her anger burns,


From the Olympian summit down she flew,


And on the threshold of Ulysses' hall


In Ithaca, and within his vestibule


Apparent stood; there, grasping her bright spear, 130 Mentes[1] she seem'd, the hospitable Chief


Of Taphos' isle-she found the haughty throng


The suitors; they before the palace gate


With iv'ry cubes sported, on num'rous hides


Reclined of oxen which themselves had slain.


The heralds and the busy menials there


Minister'd to them; these their mantling cups


With water slaked; with bibulous sponges those


Made clean the tables, set the banquet on,


And portioned out to each his plenteous share. 140 Long ere the rest Telemachus himself


Mark'd her, for sad amid them all he sat,


Pourtraying in deep thought contemplative


His noble Sire, and questioning if yet


Perchance the Hero might return to chase


From all his palace that imperious herd,


To his own honour lord of his own home.


Amid them musing thus, sudden he saw


The Goddess, and sprang forth, for he abhorr'd


To see a guest's admittance long delay'd; 150 Approaching eager, her right hand he seized,


The brazen spear took from her, and in words


With welcome wing'd Minerva thus address'd.


Stranger, all hail! to share our cordial love


Thou com'st; the banquet finish'd, thou shalt next


Inform me wherefore thou hast here arrived.


So saying, toward the spacious hall he moved,


Follow'd by Pallas, and, arriving soon


Beneath the lofty roof, placed her bright spear


Within a pillar's cavity, long time 160 The armoury where many a spear had stood,


Bright weapons of his own illustrious Sire.


Then, leading her toward a footstool'd throne


Magnificent, which first he overspread


With linen, there he seated her, apart


From that rude throng, and for himself disposed


A throne of various colours at her side,


Lest, stunn'd with clamour of the lawless band,


The new-arrived should loth perchance to eat,


And that more free he might the stranger's ear 170 With questions of his absent Sire address,


And now a maiden charg'd with golden ew'r,


And with an argent laver, pouring first


Pure water on their hands, supplied them, next,


With a resplendent table, which the chaste


Directress of the stores furnish'd with bread


And dainties, remnants of the last regale.


Then, in his turn, the sewer[2] with sav'ry meats,


Dish after dish, served them, of various kinds,


And golden cups beside the chargers placed, 180 Which the attendant herald fill'd with wine.


Ere long, in rush'd the suitors, and the thrones


And couches occupied, on all whose hands


The heralds pour'd pure water; then the maids


Attended them with bread in baskets heap'd,


And eager they assail'd the ready feast.


At length, when neither thirst nor hunger more


They felt unsatisfied, to new delights


Their thoughts they turn'd, to song and sprightly dance, Enlivening sequel of the banquet's joys. 190 An herald, then, to Phemius' hand consign'd


His beauteous lyre; he through constraint regaled


The suitors with his song, and while the chords


He struck in prelude to his pleasant strains,


Telemachus his head inclining nigh


To Pallas' ear, lest others should his words


Witness, the blue-eyed Goddess thus bespake.


My inmate and my friend! far from my lips


Be ev'ry word that might displease thine ear!


The song-the harp, — what can they less than charm 200 These wantons? who the bread unpurchased eat


Of one whose bones on yonder continent


Lie mould'ring, drench'd by all the show'rs of heaven,


Or roll at random in the billowy deep.


Ah! could they see him once to his own isle


Restored, both gold and raiment they would wish


Far less, and nimbleness of foot instead.


But He, alas! hath by a wretched fate,


Past question perish'd, and what news soe'er


We hear of his return, kindles no hope 210 In us, convinced that he returns no more.


But answer undissembling; tell me true;


Who art thou? whence? where stands thy city? where


Thy father's mansion? In what kind of ship


Cam'st thou? Why steer'd the mariners their course


To Ithaca, and of what land are they?


For that on foot thou found'st us not, is sure.


This also tell me, hast thou now arrived


New to our isle, or wast thou heretofore


My father's guest? Since many to our house 220 Resorted in those happier days, for he


Drew pow'rful to himself the hearts of all.


Then Pallas thus, Goddess cærulean-eyed.


I will with all simplicity of truth


Thy questions satisfy. Behold in me


Mentes, the offspring of a Chief renown'd


In war, Anchialus; and I rule, myself,


An island race, the Taphians oar-expert.


With ship and mariners I now arrive,


Seeking a people of another tongue 230 Athwart the gloomy flood, in quest of brass


For which I barter steel, ploughing the waves


To Temesa. My ship beneath the woods


Of Neïus, at yonder field that skirts


Your city, in the haven Rhethrus rides.


We are hereditary guests; our Sires


Were friends long since; as, when thou seest him next,


The Hero old Laertes will avouch,


Of whom, I learn, that he frequents no more


The city now, but in sequester'd scenes 240 Dwells sorrowful, and by an antient dame


With food and drink supplied oft as he feels


Refreshment needful to him, while he creeps


Between the rows of his luxuriant vines.


But I have come drawn hither by report,


Which spake thy Sire arrived, though still it seems


The adverse Gods his homeward course retard.


For not yet breathless lies the noble Chief,


But in some island of the boundless flood


Resides a prisoner, by barbarous force 250 Of some rude race detained reluctant there.


And I will now foreshow thee what the Gods


Teach me, and what, though neither augur skill'd


Nor prophet, I yet trust shall come to pass.


He shall not, henceforth, live an exile long


From his own shores, no, not although in bands


Of iron held, but will ere long contrive


His own return; for in expedients, framed


With wond'rous ingenuity, he abounds.


But tell me true; art thou, in stature such, 260 Son of himself Ulysses? for thy face


And eyes bright-sparkling, strongly indicate


Ulysses in thee. Frequent have we both


Conversed together thus, thy Sire and I,


Ere yet he went to Troy, the mark to which


So many Princes of Achaia steer'd.


Him since I saw not, nor Ulysses me.


To whom Telemachus, discrete, replied.


Stranger! I tell thee true; my mother's voice


Affirms me his, but since no mortal knows 270 His derivation, I affirm it not.


Would I had been son of some happier Sire,


Ordain'd in calm possession of his own


To reach the verge of life. But now, report


Proclaims me his, whom I of all mankind


Unhappiest deem.-Thy question is resolved.


Then answer thus Pallas blue-eyed return'd.


From no ignoble race, in future days,


The Gods shall prove thee sprung, whom so endow'd


With ev'ry grace Penelope hath borne. 280 But tell me true. What festival is this?


This throng-whence are they? wherefore hast thou need


Of such a multitude? Behold I here


A banquet, or a nuptial? for these


Meet not by contribution[3] to regale,


With such brutality and din they hold


Their riotous banquet! a wise man and good


Arriving, now, among them, at the sight


Of such enormities would much be wroth.


To whom replied Telemachus discrete. 290 Since, stranger! thou hast ask'd, learn also this.


While yet Ulysses, with his people dwelt,


His presence warranted the hope that here


Virtue should dwell and opulence; but heav'n


Hath cast for us, at length, a diff'rent lot,


And he is lost, as never man before.


For I should less lament even his death,


Had he among his friends at Ilium fall'n,


Or in the arms of his companions died,


Troy's siege accomplish'd. Then his tomb the Greeks 300 Of ev'ry tribe had built, and for his son,


He had immortal glory atchieved; but now,


By harpies torn inglorious, beyond reach


Of eye or ear he lies; and hath to me


Grief only, and unceasing sighs bequeath'd.


Nor mourn I for his sake alone; the Gods


Have plann'd for me still many a woe beside;


For all the rulers of the neighbour isles,


Samos, Dulichium, and the forest-crown'd


Zacynthus, others also, rulers here 310 In craggy Ithaca, my mother seek


In marriage, and my household stores consume.


But neither she those nuptial rites abhorr'd,


Refuses absolute, nor yet consents


To end them; they my patrimony waste


Meantime, and will not long spare even me.


To whom, with deep commiseration pang'd,


Pallas replied. Alas! great need hast thou


Of thy long absent father to avenge


These num'rous wrongs; for could he now appear 320 There, at yon portal, arm'd with helmet, shield,


And grasping his two spears, such as when first


I saw him drinking joyous at our board,


From Ilus son of Mermeris, who dwelt


In distant Ephyre, just then return'd,


(For thither also had Ulysses gone


In his swift bark, seeking some pois'nous drug


Wherewith to taint his brazen arrows keen,


Which drug through fear of the eternal Gods


Ilus refused him, and my father free 330 Gave to him, for he loved him past belief)


Could now, Ulysses, clad in arms as then,


Mix with these suitors, short his date of life


To each, and bitter should his nuptials prove.


But these events, whether he shall return


To take just vengeance under his own roof,


Or whether not, lie all in the Gods lap.


Meantime I counsel thee, thyself to think


By what means likeliest thou shalt expel


These from thy doors. Now mark me: close attend. 340 To-morrow, summoning the Grecian Chiefs


To council, speak to them, and call the Gods


To witness that solemnity. Bid go


The suitors hence, each to his own abode.


Thy mother-if her purpose be resolved


On marriage, let her to the house return


Of her own potent father, who, himself,


Shall furnish forth her matrimonial rites,


And ample dow'r, such as it well becomes


A darling daughter to receive, bestow. 350 But hear me now; thyself I thus advise.


The prime of all thy ships preparing, mann'd


With twenty rowers, voyage hence to seek


Intelligence of thy long-absent Sire.


Some mortal may inform thee, or a word,[4]


Perchance, by Jove directed (safest source


Of notice to mankind) may reach thine ear.


First voyaging to Pylus, there enquire


Of noble Nestor; thence to Sparta tend,


To question Menelaus amber-hair'd, 360 Latest arrived of all the host of Greece.


There should'st thou learn that still thy father lives, And hope of his return, although


Distress'd, thou wilt be patient yet a year.


But should'st thou there hear tidings that he breathes


No longer, to thy native isle return'd,


First heap his tomb; then with such pomp perform


His funeral rites as his great name demands,


And make thy mother's spousals, next, thy care.


These duties satisfied, delib'rate last 370 Whether thou shalt these troublers of thy house


By stratagem, or by assault, destroy.


For thou art now no child, nor longer may'st


Sport like one. Hast thou not the proud report


Heard, how Orestes hath renown acquired


With all mankind, his father's murtherer


Ægisthus slaying, the deceiver base


Who slaughter'd Agamemnon? Oh my friend!


(For with delight thy vig'rous growth I view,


And just proportion) be thou also bold, 380 And merit praise from ages yet to come.


But I will to my vessel now repair,


And to my mariners, whom, absent long,


I may perchance have troubled. Weigh thou well


My counsel; let not my advice be lost.


To whom Telemachus discrete replied.


Stranger! thy words bespeak thee much my friend,


Who, as a father teaches his own son,


Hast taught me, and I never will forget.


But, though in haste thy voyage to pursue, 390 Yet stay, that in the bath refreshing first


Thy limbs now weary, thou may'st sprightlier seek


Thy gallant bark, charged with some noble gift


Of finish'd workmanship, which thou shalt keep


As my memorial ever; such a boon


As men confer on guests whom much they love.


Then Pallas thus, Goddess cærulean-eyed.


Retard me not, for go I must; the gift


Which liberal thou desirest to bestow,


Give me at my return, that I may bear 400 The treasure home; and, in exchange, thyself


Expect some gift equivalent from me.


She spake, and as with eagle-wings upborne,


Vanish'd incontinent, but him inspired


With daring fortitude, and on his heart


Dearer remembrance of his Sire impress'd


Than ever. Conscious of the wond'rous change,


Amazed he stood, and, in his secret thought


Revolving all, believed his guest a God.


The youthful Hero to the suitors then 410 Repair'd; they silent, listen'd to the song


Of the illustrious Bard: he the return


Deplorable of the Achaian host


From Ilium by command of Pallas, sang.


Penelope, Icarius' daughter, mark'd


Meantime the song celestial, where she sat


In the superior palace; down she came,


By all the num'rous steps of her abode;


Not sole, for two fair handmaids follow'd her.


She then, divinest of her sex, arrived 420 In presence of that lawless throng, beneath


The portal of her stately mansion stood,


Between her maidens, with her lucid veil


Her lovely features mantling. There, profuse


She wept, and thus the sacred bard bespake.


Phemius! for many a sorrow-soothing strain


Thou know'st beside, such as exploits record


Of Gods and men, the poet's frequent theme;


Give them of those a song, and let themselves


Their wine drink noiseless; but this mournful strain 430 Break off, unfriendly to my bosom's peace,


And which of all hearts nearest touches mine,


With such regret my dearest Lord I mourn,


Rememb'ring still an husband praised from side


To side, and in the very heart of Greece.


Then answer thus Telemachus return'd.


My mother! wherefore should it give thee pain


If the delightful bard that theme pursue


To which he feels his mind impell'd? the bard


Blame not, but rather Jove, who, as he wills, 440 Materials for poetic art supplies.


No fault is his, if the disastrous fate


He sing of the Achaians, for the song


Wins ever from the hearers most applause


That has been least in use. Of all who fought


At Troy, Ulysses hath not lost, alone,


His day of glad return; but many a Chief


Hath perish'd also. Seek thou then again


Thy own apartment, spindle ply and loom,


And task thy maidens; management belongs 450 To men of joys convivial, and of men


Especially to me, chief ruler here.


She heard astonish'd; and the prudent speech


Reposing of her son deep in her heart,


Again with her attendant maidens sought


Her upper chamber. There arrived, she wept


Her lost Ulysses, till Minerva bathed


Her weary lids in dewy sleep profound.


Then echoed through the palace dark-bedimm'd


With evening shades the suitors boist'rous roar, 460 For each the royal bed burn'd to partake,


Whom thus Telemachus discrete address'd.


All ye my mother's suitors, though addict


To contumacious wrangling fierce, suspend


Your clamour, for a course to me it seems


More decent far, when such a bard as this,


Godlike, for sweetness, sings, to hear his song.


To-morrow meet we in full council all,


That I may plainly warn you to depart


From this our mansion. Seek ye where ye may 470 Your feasts; consume your own; alternate feed


Each at the other's cost; but if it seem


Wisest in your account and best, to eat


Voracious thus the patrimonial goods


Of one man, rend'ring no account of all,[5]


Bite to the roots; but know that I will cry


Ceaseless to the eternal Gods, in hope


That Jove, for retribution of the wrong,


Shall doom you, where ye have intruded, there


To bleed, and of your blood ask no account. 480 He ended, and each gnaw'd his lip, aghast


At his undaunted hardiness of speech.


Then thus Antinoüs spake, Eupithes' son.


Telemachus! the Gods, methinks, themselves


Teach thee sublimity, and to pronounce


Thy matter fearless. Ah forbid it, Jove!


That one so eloquent should with the weight


Of kingly cares in Ithaca be charged,


A realm, by claim hereditary, thine.


Then prudent thus Telemachus replied. 490 Although my speech Antinoüs may, perchance,


Provoke thee, know that I am not averse


From kingly cares, if Jove appoint me such.


Seems it to thee a burthen to be fear'd


By men above all others? trust me, no,


There is no ill in royalty; the man


So station'd, waits not long ere he obtain


Riches and honour. But I grant that Kings


Of the Achaians may no few be found


In sea-girt Ithaca both young and old, 500 Of whom since great Ulysses is no more,


Reign whoso may; but King, myself, I am


In my own house, and over all my own


Domestics, by Ulysses gained for me.


To whom Eurymachus replied, the son


Of Polybus. What Grecian Chief shall reign


In sea-girt Ithaca, must be referr'd


To the Gods' will, Telemachus! meantime


Thou hast unquestionable right to keep


Thy own, and to command in thy own house. 510 May never that man on her shores arrive,


While an inhabitant shall yet be left


In Ithaca, who shall by violence wrest


Thine from thee. But permit me, noble Sir!


To ask thee of thy guest. Whence came the man?


What country claims him? Where are to be found


His kindred and his patrimonial fields?


Brings he glad tidings of thy Sire's approach


Homeward? or came he to receive a debt


Due to himself? How swift he disappear'd! 520 Nor opportunity to know him gave


To those who wish'd it; for his face and air


Him speak not of Plebeian birth obscure.


Whom answered thus Telemachus discrete.


Eurymachus! my father comes no more.


I can no longer now tidings believe,


If such arrive; nor he'd I more the song


Of sooth-sayers whom my mother may consult.


But this my guest hath known in other days


My father, and he came from Taphos, son 530 Of brave Anchialus, Mentes by name,


And Chief of the sea-practis'd Taphian race.


So spake Telemachus, but in his heart


Knew well his guest a Goddess from the skies.


Then they to dance and heart-enlivening song


Turn'd joyous, waiting the approach of eve,


And dusky evening found them joyous still.


Then each, to his own house retiring, sought


Needful repose. Meantime Telemachus


To his own lofty chamber, built in view 540 Of the wide hall, retired; but with a heart


In various musings occupied intense.


Sage Euryclea, bearing in each hand


A torch, preceded him; her sire was Ops,


Pisenor's son, and, in her early prime,


At his own cost Laertes made her his,


Paying with twenty beeves her purchase-price,


Nor in less honour than his spotless wife


He held her ever, but his consort's wrath


Fearing, at no time call'd her to his bed. 550 She bore the torches, and with truer heart


Loved him than any of the female train,


For she had nurs'd him in his infant years.


He open'd his broad chamber-valves, and sat


On his couch-side: then putting off his vest


Of softest texture, placed it in the hands


Of the attendant dame discrete, who first


Folding it with exactest care, beside


His bed suspended it, and, going forth,


Drew by its silver ring the portal close, 560 And fasten'd it with bolt and brace secure.


There lay Telemachus, on finest wool


Reposed, contemplating all night his course


Prescribed by Pallas to the Pylian shore.