|The Odyssey for Boys and Girls|
|by Alfred J. Church|
|Lively retelling of Homer's Odyssey, telling of the wanderings of Ulysses and his adventures with the giant Cyclops and the enchantress Circe as he makes his way home to his beloved Ithaca. There, after slaying the suitors who have been wooing his wife Penelope, he is reunited with his family after twenty long years. Ages 8-12 |
 AFTER a while Ulysses rose to go into the city, and
Athené spread a mist about him so that the passers-by
might not see him as he went. Also she took upon her
the shape of a young girl who was carrying a pitcher,
and met him.
Ulysses asked her: "My child, can you tell me where
King Alcinoüs lives? I am a stranger here."
She answered: "I will show you his abode; it is close
to the home of my father." So she led the way, and
Ulysses followed her. Much did he wonder, as he went,
at all he saw—the harbour, and the ships, and the
place of assembly, and the walls, till they came to the
palace. Athené said: "This is the king's house."
Further, she said—and now Ulysses knew that it was
Athené and not a girl that was speaking—"Go in, fear
fear-  less man always fares best.
And look first for the queen. Her name is Areté.
Never was there a wife more loved by her husband, or a
queen more honoured by her people. Be sure that if she
favours you, you have come to the end of your troubles,
and will see your dear land of Ithaca again."
When she had said this, Athené vanished out of sight,
and Ulysses went into the palace. A wonderful place it
was, as bright as if the sun had been shining in it.
The walls were of brass, and the doors were of gold,
and the posts on which the doors were hung were of
silver, and along the sides of the hall were golden
chairs on which the chiefs were used to sit when they
were invited to a feast. By each seat was the golden
statue of a man, holding a torch in his hand, so that
the hall might be lighted when it was night. There
were fifty maid-servants in the house; half of them
were grinding corn, and half of them were weaving
robes. All round the house were beautiful gardens,
full of fig-trees and apples, and pears, and
pomegranates, and olives. They never are harmed by
frost or by drought, and there is never a time when
 some fruit is not ripe. Also there was a
vineyard, and this bore grapes all the year round.
Some of them were hanging dried in the sun, and some
were being gathered, and some were just turning red.
Also there were beds of beautiful flowers, and in the
middle were two fountains which never grew dry.
Ulysses could not help looking for a short time at all
these wonderful and beautiful things. There were many
people in the hall, but no one saw him, for, as we
know, there was a mist all around him which hid him
from them. So he went on to where the queen was
sitting, and knelt down before her, and put his hands
on her knees. And as he did this, the mist cleared
away from round him, and all the people in the hall saw
him quite plainly.
He said: "O queen, I beg a favour of you. I pray you,
and your husband, and your children to help me. Send
me to my home, for I know that you help strangers to
travel across the sea."
And when he had said this, he sat down among the ashes
on the hearth. Then said one of the nobles that were
hall—  he was the very oldest man that
there was in all the land: "King Alcinoüs, do not let
this stranger sit there among the ashes. Tell him to
sit upon a chair, and give him something to eat and
Then the king told his eldest son to take the stranger
by the hand and raise him up, and make him sit down on
his own seat. This the young man did. And a servant
brought a basin and poured water over Ulysses' hands,
and the housekeeper brought him something to eat and to
drink. The king said: "This man begs a favour of us,
that we may take him to his home. To-morrow we will
have an Assembly, and will consider how we may best do
this. And now you can go all of you to your homes."
But before they went, Ulysses said: "I could tell you,
my friends, of many troubles that I have suffered. But
first I must eat and drink; that a man must do, however
unhappy he may be. I will say only this, when you come
together to-morrow, do your best to help me in this
matter. I should be content to die if I could only see
my home again."
 This they all promised to do, and so departed.
When Ulysses was left alone, the queen looked at him
somewhat more closely, and she saw that the clothes
which he wore had been made by herself and her maids,
and she said: "From what country have you come, and
who gave you these clothes?"
Then Ulysses told her how he had travelled many miles
across the sea on the raft, and how the raft had been
broken, and how he had got to the shore after swimming
for two days and two nights and more, and how Nausicaa
had found him, and had had pity on him, and brought him
to the city. The queen said: "I blame my daughter
that she did not bring you with her. That was what she
should have done." "Nay, lady," said Ulysses, "she
would have brought me, but I would not come, for I did
not like that the girl should be blamed."
Then said the king: "Eat and drink in peace, stranger.
We will do what you wish, and take you to your home.
There are no men in all the world who can row better
than the Phaeacian youths. You
 will lie down to
sleep, and before you wake they will have carried you
to your own country. They can go to the farthest part
of the world, and can come back the same day, and not
Ulysses was glad to hear what the king said, and he
prayed in his heart: "May the king do what he
promises, and may I come in peace to my own land."
Then the queen told the maids to make a bed ready for
the stranger. And they went with torches in their
hands and made it ready, and came again and said to
Ulysses: "Stranger, your bed is ready." So he
followed them. Right glad was he to sleep after all
that he had suffered.
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