|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 |
OF THE DOG ARGUS AND OTHER THINGS
 THE next day Telemăchus said to the swineherd: "I
will go to the city, for my mother will not be easy
till she sees my face. You will take the stranger with
you that he may beg of any that may have a mind to
"Yes," said Ulysses, "that is what I desire. If a man
must beg, 'tis better to beg in the city than in the
country. And do you go first; I will follow a little
later, when it will be warmer, for now I shall feel
cold under these rags."
So Telemăchus went on to the city, and very glad
were his mother and the nurse to see him. He looked
after certain business that he had to do, but all the
time he had one thought always in his mind, how he and
his father might kill the Suitors.
About noon the swineherd and Ulysses
 came to the
city. Now just outside the wall there was a fountain,
and there the two came across a certain Melanthius, who
looked after the goats. When he saw the swineherd and
his companion, he said: "Why do you bring beggars to
the city? we have enough of them already." And he came
up and kicked Ulysses on the thigh, thinking to push
him over. But Ulysses stood firm. For a while he
thought to himself: "Shall I knock out this fellow's
brains with my club?" But he thought it better to
endure. So the two went on to the palace. Now at the
door of the courtyard there lay a dog, Argus by name,
which had belonged to Ulysses in old time. He had
reared him from a puppy, feeding him with his own hand;
but before the dog had come to his full growth, his
master had gone away to fight against Troy. While
Argus was strong, men had used him in their hunting,
when they went out to kill roe-deer and wild goats and
hares. But now he was old no one looked after him, and
he lay on a dunghill, and the lice swarmed on him.
When he saw his old master, he knew him at once, and
wagged his tail and drooped
 his ears, for he was
too weak to get up from the place where he lay.
ULYSSES AND HIS DOG
When Ulysses saw him, the tears came into his eyes, and
he said to the swineherd: "Now this is strange,
Eumaeus, that so good a dog, for I see that he is of a
good breed, should lie here upon a dunghill."
The swineherd answered: "He belongs to a master who
died far away from his home. Once upon a time there
was no dog more swift or more strong; but his master is
dead, and the careless women take no count of him.
When the master is away, the slaves neglect their work.
Surely it is true that a slave is but half a man."
While the two were talking together, the dog Argus
died. He had waited twenty years for his master to
come back, and he saw him at last.
Then the swineherd and the beggar went into the hall
where the Suitors sat at their meal. When
Telemăchus saw them, he took bread and meat, as
much as he could hold in his two hands, and bade a
servant carry them to the beggar. Also, he bade the
man tell him that he could go round
 among the
Suitors and ask alms of them. So Ulysses went,
stretching out his hand as beggars do. Some of the
Suitors gave, for they saw that he was tall and strong,
for all that he looked old and shabby. But when he
came to AntinoŘs, and had told him his story, how he
had been rich in old days, and had had ships of his
own, and how he had gone to Egypt and had been sold as
a slave to Cyprus, the young man mocked him, saying:
"Get away with your tales, or you will find that Ithaca
is a worse place for you than Egypt or Cyprus."
Ulysses said to him: "You have a fair face but an evil
heart. You sit here at another man's feast, and yet
will give me nothing."
Then AntinoŘs caught up the footstool that was under
his feet, and struck Ulysses with it. It was a hard
blow, but he stood as firm as a rock. He said nothing,
but he was very angry in his heart. Then he went and
sat down at the door of the hall. And he said to those
who sat in the hall: "Hear, all ye Suitors of the
queen! AntinoŘs has struck me because I am poor. May
the curse of the hungry fall upon him, and bring
 him to destruction before he come to his marriage day."
But AntinoŘs cried: "Sit still, stranger, and eat what
you have got in silence, or I will bid the young men
drag you from the house, ay, and tear your flesh off
But even the Suitors blamed him: "You did ill to
strike the stranger; there is a curse on those that do
such things. Do you not know that sometimes the gods
put on the shape of poor men, and visit the dwellings
of men to see whether they are good or bad?" But
AntinoŘs did not care what others thought about him, so
full of naughtiness was his heart. As for
Telemăchus, he was full of anger to see his
father so treated. But he kept it to himself; he did
not shed a tear, no, nor speak a word; but he thought
of the time when the Suitors should suffer for all
their ill-doings. But Penelopé, when she heard of it,
prayed that the gods might strike the wicked man.
"They are all enemies," she said to the dame that kept
the house, "but this AntinoŘs is the worst of all."
Then she said to the swineherd:
 "Bring this
stranger to me; I should like to talk with him.
Perhaps he has heard something of Ulysses, or even has
seen him, for I hear that he has wandered far."
The swineherd answered: "Be sure, my queen, that this
man will charm you with his talk. I kept him in my
house for three days, and he never stopped talking of
what he had seen and of his adventures. He charms
those that listen to him, as a man that sings beautiful
songs charms them. And, indeed, he does say that he
has heard of Ulysses, that he has gathered much wealth,
and that he is on his way home."
When Penelopé heard this, she was still more eager to
talk with the stranger. "Call him," she said, "and
bring him here to me at once. O that Ulysses would
come back, and punish these wicked men for all the evil
that they have done! Tell the stranger that if I find
he tells me truth, I will give him a new coat and
Then the swineherd said to Ulysses: "The queen wants
to speak to you, and ask you what you have heard about
her husband. And if she finds that you have told her
 she will give you a new coat and
cloak; yes, and give you leave to beg anywhere you
please about the island."
Now Ulysses did not think that it was quite time to let
his wife know who he was, and he was afraid that if he
went to talk to her she would find it out. So he
pretended to be afraid of the Suitors, and said to the
swineherd: "I would gladly tell the queen all that I
know about her husband; but I am afraid of the wicked
young men, of whom there are so many. Even now, when
that man struck me, and that for nothing, there was no
one to stop him. Telemăchus himself would not,
or could not. Tell the queen, therefore, that I am
afraid to come now, but that if she will wait till the
evening, then I will come."
Then the swineherd went to the queen to give her this
message. And when she saw that the beggar was not with
him she said: "How is this that you have not brought
him? Is he ashamed to come? The beggar who is ashamed
does not know his trade."
The swineherd answered: "Not so, lady,
 but he is
afraid of those haughty and violent young men; and,
indeed, he is right. So he would have you wait till
the evening before he comes, and then you can speak
with him alone. It will be better so."
The queen said: "The stranger is wise, and it shall be
as he says. Truly, these men are more insolent than
any others in the world."
Then the swineherd went close up to Telemăchus
and whispered to him: "I am going back to the farm, to
look after things there. Take care of yourself and the
stranger. There are many here who are ready to do you
harm. May the gods bring them to confusion!"
Telemăchus answered: "Go, father, as you say,
and come again to-morrow, and bring with you beasts for
So the swineherd went away, and the Suitors made merry
in the hall with dancing and singing.
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