|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 |
ULYSSES AND HIS SON
 THE next day, while the swineherd was making the breakfast
ready, Ulysses heard a step outside, and because the
dogs did not bark, he said: "Friend, here comes some
one whom you know, for the dogs do not bark." And
while he was still speaking, Telemăchus stood in the
doorway. It should be told that he had landed from his
ship at the nearest place that there was to the
swineherd's cottage, for he knew that he was a good man
When the swineherd saw Telemăchus, he dropped the bowl
that he had in his hand, for he was mixing some wine
with hot water for him and his guest to drink with
their breakfast, and ran to him, and kissed his head,
and his eyes, and his hands. As a father kisses an
only son who comes back to him after being away for ten
years, so did the swineherd kiss Telemăchus. The
beggar, for such Ulysses
 seemed to be, rose from
his place, and would have given it to the young man.
But Telemăchus would not take it. So they three sat
down, and ate and drank. And when they had finished,
the young man said to the swineherd: "Who is this?"
The swineherd answered: "He is a stranger, who has
asked me for help. But now I pass him over to you, for
you are my master, and I am your servant."
"Nay," said Telemăchus, "this cannot be. You call me
master; but am I master in my own house? Do not the
Suitors devour it? Does not even my mother doubt
whether she will not forget the great Ulysses who is
her husband, and follow one of these men? I will give
this stranger food and clothes and a sword; but I will
not take him into my house, for the Suitors are there,
and they are haughty and insolent."
Ulysses heard the two talking, and he said: "But why
do you bear with these men? Do the people hate you,
that you cannot punish these insolent fellows as they
deserve? Have you no kinsman to help you? I would
sooner die than see such shameful things done in my
 Telemăchus answered: "My people do not hate me,
but they are very slow to help. As for kinsmen, I have
none. For my grandfather, Laertes, was an only son,
and so was my father Ulysses, and I myself have neither
brother nor sister. So I have no one to stand by me,
and these wicked men spoil my goods, with none to stop
them, ay, and they even seek to kill me."
Then he said to the swineherd: "Go to my mother the
queen, and tell her that I have come back safe. But
see that no one hears you; and I will stay here till
So the swineherd departed. And when he was gone, there
came the goddess Athené, and she had the likeness of a tall
and fair woman. Telemăchus did not see her, for it is
not every one who can see the gods; but Ulysses saw
her, and the dogs saw her, and whimpered for fear. She
made a sign to Ulysses, and he went out of the house.
Then she said: "Do not hide yourself from your son;
tell him who you are, and plan with him how you may
slay the Suitors. And remember that I am with you to
 Then she touched him with her golden wand. And
all at once he had a new tunic and a new coat. Also he
became taller and more handsome, and his cheeks grew
rounder, and his hair and his beard grew darker.
Having done this, she went away, and Ulysses went again
into the cottage. Much did Telemăchus marvel to see
him, and he cried:—
"Stranger, you are not the same that you were but a few
moments ago. You have different clothes, and the
colour of your skin is changed. Can it be that you are
a god and not a man?"
"I am no god," said Ulysses; "I am your father, the
father for whom you have been looking."
But Telemăchus could not believe what he said. "You
cannot be my father," he answered. "No man could do
what you have done, making yourself old and young as
you please, and changing your clothes this way. Just
now you were a shabby beggar, and now you are as one of
the gods in heaven."
Ulysses answered: "Ay, but it is in very
your father who has come back to his home after twenty
years. As for what you so wonder at, it is Athené's
work; it is she who makes me at one time like an old
beggar in shabby clothes, and at another like a young
prince, richly clad."
When he had said this he sat down, and Telemăchus threw
his arms round his father's neck and shed many tears.
After a while Telemăchus said to his father: "Tell me
now, father, how you came back."
Ulysses said: "The Phaeacians brought me in a ship,
and set me down on the shore of this island, and they
brought many things with me, handsome presents that
were made to me. These have I hidden in a cave. But
now let us plan how we may slay these Suitors. Tell me
how many there are of them. Should we make war upon
them ourselves, or shall we get others to help us?"
Telemăchus said: "My father, you are, I know, a great
warrior, but this thing we cannot do. These men are
not ten, or twice ten, but more than a hundred. And
they have a herald and a minstrel, and certain
 Then said Ulysses: "To-morrow you must go to the
palace, and take your place among the Suitors, and I
will come like to a shabby beggar. If they behave
themselves badly to me, endure it. Their time is
nearly come; they shall soon be punished as they
deserve. Be prudent, therefore. Also, when I give you
a sign, then take away all the arms that hang in the
hall, and stow them away in your chamber. And if any
man ask you why you do this, say that they want
cleaning, for the smoke has soiled them, and they are
not such as Ulysses left them when he went away to
Troy. And you might say also that it is not well to
have weapons in a hall where men are used to feast, for
the very sight of the steel makes men ready to quarrel.
But keep two swords and two spears close at hand.
These will be for you and me. And mind that you tell
no one that I have come back—not my father, nor the
swineherd, no, nor Penelopé herself."
While they were still talking, the swineherd came back
from the city. But before he came into the house,
Athené changed Ulysses back again into the shape of the
 beggar man, for it was not well that he
should know the truth until everything was ready.
Telemăchus said to him: "Have you brought back any
news from the city? Have the Suitors who went out in a
ship to kill me come back, or are they still watching
The swineherd said: "I cannot tell you this for a
certainty. I thought it better to ask no questions in
the city. But I saw a ship coming into the harbour,
and I saw a number of men in it who had shields and
spears. It may be that these were the Suitors, but I
am not sure."
Then Telemăchus looked at Ulysses, but he was careful
not to meet the eye of the swineherd.
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